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 Addiction, family, friendship, Goals, inner peace, Life, living, mindfulness, Musings, People, social media

I Forget…

disconnect
courtesy of google AND Tanmay Vora, as listed above. Thanks!

I forget that living a full, happy life involves leaving my house. I get lazy from sitting still and want to keep sitting still. I spend way too much time in this house, by myself, and I think it is bad for me. I need to push myself a little harder to get outside, and to interact with real people.

One of my best friends showed up at my door yesterday (because she knows that’s pretty much the only way to get a hold of me- I can ignore phone calls, texts, refuse to make plans, but you can almost guarantee to find me at my house) and at first I was annoyed. I didn’t want to see anyone! But after a few minutes, we got to talking, and by the time she left after my lunch was over, I felt happier than I had in a while. I need to be with my friends. So why is it so easy for me to forget that?

I don’t know…I will tell you this, though. I spend way, way too much time on Facebook. This has come up again and again, and lately I have been fantasizing about how good it would be to break free of that site. I don’t want to know so much. I want to know the bare minimum about people again. I don’t want to know how different we are, and how bad your spelling is. Please, God, take me back in time. I think being on social media so much makes me think I don’t like people, when the truth is, I LOVE people, I just love real people. People who, in real life, aren’t so eager to vomit up every little dark corner of their heart. Trust me, I do it too. I’m just as guilty. So I am signing off of Facebook, again, for an indeterminate amount of time, and I am going to try to get out in the real world.

I want more laughter with my friends. I want to go to the apple orchard and pick apples with my kids. I want to fall into bed at night, exhausted but happy. I want to sit outside around my fire pit and talk to people I love about things that mean something to us personally.  In other words, I want to change the way I have been living. It is time. It is way past time.

Now I just have to figure out how to invite people over without using Facebook…shit. I might have to use my phone to make a phone call. That will be interesting. 🙂

Posted in adventure, family, friendship, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

Best Friends are Forever

I am, despite my hermit tendencies (these have not always existed, by the way- I used to go out almost every single night when I was younger) the kind of girl who is friendly with just about everyone. I live in a smallish town, and lived here throughout high school and the bulk of my 20’s, and, after moving away for a while, I’ve lived here for most of the years after that as well. So I know a lot of people. I can’t really leave my house without running into someone I know, at least marginally. There are no end to the familiar faces around here.

But I have always had a best friend, and that was the friend I could be my realest self with, tell all my dirty secrets to, and be as God-awful as I needed to be, knowing they would still love me. I have been so lucky to have these women (well, they are all women now) in my life, and I can’t imagine what that life would have been like without them. It certainly would have been lonelier, and a lot less fun.

I met Grace when I was 15, on a camping trip that I’m pretty sure I had lied through my teeth to get to go on. I had met this guy, and I really wanted to hang out with him, so I thought that spending the night with him in the woods was a pretty safe bet. Anyway, luckily, there were a lot of other people there, so when he got super drunk off tequila and had a fit because I wouldn’t sleep with him and started chasing me around in the middle of the night, I was able to hide in a car with Grace (She was there with her big sister) and her friend Danielle. I remember they were eating salami and cheese, and I just hunkered down there with them for a while. I don’t remember what else happened that night, but I know that I survived it, obviously.

A few weeks later, I ran away from home (again) and wound up at the home of an older friend named Robert who sort of took in strays- stray people, I mean, not animals. It just so happened that Grace was staying there too, with her sister Mindi, who lived there but didn’t ever stay there, and she offered to let me bunk with her. From that moment on, we became inseparable. We smoked cigarettes together, and starved to death together, praying that Mindi would stop by eventually and bring us Taco Bell. We annoyed everyone around us (we were always the youngest) and we bickered like sisters. Grace once broke up with a guy because he didn’t like me. I named my oldest daughter after her. When she fell in love, finally, with a man that she would go on to have a very long term relationship with, it was traumatic for me…obviously, this did not end our friendship, but it was the first time she had chosen someone else over me, and it was hard. On both of us. Of course, we went on to have many, many other adventures, but things changed, as they do, and so…

I met Vera. Vera was a close friend to a guy I was supposed to be roommates with but ended up hooking up with, and yeah, that wasn’t a total mess. I think I was 25 at the time? Anyway, Vera was (and is) just captivating and beautiful, like, seriously, and the coolest thing about her is that she is incredibly modest about the whole thing. Like, if she knew how gorgeous she was and acted as such, she would be unbearable, but she is totally like “eh, whatever, shut up”.  You have never met a more approachable, accepting human being. She is cool with EVERYONE.

Anyway, one day I got in a terrible fight with the guy I was living with, and I didn’t know where to go, so I went to her house- remember, I didn’t know her all that well, but she knew him, so maybe I was looking for some insight, who knows. She made me feel better, and we just bonded, and once again, after that we were inseparable.

What you should know about me and these friendships is that in both instances, when I say “inseparable”, I mean REALLY. We saw each other every single day, pretty much. Grace and I slept together in a twin sized fold out bed for the better part of a year. Vera was in a serious relationship when I met her, and she got in trouble all the time because we were constantly running around together well into the wee hours of the morning. On the days we didn’t physically see each other, we talked on the phone and made plans for the next day. I’m sure there were times that we got busy with our lives and did other things, but I honestly don’t remember that as much as I remember our constant togetherness.

Eventually, I moved away for a few years, and in that time Vera and Grace became best friends with each other. So when I moved back, instead of it being weird, we all became a little clump of best friendship. And then Vera met someone new, and moved away. Then Grace met someone new, and became very busy with that. And I was sort of left here, with this hole in my life, sometimes missing them so very much, but it wasn’t like we weren’t friends anymore, it was just…life happened.

About three years ago, I met a girl named Cinamon (yes, I spelled it correctly, and yes, this is her real name) at one of my meetings. Let me be clear- this was the first time I had met her, but I had been hearing about her for YEARS. She and her twin sister had run in the same circles as I did, but we just somehow had never crossed paths. When I walked into my meeting that night, I knew exactly who she was and I was like “finally!” because I knew I would meet her one day. She said she took one look at me and knew we were going to be friends.

She had a tiny newborn baby when I met her. By the time Delilah was 4 months old, Cinamon was my roommate, and she lived with me for about a year. Somehow, we not only managed to stay friends through that (I am AWFUL to live with) but we grew even closer after she moved out. She is the person I want to call every time there is anything going on in my life that I want to dish about. She knows exactly who I am, and she still thinks I am awesome. I think she is the most patient, kind, loving human being I have ever met…and she’s still super fun and weird and silly.

The other day, she called me and said she was on her way over, she needed to go through my closet and find a shirt, and it hit me- she filled the spot! How lucky am I? To get to have not just one, but three best girl friends in my life? I may not see Vera and Grace as much as I once did, but you can bet your ass, when we do get together it’s like not a minute has passed. And now I have Cinamon, and I am so grateful for her.  One TRUE friend is worth fifty kind-of friends, in my book, and I get to have three that I would do almost anything for.

I’m really counting my blessings for them this morning. I love you guys. 🙂

Posted in advice, anxiety, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, relationships

Know Your Worth

know your worth

My anxiety is at an all time high this morning. I have tried everything I can think of to bring it down a notch, but nothing is helping…and the thing is, I know why.

I woke up this morning with the full weight of my truth weighing me down. Here’s what it is: I KNOW MY WORTH.

The minute you become aware of your worth, placing yourself in any situation where you are not receiving exactly what you deserve becomes incredibly uncomfortable. It can manifest in so many different ways, I could sit here at this keyboard for the next three days straight giving you examples. I don’t have that kind of time, and neither do you. So here’s the condensed version:

When a little voice in the back of your mind whispers “I don’t know about this…” Girl, listen.

When your gut is all knotted up and you feel nothing but hesitation, pay attention.

When every single little thing about a situation is problematic, that is the Universe, my friend, letting you know that THIS IS NOT FOR YOU.

If you do not know your worth, you need to figure it out. Ask yourself what your priorities are, what you value, what you want in your life. Imagine yourself in your happiest scenario, and start laying down a path towards that. Because if you don’t know, if you aren’t aware, then you are going to become a victim of your own poor judgement, and base some important life decisions on a weak foundation. Think harder, look closer, dig deeper.

Above all, remember- this is your one precious, beautiful life. Be careful about what you allow in, and vigilant about what you allow to go on within it. Don’t be afraid to have standards, boundaries, and a real healthy relationship with the concept of “Nope!”. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, worry about what YOU think. And never be afraid to change your mind, or admit to yourself that you made a bad call. You don’t have to stay committed to a bad idea.

That’s my little smidgen of advice for the day. Carry on. 🙂

self worth

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.

Posted in Dating, fun, funny, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

A Long Time Alone

alone
Seriously, this is so true.

 

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about how hard it is, at the point in my life that I’m at, to meet someone I’d actually like to date. I mean, it just seems like so much work…basically, my best option seems like it is probably online dating sites, which I’ve tried before and it is so incredibly overwhelming that I generally peace out within a matter of days. I’m not good at having more than one conversation at a time, I don’t like it when strangers get overly familiar with me, and it’s very easy to be hyper critical when you have so many choices…and, there is the fact that I have a notoriously bad picker. I will like the wrong guy, Every. Single. Time. I used to joke that if you lined up five equally good looking men, all dressed identically, I would naturally gravitate to the one that is on parole. I don’t know why that is, but I promise you, it’s true.

But you know, a big part of why I have stayed single for so long is that, after going through SO MUCH drama in my last relationship, I finally developed some self preservation in the area of the heart. Emotionally, I’ve just been very, very wary. My judgement failed me so hard this last time, so many times in a row with the same dude…I have to admit, it’s not only alarming, but somewhat embarrassing, too. You know, I had this dream about where we were going, the life we were building, and of course looking back I can see that it was never going to happen, but I believed it for a long time. I think letting go of that dream was far harder than letting go of him. I remember, after I had found out he had been cheating on me since two weeks after our daughter was born- I think she was six months old when I finally confirmed what I already knew in my heart- I remember pulling over in the parking lot of a Round Table Pizza, and just crying in my car. I had no idea what my future was supposed to look like anymore. I thought we were a family, I thought we were heading somewhere, and suddenly everything was gone. It was awful. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

And so, I made the first of many mistakes. I left him for a while, but he kept coming back, and I let him, for a myriad of reasons. I loved him, sure, but I know now I could’ve gotten over that with distance. But also, I had a teenage daughter and a tiny baby, and I needed help. Then there was the fact that I just didn’t want to be alone, and even more emphatically, I didn’t want him to be out there, having fun, while I sat at home miserable. No, he could be there with me, miserable together. It got pretty dysfunctional. I turned into someone I did not like. And I stayed that way for a long, long time. It took even longer, after we finally split, for me to stop being so angry and bitter. I can see now that I had a part in all that happened after the first transgression- I could have walked away and I chose not to. I chose to let the heartache fester and turn into something much uglier.

So I finally broke free. And you know what I did, instead of worrying about men? I went out and I fucking got my shit together. I kicked ass at life. I got clean (again) and I worked on myself, and I worked on myself some more, and I got my finances in order, I became a great mom, I got a routine, I paid my bills, I figured out that I can hold it down…all by myself. And, as I talked to my friend last night, that’s when it hit me- I think, for most of my life, I stayed in relationships because I kind of had to. I truly was in a position, most of the time, where I only kept my head above water by the contributions of my significant other. When that is the case, it makes a lot more sense to keep trying to work it out. Certainly better than living in your car, most likely.

That’s not the case anymore. I can let go of all that past shit, because, not only do I not NEED someone, I am not the same person anymore. I think I might even be able to trust myself to choose more wisely, now. So, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. If there were some way to jump from the awkward beginning right to the comfortable middle, where you can just leave your makeup off and hang out on the couch all weekend watching TV together, I would definitely choose that. Like, skip over the hard parts- first kiss, first naked encounter, first nerve wracking disagreement, right into the comfort zone. Wouldn’t that be great?

In the meantime, if you know of anyone great, around 40, good sense of humor, kinda nerdy, kind, and SUPER patient…not hideous is a plus, but I’m flexible- send him my way. I really don’t want to do online dating.

 

Posted in anxiety, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

So What About Love?

locked heart

A year ago, my therapist sort of reprimanded me about “neglecting major aspects of my basic human needs”. I think this was a really nice way of telling me I needed to get laid, although I didn’t inquire further. I didn’t want to get into it, so I just said I wasn’t ready to deal with that when I had allll these other things going on, and we moved onto whatever it was we moved onto. Maybe she was just talking about dating or something, but it sure sounded like she was implying sex. It made me very uncomfortable.

Which, if you knew me at all in real life, you would probably find this amusing. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, some kind of prude. I mean…I don’t think I am. Or maybe I am, now. I certainly didn’t used to be! But…the truth is, I am not the way I used to be, and in many ways this is a good thing. In other ways, I am still grappling with how to integrate certain things back into my life in a healthy way. One of the things I just haven’t quite figured out yet is men. I don’t know how to (Oh my gosh, if you guys could see how squirmy and weird I am being right now, just writing this, you would laugh at me) do it. I mean, I know how to do it- I have two children, for Pete’s sake. I’m not talking about THAT. I’m talking about the whole thing- meeting someone, dating, having some kind of relationship. Falling in love. Doesn’t it seem weird to think about falling in love in your 40’s? To me, it kind of does.

In any case, I have some pretty intense hang ups when it comes to this entire part of my life. One of them is that my last relationship just fucked me up. I don’t know how to put it more politely than that. I would really like to think of myself as a bit more resilient than that- that I could survive a dysfunctional mess like that, learn from it, and move on. And in a way, I guess I did do that. I learned a little too well, and moved on. Alone. And stayed that way forever. I have seen friends of mine go through break ups, feel heartbroken, and move on to find happiness again. I have done that myself in the past. But for whatever reason, this time I just retreated from all of it and I never ventured back out again. I really, truly admire people who jump back in and risk their hearts again. I think it is the bravest thing in the world, and I am in awe of that bravery. In my case, I told someone how afraid I was of being vulnerable, and how afraid I was of being hurt, how afraid I was of trusting them, thinking that if they knew this, they would be kinder to me. Instead, they did the very thing I feared the most, and I can’t forget that. What I should have seen was that if I was that afraid to trust them, I shouldn’t have. I should have known that, and I didn’t. I can’t forget that, either.

Another thing is my daughter. She is seven years old and she has never seen me with anyone except for her dad, and we broke up when she was four. Well, we broke up when she was 1,2,3, and 4, but permanently when she was 4. I was seeing someone for a while after that, but she didn’t know, and it was someone I had already dated off and on for YEARS, so I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. So I don’t know how to navigate dating with a young daughter, either. I mean, I have done that before, too- don’t forget, I have a 20 year old and I dated PLENTY when she was little, but…I don’t want to operate the way I did before. I am truly out of my element with all of this.

flirt

Probably the biggest stumbling block for me, though, is ME. Ugh, I hate to even say this, but I am so weird about everything! I am just not my best self when I am in a situation that has any romantic possibilities at all. I get anxious and uptight and uncomfortable, I think too hard and talk too much, and just generally become a giant bummer. It would be funny if it didn’t suck so badly. I don’t have the option of having a drink to take the edge off, and I truly don’t know how the hell people date without some kind of substance in their blood stream. I just paused to think about what to write next, and realized that my shoulders were raised almost to my ears. That’s how tense this subject makes me.

And this is how, over and over again, I come back to the conclusion that I’m not ready yet. I’m not there, I don’t want to, it’s fine, I’m fine, forget it. To be honest with you, I am really great on my own. I have this routine that I am happy with, I do what I want when I want to, it’s easy. I do not harbor any illusions that I need a man in my life to be complete- I am complete already. That isn’t the thing at all. The thing is that I wonder…wouldn’t it be good to have someone to love? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to turn to, or to talk about my day with? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a partner in all of this, someone who was there for me, who helped me hold it all together? I know I can do it on my own- I pretty much always have done it that way. But wouldn’t it be amazing to know I didn’t have to?

So…how do you get to the good part, the part where you get all of the benefits, the stuff I just listed? Hmm…well, this would be where I admit that I don’t know because I haven’t ever managed to get there, not really. I have picked the wrong guys, plain and simple. And the only way to pick the right one is to trust myself, listen to my gut, and TRY. Figure it out. Wade in with my eyes open and make better choices. I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. But I’m starting to think that maybe “ready” is an illusion, another excuse to keep myself safe. Maybe I just need to jump in and see what happens. What do you think?