Tag Archives: memories

Mementos

letters

I spent a good portion of last weekend cleaning my house. It needed to be done, and it always feels great having order restored, however temporary that order may be. But, when I found myself house-bound with a sick child both Monday and Tuesday, I was sort of at a loss for what to do. I could have folded the three loads of laundry that are sitting in a basket on my couch, but for whatever reason, I just can’t quite bring myself to deal with that. I did my normal avoidance routine, consisting of screwing around online, and binge watching yet another show (Mom this time, on Hulu- if you haven’t watched it, check it out. It’s pretty hilarious.). Eventually, though, I had to do something else, something productive, and I knew it was time. Time to deal with The Closet.

The Closet is in the hall, four doors, two on the bottom, two on the top, and I have been avoiding it for three years. Well, three years in March. That’s when I moved into this house, and that’s when I shoved The Closet full of bags and boxes of paperwork and keepsakes and God only knows what else, and left it to rot. I was still getting loaded when I moved into this place, and to be honest, I’ve been a little afraid of what I might find if I went poking around in there.

But on Monday, I put my big girl pants on and started digging- one bag and box at a time. There was a lot of junk, sure…things I should have thrown out eons ago. Printer cartridges for printers I don’t own anymore, file folders full of bills that no longer exist, insurance information for cars I no longer own. I filled up my recycle bin in the space of a few hours. I didn’t find anything to be ashamed of, though, and certainly nothing that put my recovery in danger. So that was a relief.

And then…and then I found some other stuff. I’ve kept boxes for each of my children- those fancy, pretty banker boxes- not the plain brown kind, but the ones you can buy at Marshall’s or Target with the beautiful designs on them? I’ve kept them for my kids and for myself for quite some time. I never really thought about how long I’ve kept them, and I don’t know if I’ve every thoroughly, soberly, gone through them since I started, but…I’m really glad I did.

Although I am working hard on my opinion of myself as a mother today, in the present, my opinion of the kind of mother I have been in the past has become rather concrete. I was a horrible mother, I decided, with no redeemable qualities, and my daughter would have been better off with anyone else. I was heartless and unloving and drug addicted, and I can rarely think of a time when I didn’t suck, heartily, at the task of parenting my eldest child. But her box of mementos tells a different story. I have every art project, every note to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, every report card and hand-made note she ever made for me- so many that I might need a bigger box. This “horrible mother” wrote things my daughter said to me on sticky notes and kept them, all these years. There are pictures of us that I had forgotten about, and we are laughing and playing, and clinging onto one another with love. My mind, my awful, lying mind told me a story and I believed it, and I have carried it around with me for all these years, without question. The things in this box tells me that maybe there is more to that story, more that I need to remember.

In my own box, I found cards and letters- real, hand written letters- from people whom I love, and who love ME. Letters from my best friend Grace, and letters and cards from my grandparents and mom, and a whole bunch of letters from Joe, my friend who died in August. You can’t imagine, you really can’t begin to imagine, how much that meant to me. Reading through all of those words from people who cared so much about me, not just when I was clean, but throughout the worst parts of my life, reminded me that I still had value, I was still worth so much, even when I believed myself to be worthless. I may not have been well, but I was loved, and I was worth something to all these people.

It blows my mind that living the crazy, chaotic life that I lived for so long, having lost nearly everything I owned on more occasions than I can remember, I managed to save these amazing items. I lost households of furniture and closets of clothes, but I have the discharge papers from my daughter’s birth in 1997, and all the cards from the people who visited me at the hospital. I lost everything, except the most important things of all- the slips of paper, the glossy cards, the letters that could fill in for me the memories I lost along the way. The story of a girl who wasn’t all dark, who always had a little light, a little more worth, than I could have remembered on my own.

The Closet is nearly done now- just one more shelf to go, and it will be neat as a pin. I put those boxes away after shedding a few tears, and I sat down on the couch full of wonder and feeling so much lighter. I am not exactly who I thought I was, and for once, I was so glad to be wrong…and anytime I start to forget, or start listening to the lying voice in my head, I know I can just pull one of those boxes down out of that closet, and find all the evidence I need that I’m not all bad. That there was something worth saving in me all along.

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Down the Rabbit Hole I Fell…

rabbit hole
courtesy of pinterest

I woke up this morning in a fine mood- excited to be going to spend the day hiking with my older daughter, looking forward to doing something different and fun. Then I grabbed my phone off the charger, and was met with this all-too-familiar warning: “iphone storage is full-manage storage in settings.”

Well, shit. I would like to first say that I have just about had it with this stupid phone. I don’t know what is going on between my phone, my laptop, and my cloud. I don’t even think I really understand my cloud at all, to be honest. But with previous phones I’ve had, and previous laptops, you can upload all of your photos into your computer and move on with your life. I don’t know why, but my photos on my phone don’t want to go onto my computer. It’s a whole thing, and it pisses me off, and I just can’t deal with it.

Anyway, I knew I was going to want to take a lot of pictures today, and there is nothing worse than grabbing your phone to snap a shot and getting that stupid message about not having space on your phone. Ugh. So, I tried messing with my cloud. I tried figuring it out, tried seeing where the hell my pictures were going. I backed up my phone. I went through my phone and manually deleted about three hundred useless photos- horrible selfies, pictures of food, pictures that are already on Instagram. Then, I went into my Kindle and deleted books that I have already read. I went into my podcasts, and deleted downloaded episodes. I cleaned my phone. I deleted a couple of apps that I never use- literally, a couple. I use all of them, daily.

Then I went into my messenger app. This is when all the trouble began. Did you know that you could delete messages in there since forever? I apparently did not know that. I have messages dating all the way back to 2009, and to be honest with you, I wish I hadn’t gone into any of them. I am just sitting here feeling so many uncomfortable feelings right now, thinking about things I haven’t thought about in so long…

You know, my ex, he cheated on me. More than once. One of the things I did to figure out the truth was, I liked to reach out to the women he cheated with and try to befriend them, to get information out of them. I would find out all the awful things he said about me to them, and confirm that all of his lies to me were…well, lies. I would figure out a way to get them to divulge stark truths to me, and it was like a compulsion for me- I needed to know EVERYTHING. What did he say on this day, and where did he take you, and what did you do? I got screen shots of text messages, and full on letters back and forth. I had forgotten about so much of it, and it still really hurts.

I’m not mad at the women- not by a long shot. I am grateful that they shared what they knew with me, not that it wound up helping me very much in the long run. I continued to stay with him, for what reason, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I have low self-esteem, maybe I needed to prove that I could, that I won, who knows what my reasoning was. I feel a lot of sympathy for that person that I was then- I know she was in a lot of pain, and I know she knew better on a certain level. Leaving was too hard at the time. What I know now is that staying was much more destructive than leaving would have been. I never forgave him, and you can’t make a relationship work when all you want to do is punish the other person. That isn’t even a relationship anymore. It’s something ugly and hard on everyone involved.

Seeing all of this now, it’s no wonder to me that I am hesitant as fuck to start dating again. It’s no wonder I would prefer not to be vulnerable, and just stay to myself. No big surprise that I have no interest in opening up to anyone, that I have real issues where love is concerned. I made some really bad choices, and now I am left with what I have- some serious baggage.

And here’s the funniest part of all- not ha-ha funny, but what the fuck is wrong with me funny…I can’t bring myself to delete the messages. I still want to have proof. Proof that I was right, proof that he lied, proof that love is a gamble I should not take again, maybe. I need to do it, I know. I need to get rid of it, because it’s over, and it’s in the past and it doesn’t even matter anymore. It shouldn’t even matter anymore.

But it does.

Anyway, I have enough room in my phone to take some pictures today. So I guess that’s good. ūüė¶

 

Wasted

broken heart

 

There are few things that can bring the past back to me quite as viscerally as music can. Memories I might grasp for another time come sliding back to me, unexpected, with the right (or wrong) song playing in the background.

When you have the kind of past I have, it can be painful, sometimes- even the happy memories. Today, we were listening to the Dixie Chicks, a CD that once had permanent residence in my old Camry’s stereo. Cowboy, Take me Away came on, and I remember driving around, with the song turned up loud, the windows down, the sunlight streaming in- and this little tiny dark headed girl in her car seat in the back, singing along with me.

She’s all grown up now. Our lives were such a mess back then- well, my life was, and hers, by association. Any happy memories I can find, I cling to, because there just aren’t that many of them. It was a dark time for me, and I was very, very deep in my addiction. I didn’t know how to be a mother, or what it meant, or what, exactly, I was robbing her of. Oh, if only I had known. You¬†know, my heart will very probably never heal from that. I know, I know- we are supposed to learn to forgive ourselves, to leave the past in the past…but I think there is a part of me that honestly doesn’t feel like I ought to forgive myself.¬† Like maybe punishing myself for the rest of my life is my penance for robbing my daughters childhood of the joy that was hers by right. I don’t know, but I do know this: However it is I feel, I won’t be talked out of it. Trust me, it’s been tried.

Heartbreak Town. I remember listening to that on our way to Reno, where I ran off to, to escape myself. There she was again, that little person in the back seat…always in the back seat. If you are curious, I didn’t fool myself into being someone different just because I crossed state lines. I was still me, still sick, still not a mother anyone should have had. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like for her, but when I do, it hurts too much.

It is only recently- maybe just since she has been sort of a “grown-up”, or maybe it is because I am raising another daughter now, in such a completely different way- that I have started to sincerely wish there were some way I could go back, and do things differently. I know that kind of thinking is useless and foolish. I know I would be better off trying to make my amends to her now, by being the best mom I can NOW, and I do that, I do…but still. If I could just go back, just for one measly little day, and be tender with her. Give her my undivided attention. Just hold her, and love her, and do all the mommy stuff I have learned to do now…I would just really like to do that, that’s all.

This is a lot of stuff to carry around inside of one small heart. The memories, and the worry about what you may have inflicted upon another small heart, one that you created. To look back and see all of the time, and the chances, and the love you wasted. It doesn’t feel very good. I’m glad to say I don’t sit in this shit every single day, but when I do, I don’t even try to deny myself the opportunity to cry about it anymore. It’s a sad and terrible way that I chose, and if it didn’t make me cry, I guess that would mean I haven’t changed much, wouldn’t it? But I have. So at least there is that.

Arrivals, Departures…

my-children-poem-parents-quote-daughter-son-quotes-family-love-you-quotes-pic-picturesI will try to remember the distance between us- even when you are sitting right there beside me in the car, you are somewhere else, entirely. The world rushing past you is not the one that rushes past me. For you, it is a place you have inhabited but not yet made your own.

I know that this journey is ending…it’s not over just yet, but it’s ending. I know you have roads of your own to explore, hours and years that will take you miles and miles away from this place. I hope you will be my companion, sometimes, ride for a while on the passenger side…I hope you will always think of me when you think about home.

It seems like we’d only just started- but somehow, it’s been all of these years. When you were still small, I thought I had forever, but now, here we are-just like nothing. As quick as can be, you’re grown up, now. You’re the most precious thing entrusted to me, long before I was ever trustworthy…but we sailed, anyway, didn’t we? Together, we made it through storms and rough waters, and eventually, I learned to steer this ship into calmer waters. Now suddenly, I can see land ahead- your destination, darling. I can’t go with you, even though I want to. I can’t hold you here, and I can’t go on with you. I did my job, I got you here safely- now I have to let you go, soon.

I have time, still. So little, it seems almost nothing…and the part that you’ll share with me, even less. The landscape is nothing but change, now. I will try to allow you to savor the first, awesome bits of your freedom. I remember so clearly that anticipation, that feeling that anything, really, could happen. It’s wonderful, being so wild and alive, and with nothing but a wide open road there before you. I want you to have it. It is everything, for a minute, and it never can happen again. I can’t shelter you, protect you, and set you free to live your life, too. And I want you to live.

I wish I could tell you how profoundly you have shaped me. All this time that I spent tending you has completely changed me. It is as if you were a natural extension of me, of my life- a friend I picked up along the way. I have no idea how I will go on without you. It’s been the two of us, always, at the core of things, really, and I don’t remember at all what it’s like without you sharing my space, my home, my life. I know I am being sappy, but none of this is exaggeration- it doesn’t even come near to describing my feelings. I love you. I love no one more.

I look at you, I watch who you are becoming, and I know in my heart you’ll be fine. You have something about you that makes me confident of that. I think you are smart, I think you are quick, and I see you observing what’s laid out before you, adjusting your understanding accordingly. I know you are learning. Much of your life is yours now, and I think you are navigating it just fine…I take no credit for any of the wonderful things you are becoming, either. You are your own girl, through and through.

I just wanted to tell you, I get it. I forget sometimes, but then I remember, and it’s like I’m your age, right there beside you. But just for a moment, enough to remind me- just so that I can be mindful of you. I don’t want to steal this joy from you, I just want to guide you a little. And tell you how loved you are, and how important. I realize the clock is counting down the last, impossibly short years of your childhood. I hope you know it’s been the very, very best time of my life.

Thank you.

Long Lost Sister

sistersMy sister is teaching me what it means to be, and to have, a sister.

“Why haven’t you called me?” She’ll ask.

“Oh, God, I’ve just been so miserable and depressed, I didn’t want to bring you down.” I’ll tell her.

“That’s WHY you need to call ME.” She instructs, “That’s what sister’s DO.”

See, she has had sisters, two other ones, all of her life. As a matter of fact, she had me all of her life, too, except we didn’t know each other. She may have had other sisters, but she never had a BIG sister, which is what I am to her- six years older, actually, although technically, she is several inches taller than me. Still, I am her big sister. I just know nothing about this sister business.

Here’s the story: My mom had me when she was nineteen. My dad (our dad) was also nineteen, and nowhere near as married to my mom as she was to him. Not surprisingly, their marriage didn’t last too long- I’m pretty sure they were on their way to an annulment when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. By the time I was one, my dad was long gone. He popped back in frequently throughout my life, with sporadic little bouts of interest in me…but he wasn’t the kind of dude who would show up for the school Christmas program or who knew any of my friends. He was the kind of dude who liked dropping me off once a year in front of my middle school in his pimped out El Camino blaring Motley Crue. And that was fine with me, I wasn’t heartbroken over it- I had my mom.

Meanwhile, across town, there lived another little girl, sharing half my DNA (and half my child support) that was living without him AT ALL. When I was very little, I remember playing with this little girl (she swears I hit her over the head with my little purse, which sounds about right, although I don’t remember it that way) on the sidewalk in front of a house. One of us was on a tricycle. I had no idea she was my sister. How weird is that? But that is the only memory I have of her, except for this one: When I was about nine, I was at my dad’s boooooring apartment (the ONLY good thing about his place was when he took a shower, I got to sneak peeks at his dirty magazines. Thanks to the ads in the back, I was very confused about whether girls had penises or not. If you have a porn mag on hand, look at the back and you’ll see what I mean.) and I saw a picture in a frame I’d never seen before.

“When did I get that picture taken?” I asked, innocently.

“That’s not you!” he barked. I never saw that picture again. For years, he claimed that she wasn’t his- until her mom had his blood tested and we were .99998 percent sure she was his. After that, there was just no talk of it. Or, if there were, I didn’t hear it, because I just wasn’t around that much. When I was in my twenties, I asked my step-mom about her, and I remember she told me that my sister had a different last name. I looked in the phone book and made a call or two, but got nowhere.

As you all know, I spent a gazillion years being super busy with the pursuit of drugs, so having a sister out there was not on the forefront of my mind. But, when I settled down and life got easier, there was this neat thing call Myspace- you might remember it? Somehow, I actually remembered her last name, after all those years! So, I sat down, did a little search, and found there were several girls with her name. The first one was definitely not her. The second one…my heart started hammering, my hands were shaky. I couldn’t tell you what it was, exactly, because we don’t look too much alike. But I knew. I knew for sure.

I sent her the weirdest message she has probably ever gotten. “Hi. You don’t know me, but I think we may be sisters. If this sounds totally wrong, I apologize. My dads name is blankety-blank. Do you know him?” Or something like that.

It was not long before she replied. “YES! You are my sister! I have been looking for you my whole life!” Or something like that.

We started talking on the phone. It was a little scary- we didn’t know anything about each other, and we were adults who knew how messed up the world can be. Finally, though, we decided to meet. I drove down to where she lives and we met at her apartment. Within minutes, her little daughter, my niece, had uttered a curse word, and I knew we were cut out of the same cloth. We just looked at each other and laughed our asses off.

You would think it would be awkward, right? Uncomfortable, touchy, weird? Well, it has never, not once, been any of those things. It has been easy as pie. Our similarities are outrageous. The lives and struggles we have had mirror one another very closely, and we also both love milk with our dinner, tequila shots, we both are allergic to mosquito bites, and our daughters have insanely curly hair (like our dad). I mean, there’s other stuff, but cut me a break, it’s not even six a.m.

I thought meeting her would be cool. I never dreamed I would love her as easily as if we had been raised together. I never expected to find myself thinking about her, or my niece and nephew, or her husband, as REAL family. But I do. I love them. They have known Cammy, my little one, her entire life- ¬†so her memory’s will not have a hole in them, the way ours do. If only our parents had pushed a little…just think. We could have always had what we have now.

Last time I was at her house, I was laying on her bed talking to her while she did whatever she was doing. She was giving me a bunch of clothes, and she laughed at how much smaller my boobs were than hers (and can I just say, um, who’s AREN’T, Dolly?), and I wondered if she knew how crazy special she is to me? How big of a deal it is that we have the relationship we have? Because she is, and it is. I thought I better write this to let her know.

I love you, sissy. Thanks for training me to do this job, and just being the cool chick you are. I’m so glad we have each other.

Memory Lane in a BAD Neighborhood

Well, hello, strangers. I haven’t had a lot of time (or the inclination) to write much lately- life has been busy, and filled with a lot of stuff I don’t feel¬†qualified to handle. Unfortunately, there IS no one else, so I don’t have a lot of choice. Work has been insanely busy and I’ve been trying to put in as much overtime as I can (as it turns out, that’s not a whole lot in my case), the little daughter has made it her mission in life to see how many times per day she can come perilously close to killing herself via a multitude of dangerous activities. The big daughter is also trying to get herself killed, only she, it is obvious, wants the old “suicide-by-mom” thing. She is the winner, this week, of the crazy making award. And also, my car is in the shop for a repair that is¬†exorbitantly expensive for a thing that isn’t even freaking broken (timing belt). So I have been reliant on others to taxi me about since Tuesday. In other words, I’ve left my house ONCE. ¬†So, because I’ve been sticking close to home and trying not to kill my children, I’ve had time to dive into the piles of crap I have squirreled away in boxes and bags in every nook and cranny of my home. I went through a small crate and large drawer that were crammed full of notebooks-everything I had written from 1993 forward. ¬†I put my notebooks in chronological order, reading through each one, something I had never done before. What emerged, when taken altogether like that, was a really sad, really clear life story of a troubled, unhappy, desperate girl who has TERRIBLE taste in men. But there was some really great, hopeful stuff in there, too. That’s where I found what I’m posting today, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I stumbled across it the other day. It’s the story of how I felt when I finally got clean and got my life back. (written three years later around the time I relapsed…again…I must have been trying to remind myself of the truth). I am transcribing it word for word, so bear with the structure and the jumping of tenses-I never dreamed it would ever be seen by anyone but me.

10/2008

Today, it dawned on me that this mental beating I give myself every time I make this choice, it is exactly how I felt almost constantly for the 11 solid years I sacrificed to my addiction. Now, I say “almost constantly” because I do clearly recall having SOME fun, albeit bizarre, times in there. But I knew, I knew, I KNEW, as surely as I knew my own face, that I was doing myself a terrible disservice. The way that I kept on and kept on and kept on living that way, until finally it had been YEARS- I knew I was cheating myself, my mom, and my daughter. Just about every one who loved me, or who got sucked into the abyss that was my life, got the short end of the stick.

At some point, you realize you are using now JUST to stay two steps ahead of your own terrible reality sinking in. When you are already so weakened, so compromised, so ghostly, it is terrifying to entertain the thought of actually turning around & seeing the path of destruction you left in your wake. It’s just too, too much.

What I didn’t know then that I do know now, is that continuing to claw your way blindly and frantically ahead is not the answer. It is familiar, and how you do it, and strangely comfortable despite how it looks from the outside. When you are in the middle of ¬†addiction, and it is YOUR horrible, bleak life, you are totally in your element. You know many other creatures just like you, in varying degrees, you have a language, a culture, a kind of code all your own, and you have lived in the shadows for so long that venturing outside of your tiny world causes you extreme discomfort. You no longer know how to interact properly with normal folks, you are too loud or too silent, too nervous, too shifty, too angry, too flippant, too self-involved to even notice how out of sync you are half the time. You get irrationally angry and immediately defensive when the slightest threat is even perceived. This is how you keep folks at bay, being short fused. People don’t press when they are afraid of what might set you off. You are moody and unhappy and you hate every single thing that there is, especially yourself. Except for your daughter. When you look at her, you hate yourself more than you even thought possible, but you love her in the deepest, most tender way. That love is like a weight on your back, only you can’t tell if it is making everything even harder, or if it is the sole thing keeping you planted on earth, or both. Maybe it’s both. But you look at that girl and your throat closes, and your eyes burn, and you can no longer escape the cloak of your despair.

Oh, I am so sorry, but I have to start work right now! There is more, and I will just make it a separate post later today. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this so far…it truly is that way when you are strung out for so long. It’s a nightmare, and you can’t even figure out what is wrong with you while it is happening to you. In case you ever wondered why “those people” are the way they are and do what they do. It’ s very sad. But it CAN get better, and if you check me out later, you can read the rest.