Yes, I'm Scared of the Dark. Terrified, Really.

I have a lot of fears. Well, maybe not a lot, but at least two or three that seize my body with terror & fill my mind with awful images & scenarios whenever I think of them.

Like drowning.

The thought of not being able to draw in a breath without choking on water & being submerged in a body of water petrifies me.

And toes curled up & my heart nearly flew out of my chest just typing that I think it's best we just move right along to my final fear:

I'm terrified of the dark.

Yes, I'm 29 years old and I'm afraid of the dark-have been since I was a kid. Even as grown woman & mother of two kids, a small part of me is always convinced something will emerge from it to "get me," even though my rational mind knows this isn't the case.

But that's the thing about fears, right? They aren't always rational, are they? (Follow me, I'm trying to go somewhere, I promise.)

I think what scares me the most about darkness is that it places everything it covers into The Land of the Unknown...what was sure & recognizable in the light becomes shadowy, fuzzy & unclear in the dark. For a control freak like myself, I'm sure you can imagine why this freaks me out. I wish I could tell you that I don't stay awake some nights wondering if the shadow in the closet is really from the ironing board that I KNOW is there...or from some horrific figment of my imagination it's put there to f-- with me. Seriously, I wish I could but I can't. I don't do it much when I'm with someone else but if I'm by myself? Forget it. I'm cowering under the covers trying not to think about how unsafe I feel...Sometimes, just to shut up & shut down the fears screaming in my mind I have to actually get up, turn on a light, and go physically touch objects around the room I'm in...just for reassurance.

Crazy, right? Weird, right? Yes I know. Stupid? Probably...but as I lay here in my bed typing this and trying to tell myself I'm not going to wake up with some stranger laying next to or on me, and that the boys & I are VERY safe, I'm realizing that my fear of the dark is really just a fear of uncertainty. I hate not knowing. Ambiguity and I are not friends. Not being able to see & know everything around me leaves me in a very unsettled place emotionally...which disrupts me mentally, and manifests itself physically into agitation, irritability, paranoia, and crippling anxiety. I even get intrusive thoughts sometimes. My mind smells any hint of fear & just takes off in about 20 different directions, all of which lead to something horrific happening. If I can't see or know everything there is about something, a person, or where I have to go, I'm a wreck and not too pleasant to be around. This is one of the reasons I hate getting lost. Can't. Stand it.

And it's one of the reasons why even though growing up a military brat acquainted me with change & taught me the importance of adjusting & adapting to it, I'm not very good at embracing it like I should be. I know, you're thinking to yourself "The chick who changes her hair color every time she blinks is afraid of change? What the hell?" But seriously, while I may not be afraid of changing how I look, I am terrified of how change impacts my life in other areas.

I like change...There are times my restless and adventurous little soul yearns for it...but then when it shows up ready to deliver I promptly begin to freak the hell out. I know-I don't get the contradiction either, trust me.

So even though I was dying to pack up & move across the giddy at the thought of marrying the nerd of my relieved to be taking a break from work & school and looking forward to just being I am, laying in a hotel room in Austin, TX, (IN THE DARK!) absolutely paralyzed by my fear of the uncertain...of what's unknown...imagine Usain Bolt running around at record speed inside my head waving 500 "what if?" flags stirring up a fear tornado. That's my mind right now.

A fear tornado. I'm dead smack in the center staring wide eyed at all my fears & questions swirling furiously around me.

What happens if Bertski doesn't come back from PA next week because his train derails and crashes and I'm forced to be here by myself? How would we survive & live without him?

What if someone breaks in here or attacks us while he's gone? How would I defend us?

What if he changes his mind & doesn't want to marry me?

What if he hates it here?

What if I hate it here? And the boys? What if this was a mistake?

We haven't found a place yet-what if we don't? How long can we stay here at the hotel? Will they kick us out? Where will we go?

What if by choosing to "just" be Mom, I lose the other parts of me that make me...ME? What will happen to my passions, my goals, my ambition? What if I don't go back to school & I regret it? Will my children think less of me if I don't have a degree? Will I be setting the bar too low for them if I don't go back?

Can we survive off of just one income?

What if the boys get sick or need to go to the doctor? Or me? Or Bertski? We don't have health insurance...

What if I'm not strong enough to handle all of this change & I sink into an episode or my illness rages out of control again?

I could go on...but I'll stop the list there. I know some of these fears are irrational, slightly silly & maybe even stupid-I know this, I do. But there are others that are valid & real and they're the ones that cause me the most unease. I'm incredibly happy we moved. Grateful for the people we've met here & the connections we've made despite being states away from family & friends who have supported us for years. Thrilled that I'm doing this with the man I love dearly and my boys...

But I'm also scared shitless over the unknowns of this venture, of everything that sits in the dark, and restricts my vision of the future. We've executed a plan that brought us here, but large amounts of that plan have been rooted in uncertainty & our desire to just stick together & "make it happen"until we're settled.

I'm afraid of the dark, because not being able to see what's in front of me leaves me feeling very unsettled...uneasy...uncomfortable. I'm trying to take it all in stride & just learn to be okay with not knowing. I'm trying to embrace the nuances of change without trying to control it too much. It's not easy, but I'm trying.

Well there you have it. I told you some of my fears, what are yours?

Changing Seasons & New Beginnings

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." -Charles Darwin Change. The past 6 months of 2012 have all been about change.

We left for Austin Tuesday night. Excited & full of adrenaline over FINALLY being able to enter this new season of our lives, we drove close to 900 miles.

We made it all the way to Nashville without any major meltdowns from the kids, or heavy traffic. We found a pretty decent hotel to rest in for the night, giving the boys their first hotel experience. They LOVED it, jumping on the beds, begging to ride the elevators repeatedly, explore the lobby & pick up swag from the gift shop.




Changes. New beginnings.

When Bertski & I sat down to talk over pancakes & coffee on that cloudy Thursday back in April, we talked a lot about change, and realized we shared a desire for it and a sense that it was on the way. We both felt stagnant...stuck...tapped out and feeling like we needed a change of scenery.

Since I had just visited Austin and fallen in love with it, and it's a place Bertski's always wanted to visit, it seemed like the most logical choice for a fresh start & a good city for us to raise the boys in, with its laid back vibe being a welcome respite from the fast & frantic grind of the northeast.

With the decision to relocate came other major decisions.

We traded in both cars & purchased our first minivan, a symbol of our commitment to being & building a family. It was also a symbol of the end of Bertski's batchelorhood....something he embraced with open arms & a bottle of Merlot. :)

We both made a commitment to live our lives again instead of just survive them. The roller coaster & trials of the past 3 years took a heavy toll on us and had us both living in survival mode, forcing us to abandon things we're passionate about. For Bertski that's pursuing a career in neuroscience, artificial intelligence & robotics; thus scaling back on his work in the IT sector.

For myself, while I thought my passion was for school & pursuing a degree in counseling & a certification in dance movement therapy, I started realizing this year that what I truly have a passion for is helping people and writing...being creative in general. I also realized that while I enjoy academics, the stress & pressure of a full-time course load were just too much for me, mostly because of my illness. This year I found college very triggering for me. I had two severe manic episodes and 3 pretty dark depressions that had me contemplating suicide. Sure I was growing & my mind was expanding, which I loved, but it was starting to take a toll on my mental health & ability to be engaged with the boys. I wanted to quit but was scared doing so meant I was failing myself & more importantly, the boys. Besides, if I wasn't in school, what would I do? My disability from the VA wouldn't be enough to live on...As a single parent I couldn't afford not to work, but without a degree my chances of getting a good enough job with benefits able to sustain us was slim...and while Medicaid & food stamps were a huge help, I didn't want to have to rely on them as our only means of being able to make it from month to month. But then Bertski & I got back together and suddenly I wasn't on my own anymore...and then something my social work professor said during class one day helped me make my decision. "Some of you," he said, " will get your degrees, your credentials & be great social workers, counselors, and be able to make a significant difference in people's lives. But some of you won't have to have the degree & credentials to do that-your life experience and desire to serve & help others will be enough to make as much of an impact." That hit me hard, and I spent the rest of that class realizing what he said was true. I decided that day that I was taking a break from school.

I've decided instead to do something I haven't been able to in 6 years: stay home with the boys...and pursue my desires to focus on writing & volunteering. If I'm going to be out of the house I'd like to spend my time volunteering at a crisis center, working a suicide prevention hotline, mediating a support group for others with BP, or helping veterans. I'd like to finish my book, explore my love for painting, and get back into dancing. I also want to give myself time to have more periods of stability & fewer manic & depressive episodes.

So...I feel as though I spent my 20's gaining my independence (military), becoming a mother, healing from my abuse, and finding that I'm turning 30 in a few months, I just want to take some time to take care of & enjoy the person who's emerged from the ashes of the past few years...and enjoy my family.

We both know that making these changes include a certain amount of risk and that it won't be easy starting over and changing our approach to life...choosing to live life instead of just surviving it (especially in a new city) is a huge leap of faith for us, but a choice we're hoping brings us a lot of reward.

I'll post later this week/weekend about what makes me nervous & even a little fearful about all of these changes...until then, tell me about the last BIG change or transition you & your family made.