Feelings.

Feelings are funny creatures. They don’t listen to logic, they are impulsive, and whimsical. They never seem to care about when the right time to present themselves might be. People generally underestimate them, and try to put them into boxes or containers so that they can maintain an outer appearance of being ‘together’. Some feelings are so old and deep, there is no box or container in the world that will keep them locked away.

My feelings are very strong. When I was a child, they would overwhelm me in such a way that I had absolutely no control of what I was saying or doing. I had a hard time chasing them around and finding containers to put them in. My bedroom usually reflected this inner conflict, with clothes strewn on chairs and books scattered on the floor. It always felt that there was a lot of noise going on inside of me as I struggled to organize my thoughts.

Some days, my feelings pantry was quiet. Everyone was in their rightful place. Sadness, anger, fear, and insecurity were staying in their boxes on the first shelf. Other days, all of the boxes would be flung open, and I would be a mess. When I think back on my childhood, I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t control these unruly feelings like everyone else seemed to. Why couldn’t I be like everyone else? Sound familiar?

Last night I was having an emotional conversation with someone, and the Abandonment Issue Box was flung open. My heart beat faster and I began to sense that I was losing my grip. Logic was not helping me reduce the whirling dervish that was growing bigger with each breath. My mouth opened and out came “She threw me away like I was garbage.”

Whoa. Thank God the person on the other line wasn’t having any of that because she cast a line of logic that whipped that sucker back down to size.

“She didn’t throw you away, she was giving you a chance! A chance we were not given, and it sucked!”

Back into your box, Abandonment. I’m not a child anymore and you need to calm the f*ck down.

My answer to Abandonment is Connection. Connection to other people that make me happy. When I connect with other people- it makes my soul happy. My heart opens. I feel whole. The downside is, when Abandonment decides it wants to go for a walk, I crave feeling whole so much, that I don’t realize that I am overwhelming other people who are not like me. What made this recent episode so interesting, was that in spite of knowing logically that I am loved, the mere thought of being rejected AGAIN, ignited Abandonment’s box.

The lesson here is don’t underestimate childhood emotions. They are bigger than we realize and if left unchecked, they can wreak havoc on relationships that you are working so hard to keep. It also goes back to “It’s not all about me.” The world doesn’t revolve around me. Abandonment really thinks that we are the center of the universe, so when I am able to view the world holistically, it stays in the Box. I used to cringe in meetings when people would share about their ‘inner child’. Not anymore. I believe 100% that emotional scars from childhood can impact your life today. The goal is to not allow the scar tissue to warp how you react.

I shouldn’t have been so selfish by saying that I was thrown out like garbage. She was right. I grew up in the best circumstance that anyone could have asked for. I had no right to be selfish when others have suffered because they were not given that chance. My heart is heavy today, but I will focus on what I can bring to the day instead of what can I get out of it.

Jumping someone else’s train

Last night I had a hard time getting to sleep. My mind raced through the various chapters of drama that have presented themselves over the past week and I couldn’t seem to come to a resolution that would allow me to close my eyes. I am at the center of it all, so this is not about laying blame on others. I know my actions have reactions, and the outcome of any situation in my life is dependent on this. Even so, my heart remains to feel heavy.

My emotions get the better of me all the time. I would LOVE to be the type of person who can switch the train tracks of their emotional trains at the mere thought and avoid catastrophe in the process. Alas, I am not. I am the type of person who has a very difficult time with the switch, and sometimes I don’t even realize I missed the station until it is too late. Last weekend was an excellent example of this.

I am an intense person. My emotions often show themselves on my person before my brain registers that they are front and center. In other words, my facial expression may appear to look angry, but I am not conscious that I am angry until minutes after the expression first crept across my face. This often leads to constantly being misunderstood, and this has affected every aspect of my life.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. And many times, the patch is there without my knowledge or intent. Throughout my life I have strived to rip it off, keep it a secret and not give away what I am truly feeling. Alcohol became a great way for me to take time off from that goal until it turned on me and did the EXACT OPPOSITE. Seriously, if you think I am emotional sober….yeah. It was ugly.

Because of this misunderstanding, and my lack of taking a few minutes to separate myself from a situation, I was accused of doing something I never would dream of doing to anyone. I was accused of harassing an elderly woman. As I was trying to explain the situation to a third party, a police car showed up in front of my house. Never in my entire life has anyone ever called the police in regards to me. Never. My heart sank and I began to panic. My immediate impulse was to try to explain that this wasn’t what it seemed, that I was frustrated but walked away from the other person to give them the space they asked for. It didn’t matter. According to this police officer, I was the biggest asshole on the planet for even thinking about harassing this poor older woman. Let’s just say he had no interest in hearing anything I had to say.

Tears ran down my face as I begged my mom to come over and help me. She knew I would never hurt anyone. She understood me and my hope was to get some validation that I am not the worst person on the planet. Melissa stood by my side and gave me guidance as how to handle myself since I have literally no experience with police. Chris also tried to help and my girls wanted to be with me knowing how upset I was. All I could think was, how can anyone think that I would be capable of hurting someone like that? I don’t think I stopped crying about it until the next morning to be honest.

A few days later, I was the target of another assault by someone else. This time I could shrug it off and say to myself that it was more about their struggle than about me. Still, my heart remained heavy as I attempted to get ready for work. Am I really this horrible person that everyone in my family secretly hates? Do they go out of their way to avoid me and my chosen lifestyle? The second guessing is hard to avoid in these situations but by the time I reached Hingham, I was able to put a smile onto my face. Well, kind of.

My new job is not glamorous. I don’t ride in an elevator to get to my cubicle. There isn’t a fancy coffeeshop I get to stop in on my way in. Instead, there is a feeling that I am ok and accepted no matter what. I put my apron on, punched in, and set about doing what was expected of me. In spite of how heavy my heart was from all of this turmoil, I was able to smile and help others. At previous roles, the feeling of being unacceptable would be exacerbated by my surroundings. Not here. Here I felt appreciated and accepted. I could make people smile back at me and it didn’t matter that others close to me had hurt me. All that mattered was being present for others. It was truly a blessing.

For the first time in my life, in spite of my sadness, I was able to have a good day at work. I had never been able to say that before. If you ever find yourself in a position where you feel like things couldn’t possibly get worse, try to reach out and help someone else. For me, that made all of the difference.

The situations have somewhat calmed down but my heart is still heavy with how I appear to my neighbors. I cannot make amends to this person for upsetting them right now per their wishes. The other situation seems to have smoothed over and I hope that they received what help they needed to get through it. I know I have the most incredible people in my life both at home and work who have helped me get through this as well. Hopefully I can get better sleep tonight knowing this.

 

Taking Ownership

Like most people, I have a few flaws. I’m scatter-brained. I forget things like birthdays, anniversaries and doctor’s appointments. I say what is on my mind, whether you are prepared to hear it or not. At times I appear as if I am not listening to you or not interested in what you are saying. My ADD brain doesn’t always like to cooperate and share my attention span.  My facial expressions are dead give-a-ways of what I am feeling. I tend to jump into things and instantly want to retreat because I overwhelm myself with responsibilities.

I am not perfect by a long shot.

February 23, 1993 I woke up with the awful realization that I had hurt someone I care very much about. The pain in my heart began as soon as my eyes opened and was growing by the minute. Shame, remorse, disgust, and despair weighed on me that morning. I knew I had to see my friend that I had hurt. I got dressed, threw my hair up in a ponytail and grabbed my cigarettes. I knew I had done something horribly wrong. What I didn’t know was the whole campus already knew about it.

Well, maybe not the ENTIRE campus knew but it certainly felt like it as I walked along the path towards the dorm I was asked to vacate months earlier. I couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes and struggled to hold myself together. There wasn’t anyone (thank God) at the sign in desk. I ran up the steps to my former suite. I opened the door and saw a few of my former friends sitting on the couch. I said hi and asked if my friend was there.

“Did you hear what happened last night?” I asked not wanting to hear the answer.

Anne, one of my former suite-mates, flicked her cigarette ash into the ashtray. “Oh we heard what happened. She’s in there.” I saw the glances between herself and the others. I looked as sorrowful as I felt, hoping that they would feel sorry for me. When I looked at them, the expression was pure “You have a lot of balls to show up here.”

I slowly opened the doorknob and timidly opened the door. The door felt like it weighed 500 lbs. All I remember is my friend not being able to look at me because she was so angry. Her face was swollen and basically I had to get out after I expressed how sorry I was.

From there I went to the library and saw my ex Jim at one of the computers. He always made me feel better. I sat down next to him. I opened my mouth to say what an awful night I had and he immediately said “I heard what happened to Martha.” I stopped. Jim knew the story before I had gotten there. I asked him what he thought I should do. He told me he didn’t know, but what he did know was that people were fed up and that I had to stop. My hands shook as I wiped my tears away. I wanted to stay with him so I didn’t feel so alone but he had other plans. I went back to my room carrying a sense of loneliness and despair I had never felt before. This was it. I could not drink again. Ever.

That was the beginning of my journey to sobriety. It was an experience I never want to forget. It made me into who I am today. I own it. It’s mine. I did something horrible and learned from it. I didn’t get sober right after that, unfortunately. Instead I had to experience more insanity that eventually led me to where I am today.

My father also made a lot of mistakes. All were made due to lack of self control. What I love about him and who he was, was that like me, he owned them. My father took responsibility until the day he died. He didn’t try to lie, make up a modified version of the story to make himself look better, or dodge the subject. He stood up and accepted it. As I see others around me try to manipulate truths, it makes me even more proud of him. It’s not easy owning huge mistakes, especially ones that are the result of lack of self control. Decisions made when you are in the throes of your addiction are especially difficult to reconcile in this society where being ‘strong-willed’ and in control are ideal.

Don’t get me wrong- my father ultimately paid the price by giving up on life and choosing to be alone his last years on this earth. The weight of his mistakes crushed what soul he had. Instead of embracing the forgiveness that was given to him, he succumbed to guilt and his heart just couldn’t go on anymore.

One thing I have learned in my life is that when you run from your problems, your mistakes or poor decisions, eventually they catch up to you. You can only run so fast and so far before the consequences are nipping at your heels. I am grateful that I faced the music for what I did to my friend, and have for other mistakes. When I did try to ease the pain for myself, it didn’t work. It hurt like hell but the reward is knowing that in spite of my weaknesses, I am stronger than I realize.  It is better to say “Yes, I did do that and I know it hurt you. I am so sorry and will make an effort never to do that again” then it is to say “It wasn’t me.”

For me it brings back the question of “What kind of person are you and what kind do you want to be?” If I want to be truthful, accountable and a decent human being, then I need to accept all of me and step forward. My father’s example of not hiding who he was, on one level, inspires me to continue doing the same.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Dad. Love you.

Today, my father would have been 76 years old. In years past, I would call him up, sing him ‘Happy Birthday’, and attempt to make plans to see him. He would laugh and thank me for serenading him on his birthday. He would ask me how Liz was doing, and how the younger two were. I would share an Addie story and send videos of the two playing together. He would ask me about work, and how my life was going. He didn’t understand the concept of Blue Tooth so he would think I was in danger for talking on the phone while driving. This would lead to the goodbye portion of the conversation.

Today, I sat and thought about how much I miss the opportunity I used to have to pick up the phone and hear his voice. As I sat at my kitchen table finishing my lunch, I realized that today was not just his birthday. Today marks 30 years from the day when my life changed forever.

March 18, 1987. My stepfather, mom and I were on our way back from Mass General where I was being formally tested for ADHD or ADD at the time. The H hadn’t been added yet. I knew it was my father’s birthday and my parents had mentioned that we were going to stop at my soon to be former step-mom’s house on our way home. “Are we stopping because it’s Dad’s birthday?” I asked, truly believing for a moment that he had come to his senses and moved back in with her. I was happy we were going to see them because I adored my father’s third wife. Anita was so good to me and I loved my step brothers and sister. I couldn’t think of any other reason of why we would stop by other than wishing my Dad a happy birthday.

I was a naive 14 year old. My parents looked at each other and my mom went silent. She didn’t say anything other than “I don’t know honey.” Steve kept driving. I sat in the back, my heart filling with excitement over seeing my father. What I didn’t know during that short drive is that I wouldn’t see him again until I was 16 years old. I didn’t know in that moment, that my father had done something that would change all of us forever, especially him.

My father had a few addictions. I won’t go into them here but I will say he enjoyed the slot machines quite a bit. Like many with addictions, his grew out of control and he was making poor decisions based upon impulse. He left the family law practice to start his own business. He isolated himself from the rest of the family, and caused a rift between himself and his wife. I knew that they had split up, and the news made me very sad because I loved them very much. I didn’t understand what was happening and kept asking him how it could be fixed during the last dinner we had together.

The last dinner we had together was when he told me that he and Anita were getting a divorce. We were at Mamma Mia’s on the waterfront. He gave me a fake Rolex watch and a hundred dollars. I considered it a belated Hanukkah gift. I had no idea it was a goodbye present. Funny that he gave us watches. Did he know that time was going to forever change after that moment?

We reach Anita’s house and I get out of the car. I am starting to feel as though it is a tad strange that both of my parents are here to wish him a happy birthday. What was going on? We walk in and Anita asks us to go downstairs and sit in the living room. I remember my step-sister crying and I am trying to figure out what is happening. I was told that my father was in a lot of trouble, that he had taken money that didn’t belong to him, and that no one knew where he was. He had left the area and the police were looking for him. It was about to hit the news so everyone thought that I needed to know before everything hit the fan. I was speechless.

Years later, I jokingly said to my father that one thing you don’t do with an adopted child is LEAVE them abruptly and disappear for over 18 months. Abandonment issues, anyone?

My story then goes on to taking 5 valium and a beer, a classmate saving my life by calling the police, and me finding myself in one of the three places alcoholics end up at the end of their drinking- only I had just started so….yeah. I landed in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. I felt worthless and unwanted like I had never felt before. It was absolutely one of the darkest moments of my childhood. The man that I adored and would have done anything to be with, disappeared without a trace and hurt others by his actions.

Being 14, I wasn’t able at the time to realize that his actions affected the entire family. I didn’t know the effects his actions were on the law office or what my uncles and cousins went through. I wish I was more aware, because I think the feeling like they didn’t care would have been eradicated. They cared a lot. My uncle Richard was driving me home after a Seder one night and told me how angry he was at my father. At the time, I felt like he was mad at me but he wasn’t. He was angry on my behalf. They all were. No one could really say it at the time and today, I know with every fiber of my being how much the Levins care about me and my family.

That moment in 1987 took my life from one pathway and sent me down another. The man I knew as my father died that day, and Jeff came into the picture in 1989. Jeff hated himself and what he did to his family so much that he left for Florida after he paid his dues in prison. The shame eventually ate away at the man he was and this past October, it finally took him.

In spite of my father’s poor decisions, I loved him. Even though he became Jeff, I loved him. He distanced himself from me a few times in my life, and I did from him, but I loved him. Not a day goes by that he isn’t in my heart and today, on his birthday, I hope he was blessed with the peace he desperately looked for since March of 1987.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Me?

According to Ancestry DNA, I have about 20% of Irish DNA. Granted, it’s part of the 75% European piece of the Elissa pie, but it was enough green to shock me. I don’t know why it came as a shock. Since 1981 U2 has been my favorite band. My favorite part of summer camp werdna piee the counselors from Northern Ireland as a child. My affinity for all things Irish has been with me as long as I can remember. Even the men in my life have tended to be descended from the Emerald Isle, so why the big surprise?

I have always known I was adopted.  There was never a time where I didn’t look around and think “They made this up.” I mean, if you saw my baby pictures, it was kind of obvious. The story always began with “We were so excited when the phone rang announcing your arrival.” Then it would lead into a theory that my birth mother was in the military, that she was too young to take care of me, that she was Mediterranean, and that I was in such a hurry to be born, I was born en route to the hospital in the ambulance. The story always ended with how much my family wanted me. That had to be made clear before we moved on to something else.

As I grew up, I began to notice that there were a few holes in the story. For example, how did we know she was in the military? The hospital where she received her care was a Naval hospital in Chelsea. My birth mother was a patient of a family friend who was her obstetrician. This family friend got in touch with my parents and that is how I was brought to Plymouth.  It was never confirmed that she was in fact- part of the US Navy. That was assumed because you had to be in the Navy in order to be treated at this particular hospital. And why did she need to take an ambulance? Didn’t anyone drive?

When people would ask me my nationality, I would say that I was Mediterranean, because that was the answer for a while. After someone told me I looked French, I would say that I was part French. People would ask me if I was Italian. I didn’t think so. When I was in college I was asked if I was French Canadian. At the time people weren’t crazy about French Canadians so I didn’t want to be associated with that dislike. “Nope, the other kind of French.” I would reply, even though my looks said otherwise.

A few years later I went to Montreal with a friend. One night we were on the Tube, and I saw the reflection of a beautiful girl across from me in the mirrored glass. She had greenish eyes, reddish brown hair, and a medium complexion. I thought she was very pretty and was a little envious. Then my eyes caught my reflection right next to hers and I realized that we looked alike. I had the same complexion, hair color and eye color. Our builds were similar. Until that moment, I had been surrounded by people who did not resemble me whatsoever. I felt ugly until that moment where I realized that I shared this look with everyone around me.

That was a great day.

Earlier that summer, my cousin Larry helped me gain access to my birth certificate and I saw my birth mother’s full name for the first time. Patricia Therese Frappier. There it was. My French identity had been sealed with an accent ague. According to the papers, Patricia was living in Newburyport at the time. I was told later that it was a home for unwed mothers. This tells me that she was most likely from a Catholic family from the area. The blank signature line for the Father’s name also told me that she was alone. She took an ambulance to deliver me at the hospital because chances are she didn’t have anyone who could be with her. Her name was the only one on the certificate. He is a complete unknown. I had an idea of what half of me was, what was the other half made up of?

About 5 years ago, I decided to see what my DNA compilation album is and took the Spit Test that comes in the kit. I sent off my vial and didn’t think anything of it until an email found its way into my inbox with the results. 21% Native American. 20% Irish. Well, certainly explains a lot if you know me at all. Took “born to be an alcoholic” to a whole new level. I didn’t see ANY French Canadian, or a lot of Mediterranean. I did see some Greek, small percentage of Italian, and the token below 1% of African which supports the theory that modern humans began in Africa. Irish? Really? Wow. Native American? Even better.

Unfortunately, I know this is just a representation of what my makeup could be. I won’t really know anything until I hear more of my story. The DNA Pie does solve a few puzzles that I struggled with growing up so that was worth the $99 alone. Seeing a glimpse of who I am in such a unique way was truly breathtaking. The years of obsessing about Ireland makes sense to me now.

St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, as the legend goes. Snakes represent old ideas and practices that are considered undesirable and mostly likely were the Pagan religions that were competing with Early Christianity. St. Patrick drove away the snakes and darkness, and brought in the light. My snakes are self-doubt, depression, self-loathing, and insecurity. I want to continue this journey to find out more about my origins but I can sense the fear growing when I see possibilities of where I can find the truth. I don’t want fear to keep me from asking a retired OB questions about Patricia, even though he may be bound not to answer them. Either way, the snakes of discontent need to leave this island. They need to be driven out from under the rocks and dark corners. Today, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I am ready to drive them out.

 

 

 

Inviting in Compassion while shutting the door on resentment

When she awoke the next morning after a very restless night, she realized that she still had blood in her hair. Wincing as her arm slowly moved upward to the source of the pain in her head, she was still trying to piece together the events that happened the day before. The strap of her bra dug into her shoulder. She went to adjust it and realized that she still had on her sister’s white bathing suit. They were supposed to go to the beach. “That was how the day started,” she thought, “we were going to go to the beach after we picked a few things up for my bat mitzvah.”

The events began to knit together. We went to Paperama, where Christy and her practically wetting her pants laughing over the silly books we were reading. We stopped for ice cream. Christy had Cherry Vanilla. She had Heavenly Hash. Then the next thing she knew, a woman’s hands were reaching toward her through the glass window and her mother’s head was at an unnatural angle in front of her. She could hear her grandmother crying out. She turned her head to the right and her eyes met Christy’s.

“Are you ok??” Christy shouted, in complete shock and bleeding from the back of her head. She had been wearing her father’s oxford shirt. It was a complete mess now. The ambulance ride consisted of her trying to remember what happened, and what was happening to her mother. Where was her grandmother? And Christy?

She smacked her lips together and reached for the tepid water that was next to her on the stand. It felt good going down her dry throat. Her head hurt so much. She could barely handle the sunlight in the room. Did she still have her period? Oh crap. She paged the nurse to help her get out of bed. Slowly she swung her legs to one side. Stepping down gingerly, she began to make her way to the bathroom. A wave of nausea overtook her as she stepped forward. She saw her when she looked up and out of the door into the hallway. Instant rage trumped the nausea and her eyes narrowed. Her fist clenched around the IV pole and she could feel her palm pressing so hard on the metal it was turning white. She regained her balance immediately and stepped towards the hallway.

“If anything, anything happens to my mom, I will fucking kill you.” She managed to spit out through her clenched teeth. Her voice became louder. “If she dies, I will tear you apart!” She took another step towards the hallway. The nurse quickly pulled her back into the room and sing-songed her into the bathroom. When she opened the door to leave, the girl was no longer visible.

“That bitch better stay the fuck away from me.” She said to no one in particular. She heard the door shut across the hallway. Exhausted from the bathroom trip, she closed her eyes.

True story.

This is actually what happened to myself, my mother, grandmother and my best friend on a beautiful summer day in August. A 16 year old without insurance was drinking with her mom and blew through a stop sign doing 65 mph. She hit us without hitting her brakes. My mother’s neck snapped with the force of the impact and I was knocked unconscious. The impact hit my grandmother’s ribs and broke them. Christy fell on top of me and was ‘lucky’ enough to catch all of the glass.

My mom was almost taken out by a drunk driver. Thank God she wasn’t, but she could have been. I could have been sent to live with my dad, which would have been disastrous since he disappeared over a year later. My sister was in Israel and had no idea this had happened. Today, even talking about it still gives me feelings of anger and I think I may be onto why I get so turned off when people drink with their parents. If I want to be honest, my mother was in fact taken from me that day because the woman she became after that is not the same person. She lost full rotation of her cervical spine, and was in a neck brace for what felt like months. She was afraid when she rode in a car. She couldn’t play golf anymore and struggled with the intense pain her surgery had left her.

Throughout the years I have wondered if I would meet this girl or woman in the halls of AA, if they ever learned from their mistake. A close friend made a similar mistake the other night and is facing some serious consequences. Since Sunday, I have been angry at how thoughtless this person could have been. No one was hurt but still- what the fuck are you thinking when you get behind the wheel after drinking a decent amount? The resentment and disgust stayed with me until this morning.

This morning, I realized that I wanted to invite compassion in because I know that is what this person needs at the moment. The last thing they need is another person telling them what a piece of crap they are. I have been shown compassion by those around me who choose to be in my life in spite of what I did to them while drinking. Wouldn’t I have wanted the same when I was in a similar pickle?

When you love someone, even as a friend, you accept them exactly as how they are. You don’t pass judgment, you pass on love. You don’t try to make them pay for their mistakes, you forgive them so that maybe they can forgive themselves. I care about this person very much and I know that with each minute they are praying that they could go back and make a different choice. We can be harder on ourselves than others are on us.

The girl who hit us in 1985 could have used some compassion too. She was young and probably thought she would never get into such a horrible car accident. I remember how frightened her eyes became when we saw each other. Her muffled sobbing could be heard through the door.

Justified anger is just anger. It doesn’t do anyone any good to hold onto it. As I flowed through postures that were designed to open my heart and chest, I breathed in the intention to welcome in compassion. I have to say that today has been an incredible day and I hope to do it all again tomorrow.

 

Half the Heart Mom I Used to Be

Heart month is coming to an end and I totally slacked off spreading CHD awareness. No pun intended, but my heart wasn’t in it this year for some reason. Maybe it’s the melancholy I have been experiencing since my father’s passing, or just the fact that we have been blessed with a relatively ‘normal’ life in spite of what has been handed to us. Either way, there is no excuse for me not doing my part or maintaining my commitment to congenital heart disease.

A few things have happened this year that were completely unanticipated. In October, my father became sick and the time I thought I had with him was taken away in a flash. This January, I was able to land an incredible contract in healthcare doing what I love, but now I have less time to focus on my prior commitments. This past fall, I finally answered the call that has been inside of me since I first rolled out a yoga mat 15 years ago and started yoga teacher training. November was when Izzie had her fenestration closed but lately we have had a few vomiting spells to keep us on our toes.

You could say that I am a little busy. It’s a good busy, but I am disappointed that I haven’t been on top of things like I wanted to be. Some days my heart feels so heavy. I keep forgetting that it will take time for me to embrace this grief. When the negativity does enter my space, I send it back out to the Universe from my yoga mat. Life is too short to worry about things that are completely out of my control. If anything, life has taught me this over and over again.

I do worry about Izzie’s future. Just because she has had incredible numbers since her cath doesn’t mean that I am able to let go completely. She still has half of a heart, her circulation is still not ideal and she will still need a transplant when her function decreases considerably. God willing that won’t be for a long time. We have been encouraged by the stem cell research that is coming out of the Mayo Clinic and Boston Children’s. Our hope is that will be an option for us when the time comes.

This year I was not the Heart Mom I have been in the past, with lots of facts about congenital heart disease and pics of Izzie recovering from her surgeries. This year, I wanted to focus on what was in front of me – my family and my relationships. I want to help Addie adjust to life with a chronically ill sibling. She needs to feel just as loved as her sister and I know I fall short of that. My attention is always on the youngest- her coloring, her sats, has she drank enough, or is she coming down with something. No wonder Addie feels left out. There isn’t a lot of resources out there for siblings and that is something I hope to change. At least in my house anyway.

Until then, I will keep my focus on what I can manage instead of what I would like to.