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A Positive Note

Posted on January 5, 2022
Soda can with the word emotions exploding out of it

By Heidi M., Building Wealth and Health Network Member
Written Thursday November 11, 2021 

The last time that I sat down and let it out was the end of last month, and it was a particularly hard day for me. Honestly, I've not had many good days the past several months. With everything that has been going go with my foot, surgery, my partner leaving me when I needed him the most, the fight where my child, Ash, was attacked, leaving my home, moving, and my van breaking down. That paired with all the medical and mental battles that I have had to endure with Ash, it is easy to see how completely overwhelmed and depleted I have been.  It's been years since I sat down and actually focused on me for once to see what I needed to be happy. I've been so busy taking care of everyone else and trying to make everyone else happy, that I have remained on the back burner for as long as I can remember. Yes, there were times that I "thought" I was happy, but looking back now, I can see that, like usual, I was just "masking" how I was truly feeling about things.

Well, that has slowly but incredibly changed these past few weeks. I started a new class called "The Network" through the EARN program as part of my cash assistance through the county. To be honest when I signed up, I kept asking myself if 1.) it was something that I was going to like and 2.) I was truly going to get anything out of it. All I really understood about the program when I initially agreed to it was that it was some kind of financial class, and they did something with mental health.  I didn't understand how the two subjects fit together at all, but I figured it was a shot in the dark considering I suck at managing my finances, and mentally, I'm a freaking basket case. 

To be completely honest, I was blown away the first day. Talk about an emotional wreck! I have never had anyone get me to open up the way this class did. And with a bunch of "strangers" at that. I have no idea which nerve they touched, but holy shit, I couldn't stop to save my life. One of my new friends, Brandi (I consider everyone in my class a friend now), made a simple comment that I think I will remember for the rest of my life. I even wrote it down, just so I don't forget it ever. This small statement hit me so freaking hard, and it's just so perfect for me because it' described exactly who I have been, and what happened on the first day. 

She said, "Don't be a shaken soda, let it out."

I truly felt like a shaken soda that first day. Because just like a shaken soda that has had its lid barely opened, I just spewed everywhere with my emotions. Ever since that first class, I have found it easier to talk about things by not allowing myself to be that shaken bottle. My poor class has seen me "ugly cry" probably more than anyone in my family. But it has been so nice to feel that relief of being able to truly talk about what's going on in my life and not feel judged. Sometimes I do feel like maybe I talk too much in class, (especially since that is not me!), but I just can't seem to help it. This group of incredibly wonderful people has truly brought something out in me that I haven't seen in...I have no idea how long. To know that I'm truly not alone in my journey and that there are others right now going through similar things, has been extremely relieving. 

And I’m learning things too. I have gained so much knowledge about creating a workable budget, working with my credit report, self-confidence, setting goals, setting up my very first savings account ever, and even about building healthy and unhealthy relationships. I actually wrote my very first goal down on paper and am making progress on it. I now understand how mental stability goes hand-in-hand with financial stability. I have learned so much about me through this class. I can't even begin to explain. 

Not to mention the difference I am seeing in Ash. These past two days with Ash have been absolutely phenomenal! When we moved into our new home, I knew that this was our last option. If this didn't work out, we would most definitely be living on the street, or at least at some shelter, neither of which I would choose. So, I have been on pins and needles because Ash has a serious issue with following the rules, part of his mental disabilities. Not long after we moved in, I would say within the first two weeks, we had a fight in the kitchen because Ash wasn't respecting the rules of the house and he was confronted about it. Of course, this led to his typical backlash towards me and other in the house got to witness first-hand exactly what I have been going through. Even though this was a very mild fight, they witnessed just how ugly Ash can be towards me. Since then, we have had to talk to four additional times, each time with less aggression and opposition from Ash. 

I have noticed that since I have been part of the Network, and with the help and support of my new housemates, I have been able to stay strong and not back down, give in, or let Ash walk all over or manipulate me. He has started to listen to me and is actively trying to do better. The last time that I had to have a talk was about a week ago, and I laid everything out on the table, explaining exactly what his actions are causing and could result in. I did not sugar coat anything like I typically would for fear of backlash. I told him straight forward that this was his last chance to start respecting the home rules, because if he didn’t, we would literally be on the streets because our housemates weren't going to put up with the constant disrespect. He was defensive at first, but we continued to talk things out. In the end, when I had to lay his "punishment" out on the table, he didn't fight with me which was a huge milestone. And I was and still am extremely proud of him for that. 

Yesterday he completely blew me away. He wanted to do something together, so I let him pick. He said that he wanted to watch a movie together and paint/draw. So, we decided that we were going to hang out in his room so that it was just us two. As we were getting ready to pull all his art stuff out, he looked at me with disappointment and said, "Mom I completely forgot that I had a science project that was due yesterday that I didn't do." I told him that it was all right and that I would love to help him with it if he wanted me to. So, we worked on his project while we listened to the movie. Now this may not seem like something that would be strange but coming from a kid that just a week ago was fighting and arguing with me about all the missing schoolwork he had and coming up with every excuse in the book NOT to do it, this was a HUGE shock! Then he came home today and was all excited because that one simple project that we did together last night, brought his "D" in science up to a "B". I was so excited for him and couldn't tell him enough how incredibly proud of him I am. Then again tonight he wanted to something together (again, completely out of character for him), so we watched another movie and while he painted. I drew two pictures, something that I used to love doing but haven't done in so very long. I feel like he and I are truly starting to bond. What a change from everything that has been going on!

I finally have hope and faith that everything will be okay!

Posted in Trauma and Healing, network, heidi-m