Tag Archive | children

Thoughts on Newtown, Connecticut tonight…

I get personal on this page—up to a point–but not too terribly personal. It’s how I am built.  I hold a lot inside until something totally rocks my world. Today’s tragedy in Connecticut totally rocked my world. I am an extremely sensitive person who puts on a good, tough, front. Today, I have not stopped crying. I also do a very good job of pretending not to be too awfully political. I am the mother of seven glorious children, one who is only 8 years old. They are all alive and safe at this moment. Thank you God.  Seriously.  Thank you so much!  They have lock down drills at my son’s school, even in this tiny little town in Maine.  What in the world?

Courtesy of Vee Warren and Quiet Retreat.

Courtesy of Vee Warren and Quiet Retreat.

My heart is broken for the families of all of those tiny children….those lost, and those who will live with the memory of terror for a lifetime, and for all of the families involved. I have so many friends who are teachers….so many. Those teachers in Connecticut were heroes today.  One lost her life shielding her class.  She was 27 years old.   I know that all of my teacher friends are heroes every day.  Schools are a battleground these days.  Are we all thanking our teachers each and every day?
My oldest daughter is a school guidance counselor in Maryland.  The school guidance counselors in Connecticut have a horrible task ahead of them that is part of the job. I think about my daughter and wonder just how crushing to her psyche being on a crisis team for something like this would be. I know her, tender spirit that she is.  She would be torn apart, yet on the other hand, she would probably surprise the hell out of me with her strength.  My kids all amaze me every day.  No, she would pay a high price for such strength.  I know that with all of my heart.
At the same time, I was the mother getting the crisis emails when a shooting took place at one of my son’s colleges. I have been the mother on the other end of the phone listening to her terrified child tell her that he and his friends were fleeing until it was safe. I have been the mother—I am the mother—of a child who lost a friend to a shooter, and who graduated college three weeks later with pall of it all hanging over the ceremony.
While we all take time to grieve, we also need to ask what we need to do as parents and human beings. Are we finding ways to support parents who are clearly lost in the job that they are doing, or are too young to do the job without the help of a committed mentor?  Two days ago, a child in my little boy’s class threatened to have his father come over to our house, break in, and gun us down. This is an ongoing issue—this little boy and his rampant bullying. The school does all that they can.  Without help on the home front, what more can they do?
What are we doing as a society to stop adult bullies, or those using the internet to stalk and harass others, or to help those in domestic violence situations, or those people with mental health issues? The answer does not lie with the government….not all of it.
The answer lies within us. The answer is love. The answer is always love and reaching out and paying attention and offering help even to those who offend us–within reason.   The answer is not turning a blind eye, judging, blaming, or walking away. If my thoughts offend anyone, well, they are my thoughts on this sad night.  Reach out.  Be safe and trust your gut, but reach out in love.
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Nothing can annoy ya like a case of paranoia—cyberstalking!

The title to this blog post should be sung to the tune of ” Carolina in the Morning” if you want to get the full effect.  In the wake of my reblog last night about sociopaths, and how they operate in the world, I woke up to a few new followers to my blog.  Yippee!  A new follower or two to my blog almost always has me over the moon, because this blog is my baby.

Yet, I find that I am only partially over the moon because I know that one of the people following me did not just happen upon my blog and fall in love with it.  I know she is here to watch my every move, or word, more to the point.  Ah, well, what to do?  What I do is to say welcome one and all!  (Then behind the scenes I add a name and email and blog link to my “Comments that must be always moderated list and my blacklist.)  Then I go about my day, which I have been doing.  I ran some errands, and I took a stroll in the woods to collect kindling, because it is just plain gorgeous out there!

Gorgeous, I tell you!

However, how I go about my day has changed to a certain extent recently and that irritates me.  I lock my door all of the time now.  In all of my life I have never done that before.  I used to live in a big house full of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of antiques and jewelry and I never locked my door.  I also lock my car now.  I never lock my car, because the one time I did lock my car, some 30 years ago, it got stolen.  True story.  It was the summer before my last year of college and I was living in Seattle and working as a waitress at an airport hotel.  I drove an old beater that had a homemade paint job, and I affectionately called it The Circus Wagon.

I had given someone I worked with a lift to work that night.  We both worked nights.  We got out of the car and when it was clear I was not locking my car, he said, “You need to lock your car.  You are not in Montana anymore.  This is Seattle.  Go lock your car.”  So I did.  The next morning at 7:30 a.m. when I wandered sleepily out to get in my car and head home it was gone.   I wandered and wandered through the enormous parking lot until the reality dawned on me.  My locked car was gone.  I never saw it again.  I also never locked my car again.

My oldest daughter went to visit her then boyfriend, now husband, a couple of years back and parked her car in a park and ride and locked it.  When she got back after her visit, her driver’s side window was smashed in, and all they had taken were her sunglasses.  They were Mui Mui–I had gotten them for her on eBay for a steal in excellent used condition, but as I told her, had you left you doors unlocked, they could have just opened the door and taken the darned sunglasses, and you would have  had none of that messy clean up!  She still locks her car.  All my kids do, and now I have joined the ranks of lockers.  We will see just how long it lasts.

My friend, Dallas, at Namaste Cafe made this poster and I am using it with her full consent. Who does not love a cute orange kitty speaking our mind for us? As we say in my family, put on your happy pants!

I am not the paranoid sort of person.  I do not think anyone is out to get me, except for those who I know are out to get me.  I do not think people are watching me, or talking about me behind my back, once again with the exception of those who I know are doing just that.  I would love to never mention cyber stalking or harassment again, and yet on it goes, and I take the appropriate measures, and go about my life, but that is not enough.  It is not enough because I know of several other women who are being stalked and harassed online.  It is not enough because teenagers are killing themselves because someone was stalking, harassing, and bullying them in an online settings.

When another teenager takes his or her own life because of relentless cyber-bullying, we all share articles, or videos, or write blogs about hate, but it is time to stop and think about where these young bullies and stalkers are learning their tricks.  The people stalking and harassing me are all of the ages 50 years and up, with two being in their 70’s.  We bemoan the behavior and hatred of the current generation of young people, but they are learning that behavior somewhere, and it is probably right at home.  Is life really so dull that adult people have nothing better to do than stalk and harass people they do not even know?   My life is plenty busy, and very happy, and I also have no desire to go hating on anyone.  I am going to sit here and think of how I could possibly be enticed into hating on someone, or stalking someone, I do not even know.  Enjoy an image of my cat sleeping downstairs while I think…

Yes, she is a big girl. She’s a pretty girl, too!

Okay, I thought about it and I can think of absolutely nothing that could entice me enough to harass, stalk, or otherwise hate on someone I do not know.  I have a hard time doing that with the people I do know.  That is because 99% of  the people I do know are totally lovely people.  I do admit to keeping my eye on a few from the other team from time to time, but that is just to be safe.  It is usually right about at this point in the discussion that I expect someone to leave a comment on the law of attraction–what you focus on is what you attract.  Here are my thoughts on that.  I believe that being happy and positive and optimistic  with get you far, so will hard work.  I do not believe that turning a blind eye to something will make it disappear.  I also do not think that if I visualize something I want hard enough and long enough and with as much love as I can muster that it will appear at my front door.  Were this true, Robert Redford would be outside chopping wood for me and would be walking in any minute to ask me what delicious meal I had in store for him tonight before he heads out to buy me something lovely and eco-friendly.  Please enjoy this picture of what I see when I look out my window while I actually go look out of my window…

I know. I am a lucky gal!

Bob is not out there!  Thirty plus years of visualizing him and wanting him badly have not made him appear!  I guess it is nachos tonight, as the child wishes.  I believe in God.  I believe that God is protecting me and that He is using me for His message and that He wants you all to know what He knows.  There is evil in the world and we cannot make it go away by ignoring it.  We also cannot participate in it, no matter how tempting it may be.

We need to love more.  We need to put our cell phones down and love on our kids, and pay attention to them when we take them to the playground.  Get out of your car!  Take your face out of your phone and notice that your 4 and 5-year-old children are running around pretending to shoot everyone in sight, and you keep ignoring them when I ask them to please stop.  Turn off your computer and go outside and see the beauty out there. Get off of your rear end and do something to show someone that you love them.

If you want to talk politics with me, tell me why you love a certain candidate, not why you hate the other.  I do not talk hate politics. Your kids are listening to your every word.  They are seeing your every action.  They are learning from you, and too many are learning hate.  Enough is enough.  Here is a trite saying that I really DO believe.  Be the change you want to see!

If you are as tired as I am of hatred and bullying and harassment in the world, YOUR world, stop ignoring it.  If you ignore it you are tacitly endorsing it.  Stop talking hate.  Talk about what you love, show love, be loving.  Be out in the world and be loving.  Do not get sucked into stalking someone for a friend.  What kind of friend would ask you to do that in the first place?

Act like a good person.  Be a good person so that your kids can learn how to be good people.  If you want to change the world, then go out there and throw around as much love as you possibly can, but at the same time, be willing enough, and brave enough, to stand up to bad behavior when you see it.  I want to end this post on a positive note and so I will finish with this….I baked peanut butter cookies last night!  Oooh, peanut butter cookies!!  Now go enjoy your day!

Cookies!!

Taking time to acknowledge the past in order to truly celebrate the now.

The past week or two I have been a little out of sorts.  I could feel something within me that needed to be birthed, but I could not put my finger on it.  It has been a busy summer, full of lots of fun activities, and plenty of work, too.  I have been feeling tired, not in a physical way, but in an emotional way.  Because there has not been a lot of time to think, or write my way out of whatever it was, I felt stuck.  Last night, it finally dawned on me.  The last few years, or more honestly, the last decade has been a really tough one, and while I have made it through to the other side and into a comfortable way of living, and loving others, and myself, I realized I had done what I have always done.  I got through everything the Walt Disney way–“Keep moving forward.”  When I stopped to look at everything that I had been holding inside of me it became abundantly clear that I had every right to be fully exhausted.

From childhood, it has been my habit to keep moving forward, making my way from one trauma to the next, with varying degrees of success, without ever really taking the time to stop and acknowledge what I have been through.  I can stay it out loud, and know it intellectually, but all of that is done quickly, sweeping the dirt under the rug so that I do not have to see it anymore, or feel it.  I clean houses for a living and I never sweep dirt under the rug when I clean a house, but I am the master of sweeping my own feelings under the rug, and moving on as if whatever it was had never happened.  It has been a survival mechanism for me, but it has left me weary.

Certainly, there are benefits to going through life this way.  I have had to start over many times, and move beyond some pretty huge things that might waylay many people for a very long time.  I bounce back up from every knock that life gives me with the resilience of one of those blow up clowns weighted with sand at the base.  You can punch them and punch them and punch them and they just spring right back up, seemingly indestructible.  So, I bounce back up, I let go, I move forward, and I also pretend like nothing bad ever happened.  I never take the time to honor the battle I have fought, feel the pain I carried silently throughout, or acknowledge that I have every right to be tired, or hurt, or angry, or sad.

I know now that I will continue to be tired until I allow each trial to be fully seen, felt, and honored for what it was at the time for me, and what gifts and lessons I gained from each hurt, and difficult experience.  To continually deny all of the exceptionally hard experiences of the past decade is to deny a huge part of myself, because it has been those experiences that have brought me to the happiness and joy I have today.  Through those pains and knocks, I learned to love myself, and to love and rely on God in a much deeper way.

My little boy is helping me to learn how to do this honoring in order to truly and fully release and heal.  The child has a memory that is truly amazing, and so much of what he remembers are thing I would prefer under the rug.  He has been speaking frequently of our dog, Tanner, who we left when we left the “blue house,” the house of horrors, and my marriage to the sociopath.  Tanner was not a young dog, and I imagine Tanner is no longer alive.  I have no idea what my ex-husband did with him, but my son wants to talk about Tanner and about all of the other animals he loved on our farm.  It hurts me so much, and far too deeply to think about what may have happened to the animals we left behind, but do it I must now.

After I found half of our herd dead, and piled in heaps in a barn the winter before we got out, I shut down.  Twenty-five or more animals starved to death, all the while I was being told they were “fine.”  I will never really know what happened to those animals, and I thought I had shielded my son better, but he remembers so much, and now, three years later, he wants to talk about it.  He needs to talk about it because he has been carrying the horror of all of that around for three years in his little seven year old body.  At first, I was inclined to change the subject when my serious little boy brought awful memories up, but now I let him talk—we talk about it.

He is a much different child now than he was when we left three years ago.  He is far more relaxed, and he is extremely resilient.   He feels things very deeply, and now he needs to talk about those feelings, and as he finally does, there is less of what little anger he has had left every day.  He is letting go the right way, and I will not hinder that process anymore by not being brave enough to feel the hurt myself.  I will not teach him to sweep things under the carpet.  Together we are learning to bring the dirt out into the light so that we can sweep it away for good.  He is a brilliant teacher and a very kind and caring soul, wise way beyond his years.

So now I must stop, and look at it all, and give it all due space and honor and light—the dirt.  I have to feel the hot tears rolling down my cheeks as I think of the awfulness of my drinking, and the arrests and jail time and the time away from my older children, now grown.  I have to feel the pain of the relapses, and the rehabs, and the halfway house.  I have to look at my marriage and the abuse we endure for far too long.  I have to honor the time I spent in prison, having to leave my little boy for six months, and the sadness that brought me, which I hid from.  I have to feel the weight of rebuilding a life from the ground up in the last year, single parenthood, and surviving the mother of all nasty, long, drawn out divorces and custody battles.

I have to feel that crushing pain and heaviness in my chest…the full weight and size of it–and I have to feel the hurt, and the anger, and the sadness.  It has been in there for years now, slowly pushing its way up to the surface.  Now that it is bursting out of me like hot lava flowing out of a long dormant volcano I can already feel the release of pressure.  I have no plans to wallow, but I have no choice but to let it flow.  The flow is all of the pus from wounds suffered but never treated properly.  I am finally really healing and so I am going to treat myself like someone who needs quite a lot of tenderness and care for a bit.  I want to make sure all of the dirt gets swept out for good this time.  If I need someone to talk to so I do not impede my own healing process, I know where to go.

As happy as I have been in recent years, it has not been complete and now I know why.  It is impossible to relax fully into joy and contentment and authenticity while you continue to deny a part of yourself.  I am on my way now to a higher level of all around health and happiness.  No more dirt under the rug for me.  Yesterday, I took my serious, yet wacky, son to the playground.  He sailed down one slide, landed on his feet at the bottom, threw open is arms and shouted, “I love life!”  Do you know how long I have been waiting to hear him say those words–to just feel unbridled joy?

I hugged him hard and kissed him.  Then I said, “You know what?  I love life, too, and I love you!”  It is all true.  I do love life and I know for a fact that were it not for all of that dirt that has scared me so, I would not know the happiness that I do now.  The dirt has served its purpose now.  I stand, with broom in hand, ready to sweep it out as it continues to unearth itself.  A clean start, and cleaner, lighter, fuller heart.  We are really healing this time and we are doing it together.  Yes, I love life!

Summer is here. It’s time to lighten up…

The last week or two have been an absolute blur, and the upcoming weeks are looking quite blurry, too.  Anyone with kids knows that, for whatever reason, schools try to jam pack as much activity into the end of the school year as possible.  There are concerts and plays and field trips and book fairs and lots of extra things to remember and make time for in a week.  I got through all of that only to have my 7 year old son come down with Lyme disease over the weekend, causing him to miss his last two days of school, and my last two days of productivity by my own too-high standards.  When my older six kids were school age, I so looked forward to summer vacation, and I am happy it is here now, too, but with more trepidation for some reason.  I suppose it hasn’t helped much that summer vacation began with an extremely sick kid.  Thank God, he is on the mend now and coming back up to full speed.

At the same time, my oldest daughter is getting married in nine days.  Of course, there is a lot of emotion that goes along with that, for her and for me.  I try to alternate my periods of feeling overwhelmed with hers, because my job is to be there for her when she is overwhelmed right now.  It is easier to do today than it was Monday when I had a kid with a fever of 103 who hurt all over, but…  Cake, favors, sashes all need to happen, as does remembering to remember everything.  Of course, I have to continue to work through all of this, now with a child in tow, because for whatever reason, money doesn’t just drop into my lap 😉  The bills do not disappear just because I have a lot going on, or a lot on my mind.  Something gives, eventually, and it has been this blog.

I was talking to a friend this morning who is quite a lot like me, right down to her temperament type.  She is full of love and compassion and understanding and when she has a friend in need she is the first one to listen and then tell them they are being too hard on themselves.  I know someone just like her.  Me.  I afford everyone in my life the luxury of being kind and gentle with themselves, but sometimes I forget to afford myself that same luxury.  God forbid I even have a less than kind thought towards someone who has been less than kind to me.  I feel as if I have lost my personal integrity because some very human thought spent two minutes in my brain.  She and I discussed this tendency we have to be overly harsh with ourselves.  We both know that we need to knock it off.

I know that I have come so far when it comes to treating myself kindly.  I have set boundaries and I keep them firm.  I do not beat myself up in the way that I used to do for mistakes, major and minor, and I no longer expect perfection from myself—unless I am cooking, or writing, or….;-)  Perfectionism is a nasty habit, and a hard one to break, and it is a form of self punishment that looks like something society really loves–productivity, ambition, call it what you will.  I can’t buy into it anymore.  I need to let go of the death grip I have on life.  I need to treat myself like a very good friend.

Just a bit ago, I sat outside as the sun was starting to go down and I could hear the birds chirping, and the “summer kids” down by the lake playing.  It is summer.  In the summertime, people lighten up, relax, and let loose.  From an age standpoint, I am more in the fall of my life, but I need to incorporate a summer attitude of internal simplicity that under girds my day to day living.  I need to continue forward with the work I have done on self forgiveness, and I need to stop trying to make up for lost time.  That time is gone, but what time I have now is absolutely lovely.  I need to lighten up for life and begin, finally, to bask in the warmth of an inward, eternal, summer.  If I don’t blog as much in the next few months, I will be at the beach with my son, or at my friend’s cottage on the ocean, or I may just be laying on the couch enjoying the silence, or the sounds of the loons on the lake, and allowing myself to be tired and to need a little rest.  I hope that you will do the same, my friends.

Celebrating life every day

Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!

 Amanda Bradley quotes

Today I am celebrating life because life is good every day, and God is good every day.  As a culture, we tend to wait for a holiday or a certain event to feel as if we are allowed to celebrate, but this way of thinking robs us of the opportunity to celebrate every single day.  We need to give ourselves permission to find cause to celebrate each day no matter the date, or the reason.

Perhaps you are thinking right now that there is no real reason to celebrate–that you have nothing worth celebrating.  That sort of thinking usually stems from a lack of gratitude for the miracles present in each moment of life.  It can take practice to develop an attitude of gratitude, but it is something that will change your world, and your view of life in general.  Even on a day filled with annoyances, distractions, and unfortunate events, there are things for which you can be truly grateful.  Start small by making a list of five things that you are grateful for and do this every day.  Over time you will find that your list begins to grow and then it will grow again some more.  Look around you, wherever you go, specifically searching for often unseen things to dazzle and amaze you.  As you begin to notice more, your gratitude will increase yet again, and as your gratitude increases, so will your desire to celebrate life daily.

Certainly, there are many conscious choices that you will need to make if you are not in the habit of celebrating life.  Deciding to feel grateful is one of them, and deciding to be responsible for your own happiness is another choice you will need to make.  You will have to choose to slow down and look around.  You will have to choose to begin to work towards becoming someone who sees the positives in life more than you see the negatives.  You are going to have to let go of grudges, and complaining, and blaming, and feeling sorry for yourself.  Those are big choices filled with huge responsibility to yourself, and others, and it will take work.  Begin by believing that, step by step, you can do it.  Choose not to get discouraged, or berate yourself if you have to keep starting over.  Just begin again and keep moving forward.

As you make headway with these thought changes you will find that you will begin to celebrate life without having to force yourself to do it.  Sometimes you will find yourself swept over by random gratitude waves so big they nearly wash you away.  You will feel joy and wonder for reasons others cannot quite comprehend.  Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.  Go on and celebrate anyway!

What does celebrating life look like in practice?  That will differ for each individual, so be creative and follow your heart in how you celebrate.  As you become a happier, more grateful, and celebratory person, do not hide your sparkle and shine, not that you really will be able to hide it.  Imagine what a gift you are giving your family and friends with your new way of life!  Think of the many excellent and valuable lessons you are teaching your children each time you dance with them for no reason, or bake cupcakes just because it’s Friday, or watch a special movie together just because you are so happy to be with them.  Your personal changes will have a huge ripple effect on the people around you, and you will find more and more to celebrate effortlessly, and so will the people around you.

For me a celebration can be as simple as painting my nails, or watching a movie, or dancing in my living room with my son, or outside under the stars by myself.  It may mean making a nice meal, or baking cookies, or cupcakes, or counting Lady Slipper’s as I walk up my hill.  I counted 43 yesterday.  I think that is cause for celebrating life, and I am doing that today, all day.  How will you celebrate this amazing life that you have been given today?  When you think about it, there is no reason not to celebrate!

Mother’s Day Reflections—A Quickie ;-)

“It seems odd to celebrate one’s mom is just one day. Someone so important should be celebrated every day.”  Anonymous, because he’d prefer it that way.

I have seven gorgeous children who are the light of my life.  Six are adults, and one is just 7 years old.  They are truly amazing, though I admit to a bit of bias.  To say that they are accomplished is an understatement, and that includes the 7 year old.  While their accomplishments are good for bragging rights, they are their accomplishments, not mine, and their accomplishments are not what makes them so special.   As I have always said, I wouldn’t care what they did as long as they are happy doing it.

What makes them so amazing is their personalities, and their character.  They are kind and generous.  They are loving and they are funny as can be.  They can laugh at themselves, and no one can get me laughing faster, or harder, than my children, with my sisters coming in at a close second.  They help me laugh at myself, and we have those family stories that are hilarious to us every time.   We have a secret language of movie quotes that we all understand, and can use to convey a variety of thoughts and emotions.  “Keep the change you filthy animal,” means “I love you,” or “You owe me nothing, it’s a gift.”  We’re all a little nutty, in a good way, of course.  We we are all together, the room vibrates with love, hot conversation, and tons and tons of laughter.  Individually, we are all quiet people, and true introverts, but together we are a gaggle of kindred spirits knowing we are fully home.

However, their greatest gifts lie in their ability to forgive, and to move forward, and to recalculate life, and the people in it, as needed.  This is what means the most to me, because I have required forgiveness more than most mothers.  I have required forgiveness again, and again, and again, and each time it’s been freely given.  They’ve forgiven the years of drinking, and my inability to be there for them properly.  They have forgiven the times I was physically absent due to rehab stays, or jail stays, or prison.  They have forgiven lavishly, with no lingering resentments, and they have moved forward in their view of me as I have recovered.  In many ways, we have been growing up together and they have been as patient with me as I have been with them.  They love me unconditionally, as I have loved them.

Yet, for many years, because of all of the guilt and shame I dragged around because of my perceived poor performance as a mother, I lagged behind them both in my forgiveness of myself, and my ability to recalculate who I am today, as opposed to who I was 10 years ago.   I have been forced to stop and look at myself through their eyes, and actually feel their words, not just hear them.  They did not become who they are today in some miraculous vacuum.  They remind me of this often, and of course, their father has played a role, the older kids having seen the worst, and the youngest having been spared most of that.  Because of my children, and God’s grace, which underpins all of this, I have been able to forgive myself, and I am getting up to speed in the recalculating of my view of me.   I thank God every day for these precious people that He trusted me to care for and love, flawed as I am.

My own mother died over 24 years ago, and I miss her terribly.  Although we had bumps in our relationship, by the time she died, we had reached a place of deep friendship.   She was always the first person I wanted to call when anything happened in my life, good or bad.  Now, I am blessed to have three women in my life who are both friends, and mothers to me.  One woman spoils me silly, and is a grandmother to my 7 year old, though there are no blood ties.  Another is chock full of common sense, and tells it like it is.  She loves to cook, too, like I do, so we share recipes and new food finds.  The third woman is the one to whom I can cry my eyes out, and I discover a bit more of myself every time I talk to her.  There is reciprocity in all of these relationships, which is what makes them so special.

But, the best mother that I have now is myself.  In the recalculating I have had to do—the seeing myself as all of these other very special people see me—I have come to realize that I can, and should, give every wonderful gift to myself that I give to others, and that others so richly give to me.  Knowing that God has fully forgiven me, as have all of the people who matter the most to me, I realized that it is more than a little arrogant not to forgive myself, and treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve.  What a tremendous gift that has been, and it’s one that will remain.  I am blessed beyond words, and I wish you all the happiest of Mother’s Day’s.  Mothers come in may forms–our own mothers, our children, our friends, our sisters, ourselves.  Even if you have no children, you can celebrate and honor the mother within you today.

That quote up top came from my 20 year old son…  I am sure I’ll stop crying anytime now 😉  Happy Mother’s Day!

On Forgiveness of Self…It’s Key

I am a writer.  I wrote this the other day and I have to put it somewhere for now.  Take good care of it 😉

I am a recovering alcoholic.  I have been sober over 8 years, and I love every day of my life now, which is some form of major miracle to my mind, both the sobriety and the sheer joy and happiness.  I love who I am today, and I believe that I am finally the woman I was meant to be all of my life.  That this has finally happened at the age of 52 carries with it certain sense of poignancy, though I try not to dwell on what life might have been like had I found myself sooner, or more to the point, never surrendered myself in the first place.  However, I intellectually know that when trauma and sexual abuse happens to a person at the age of 4 or 5, that person is in no solid position to decide what they surrender or do not.  This is especially true if there is no supportive adult to guide the child through, or someone to simply bother to acknowledge that it happened in the first place.

Did you notice that?  Did you notice that as soon as I began to talk of sexual abuse, and a person, not a child, being 4 or 5, that I switched from writing in the first person to the third person?  Amazingly, I caught it instantly, which I think means that what I know intellectually is moving ever closer to my heart.  To that place of actually feeling the pain, rather than just having the knowledge that something happened that should not have. Since tears are rolling down my cheeks, I know I am feeling, not just thinking, which I am so very good at doing.  Think, think, think… Maybe I can think the pain to death, though that has been wholly ineffective to date.

I was sexually abused repeatedly at the age of 4 or 5 by my mother’s best friend’s 16 year old son.  I have a sister that is 13 months younger than me.  It was when he began to go after her as well, that’s when I went to my mother and told her.  The abuse stopped and not another word was ever spoken about it–ever.  Through my growing up years, I had to see this man time and again, each time our families got together.  I don’t know that if my father ever even knew, and since both my parents are long dead, I will never know.  Now, this is something that I have always known–that this happened to me.  But, who is, or was, me?

Until a few months ago, I never realized that the little girl who was molested was me, and that I was only 4 or 5…a baby, a tiny, little, defenseless, child.  Little 5 year old Ann.  I see her in snapshots looking so childishly smug, as if she knows all of the secrets of the world already.  There’s a certain air of superiority there, also.   I believe that, in my mind’s eye, I saw that little girl, me, as a perfectly capable mini-adult person who should have done something to stop all of it sooner.

Because I had failed then, I gave away myself in order to take on the role of the buffer for the world.  A buffer steps in protect others from pain.  A buffer gets beat up a lot.  A buffer learns to feel no pain, because if she did, it would hurt too much.  And that is what I did.  I learned how to feel no pain in a great variety of ways.  I was the buffer for 47 long, excruciatingly painful years.  It makes me so sad to see that now.  So sad for me as a little girl, and a teenager, and a woman.  I lost a lot of life being a buffer, and that hurts in ways words simply cannot capture.

At first, dissociation was my main trick, and I was especially good at it.  There is very little in this life that I undertake that I do not do especially well, expect for life itself, maybe.  When I found alcohol, it was like an answer to a prayer.  Something that took the pain away, and was socially acceptable, up to a point.  Of course, because if I am going to do something, I am going to do it extremely well, I reached that point, and passed it by many, many miles.  And now I am flogging myself with key strokes for not knowing another way to deal with my pain, or for putting a stop to the drinking before such a huge toll was taken…on me.

Certainly, many others were hurt, my children, especially, but for the most part, they seemed to have healed, or are healing, and have moved beyond it.  It’s me that’s stuck and oh, so mad at the person I became.  I don’t even what to think about that person, or believe that she ever existed.  I have hated her for years now, and hidden her, but she is long gone, so, in truth, it has been me hiding from her—long dead, and gone.  Just like I have been hiding from my anger at my mother, who set me up for such a life of pain by her coldness, detachment, and her absolute insistence that I be strong, and never shed a tear, no matter what happened to me in my life, because somehow it was always a reflection on her.

And so, me, who is finally almost free, is still a subtle slave to these two dead women.  Had my mother been able to love me, and accept me, and care for me, in the way that I needed when I was 4 or 5, and every year after that, perhaps the second women, that part of myself that I am looking at today in the hopes of finally forgiving, well, she may have never come into existence.  She wasn’t, my mother, able to do any of those things, and I cannot change that.  She loved me very much.  I know that.  I was also a great disappointment to her, as well.  I know that, too. More than I know that she loved me.   I wasn’t smart enough, in the right way, for her, or strong enough, or whatever enough.  Or, maybe, I was too much of it all, smart, strong, talented, and pretty.  Maybe it was that she hated me for… Whatever the case, because of her, always cloaked in disappointment at her life, and some great internal misery none of us could reach, I have spent my life, both the parts prior to her death and after, trying to prove something to her.

I have been trying to prove that I am worthy, maybe, but I picked a funny way to prove that.  Or, maybe I wanted her to know that her pain had become mine, and had tripled in size and it was eating me alive, would she please come rescue and protect me now?  If it got bad enough, and it certainly did, would she finally reach out a hand to help me up?  Would she finally love me just as I was, so flawed and so in pain?  Would she hold me and comfort me and tell me it was okay.  That I was okay?  Of course, that was my 5 year old magical thinking, and it never happened.

The other day, my seven year old asked me what was the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life?  How could I possibly choose, I thought?  Molestation, incest, rape, abuse, alcoholism, prison… I gave him a believable answer, and he told me that the worst thing that ever happened to him was when his Dad wouldn’t let his sister take him to Funtown, but took him himself.  I know full well when the worst part of my life was, it was a year midway through my 5 year relapse.  It was the year where the woman I do not want to look at was alive, and well, and fully running my life.  She was finally out in the open, so to speak, and it made her mad, and uncomfortable beyond words, so her actions spoke the most loudly.  She was trying to kill the pain, and her and I in the process.  That she did not is yet another miracle.

That year, I drank constantly.  I had lost my kids to their father because of my drinking, and the pain of that was unbearable. I was living alone in a strange house, having lost my house, and I was so cold all of the time.  Her, me, us, lost a baby at 9 weeks while I had been sober for 6 months, and after, we fell apart.  In some ways I wonder now if she was trying to save me from the man I was involved with at the time, who would years later become my sociopath husband.  I know now she was seeing what I did not want to see.  I have flashbacks every day from that time.

It was a horrid time when I would blackout for days at a time in the upstairs bedroom, to wake up completely naked, bedding torn off of the bed, covered in bruises and a rash, large knots all over my head.  I shook too badly to light a cigarette, or dial a phone for help.  I could not move my computer mouse smoothly enough to find out what time and day it was.  I’d find realtor’s card on the kitchen table and know that the house, which was on the market, was shown while I was blacked out.  I would find myself getting into the car with the express purpose to get drunk while driving.  I wrapped my car  around a tree in a blackout and ended up in the hospital.  Another time a friend could not reach me, and an ambulance came to my home and dragged me out of bed, again naked, and screaming, while my friend cried and watched.  I was in the hospital for days, not knowing what day it was, save for the note on the chalk board.  I didn’t eat.  I could not walk normally.  My arms would not swing by themselves, I had to force them to do it.  I was weak and spent hour upon day upon month sitting at the kitchen table just staring, even when my kids were over.  My hair was falling out.

I was back in the hospital again, days before I was to enter a rehab, having fallen and broken my nose in a blackout.  For three weeks after that, they, the hospital, the detox, and then the rehab, wondered if my brain would come back enough for me to live a normal life.  Amazingly, it did.  Amazingly, after another rehab, and two jail stays, and a 6 month half way house, I finally got sober, but she, the one who was trying to kill us, lived on, this time, feeding on shame.  She had plenty to eat, even when the rest of us didn’t.  I was getting stronger, and her far, far, weaker.  What finally killed her, the protector, and the queen of dissociation?  I believe in was the arrest that led me to spend six months of the last year in prison.

That was the last straw, and I woke up and looked around at the abuse I was suffering through yet again, and I took control, finally.  I got mad.  I said enough is enough, and I remember every single day since that day.  That’s a real first for me who has entire years in my life completely missing.  It was in prison that I finally knocked down the walls to the bunker that had held me, the 5 year old me, prisoner for 47 years.  That child is a part of me now, and I can feel her pain, and love her properly.  But what of this extremely strong, extremely angry, extremely protective, and extremely self destructive, woman who is dead, but not buried?

I look at her and see that she was the exterior wall of the fortress that protected me from a lifetime of pain.  She was the buffer.  She’s the one who stepped in and took all of the hits, and absorbed all of the shocks and insults.  She’s the one who stepped onto the plane and flew across the country to take care of whichever loved one was dying. She always found a way even when a way seemed impossible.  She not only took care of me, but the entire world she knew.  She’d gotten oh so very tired.  It’s an exhaustion that I still feel.  It was a terribly thankless job.  She carried all of the pain and kept me smiling a fake smile, and moving through life in the best, muddled, way that I could.

What human could endure such an enormous amount of pain and responsibility without help from anyone?  Not me.  I never would have made it without her, and her beauty, and her strength, and her tenacity, for as much as she wanted to die, she wanted me to live.  She gave me the time I needed to grow up, and grow strong on my own, and then she just disappeared when I was ready to take over the reigns.  She is me.  She was the very best of me crying to get out, and she was the very worst, most devastated, part of me, dying inside.   I have been hating myself for weakness that was really strength, ugliness that was really pain, and behaviors that were really just attempts to get love from a woman who just didn’t have it in her to give, alive or dead.

We are one now.  Me, and that tiny, little girl, and that tough as nails woman with a heart so big that she was willing to take on the pain of the world.  That person is me, and I am beautiful, and happy, and passionate, and talented, more than smart enough, and certainly good enough.  Forgiveness I give to you now, because you are me, and I love me, and I thank you.  We made it through to the other side, and on this side is healing and happiness.   It’s going to be okay.  I am okay, just the way that I am.