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 Blogging, Dreams, funny, humor, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings

8 Solid Hours (is that too much to ask?)

no sleep

I just looked at my watch- it is now 3:45 a.m., and I have been up for fifteen minutes. I finally waved the white flag of surrender, after fighting with sleep ALLLLL night last night. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I value sleep above almost everything else, and normally, sleep and I have a really happy relationship. But every relationship has ups and downs, and last night we were really duking it out.

Here is how my night went:

8:30- I start making noise about getting ready for bed. But we are watching an unusually interesting show on Disney XD, so I am dragging my feet. I get my coffee set up for the morning. I decide against washing my face, since I didn’t wear makeup anyway yesterday, even though I know better (this, more than anything else, is a clear indicator that my happiness levels are dangerously low- I know it sounds insignificant, but washing my face at night is a big deal, and this is a red flag. Must get my life together.)

8:45- On commercial, I let Cam do one sparkler, of the many we have left over from the 4th. While we are outside, someone nearby sets off an illegal firework. I literally yell “The fourth is over, asshole!” into the night air. Realize I am outside playing with sparklers. Feel stupid, but I am so, so tired.

9:00-Make my bed. Crawl into the sanctuary of my covers. Try to stream Phineas and Ferb, one of my top shows to fall asleep to, only to find that season four is no longer available on demand. What the fuck? Find that season three is still ready to roll, so I find one I haven’t seen (not that it matters, because I’ll be asleep in five minutes anyway) and quickly doze off.

9:10- my cat starts scratching on my door. I try to ignore him, but he won’t stop. I yell at the door. He adds meowing to the mix. I huffily throw the covers off of me and jump out of bed, yank the door open and stomp into the living room, opening the front door so he can go out for the night. He stands on the threshold, considering his options. “Get out.” I snarl- I don’t have the patience for this shit. He doesn’t want to go out now. I close the door. He starts crying and scratching again. I open the door and try to set him outside. He runs backwards into the house and glares at me. I glare back. Fine. I’ll just sleep with my bedroom door open so he doesn’t get trapped inside and have an “accident” like he did the other night, but he doesn’t get trapped outside, either, and decide to scratch at my door all night. Fine. That is fine. Just let me sleep.

9:25- my dog, Lucy, wakes me up this time- She is barking like crazy, with a much scarier than normal bark, out into the hallway. This is, like, there’s an intruder, or a wild animal loose in the house kind of bark. I am instantly awake and out of bed. “What?!” I ask her, “What’s in there?” But she just does that weird dog dance, and keeps barking, then runs into my daughter’s room. Luckily, my daughter is in my room with me (or at least it seemed lucky at that moment) because I am terrified to go in there. I sneak my arm in and turn on the light- there is nothing there. I check the backyard, the front yard, and everywhere else. There is nothing there. I go back to bed, but this time I close and lock my bedroom door. The cat can just deal with it.

10:00-Lucy wakes me up barking furiously again. I don’t care anymore if someone is in the house. They can just kill me. I’m going to sleep, period.

10:30- I hear the distinct rustling of the giant cat food bag in my room. I just know Lucy is getting into the goddamned cat food again. I wake up already yelling at her to knock it off. Instead, I find that it is my seven year old, who has decided she would be more comfortable sleeping in the dogs bed, and she is whacking the cat food bag with her leg. “What are you doing?” I ask.

“I just want to lay down here.” She says, “I can hear my videos better.” I look at the dog, laying forlornly on the floor next to her own bed.

“Get your ass in bed, and don’t wake me up again.” I say kindly. I’m back asleep before I remember to tell her to put her stupid Kindle away. My mistake.

1 fucking 30 in the goddamned morning: I am jolted awake by the sound of laughter in my pitch black room. I whirl around, trying to get my bearings, and find my child, pressing her Kindle face down into the mattress so that I can’t see the light coming from it. I can still hear the sound however. She does this in such a smooth, skilled manner that I can’t help but wonder how many times she has practiced this maneuver in the past. The voice of Satan seems to issue forth from my throat-“Give me the Kindle!” I fling it to the floor (only because it has a child proof case, and I know it will simply bounce- I’m mad, but I’m not an idiot) and tell her she must immediately vacate the premises and go sleep in her own bed. I can’t take it. We both know I don’t mean it though- there is possibly an intruder sleeping in there, anyway, or at the very least, a family of raccoons. She starts crying, which means I’ll NEVER get to sleep…so I turn the TV back on. But I make sure it’sΒ  a show she hates, because I’m evil when I’m tired. I fall asleep to the sound of my child wailing at the injustice of it all.

1:45-3:30- Horrible dreams about owing people money, awkward confrontations with friends, trying to pee in a bathroom with a big hole in the door and people trying to get in (which, now that I think about it, that probably worked in my favor- the last thing I needed last night was to wet my own bed at the age of 43), having to look for a job and regretting quitting the one I had, and just generally feeling very stressed out and uprooted. These are what I call “worst case scenario dreams”, and I have them fairly often. It’s always nighttime in these dreams.

3:30-Finally throw the towel in. Realize that a bug of some sort bit me several times, on my fingers and my arm. Curse my life, and all of the cowardly bugs who refuse to bite you when you are awake and can defend yourself.

3:45: Decide I should at least write about it, and make it all worth something. I hope you enjoyed my (hopefully) amusing retelling of my night from hell. And for God’s sake, I hope you slept better than I did! At least I won’t be fully awake for work today. There’s always a silver lining!

Posted in escape, family, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships, Uncategorized

Bad Dreams

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Occasionally, over the past few months, and every night, for the past few nights, I have been having terrible dreams. They are all slightly different versions of the same dream, actually…if you are a mother, I would be willing to bet you have had them yourself. In this dream, my youngest daughter has gone missing. She is gone without a trace. I am searching for her frantically, and no one seems to be nearly as concerned as they should be. I find myself unable to trust anyone because no one has any idea what has happened to her, so it could be anyone. Not last night, but the night before, the last part of the dream consisted of me sitting in a car with her father. I looked at him, in so much emotional pain that I could barely remain in my skin, and I asked him “do you think she is still alive?”. I woke up before he could answer me.

The weird thing about this dream is that, usually, we find her again. It is always three days that she is missing, and when she shows up, she can’t tell us anything about where she has been or who she has been with. Last night, when I tried to question her about who had taken her, she just fell apart crying, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask anything more. Also odd is that, despite my relief at having her back, those three days that I lose are maddening for me. I cannot bear not knowing what happened to my child. The dreams are very disturbing and awful. I have no idea why I am having them, or what I can do.

Camryn is a whirlwind of a child. She has more energy coursing through her than three average three year olds put together. Spending long periods of time with her can be…challenging, to say the least. She is never quiet. She is never still. She is ALWAYS getting into things she shouldn’t be, Β “experimenting” with my favorite earrings, pouring milk in her kaleidoscope, decorating my books with her drawings. When I scold her, she asks me “Do you still love me, mommy?” and I tell her that there is NOTHING she could do that would ever make me stop loving her. There is nothing.

Her mind is as busy as her body. She has hundreds of questions, every hour of every day, ranging from “Do rhino’s get lonely?” Β to “why do people speak Spanish?” to “Why does that lady have a little girl, too?”. I don’t always have answers for her. But sometimes, I don’t WANT to answer her. To be honest with you, sometimes, I just want her to stop bugging me. I have a lot going on in my head, too, and it’s hard when you can’t sort anything out because your kid NEVER STOPS TALKING. EVER.

I am impatient. I am snippy and short and sometimes meaner than I ought to be, especially when I have too much to deal with at once, or I have been too long between stretches of quiet. I forget to play, sometimes, and I definitely forget that, when it comes down to it, I am dealing with a beautiful, perfect, happy, wonder of a child. A child who says “This water feels WONDERFUL.” When she is in the bath, and asks me “Wanna snugga bugga?” (cuddle) when she crawls in bed with me. The same kid who painted all my spare change with nail polish is also the kid who won’t let me say a harsh word against her sister, thinks her dad and I are “so beautiful” and asks for a hug when she gets in trouble.Β 

Maybe these dreams are supposed to remind me to be infinitely grateful for my perfect, healthy, gorgeous children. Because I tell you what- when I wake up, night after night having these dreams, the first thing I do is reach for that little girl. I hug her and kiss her little arms, and I am still terrified, but I am so relieved. And every day, I try to remember to be better. I don’t always succeed, that’s for sure. But I do try. Today I am going to try even harder. Because I love that girl. Both of my girls. And also, I need to get some damn sleep.