Posted in Blogging, Family, Mental Health, Relationships, Stay at Home Wife

Lonely by design…

A few days ago on Facebook Ra was talking about how she wanted to write a post about loneliness and asked if any of us had written posts on the subject. I’m not sure if I have written a post about it before, but it got me thinking about the way I’ve got my life set up.

I started writing a post early yesterday morning but ended up trashing it. Then I read Holly’s post on the subject of loneliness and decided to give mine another try.

My husband and I live hundreds of miles away from all of our friends and family. We originally lived in Connecticut but moved all the way out to Utah a little more than 12 years ago. All of the friends that we’ve made out here have been through my husband’s work. Those friendships can be hard to keep up though because I don’t socialize. I’m 100% an introvert. We now literally live right across the street from where my husband and his co-workers/friends work and I have still yet to actually invite my husband’s coworker/ friend that I’ve made via Facebook over on her way home from work. It’s not that I don’t want to see her, but the thought of inviting someone over causes anxiety for me. The nice thing is that she can totally relate, because she deals with anxiety herself.

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I do not have a job. I haven’t had a job since the beginning of my marriage almost 14 years ago. I’ve tried to work before, but it never ends well. My anxiety, bipolar disorder or panic disorder always end up causing me to leave all my jobs. I am extremely lucky that my husband is able to support us both.

So, I don’t socialize and I don’t work outside the home for the sake of my mental health, add to that that I also hate talking on the phone and that leaves social media, texting, email and interacting on blogs as my ways to connect with other people.

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Only sometimes even that is too much. Sometimes I go full hermit mode and drop off the face of the earth for a while.

But none of this is loneliness, this is how I’ve set up my life to survive since I have not received treatment for any of my mental health issues for over a decade. And because I’m an introvert and generally don’t really like people. It may not look healthy to you, but I’m doing a hell of a lot better than I ever did on medications.

The loneliness comes in when I come back to social media or my blog and no one’s around anymore. The people who used to read and comment on my blog aren’t there anymore. I can’t blame them, I’m the one who went radio silence for months.
So I try to reach out to other bloggers, I make a conscious effort to actually comment on their posts instead of my usual “liking and lurking” but I feel awkward and like I don’t belong. I feel like an outsider among the blogging friends/family. I feel like no one actually wants me there, but they’re too polite to tell me that I just don’t fit in anymore because I’ve fallen into the blogging black hole one too many times.
It’s nothing that anyone says or does, and I know it’s all in my head. I’m just very socially awkward and never know how to go about the whole “making friends” thing.

Especially since on some level I feel like I don’t deserve any friends anyway, because I know I’m just going to disappear again in the future at some point.

And that is a very lonely feeling.

Posted in Childless by Choice, Mental Health, Stay at Home Wife

I really am doing okay, but…

I really am doing okay, but it’s not easy.

I am more stable now than I was when I was seeing doctors and was medicated, but anxiety, panic and depression are still things that I deal with daily.

I have learned how to manage them, but managing them means having strict control over my environment. Which is not always possible.

The way that I have structured my life to manage my disorders is not always respected or understood by others. I am judged for my choice to not work. That I am a stay at home wife, even though I do not have children. I am judged for the fact that I do not even like kids and therefore obviously have no interest in having children.

I am not a social person, but some people cannot understand or respect that. I am told that I would feel better if I got out and socialized more by people who have no idea what socializing takes out of me. Not only am I one hundred percent introvert, but I have extreme anxiety. I do enjoy going out and socializing every so often, but I always pay a price for it. Which is why I love messaging and texting people (in moderation), I am able to socialize but I am also able to still be alone at the same time.

Hang up and text

It’s not that I don’t love my friends, but I have to love myself more and take care of myself. I know that this might make me a terrible friend, but I am who I am. Even if I am medicated again at some point, the medication will never completely “fix” all the things that other people think are wrong with me.

I’m always going to be an introvert, sorrynotsorry.

There are days when I wake full of purpose and can easily get up and start my day, and there are days where I feel as though I am a prisoner to that purpose or that everything is pointless. There are some mornings when just the thought of my normal daily routine is overwhelming. Where the thought of having to decide what to wear that day is paralyzing. I fear that at some point things are going to get bad enough for long enough that I will have to be hospitalized again.

The fear of hospitalization is a crippling fear.

I am aware that paranoia and mild delusions are part of my life because of my bipolar disorder. Because I know that I am prone to these things I can try to keep them under control and label them for what they are. I do fear that one day I will not recognize my delusions for what they are, that my hold on reality will slip without me realizing it. I do hope that if that ever happens that I will be able to find help quickly and that my husband and I will be able to afford it.

It shouldn’t be that way, I shouldn’t be worried about being able to afford treatment if my mental health deteriorates. I may seek treatment again before it ever gets to that point, if it ever does, but unfortunately being able to pay for that treatment has to be a primary concern.

I am honestly also somewhat reluctant to seek treatment again because I am afraid to start taking medications again. Some of the times when I was at my worst was while I was trying to find the right combination of medications to stabilize me.

It was hell.

I know that things have probably come a long way in the over a decade since I last took medications, but I am afraid that medications will only upset what balance I have found instead of help me keep it.  I do wish that I had a bit more control over my anxiety and panic, but I don’t want that at the expense of exacerbating my bipolar disorder.

Besides, I heard somewhere that some study found that people who are excessive worriers are more than likely creative geniuses.

I’m a creative genius, people. Deal with it.

Posted in Apartment Living, Blogging, Health

Today, I am stress incarnate…

Today my anxiety has taken control. I have felt this close to a panic attack since waking up this morning.

ridiculous amount of appointments

Next weekend we will be going down to the apartment complex that we are wanting to move into and will hopefully be filling out rental applications and putting a hold on an apartment. I called the office last weekend just to get an idea of availability right now, because if they don’t really have anything available for October or November our chances for getting into an apartment in December when our lease is up wouldn’t be all that great. They do currently have some apartments to choose from for November though and hopefully by this weekend will start to have information about availability in December. We plan on trying to move in December if possible, but if when we go down there this weekend they do not have any apartments available in December we will put a hold on an apartment available in November just to be sure of having somewhere to move to. I asked the management at the apartment complex if we could transfer our hold to another apartment should one become available to move into in December and was told that we could, so if we aren’t able to put a hold on an apartment that would be available in December this weekend we will check back with them a week later and transfer our hold if one becomes available. If none are available by then we’ll probably just commit to moving in November and start focusing on making that happen. It wouldn’t be ideal, there will be many more fees from our current complex, but we need to move this year and we’re going to do what we need to, to make that happen.  And while I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can do about any of this until this weekend, that doesn’t stop my brain from worrying about it.

The worst part about moving

I also have a couple of dentist appointments coming up in October, one to finish up the work that needs to be done and one later on in the month to check on the healing progress of my mouth. And I’m not all that worried about having to go to the dentist, but having appointments at all is stressing me out.

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I called my doctor’s office yesterday to finally set up that follow-up appointment that my doctor wanted with me because of my high blood pressure. That is also at the end of October. And I’m worried that the stress of trying to move will mess with my readings. I also have no idea exactly what my doctor plans on doing during this appointment or how much it’s going to end up costing me. Or how many other appointments she’s going to want to set with me after this one, and how much all of those are going to cost me. Not to mention the fact that I will be getting to this appointment on my own because Curtis has to work. I hate taking Trax by myself. Luckily it’s very unlikely that I will end up getting lost while walking there from the train station, I just need to walk to the main road and walk in the correct direction and I’ll be able to easily find it.

Having Plans

I did manage to get a lot of cleaning and housework done today though, so there’s that. Though, I should probably go and switch over the loads of sheets in my washer and dryer now…

Posted in Blogging, Health

Being a “responsible adult” is expensive and time consuming…

A couple of months ago I went and visited the dentist for the first time in over a decade. Or I should say that I visited the dentist and actually had something useful done for the first time in over a decade. I had 2 broken teeth that I had tried to have something done about a couple of years ago but because I didn’t have dental insurance at the time the dentist I saw did absolutely nothing to help me. They poked around in my mouth, scolded me for how bad my dental health was and then tried to sell me on getting braces… when I went in there because of broken teeth.  So I pretty much lived on painkillers on and off since then.

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My husband and I were finally able to get dental insurance again, but because we knew that the work that I needed done would still be expensive I still kept putting off setting an appointment. That and the fact that I was terrified of dentists. But then one day couple months ago I noticed that part of my face had gone numb and decided that it was time to finally have something done. We looked around online and found a dentist office just down the street from where we live that luckily did emergency appointments since it was later on at night on a Saturday.

We went down there and the dentist was really nice and patient and listened to all my concerns. He did all he could to make sure I was comfortable with what was happening and offered to go ahead and pull both of the broken teeth for me that night. It was a rough night because there was no way that they could make the process completely pain-free, but he left it up to me how much I could take. There was no way that I was leaving that night with one or both of those teeth still in my mouth, so I toughed it out and left that office with 2 less teeth and a prescription for an antibiotic and some Oxycodone. The healing process was a slow and rough one since the teeth were on opposite sides of my mouth and I was suffering through side effects of the antibiotic while trying to heal.

Once I was healed up though, my husband and I both set up appointments to go in and get started on getting our teeth healthy again. We both have been back 3 times since then and have one more appointment each before our all our major work is done. I had 4 fillings done my first appointment plus I the hygienist measured my bone and gum loss due to the periodontal disease that I have. My second appointment was 3 hours and 45 minutes long. I had 4 more fillings done as well as a deep cleaning on one side of my mouth. My third appointment was about 3 hours long and I had one filling done and was fitted for an on lay, had a temporary on lay placed as well as having a deep cleaning done on the other side of my mouth. My temporary on lay has already popped off twice in the little less than a week since it was first placed. After it popped off the second time I decided I wasn’t having it replaced and I’m just waiting for the permanent one to be ready. That will be placed during my next appointment in a couple of weeks as well as having my last 2 fillings done. Then I will have one more appointment with my hygienist to see how well my mouth is healing after those deep cleanings.

ridiculous amount of appointments

We are glad to be able to have this work done finally, but we do wish that our insurance covered more than just around half of the cost. Paying off the debt that we have accrued during the last couple of months is not going to be fun, but we figured it would be better to take care of it all now instead of waiting and risking things getting worse and costing us more in the long run.

Money can't buy happiness

We also used our health insurance last month and had our first checkups in over a decade. We figured that since it was all supposed to be covered 100% by our insurance that it would be stupid of us to not start seeing a doctor again. Other than some concerns about high blood pressure for me we were both given a clean bill of health. We did have to go back the very next day to have blood work done though because nobody told us to fast for our appointment. Getting to the doctor means having to walk about a mile to the Trax station, getting on a train and then walking about another half mile to get to the office. We were not happy about having to do that 2 days in a row.

And then a few days ago I got a bill for over $200 for things that were supposed to be covered by my insurance. I called my doctor’s billing department who told me to call my insurance company. So I called my insurance company and they told me that couple of things were coded wrong and therefore they were going towards my deductible instead of being covered and that my doctor’s office needed to fix the coding. So I called my doctor’s billing department again and explained what happened and now the coding department is “reviewing it” to decide if they will change the codes.

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They better, because I don’t plan on paying for something that insurance was supposed to pay for.

Posted in Blogging, Cat Mom, Random

A list of things my is cat is convinced are trying to kill him…

This is my cat, Teddy Bear.

046 Teddy Bear profile 3-21-2014 2 - Black & WhiteTeddyPerchSittingIMG_20120721_085501

And this is a by no means complete list of things that he is convinced are trying to kill him, in no particular order:

-The sound a plastic bag makes (not be confused with the actual plastic bag as those are delicious)

plastic-bag
-My allergy medication bottle
-The giant bottle of multi-vitamins from Costco

Multivitamin
-Bottles of liquid that are being shaken, such as juice, coffee creamer and almond milk
-The garbage truck

Garbage Truck
-The doorbell

cats hide under bed with me when doorbell rings
-The sound of someone knocking on the door

When-Im-Home-Alone-and-Someone-Knocks-on-the-Door
– Any human being that is not my husband or myself
– Occasionally my husband or myself (though I am the one that he goes to for comfort after he has run from me in terror…)

cat-owner-25
– Kids skateboarding outside the townhouse

Damn Kids With Damn Skateboards
– The UPS or FedEx truck
– Pickup trucks
– The wind
– Anyone working outside the building
– The sound of the garage door opening
– The sound of our old faulty (which has since been replaced) smoke alarm beeping (I don’t blame him for that. That thing made me jump.)
-The vacuum cleaner

memes-the-individual-who-turned-on-the-vacuum-cleaner-has-been-fired
-His carrier
-Any and all medications prescribed by the vet
-The Vet
-Anyone talking outside the townhouse

grumpy_cat_paranoid

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Apartment Living, Bullying, Childless by Choice, Family, Marriage, Mental Health, Stay at Home Wife

My (super long) post about religion…

The household I grew up in was Protestant, but not extremely religious. Some Sundays my mom would take my sister and I to church, others we would just stay home and have leisurely Sunday morning breakfasts. My dad didn’t attend church with us very often because he didn’t like crowds of people, but he would come with us some Sundays. I attended Sunday school, and apparently even some sort of vacation bible school at some point based on the certificate of completion that I recently found in some of my stuff. The vacation bible school must have been when I was fairly young, because I don’t remember it at all. I do remember getting involved with the church choir when I was in middle school because I loved to sing and because a lot of my group of friends were in it. To be honest though, it was probably more because of my friends.

Choir practice happened after school once a week at the church, so we’d all take the school bus that went to the Green after school because the church was located right on the Green. We had time to kill before practice started, so we’d usually go the shops that lined the Green. Especially the candy shop. Then we’d hang out either on the Green, the front steps of the church, or if the weather wasn’t nice we’d retreat inside the church itself. We had fun during choir practice itself too, but a lot of the appeal was being able to wander around the Green before.

The youth choir and Sunday school classes also would put on plays for the entire congregation, and my group of friends and I also became involved in that. These were big productions that involved set pieces and costumes and we had a lot of fun performing them.

Like I said before, religion wasn’t ever really a big deal in my household, it was always just kind of there. I grew up just assuming that what I was taught was “Truth”, and that everybody was taught and believed the same things that I was taught to believe. It wasn’t until I was in middle school and one of my classmate’s father came in to show the class something that I found out that not everyone was Christian. My classmate was Jewish, and it blew my mind. I can’t remember what it was that my classmate’s father came in for now, possibly something to do with food, but the knowledge that not everyone believed in Jesus came as a complete shock. I had assumed that everything that I was being taught at church and at home was just more “knowledge” like what I would learn in school, and never thought that other’s might not all believe the same thing. 

When I started high school I was still a “Christian”, but that didn’t really mean much. I had never really had to look at or defend my beliefs. I was brought up Protestant, so that’s what I was. When I started dating Justin I would go with him and his family to another Protestant church a few towns over most Sundays. It was a church that I had gone to as well as the one on the Green while I was growing up because my grandmother lived in that town and attended that church. I liked that church better than the one on the Green because the Minister was more of a storyteller than a preacher. He was funny and he always made his sermons interesting. The church was a old stone church right on the shore, and it had beautiful stained glass windows. But of course the biggest draw was being able to spend more time with Justin. He went to church because he had to to keep his mother happy, and didn’t take it seriously most of the time. We would sit in the back of the room by the doors in a couple of great big wooden chairs instead of in the pews with everyone else. I think it was around this time, that I started to realize that it was possible that not everyone believed in God. If I thought a lot about religion, or why believed what I did I might have come to this conclusion sooner.

I think that I might have realized that there were a lot more religions in the world than just the one that I had grown up in sooner than this, but I still assumed that everyone believed in God, just in different forms. I had become somewhat interested in Wicca near the end of middle school, but like my being “Christian” never really looked much into it. After Justin and I became friends with John and Lauren, I started referring to myself as being “Wiccan” though. John and Lauren were Wiccan, and it seemed a lot more interesting than being Christian. Not to mention rebellious. I was starting to look into my beliefs some, but not too thoroughly at this point, and Wicca called to me in some way. I didn’t really take any of it all that seriously though.

I went through the rest of high school as some kind of weird Christian and Wiccan hybrid, and didn’t really think all that much about religion again until I started dating the man who would later become my husband. He grew up in an LDS household and I asked him a lot about his church. I didn’t like what I heard, and would have animated discussions with him about how messed up his church was. He didn’t really care all that much, he would defend his church and try to explain things better, but his religion was never really a big deal to him. He went because he was supposed to, and believed what he was told to. His religion only became an issue once in our relationship when he all of the sudden decided he had to go on a mission and dumped me. We talked it over the next day and when I told him that he didn’t have to dump me to go on his mission and that I’d wait for him for the 2 years that he would be gone, we got back together. Only instead of going on his mission he ended up deciding that he didn’t want to go to church anymore and stopped going.

When we got married, we were married by the Minister of the the stone church on the water. We attended that church for the first year or so after we were married. But during this time we were living in his parents house, who were still members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and my mother in law is a very religious person. I ended up asking my husband about the church he grew up in again and this time I was interested in checking it out.  A short time later I was baptized into that church. Part of the reason for this was because I was still ashamed of being arrested a few years earlier and I figured if I became devoutly religious people would have to stop judging me for my past.

Making the decision to join the LDS church was probably the first time that I ever really looked at or really thought about my beliefs. But even then I didn’t really have to think very much about it because the church very clearly told me what I was supposed to believe if I was to be a member of this church. It told me how I was supposed to live my life, and promised me that if I did as I was told, I would be happy. I decided if I was going to join this church, I was going to be a model member. I almost wasn’t allowed to join though, because during the interview process before the baptism ceremony could be performed the fact that I had had same sex relationships in the past came up. I had to denounce my prior behaviors as sinful and express remorse for my actions, as well as claim that I no longer had any attraction to members of the same sex and that these sorts of actions would never be repeated by me. I wanted a chance to see if this church could in fact make me as happy as it claimed that it could, so I denied who I really was and denounced my attraction to the same sex as sinful. In order to become a part of this church my thinking on homosexuality had to change from believing that people were born either being straight, or gay, or bisexual, or anywhere else along the spectrum and that there was no choice involved, to believing that being homosexual was a choice and a sin.

This was just one thing among many that I had to change about myself and my world view in order to be a part of the church. I changed how I dressed, and removed all but one piercing from each ear. I changed the movies I watched, the books I read, the music I listened to. I threw myself into scripture study and learned all I could about church history. Like I said before, I was going to be a model member of the church. I was determined to do everything that I needed to in order to be found worthy of going to the temple, because I was told that if I made it there I would know all there was to know about the religion. That great truths would be revealed to me. And also that I had to attend the temple if I wanted to make it to the highest kingdom of heaven.

Our first apartment was owned by the parents of one of my husband’s friends. It seemed perfect at first, especially when my husband had a health crisis that kept him out of work for a little while and then he was temporarily laid off for the winter season until work picked up again at his job. Our landlords told us not to worry about the rent, that we could pay them back once we got back on our feet. But when my husband lost his job permanently a few months later, they were much less understanding about it. Our landlord, a former Bishop in the church, told us that he wanted us out of the apartment by that weekend, just a few days away. He also informed us that we were worthless and would never amount to anything. He changed his mind a few days later and decided that would be allowed to stay if we could find a way to pay our own rent by the end of the month. You see, we had paid our rent for that month already, but he decided that it didn’t really count because we had had help from the church in order to do so. But it didn’t matter that he had decided that we would be allowed to stay, because we had already made up our minds that we no longer wanted to live there with him for a landlord. My father in law offered to help us get caught up on our rent and start off with a clean slate, and we asked him if he would be willing to help us move instead. We had decided that it was time to get out of New England and start over in the West. We were moving to Utah.

When we made it out to Utah, we threw ourselves into being the best members of the church that we could be. That should have been one of the happiest times of our life according to the church, but instead the stress of all the constant demands on our time by the church caused us to constantly be fighting with each other. But we still couldn’t be honest with ourselves, the church said that we should be happy, so we must be happy. This was also the time when I was constantly being told that all of my mental health issues could be taken away, if only I was good enough and prayed hard enough. And when my mental health issues just kept getting worse instead of better, I blamed myself, because I must have been doing something wrong. Because of my mental health issues, we had some problems with making it to church every week , and because we weren’t making it to church every week I wasn’t being the model church member that I should have been and that’s why my prayers weren’t being answered.

We were also being made to feel like we weren’t a real family because we didn’t have any children. We were pressured to have children, and when I was not able to conceive for whatever reason, I was made to feel like I was less of a woman because of it. We tried for years to have children, but it never happened.  We were made to feel guilty about it, and were told that because we didn’t have children our time was worth less and that we should happily volunteer as much of our time as the church wanted us to.

I started to have some doubts about whether or not the church was the best place for me, but because I was taught that if I left the church I would no longer make it to heaven, I stayed and tried harder to be perfect. I started to regret ever having joined the church, and felt extremely guilty for those thoughts. I decided that we needed to buckle down and do anything and everything that we could to be found worthy to enter the temple. Because if I could just make it there, then I would learn things and life would finally make sense to me and I could finally be happy.

But when we did finally make it to the temple, I didn’t actually learn any new truths. There was just more things that I needed to memorize if I ever wanted to be allowed into the highest kingdom of heaven. Life did not get any better. My mental health did not improve. I had done everything that was asked of me and although I was promised that I would be happy, I was finally having to admit to myself that I was not happy. When I stopped and really looked at my life, I realized that all of my actions for the last few years in the church were motivated by fear and guilt. I was told that if I didn’t do exactly as the church told me, I would go to hell. I was told that if I wasn’t happy, it was because I was doing something wrong and that I needed to try even harder, give even more of myself to the church. We slowly stopped going to church, and then eventually admitted to ourselves that we didn’t have any plans of ever going back. We had not been to church in a year or more, but the thought of actually admitting that we were leaving the church was terrifying. I knew that my life had improved in the time that we had not been going to church, but I was still afraid that we were making a big mistake because I had been told that anyone who decided to leave the church was in the grasp of the devil.  I had been taught that I couldn’t really be happy outside the church, and was very confused with the fact that I was happier outside the church. My husband and I got along better. My mental health had improved significantly. All the stress from all the demands of the church had gone away. Looking back,  I had to admit that the years that I was in the church were actually the unhappiest, most stressful years I have ever experienced. When I decided that I wasn’t going back to church, in order to deal with the fear that I was making a big mistake I had justify my decision to myself. I told myself that I didn’t want to go to their highest heaven because if I wasn’t happy with having to live by all the rules of the church while alive, and didn’t want to be around other members of the church now, there was no way that that was how I wanted to spend the rest of eternity. I reminded myself that their idea of heaven would actually be a kind of hell for me.

After I got over my guilt and fear for leaving the church, I started to do a bit more in depth research into the church. I soon realized that a lot of the things that I was taught were in fact contradictory, and that the church wasn’t in fact true at all. I now no longer look at the the LDS church as a “church” but instead see it as a cult.

I thought that when I left the LDS church I could just go back to the religion I had grown up with, but I realized that I no longer believed in any Christian religion. Once I had opened my eyes and really examined my beliefs, I realized that I could no longer call myself Christian, or even religious in anyway. But because my family and my husband’s family are both still religious it was hard to admit that I no longer believed what they wanted me to. So I would tell my family that after leaving the LDS church I was taking a break from religion for a while.

But now, years after leaving the church I have come to realize that I am not just “taking a break from religion”. I have in fact had more than enough religion in my life already. In the years that I have been living in Utah, I have been forced to live with religion shaping the laws of the state. I have had to deal with being discriminated against because I am not the “right” religion. I have gone from being devoutly Christian to not being able to stomach religion at all. I still have not been honest with my family, but I am now being honest with myself. When I really look at my beliefs, I realize that I am in fact an atheist. I do not need religion in my life to be a good person.

Posted in Apartment Living, Blogging, Family, Weather

Thunderstorms…

A lot of  you probably won’t believe the story that I am about to tell you, but whether you believe or not doesn’t change the fact that it did happen to me.

I used to be terrified of thunderstorms. Especially thunderstorms at night. If one woke me up, I would always go and find my mother in the living room if it was earlier at night, or go down to my parents bedroom if it was later at night. I could not stay in my room. There were many nights that I spent on the floor of my parents bedroom. My parents tried everything to get me to get over my fear of these storms. They used to tell me that the thunder was just angels bowling. When I was a bit older they encouraged me to do a report on thunderstorms for school figuring if I learned what they were and why they happened, that I might not be as frightened by them.

But all of this was somewhat spoiled by what a big deal my dad would make about storms. He used to work in a TV repair shop when I was younger, and so he would see plenty of TVs come in fried because people left them plugged in during a lightning storm. So at the first hints of a storm, all the electronics would be unplugged. My dad would also get up and pace around the house from window to window, watching the storm in what seemed like worry to me when I was younger. Now, as I find myself mirroring the same behavior, I realize that it was a mixture of excitement, fascination, with just a little bit of worry mixed in.

Then there were the storms that taught me that I should fear them. The severe thunderstorms that would rage directly over our house, where even the living room with both of my parents in it wasn’t a safe place to be. There was one storm where were all in the living room together, spread out across the room, waiting out the storm. And then there was an extremely loud BOOM and the house was shaking, and we were all yelling, and above the sound of all of us yelling my dad was yelling for us kids to run to him and my mother. And run we did, and we scrambled next to an armchair that was in the room and my parents shielded us. And in my memories of that moment, the moment before the dash for the other side of the room and the dash itself, everything seems *sideways*. It seems off kilter. As if our house were suddenly a ship and we were listing to starboard. I know that the house didn’t move, other than violently shaking from lightning that struck just a few feet away from it, but that is how things look in my memories… now that I think about it, I was still fairly young when that storm happened, but I remember hearing about a storm where our well which was buried right in front of a huge pine tree got hit in a storm… I think the pine got hit and it traveled to the well… perhaps there was a very good reason for the house to shake as violently as it did.

There was also a morning where I was watching a storm from a window in the living room, I was a bit older at this point and my feelings about storms were beginning to change. Some of my father’s fascination was starting to rub off on me. So I was standing there at the window, probably way too close and I think I had my hands on the top of the bottom window. (We had windows that opened upwards, the bottom part sliding up.) My father had just walked into the living room doorway, and then there was a loud crack very, very close. Only the memory of this isn’t as clear, as I couldn’t remember the next few seconds right after they happened. I remember the crack and then my dad is farther into the room and looking at me funny and asking if I’m alright. I replied that I was, and laughed a little. And then realized that I felt like I was buzzing. I’m not saying that I got struck by lightning, but I think that something very close by got struck and as I was touching the window and the window sill, which both had metal in them, some of that dissipating energy flowed through me. It was probably the equivalent of a very, very strong static shock. Just an odd experience that I never really thought about much and went on with my day. But I know that something happened to me from my father asking if I was okay.

I remember a moment when I was a bit older standing with my father in our backyard, just outside our backdoor, watching a severe thunderstorm slowly roll in toward us. The excitement that exuded from my father as he kept saying that we should go in soon, but just a little bit longer, as the storm drew closer and closer and the winds began to pick up, and the sky above us began to darken. We watched the distant lightning, and my dad would do his counting trick to see how long the thunder took to reach us and then calculate the distance the storm was from us. Until eventually the lighting and the sound the thunder came too close together and we had to retreat to the relative safety of our house. And watch the storm through the windows.

Then there was the night that I set out to talk about when I first started writing this. I was a teenager by this time, and while storms still made me nervous (as all loud things do) there was far more fascination at this point than anything else. Besides, by this time I had a Walkman and Metallica cassette tapes. The thunder is not as ominous when you hear it through music. My bed at the time was pressed up against one wall and there was a window along the right side of the foot of my bed. I was lying on my stomach at the foot of my bed, looking out upon the strong New England summer thunderstorm that was raging outside my window in my backyard. I was listening to Metallica blasting through my headphones and getting lost in the music… and I noticed that the storm was synching up with the music. I felt in tune with the storm, I felt energized and refreshed by the storm. I watched the wind and the rain, and I pointed in time with a particular part of the music I was listening to. And there where I pointed in the sky, lightning appeared. I pointed again, excited and yet totally relaxed at the same time. More lightning, when I pointed, where I pointed. And again, and again. At one point, three streaks of lightning across the sky. And there is no fear anymore, only appreciation for the beauty of the storm. Only the calming energy that I find that I can get from these storms. And slowly the moment fades and the storm begins to move on and fade away.

And now, to this day, since I have moved to the relative desert of Northern Utah I have discovered that I start to get upset when we don’t get rain for a while. Rainy days make me happy. They refresh me and recharge me. But if we don’t get a good thunderstorm for a while, I really start to unravel. I need to watch the lightning, listen to the wind and the rain and the thunder. I can sit and watch a storm for hours, and I will come away calmer and energized. I have never had another experience like the one that night while listening to the music while watching the storm, but I can still lose myself in a storm. I will find myself having to remind myself that it’s not safe to watch the thunderstorm from my 3rd floor metal balcony just because the view is better there and if I reach out my hand, I can feel the rain. And so I retreat inside, where I will sit on the floor in front of my sliding glass door and watch the beauty of the storm.