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

 

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Posted in Life, love, People, relationships, Uncategorized

I Suck at Love

bad at this

I have a confession to make (although if you know me, you may have figured this out before I did)- I totally suck at love. I’ve always pretty much stayed focused on the relationship disasters I am currently in, but this morning, as I was heating up my coffee, my entire love life suddenly flashed before my eyes, and I realized…man, I am just BAD at this.

I’m not saying everything that has gone wrong in every relationship has been my fault. Far from. But, my GOD, my picker is broken! You could line up a group of five equally handsome, charming men, four of whom were successful, emotionally healthy, kind, grown ups, and one (who looked no different than the rest, mind you) who was a womanizing parolee with a gambling problem. Now guess which one I would gravitate towards? Yes. Yes, it’s true.

So, as I was having this little realization in front of the microwave, I defensively thought “Wait, that’s not true! I had a very successful & happy relationship with Paul…” To which my next, ruthless and unkind thought was, “Uh, yeah, that would be true…if you hadn’t broken up. Duh” Oh, yeah. There is that. Shit.

Sigh. I don’t know what it is about me- if something made me this way, or if I am just genetically predisposed towards dysfunction, but from the very beginning, I have been drawn like a magnet to the wrong dudes. Ones I have had to convince I am wonderful, and they should like me. Ones who have liked me…almost as much as they liked their girlfriends. Addicts, liars, cheaters, con-men, criminals. Emotionally stunted. Socially challenged. Mean, selfish, unreliable, just bad. I have run the gamut, experienced the full spectrum of “bad”, and I can’t help but wonder…what the hell does that say about me?

I mean, clearly, birds of a feather, and all that…but really? I mean, yes, I have picked up some not-so-winning quirks along the way. I am, perhaps, a bit more observant (suspicious) than your average bear. I know it’s hard to believe this, considering the long and exhausting life of my current so-called relationship, but I have a history of being alone, or involving myself in cheap imitations of relationships that, while exciting, ultimately went nowhere. Actually, now that I think about it, almost all of my involvements with men have been off balance, with one of us 90% involved, the other 10. It varied, who was more invested, him or I, but I’ll tell you this- when I was the ten percent, things were short lived.

Maybe that’s why I’ve stayed as long as I have, this time around. This may be the first time both people involved have been equally willing to salvage things…of course, we take turns. Hardly ever have we BOTH wanted to save what we have at the same time. And then there is the whole “salvage” thing…I mean, doesn’t that imply that whatever it is, it is already broken, needing work, pretty much on its way to the dump? So, how many times do you pull something out of the dumpster thinking you can fix it before you finally think “This thing is a piece of crap- who MADE this? Forget it, I’m done with this thing…I’ll pick up another one later.” ?

I think I need to stop, and think about this a little. I feel like I am becoming less and less able to see how unhealthy things are, and picking up more damage along the way. I think I am losing faith that “normal”, happy partnerships exist anywhere. I see that there are a lot of things I should probably look at in myself before I even worry about being with another human being, but I don’t even know what to look for. Or if I want to ever expend the energy or take the risk of trusting someone new, down the road.  It’s exhausting, and I don’t trust my own judgement anymore.

I am GREAT at loving my children. I love my friends, my family, my life, really thoroughly, and well. I have even loved the men in my life fiercely, in a way they were totally undeserving of. But now, this is something else, something that does not make me think better of myself at all.  I have sucked at being in this relationship, and I suck, totally, at getting out of it.

I am considering faking my own death…well, I was, but now that I’ve told you, I guess that is out. Oh well. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever  felt this way. I’m off to spend some time with someone who is way better at love than I am…my two year old! Have a fabulous day.

Posted in aging, family, Goals, kids, Life, Uncategorized

Time Flies By…

Hellloooo! Man, if I can’t manage to finish and post this blog, then I give up. I have been trying for what seems like a very long time to blog about SOMETHING…but for one reason or another, I either couldn’t finish it, and/or decided not to publicize my most private goings-on. I’m fairly certain my life is pretty averagely dysfunctional, but it really makes me wonder about the secrets within families and between people who are closely bound in ANY kind of relationship. I used to talk about everything with anyone, and I still do talk very openly about a lot of stuff-most stuff, even. But time and experience taught me (the slow and painful way, naturally) that some things are not open for discussion. If you discuss something, you are inviting the opinion, advice and judgement of the person you are confiding in, and you just never know who you can really trust 100%. I used to have the biggest mouth in the entire world- I didn’t mean to, and when I said I promised not to tell, I meant it. But even when I tried my hardest, I’d let some small detail slip, and then get so nervous trying to backtrack that eventually, I’d just miserably repeat the gossip, verbatim. Now, I’m older, and not only do I have more self control than I once did, but I also don’t care nearly as much about other peoples issues. That sounds mean, but it’s at least a good indicator that I’m trustworthy. By the time you finish telling me your secret, I’ve already forgotten the first part. Also, if someone wants to know something I don’t want to tell, I just say “yes, I know, but I’m not telling you, so quit fucking bugging me.” which was hard for me in decades past. Ahh…the finer points of growing up.

Speaking of which, my birthday is just a few days off- I am blown away that I am turning 37. Not because I feel like I am old, really, but because I can’t believe how insanely fast my life is going by. It feels like as soon as I get used to being who I am, where I’m at, everything changes again…I honestly remember the day that I turned ten years old so clearly; I was, what? Fourth grade? I sat at the very top of the monkey bars and contemplated the fact that I was now a DECADE old. From here on out, my age would have TWO numbers in it. I literally thought about that, twenty seven years ago, in Fresno, California, at Del Mar Elementary school. That same little girl is still right here, as well as the chubby middle school kid, the mouthy teenager who thought she knew it all. That teenager succumbed to a lifestyle that took her away from dreams she never even had a chance to start dreaming, and that teenager gave way to a young woman who was beautiful and insecure and sick, funny, weak, smart and unkind. Lots and lots of things occurred, lots of time went by, and she didn’t go very far. That same, scared, defeated girl is still here, too. I have been so many different women in my lifetime…life is not perfect, but at least today I am not afraid. I am not terrified of tomorrow. I don’t have to rely on anyone else for my life to move forward. Sometimes I forget the difference between FEELING AS IF my life depends on someone else, and HAVING my life rely on someone else. I’m okay with the person I am today. I turned out all right after all!

There were some blissful times in my life where I really kind of had it all…well, not “all” in the sense of tangible, luxurious things. I had none of that. What I actually had was NOTHING. No rush, no worries, no responsibilities, no place I needed to be. I just did my thing, all the time, partying, up for nights in a row, staying wherever I wound up and never feeling like I had anything less than all the time in the world to get down to business.  I dragged that stage out quite a while past where it was appropriate, and it wasn’t the same anymore. I felt time going by, felt the need to be more, have more, see more than I was seeing from that place. So I moved along, finally, and started filling up my life with grown up things. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishing a dream, however small. What I don’t like is the worry and problems that come attached to everything I love or want or value. I worry about my kids, my job, my relationships with people. I worry about money and bills, my car, my phone and my laptop. I worry about my teenager not fitting in, and then about her fitting in too well. I worry about things that happened a long time ago, and things that may very well never happen. I NEVER used to worry about stuff, and now it’s always happening, like background music…I’m humming along, not even aware of the song. Also, I feel stretched a little thin, a lot of the time. These are the things I don’t love about this phase of my life. I want to be calm enough to enjoy all the good stuff that is right in front of me, but there’s so much to do, and so many things going on, and I get that tight, tense, angry feeling…like one little minuscule thing, and I’m going to snap. I don’t like all the chores and rules and activity of being this kind of adult. I feel like I still haven’t quite caught on yet.

Every year, around my birthday, I sort of look at my life and see what’s what, and come up with an idea of where I’d like to go next. Things I’d like to work on, eliminate, think about, and so on. This year, I just want to cut the shit. I want to stop knowing what I need to do, and doing something else instead, and then hating myself for it later. I want to plant my feet firmly on the earth and do what is best for myself, even when I’m scared to death of what that could mean. I want to enjoy the beautiful faces of my daughters, and never forget for a minute how blessed I am or how fast it goes by. I want to find the right words to say to Aisley, to make her softer. I want my Camryn never to have a reason to be so hard. I want to be with people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and I want to recognize when that is not the case. I want to laugh more, cry some, and be angry a LOT less. I want to slow down. I want to stop running, and just slow down. What is the point to this life if I’m too busy to see all of the real and valuable things it contains? I want to remember how much I love, and am loved. That’s my goal this year…and maybe the rest of them, too.

I’m wondering if you guys have that same, surreal feeling about your life ever? Does it seem impossible that you could be however old you are? Are you a worrier, and if so, have you always been, or is it new? Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad to be back!