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Primal Loss Book Review

There was a book circulating on Instagram from those I follow that caught my attention, “Primal Loss, The Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak” by Leila Miller.

It didn’t take me long to realize this would be a tough one to read.

Leila Miller, a Catholic author/writer, compiled questions and answers from participants from all walks of life.  The book, “gives voice to the adult children of divorce. Their stories are not pretty. ..breaks through layers and layers of pro-divorce propaganda.” Answers are given numbers to keep the participant anonymous.  Much of the responses I could relate to, to the point of highlighting, noting a page, and writing in my answers.

Chapter one, “The Effect of the Divorce”, the first question, ‘What effect has your parents’ divorce had on you?’  The answers are  raw and some sound as if they are still struggling.  Response noted: “Stunted my ability to properly form my own emotions” and “parental presence, instruction, and stability were often missing in my childhood.”

The second chapter, “Feelings as Child vs. Feelings as Adult, what is the difference between how you felt about divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult?” There was a response I highlighted from a woman who spoke about her brokenness and how she carried it into her marriage. That early on, she wrestled with the behaviors, but thanks to God, her husband, “never gave up…even when I gave him reason to walk away…through their marriage, I have come to learn what love means, what truth means.”

Third chapter, “View of Marriage, has our parents’ divorce affected your own marriage or your view of marriage?” A reply noted: “I struggle with trusting my husband. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, which I am sure must be related to the feeling of abandonment by my family of origin.”

Fourth chapter, “Are children resilient? What do you want to say to people who say that ‘children are resilient’ and ‘kids are happy when their parents are happy’ and ‘kids of divorce will be just fine and will go on to live successful lives?”  Responses marked: “What divorce does is shatter that universe in a drastic and traumatic way, and there’s no coming back from that. It even changes the way you perceive reality, you become anxious, nothing ever feels safe or predictable, and you’re always waiting for the piano to fall” and “I was never happy with the way things were. I simply accepted that I had no control over any of it.”

Chapter five, “Speak to your parents, then and now, what would you say directly to your parents…how it affected you, would you advise them to do it differently?”  Response noted:  “I would have told them that God must be at the center of their marriage, that they were losing focus on the family, and that they were pursuing too much of their own self interest” and “I didn’t even know my pain was buried, but every now and then something would trigger this little girl inside of me.”

Chapter six, “What society should know, what do you most want adults in our society to know about how divorce affects the children?” Response noted:  “I’d want them to know that divorce is likely affecting their kids in way that they, the adults, can’t see or understand” and kids “often don’t gain the vocabulary and perspective to even begin to articulate all they are experiencing and questioning until well into adulthood.”

Chapter seven, “The role of faith in healing, what role has your faith played in your healing?” Response noted: “My faith taught me that marriage is a vocation that leads me to unification to God. It isn’t “romantic” love or superficial happiness; true love is an act of will.”

Chapter eight, “To those facing divorce, what would you want to say to children facing their parents’ divorce today?” Response noted: “You will confuse them and make them feel abandoned in the process” and “all the positive things you modeled for your children will be eclipsed by the disordered things you modeled when divorce is the punchline” and “even though they are children, they have a voice and should say, loud and clear, what they are feeling.”

Now my response.

I begin by admitting, the book took me a while to finish.  For whatever reason, I would become anxious before and while reading.  There were emotions, thoughts, that I felt I was clear of, but then memories surfaced that I had forgotten.  I would stop and think, text my sister, ask for her recount. Sometimes, I would ask my Mom questions throughout the day, to see if she could recall situations. And for those who don’t know me or my blog, my Dad is no longer alive.  He passed away in 2006 from sarcoma cancer.  However, before my Dad died, we did talk and reconcile (thanks be to God).

Before I go any further, I wanted to share when I found out my parents were divorcing. It was a weekday morning.  I was leaving to go to school in 7th grade.  That’s when I was given the news.  I clearly remember it was in the winter, clear morning, and my world began to close in.  My sister, who is eight years older than me, was already married with her new little family.  My Dad was quickly out of the house which left just Mom and me.  Mom worked a full time job and soon began to search in her ways of attention and self seeking joy.  In 7th grade, I tried marijuana and alcohol and continued using through my Sophmore year of high school.  Time at home on the weekends was on my own or, thanks to my sister, spent with her on the weekends.  My Mom and Dad led selfish lives fulfilling their own needs and not looking towards mine.   I was fed and clothed, but the impact of my parents non-emotional non-spiritual care was heavily felt.

Even after reconciling with my mom a couple of years ago, this book pushed out things I still had trapped in my heart I didn’t know I had. Thankfully, when we spoke she listened to me when I vented the pain it caused me.  Mom is 77 years now.  So even though, there are more things I would like to clear up, she can’t recall nor does she have capacity to help me resolve.  In a way, once I realized that, it saddened me because I know I will need to deal with it with God and on my own.

This book was a challenge, but I know I had to read it not just for me, but also for my nephews and niece who are also victims of divorce.  I can see much of their own behaviors in the book that match.  They are adults now. This book gives me knowledge that I could help them in ways I didn’t notice before.

But I think the biggest thing I took away from this book, is my progress made by faith as a now adult child of divorce.

There was a moment in the book when I jumped up, put the book down, and ran over to my husband and cried to him.  I literally saw God’s hand paint over my life from the time of the family destruction to where I am now.  Holding my husband’s hand, I cried and said, “Thank you! Thank you for staying with me in the beginning when our first years of marriage were rough. For not retaliating and leaving me. For understanding I had a rough past and still with some issues to this day.” His answer, “we broke the cycle.”  How much Our Lord Jesus knows our pains and struggles.  How much He heard my cries as a teenager, saying randomly, how I never want to be like my parents or have a marriage like them. The times when I was left alone to grieve the loss of family from junior high through high school, keeping it inside, moving like a zombie pretending to be normal and happy. Through the time after high school, living a double life of seeking attention and finding myself in the pew with my sister’s family on Sunday’s because I felt I was holding onto something good.

In many ways, I know that’s why this blog started.  It was healing and still is healing. I know the way God needed to reach me and stop the pain and focus I was starting to show in my marriage, despite putting in front of me a husband, stability, love, was to diagnose me with Lupus. I know for sure, that put me to change, have recourse in my life that I’m forever grateful.  It allowed me to see truth.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  1621

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Mom’s time

My Mom has a rare condition where she has a naturally grown shunt in her liver. The doctor said she was born with it. But over time and at her senior age, her body is beginning to work against it. This means her ammonia levels are always high. Now after, four years of pretty much the same treatment, the medicine (at times) is not enough.

This year, my sister and I, see her struggling more. There is a fine line on whether her behavior is all due to the ammonia or could be mental issues like a decline in her cognitive skills.

On a recent trip, my mom, sister, and I shared, she showed signs that concerned us. Signs that we were thinking could be dementia. Thanks to God on our return from trip, Mom had an appointment lined up with her neurologist. At this time, after an MRI, it has been ruled out.

Now that we know her condition is all due to the ammonia, we’ve been told to keep an eye on her different than before. When she hits those high levels, she’s unaware it’s happening. Life has changed once again. My sister and I no longer feel comfortable in leaving her alone. We also know the control we somewhat had in our day with her has taken another twist. Days, like I’m about to describe, made time stop.

First let me rewind a bit and describe our typical day. We would do some routine errands like going to Walmart. What typically would take 30 minutes would run into an hour or so. Trying to get her to do what she needed quicker time was my aim. I would lose my patience since it would take a while for her to decide what she was looking for or her physical movement would slow her. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about helping her do what she wanted or needed to do, it’s just that I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture.

Now turning to this more recent outing, we had already been in the store for some time. Her focus was off as she would drift in thought of why she was there. We were coming down a main aisle and approached a display of artificial flowers. These were no where on her list, but she wanted to suddenly get some for her room. As I see her reaching to grab some, it just hit me. The distance from me to her changed. I felt a pull in my heart. The conviction came in strong. That I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. That these flowers were the only thing that mattered. And my whole vision by the grace of God showed me its importance.

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care how long it takes to do routine things with my mom. I don’t care that she asks me the same questions every time we go there or anywhere. “Should I buy this?” “Should I take my sweater?” “Do you think it’s cold in there?” “Have you checked the mail?”

I’m grateful too my sister and I are honest with her with this all. Explaining what the doctor found and what we’re seeing in her. She acknowledged she’s glad too even though we know she may not fully comprehend what it means.

My prayer now to Our Lord is that He will grace her with better health and that her condition does not get worse. That my family and I can be attentive to make her live the rest of her life with comfort and peace. And if my life, my sister’s life, family’s life is just to respond to her – that we push ours aside for her well being, then we do. I know we just want her to be cared for and safe.

I thank my husband and thank God a million times more because He knew how much I would need Ruben. Not just for the sake of my soul, but for this time in my life. My mom too.

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” – John 21:18

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Help us Lord! Help us draw nearer to you. +++

Mexico

Breaking

Hearts around the world unite with yours

Each day

Sadness pours

Cries

Anguish

Prayers are sent

In all your beauty it does not fade

For through your people

His glory remains

Lupus Flares…Blessing reminders!

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE).  In the beginning, I was often sick. I was prescribed heavy medication that for the most part, didn’t make me feel any better. I remember the sense of trying to find control and how I was going to live with this new life. Even though, I tried to hold onto my job, the stress of being reliable for my employer grew to be too much, so I quit. As I explained in my other blog posts, since then I did take other employment and volunteered which helped me grow as a person with an illness.

After 5 years of taking the same formula of medication, I dropped two of the heavy prescribed and stayed on one. Most lupus patients, may find it surprising, but I was on a steady dose of prednisone for 11 years.  I had always did well with my doctor visits and health that taking prednisone was easy for me. If a flare came up, I would just increase my dosage and like magic it would work instantly. However, due to doctor pressure, he told me it was no longer good for me to be reliant on and asked me to consider changing to plaquenil.  I hesitated. Two years I hesitated until finally I prayed to Our Lord and asked Him to please help my fear.  In 2012, I began taking plaquenil and since then, thanks be to God, I’ve done really good.

I mean, I still get flares and I noticed that when I get sick…I’m sick! Whether cold or flu…it hits hard but all in all, I think I’m handling them fine.   I can’t increase the plaquenil when I do get a flare and now…I just “suffer” through it.  The flares are mostly the same. Headaches, hot face/fevers, joint pain achy, fatigued, low energy, sometimes nausea.

But I have to say…now when I do get flares, I find myself in an emotional spin.

It makes me think of those with lupus who suffer far greater than me. Who are hospitalized. Who have to take chemotherapy. Who cannot get out of bed. Who have no one to help them. Who do not have the luxury of having to maintain a job.

I know I am blessed beyond my way to attempt try and explain. I know I have everything in my environment to deal with the case of the flare ups. But at times, I wonder if I am not doing enough to battle them! Do I give in too easily when the flares happen?  Do I not work through them by pushing myself? Am I not training my spirit enough to be more of a fighter when they come?

There is also the mental battle determining if this the “big one”?

I can’t help at times think that my lupus could get worse. Here I am going on fifteen years of SLE and all of it, in my view, has been such a blessing compared to other’s experiences.  Yet, every time I get blood work, the rheum always communicates that my markers are clear. The type of lupus I have is the terminally ill form. For years, I’ve worked with my Lord in pushing that out of mind. To demonstrate my life with the graces He gave me to show others, I accept His will and do my best for others.  To share with others, what He has taught me.

In these last three days, I’ve been going through a flare. I know it probably came on due to stress. Yet, my approach is the same. Decline all events. Find myself less sociable. Rest. But this time, I feel like I need to do more. So this time, I write.

Sitting in Mass yesterday, I asked my Lord for His will be done onto me.  Each and every time a flare happens.  It is a purging in some sense. Because it stops me and makes me think of my mortality.  What matters. What I need to let go. How much I want to be ready for Heaven.

Flares make you feel like life is passing by and you only have energy to look at it go by.

They are reminders when you are feeling great the other 98.9% of the time to do something with it. From the smallest gesture in a day to something grand.  I ask my Lord to help me with that! To help me with the battle of when it feels like I’m not fighting hard enough and instead of dragging that Cross He’s given you, to carry it up high, like an army soldier raising a victory flag! 🙂

Remember, suffering is part of your Christian transformation. Respond to it! When you do, Jesus will fill your life in ways you didn’t have before. +++

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