Decisions

This week, V.J.’s weekly challenge is all about decisions. V.J. is facing a decision regarding an opportunity to buy a house.

My husband and I faced a similar decision last summer. I had been approved for long-term care funding on June 4. This would mean higher costs for my care, as the copay for long-term care is several hundreds of euros a month, while the copay for community care is at most €19. This made our search for a house to buy more urgent. After all, mortgages are usually cheaper than is rent on a similarly-priced house. We had inquired about buying the house we were renting at the time, but the housing corporation had refused.

My husband did most of the visits to possible houses by himself, including the one to the house we ended up buying. This house was about the only house within our budget that wasn’t falling apart or being rented out for an undefined time. The latter of which is illegal, but that didn’t help us.

So my husband ended up choosing our house in Lobith. I was hardly involved with the paperwork, except where I had to be because we’re married. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to live in this house for long anyway.

Similarly, my husband left all decision-making regarding the care facility I was going into up to me. Of course, this is in a way different, in that I’m a legal owner of our house and he’s not legally anything regarding the care facility.

I ended up moving to the care facility in Raalte just two days before we were to sign the contract on our house.

It’s indeed somewhat interesting that my husband and I leave each other so much room for decision-making regarding our own lives. Other married couples probably do much more shared decision-making. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not the way we do it. People have encouraged me to get more involved with the financial and legal aspects of the house. I’ve also been told my husband could (should?) be more involved with my care. But as long as we’re both competent adults, it works okay.

I’ve been thinking of making my mother-in-law my official decision-maker should that ever change in my case. I know my nearest relative would be my husband, but I want in any case to prevent my parents or sister from becoming my guardians. After all, I’m not too sure they truly would have my best interest in mind, though obviously they’d think they do.

Choosing Love #SoCS

Choosing love is important. Choosing that one person you would want to be with. Or choosing more than one if that’s your thing. Many lovers value their partner above themself. I’m not sure I do and that often makes me feel bad about myself.

I mean, I always say that Jeroen is the most cherished, best, loveliest person in the world. Then he replies that it’s me. Sometimes we go on to joke that it’s our cat Barry.

Yet, whenever I say I love Jeroen more than myself, I think: “So why did I choose to go into the care facility?”

I was fully expecting my husband to say the same when he visited me for the first time in over two months, since visiting had been prohibited until now due to coronavirus lockdown. I fully expected him to come and tell me he didn’t want to be my husband anymore. And yet he didn’t! I’m so happy that, even though I chose my own happiness over his, he chose love!

Written for this week’s Stream of Consciousness or #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “ch”. Also writing this using the new block editor.

How COVID-19 Changed My Outlook on 2020

Yes, I’ve said it before, but can you believe it’s May already? Four months have passed since the beginning of 2020. Time flies when you’re having fun, they say. Well, time also flies (and drags at the same time) when in a pandemic. Today I’m joining in with Finish the Sentence Friday (which is open all week), for which the question this week is how the pandemic changed your word of the year.

In January, I chose the word Wellbeing as my word of the year for 2020. I was at the time already a bit angsty about it, as I was in a bit of a hypochondriac phase and thought that if I chose this word, I’d die this year or something. Some kind of reverse law of attraction.

Still, so far, my word is still pretty true. I am taking preventative measures to hopefully keep the coronavirus out of my body. Just yesterday, my staff started taking everyone’s temp twice daily with a no-contact thermometer. Since the virus hit the home below mine, I have been a little more scared. At the same time, I still often avoid thinking about the pandemic too much. Actually, I realize that, as the month of April continued, I included fewer and fewer references to the pandemic in my posts.

I had a few hopes for 2020 too. The first one was to keep my marriage strong. I felt I needed to learn to travel to my husband for this, as I thought ultimately living apart wouldn’t be very good for our marriage otherwise. While I still feel I need to learn to travel to him independently once the crisis is over, I have learned that our marriage can survive a time of not seeing each other. It’s hard, but it’s doable.

Honestly, I must say the pandemic has given me a clearer focus on what matters most. I try to appreciate my husband more. After all, he isn’t a given. One day one of us might catch the virus. Besides, we can’t see each other now and it isn’t altogether logical that a marriage survives this.

On my other goals, I did pretty well so far. I’m actually loving it. I don’t know whether the crisis is the reason I’m doing so well, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the factors.

Dear Diary: 2021

A ton of ideas are floating through my mind for topics I want to write about. However, I’m tempted to just do another #WDIIA post. I also realize I signed up for the #AtoZChallenge and haven’t even started drafting my posts for it yet. Ugh, that’s me being a blogger. Instead of drafting a post in advance though, I’m participating in Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Sunday Writing Prompt for yesterday, for which the theme is Dear Diary. And no, this isn’t going to be a boring description of today. I hope it will be a diary entry I can write someday in 2021, when like I predicted last year, everything will be okay. Here goes.

Dear diary,

I just took a look at some old blog posts from last year. Today is September 30, 2021. My sister and brother-in-law have their fifth wedding anniversary today. Hubby and I just had our tenth on the 19th. It was wonderful! We celebrated by going out at my not-so-newly favorite restaurant, where both of us ordered unlimited piri-piri chicken. It was delicious! My husband had the following week off, so I decided to stay with him for the week. Since traveling still was discouraged last year, but isn’t this year, we took some time to vacation at a nice resort. I spent most of the time in the swimming pool. Boy, have I missed swimming!

I’ve also missed going out to dinner. Oh and ordering pizza. Though during most of the COVID-19 crisis, Domino’s still delivered pizzas, there was no-one to eat them with, since my husband couldn’t visit.

Oh, I’m so happy my husband didn’t leave me over that whole COVID-19 thing. I mean, it took several months before the no-visitors rule was lifted at my care facility. I was worried all of this time that hubby would want to have a real wife who could be with him. Apparently not. He wants me.

I’m so glad the worry is a lot less than it was last year. I’ve been working on my self-worth in therapy and getting EMDR for my childhood trauma. Thankfully, mental health resumed regular face-to-face sessions in June last year. By now, I feel better than I’ve ever before.

In 2019, I wrote on my blog that, by 2021, everything would be okay. I could not have predicted a pandemic making life much harder first. Thankfully, my husband and I survived and it’s made us and our relationship stronger.

My Hopes for 2020

Hi everyone and a happy new year to you all! I’m wishing all my readers the best for 2020. May this year be filled with health and happiness.

Like last year, I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. That is, I’m calling them “hopes” as to have them give me less pressure. This may be a stupid mind trick, so that if I fail at all of them at the end of the year I can just say I wasn’t really meaning to stick to them. Well, anyway, here goes.

1. I hope to find a way to keep my marriage as strong as it’s now whilst I’m living in the care facility. This mainly means I need to find a way to keep seeing my husband despite the fact that I won’t have the ParaTransit to travel one way even once every other week. I really need to find a way to learn to travel by public transportation. The thought of which overwhelms me. Then again, the consequences of not making this work, are far, far worse. I have very conflicting feelings about this whole situation, which I won’t be sharing here.

2. I hope to settle in at the care facility, both the home and the day center, and find a routine that keeps me happy.

3. I hope to keep going for a healthier lifestyle. I first hope to be more mindful of my food choices. I mean, I did okay’ish over the holidays, eating far less than I would have had I not had it in mind that I ultimately need to lose all the pounds I put on. However, I still ate more than I should have.

I hope to stick to my habit of drinking two liters of fluid each day. I have occasionally lost track when at my husband’s, but did welll over the past month otherwise.

I really want to get into an exercise routine. I have a gym in mind that I may want to join in February (because everyone else joins the gym in January).

4. I hope to stick to a regular writing and blogging schedule. I won’t push myself to blog everyday or the like. I mean, I could be joining in with #JusJoJan again and I know the rules aren’t strict so this post counts too, but I think I’d rather jump in when a prompt speaks to me. I aim for a minimum of two posts a week, unless illness or technical problems get in the way.

Dreaming bigger, I hope to write another essay that could be published in an anthology in 2020. I mean, I’m still excited about the one piece I had published in 2015, but there must be more in store for me.

5. I hope to read more. The year is off to a good start, as I finished a book (okay, one I’d started reading in 2019) today. I really want toventure out into the book blogosphere, even though I have zero intention of becoming a real book blogger.

6. I hope I can get into a better self-care routine. This is really an excuse for me to explore more of mindfulness, essential oils, relaxation, etc. I often think that I need to be productive all day. Then recently I listened to a Podcast in which the presenters explained the importance of daydreaming. They linked a lack of it to dementia, which has me scared like crap, because whenever I’m not doing anything in particular, I tend to fall asleep. They didn’t say whether you can train yourself to daydream or whether this helps, but it can’t be bad.

What do you hope to achieve in 2020?

Dream #SoCS

I have a lot of vivid dreams. They suck at times. Sometimes they’re good dreams and I”m sad that they’re just dreams, but most times, they’re really distressing dreams. A few weeks ago, I dreamt that my husband was going to divorce me or I was going to divorce him because somehow (I can’t remember the details) my past identifying as a lesbian was getting in the way. Either I decided I was a lesbian after all or my husband got tired of me having identified as one. Or something. That dream had me distressed for days because I thought it somehow meant something. Like I was unconsciously unfaithful to my husband, which I have no intention of ever being.

Other times, I dream that I’m kicked out of or leaving the care facility. This also scares me, because I am to be very honest not 100% sure it was the right choice to go into it. I mean, yes, it’s much better for my self-care, but it does mean my marriage gets strained by my husband and me not being able to see each other as often as we’d like to or as we used to.

Last Thursday, I was in a bit of a crisis. I had been in the snoezelen® room for two hours on Thursday afternoon and as a result, couldn’t sleep. I also worried about my inability to travel to my husband each week by paratransit due to the limits on how much you can use that service. The fact that I had been in the snoezelen® room for so long and this is not the first time and I’m not sure what I can do during the day, made me think back to my old day activities. Then the fact that I cannot travel to my husband by paratransit even coupled with trains each week, made me think of leaving the facility and going back to live with him. I know this would be unwise in the long run, if for no other reason then because my spot at the old day center has been filled up already.

I E-mailed my staff at the old day center. Then I ran off. I made it to the bottom of the stairs, near the fire exit, before I realized I didn’t really want to run off. By then, the sleepover staff had heard me and called the night staff. She comforted me and I was able to go back to sleep. Back to more dreaming.

I am linking up with #SoCS.

💞 Happy Eighth Wedding Anniversary to My Husband and Me 💞

Today is September 19. Eight years ago today, my husband and I said our wedding vows. Twelve years ago today we first met at the bus stop nearest to the university that I could get to without transferring. That first meeting was awkward. I didn’t have good mobility skills, but of course it wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to use this boy I barely knew online as a sighted guide. As a result, I fell off a few steps and dropped my coffee.

My now husband said later that, after this first meeting, he wasn’t sure whether to ask to meet me again, but intuition told him that if he did, a lot more would follow. And it did.

Today, my husband had to work a long day as a truck driver. He originally had this week off, but changed that so that he could help me move to the care facility on Monday and make the move to our new house. He told me in advance not to be mad if he’d not be home by seven. As it turned out, he was home a little before eight. He also got tomorrow off unexpectedly, so our not being able to celebrate our wedding anniversary today is more than made up for soon.

Someone said in a comment on my previous post that my husband is lucky to have me, because at least I consider choosing him above self-care. I must say, I don’t see it that way, but I definitely feel I am lucky to have my husband. I mean, how many people would walk out on their significant others the day they were in a mental crisis? That’s not a fluffy, socially acceptable thing to do, but it’s reality. My staff at the psychiatric hospital had never seen a patient getting married while on their ward before.

The fact that my husband supports me through my decision to go into long-term care, also proves that I”m lucky to have him.

These eight years married and these twelve years knowing each other, have been very different from the traditional couple’s first so many years, but they’ve definitely been worth it at least for me. Without my husband, I don’t know that I’d even still be alive today. Here’s hoping for a lot more years of a happy marriage.

Four #SoCS

My husband and I like the number four. The reason is that the Dutch word for four, “vier”, is also the Dutch word for “celebrate”. One day when my then boyfriend and I were walking in a forest near his home, we went up a hill and he proposed we celebrate getting on top of the hill with a kiss. A little later, we saw the number four written on the path or something and he said four means to celebrate with a kiss. This is how we ended up making up the word “fouring” for kissing.

We played a lot of card games back then. This was in 2008, when I was still inpatient on the locked psych ward. We didn’t really know what else to do. So everytime a four came up in our card games, one of us would say that meant we had to kiss.

We got married on the day we knew each other four years exactly. Actually, the wedding ceremony was at 3PM. That had been the time of our first date too. It wasn’t because we selected the time, but it was quite cool anyway.

I like to remind myself of these beautiful moments. My husband gave me this little bride and groom that had been on top of our wedding cake. He dug it up from the attic the day after we had a little argument last week about me thinking I might go into supported housing nearly two hours from him. I liked the reminder. I love my husband! I don’t want to ever leave him. I don’t want to live too far from him. My marriage trumps my need for good care.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Love: How I Met My Husband #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge day 12. Today I am going to share a positive story, because I am going to write about love. I have known my husband, Jeroen, for 11 1/2 years and love him to pieces. I want to share how we met in today’s post.

In September of 2007, I was living on my own in Nijmegen. I struggled a lot and felt extremely lonely. I at the time frequented a message board, where I posted that I felt alone. Jeroen was on this forum too. He had been wanting to expand his social circle, so he had decided to get to know some fellow forum members better. He read my blog, which I’d kept on WordPress since early 2007. From that, he decided he wanted to meet me. He sent me a PM asking to have a coffee or tea somewhere in Nijmegen. I accepted.

At first, I was unsure whether I’d be safe. What if Jeroen wasn’t the 18-year-old guy he claimed to be? To be honest, I didn’t know much about him from the forum even though he was an active member. He offered to meet me at the forum meetup in Utrecht, but I didn’t have the spoons to travel there, so I agreed to see him at the bus stop closest to university that the bus I knew drove by.

On our first “date”, we were both stressed. I fell off a step and dropped my coffee. When we sat down on a bench, he asked what type of music I liked. I answered “world music”, as I mostly listened to Latin American music.

After our first time meeting, he PM’ d me to tell me he had mixed feelings about it. So did I. But a few weeks later, he again PM’d me to ask whether we could meet again and I invited him to my apartment. That was probably a bit weird, but I knew no other place in Nijmegen.

When we had just planned our fourth “date”, I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I didn’t have his phone number, nor did I have Internet access. I gave my support worker my login details for the message board and asked her to contact Jeroen.

A few weeks later, my father called asking whether he could give Jeroen my phone number. I agreed. Jeroen had found my father’s E-mail address through the whois of his website (that he doesn’t do a thing with). I”m so glad he was (and still is) such a tech savvy person and didn’t give up.

It took us six more months from that point on to agree that we would be calling our involvement a romantic relationship. I am so glad I eventually agreed to love him back, as he’d been the first to say he was in love with me. We will be celebrating our 11-year anniversary of being a couple next month. We got married on the day we knew each other exactly four years on September 19, 2011.

A Letter to My Younger Self #Write31Days

Welcome to day nine in my #Write31Days series on personal growth. Today, I chose yet another prompt from The Self-Exploration Journal. It asks what one piece of advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time. Ths question couldn’t be more timely, as I’m facing a lot of regrets from the past right now as I face the decision to apply for long-term care. I am spinnning this questioon around a little and going to write a letter to my younger self. I don’t have an idea for the age of this younger self, but the piece of advice should be the same anyway.

Dear Younger Self,

This is your 32-year-old self writing. I want to reassure you that I see you. I see your struggles for autonomy, for self-determination. And yet, I see your struggles with your limitations. You have yet to come to terms with the fact that you’re multiply-disabled.

I see that peope try to control you. Your parents consider you worth parenting only so long as you prove that you’re going to give back by contributing to society. Your support staff try to please your parents, sending you out to live on your own despite knowing this isn’t in your best interest. Your psychologist in Nijmegen, no matter how helpful she is in some respects, still doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to go into the right type of care. She, like eveyrone before her, values your intelligence over your need for support. Your psychologist in Wolfheze blames you. She robs you off your last bit of self-determination by kicking you out of the institution without proper after care.

I want to reassure you. I see your needs. I’m fighting for them to be met. I don’t have enough support yet, but I have people around me who are fighting for it with me. I can’t promise you that you will ultimately get into long-term care, as that’s up to the funding agency to decide. I can however assure you that I’m fighting for you.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it’s to fight for yourself. No-one can live your life but you. You don’t owe your parents anything. You’re past that point. Care staff do only their job. This isn’t to discount the good work my current care staff do, but it’s just that, work. They will eventually fade out of our life. Even your husband, the only person who will most likely stick by you for a long time to come, doesn’t have the right to control you. I know you want to please him, because you love him, but that is different. Pleasing your husband is founded on love, not authority, and it is mutual. Even so, your husband does not live your life. Ultimately, the only person who will live the entirety of your life with you, is you.

I don’t mean this to criticize you at all. I see how hard it is for you to stand up to controling people. But you’ll learn to do so in time.

With love,

Astrid

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?