I’ve been away.
Some may not have noticed because I have continued to post articles, post advice, encouragement and random anecdotes all summer long, but it’s true. I’ve been absent. In fact, I think it’s probably been a good 8-9 months since the last time I was fully, 100% present for much of anything.
For the last few months, I’ve been struggling with several issues. I need to lay them all out, mainly for myself, because I need to see the timeline. That’s just the kind of person I am. When I realize I’m doing something negative, I have to dig and pull out all the roots, find the cause, remember when the seed was planted and then rip the whole thing out of the ground, burn it, purify the soil and start over.
After I’d lost 17.4 pounds on my challenge last summer, I did the accountability challenge and lost 12 more and gained so much muscle, strength and confidence! Then, in the winter just before Christmas, my daughter got a flu, then an ear infection, then a massive allergic reaction to the antibiotic. A few weeks later, the same thing happened to my son. We had a few weeks of respite after the new year, I returned to working out daily and things seemed to be getting back on track. Then, in the first few days of February, I got double pneumonia. It took several weeks to kick it and even longer until I was officially in recovery.
I was cleared to return to workouts in mid-May. I found the simplest things ten times more challenging than before because of my diminished lung capacity and the fact that I’d lost about 13 pounds because of the virus. Everything was harder. I was so weak and cardio was damn near impossible; every time I attempted to run for more than 20 seconds, my lungs would start to burn and my throat would feel like it was closing in. Right around that same time, just before summer, for some unknown reason my children (both under 5) decided to stop sleeping in their own beds. Not only that, they both became incredibly clingy in the night and early morning. Any attempt to get out of bed before they were ready was met with full blown meltdown sobbing sessions that woke the whole house. My husband also started working ridiculous hours, leaving the house almost the entire month of June at 5:30am and not returning until 6pm or later and barely making enough money to pay the minimum of our bills.
I was anxious. I was exhausted. I was without a car, trapped inside my house with 110 degree days and two stir crazy toddlers with dirt for lawns because our sprinkler system broke and Redlands doesn’t want us to water anything.
Things began to level out a little in July and I was able to attend my “gym”, a bootcamp style workout facility called The Camp Transformation Center, a few times during that month because my husband had a few days of leaving after 8am. Excited to be back on a fairly consistent schedule, I was sure I was going to pick it back up again full throttle and I was able to go at least 2-3 times a week for almost a month. That’s when I decided to enroll my four year old into Transitions Kindergarten at a local public school. He had to be there at 7:30am every weekday morning so he could play before class and get out some energy before the day began or he would have a bad day. Once school began on August 11th, I had to be up and ready to get the day started at 6am, pull the kids out of bed at 6:15, fed, dressed and ready by 7:25 to be there by 7:30. We got home at 12:30, had lunch, did homework, had some play time, an hour of video games if he had a “good day”, and quiet, inside time if he had a “bad day”. Then, dinner, if I taught lessons, next came a feverish whirlwind of cleaning the house, making dinner and then teaching till 7pm, sometimes later, then after, getting through our nighttime routines and passing out on the couch with the kids by 9:30.
Right after he started school, my daughter had her third birthday and we celebrated with a big party for family and friends. She had an amazing time and it was beautiful. As soon as that was over, I began preparing to participate as a consignor and volunteer for the MooLaLa Consignment Sale here in Redlands, held twice a year. While that was going on, I took on a week old foster kitten to hand raise who had no one else to care for him. Thankfully, my mother in law decided to take over for me as a foster kitty mama and has done an incredible job, because that was just one more thing I absolutely could not do.
As it was exhaustion set in around mid/late August and I could barely keep my eyes open after 9pm. I began self-medicating with caffeine and carbs, something I’d not done since before my 6 Week Challenge to lose 20 pounds at The Camp last year. Stress sank in as financial woes added an additional element and roadblock to my day to day process that was impossible to ignore and we rolled right into September barely touching the ground while running past Labor Day and waving hello to Columbus day as we ran past.
Most of September was spent hanging on by the seat of my pants hoping I was able to meet all my commitments, but slowly, it began to settle. I began to get used to the four hour day while only having one child at home because my son was in TK. I was starting to get a groove going. I was getting things done and was starting to feel better.
That is, until my son’s life life at school became increasingly more challenging. He was struggling with impulse control, attention and focus, meltdowns, reacting physically to kids teasing and bullying and then he became a flight risk, running from teachers and yard duties after recess refusing to come back into class. I began getting calls at mid-day; “Mrs. Vendeville, you need to come in right away, your son is in the principle’s office”. Mrs. Vendeville, your son is having a hard time today, can you come and get him? Mrs. Vendeville… your son hit someone today, can you be down right away? He’s in the office…”
My son is not even five years old and he’s been sent to the principle’s office six times. My four hours of “get stuff done” time quickly became my four hours of stress and fear and worry for him while I sit at home at the ready to pick him up if he has a bad day. I couldn’t leave town or even go across town for fear of getting that call and making him have to sit there in mid-meltdown for 20 minutes while I drove all the way back.
Right about that time, we got the results of his behavior assessment we had scheduled nearly a year prior, but only just got to go to the first week of August. The results were shocking. I’d expected ADHD. I was planning for that. I had already reconciled that with my heart and I was ready for it. I was NOT ready for what happened next.
They diagnosed him with autism. In fact, he hit seven of the eight markers on their list of necessary criteria with a recommendation to test him for ADHD and ODD. When I met with the school to discuss my son’s results, they were encouraging and helpful. They ensured me they were going to do all they could to help him succeed. He was having so many problems by that time, he was only making it through the entire day about 3 days a week- the other two, I would get a call from the office asking me to drop whatever I was doing to go get him as fast as I could. One solution they had tried first was to cut his day from the regular four hour TK day to only two hours. So, I’d be up at 5:30am, have both kids ready to leave at 7:30am, go home with his sister, do as much as I could do at home without leaving town or even going more than a mile away in case they called me to pick him up early. Then at 9:45am I would go pick him up at 10am and try to pick up where I left off.
Adding to that, was a growing sinking feeling that left me in a haze and more apathetic by the hour. A little known fact about me, is that I have SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. It happens in the spring, as well as the autumn and the autumn is far more intense than spring. I’d like to say I manage it through positive thinking and just flat out knowing better. I am, after all – a psychology graduate… but no. It grips me like a demon ever year and the only time it didn’t was last year when I was avid about my fitness and I fill up every minute of my day with some kind of responsibility so I don’t notice. The anxiety and panic attacks started, followed by the insomnia, and then the depression hit last. Like all the air being sucked out of a room, I just didn’t want to try and I just wanted to sit here and cry instead. My lack of fitness and my poor eating was weighing on my heart, my mind and worst of all, my body. I’d wanted to move, but I couldn’t. I wanted to be happy… I have so much to be happy about.. but I couldn’t stop crying long enough to smile. I’ve been attacking the very system that is pushing itself to the limit to help me make all this insanity work and meanwhile… hardly anyone knew. I continued to help challengers at The Camp online, posting inspiring sentiments about control, passion and empowerment, helping moms on the Cautious Mom page with their questions about breastfeeding and their frustrations with daycares while I sat here behind my computer screen drinking a pot of coffee before noon and trying not to blow up my house instead of just cleaning it, and feeling like the biggest hypocrite on the planet. I owe my lack of sickness entirely to my essential oils because through all of this, I have not had one cold, one cough, one congestion issue or allergy attack…. but my mind and body are wrecked and I need to fix it.
Needless to say, TK didn’t work out for my son. I pulled him a week ago and we are looking into another option or possibly homeschool. What occurred to me today was this will solve my problem with working out because I can again go early in the AM without having to worry about not getting back in time to get everyone ready for school.
When I go back, I will be starting from the bottom again. I’ve tried 20 minute or so workouts in my living room when I think about it, or I’ll take a quick walk around the block, or I’ll do a few minutes of standing squats while I’m cooking dinner… but nothing as labor intensive as a Camp workout and I’ve lost SO much strength and gained far too many inches since I was last in on a regular basis.
I almost cut ties and just walked away… like I said; it’s embarrassing to come back. I considered just going to 24hour instead until I can lose a little weight because I don’t want to face the people who helped me reach a goal I could not keep for myself on my own but if I stay away any longer, it’s only going to get worse and I need the support of my AFF to get back on track. I need to get back on track for my family, for myself, for our future.
So, starting soon, once I finally get up the gumption to do it, I will be back at my Camp home in Redlands at 6am to remind myself of my “why” and to get back to the work that was making me proud of myself. That work was helping me to feel empowered, like I could actually be the mother I want to be for my children and be the woman I know I’m capable of being.
It helped me feel like my life wasn’t burning me alive as I feel now, but instead; tempering me into a tool of tremendous power. I know I can get back there again and I’m willing to take a step forward to make it happen. If you see me, say hello. This journey needs encouragement because I’m telling you right now, every minute of every day I want to stop, turn around, go home and hide. If I’m standing there bawling during workout, don’t be alarmed. It’s just my way of purging the darkness and replacing it with the fire that will light my way to the next level.
I’m posting this here, the very dark and private pieces of my heart, because I’ve fallen into a place of darkness and there is nothing I hate more than to look vulnerable to those who will use my own words against me and tell me things I already know. So, I’m posting this so it forces me out of this place- forces me to heal, to try, to move ahead… and back into the light, back to a place of control and back to a sense of power where I know I belong. As Halloween approaches and I realize the dark time of my heart is only going to get darker, I have to do something now before it settles in too deep and it’s impossible to get out of.
I deserve more. My kids deserve more. I want to want more and by doing, eventually I will eventually want it again. Fake it till you make it, baby. That’s what they say, right? I can do that…
As for my beautiful padawan son… we will figure it out. I am thankful every minute of every day for him and wouldn’t have him any other way. I will continue to do all that I can to help him succeed and we will take life one minute at a time. Yes it was a shock. Yes, I was not prepared for it… but I CAN handle it. I’m not afraid and I will hold his hand into this great unknown and light his way while he lights mine. We will be okay.
So, that was my summer. How was yours?