Joy | Grief | Action | Change

Aria loved Paramore. I took her and her friends to see them in concert twice. Her favorite song was Hard Times. I couldn’t understand how an 11 year old could connect with a song talking about Hard Times. I would ask her, and she’d say

“Its about life, Mom.”

I would think “fair enough, she’s such a feeler” and I’d shrug it off.

Ignorantly, I thought,

“What has she experienced that would constitute to her understanding that in life, comes hard times? Especially, to the degree that the song talks about.

As a parent, you try so desperately to want to shield your children from experiencing negative things. Not just personal experiences, but your stuff, family drama, world drama…. etc.

Gosh, am I an idiot.

I had my first panic attack at age 4. At 5, I almost killed myself and my mother by jumping on her as she was driving on the highway. I was convinced I was dying. My mom immediately drove me to the emergency room. After an EKG, they suggested a psych evaluation. After the ER visit, the panic attacks came sporadically and completely out of the blue. It wasn’t until I was 7 that my quality of life was affected by my panic attacks. I didn’t know what they were. But, I could always describe in detail what it felt like.

I could describe to a psychiatrist that my heart felt like it was beating 1000x a minute. That I would sweat profusely. I would get nauseous and have hot flashes, my stomach would feel like water, swishing back and forth as I moved. My mind would race and my mouth would go dry. All I could do is scream or run hoping that it would go away. I remember distinctively one panic episode I begged my dad to slap me.

” Please Daddy hit me, Daddy hit me”

My dad has never hit me in my whole entire life. But I needed something to jolt me out of my head and bring me back to reality.

If you’ve never felt anxiety, its like standing at the highest mountain in the world on one leg. The point you are standing on is as thick as a pop can. One wrong movement or brush of air could kill you. No safety equipment.

Now, put one hand over your eyes.

That is exactly what anxiety feels like to me. It would come out of no where. No warning. No understanding of why it reared its ugly presence. Even at my sisters birthday party’s or in the beginning of classic movies like, Hocus Pocus, The Lion King, and The Sandlot. Because of my anxiety I would spend time in the bathroom for 30 minutes sometimes longer. I wouldn’t see the whole film until it came out on video. There was no rhyme or reason for it. It had control of my body. I missed many classes and many lesson’s. I wouldn’t go to school, and ultimately, I would fall behind. I would stay inside my house, in fear something would trigger it. There was a time I thought an artificial flavor in Cheetos was the cause. I stopped eating them for a couple weeks. When I realized there was no change, I of course, incorporated them back into my diet.

They started me on Prozac at 7 years old. From there, I’ve been on every SSRI you could possibly think of. I’d take them for a year, feel better, get off of the meds, and feel good for a few months. Then the anxiety would come back with a vengeance. The anxiety would be so much worse and we would try something new. I am 36 years old and still trying to find the magical anti anxiety cocktail.

I was never depressed. I’m sure most of you know this, but anxiety and depression come hand and hand. They are like brother and sister. I never struggled with depression. Only severe, severe, anxiety,

When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified that I would pass my anxiety along to her. Being pregnant, I could not be on medication. I took the doctors recommendations and I ate well and was the healthiest I’ve ever been. Being pregnant with Aria was the best I’d ever felt in my life.

However, it is hereditary, and mental health issues do run in my family. As she got older, I would watch her intently searching for signs of anxiety, but she didn’t have any. I was so relieved. In a sense there was this feeling of “parental win, I stopped her from experiencing what I experienced.” She was fearless. She would try anything new, even Tuna steak. She was a thrill seeker she loved rollercoasters and scary movies. The only thing I know she was scared of was needles. Shots at the doctor office.

To be honest, my anxiety was annoying to her. I can’t tell ya how many times she told me ” Mom, you are fine, relax.”

Anyone who experiences anxiety, that comment is cold and typically doesn’t work. But she always had a way of bringing me back to reality. Reminding me that my job was not to worry about stupid shit, but to be present and with her…………that worked!

Like I said, my “parental win” with her lack of anxiety, probably muddled other issues, like anxiety’s sister, depression?

I left Aria’s dad when she was two. He was in and out of jail most of her life. She loved him. In her eyes, he could do no wrong. But, in my mind, I feared his lack of parental instinct. Jokes on me, I guess. She wouldn’t talk about him to me, as if she was trying to protect his image. He loves her and she loves him and that’s all that matters.

Quickly after, in 2007, I entered a relationship with an outgoing, loving, bad ass musician, who happened to be alcoholic. He absolutely loved Aria. We dated for two years before he got sober. She was very young, but I never asked her if she felt the tension? Granted he was sober by the time she was 4. But like I said, as a parent, we try so desperately to want to shield our children from experiencing negative things. I tried my hardest so she didn’t feel what was going on…………..but did she feel me? Did she feel my tension? My pain?

In 2011, 4 day’s before Aria started 1st grade, my stepmom, Amy, who I love and adore, was involved in an accident that killed another human being. There was a time where the driver was not identified. Aria’s school and our neighbors were concerned that I was the driver. I tried to volunteer, they didn’t want me to. Aria wanted a friend to come over, they respectfully declined. When I saw how it was impacting how parents looked at Aria and myself, I knew I had to do something. I emailed all my neighbors and the school letting them know I was not the driver. Very quickly after it was cleared up. I wouldn’t let Aria watch TV at certain times because I feared she would see Amy, my Dad, or Me. The tension was heavy. We were on the news for 10 months everyday before the trial even started. Then things got even crazier once the trial started. I was an emotional mess. But like I said, as a parent, we try so desperately to want to shield our children from experiencing negative things. I tried my hardest so she didn’t feel what was going on…………..but did she feel me? Did she feel my tension? My pain?

( Thank God for Teresa Farstad Coleman. I don’t know if I’ve ever truly thanked you for always being willing to take Aria during the trial mess. I could call you and in 3 minutes you’d be there so she could play with Chayse and Zayden and not have to worry if I was late to pick her up or question, where’s Mommy? You were a Godsend and I appreciate all three of you)

End of 2012, I needed something, something new to motivate me. Other than being a mom, my only skills were serving and singing. But, I could not sing after what my family just went through. I left my label. Kissed that dream goodbye.

I applied for school I started at St. Catherine’s in February 2013. I went full throttle. I was taking 5 classes a semester, 2 classes a summer, and 1 class each J-term. Just so I was able to graduate as quickly as possible. So I could provide for the person I loved most, Aria.

During that time, I bought a house in West Bloomington. Aria continued to go to Lake Harriet. I drove her too and from school everyday. Unless, she was staying at my moms. It was me, Buggy, Aaron, Bernie, and Bailey. Aaron had been sober since 2010 and he was professionally thriving. I was so proud of him. We were living the “American Dream.” We grilled at least 2 times a week in the summer and fall. We would bike ride and rent canoes at Bush Lake almost every weekend, or go hiking! We would lay in the leaves in the backyard or the hammock, climb trees, and play with our neighbors. I look back at living in that house with so many amazing memories.

But, I was gone a lot, with school.

My classmate Emily moved into our upstairs floor to help with rent. Then my sister in law, Lisa and nephew Carson moved in. Within a couple of months before my undergrad graduation, it was clear that Aaron and I were no longer on the same page. We loved and cared about each other but, just not in a way we used to. As I was graduating, I was on the verge of starting grad school. I think there was a 3 week break. I couldn’t pay for the house on my own without Aaron or Lisa’s help. So, since it was my house, I decided to sell it. The decision to end my 9 year relationship with Aaron and sell my house were all made within about 3 weeks.

I looked at Buggy and told her, we were moving in with Nonnie and Gary. I was 32 years old! I told her the news and she trusted me. Even though I pulled her from her home, security, father figure, and her dogs, she trusted me! I did whatever I could to remain positive and focused. Like I said, as a parent, we try so desperately to want to shield our children from experiencing negative things. I tried my hardest so she didn’t feel what was going on…………..but did she feel me? Did she feel my tension? My pain?

Less than a month after our move into my mom and Gary’s house, my dad had a massive stroke. We didn’t know if he would survive. My SSRI’s wouldn’t cut it any longer, throw in a PRESCRIBED benzo or two. I wanted to quit school. But, when my dad woke up from his coma, he violently shook his head “NO.” I would not quit. I finished my Masters in 9 months. I was on auto pilot. Every phone call, I was scared that I would get the call that my dad had died. Like I said, as a parent, we try so desperately to want to shield our children from experiencing negative things. I tried my hardest so she didn’t feel what was going on…………..but did she feel me? Did she feel my tension? My pain?

I’m such an idiot

Did Aria have Hard Times, YES. Regardless of my attempt to shield her from them.

Did Aria have Trauma, YES. Regardless of my attempt to shield her from it.

She also had some really fucking amazing times. She lived more in her 13 years than most people live in 80. She was/is so special.

Ignorantly, maybe I thought her good times would out weigh the hard times.

Not to mention her own shit she was going through. Her body was changing. She was figuring out her identity and sexuality.Being a teenager is hard. Add in trauma, it’s even harder!

I write all of this to acknowledge that I haven’t faced my own trauma. Along with the biggest one of all, losing the person I lived for since the day I found out I was pregnant.

I need a break. I need a break from social media, I need a break from the news, and this expectation that I’m doing ok, cause I’m not!

My buddy/co-worker/advocate/ beautiful friend, Brandon Gunter is a black male. He used to say I was more ” down for the cause” than he was, as a joke. ( I love you)

I haven’t even been able to protest for George Floyd. This one hurts too badly. The manner in which he died as he called for his mama, is too hard for me.

Whoever said time heals all wounds is a fucking idiot.

I miss and ache for Aria more now, than I did after the initial shock wore off that she was gone. I’m finding myself angrier and angrier about losing her and my trauma that she had to deal with.

People ask me if I’m mad at Aria for her decision? Absolutely not!! I could never be mad at her. She felt so hurt in the moment she chose to take here life. I’m angry at myself for not being there, NOT HER!

For now, I’m going to be done blogging. I am going to delete Facebook and Instagram from my phone. Hopefully by tonight. I just worry about losing precious memories. I don’t want to delete them without knowing I can get back into them when the time is right. If anyone knows if I delete FB and Insta from my phone without it being permanently deactivated? Please let me know.

I am going to take July off, maybe even August. I am going to find the right therapist for me. I am going to try tennis, boxing, and get my mind and body right. I need to stop waking up and looking at my phone.

Since I briefly brought it up earlier and I’ve already seen it on TV. I feel comfortable telling you all that the man that defended Amy in her trial is defending Derek Chauvin. It just doesn’t stop. Hopefully people will understand why I need this social media break. I don’t use the “H” word often. But if I do, its referring to Donald Trump or Eric Nelson.

Regardless, if there is an association with our family to this trial, I can promise you, my family wants justice for George Floyd.

I have a lot of things on my plate coming up quickly, in honor of Aria Joy that I need to FULLY concentrate on. Don’t worry, I will not stop fighting. This break is just giving me the time and space to be stronger and more prepared.

#JusticeforGeorge #BLM #Doyoucarenow #321

I love and Miss you so much Aria Joy

Stay safe and healthy everyone

💜💜💜🦋🦋👶🏽

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