My Love For Gino

For the many people who don’t know, my sister’s fiance, Gino, passed away from cancer this past Memorial Day. It was a two year battle that we pretty much knew he wasn’t going to win. At his luncheon, after the final viewing, I read something aloud to everyone. All his friends sat at one table, his father and that side of the family at another, his mother and family at another, my family with Katie at another, and many extended members of my family filling up others. I’ve grown to know him over the past decade, having to put up with him through puberty and the many fighting that him and Katie went through. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can look back at what I wrote without totally breaking into tears, but being able to slightly smile, reminiscing on all the memories. Yes, it still being a tear to my eyes, but I know Gino’s in a better place, resting in Heaven, watching all of us. Here is what I wrote:

Katie and Gino have had a relationship filled with love, respect, and admiration. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to dedicate his life to caring for one of my younger sisters like Gino. Despite being terminally ill he never gave up the fight, and never gave up showing his love for her. Even that was obvious to me all the way down in Florida. The comments that were always on Katie’s facebook from Gino were the sweetest, and it sometimes lead to me having to cry.
I will always consider Gino a brother, not just Katie’s fiancé. He continue to touch my heart through the almost decade I’ve known him. I remember the Easter he came to see me the time I was in the hospital, taking time out of the holiday when most others didn’t. When my father was sick with cancer Gino did everything in his power to not only support Katie when she was upset, but support the family as well. And then, when Abby was born, he truly took on the role of an older brother and not just of a friend of the family, changing Abby’s dirty diapers way before Katie ever developed the courage to try. It was even him and Aunt Shawna who invented the “duct tape diaper” when on a trip to the park Gino was too lazy to go and walk the seven blocks home for another diaper. Poor Abby. But I know deep in my heart it was all out of love.
Not only did he play the brotherly role to Abby, but he also definitely played the older brother to Nora in that he had to approve all her boyfriends. Anytime he disapproved what she was doing, he let it be known. Thank God for Gino when I couldn’t be around. Oh, and Gino, by the way…Nora says she’ll never forgive you for throwing up on her feet on Prom night.
Even though Gino’s body will be sitting in Katie’s living room, spending his time with Penny the clown when Katie’s at work, his spirit will always remain in our hearts. I cannot imagine going on without him, but I know he would never want any of us to give up. God took his soul to Heaven where he will rest for eternity until it is our time to join him. Gino will continually look down on us as our guardian angel, protecting us from harm. Don’t worry, because I’m sure while he’s looking down on his loving and caring companion Charlie, he’ll watch out for your pets as well! Charlie was his friend in time of need and it truly showed how much of a “dad” Gino was to that dog!
It’s not fair what Gino went through and the pain he had to endure. None of us will ever understand why, but throughout it all it was obvious he did it with bravery, strength, and hope. I will forever respect Gino in how he fought, always smiling, and never showing weakness. Rest in peace forever, Gino. And hey, do us a favor and remove the gum under our shoes.

Add a comment September 4, 2011

Losing Footing?

Well, starting on the subject of footing, I finally got my leg braces completed. They are still hurting me on the outside of my right foot, and they caused a bruise on the inside of the top of my right foot, but I’m going to give them a little more time before I give up on them. I think it’s because my foot is still adjusting to the newest adjustments. I can feel that they are doing their job now when I wear them though, so I’m feeling very positive about that. Before I felt like my feet were falling out of them, but now that I have a new strap on them I’m feeling more secure in them, stable, and able to walk without as much pain.

I’m feeling very overwhelmed in school now and I’m not liking it. This is the first time I’ve used interpreters in school. I love the fact that I’m fully understanding what’s going on in my classes, but I feel so weird at the same time. I’m the kid that everyone knows who has a problem because I have these two people that follow me from class to class. (I have to admit, though. I got probably the two COOLEST interpreters I could have ever asked for. When the guy first walked into the classroom I wanted to ask for his autograph, not knowing he was actually my interpreter. And then, low and behold, his wife walked in the room after him. I was shocked!!! I’m so lucky to have them working with me. It’s been a great experience so far.) I have two notetakers for me, just in case I miss anything that’s being said in class while watching my interpreters. That’s been a HUGE help, and I know it will be even further down the line when I have my first tests.

My first speech is on Tuesday and I’m getting increasingly nervous. I’m great at public speaking. I don’t really remember ever having a problem with it. I have a memory going all the way back to 4th or 5th grade and having the speeches in front of the entire school for student government in which I was going for vice president. I won, by a huge majority. I spoke again in front of the entire school not long after, dedicating a chair and a teddy bear to the library in memory of another student’s mother who died of cancer that volunteered in the library for years. (The chair and teddy bear are still there, over 15 years later!) I’ve been speaking in front of audiences since I was quite young. This is the first COLLEGE speech I’m giving, so maybe that’s why I’m nervous. Also, I believe that no one in the class really knows that I can speak since I use my interpreters all the time, so I think a lot of students will be in for a surprise.

Government class is a class I dread. First of all, I’ve always hated any sort of social studies class. So right off the bat I was in trouble. Second of all, the chapters are so long and sometimes I only have one day to really complete all the homework. With each chapter you read you also have a quiz or a journal entry to write. While doing all that I’m having to write a critical thinking paper on euthanasia. You have to choose to be for or against and have three main reasons with valid points/data to back up those reasons. Again, I’m great at writing papers and have never had an issue with research. I’m just afraid that I’ll put emotional reasoning in there and get my grade docked. Besides psychology, which is a subject I absolutely love, this is my first college research paper I’ve ever had to do.

Anxiety I think is just what is making me really think I’m losing footing. After I get these first set of “firsts” out of the way, I’m hoping the school year will get easier and I won’t feel so much like I’m in quick sand.

Also very anxiety provoking is the final test I have to do in order to pass out of some of my sign language courses. I have to pay $100 and then see a professor who will do the final evaluation on whether or not I can skip the coursework. I got a couple wrong on my first evaluation with the first professor, so I’m hoping I can study up on the couple I got wrong so I can score high enough on this last test.

I’m assuming these are all normal fears and anxieties of students, no matter what their age. I was figuring I wouldn’t have to deal with these since this is my second time around at attempting college. I guess being so out of it between my actual bipolar, eating disorder, self-injury, and overmedicated self I couldn’t have achieved in college the first time no matter how much I tried. I’m glad things are different this time around, but I’m not liking the anxiety much!

I’m discovering I’m not turning to God and asking for His help as much as I wish I was. I know He can help me through all of these anxieties. I know He can make this schooling possible, and can make me very successful in it. I just have to turn my insecurities to Him. I’ll need to post these verses in my notebooks and binders that I had a friend make for me for the reminder. The verses turned out so beautiful I didn’t want to put them in anything because I don’t want to mess them up! That wasn’t the point of having her make them though, now was it?!?

I also have to be praying a lot more because within the last week I have had two men approach me while walking home. They both have tried to “flirt” with me, but neither time was it in an appropriate manner. It was more demeaning than anything. The second time it happened the guy actually stood in front of me and prevented me from being able to continue walking. I had to go out of my way to get around him and continue home. I know from now on to have my phone out and not be afraid to call the police if I need to. As my friend told me, I may be overusing the police, but if it means keeping myself safe, then I have to do so. Around this area that I’m living in I’d have to say that the white population is highly in the minority. Depending which direction you go from the house there is either a major black population or Hispanic population. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against either of them at all! But, when it comes to guys like this, especially the second guy who was in his 50s and stands in my way to prevent me from going somewhere, it’s a bit scary.

I put on the armor of God and it will forever protect me.

Add a comment September 4, 2011

To Prove Myself Wrong

I always think that I’m not doing anything with my life…especially with the talents that God has given me. I mean, I’m 24, don’t have a job, living on SSI, don’t have a boyfriend, husband, or kids of my own. I don’t even have a degree from college! But, nevertheless, God has given me incredible talents that I don’t give myself credit for, and I really am doing something with my life.

I know people who are basically living in treatment. Some really need it. They are so engrossed in their eating disorder or depression that they wouldn’t be alive without this treatment. I admit…I was there once. I also know people who I believe are just in treatment because they are too afraid to be anywhere else. They can get healthy but maybe they just don’t want to. Again, I admit. I was there once.

Now, my days are filled not with hospital stays and disordered behaviors, but with life.

I’m in school. I’m active in church. I found a new “family” down in Florida who I love so much and wouldn’t know what to do had I not met them in the crazy events that led to us meeting. I’m using my love of sign language on almost a daily basis. And, most importantly, I don’t sleep 24/7 like I used to.

Here’s what my schedule basically consists of:
Sunday: My day of rest. I go to a church class at 10:15 and then attend service after that until around 12:30. Sometimes after I’ll go with Linda and her mom to eat out for lunch and sometimes we’ll just come home and relax. It’s the seventh day and I really try and give it to myself to do nothing.
Monday: Finish any and all homework I had from the previous week and even possibly get ahead on the next week’s homework. I also try and take a shower on Monday!
Tuesday: American National Government from 2:00-3:15 and then Intro to Speech from 3:30-4:45. I catch the bus right after and take it to the library in which I then have American Sign Language from 6:00-8:00. Afterwards, Linda and I go to our friend Joan’s house and we will practice ASL until around 10:00.
Wednesday: Do my homework from Tuesday and church from 7:00-9:00. Doctor’s appointments and errands are also done on Wednesdays. This is also the day I get my shower in!
Thursday: American National Government from 2:00-3:15 and Intro to Speech from 3:30-4:45. I get to take the bus straight home from there, which is an hour ride. I usually try and start some homework so that I don’t have to do any on Sunday, and so I get some free time on the weekend.
Friday: Budget my time and finish homework. I see my therapist on Friday’s when she’s available, and I always get a visit from my psychiatric team at least twice a month on a Friday for my medications. Occasionally this day will be set aside to see my psychiatrist instead.
Saturday: Sometimes, on a rare occasion, I’ll get to go to the beach. Normally, nowadays, it’s spent doing Government homework because it takes me so long to complete.
Saturday: I always shower on Saturdays! Finding time is sometimes a little difficult, so because I have Saturdays free I always shower!!! Need to stay clean!

So, basically, I’m realizing that I do really accomplish a lot more in my week than I realize. I’ve learned to take the public bus, which is either three or four different buses in one day. I spend two hours a day on a bus when I go to and from school. I’ve really learned to manage money. I’m learning sign language and am using it a LOT more. I even passed the test today to skip out of the first level. YEAH!!! I was soooo nervous about the test, but I got the word of approval today that I passed.

And now? It’s time for bed!

Add a comment August 31, 2011

ANGER

I’m going to admit, I’m a very angry person. I don’t think that I’ve really realized this until lately. I’ve always hid my anger, never allowing myself to show it to others, and taking it out on myself through either self-injury or my eating disorder. Recently I’ve allowed myself to see things that I’m upset about. And believe me…the list keep piling up.

Despite this list increasing constantly, I’m seeing how graceful God is with all of this anger. I may be angry about millions of things going on in my life, but God has placed His hand on many parts of this anger.

School in itself is making me beyond upset. I can’t believe how costly it is just to take two courses at the local community college. My tuition was nearly $600, and my books were $100. I also had to buy school supplies, as I of course don’t have many since I haven’t been in school in over four years. Yes, this has all made me very mad, but then I remember that it’s by the grace of God that I’m being able to even go back to school. I’ve wanted to return to college for quite a while now and haven’t had the chance because of money or whatever. God has finally put things together where I have a place to live and have just enough income to get things together that I can take two courses. Yes, it may only be TWO courses, but it’s two more courses than I was taking before.

I get more than angry about my medications.  I want so desperately to get on a lower dose of my mood stabilizer, but once I lower the dose my moods start to be a bit unbalanced.  Maybe they aren’t unbalanced though.  Maybe the moods are just turning more “normal” and less “numbing.”  I just don’t know what “normal” feelings are, I guess, because I’ve been so medicated for so long.  Then, on top of that, I was given medication for the pain I’ve been having, along with the swelling as well.  This medication, along with my other ones, make me sleep forever!  I feel that I’ve wasted the majority of my day when I finally get up and going because it makes me so tired when combined, and I’m not even taking my sleep medication!!!  But after all this thinking, I have to thank God that I finally have become stable enough in my bipolar that my psychiatrist feels I can be taken off of my medication, or at least have it decreased.  She said in a couple months we can think about taking me off of my anti-depressant.  This is the first time in years a psychiatrist has thought that.  God has given me the stability in my life to maybe no be as medication dependent.  The thought of that is very exciting.

It’s finally starting to kick in that my sister’s fiance, Gino, is dead.  He died on Memorial Day after a two-year fight with cancer.  His 21st birthday would be coming up in a little over a week.  I’ve been very angry and depressed about his death, but I haven’t allowed myself to feel this.  I’ve been hiding it, keeping myself busy with other things.  I feel I haven’t been there for my sister, Katie.  Through all the time she was enduring chemo with him, being his nurse at home, seeing him suffer, etc.  I feel I wasn’t the sister I should have been, and I’m angry with myself.  How could I have been such a failure as a sister?  She needed me, and still needs me.  I never talk to her.  We obviously can’t spend time together since I’m in Florida and she lives in Illinois.  But, God has taken Gino away from His suffering.  He looked better and more at peace at his funeral than ever before.  Gino was smiling, and you could tell God’s spirit was within him.  I couldn’t thank God enough for the peace that he put into Gino.  Gino needed that for over two years.

There are more things that are upsetting me right now, but because of a time constraint I have to cut it short.  Just keep in mind that God is great and all things are possible through Him.  I sometimes forget that and want to run the other way, but He’ll always be there when I’m ready to come back.

Add a comment August 5, 2011

So, I’m Willing To Forgive Others…?

Luke 17:4
“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

I can easily forgive other people, so why can’t I forgive myself? If I do something wrong, I don’t want to admit it. When I do admit it, I don’t want to forgive myself, even if the other person has.

Linda’s not mad at me. She said so herself. She never yelled at me. Linda told me how she felt. She was honest with me. I should be more open and willing to hear what she has to say. Because it had to do with something I had done that she wasn’t exactly “pleased” with, I didn’t want to exactly hear it. I just became upset and shut down. Almost as if I was shutting her out, but that’s the last thing I wanted to do.

So even though all of this happened yesterday, why am I still beating myself up about it today? I understand that I still haven’t allowed myself to process everything. I slept all day today, literally. Not because I was depressed, but for medical reasons. A combination of how I was feeling physically and my medications caused me to sleep all day.

I talked with Linda for a while this morning, voicing my concerns about what happened yesterday. I didn’t want to run from the situation. That’s not the adult way to do things. But my internal instinct is to leave, which I don’t want to do. I love Linda. She’s done so much for me. She’s helping me do so much and accomplish so much in my life. But I can’t stop beating myself up. I can’t listen to myself and forgive myself. I haven’t wronged seven times, but Linda forgave me…now I just have to forgive myself. I feel like it’s a beginning of throwing my recovery away.

Why, you ask? Am I messing up and getting this emotional now so that when I start school I automatically fail? Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy? I’ll cause myself to fail so I can prevent it from happening accidentally?

On another topic, my physical pain isn’t going away, but is continuing to get worse. The muscle cramping, the joint swelling, and the muscle spasms continue. I see a rheumatologist at the end of next month. If you can just pray and hope that things go well and I can find an answer to all of this, I would appreciate it. I just want to find an answer. I know God is strong and He will pull through. God is strong…

Add a comment July 30, 2011

Proof I Am NOT Perfect…

I believe that if I were perfect I would go to God at every chance I had, whether I really needed Him at that point or not. Well, I did the exact opposite today. I couldn’t feel more guilt, more shame, or be more angry at myself right now.

I messed up today. I knew it when she called me back and the tone in her voice. (I’m not going to say who…it’s not important. And yes, I may be hard-of-hearing, but I can still tell a stern tone when I hear one.) No part of me is good with confrontation, and confrontation was the last thing I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure EXACTLY what I had done “wrong,” but I knew I hadn’t done everything exactly right. And so I was nervous.

I began to pray. It was the first and only thing I knew to do at the time. I was upset, but not to the point of tears. I just talked and talked to God, asking Him for everything to turn out okay. I didn’t know how the talk was going to go. I didn’t know what exactly the talk was going to be about. But what I did know was it had to do with me messing something up. I didn’t do something correctly. I had done something wrong. The key word on all of this is “I.” I truly hate being the one in the wrong.

On my drive home I gave up on God. He is the one who promised me riches, successes, and help with anything I need. But, for some reason, I felt He was going to fail me. I felt I knew better than He did. I don’t know how I could be better than the creator of the earth, but for a slight moment I thought I was. So I took things into my own hands, and that’s making me even more upset now that I look back at the evening. If I would have just kept on praying the night would have turned out a whole lot better, and I’m sure much different.

I came home and directly went into bed, hiding under my weight blanket. My anxiety was building, and I figured any way to keep myself centered and get back to a “normal” state of mind would be the best thing. My attempt to avoid confrontation didn’t last long as I lost. Confrontation is hard to run away from when the other person wants it!

I find it impossible to look someone in the eyes when they are telling me what they feel I’ve done “wrong,” or not exactly “right.” My feelings of guilt was overwhelming, and I was beginning to feel worse than I had originally. I didn’t know my simple choice of words had affected someone I feel so dearly about. I wasn’t exactly aware I had worded it the way I did…and so seeing it in their perspective I understand how it could have been upsetting, but I really didn’t mean for it to sound the way it did.

But then, to hear how I really messed things up…I was feeling a hatred for myself. She forgave me, I think, but I really haven’t forgiven myself still. She said I made the night without behaviors, and that made me cry even more. I think this was the first time I’d really lost it in front of her.

My automatic response it to run. Leave. Flee. Leave Florida, go back home, get out of this mess. The thought that I even paid for some school and I didn’t care crossed my mind. Having to see someone daily who I feel I seriously wronged or offended is going to be hard for me. I don’t forgive myself like that. I feel things still aren’t all the way talked out. There’s still some tension. And I think that’s why I always leave. Because I never want to clear that last bit of tension. I’m afraid to bring up that sore spot again. I was seen in one of my weakest points: crying, admitting my wrongs, etc. I HATE when people see that part of me. I just want to continue to hide and pretend nothing happened. I want to be invisible. I don’t want to feel I’m “taking advantage” of the person/people I hurt. Or using them in anyway. But that’s how I feel.

I feel I’m overstepping my welcome. Overusing my stay. Not growing in the ways I should be. I’m not sure. I’m just really confused about things right now.

I do know that I wasn’t following Christ tonight, though. I stepped away from Him and away from His path. I thought I could do it alone. I thought I was more powerful and took things into my own hands when clearly the Bible says to put it in His. I still have a lot of learning to do as a person and as a Christian. I’ll never stop learning about myself. But, I really do have to stop being angry with myself. I know that much. But to know it and to actually KNOW it are two different things. Knowing it with your brain and knowing it with your heart is a huge difference, one I’m still trying to get over. I messed up…and I could beat myself up forever about it. Learning not to is the goal.

Add a comment July 29, 2011

Graciousness for my Mom

This is a topic I have never really talked about with anyone, but it’s something that is touching on my heart. I could never imagine that I would be here in Florida, states and states away from my family in Illinois. My mom doesn’t know what’s going on down here in Florida since she isn’t able to take time to come and see me in my surroundings. This is perfectly fine with me because I understand she is busy and I understand that I have three younger sisters who need the attention that she already has given to me.  Whenever I’ve needed her she’s taken the couple minutes of time she’s able to to sit and talk on the phone.

When visiting home she allows me to stay at her house and willingly allows me to use her vehicle so that I’m not stuck at the house.

I think that when I was planning on moving down to Florida she didn’t believe I was going, and most of all thought I’d be back sooner than I anticipated.  Well, I’m going on a year-and-a-half and going strong!  Yes, I miss my family, but I’m sure to take advantage to every opportunity to talk to my mom when I can.  I really feel like she’s proud of me and my accomplishments down here in Florida.  She’s never told me, but it’s one of those things that she doesn’t have to tell me.  I can sense it.  The love that she sends my way when I’m leaving, and the anticipation she has when I’m planning on coming home for a visit.

I’m glad she’s allowing me to be an adult.  Allowing me to be me.  I couldn’t ask for more, and I am incredibly gracious for the fact that God gave her to me as a mom.  It may have taken me a long time to realize this, but I’m glad I have.

2 comments July 26, 2011

Introductory Post

For so long I’ve been wanting to start a blog and just haven’t found the reason to do so.  Well, I’ve finally figured it out.  God has been doing so many amazing things in my life and I want to be able to share them with the world!  I’m not going to get into any of the examples during this blog because it’s just an introductory blog, but you wouldn’t imagine the POWER that the guy upstairs has!

My life is moving in so many exciting new directions I don’t know where to begin.  Being able to go back to school, being in the place I’m living, the new church I just became a member of, the improvement of my sign language, etc.  It’s mind boggling.  But it’s all because of Him!!!  Keep up with these entries and I’ll explain how God is doing wonders.  You’ll want to stay reading!

2 comments July 25, 2011

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