Making Halloween Spooktacular

For the kids and you when are struggling with chronic illness

What do I mean by less spooky? No, not supernatural. Less exhausting. Less plagued by anxiety. Less painful, because being in pain can really take the fun out of Halloween and give a different  meaning to Boo. And for your teens or little ones who struggle with having a chronic illness or autoimmune disorder this can be particularly challenging.

My children and I escaped the knowledge of our having chronic illness/autoimmune disorders until we were well into adulthood. I do not envy the very difficult task of keeping little ones away from the tempting sweets and artificial colours and high fructose that can often be found in candies. Children are bombarded with the talk of Halloween several weeks before hand and there’s chattering amongst them about what costumes they will wear and what they will be doing and who is going to what house for a party. I can’t fathom the stress of a parent who wants to make the day fun, special, spooky but safe for them. This difficulty increases by ten-fold when you are dealing with children.

However, it’s not just children who want to have fun on Halloween, it’s the teens and adults. Don’t worry, I have tips for everyone to make this Halloween Spook-tacular!

  • Find a Trunk-or-Treat: During trunk or treat events adults decorate the back of their cars for Halloween, load up on candy, and come sit in a parking lot for kids to “trick or treat” from car-to-car. It’s like a tail-gate with candy and costumes and the kids have an absolute blast. I’ve heard of trunk-or-treat events where kids show up by the hundreds. Parents typically have to reserve a parking lot or at least make sure they can use it for the event if it’s private property and you just hand out treats to the kids. This great for parents who struggle with chronic illness and kids who are fighting it too. For example, if your child is food sensitive, or you are doing your best to keep them from candies and store bought sweet treats, get a group of friends together with the same problems and have a trunk-or-treat with them. You know your child is safe then. This is also an easy and wise choice if your child can’t keep up with going around the neighbourhood but they still want to go out.https://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/6287-how-to-organize-a-trunk-or-treat
  • Pace yourself: This is for both of you. Don’t leave things for the last minute, however you decide to celebrate Halloween. Even giving yourself a week is better than leaving it until the last minute. Your body will thank you. This goes for your child too. And remember that goes for Christmas and putting up the tree on Christmas Eve. Decorating the night before might seem like a nostalgic tradition, but your body will think it’s torture and scream at you.https://www.yahoo.com/now/taking-holidays-day-day-spoonie-232047353.html
  • Stay home: If this is an option for you, make it an event. Like-wise, if this is an option for your teen or even your little one, don’t let it go by just being another day. Halloween is about the magic as well as the spookiness. Dress up in costumes, pass out candy to the kids, watch scary movies and have tasty snacks.
  • No Pressure: The best thing to do with an older child is to do your best to help them not feel pressured into doing something everyone else is doing. I know, I could feel the eye-rolling from here. But it’s easier than it sounds with Halloween than other things. Give them options. Fun options and they will be more willing to take it easy. But if they don’t, comfort them and help them use it as a learning moment.

If You are in the Midst of a Flare, I’m Sorry

I’m a mess right now.

My husband and I were finally able to get our Covid vaccines. I had been apprehensive about it because I already had Covid, and was worried about the side effects. Also, because I have Crohn’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia, I worried my immune system would overreact to the injection.

Day 3 Post Injection? I feel like hell. It started with the Covid headache (which was very familiar to me) and blossomed into a migraine. The aches and soreness all over my body evolved to a full-on flare. My worst fears about the vaccine come to fruition.

So, this post is two-fold. 1.) No matter the side effects from the vaccine, if you are able to get it, please, please, please, get the vaccine. I know some people can’t for health reasons, but that is why it is so important for everyone else to get vaccinated. 2.) If you are currently in the midst of a flare, I know that you are suffering and I hear you. But you need to remember that you are stronger than you feel right now.

I know, it’s easy enough to tell someone they are stronger than how they might be feeling at that moment, and even if they understand what you might be going through, they are not you. But you have the strength and even if you don’t know why, you are here for a reason. I truly believe that we all serve a purpose in this universe and even though it might not be revealed to you in this life why you are here and what purpose you served, you will understand in the next. There are so many people in this world, and all of our energy touches one another, and sometimes we can touch people in a way that saves them and we may never know.

Chronic illness and pain can sap us of our strength, leaving us feeling like we don’t have anything else. It robs us of our joy and narrows our world down to grim shades of loneliness. I’ve been there and I’ve been sucked into that hollow vortex of lies that the miserable symptoms of a flare can inspire. Don’t give in. You have so much to offer this world and so much to give to other people. I know that not everyone can share in blogs, but keeping a personal diary or personal blog that is set on private can be very helpful and therapeutic. You can sometimes see when you are veering off into a place that isn’t good for your mental health when you are writing and most of all you can see the evolution of your progress when you are writing for along period of time. It’s incredibly helpful and positive to see where you started and in 6 months, see how much you have improved.

If you are in the midst of a flare, remember to take care of yourself. There’s no lazy, or hopeless, or somehow being unworthy, when it comes to taking care of yourself, taking the time to rest when you need to, not cleaning or cooking and enlisting help; don’t feel guilty for putting off that shower or taking a nap after showering, don’t listen to people who may criticize what you are doing, because if they aren’t in your shoes than they have no business telling you how you should be living your life. Don’t be sorry for doing things to take care of you. End of story. We only have one life, and in the brief time we are here we need to do things that help make us feel better. Be good to yourself.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be just as exhausting and insidious as physical abuse.

  • It’s also just as damaging.
  • Can lead to depression and anxiety.
  • It can lead you to be unable to stand conflict. Doing anything and everything to avoid it, to the point where it becomes unreasonable and dangerous.
  • Your pendulum swings from indecisiveness to over-achiever.
  • You have serious trust issues, always expecting the other shoe to fall.

 

I’ve been emotionally abused. I hide it well. It’s not something I advertise and it’s never been something I advertise, but it’s always been something that if you look deep enough, that you can read. I’ve always felt it was a weakness. I can remember very clearly being told by my abuser that it was a weakness. Had I been stronger, tougher, maybe I wouldn’t get treated that way. So, I tried to make up for my failings, and never quite managed because the very nature of the abuse leads you to avoid all manner of conflict like the plague. You feel like the only way you can keep from drowning, keep from suffocating on the conflict is by avoiding it altogether. So, you bow out of every single fight, even though you may have the right of it. You go on to over-achieve in your work because you’re terrified of failing; you never really trust anyone- and when you do, it’s always there in the back of your mind that they may betray you because that’s what people do. You protect yourself on all corners and it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting during the abuse and it’s exhausting after the abuse.

emotional abuse1

 

My ex-husband emotionally abused me. It lasted 5 years; our time before marriage and our actual married time. I can’t give you a lot of detail examples on instances of the abuse. I learned a long time ago that my memory has thought it necessary to protect me by making much of my time with him into veritable Swiss cheese. I’ve thought about going to a therapist for regression therapy or hypnotherapy, but in all truth, I’m terrified. I remember enough to still be traumatised and I remember enough to have happy memories of my children growing up, so I figure I’m okay. What more could I want to dredge up? However, it’s important to understand the feelings the situations made you feel, and that is what I can share with you, because even now, 25 years later, I can remember how I felt as keenly as if I were there then.

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More often than not, he would behave intentionally frightening with me. This would achieve to two things: 1.) he wouldn’t have to be physically violent with me which would leave marks, which would either have to be covered up or need a story, which would require secondary lying 2.) the way he frightened me was threatening me with abandonment; how was I going to take care of my children on my own? I had no education at the time to speak of. I needed him financially. He would demean me regularly, the words used not as important as how it made me feel, which was useless. I felt useless as a mother because I was young, new, fumbling at it and he told me everything I did was wrong and why couldn’t I do it better. I felt like a failure in my wifely “duties,” such as cooking, cleaning and cooking. I never measured up to the perfect Southern woman. And worst, I was supposed to accept everything that was happening because we were married. Divorce wasn’t an option. I said yes and therefore, I was locked into the deal. I would imagine this would fall into intentionally interpreting traditional practices because last time I’d looked, marriage wasn’t literally until “Until Death Do Us Part.” But to him it was. It was like it gave him the okay to do whatever he wanted to me. Even rape me.

cagedfriend1

He socially isolated me by moving me to his home town in Alabama. Even though a good majority of his kin were here, in Texas. But I was too much trouble. It was as though I were the child. The isolation was the worst thing about it there. No one cared I was miserable because no one ever saw me. I spent months in the house with no one calling or visiting to see how I was. He’d terrorise me- leave me with bruises because I hadn’t made him what he wanted for breakfast or because the kids were too loud when he was trying to sleep during the day because he worked at night and I was trying walking on eggshells, trying to keep little children entertained, while quiet and ultimately I would fail. His wrath had me in the closet hiding from him, praying he wouldn’t hurt me and staring down the barrel of a rifle, my heart pounding as I cried. He’d repeatedly raise the issue of death and my gears would have to shift from scared little girl to stoic defender. Unsure what he would do in that house, where I had two children to protect. One of the worst tactics he used after knock-down-drag-out-fights when I was trying to sleep, was stomping through the house opening drawers and cursing. He’d start in the kitchen, cabinets slamming, drawers too and then worked his way until he got into our room, going through the chest of drawers while muttering like a priest in fervent prayer. Meanwhile, I was pretending to sleep; my eyes closed tightly in hopes he would leave me be and the fighting wouldn’t start anew. But I think he knew I was awake. I think the purpose was to keep me awake and scared.

manipulation1

People are often angered that my ex violated my body; I am more angered that somewhere in his mind he felt he could violate my mind and that he could bully me and emotionally hurt me and threaten me. Then, when we were coming down to the wire, going through the divorce, in classic abuser style, he made it his mission to try and take our children away from me, (saying he was smarter and more capable) when he saw everything shattering around him and he saw all his bad decisions coming to haunt him. Why you might ask, is this worse? Because it’s been 25 years and it’s still with me despite how much I’ve healed and how much I’ve progressed with the help of my husband. The fear, the shame, the anxiety; the necessity to avoid all conflict at all cost- and when I don’t avoid it feeling badly at myself. Like I don’t get a vote in how I feel, or I’m not supposed to get mad or defend myself. It hurts my self-esteem, which in turn can affect my mental health.

mindbreak

Gaslighting

My ex-husband did leave bruises. But the funny thing about bruises, they heal. They may leave behind bad memories and bad dreams and even PTSD, but there’s something about the emotional abuse, that is worse in my opinion. The insidious nature of it that while you can see a fist driving at you and may have a chance to duck, you can’t necessarily see this coming at you. Then, when it hits, it leaves you devastated and breathless. You stare at the devastation, not understanding what happened, wounded and bleeding mentally and emotionally and sometimes are left to pick up the pieces alone because when you are left with actual bruises that people can see they are quick to get angry and want to help- but emotional abuse and mental abuse, people are more inclined to scoff at you and say things like: “why are you letting him do this to you?” I know. I’ve been guilty of saying those words too. And I’ve felt ashamed for it. Because you can’t help it. You want to believe that a person you love wouldn’t beat you the way they are and that they will change. But over and over again, they do. Over and over again they rip the stitches open, making you bleed fresh, forcing you to wrap your head around something that shouldn’t be. People you love shouldn’t hurt you this way and yet here you are.

surviving2

Don’t let people tell you that you should get over it. Don’t let people tell you that after X number of months or years that your life should go back to normal. That after everything that happened to you, that your life just gets to go back to being the same. Sure. There are some that will ease back into normality easier than others. There are some that will forget and all will be well. But for others, the scars are too deep. For others, there comes are a realization that what you endured wasn’t simply at the hands of your significant other, but there were others. Others in your life who felt you were an easy target and abused you emotionally and mentally and this realization breaks you further. Take the time you need, heal yourself slowly and forgive yourself when you have setbacks because it’s not easy. Remind people in your life that all of this doesn’t go away. It stays in your heart and soul forever. A scar, like a lesion, until you die.