I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.
Someone once told me I was doing it wrong. DOING IT WRONG. It doesn’t matter what “IT” was. I saw a quote that says “Just because someone is on a different path than you does not mean they are lost.” That person who told me I was doing it wrong….she was wrong. She was very wrong. I have made a million mistakes, some bad decisions, said some words I regretted, hurt some people I shouldn’t have, and all of it has me right here, right now. And there’s no place else Im supposed to be.
When I was 15 I had my first “boyfriend”. Then I had a boyfriend every year for the rest of my life. Before I met Patrick I spent some months alone. Going out with friends and to parties as a single girl. But other than those months there has been very little time since I was 15 that I did not have a boyfriend.
There was a girl who never left the sidewalk. There was a girl who never colored outside of the lines. There was a girl who stood on the sidelines while others jumped. And judged them. I could’ve fallen off the curb, gotten a bad grade for the bad coloring, gotten hurt because I didn’t know what was over the cliff if I jumped. She was cautious and timid and nervous and anxious and sad. I don’t miss her.
So there’s a few things adults were wrong about. Things they told me when I was young or things I heard. Quite a few things actually but I can’t name them all. A few stick out. And I tell you these things now. That may be wrong. Whatever….as we all know I long ago surrendered my “parent of the year” award. First of all…YOU WILL NEVER EVER USE ALGEBRA. Unless you become some sort of mathematician, teacher, or some career Im too dumb to know the title of…you. will. never. use. it. And trust me….if by some crazy, rare situation occurs that I cannot foresee right now in which you DO need Algebra…..you can google it.
Did you ever have a Monday you just wanted to go back to bed. Curl up in a ball. Disappear?
I hate complaining. I hate complainers. I hate excuses. I’ve made no bones about that stuff. So this blog goes against everything I say I stand for. I wasn’t going to write this. Or at least not post it. We’ll see if I do. I think its important, though to share our struggle. To be honest. To let anyone who might be suffering out there know that they are not alone.
When Im stressed I hold it in my shoulders and neck. It doesn’t help that I have some cracked vertebrae in my neck that flare up once in awhile. So when stress is at an all-time high I can barely move my head. It hurts. Like SHIT. I still workout- because I need to and want to and it is what I do. I woke up today with tears rolling down my face the pain was so bad. But I wake up next to a dude who’s brain is shrinking. Complaining seems idiotic. And selfish.
My business is growing quickly. That is NOT a complaint. I could not be more thrilled with that. I am ecstatic. Its amazing and a blessing and Im so grateful. My “why” for doing this coaching thing isn’t just to “help other people get healthy”. Thats a big part of it. I love fitness and exercise and feeling great. But lets be honest- there’s good money to be made. And with Patrick’s very unknown work future I feel a serious obligation to my family to keep us financially secure. He makes very good money. I have not worked in years. I cannot express how grateful I am to him and to this situation for allowing me to be home with my kids all of those years. I am one lucky girl. So it feels so ungrateful to bitch about the pressure I feel when I know there’s single Moms out there that have been dealing with this for a LONG time. Who never had a supportive partner. But I can’t help but feel the pressure. Im sure my husband has felt this pressure to provide for 18 years. It’s my turn. And lets just say Im great at the “people and parties” part of this job. I love socializing, I love working with my team, I love working with people to find the appropriate fitness program and watching them succeed. The stupid ass taxes and administrative shit can kiss my ass. I don’t do “business stuff”. And now Im forced to. I know- poor poor me…business is doing well so I will deal. Its just me having a bitch session about the fact that I HATE dealing with numbers and taxes and accounting and crap. I went to a party college- and got a degree in Psychology because it required the least amount of math classes. And holy hell I need help because I don’t want to end up like Wesley Snipes and make a bunch of money then lose it because I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HELL IT IS! OK- rant over about that.
People are relying on me. My kids, my husband, my customers, my coaches, my team. I love that. But it is stressful. My husband has been VERY wobbly this past week. And his speech is worse. It seems to be progressing. I knew it would. But for some dumb reason I ignore it. I love the little world I love in called Denial. It serves it’s purpose. It keeps me sane. It helps my neck. It helps me continue functioning. But he’s getting worse. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And it fucking sucks. And 99% of the time Im ok and happy and embracing life and knowing each moment is precious and appreciating it. Today is a 1% day. Fuck you Brain Rot. And I want to call my Dad for help. He’d run here. He’d move here. He’d be here to help me. But I don’t have him. I have me. And when I Iook around for the grown-ups to FIX this. For the support of a more mature person. For a place to fall down and cry while someone else cleans it up I realize there is no one. Its ME. Im the grown up. Fuck.
I got some sweet messages from people about my video I posted on Facebook last week of me dancing in my driveway to my new CIZE workout. Very sweet. And some saying- “wow I could never look that good dancing” or “wow you’re in great shape I could never live up to that”. And I feel like some people get a picture of a perfect girl with a perfect life who’s thin and in shape and happy all the time. I want those people to know that there’s REAL shit in everyone’s life. I am thin. Born this way. Im the bitch who can workout twice and have muscles. I’ve never been overweight. I was too thin at one point due to severe IBS and stomach issues. I feel great now physically- Im healthier than I’ve ever been.. I can climb a mountain. My husband can’t.
And he texts me that the wobbliness is even worse today. And I have 500 things on my list for work to do. And I have 35 messages to return. And a new coach basics group to help run. And new coaches to train. And a kid to take to the orthodontist. And a light bulb to change. And dishes. And laundry. And a health check up for school athletics. And a workout to do and video and post. And so, so , so many other things. And all I really want to do is cry. And go to sleep.
And that is me bitching unnecessarily. Because I know that there are a million Moms, a million people out there who have it WAY worse than me. I get to travel. I have amazing friends. I have a nice house. A great family. An amazing “job”. And it all looks perfect. Perfectly perfect in that dance video. And maybe thats why someone WONT think they can get fit or find their healthy or “look like me while dancing” (good lord aim higher). Dont do that- dont think its all roses. I am one tough ass girl. I am strong willed and capable and I never give up! NEVER! I love my work and I will pour my soul into that. I love my family. I know how damn lucky I am. I don’t dance because my life is perfect. I dance INSPITE of the shit and BECAUSE it is so imperfect. Now Im going to have a cry. Then Im going to put on my big girl Nike Pros and kick this week’s ass. I hope you all do the same. Thanks for letting this girl bitch a little….or a LOT!
I think when I was younger I just assumed I’d never leave Texas. I am a 5th generation Texan. Seriously- thats a LOT of years and a LOT of family born and raised there. There’s this sense of security and safety that comes from staying near family. From living where you are familiar. From knowing there are a 100 relatives within arms reach. Especially if your parents are there. And when Patrick & I bought our last house in Texas it was 2.5 miles from my parents house. I cannot express to the degree at which I was certain, CERTAIN it would remain that way.
No matter how old you get having your parents near is a very cool thing. Well….most of the time. We had built in babysitters when we needed them. And the thought that if I ever needed anything or had to “escape” or feel like a little girl again for just a bit-was supported by the fact that in 5 minutes I could be at their house. My parents’ house.
I had never lived outside of Texas. I was born and raised in North Dallas. I went to college in East Texas and Patrick & I lived in Austin for a few years before kids. That is as far as I had ventured…Austin. Damn cool city by the way. Although I don’t have an NRA card or know any farmers or have ever ridden a bull as all the stereotypes would assume- I am Texan through and through.
When my Dad was killed I was 33. My kids were 4 and 5. And my plan went to shit. How dare he die. How dare my ideal image of life go up in flames. God damn deer. It’s funny that a lot of people I know live what I’d call a “charmed life”. They do not know tragedy or loss or illness or any of that crap. And I would be lying if I didn’t have a tinge of jealousy over that. That ideal life is pretty cool.
When I left for college it was 3 hours from home. I cried. I was nervous and scared and I’d never lived in a dorm or away from home before. But as I’ve blogged about before my second Mom, Lynda, convinced me it would be the right thing. And she was so very right. Im so grateful for leaving home and learning and failing and falling and getting back up on my own. SO. GRATEFUL.
So my Dad died suddenly and Patrick got brain rot and my pretty little plan unraveled. And when your husband has brain rot and asks how you feel about leaving your home and heading for the mountains you pause a second and then remember Lynda saying “GO”. Because why not?
So up and moving your life across the country is quite normal for a lot of people. Military families do it all the time. They are better than me, though. And to this girl- moving to Colorado was HUGE. HUGE. And the honest truth is I had to have a conversation with myself about my future. If my husband is no longer around and my kids are off at college am I going to be OK in Colorado with no family? Alone? It’s just a question I had no choice but to ponder. I never considered myself all that strong or independent. I liked having family around, I liked having support, I didn’t like being alone or left to handle things on my own. But that was before. Before motorcycle accidents and brain rot. And that girl had to grow up.
In the days and weeks after Dad died I was sick to my stomach at the thought of my Mom alone in her house. I hated that for her and wondered how she was going to survive. Now I know I was an idiot- she is a very strong person. And so am I.
I cry and worry and get anxiety and hate brain rot and have my bad days. But I KNOW I am a tough girl. Unfortunately I watched my Mom be that. Fortunately I got that from her.
It’s funny the things you think about as your kids get older. Maddie starts High School in the Fall…Andy wont be far behind…God willing….and that means in 5 years it’s just Patrick & I. That is crazy to me. CRAZY. The time flew. And I know…I know and am acutely aware that it could be just me. Of course not one of us knows exactly the amount of time we have on Earth. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Im so grateful for the wisdom and strength and bravery and fortitude that was passed down to me that gave us the courage to move at the very time we probably should have stayed close to family. But life is short and opportunities arise at the strangest of times and if Im going to pass down to my kids the strength, the courage, the fortitude, the “why not” attitude….I needed to shit or get off the pot as my Grandad used to say. Actions speak loudly. I have embraced every part of Colorado. It has been the perfect place for my family. It is. Patrick is happy. My soul is happy and my kids are happy. Texas will ALWAYS be home. ALWAYS. But sometimes I think that fate or God or whatever you want to call it knows exactly where we are supposed to be at each turn in our lives. I am right where I am supposed to be.
My hat’s off to all the single parents out there, to all of our military families, to those who’ve lost loved ones, to the ones who have felt “all on their own”….YOU are the brave ones.
As I get older I realized that the things worth doing, the things you SHOULD do are the things that make you nervous and scared and anxious. If it doesn’t make you those things……is it really worth doing? Do scary things. You are braver than you think.
I grew up a few miles from both sets of my grandparents. I had both parents in my house growing up. My parents stayed married. To each other. In fact I don’t think there was one divorce anywhere in my immediate or non-immediate family. I grew up in the middle class suburbs with two awesome parents and great neighbors and wanted for nothing. Norman Rockwell shit. Seriously.
Every Holiday we spent together. Both sets of grandparents and the occasional cousin or aunt or uncle and their family if they were in town. We had a “formal dining room”, You know…the one you are not allowed to go in. My Mom and grandmas made all of the big southern meals at Holidays. Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, there was always a house full of people and hot rolls and salad and ham and green bean casserole on the table. And very often football in the background….Cowboys of course. I loved all of that. We stuffed ourselves and then all fell asleep scattered like full-bellied bears across the floor, couch & Lazy Boy recliner. Papaw even snored sometimes.
I think I just assumed at the time that all families were this way. That every kid had this life. The security of food and a house and family. I knew I wanted that for my own family one day. I imagined living near my parents and having most Holidays spread out across a large formal dining room table and ham and rolls and kids running around and football.
And until my daughter was 5 I had that. We had that. Bikes and trikes in the driveway and music blaring through the garage and sometimes a picnic table in the garage to accommodate extra cousins or aunts or whomever showed up. Bliss. Happy. Crawfish boils were introduced to the mix once I introduced a Cajun boy into the mix. My Dad loved that. My Dad loved him. My parents had an acre of land and my Dad would take turns giving the kids rides on the riding lawn mower. In Texas you could wear shorts on Thanksgiving. We had a dirt bike that even I would drive around the property. I recall (kind of) tying rope and shovels to the back of the horses that the neighbor owned and riding the shovel while the horse would run full speed. OK just a tad WT here but whatever it was fun. And stupid. And fun.
And I think I just assumed it would always be that way. Living a few miles from my parents and always having them there. That my kids would have the same experience with there grandparents as I did. You know what they say about assuming though…
And shit happens. And Dad dies. And brain rot starts. And things change and worlds are turned upside down and inside out and good God its shitty and not fair. And you stop. And you decide you can cry and be sad forever and bitch about how NOTHING is the same and your life is not turning out like you expected and where the hell are all the Norman Rockwell paintings now? OR…..
You can change too. You can pick up your family and move across the country where you know NO ONE! NO ONE. And have no family. And you’ve never baked a ham in your life. And your house has no formal dining room. And you wake up on Easter morning and go shopping for clothes and hang out on your deck staring at the mountains because football is not on and you take your almost 15 year old daughter to learn to drive your Jeep with music blaring…and it ain’t so bad. Its NOT in anyway how you thought it would be. At all. And there are a few moments that is sad. And you get a group text from your brother in Dallas, your Mom in Washington, your sister in Austin…all saying Happy Easter. And maybe the table and the hot rolls and the physical proximity of them is not there….but the memories are. And instead of mourning what your kids WONT have you look around at them giggling in the parking lot trying not to drive into a pole and you think….”this is ok”.
New memories, new traditions, new acceptance, new stages of life. I still get sad at what might’ve been. But I don’t want to be so sad that I miss what IS!
Some of us are lucky enough to have an amazing Mom. A funny, well adjusted, sarcastic, intelligent, beautiful, wise, caring Mom. And some of us are lucky enough to have two.
When I was in 7th grade I met Wendy. We became very close friends and remained that way through High School- even cheering together for several years. Looking back now Im not quite sure why the heck she was friends with me. Wendy is a doctor now. And she married a guy thats some sort of fancy research neuro doctor guy. Wendy studied a lot. And made good grades. And good decisions. See- not sure why she hung with me…although I can be fun 🙂
One of the benefits of being Wendy’s friend is you also get Wendy’s Mom, Lynda. When I would spend the night at Wendy’s house (which was quite often) Lynda would make us fresh baked cookies and bring them to us in Wendy’s room with milk. WITH MILK! Now- I know some of you know my mom, Karen Ellis. Witty, funny, sarcastic, smart, a little type A…but COOKIES AND MILK? Not that kind of Mom. Love you Karen but your strengths lay elsewhere- as do mine. My kids know Im not a cookies and milk kind of Mom. And thats ok. My very matter of fact Mom explained the birds and the bees on my chalkboard with drawings of a uterus and “man parts” and the very scientific terms that accompanied them when I was 11 or 12. Im still scarred to this day. Yes these are the same parents who blared Led Zeppelin all through the house in my childhood. What can I say. Practically liberal they were! Love them for all of that.
But I’d never been around a Mom like Lynda. Cookies and milk and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS smiling. Always sweet and happy and in a good mood. She made the perfect Elementary School teacher. God Love her. I could tell my Mom anything. No matter what problem I had- and she’d immediately draft a solution on an excel spreadsheet and help implement said plan without a hitch…..Lynda- she’d hug you tight and tell you its all going to be ok. Lucky me to have two Moms in my life. My Mom and Lynda are very VERY close friends. Best friends now. Have been for years. Yin and Yang.
I got to be there the day Lynda married Glen. I was 16. I remember thinking how lucky they each were to have found each other. Glen is so super cool! I am so blessed and privileged to have been there for that. Sometimes fate gets it right with two people.
When I was 18 my senior year of high school I was trying to decide between going to the local university just 30 minutes from my house or the college 3 hours from home. I was scared of leaving home and really debated on what to do. And there was a boy. He was staying local. So there was that. Lynda was over at our house and we went outside (just the two of us) and sat on my front steps on Addington Drive and talked. Well- she talked, I listened (thank God). She talked about the importance of leaving home and spreading your wings and getting away from your parents and NEVER doing anything because of a boy. And she helped make a decision for me- to leave home- to go away to college. I will never be able to repay her for helping me to make that decision. She was RIGHT!
When I was 33 I got a call from my Mom that my Dad had been in a horrible accident in Colorado on his motorcycle. She immediately got on a plane and headed for Denver to be with him. I began frantically running around my house, making calls, trying to stay updated on his condition. There were so, so many people in my house that day that I can barely remember it all. I really do not remember who all was there. It felt so strange to not have my Mom or sister or brother with me. When the call came. I was laying in my bedroom floor curled into a fetal position screaming and crying and SHE was there. Holding me. And just hugging and rocking me. Like a Mom does for her child. In my Mom’s absence, in the moment I found out my Dad had passed…she was there. Thank you Lynda.
Every year since my Dad died Lynda (and my Mom’s other dear friend, Shirley) have spent my Mom and Dad’s anniversary weekend with my Mom. They go camping with her or out to dinner or to a hotel or wherever. So sweet of them to spend what would be an otherwise sad day making my Mom laugh and fall off of horses (inside joke) and surely getting her drunk on wine. The GREATEST thing I learned from Karen was to make incredible friends and CHERISH them. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends.
And now Lynda has cancer. And I told Wendy I’d keep this blog “clean”. And Im not sure how to do that. Because Im mad. Im pissed. Im angry. There are a lot of good people in this world. But NONE are better than Lynda. A heart of gold and the grace of an angel and the sweetest personality ever. I have no idea why crap happens to good people. I’ll never know that. I gave up trying to figure that out years ago. But Im still mad. I hate cancer. Cancer sucks. So does Brain Rot. And Hypothyroidism. And Hashimotos. And Parkinsons.
But I love life and Lynda and I want her to know publicly how amazing I think she is. What an amazing person she is. That she has been and continues to be such a positive influence on my life. I love you Lynda! Karen loves you too and I love you more for what you’ve done for my Mom. If I could I would kick cancer’s ass (sorry Wendy) all over the place. I’d annihilate it and never allow it to harm anyone again. Im praying and hoping and wishing and crossing my fingers and meditating and using all that I have in me to make that cancer go away. You are a fighter Lynda- always have been. Love you- now kick cancer’s HINEY! :)-
I write about brain rot quite often. I write about the fight. The will we have to find a cure. The lack of trials and funding and interest in such a rare disease. I know more about the cerebellum than any regular person should ever know. I know about every alternative treatment, oil, vitamin, exercise, acupuncture, diet and crazy voodoo spell there is..we’ve tried them all. I talk a lot about it. I laugh about it. I joke about it. I am proud of our strength…the strength of my little family as we navigate this shit. But I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the times its not so funny. The ugly truth of it.
I don’t want to. None of this will paint me in a very good light. I feel like a monster even thinking some of the things I think. So to write them down and admit them feels yucky. But…BUT….its the truth. Its the peeled back, naked, nasty real truth of this.
Patrick & I are attending the National Ataxia Foundation’s conference in 2 weeks. Its in Denver. Convenient. Its a 3 day symposium thingy with all kinds of doctors and nurses and researchers talking about the latest and greatest and newest news and research on Ataxia. And a room filled with hundreds of people with Ataxia and their spouses/families. Sounds like a fucking party to me. And to top off the weekend there is a dance. Yes you read that right…a god damned dance…for people with ATAXIA. For people with a disease that greatly affects balance and coordination. Don’t think I won’t have my iPhone set to video to tape this shit and put it on youtube. Yes. YES- I am aware of how horrible that is. I just don’t care.
Its so easy to judge other people. SO EASY. I do it all the time. We all do it- its human nature. And I know everyone handles things and situations differently. And I know I said “in sickness and in health” and I know only an asshole makes fun of brain rot. I am an asshole. I admit it. I can honestly say you have NO IDEA how you would feel or react to this if you have not been through it. And very few have. Its a rare disease. And dear God in Heaven I wish I could handle it with grace and sweetness and be that catering, doting wife that quietly fights and is grateful just for the moments we have together. I REALLY REALLY do. I hate that wife. I hate her because she has her shit together.
I write about this once a month or so. My friends ask about it now and then. Our parents visit sometimes and ask about any updates. And then they get to walk away. They get to go back to their lives of perfect balance and clear speech and normal-ness. I do not. We do not. We live it every single damn second. Every moment of every day of every week of every month it is there. It never EVER goes away. It slaps you in the face in the morning when you wake up. It weighs on your mind as you fall asleep. It affects absolutely every single fucking thing you do. Everything. And the ugliness is Im sick of it. Im tired of it. I want to run away sometimes. I want to scream and punch something. I want the guy I married back and its not fucking fair. None of this is fair.
And I sit in my car and wonder how far I could drive before anyone would notice me missing. And I don’t want to be solely responsible for him and our kids and our finances and the medical shit and my sanity and his happiness and keeping things “normal”. I just don’t. Im not equipped and I did not sign up for this bullshit. I can run up Pikes Peak and back down. I can. He can’t. I married a guy that could. He could run fast and bike and swim and did triathlons. He never smoked he ate well and was extremely healthy and fit so FUCK you fate or whatever bullshit gene went haywire and caused this. IT IS NOT FAIR.
So this is a bad day. He is far away on business. I am here. At home doing soccer practice and cheer practice and high school registration (good god) and running kids to school and picking up prescriptions and doing laundry and working and being resentful of it all and the fact that I may have to do it all alone someday. And I know Im an asshole for these thoughts and feelings. I also know Im HUMAN. I know its ok to have a bad day. A sad day. I know its ok to get angry…at him…at the world…at healthy people who take it for granted…at people who CHOOSE to be unhealthy. Its all OK. And even if its not oh well…its how I feel and I cannot change that. Theres a lot I can’t change and for a total control freak that is difficult. So I deal. I shut down, I shut people out, I cry, I laugh, I joke, I work, I exercise, I do whatever the hell I have to do to cope. And if you don’t understand that I got nuthin’ for ya. Except to say I wouldn’t wish this shit on my worst enemy.
I love my life. I love my family. I love my job. I love my friends. And I have bad days. Where its all about me and not about him. Where he may HAVE the shrinking brain but I feel like Im shrinking too. And I know that tomorrow will be better. Because it will. Because I will. I am a VERY strong, tough girl. I always have been. But strong girls have weak moments too. Thank you for letting me share mine. Thank you for letting me be openly human. I hope that maybe MAYBE maybe someone won’t feel as shitty about their raw thoughts if I share mine.