#metoo #Ihave

SunriseQuite honestly, it makes me sad that I feel fear in sharing this with the world. I’m not the only one who feels that fear. Thankfully, someone was brave enough to open their mouth and be first, giving all of us a platform to join the ranks that will no longer remain silent about this epidemic of violence and sexual harassment that is plaguing our society.

 

#metoo. I was raped at knife point as a teenager while on my paper route. I didn’t tell anyone out of fear of the threats the perpetrator made. The toxic shame and guilt I carried as a result worked like duct tape, silencing me for years. It wasn’t until a friend asked me to take her teenaged daughter to the police station to file a rape report, that I began to deal with my own rape experience. It was too painful for my friend to go and she didn’t want her daughter to be inhibited from sharing the details with the officer, so I agreed to take her. As we sat with a crisis counselor at the station, the counselor began explaining to the young girl how important it was to talk about it and get help in dealing with the ramifications of it. The counselor went on to say that there were women out there who had been raped as teens who never told anyone. They lived years of their lives suffering with their secret and now they are 40 years old. I was stunned! There I sat, frozen in a police station chair with my secret. I was 40 years old at the time. I decided it was time I got help.

 

#metoo. I’ve lived with abusive husbands. Yes, I meant to make that plural. One was abusive to me and the other, more so to the kids, but either way, it wasn’t right. When a man throws knives at your head and sticks them in a wall behind you to terrorize you, or threatens to drive in front of moving trains, or pushes you outside without clothes, or holds you down on a bed with his hands around your neck, or tries to push you down a flight of stairs while you’re pregnant, or to push you out of a second floor window, or spins your vehicle around on a freeway, or a child feels a need to try to protect you, when you have to sleep with a knife on the bed railing to protect yourself, when you live in fear of the next rage and you walk 24 hours a day in fear, on eggshells, or the one who says they love you so much has affairs with other women… that’s abuse. It’s not right. It has to stop.

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#metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo… Those are just a few, for all of the rest. Those are for the men and even women, who abused their power or authority in a position they held or a role they had in my life story. There were the bosses that made inappropriate moves or propositions, the married men who attempted things, thereby offending not just me, but also their own wives. And of course, there are the disrespectful words spoken many times! Based on the responses of this whole #metoo movement, it seems that every woman knows what I’m talking about here.

 

#metoo is a start, but it’s not quite enough, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gotten counseling and been a part of many support groups for women dealing with these issues. I’m ok. I don’t need any sympathy as a victim. I don’t need my experience to be validated by anyone. I lived it and I’ve recovered from it. I don’t need revenge. I don’t need to face my perpetrators and hear an apology or get some kind of closure. What I need is for it to stop. What is it going to take for it to stop? What if all of those who posted, #metoo, also started naming names. Would that get those who continually victimize women to think before they do it again?

 

#metoo. This is where my list of perpetrators should be inserted. But instead of naming names, I’ll address you here. You know who you are. I can finally say, I forgive you. This didn’t come easy. I paid a high price because of what you did to me. My kids paid a price because of what you did for me. I’ve lost much because of what you did to me. Years of my life were affected because of what you did to me. How can I forgive you? I can because I’ve been forgiven. #Ihave. She who has been forgiven much, can take the risk to love again. #Ihave

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#ihave. I’ve been an abuser. You see, when you don’t use something for it’s intended purpose, it’s abuse. I’ve abused men and women. I’ve done it in the work place. I knew that I could assert power over a man with flirtatious words or actions. I knew that I could intimidate to get what I wanted. I knew that I could use my appearance or my body to get what I wanted and #ihave. It worked for me for a season. Sure, some of it was because I had been broken by past experience, but that’s not an excuse for my inappropriate actions. I take responsibility for my actions. #Ihave and I’m sorry.

 

#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt myself. I forgive myself.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt you. I hope you can forgive #metoo.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. #ihave. That’s how I can forgive you, too.

 

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A Few Things I Had to Tell My Kids…

Women.shameI’d been wanting to write a letter to my kids for the last two years or so. I guess the number one subject would be something that most parents deal with. I’m inclined to say every parent, but then I think of some whose kids outwardly appear to have it all together and the parent takes all of the credit. I’ve heard parents brag about how successful their kids were, followed by, “I raised them well,” or “I did everything right.” While those types of comments may make them look good or feel good, for me, they’re like a dagger. They hurt. What I hear is, “Since your kids had some rocky years, you must have screwed up somewhere.” And the pot of failure and guilt gets stirred all over again.

I can’t help but wonder what’s really gone on behind the scenes in those seemingly perfect homes. Had the child rearing years really taken place with an always warm and loving home atmosphere, sounds of love and laughter, sharing and caring, fun and games? Were the years of child rearing really filled with everyone having a good attitude, never any rebellion, anger, yelling or arguing, or no behavior issues? I’m doubtful that any perfect home exists, that any perfect parent or kid exists, but I’m not here today to argue that. My purpose is to be honest, to take responsibility for my actions whether good or bad, and to bring death to my own guilt and shame.

There, I said it and it wasn’t easy, especially in such a public way. Yes, I feel those things. Women.shame2If guilt and shame are present, then I’m also admitting that somewhere along the line, I think I screwed up. Some of you parents can relate. Whenever you spend years in condemnation, living under guilt and shame, no matter how hard you try, you can’t just blow it off. It doesn’t work that way.  So the purpose of my letter was to take some forward steps to address it.

Guilt and shame are cruel to those personally acquainted with them. They latch on to the person who has opened the door and invited them in to be a part of their everyday life. The longer they are allowed to stay, the more they infiltrate your being. At first they don’t seem quite so harmful. Sure they point out every flaw or fault they see, but you see them, as well. As a result, you deserve to be accused. Since you deserve it, you allow guilt and shame to continually bring attention to Pointing finger.shameyour faults. Their pointing fingers become poking fingers, prodding the same spots over and over again. Unless they’re stopped, they’re able to work their way deeper, growing roots that eventually infiltrate every area of your life. Your thoughts are affected. Your perception becomes clouded, even murky. Your reactions become altered. Negativity increases. Unhealthy comparisons of yourself to others become owned. False judgements become facts. Relationships become strained, often damaged. You feel rejected, misunderstood. Gratefulness decreases, bitterness sets in and joy is lost. And it can all start with something as small as one flaw, one failure, or one life altering date in your history, one tragedy, or victimization. Or maybe, it was much more, such as living under years of torture and abuse, something that was out of your control and due to no fault of your own.

Brick Wall.ShameGuilt and shame don’t appear to be all consuming monsters in the beginning. They sneak in, almost unseen. They start small, tiny even. Like a buried seed that grows a root and sprouts through the soil as a blade of grass, so they grow. With gentle, yet consistent pressure, that seemingly fragile blade is able to break through a concrete slab. That same constant pressure enables these harmful guests to infiltrate your life. That same pressure is all that guilt and shame need to hold you captive as their prisoner. They deal harshly with their captives, shouting constant accusations, constantly abusing those they enslave. They are enemies whose accusations cause addicts to stay addicts, alcoholics to stay alcoholics, undealt with pain to become full blown depression.

The only way to stop them is to first, identify them as an unwanted enemy, which isn’t easy. They like to deceive those they’ve lived with so they are allowed to stay. They remain hidden behind all of the wrong perceptions of their host. Exposing them often takes help from a wise counselor. It requires us to dig deep into the dirt, expose the roots and pull them up, not a trace left behind.

While I had exposed my roots to counselors or in support groups, it was time to expose Words of Shamethem to the people that mattered the most to me. You see, guilt and shame don’t go down once and for all when the carrier dies and is buried in the ground. Guilt and shame become hereditary, so to speak. If they have affected years of my own life, they have also effected years of my kids’ lives. I wanted to expose it, hoping to dig it up before it was passed any further in our family line.

You see, the roots of guilt and shame for me stem mostly from victimization at a young, impressionable age. I was a young teenager. I had big dreams. From as young as I can remember, I thought that growing up and being a mommy was the best possible thing I could ever achieve. I loved playing with my dolls, holding them, rocking them and caring for them as I would my own children one day. Being a wife and a mother was my big dream, what I longed for. I wrote my goals down at a young age even. The number one thing at the top of my list was to be the best wife and mother in the whole world. And that was the only thing that was on my list.

I started off pretty well as a kid. My parents loved me, took me to church and disciplined me when I needed it. I think I was a pretty good kid in those early years. There were a few minor events of teasing or being hurt by another kid in some way, pretty typical things for a lot of kids. Those events, even though minor, did cause a seed of shame to sprout in my life. Thus, began the hard work to make myself good enough, to gain approval, to be perfect. I set high standards for myself.

It was during the junior high years that one pivotal event had the most damaging impact on my life. I will just give you the nutshell version here.

A friend had started smoking and she offered me a cigarette to try. I accepted, wanting to please the friend. After school that day, I ducked into a wooded area along my paper route to try out the cigarette. Yes, back in the day we actually went house to house delivering hard copies of the news. I wasn’t aware that someone had been being watching me on my route, nor was I aware that this person had followed me into the woods. While I was smoking, I was approached by a male carrying a knife. With a knife pressed into my side, I became a victim of sexual assault. It wasn’t something that I had heard a lot of talk on at that point in my life. It just wasn’t talked about much and rarely was it reported. I went home crying and muddy, my paper route cards torn. I couldn’t tell my parents what had happened. I wrongly, thought that I was responsible. I was in a place I shouldn’t have been in, doing something I shouldn’t have been doing, therefore, I would be in trouble for the rape. When my mom questioned as to why I was so upset, I made up a story. I kept that event a secret for years, not understanding how to respond properly to what had occurred and not knowing how deeply it would affect me.

The bottom line is guilt and shame became deeply rooted, and yes, what followed for many years was a downward spiral of bad judgment and unhealthy behaviors. Guilt and shame from victimization can cause us to get ourselves into situations where we are repeatedly re-victimized or we live with a victim mentality. Therefore, my kids, too, were indirectly victimized.

My oldest two children had to live in the hell that I took them through. It’s no secret that there were two marriages and divorces, one to an addict and another to an alcoholic, one where I was abused and one where my kids were abused. Those marriages were each followed by the struggling single parent years. My children had to live with a mom who was always at work and when she was around, she was tired, sad, and moody, just totally overwhelmed with life.

Shame corrodesThere are times that I don’t remember. I think they were too painful. But there are enough painful times that come to the forefront of my mind every now and again, which I am truly ashamed of. Of course I’m ashamed of most of it, but I specifically had to apologize to my children for the things that they probably did remember. I said I was sorry, so sorry, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. How do you make amends for this stuff?

Remember? I just wanted to be the best mom and wife in the world and I had failed. It was hard living with such a failure that I felt that I was.

I married for the third time and had my two younger boys. Even though they didn’t remember much, they also lived with results from my life events. And then came the grandchildren. They’ve lived with results from my bad judgements from years ago. If left undealt with and unexposed, so would my great grandchildren to come, as well as the partners and spouses who have or will join us along the way. They would also be affected in some way.

There were years that I was not emotionally available. Instead of dealing with things that I needed help with, I kept myself occupied. Being busy distracted me from the issues I really needed to look at. It kept me from having to recognize problems. Trying to be perfect in outward things, like keeping my house clean, gave me the false sense that I was in control. It was the only thing I felt I could control, when I learned that life doesn’t play fair. Bad things do happen to everyone and there were times we were just trying to survive until we could get through the storms that raged around us. There were times when it seemed the storms would never end.

I had to apologize to my grandkids in my letter, as well. I’m so sorry that I’ve missed so much of their lives. Not that I had control over all the reasons as to why it’s been that way, mostly due to distance. I really wish I would have gotten the pleasure of being more involved. They’re all beautiful and make me very proud.

You know, parents aren’t given any instruction manuals when they take a baby home from the hospital. We don’t have our children for the purpose of seeing how bad we can screw up. We just do the best we know how, and at times, we just don’t know how. What we do isn’t always the best. Looking back over the years now, I’m sure there were things I would have done differently, had I known what I do now. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to change the past. It’s all water under the bridge. What I could do was to confess my failure and say, I’m sorry. I promised to continue what I know to do to the best of my ability, and that’s what I’m doing now.

Shame QuoteIn writing them, I had to expect nothing from them. They could choose to not forgive me or not even acknowledge the letter. This is something I needed to do for myself. And yes, I’m making myself very vulnerable here by posting this. My blog is named what it is for a reason, because that’s how I want to live my life. Being real has to start at home.

Yes, I’m sure there will still be times I fail. You know I’m human, too.  There are a few things that I promised my kids that I would not fail at. I will not fail to pray for each of them by name, every day. I will not fail at believing in them, at loving them and wanting all the best for them. I will never give up hope for wonderful futures for all of them. I’ve entrusted their lives to God and I know that he will be faithful to complete every good work that he started in each of them. He promised that to me.

Counseling, support groups, the letter and this post are all steps I have taken to free freedommyself from the enemies that have caused such destruction. Guilt and shame are no longer welcome here. I choose to live in freedom to be the wife, the mom, the grandma, the great grandma, the mother in law…

Maybe someday, the best in the world…

 

“A Fall Apart Just Waiting to Happen”…

fall apart puzzelYep, that’s me!  You’ve probably heard people describe someone as, “an accident waiting to happen.”  Well, “a fall apart waiting to happen” is kind of the same thing.  I’ve found myself feeling this way on occasion lately.  You know, those days that all of us feel at some point, no matter how positive we try to be.  Not one of us walking on this planet is totally immune to negative thoughts and feelings that attack our mind and emotions. 

If you’ve read my blog, you may already know of the ongoing struggle that I’ve had with running injuries.   I talkedfall apart poster about the last MRI report in a post called, “Coping with Injury, a Photo Journal”.  I did have a little fun with that post!  It’s been about three months since then and I’m just starting to get back into a few easy workouts each week.  My body sure doesn’t want to cooperate, though.   Add the ongoing spine and sciatic nerve issues into that hip and hamstring mix, and right there you have what sounds like an old lady just complaining about all her ailments.  I sooooo, never wanted it to be this way!     

Gumby stretchesI’ve had some other minor health things creep in on top of those I’ve mentioned.  It’s so frustrating when you go to your Primary Care Physician and they have to send you off to other specialists.  I’ve got six different doctors I am seeing and a seventh I’m avoiding.  Well, maybe I’m avoiding the sixth one, too.   Regardless, I feel like I’ve been pieced and parted out in so many directions.  The healthcare system must think I’m like a Gumby figure and each doctor is stretching a different body part in their direction.  Gumby meltsFrankly, even with all the stretching, I’m just not that flexible!  And then you have all the specialist’s higher copays!  I’ll stop right there with that discussion.  The state of our healthcare system is not the hot topic than I wanted to get into today.  Let’s not make Gumby have a melt down!

The point is, I’ve had a few days when I wake up feeling like all of these little irritations and inconveniences have been combined together into this huge glob.  The ugly glob is present, just waiting to greet me when I open my eyes.  It sits on my chest, its weight causing pressure, its toxic gases filling my lungs, its fog clouding my vision and infiltrating my thoughts.  For whatever reason, this day, it’s difficult to shake off.   I feel consumed by it.  I stumble through the dark to the kitchen to make coffee.  The shadow follows.  Maybe the caffeine will help.  I turn on the Fear.1computer.  Maybe there will be something positive and uplifting in my inbox or on Facebook.  But before I can even have my first sip or sign in to anything, an all too familiar fear creeps in.  It’s been awhile, but I’ve felt this before.  Its fear of some impending doom, some catastrophe that’s just waiting to knock on my door.  My cell phone rings with an unknown number.  This is it that call I knew would come… 

Tell me I’m not the only one!  You’ve been there, too, haven’t you!  It doesn’t happen as often anymore, but there was a long season in my life, when this was the way I felt most days.  I would eventually be able to shake it off, but only to have the glob visit again the next day. 

One of my son’s has become very interested in cycling.  He joined a racing team and had his first race this past weekend.  I was photo (34)excited for him as we made the hour drive to the race location.  The course was about a mile loop that participants had to circle many times.  A good part of the course was out of our view, and the multicolored kit clad riders were going by so fast.  I had a hard time seeing my son each time he made his way past our vantage point.  Twice during the race, the announcer shouted over a speaker, “There’s been a crash on the course!”  Can you guess where I’m going with this story?  There it was that feeling of impending dome.  Thankfully, my son was not involved in either of the crashes and there were no serious injuries, but those minutes spent waiting to see him go by were pretty intense for a mom.

Blob.1I’m no psychologist able to say what causes a person to feel this way, but I can speak from my own experience.  That fear of impending dome, the feelings of some foreboding evil hovering nearby, just waiting to swoop down and pounce on my head, that kind of fear was learned over time.   The situations in life that were real, such as living with an abusive alcoholic and addict that did cause physical harm, actually being the victim at the end of a knife or sawed off shot gun, receiving those dreaded phone calls with bad news, living through an emergency medical situation with my body being the one transported in an ambulance or having to many visits to emergency rooms with people you love…  When it happens enough, you learn fear.  When you combine those real situations with the ones that you begin to imagine and then come to expect, well, there you’ve just created the ultimate Halloween cocktail!  And let me tell you, it’s a fear filled, seductively strong drink!

Fear isn’t something to be messed with.  Fear is destructive, even devastating.  It will hold you down, even suffocating your very last breath.  Fear keeps us in a dead, dry place.  It keeps us from really living.  It keeps us out of healthy relationships.  We won’t take the risk to care and love.  It holds us back in our careers; it keeps us from reaching our goals and even keeps us from daring to have any dreams to chase after.  It keeps us small, keeps us invisible and unnoticed.  Fear is an evil prison guard that keeps us locked in a very cold, damp and dark place.

Courage poster.1

So how do you get out of it, break free?  Like I said, I’m no physiologist, so what works for me, might not be the same as what worksBravery.1 for you.  First of all, you have to be able to recognize whether the fear you feel is the healthy kind that keeps you safe or if it’s a fear that’s debilitating to you.  If it’s hurting you, it needs to go!  Recognizing that it’s an issue is a huge victory in itself.  You have to recognize something is broken before you will attempt to fix it.  Even taking a risk to consider it might be an issue takes courage.  Be brave.

I have to break in for important practical advice right here.  If you are in an unsafe place, like an abusive situation, get out now.  I know it takes great courage to take this step.  It may require knowledge of resources available to help.  Know there is help and there are safe places to go.  There are agencies that can help online.  Find them where you are.  You have to protect your physical body from harm before you can work on your emotional wellbeing.  Please, be brave!

Once you recognize that fear is something that is hurting you, it’s not like you can just tell it to go away.  You can only do that when it first makes an ugly appearance.  Once you’ve allowed fear to move in and stay with you, you’ve fed it and allowed it to grow, it’s Cat couragenot so easy.  The truth is we all need help with things like this.  We were not meant to do this life alone.  Other people were put on this earth so we wouldn’t have to be alone.  I don’t care how independent you are.  It might be fear that made you feel a need to be such an independent person and if that’s the case, fear has just succeeded l in keeping you in prison.  I’m saying this, not to cause anyone to feel under attack, but as one who allowed the ugly life situations cause me to put on, “Miss Independent”, as a banner across my chest for a good number of years.  I remember one occasion just before entering into my third marriage.  I can still see myself standing outside on a dark driveway, screaming into the face of my soon to be spouse, “You’re not going to make me your slave, you’re not going to tell me what to do…!”  It’s amazing that he still married me after that little explosion.   My point is, don’t try to break free on your own.  Positive, encouraging friends with wise advice, churches or professional counselors, they are all there for you to get help.   Take the risk to join the human race again and connect with other people to help you.  This too, takes courage.  Be brave!

Since I wasn’t intending to write a book today, I’ll wrap this up.  My almost last piece of advice would be this.  When you first see Courage.1that glob trying to make another appearance, whether it be a little thought, feeling or a little action to pass it a tasty morsel and feed it again, immediately stop yourself.  You have to stop it dead in its tracks.  Don’t entertain it, not even for a second.  If you need help to do this, then make that call or send that text.  Fill yourself with all the positive encouragement and support you can get your mind, eyes, ears and hands on.  Your life is on the line here.  All of your relationships, goals, and dreams have one thing in common.  They need you to be healthy in order to have them to the full extent that they were meant to be had.  It’s worth the effort and you are totally worth it!  If you blew it yesterday, today is a new day.  Be brave!

Lastly, I’m no longer going to think of myself as “a fall apart waiting to happen”.  Yes, the health issues seem to continue, but I’m Strong and Courageous.1choosing to focus on the good.  I have supportive friends and family.   I know that I’m in the good hands of doctors who will do the best they can within our healthcare system; to do what’s right for me.  Best of all and what brings me the biggest strength, I believe I’m in the good hands of a loving God who is big enough to take care of me in this broken world.  Bad things do happen, but he works it for good on my behalf.  It takes courage to let go of control and trust an unseen entity with the details of my life, but my experience tells me, God is really good at what he does.  He’s always come through for me, every time!   I can be strong and courageous because I’m not doing this alone.  Yes, I will be brave!

Letting Go…

I hate to use the words, “I quit”, so today my word choice is “letting go”.  There is a difference you know.

I quitI believe that “quitting” happens when you physically, mentally or emotionally come to the end of yourself and you can no longer bare the discomfort or pain of whatever it is that’s just too much.  There is no way you can possibly live with it, under it or bare it, not one more day, hour, not one more second.  It may be a very real or a very false perception that brought you to that point.  It may be that you’ve grown tired and worn.  Regardless, you are at a place where you feel forced to utter the words, “I quit”.

On the other hand, we have “letting go”.  Letting go of something is a choice.  We let go, not because we are manipulated or coerced letting go balloonsby an individual or forced by a situation.  We’ve been able to set emotions aside and have taken a good hard look at the situation, evaluated its cost and benefits.  We reach the decision to “let go”.

I’ve done a lot of deep thinking recently about many things.  I’ve been in a season of introspection or navel gazing as some call it.  Yes, there are times when we can be too caught up in this type of activity, especially if we’re the type that takes ourselves too seriously, but there are times when navel gazing is very necessary.  This particular navel gazing baby navel gazingseason for me is because of an abuse class that I’ve been involved with.  Navel gazing can bring healing.  It can bring us to a better place, plus it’s always good to get the planks out of my own eyes rather than point out the splinters in the eyes of others.  Navel gazing can help us find and know our true self.  It helps us be authentic.  Real.

Today, in an effort to be authentic to my true self, I make the conscious choice to “let go” of #NaBloPoMo, the National Blog Posting Month challenge.  The NaBloPoMo challenge was to write a blog post every day for the entire month.  While have absolutely no regrets for any of the posts that I’ve written over the last ten days, this past weekend writing wasn’t on my mind, yet I felt forced to write something because of the challenge.  That’s not me.  That’s not how I flow.  Of course, while it’s part of our nature to imagine that the world revolves around us, I’m not so naive to think that there are people out there Letting go quotethat can hardly wait to wake up in the morning so they can read all the golden nuggets I have to post.  When I write, it is because I feel that I have something to say, something someone wants to hear, something that may help someone.  It’s not being true to me or what this blog is all about to just post something for the sake of meeting a challenge.  It’s not fair to you, either.  You deserve better.  So for that reason, I’m choosing to let go.

While I do love to write and writing is something that needs to be practiced like any other skill, for the sake of all of us, when I post it will be because I feel I have something worth saying.  So, I’m sorry #NaBloPoMo.  I have to let go.  Don’t take it personally though.  It’s not you, it’s me.

Happy Birthday “R”!

balloon treeI’m breaking away from the “super proud mom” theme of the past few days, but I can’t quite let go of it completely.  I’m just going to mix it up a little bit, because I’m not done being super proud.   Today’s post will from the perspective of a “super proud wife”.  This won’t become a series though, because the last I checked, I only have one husband to brag on and he deserves to be bragged on!  We’ll stay with the letter theme and name him “R”.  It’s his birthday today, so this post is perfect timing.

I’ve already told you how we met in “My Knight in Shining Armor Story”.  After two previously, really screwed up marriages, I finally got one right.  Some of us just need a bigger learning curve.

“R” met me as a single mom with two kids already.   Having the courage to take on an instant family makes him “point worthy” right off the bat.  The night of our first date was as the Christmas season was approaching and my kids and I were decorating the tree when the doorbell rang.  “R” got to put the angel on the top of the tree before we left for dinner, which has been a tradition ever since.  My kids seemed to be really comfortable around him, too, and he was good with them, so that raised his score.  Yes, after twoscoreboard to many screwed up relationships, I was definitely keeping score.

Not only did “R” inherit a prepackaged deal, he also won the rights to my bill drawer.  I must tell you that this bill drawer had its own organizational system.  I didn’t have to do anything but put the unopened bills in the drawer and they organized themselves with the oldest being on the bottom and the newest on top.  It was a system especially developed to ease my mind and cut down the financial stress of being a single mom.  Whatever was in that drawer became out of sight, therefore, out of mind.   As hard as it is to admit how horrible that system was, imagine the courage it took “R” to accept that drawer when he accepted me.  Yes, give that guy some more points, maybe a high five even!

In the early days of our fast moving courtship, my soon to be husband did everything right.  He always had the right answer, he was super intelligent and seemed to have wisdom beyond his years, he had a good job and he was incredibly talented musically.  As a matter of fact, it was a song that he wrote for me that broke down the high walls around my heart and gained him access.  The fact that he shared the song as we shared a container of ice cream may have helped a little, too.  Ice cream was a staple in my family.

Sad-love-quotes-Trust-it-takes-yearsSpeaking of high walls around my heart, previous abuse and rape meant a lot of emotional baggage was traveling with me on our new journey together.  Trust was difficult for me.  Letting someone get close and really know me was difficult.  “R” would constantly tell me he loved me, but I would just let the words roll off.  If I really believed him, it meant I was opening myself up to be hurt.  He constantly paid me compliments, I mean many times throughout the day even.  My response was always to either ignore what he said or deflect them somehow.  He would stand in front of me, look me in the eye and tell me I was beautiful.  I would look away, never saying thank you, never receiving it.  He never gave up though.  Year after year, he patiently kept doing it all right.  I don’t know how many years it took before I started to listen and believe him, but it was many.  Yeah, more points here!  Big time points!Hugs heal

Our premade family of four grew to become a family of six.  There were some wonderful years in the last 25 and some really horrible, even hellish years.  I’ve talked about some of those times in previous posts, but I’ve just shared what it was like for me, as if I was alone in it all.  “R” was there, too.  He hurt, too, but of course, no one saw that.  Those years didn’t seem to scare “R”.  He didn’t run like others surely would have done.  He stood fast and he held tight.  He remained strong and focused with an amazing ability to keep things under control.

I’m remembering the health crisis I had two years ago.  Not that I remember a lot about the days in ICU, but I do remember when I icuwould wake up occasionally and he would jump up from the spot where he kept vigil.  He would do all he could to make me comfortable or offer help in any way.  How difficult it must have been for him, not just to see his wife in that condition, but still having to carry the responsibility of his job and everything at home during that time.  He didn’t seem to miss a beat in any of it.  I vaguely remember seeing his mom walking into the room once.  I heard her ask him how he was doing.  He said, “I’m just taking care of my wife”.  He certainly has taken care of me.  He’s taken very good care of me!  And the score board numbers keep adding up.

“R” works a very demanding job that doesn’t sleep.  Even if it did sleep, since it’s an international company, it’s always 8:00 to 5:00 somewhere.  They keep him around, they’ve promoted him over the years and the pay checks keep coming in.  All the people that I know that he works with really like him, so I think he must be really good at what he does.  I can’t forget to mention that I’ve been sleeping with a college student for the past few years.  “R” takes classes, too and I’m proud to say he’s a straight A student.

cyclist_superhero_by_night_oval_decalWe’ve had lots of highlights in the past couple years, thanks to “R” getting us involved in this running thing he loves so much.  He’s my marathon man!  We’ve been doing races every couple months and most of them we’ve gotten to travel for.  It’s been so much fun!    He is also big into cycling now and he’s become a mad man clipped on pedals.  I slow him way down when we ride together, but he doesn’t mind because he says he loves when he gets to ride with me.

There is so much more I could say, but I think you get the idea.   He may not be perfect, but he’s still my Mr. album coverRight.  This past summer we were cruising on the Mediterranean.  We had many beautiful nights, but one in particular stands out in my mind.   Picture it with me.  Sitting on our balcony with good wine in hand, sailing over smooth seas, warm air, gentle breeze, full moon reflecting on the water, sound of the water lapping the sides of the ship and “R” is singing to me.  “You’re once, twice, three times a lady…”  Yep, he melted my heart.

Let me tell you this “R”.  While you’ve racked up more points than I could ever count, I’m the one who scored the most when I married you.  You’re once, twice and always my man!  I’m proud of you “R” and I love you with all of my heart!

#NaBlaPoMo

It’s “C”‘s Turn!

open bookIn keeping with my “super proud mommy” theme these next few days, today’s post is dedicated to “C”.  “C” is my second born and my only daughter.  It’s not her birthday but there is plenty to celebrate!  I gave “C” the heads up that this post was coming today.  She said she wasn’t worried about what I might write.  “My life is an open book”, she said.  While I don’t plan to take advantage of the privilege she granted me with that statement, I will walk that fine line between her privacy and getting downright personal.  The more you understand about the struggle, the more you’ll see what an exceptional woman she has become.

I was still a single mom when “C” came into the world by C-section.  I couldn’t wait for her to be born.  I was so impatient; I even jumped rope to bring on labor.  It was a really stupid thing to do, as I didn’t have a clue about the dangers of doing that at the time, but it worked.  She was my tiniest baby, the only one that came in under the 9 lb. mark on the scale.

I hate to say, “C” didn’t have a very happy babyhood.  She was born with severe food allergies and even what I was eating while I was pregnant had been affecting her.  Yes, as rare as it is, she was even allergic to breast milk.  It took several months, lots of tummy aches, infections, poopy diapers and crying by both of us, to pin point all the things that were making her sick.  It was very evident from the beginning, that even though “C” was far from being able to talk, “C” had a voice and she wasn’t afraid to use it.

It’s a complicated story leading up to my pregnancy with “C”.  I’ve shared some of my soap opera drama in previous posts and I’m sure OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmore will unfold in the months to come.  Let’s just say, I was really good at weaving a very tangled web.  I guess the more appropriate descriptive word for me would be “stupid”.  What I will share now is that “C” never knew her biological father.  It was my decision for it to be that way.  I had to protect her.  Her biological father was, well… let’s just keep things nice here and say he wasn’t right in his head.  Aside from the fact that he was an addict, alcoholic, a pervert and abusive, he would have been the one who would have done more harm to her than anyone else in her life.  He wanted to have a baby girl, because he wanted to show her what love really was.  The thing is, he didn’t know what love really was.  All he knew was the perversion of love and my little girl didn’t deserve that.  No little girl does.

I did remarry after “C” was born.  She adored that man.  She, like every little girl, wanted that “daddy shaped hole” in her heart to be filled.  Unfortunately, that man was also an abuser.  She was too young to understand or remember when I ended the baby hand with fathermarriage.  All she understood was that the “daddy shaped hole” was empty now and for some reason, I had taken it from her.  Once again, we see how the effects of abuse have a far reaching effect on my children.

In spite of “C” not having the proper loving father image in the early years of her life, her inner strength and tenacity continued to grow and thrive.  “C” acted like a grown up from the early toddler days.  She was the one in control, even in her play with her baby dolls.  She wasn’t satisfied with wearing her own clothes and shoes.  She wanted to wear the clothes and shoes of a big girl, so what was mine became hers, so she thought.  I can still picture her in my mind wearing my bras upside down.

When “C” was eight years old, I remarried for the third time and I’m happy to say that one lasted!  Two more children followed and “C” liked to play mommy.  She will be the first to tell you that she got to babysit her brothers more often than she would have liked, but she did like playing grown up.  Like she did as a baby, she never hesitated to use her voice when it came to telling me what I was doing wrong or what I should be doing with her brothers.  You always knew what she was thinking and where she stood on matters regarding raising kids.

She’s a mommy now with a beautiful teenage daughter of her own.  “C” is a wonderful mommy!  She stays very connected to her daughter.  They spend time talking often and about everything.  It’s the way I wish is would have been between her and I.  I have great respect for her for this ability.  What caused me to shut down emotionally seems to have caused her to flourish.

“C” has continued to deal with challenges in her adult years, but she’s remained that strong woman and you will hear her roar when she flower blossomwants to be heard.   She has been lied to and cheated on and life just hasn’t always been fair, but she hasn’t backed down, nor has she let any circumstance get in her way.  She’s continued to stand strong, continued to be sensitive, expressive and nurturing, continued to blossom.  Best part of it all is that she has continued to love me.

You just have to know, I’m proud of you “C”!  I’m proud to be your mom!  And I love you with all of my heart!

 

#NaBloPoMo

Celebrating “M”

Just have to tell you how proud I am of my kids!  I know that I’m no different than any other parent out there.  We’re all proud!   I’ve decided to voice my feelings and the next four days will be dedicated to each of my kids.  I want it to be recorded for the world to see and hear how much I love them!  Maybe this is something they need to hear in case I’ve somehow not gotten it across to them already.  Even if I have, we all need to be reminded of these things.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, “Let the Future Begin”, I’m going through a recovery group for victims of domestic violence and abuse.  Of course, we do a lot of digging around in the dirty muck of the past in this group.  It’s not a pleasant experience, to say the least, but I know the end result will be worth it all.  My past rape and abuse had a very profound effect on me, so naturally it would have an effect on my children as they were growing up.  Without going into all the details of that right now, in the next few days, I will tell you a little about how it affected my children.

birthday cakeToday, we celebrate my firstborn son who is about to have his 36th birthday.   I’ll call him “M”.  I remember when he was born and that overwhelming love that I felt for the first time in my life.  I couldn’t believe that it was possible to even feel an emotion so intensely.  I remember not really liking what I felt, as I knew how vulnerable it made me.  When you love that much, there is the risk of hurting that much and I surely didn’t want to hurt that much.

“M” was born at 9 lbs. 10 oz., by emergency C-section.  This was years ago when they put you under for a c-section, so my first memoriesbaby holding hand are a little fuzzy, but I’ll never forget when they brought him to me for the first time.  The nurse laid him close to my face so my cheek touched his cheek.  I’ll never forget how wonderful that felt.

This morning I’m envisioning him as that little, almost 2 year old boy I loved waking up to every morning.  I was a single mom at this point.  I’d wake up to see his wide eyed grin and hear his little giggle.  He had crawled out of his crib again.  There was no stopping this kid.  He rolled over from the day he was born.  When he was six months old, we lived in an upstairs apartment, so we had to have a gate to guard the steps.  One day he was crawling around and I heard a little laugh at the bottom of the steps.  It was “M”.  He’d managed to wiggle himself under the gate and crawl down the steps backwards, at six months old.  Yes, it really did happen!

“M” was hungry when he woke up.  He’d go to the refrigerator and get whatever food he was in the mood for and lay it on the pillow besideFredrick's Alligator Book me.  It might be a carton of eggs, a pack of bacon or his favorite popsicle.  I remember trying to get ready for my day and he would want to read.  His favorite book was “Fredrick’s Alligator”.  He had that book memorized and he would read it to me, daily and often.  I’ll always remember that book.

This morning I’m envisioning that sweet baby boy covered in white.  All that surrounded him was covered in white.  Gooey greasy white!  Gooey greasy white that is very difficult to get off.  To all Desitin diaper cream users, if you’re smarter than I was, you’ll keep that stuff far out of reach from your kids.

My oldest was abused by his father.  You may have heard it said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Even though he couldn’t possibly understand what was happening to him at that time, I think what my son experienced helped to develop something good in him.  It helped to develop determination, drive and made him a fighter.

Tennis shoe riding toy

That Tennis Shoe riding toy is down in the left corner. Found it in the Sear’s Wish book from 1979.

I remember one occasion when I was at work and someone was supposed to be watching him.  “M” was four years old at the time.  His little sister was two.  He wanted something and he wanted it bad.  His motivation for wanting it was love.  He wanted to be with his “Gammy” and she had gone to church.  The church was five blocks away and meant crossing a major intersection.  He determined that he was going to get there and he was going to see his “Gammy”, no matter what.  He managed to sneak out of the house with his sister.  I don’t know if he knew she wouldn’t be able to walk that far, but his two year old sister was riding on her plastic tennis shoe riding toy.  I have no clue as to how he knew directions to get to that church, but he managed to guide his sister on her tennis shoe and cross several streets, including the major intersection.  When Gammy walked out of those church doors, there were her grandkids, a little tired, but beaming with pride and joy!  I was horrified when I found out what had happened and thought about what could have happened.  I was furious that they hadn’t been watched and protected like they should have been, but I was stunned to think about what my son had accomplished.  I asked him how he crossed the big street with all the cars.  He said, “I just put up my hand and the cars stopped”.  Wow!  It’s taken years for me to get past the thought of what could have happened that day, but talk about determination and being fearless!

“M” has had to fight many battles through life since that time.  I’m proud of my son and that drive and determination that will continue to keep him going after what he wants.  I can’t wait to see him take hold of his dreams.  I’m proud to know that deep love he holds in his heart will continue to be his motivation as he takes care of his family and helps to raise his girls.   I’m proud of you “M” and I love you with all of my heart!

#NaBloPoMo