[Nevertheless] This Is What You Don't Understand

You don't understand. And I'm not sure you can understand.

Living with multiple chronic illnesses, I live each day of my life sicker than you probably have ever been in yours. I put more energy toward meeting basic daily needs than you do. I use as much, if not more, headspace managing my illness as you do managing your entire life. I don't get time off from being sick, from being in pain, from thinking about how my illnesses might affect every moment of my life. And how it affects the lives of those around me. I have to face my mortality every day.

I am going to get overwhelmed by things you consider insignificant.
I am going to get frustrated by things you don't consider important.

There are days - most days - when I have little energy and huge responsibilities and commitments. I can't blow off my medical appointments or my children's doctor appointments because I don't feel well. I would like to have enough energy to do the things I enjoy, and most days, any…

[Nevertheless] The World is a Colorful Place

Someone asked me the other day if I really knew many LGBTQIA+ people, as they didn't think they knew many at all.

I asked them how often someone asked them if they were straight, or what their gender is. They appeared taken aback by the question and responded that people wouldn't ask that. I then asked if they knew whether or not I was straight or queer. They assumed, as I'm a cisgender female married to a cisgender male, that I'm straight. I told them they were mistaken. Just because I married a man doesn't mean that I'm only attracted to men. In fact, I'm attracted to people, not gender, not sexual orientation. I'm pansexual. So there's one LGBTQIA+ person you know.
I also happen to have a transgender daughter who is dating a transgender male. My seventeen year old non-binary child has been going out with their girlfriend for over a year. Many of my children's friends are queer. My sister's youngest child is agender. I have queer friends. Th…

[Nevertheless] This is the Truth

Sometimes it's difficult to tell the truth - our truth. We lie every day. We tell people we're ok when we're not. We tell ourselves that if we could just do that one thing, we could finally be happy. We make up excuses for ourselves and for others. We say something is fine when it's not.

Sometimes we want to protect others' feelings; other times, our own. We hide behind masks of wholeness and happiness, even when everything around us is falling apart.

To tell the truth, I'm not ok. 
My body is falling apart. I have no energy. Everything is a struggle. My pain is overwhelming - at times to the point where I cannot function..

My house is falling apart. I need a new stove, to fix my floor, electrical work in my basement and kitchen, and trees trimmed or cut down around my house. 
My van is falling apart. I need to get the side door fixed and will need new brakes soon. And then there's my husband's car, which needs far more work done on it.
My computer sometimes …

[Nevertheless] There's This Place

Having a transgender child and a gender non-binary child comes with some worry. Having children on the autism spectrum comes with some worry. Having chronically ill children comes with some worry. Having children in someone else's care for an extended period of time comes with some worry.

Will they be welcome? Will they be accepted? Will they feel comfortable? Will they feel safe? Will there be facilities that accommodate their needs? Will people be understanding of their differences? Will people respect who they are?
There are many times my children are out in the world and I worry, nevertheless, there is one place that I haven't had to worry - our home away from home, Camp Calumet in Freedom, New Hampshire. The staff have been nothing but welcoming to all of my children. There are gender neutral bathrooms - with showers! - to use if needed. When Zephyr introduced herself as herself after years of attending camp as Zachary, not one eyelash was batted. Whenever I mentioned Haley…

[Nevertheless] Moondragon is Fourteen

I tell this child all the time to stop growing and to stop getting older, but he never listens. 

Coren is officially fourteen, as of 9:52AM. I remember it was 9:52AM because his was my first homebirth and it was incredibly memorable. I remember it was 9:52AM because my labor was finally over, after three days of contractions. I remember the time because my sister called exactly eight minutes later, 10:00AM on the dot, to find out if we wanted to go apple picking. That is how she became the first to know of Coren Ryu's arrival earthside. Well, the first besides Coren's three older siblings, two grandparents, two midwives, "Aunt" Rachel, and Daddy.

Moondragon has been quite the unique child since birth. He was our first homebirth, weighing in at 10lbs 14oz - and amazingly my easiest birth. He was allergic to the world, having contact allergies to just about everything and many food allergies. He was an avid nursling and shunned any other type of nourishment until he was …

[Nevertheless] I Reached the Beach

Our first steps of Camp Calumet's Reach the Beach Walk were taken as we prepared for our trip to Camp Calumet to take two of our children to Resident Camp, visit our Leadership and Service teen who was already there, and camp for nine-ish days with our eldest daughter and her boyfriend. We logged plenty of miles for the walk during those nine days. 

Throughout the eleven weeks of the Walk, we had plenty of adventures. We hiked Jackman's Ridge (hike 18), Mount Katherine (hike 19), Hoppers Birge Pond Nature Preserve (hike 20), Sessions Woods (hike 21), White Memorial (hike 22), Leatherman Caves (hike 23), and Sunnybrook State Park (hike 24). We logged miles at Lake Compounce Amusement Park, Quassy Amusement Park, Mystic Aquarium, the CT Science Center, and Old Sturbridge Village. We took many steps volunteering at Epoch Arts Tag Sale, helping in New Start (refugee resettlement) Ministry, walking to various activities around Camp Calumet, and in places including hospitals, the air…

[Nevertheless] I Seek Life

These past weeks have been torturous. Weighed down by indescribable pain and the type of utter exhaustion that comes from extreme illness combined with sleepless nights, time spent out of bed has been brief. During weeks like these, my mental and emotional health suffer greatly. I seek comfort however I can find it. I just want the suffering to end.

Thoughts of suicide can be comforting. Thoughts of suicide come, in a way, with a feeling of hope that the pain will end. That hope can help sustain someone longer than you might imagine. I spent a good deal of my teen years dreaming of ending the pain that no one believed I was in - ending my life.

If you can't imagine how thoughts of killing oneself can be comforting, be thankful your mental health has never led you down that path. After all, what's worse than dreaming about committing suicide?

I know what's worse. What's worse is knowing that you will forever live without that hope that the pain will end - living with the f…