Generosity

Today’s prompt for #JusJoJan is “Generosity”. I don’t tend to think of myself as a particularly generous person. That would not only be arrogant, but it would be incorrect as well. Particularly as a child, I liked receiving more than I liked giving. I was a very jealous child, often envying my sister for what she got and I didn’t.

I remember one day, when my sister and her friends had been participating in the four-day walking event in my city. It was the last day of the event and I was allowed to walk with them for this occasion. At the finish line, a parent of one of my sister’s friends had lots of candy for my sister and her friends, but he had none for me. I had a full-on tantrum in the car home even though my sister and her friends ended up giving me more candy than they kept for themselves. It caused the oldest friend, a girl my age, to cry. I was ten at the time, so far too old for toddler tantrums like this. I feel intense shame about this incident as I look back, seeing that I should have known it wasn’t fair of me to expect candy since I hadn’t walked the entire event. Much less should I have tantrummed about it in the car.

Now that I’m an adult, I am a little less worried about material goods and a lot less jealous of others, but it still doesn’t come natural to me to give material things away. Thankfully, generosity comes in different ways and I do love expressing it in other ways. I love to create my own gifts for people. Yes, of course they are material too, but that feels different.

Still, I am often reminded of the Sesame Street episode in which Bert and Ernie have a cake and Ernie gives Bert the smaller slice. Bert teaches him that he’s supposed to offer Bert the larger slice first. Then Ernie asks: “So what would you do if you were to offer me the cake?” Then he replied he’d take the smaller slice and offer Ernie the larger slice. “But you have the smaller slice now, like you wanted!” Ernie objects. This is child logic and it is incorrect. It is not how we’re supposed to be generous. We are supposed to love others like ourselves. Others before ourselves, even.

I pray God leads me to a life of greater generosity. I know I am supposed to love others as myself and that includes giving generously of myself to others. Like I said yesterday, when I trust that God will provide for my needs, He will. As a follower of Christ, I have no need to worry. In the end, everything will work out okay.

How I Cope With Loneliness

Today in her Sunday Poser, Sadje asks us about loneliness. She describes the experience as the feeling she gets when her family or friends can’t celebrate something important (such as the seasonal holidays) with her. This is one aspect of loneliness indeed. I feel lonely, left out even, knowing that my sister will be celebrating St. Nicholas with my parents next week and I haven’t been invited. Okay, she has a child for whom this holiday is more meaningful than it should be for me as an adult. Still, I am reminded of the last year we celebrated St. Nicholas with my family, or rather, the first year we didn’t. That was because of me: I had been admitted to the mental hospital shortly before and my parents didn’t want the hassle of having to watch me while I was on leave, so at first they suggested they celebrate the occasion without me. That year, my sister refused and the celebration didn’t go forward at all. Now that my sister has a child, there’s no way she’s going to care about whether I’ll be included or not. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’d rather have me excluded.

Loneliness, however, can take other forms too. Like I mentioned last month, loneliness comes from within a lot of the time. That’s why you can feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people. I often felt this way in the high school cafeteria.

I find that what helps me cope with loneliness is to surround myself with positive influences, both in the form of people and activities. I mean, I could dwell on my family’s rejection of me, but I do have a loving husband and loving in-laws. I also have caring staff and nice fellow clients, some of whom I consider friends.

It also helps me to engage in fulfilling hobbies, such as writing, reading and crafts. Through my blog and Facebook groups, I feel a genuine sense of connection to the outside world. Reading helps me escape my problems, including my sense of isolation. Crafts distract me and help me feel that I can be productive in a way. All of these help me overcome my sense of loneliness.

How do you deal with loneliness?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 6, 2021)

Hi everyone on this gloomy fall day. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. Unlike most days when I write my coffee share post, I haven’t had my last cup of coffee yet. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that my GP appointment on Monday went okay. My magnesium got decreased in hopes of relieving me a little from my abdominal discomfort. It’s helping a tiny bit, but not enough for my liking.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had an okay week otherwise. I’m struggling quite a bit with the disconnect between my intellect and my emotions. This is causing me to appear well-collected a lot of the time when in reality I feel extremely distressed. I discussed a few examples of this with my assigned staff and support coordinator today and they’re helping me improve these situations.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I finally gave in (or up) with respect to the adaptive footwear situation and had my husband order new walking shoes for me. After all, the old ones will probably have a large enough to get my socks wet hole in them within a week or two at most. I am so grateful my husband found almost the exact same shoes. They arrived in the post today. I am still hoping I will eventually get used to my orthopedic footwear, but it will need some further adjustments for that to happen first.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I am looking forward but also stressing about the national cerebral palsy day in three weeks’ time. I went to the event on my own three years ago, but this is quite hard this time. I can’t afford for a staff member to go with me to the entire event even with my one-on-one being covered by the care facility. After all, I have one-on-one only part of the day and would need to pay like €45 an hour for individual support for the rest of the day. I might go on my own after all, or I might skip the event, like I skipped the online regional meeting today. I was seriously planning on going to that one, but just couldn’t get myself to do it after all.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d proudly announce that I’m going to be an aunt again in May. I’m pretty sure my sister is fine with me sharing this on my blog now that she’s past three months and all tests so far are fine. My sister’s other child, my niece, is also doing well. I shared a few months back that she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She had surgery in September and is currently wearing some type of cast. We are all hopeful that once this will be removed in a month or so and once she’s relearned to walk after that, she’ll be completely fine.

How have you been?

Thieves!

When I was little, my parents would store their sweets (usually licorice but sometimes other sweets too) on a shelf just within my and my sister’s reach in their pantry. I’m pretty sure they’d tried putting them in higher places but we’d just climb up stairs or other furniture to reach them.

Invariably, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when my parents slept in, I’d lead my sister to the pantry and we’d steal some sweets. Yes, I am pretty sure I took the lead.

I obviously thought they were unaware. That is, until one day when I was five and had just learned to read. There it was, on the sweets shelf, a paper that read “BOEVEN” in large print. This is Dutch for “crooks” or “thieves”. My parents never actually confronted us about grabbing their candy except on this one playful occasion.

In reality though, I still wasn’t truly aware that my parents knew. In fact, I remember one day when I was about fifteen, my parents had left like eight hamburgers on a plate in the kitchen and I sneaked into it to eat one at a time. My parents never confronted me and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized they must’ve known. That is when the shame at having eaten this many hamburgers caught up with me.


This post was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt this week is food. It is a an autobiographical piece.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 14, 2021)

Hi everyone on this beautiful Saturday! The weather is much better than I’d expected yesterday that it’d be. It’s partly cloudy but warm and dry. I like it.

Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again. I just had my afternoon coffee, as seems common when I write these posts. However, I’m pretty sure there’s still some coffee left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that I finally went to Lobith last weekend. It was good being there. As I mentioned yesterday, we got pizza (takeout). Other than that, we just chillaxed. Is that even a word?

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I texted my sister on Monday. She’d called me last week because her daughter had been referred to the orthopedic doctor for a leg length difference (her left leg is shorter than her right leg). Apparently, my niece also used her left leg less than her right. My sister wanted to know about the reasons I wear (or should wear) an AFO. I explained about the fact that I had a brain bleed and it’s from that, without mentioning cerebral palsy of course as my parents never mentioned that to me even though I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called.

As it turns out, my niece has mild hip dysplasia and will be seen by a child orthopedic specialist in Amsterdam someday. Please all pray that the wait won’t be too long. My niece is nearly two-years-old, so it’s pretty late for corrective wear or so I’ve been told.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been doing quite well over the past week. I have mostly felt able to cope with my current situation okay. On Thursday, a fellow client was screaming for almost an hour on end. She does this every once in a while, yet for the first time I didn’t have an impulse to run away. I did get a little threatening towards the client, but the staff were able to calm me down.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I have been rather crafty of late again. I didn’t finish many projects, but I did practise polymer clay a lot. I also did make a melt and pour soap and massage oil for my friend who lives a few care homes down the road from me. It was her birthday yesterday. I came by at around 10:30AM to give her her presents and was invited to sit down in her garden for coffee and apple crumble. This was really nice.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that tomorrow, I’m going to Ikea with my one-on-one to buy some new furniture for my room. My dining/crafting table is rather wobbly on its legs, so I want a new one. I also want a new second chair for my staff. My staff currently sit on a very clunky office chair with armrests, which for this reason can’t be pushed under the table. I want one similar to my own chair. I’m pretty sure I’ll be successful at finding both a desk or table and a chair. I’m also going to look at a mini fridge, as you may remember I wanted to buy one for in my room too. I don’t intend on actually buying it at Ikea, but I want to take a look at what it’s like so that I know if I have the right picture in my mind. Then I want to order it online next month when I get some extra money with my benefits.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2021)

Hi everyone! Can you believe the first half of 2021 is over already? I certainly can’t. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon soft drink. If you want one too, I bet there’s still some left in the fridge. I can also make you a Senseo coffee if you want it. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d talk a little about the weather. It’s okay. Most of the past week, it’s been raining, but I still got time to go outside inbetween rainfalls. It was a bit chilly for summer early in the week. Today and over the weekend, temperatures are supposed to rise to above 20°C.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that most of the pandemic restrictions were lifted last week. They however had only been lifted a few days when news got out about the delta variant of the coronavirus soon becoming dominant. Thankfully, the Netherlands has quite a high vaccination rate, so I have my hopes up we won’t enter a full lockdown come September. After all, my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on September 19 and we really want to finally be able to do something fun.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a truly mixed bag mental health-wise. I did enjoy some activities, like jewelry-making. Last week was my 35th birthday and I got a bunch of supplies as a present. When being engaged in creative activities, I do genuinely feel some level of contentment, if not happiness.

However, there have also been times when I felt incredibly left out and hopeless. Like I said two weeks ago, the manager indicated that I cannot get more support than I’m getting now. Sometimes, I’m okay with this, but at other times, it really frustrates me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ll finally start my topiramate this coming Sunday. The longer it takes, the less hopeful I am that it will actually help. We’ll see though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, some type of staff support person came to observe and help the staff with some situations with other clients and with me. She offered some ideas for easing transitions for me. When I’m doing okay or sort of okay, they help, but when I’m very distressed, they don’t. I’m still unsure as to how I can ease the many transitions I face during the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d update you all about my situation with the possible UTI I talked about two weeks ago. Well, it isn’t a UTI. What it is, no-one seems to know or care about. I was told to take naproxen and paracetamol and, when this week I reported that they helped some, was just told to continue taking them for another month. A month! I mean, seriously?! I feel quite frustrated about this.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that my sister and her family are visiting me and my husband in Lobith tomorrow. My husband gave me the choice between taking a ParaTransit taxi and him picking me up at 10AM. Since my sister won’t visit till 3PM, I decided to take the taxi. I still have my entire kilometer allowance, since I haven’t felt comfortable yet using the taxi due to COVID-19. My taxi should arrive here in Raalte by 12:30PM. It’s normally a little under a ninety-minute drive to Lobith, but the taxi service might be late and/or combine my ride with someone else’s. However, if I schedule my ride earlier, I won’t be able to have lunch. Fingers crossed the taxi won’t be late.

How have you been?

#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?

Working On Us Prompt: Family Relationships and Boundaries

This week’s Working On Us prompt is about relationships and boundaries. I am going to focus in my post on my relationship with my family of origin.

As regular readers know, I don’t have the best relationship with my parents. They are very unsupportive of me regarding my mental health and disabilities in general. They, in short, believe that I refuse to accept my blindness and for that reason, choose to make up my other disabilities, including mental illness, to have an excuse to be different. They say I somehow crave attention and therefore want to manipulate everyone into providing me care.

Well, let me be very clear that I do not choose to be mentally ill or autistic. In part, my mental health issues are in fact trauma-based, having been caused by my parents’ mistreatment of me.

For this reason, I’ve had to set some boundaries with my parents. None of these I voiced towards them yet. I, for example, have them, as well as my sister, on restricted access to my Facebook, which means they don’t get to see posts I set to friends only even though we are technically Facebook friends. My sister is generally less eager to voice her opinion, but she for all I know 100% agrees with my parents. My brother-in-law isn’t really any bad, but I have him on restricted access just in case. When I created this blog, I purposefully didn’t link it to my Facebook, so that my parents and sister are less likely to find it.

Another boundary is not having told my parents or sister that I’m going into long-term care. I am going to officially disclose my going into long-term care on the afternoon or evening of the day I move to the care facility. I have already had a dozen scenarios run through my mind of how they will respond. They may already know, of course, and never have told me in order to keep the peace. They probably don’t know though. In that case, they may decide to estrange themselves from me, or they may try to talk me out of being in long-term care. They may, in the best case scenario, say it’s my choice and my life.

As far as respecting my boundaries, I’ve never set truly firm boundaries with my parents. I may have to soon, in case they want to talk me out of being in long-term care. I may even have to go no contact with them myself.

In case you are wondering who supports me, I do have my lovely husband and his parents. My husband of course will be missing me when I go into long-term care, but he 100% supports me nonetheless.