A Fathers Day Memorial

My dad was hilarious. He would make jokes in casual conversation that could make the whole room laugh. Even when the whole room didn’t laugh at the joke, I promise they would smile at the boisterous laugh my dad produced after telling said joke.

One joke he always told was when we would both be sitting in the living room, watching tv or whatever, and he’d look over and say, “Hey Tori, as long as you’re sitting there not doing anything. Can you get me some ice cream from the kitchen.” When he told this he was also not doing anything and generally closer to the kitchen.

He always loved spending time with his kids growing up. He didn’t mind listening to us talk about things he didn’t care about. He just liked to talks and spend time with us. I remember he had my brother convinced he was just as interested in Pokémon cards as my brother was.

When I was really young and not in school yet we would have “Daddy Tori Time” every Friday morning. It was my favorite day of the week. We usually would go out, just the two of us. We usually went to get doughnuts at our favorite place Marges Doughnuts. After we would do things my dad loved such as, go to Thrift Stores, Big Lots, Dollar Stores, and Garage Sales. It was my favorite time because he usually would let me buy a little something. It was so special.

You could always tell that we were related because we had a super similar taste in food. He passed on to me his love for peanut butter, all things cookies, and salt-on everything. He enjoyed life and passed that on to me. My favorite food he would make for me we called “Daddy’s Special”. Even in to adulthood I could count on him to make me the best Daddy’s special. All it was is buttered toast with peanut butter and apricot jam on top. It was simple but only my dad could make it just the way I liked it.

Dad loved to share stories from his childhood. If you got all the Torreson brothers in a room, I promise you could probably write a book using all the story’s they have from growing up on a farm in rural Iowa. From corn fights to big foot, you would find hours of entertainment.

One story my dad told I think captures his joking spirit. When he was a teenager he would work in the summer at some neighbors farm to make money. Well when he worked he would always borrow the owners work boots. One day, the end of the work day, he took off the boots and saw a couple of salamanders. He decided to put the salamanders in the boot to surprise his neighbor. The next day came and his boss told him that he was surprised when he put on the booths because he thought dad has left some wet socks in them. Apparently he didn’t mind though and continued working. When he took off the boots he was shocked to find the wet socks were salamanders.

I’ve probably never heard all the stories my dad could have shared. I am sad I’m starting to forget some of them too. His stories brought his personality to life. People who never sat and had a conversation with him missed out on so much joy and knowledge.

Much like in his story above he loved to pull pranks. Usually they were small, like taking your dinner plate and hiding it when you got up to get something to drink. He always laughed and laughed at your confusion when you came back. His face looked like that of a school boy when you walked in the room. You could always tell he was up to something.

My dad was one of the best people in the world and one of my best friends. When I was diagnosed with depression anxiety and bipolar disorder he was always understanding and loving. He could always listen and understand things I probably never would have felt comfortable telling anyone else. He understood when I shared with him terrible things I had done. He was able to relate with me. We shared a bond that was so deep because we understood each other in a way others didn’t. We were similar and that helped me. In my adult life I shared many heart to hearts with him over doughnuts at Marges.

My dad created these relationships with everyone he was close too. But probably the most noble quality was his commitment to our family. He worked every single day at a job he HATED. A job that drove him to depression, he would work hard at everyday to provide. He rarely complained. He held it in. In fact, I didn’t know just how much he hated his job until he was laid off 14 years later. He is a hero, a true hero.

I think my dad lived his best life. He loved us and his hobbies. He loved antique radios, lawnmowers, bikes, good food, and family. I can’t help but think he is doing all of those things and more in heaven.

I could write forever. I don’t think there is enough I could ever say that would come close to capturing how great my dad was. But with that, I beg those who knew him to share him. Help me keep him alive on earth with his memories and stories. One part of the COVID funeral that I really missed was the luncheon afterwards. You know, the one where people get up and talk about happy memories and share stories. I need that. Please comment here on my blog if you have anything you would like to share to keep his memories alive.

With the most broken heart and the hardest hurt I’ve ever felt, I wish my Dad, William Torreson, a happy Fathers Day, the first Fathers Day spent with our Heavenly Father. Love you Daddy.

The Struggle Of Faith

It feels strange to write again, however my thoughts need to be expressed. Sometimes I bottle up my thoughts and feelings to the point that it hurts me to continue on. It’s odd, as I have always been a talking a social. Growing into my adult self I found that the more I said the more shame or embarrassment I felt. I feel like I am wasting others time by talking. I’m sure that is the reason why I am privy to writing. I say what I want and no one has to read it. I can speak even if no one wants to listen.

That might be a long intro into what feels like an entirely different topic. The reason I bring it up, though, is that if you find yourself reading this, you can understand at least why I am writing it. It’s not that what I have to say is particularly important to anyone but myself. It’s that my words are some that may have been held in shame or embarrassment. I freely write these words to share my own personal experiences and pain. I share for myself but I do hope others may stumble upon these writings and learn. I pray they will learn from my experience.

With that, I want to begin my story my freshman year in college. I was young and full of hope for the future. As time went on I lost that hope. I’m fact, I lost all hope. I became withdrawn, frantic, obsessive, crazed, and I hated myself. This is how my journey started. I have shared that story on my blog before but this time I need to share something a little different.

During this time I thought I believed in God. I’m not sure if I actually believed or if I was putting on an act. This whole part of my life felt like I was putting on a show. The sicker I became the less I publicly professed my christian Faith. I hung on to it for a long time and tried to believe until something broke me.

I’m both ashamed and not ashamed to talk about this part of my journey. You see I became actively involved with a family of believers that encouraged me more than I could have ever imagined. Now I don’t think it’s fair of me to judge so I’ll say this as kindly as a can. I really believe this group of people had good intentions, unfortunately they did not understand mental illness. I try not to blame them as it’s a hard topic to understand unless you have experienced it firsthand. And though this is another topic entirely, it’s one reason we should be advocating for mental health first aid and training in our churches. Again, this wasn’t the case for me and I was asked to leave the group that became my family.

This event crushed my spirit, and absolutely demolished any shred of faith I had left. I was left feeling empty and broken. I was angry. I couldn’t sit in church without crying because I could no longer believe a loving God existed. I eventually stopped trying and claimed agnosticism. I didn’t know what I believed.

I went down a horrible dark road and after I never fully recovered. Even after getting married I still struggled with anger, questions, and doubts. I wanted to believe and I did research. I read books and studied the Bible. It never felt real to me. There was a disconnect and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t do it.

It’s interesting to think about your life as a story. I know everyone has one. It never turns out the way you expect. In February of this year, we found out my dad had Cancer. I knew he was going to die. Every hopeful thing we tried was cut short. I knew with every step he had very little time. I was lost and alone and without knowing where to turn I cried out to the God I used to know. I cried to the God I once believed in. I wailed and screamed. I talked and listened. He answered me with a stillness. I had never felt more at peace in my life.

I talked to him for probably an hour about everything on my mind and he answered by putting words in my head. I finally asked God if my dad was going to die. I felt a overwhelming “yes” wash over me. It was followed by images of heaven and my dad biking through the perfect mountains and fishing in perfect waters. I felt peace.

Not but two weeks later I learn he had passed. I hurt so much missing him. I would not be able to continue without that peace.

He prayed for me every single day. He loved me unconditionally. He listened to my doubts and anger. He forgave my mistakes and made me feel less alone. He gave everything to be a great dad. I believe he was praying for me the night I prayed about him.

My dad is gone and nothing can make up for the hurt or the sense of loss I feel. I grieve daily. I believe I will see him again someday. I’m a reborn Christian and despite the hurt, I’m thankful I was given this chance to embrace faith in Christ again and my identity in him.

Cursed Springtime

I hate the spring. Spring is supposed to be a time for new beginnings, but instead for me, it is filled it sorrowful losses. Today we received the news I was dreading to hear. My dad does not have much longer on this earth. As a child, we know these things will come. However it’s hard to think it’s coming so soon.

This isn’t the first time I received bad news in the spring time. All 3 of my deceased grandparents died in the spring. A neighbor who was like a grandfather to me passed away in the spring too. My Facebook “memories” this time of year are filled with obituaries and memories. Every year I brace myself for another loss.

The losses align well with my life as the hardest times for my mental illness also align with the spring time. My longest stay in the hospital, my terrible struggle with mania, and even now with this quarantine. Springtime seems to bring nothing but pain.

I feel selfish for feeling the way I do. I almost can’t handle the amount of pain that it inevitably coming. As awful as it sounds, I feel envious because I wish it was my life that we were counting down the days too.

I hate this cursed springtime that continues to bring death and pain. I hate that I’m so helpless. My dad is the most amazing man and he does not deserve this. None of us do…

Doubts and Shame

Do I believe?

Most of my adult life I have struggled with faith in a higher power.  My struggle stems from a lot of very bad “Christians” representing a God I cannot see.  I am supposed to be able to see God through their works, but I don’t.  I see good people and I see bad people and prescribing to a certain religious belief  seems not to correlate to what type of person you are.

I very much want to believe.  It is something I am constantly yearning for.  I want to believe in Jesus and I want to believe in the Bible.  I want to be a part of something bigger than myself.  In fact, I constantly am reading books and articles that set out to PROVE Jesus of the bible.  Books like Lee Strobles, The Case for Christ and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler have done a great job of convincing me the Bible and how it presents itself is an incredibly accurate historical book. 

At this point, I have found the thing that is truly the source of my doubts is Christians.  I can’t understand the things I see and hear and how are they supposed to represent this wonderful God that the bible portrays.  I suppose I do have a faith, though it be small.  At this point I know the God of the Bible is real and good and I believe he did amazing things.  I just have a hard time transferring this belief into a faith that I can be proud of.

I know Christians are told they will be persecuted for believing in Christ. My shame, however, stems not from knowing Christ, but instead from being associated with hateful Christians.  I can claim, “Hey, I’m different,” but so is everyone else.

So to answer my own question I guess, yes I believe. I am far from being free from doubts though.  I doubt why someone who loves Jesus would be so hateful.  I question why people who love Jesus would be so judgmental.   I question if it’s possible for anyone to actually believe they can worship on Sunday and then post hate speech on Facebook on Monday.

I mean I’m not perfect, but shouldn’t we at least try harder? Be better? Maybe my faith is really imperfect and it’s full of doubts, but I mean, at least I’m not hateful.  At least I’m trying to be a good person.

I keep hearing the beauty of Christ is you don’t have to do anything because he did it all, but maybe that’s not as good as it seems because people don’t try.  They don’t do anything to set themselves apart.  They walk around high and mighty claiming “CHRIST SAVES” but then they say, well except you.. and you.. oh and not you.  The sad part is people believe being hateful is being Christian.  That, is the saddest part.

I’m ashamed, not of Christ, but of Christians.

I wish

I wish I didn’t have this illness.

I wish I could live a normal life

I wish I didn’t have to ask the hard questions

I wish I didn’t disappoint people

I wish I didn’t think about death everyday

I wish I didn’t have to take pills just to stay alive

I wish I was able to be carefree

I wish I didn’t have to be hospitalized anymore

I wish I could live without fear

I wish I could live without doubt

I wish I didn’t have to explain myself

I wish I could be free

I wish I didn’t wish death would come quickly

I wish I was as happy as I pretend to be

I wish I was better

I wish I could get better

I wish I didn’t have this illness

I wish this illness didn’t have me.

Life Is

It’s funny how we come exactly how we go

Naked and terrified

The circle of life

It seems so arbitrary.

Life feels meaningless

When you have family that loves you

but you don’t love yourself

You remember life is just a vapor in the wind..

and no one will remember whether you come or you go

One hundred years from now.

no one will know your name

The circle of life.

It’s so arbitrary

They say give your life meaning

How can one do

as life means nothing to the stranger who’s wealthier than you

And no one knows your face a a million miles away

When your employer thinks your just a number not a name

When the judge says your guilty and you have never done a thing

It’s meaningless

You ask me to live, and I’m living only for you

never for myself

it’s impossible to do.

to be happy, to be content

without power or fame

Even they can’t be happy

Robin Williams and Cobain

The circle of life

It’s arbitrary you see!

Even religious men don’t seem happy to me

Faith in a God that brings peace and light

But I would rather just be in heaven

A perfect place

I dream of the day

Until then we will all wake up

putting a mask on our face

We will find meaning in the arbitrary

We will stay alive because we have to

because we have to

because we have to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Happiness?

It seems I have lost it again

I’ve lost it so many times before

Maybe I’m just not meant to have it

It is easily given but easily forgotten

I found it as an Easter egg hidden under a bush

I saw it light up the sky after a ball game

It has licked my face and wagged its tail

I have felt it’s soft kiss and warm embrace

How could I lose it?

Where can I find it?

Instead, I always know where to find pain

It’s hidden in corners, cupboards, and boxes.

It puts on a mask and pretends to be your friend

I’ve heard it yell insults and threats and curses

I’ve held it’s hand on a date to the movies

I was raped by it in a cheap motel room

I drank it down to forget

Oh I know where to find darkness

Darkness is easy to find.

It sits in my brain waiting for its day

It makes my heart bleed out on to my arms

It speaks to me telling me I shouldn’t be

I have found darkness.

But, where is happiness?

Building My Staircase

I haven’t written in a long time. Writing has always been my escape. It gives me an outlet to process hard emotions. Lately, I haven’t had a need or reason to write. Life has been good. I am thankful for the amount of healing that has taken place. I’m living my best life with a great husband. I have my dream job. Life has been good.

With that said, I want to share an experience I had. I went to therapy last week and I completely froze. I was overcome with a heated fear. You may know that I love to talk, so when words were hard to find I knew it was serious. I sat there in silence as my therapist of many years pushed me to talk. I only said the things above. I told her life was good. I said how good I was doing. She then asked me if life was so good, then what was I hiding from her. I thought for a minute before bursting into tears and saying, “I don’t know.”

In this moment, pain surface. A really dark and deep pain that I felt crawling up my spine and infesting the corners of my mind. I was petrified and I couldn’t figure out why. My therapist got me a weighted blanket and helped me come back to reality. Whatever that was, scared me. She ended our time telling me I must be very afraid of whatever I’m hiding. She was right.

I left her office in a haze. I couldn’t figure out what just happened. Life is going well! What is this fear and where is it coming from? I have never been one to suppress my feelings, I’m often an open book. Whatever it was, I knew it was bad. I couldn’t let it destroy my life.

I haven’t told anyone about what happened last week– not even my husband. I pushed it back and called it a fluke. I pretended it wasn’t anything to be concerned about and went on with my life. I almost forgot about it until the other night. I felt the same fear and pain enter my body again. I recognized it as the same fear I felt at my psychologists office. This time, I also recognized the source.

That wasn’t the first time I had felt that fear and hurt. I have, in fact, felt it many times before. I usually would feel it and then push it down and move on. I suddenly realized why I felt so afraid with therapist. I am doing so well but I have been ignoring something for a long time. I have been ignoring something that needs to be addressed. Despite my best efforts to ignore the pain and fear, it will continue to surface until I work through it.

I suppose it’s time I actually mention what it is. That’s the fear trying to win. That is why I am writing again. I can’t let the pain win. The pain that is buried so deep inside is my past trauma, specifically sexual trauma and abuse.

If you know me or have followed my blog, you know my history with this subject. I’m not shy about it. I am however shy about how much the trauma has effected me. I have never been diagnosed with PTSD but I believe what I am experiencing is similar. The hurt and the fear I felt still haunts me. Not only does it haunt me, but it brings me so much fear and anxiety I shut down thinking about it.

So now I begin a new journey. I begin a journey of healing from abuse and trauma. I think I was afraid that letting this come to light would discredit all the progress I’ve made. That is a falsity. In fact, if it weren’t for my progress, I could never properly address this pain. I think of it like building a staircase. You can’t start at the top without having a good base. You build slowly up, one step and a time. This is my next step.

Please reach out with any resources that might help me in my journey. I know I’m not alone in this.

Tomorrow Will Be Better…

Last year was by far the hardest year of my life. That says a lot, as anyone who knows me knows I have been through hell and back. My years in hospitals and through abuse felt minimal in comparison to the hurt and betrayal I felt last year when I lost almost everything to ignorant people and discriminatory actions. I got through it though. I got through it because I knew eventually things would get better.

I often feel like life treats certain people unfairly. Like pouring salt in a wound some people just seem to get life’s pains handed to them on a rusted platter. I’m sure I’m not alone in my beliefs. We sometimes get kicked when we’re down and that’s life. Life is also continuing to try to get back up no matter how hard or pointless it may seem.

My New Years resolution this year was to have a better year than the last. It was an easy target considering what happened, but it’s true that you never know what life will hand you. Everyday I go to bed and tell myself, “Tomorrow will be better.” I repeat that to myself no matter how great of a day I have had. I tell myself this even if I don’t believe it. I engrave it in my mind so monotonously that it acts as an echo in the times I need to hear it most. Tomorrow will be better. If it’s not? Well then the next day will be better.. or the next day, or the next day, or the next.

You see, this optimism is what keeps me alive. It keeps me striving to do what I want, what I love! It makes me better myself because I want that statement to come true, like a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. If today is not great, what can I do to make tomorrow better?

So far, things have been better! Life is starting to turn around and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps, it won’t stay this way. The important thing is I am making moves every day to improve my life. I went back to school, I built my self confidence, I stood up for myself, and so much more.

This technique won’t work for everyone. However, I challenge anyone who reads this to just do one thing every day that can help improve their life. It could be as little as putting loose coins in a jar to cash in later or recycling and composting. Anything to help your state of mind. I know better than some how important it is to take care of yourself, especially when you don’t have the strength to even get out of bed. It is important! I share this because it has helped me so much. I hope it would do the same for others.

So tomorrow will get better! And if it doesn’t? Don’t worry, the next day will be better still. 🙂

I Know I’m Not Crazy

So I am really into shows and movies about doctors, hospitals, and the like. In such shows, there is sometimes a patient that comes in with all these symptoms and the doctors will then try to say “Oh, those are the classic symptoms of insert mental illness here. Let me call in a psychiatrist.” The patient will panic and say the famous words, “No, please! I know I’m not crazy.” The doctor will then perform numerous tests and find some tumor or lesion and it will be removed and the patient will go on their merry way. When the doctors give the patient the news that it’s a tumor or some other tangible ailment, the patient is relieved because it is much easier to accept a tumor than it is to accept a mental illness.

I know I’m not crazy. I’m not. I have a condition in which my brain produces too much or too little of certain chemicals which cause my mind to not function as well as it should. Just like a tumor I have no control over this chemical reaction. I’m not crazy. Why does society treat those of us that suffer as such?

I understand why people would be upset when they hear that they might have a mental illness. I get it. It totally sucks. It sucks because mental illness is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. It sucks because it takes a lot of hard work and patience to treat an illness. It sucks because you know you’ll be treated differently because of a chemical imbalance in your body. I get it. It sucks. Let me be perfectly clear, however, it does not suck because we are crazy! It doesn’t. We aren’t crazy.

We may feel crazy at times because our brain is trying kill our body. We may feel crazy when the world around us functions with such ease and our world fails to function at all. We may feel crazy when people treat mental illness like a mythical creature. We may feel crazy, but we aren’t.

Do you know how hard it is to get through life knowing you have nothing to live for? No? Well I do. I have gotten through and created a life worth living. My brain constantly try’s to take that away from me and my fist full of pills remind me I am one slip away from losing all hope. However, these things don’t make me crazy. They make me a fighter. I realize that I will be fighting the rest of my life and that is exhausting. I will not, however, let the world tell me my fight isn’t legitimate. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I hope one day there will be a Doctor show where the doctors suggest a mental illness and the patient is able to say, “That really sucks, but I’m happy there is treatment. Walk with me while I fight it.”