There Is Light


I don’t tell the boys when we approach a visit with their sister.

Part of this stems from the true joy I have in surprising my sons with just about everything under the sun. I absolutely love watching their faces when they either realize where we’re going or what is about to happen… or the sheer joy when I pull off a 100% shocking surprise. Oh, that’s my favorite.

I should note that I loathe surprises and if my parents had done this to me I’d probably require more therapy than I already do. I thought maybe working surprises into the boys’ lives might help in that regard. Parenting is a crapshoot at best, and they seem to like it. So we stick with it.

And part of it stems from a few smaller known issues.

Plans can change. When plans change, feelings can get hurt and emotions can run high. While our home is a safe space for big emotions, I really try to avoid letting them down. I hold enough guilt for how my actions well before they were born continue to let them down in a number of ways. I acknowledge that the whole “letting down” thing is going to happen in their lives, but I try to minimize it where and when I can. I mean, I also regularly let them down because I’m a boring curmudgeon of a mother. You know, there’s that.

There’s their excitement and, hand in hand with that, anxiety. “Is she here yet,” quickly escalates to an argument over who gets to sit next to her in the car. (Meanwhile, the both do, because she sits in the middle.) While some might see that as sibling rivalry extending into our unique family unit, I recognize my sons’ personalities and anxieties for what they are: They worry they won’t get enough one-on-one time with their sister. Gut punch.


Lastly, a totally selfish reason: I’m anxious enough about visits for approximately eleven billion reasons. Do I have enough food and snacks and drinks for everyone? Is the house clean enough? How many times will Callie excitedly pee on the floor? How much is too much? How much is not enough? How do we fit in all I want to do? Is there enough down time for a bunch of introverts and Nicholas? How do I properly process my emotions on the fly during a visit? How hard will the boys crash emotionally on Sunday when they leave? How hard will I crash on Sunday night when the boys go to sleep?

And so on.

I no longer fret about what to wear. I did realize last visit that we only take them to the same restaurants every time, so we’re gonna change it up a little bit this time around. But my brain can spin out of control if I let it. When the boys aren’t asking me eleventy billion questions about the visit, I have time and space to breathe, to make room for the emotions that are not only allowed to exist but continue to help push me toward some semblance of healing and peace.

Every single time I mindfully enter into a visit with an attitude of humble acceptance instead of anxious expectancy, I feel a growth and a change inside my soul. Oh, it’s still hard as fuck when she leaves. There’s no sugar-coating that truth. But I’ve noticed when I take that purposeful approach to a visit and practice some good self-care before hand, good things happen somewhere deep inside where things lay buried.

Remind me of this on Friday afternoon. I’m also hoping to snap reactionary photos of the boys seeing their sister, which should be at two totally separate times thanks to baseball (which has us at the field Monday through Saturday this year, folks!). For the past year and a half, I have witnessed that all on my own. I’m hoping to capture it this time. It’s truly a thing of beauty—something we worked hard to make a safe space for all.

Progress. She happens, especially after a period of hard, dark personal growth. Spring is here, and there is light.



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The World Is Full of Suffering

The World Is Full of Suffering

I am blessed/cursed with a heart that feels everything.

ASPCA commercials make me want to run down to the pound and adopt all the dogs and cats, even though my husband is allergic to the felines. When someone tells me about a local pregnant teen, I want to find her and comfort her as I fear she isn’t being supported in the ways that truly matter. Homelessness. Poverty. Death to drug addiction; drug addiction in general. Suicidal ideation.

All of it makes my heart spill over. I want to fix the world.

I cannot. Some problems are based in cycles and systemic issues that won’t magically be solved just because Jenna stepped up to some proverbial plate. Some people don’t want help. Some people will actively work against your attempts to help others.

I get it. There have been (too many) times in which I haven’t wanted help either. Sometimes it’s easier to live in your own personal, mostly self-created hell than to say, “I want this to change,” than to actively do something about it. I refused and waited out this most recent diagnosis and med change because, wait for it, I didn’t want to “gain weight with a new medication.” Yeah. That’s right. I chose to live every day—for months on end—with my first thought being, “I want to die. I want to kill myself,” simply because I didn’t want to gain a few pounds.

Even thought admitting that seems silly and fucking selfish as hell, the feeling at the time was enough to keep me from telling my therapist what was really going on, from telling my Meds Doc that, no, current medications weren’t keeping me from wanting to kill myself. A few people knew, but even then, I tried to play it off as something minor.

“I’m just struggling.”
“It will pass.”
“I’m fine.”

If you ever hear me say, “I’m fine,” let me be the first to tell you, I’m not fine. Not at all.


The good news is that someone finally got through to me, meaning my husband, and I took the hard steps of actively seeking an answer to the depression that would not quit. The new diagnosis initially shook me. “Treatment Resistant? Am I stuck like this forever?” I’m not. I just need to work harder with the medical professionals in my life to find the appropriate answers.

And while the world is full of suffering, as Helen Keller said, “it is also full of overcoming it.”

I don’t know why my brain doesn’t work quite right. I don’t know why I get stuck in Major Depressive episodes. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, and a few other things poke and prod. I diligently work on these issues, but the depression, for now, persists. I don’t know why my anxiety will stick at a manageable level for a lengthy period of time and then sky-rocket to astronomical, I-can’t-do-this levels. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, trust issues, fear of failure-slash-perfectionism all come into play. I work on these things, too. But I can be sitting, cozy and warm on the couch on an idle Tuesday and be absolutely run down by sudden anxiety. Out of nowhere.

I don’t know why certain segments of our society feel more akin to hate than to love. I don’t know why people abuse or neglect animals. I cannot, for the life of me, as a birth mother or just a simple human being, understand why other human beings neglect or abuse children. I don’t know what possesses someone to rape another. I don’t know why some people feel superior to others, thus making others feel inferior, based on the color of their skin. Or whom they love. Or how they identify. Or whatthefuckever. Or, I know some of these things, but I cannot make good sense of them in 2017.

I do know this: Despite the hate, the racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny, the desperate need to be better than somebody else for whatever reason, the world is full of people who are overcoming the suffering others put them through on a daily basis.

Right now, I’m having trouble being awake enough to function. It’s a side effect of a medication my Meds Doc put me on in hopes that I would stop waking up with the desire to kill myself. I am thankful for those in my life who understand that this is a hard, dark time in my life and that I’m actively trying to work my way through it. I want to be me again; I want to be Jenna again. I’ve been fighting and trying and pushing and surrendering and failing and wishing and hoping and praying and working my way toward what I hope will help me feel like me again. It’s not happening in the time frame that I would prefer, but I am slowly learning to trust the process. To take any progress, however small, as a complete and utter win.

I am slowly working myself back to me. I know so many other people who are doing the same thing, right now, in this very moment. We are resilient. We will make it through this. You know what I mean.

The World Is Full of Suffering

We will overcome. Stay the course. Trust the process. Keep doing what you have to do. I will stand with you in all of it.