Posted in anxiety, Dreams, family, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, random, relationships, women

Even After all this time

verbal abuse quotes Beautiful Domestic Violence Awareness Get The Facts [Infographic]

I woke up at three o’clock this morning, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I’d had a terrible nightmare, the kind that seems so real, where you wake up breathless- like you were running straight out of the dream. Honestly, I could cry just thinking about it right now. I dreamed about a man I haven’t laid eyes on since I was 15 years old, a man I hope I never have to see again. But for a long time, he was part of my life, and part of my family. He turned what might have been a happy childhood into years of walking on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing, or make the wrong face. He was my stepfather, and he was a terrible man.

In my dream last night, somehow, he was back in our lives. We were trying to get away from him- I remember desperately thinking that I should call from a different phone, pretend to be a different woman, convince him that he should meet up with me, but…even in my dream I was too afraid he would recognize my voice, too afraid of what would happen if I were found out. I was standing in my kitchen, in this house, and I could hear the sound of that particular kind of “fight”- the kind that isn’t really a fight at all, but a man overpowering a woman. I know that sound intimately. I rushed out to find him holding my mothers arm behind her back, as she swayed on her feet, looking dazed. He had his arm pulled back, ready to punch her again. My heart was in my throat as I rushed to her side, wedging myself between them, and somehow he didn’t resist me, he let me lead her into the house. This was not how the story went in real life, of course. I was little then, and I couldn’t do anything at all to help, no matter how much I wanted to.

I don’t think my mom likes it when I talk about this. I know these are terrible memories, and she wishes they didn’t exist. But I want to point out how remarkable it is that, at the age of 43, almost 30 years since I’ve even seen this person, my mind, my heart, my consciousness, can still recall exactly the terror and the pain and the helplessness I felt as a child. I want to point out that, even if I never spoke of this again, these feelings still exist in me, whether I acknowledge them or not. I do not think of this man- almost never. I don’t waste my time hating him or being angry about what he did. I figure his biggest punishment is walking around in his skin, with his memories and his broken mind.

But do I ever feel sad for the child I was, who certainly didn’t deserve to have to live that way? Of course I do. Do I ever wonder how much that contributed to my years of drug abuse and dysfunction? You bet your ass I do. How could I not? Do I blame my mother? Nope. We’ve talked about it, many, many times. She was a very young woman, trying to provide a life for her children, and she simply got in over her head. She didn’t know how to get out. The mental manipulation that goes hand in hand with physical and verbal abuse makes it very hard to tell which end is up. There are good days in between the bad days, and remember…this abuser didn’t start off being a monster. You are always looking for the man inside the monster. Sometimes he is wonderful and charming and fun. Towards the end, as I recall it, the monster consumed the man. We left because my mother began to truly fear he would kill us all.

Though he was not my father, he left traces of himself on me. I have had to learn that people aren’t supposed to erupt in rage, or terrify littler people into submission. I have had to learn how to love others without harming them. I did not know how to fight fair. I did not know you didn’t have to fight at all, not like that. I would never tolerate a man putting his hands on me- I made that promise to myself, and I have kept it. But I became the tyrant, at least sometimes, and that has been hard to know about myself. It has been even harder to overcome.

As for my mom- she has gone on to bigger and better things, and she has been successful and happy and done so many wonderful things. But for a long time, she couldn’t talk about those years, not really. I needed to talk about them. I will never forget the night we drove out along the beach, the two of us in her car, and she finally opened up to me. She told me everything I thought was real, my memories were indeed as I remembered, and she said the most important words she’d ever said to me: “I’m so sorry. I wish I could go back and change it, but I can’t.”

Forgiveness was a lot easier after that. I don’t know how to end this, so I’m just going to say this- if you are in a situation where you are being abused, and you don’t think your kids are being affected, please believe me when I tell you that they are, and they will be for many years to come. Even if it seems impossibly hard, you can leave. There are so many organizations that can help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

 

Posted in anxiety, family, kids, Life, living, love, mindfulness, motherhood, parenting, People

This Beautiful Moment

winnie

Yesterday, against my better judgement, I went to see Christopher Robin, the new Winnie the Pooh movie that is out right now. I had scheduled a play-date for Camryn and her little friend Robine from school- she’s this adorable little girl who is here for three years with her family from the Netherlands, and she is literally my favorite of all the kids in Cam’s class, aside from Cam herself, of course. Anyway, I had wanted to see The Incredibles 2, but as usual, I missed the boat on that one. So the only thing playing was Christopher Robin, and that was that.

I have never been a big fan of Winnie the Pooh. I don’t know why, I was just never into it. And honestly, the movie wasn’t all that great, but…that didn’t stop me from bawling my eyes out through half of it. Why? You want to know why? Okay, I’ll tell you: Because it reminded me of a few things- one of which is the terrible way we lose our true selves as adults, and become these tense, unimaginative people most of the time. We get our priorities so wrong, we place work and money above our families and the things we truly love. I think about this all the time, but I still catch myself doing it, no matter how bizarre and backwards it seems.

Another reason it made me so wistful was the way it portrayed the sad loss of childhood, the way we leave behind the playful, joyful little people we were. Especially right now, especially for me…dealing with all of this anxiety lately, just trying to hold it all together. It doesn’t allow me a lot of room for full-throttle happiness. I mostly feel like I am peering inside myself with a spotlight and a magnifying glass. Which is utter bullshit, because the world is far too big for me to spend all of my time gazing at myself. I need to stop it.

Which brings me to my third reason for crying- my daughter is having her childhood right this very moment. This is such an odd time for being a child, isn’t it? So different than the way it was when I was little. I played outside, unsupervised, for hours and hours at her age. I explored the woods next door to my grandparents house with a friend my age- we found a creek to jump in and a low-voltage fence to take turns touching, we explored abandoned buildings and did all sorts of stuff that was unwise and dangerous. But I never got seriously lost or gravely injured, and I grew up to be independent and mostly unafraid of the world.

With my anxiety being primarily about the safety of my children, you can imagine what the thought of that kind of free time for my seven year old does to my stomach. And yet, I wouldn’t trade my experiences as a kid for anything. What a quandary. If it is my responsibility to provide her with the most enriching and full childhood that I can, but I am scared to let her loose, what do I do? I guess I find a happy medium. Let go a little, but keep her in sight? Spend more time doing things I don’t really want to do because I’m lazy, knowing they will be the best memories for her? Yeah, I think that’s really all there is to do. Because lets be real- I’m not releasing her into the woods to explore abandoned buildings. I don’t know what the hell my family was thinking. LOL.

More succinctly, I was crying because it hit me that my littlest daughter isn’t going to be a child forever- not even for very much longer, really, and we forget, don’t we? We just live through the days as if they will stretch on forever, forgetting how fast it all goes by. The thing is, childhood is so short, but it is so beautiful and so important. I guess I just want to remember, so that I can make hers the very best I can manage. That’s what I am thinking about today.

Also, spoiler alert: Christopher Robin is a total dick to Pooh, and that also made me cry. The kids didn’t cry, but I was a mess. How embarrassing.

Posted in family, Life, writing

Write Like No One Is Reading…

Yesterday, my mother was upset with me. She said that I make her look “Like a monster.” in my blog posts…Although I tend to disagree, for the record, I would like it to be known that my mom is anything BUT a monster. She’s my mom- she’s tried her hardest to be there for me, she’s suffered a lot watching me suffer, she’s loved me no matter what. The last thing I want is to give the impression that she’s been a bad mom.

That being said, I did not have a perfect childhood (who has?). I did not have perfect parents (who did?). There was a lot of ugly stuff that went down, and I can’t pretend it didn’t. When I feel like I need to write about it, I’m going to. Let this serve as a blanket disclaimer, then- I don’t blame anyone for anything. I’m sorry if I write about you and it makes you feel bad- if I’m bothering to take the time to write about you, I must care for you an awful lot. Otherwise, I wouldn’t waste my time.

One of the things I think people appreciate about me is that I am an honest girl. I think the best way I can honor myself  and the people that read the stuff I write is to continue to be myself, which means to be REAL. I like to talk about the things that I don’t always hear people talking about, because I’ve learned that people really, REALLY want to talk about it. They just don’t always know how. So I’m going to write like no one is reading, the way they tell us to “dance, like no one is watching.” I’m not trying to upset anyone. I’m trying to have a conversation with whoever wants to chime in.

In the last three months, I’ve told you that I feel middle aged and fat. I’ve told you that I smoke. I’ve shared with you that I am a recovering drug addict. I told you how much I yell, how much I eat, how much my teenage daughter hates me. I shared with you that I had a miscarriage three years ago, and that I wasn’t that thrilled (at first) to find myself pregnant at the age of 35. Looking at it THAT way, I’d say I’m not exactly painting myself in the grandest of lights, eh? But you guys told me you relate to that! That is reality for a lot of folks (hopefully not ALL of it, for your sake) and it’s the stuff we keep inside of ourselves…it’s the stuff that makes us feel different and shamed and apart from other people. My suspicion is that we ALL are just alike, we all have that stuff- and if we don’t, we just don’t YET.  No one goes through life unscathed.

The point is, I want to connect with people. I have always been this way- I never leave a grocery store without making a new friend. I’m the girl in the  office that you can talk to about ANYTHING, who will share right back with you. Nothing makes me feel better than connecting with another human being on a deeper level. When I write this blog, I want to connect with whoever is reading it. I may not be able to look you in the eye, but I do get to read your comments, here, and on Facebook, and I know that I am doing that.

If it means that I do it because we both had shitty parts of our childhoods, so be it. We made it anyway. If you relate to me because you have struggled with addiction, too- great! We are surviving, right? If you have a brother who is an alcoholic, a daughter that is a nightmare, a puppy who only eats your most expensive shoes, or a boyfriend who cheated on you, broke your heart, and you loved him anyway- guess what? If you read my blog, you will know you are not alone. I am proof positive that ALL of those things can happen in one – not -even-that-long-of-a-life, and happiness is still within your reach.

That is what I want you to take away from my blog. So I’m going to keep writing it, exactly this way. Sorry mom.