This Life of Mine

I have hesitated to write for so long, for a few reasons. I am still navigating the chaos of my new life. It’s scary. It’s really fucking scary. I don’t even know what happened, really, and whatever it was, it happened fast. I think. But, here I am. New house, new job, new income, new life, and I am holding on so tightly to what feels like nothing. My shoulders seem to always be up near my ears, my breath comes in shallow bursts and there’s also that elephant that will not remove itself from my damn chest. I have tried running, traveling, wine consumption, anti-depressants, talking with friends and talking with my therapist. Next stop is a fun little thing called brainspotting. But,it still hurts. My heart.
Let me rewind my story. My marriage fell apart. It was the perfect storm. Health issues, third baby, very little help, and then we both just wanted the pain and stress to go away. So we let go. There was the push and pull that went on for a while, but we eventually both tired of that pain, too. It’s apparent when we communicate now, a year after our divorce finalized, that there is still confusion, pain and love between us. But, it’s done, nonetheless. I often wonder if I will ever be loved in the way he loved me. The good and the bad, he genuinely liked me as a friend, and a person, and I felt the same for him. I accept our relationship is over, and appreciate I had love that I believe most people will never experience, but I fear I will never be loved again. I fear I will never be as happy as I was with him. Because he was once my everything. Our home, our life, our friendship, our kids, our business. Everything.
I have been dating. I am dating someone who is good and more gentle than I thought at first. But, he is mid-divorce after many years of marriage, and has his own Everything he is trying to disengage from, and it constantly reminds me of my own pain. We have been seeing each other for 10 months. It’s been quite a ride in that time. He wanted a relationship, then he didn’t, now he does. His soon to be ex wife was stalking/harassing me for a while; showing up at my house, yelling things at me in my driveway, texting me incessantly, telling blatant lies about me, chasing down my ex husband to bad mouth this man. This is a woman who set her husband’s clothes on fire and had him thrown in jail after he violated a restraining order she filed. She was apparently so afraid of him, she called him incessantly, invited him to dinner many times and threatens to keep his kids from him if he doesn’t give her more money. In all of this, I have kept my mouth shut for the most part. Even after her 52 texts in a row to me (over 2 or 3 days), threats of taking me to court multiple times (for what, I’m not quite sure) and the texts from his 12 year old daughter that I must be a horrible person (why, I’m not sure). For the record, the restraining order was thrown out, and he bought new clothes. Oh, and during this entire time, she has had a live-in boyfriend.
We have clearly had some challenges. He is integrated into my life completely, but it has been a challenge to get into his. I have yet to meet his family, who live in town. However, I am now getting invites to spend time with him and his friends, and that does make me happy. He also recently invited me up to his daughter’s gymnastics meet, which is a five hour drive away. I have never actually met her. He suggested that he let his ex-wife know that I will be traveling with him, so she will be prepared. Apparently, she can have a live in boyfriend, but if the girl’s father has a girlfriend, it’s “bad for the children.” I told him I would merely stop in at the all day event for only a few minutes, so his daughter isn’t distracted, from the nonsense her mother has fed her. My problem is clearly that there is a suggestion to get clearance from this woman. Restraining order, fire, jail, stalking….remember?
I have not been able to write, because I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how this situation has any energy from me. I don’t know how to have relationships like this. When things became too dysfunctional within my own immediate family, I bow out. I have such sure moments that this is not my truth. I am not living the life I am meant to. I am unsure at times if the love, joy and hope outweigh the WTF moments in my current relationship. Is it fair to my kids to let them see people like this? This is crazy stuff.
Yet, there is such goodness in this man. He genuinely cares about me. I know this. I know he has spent so many years in a severely dysfunctional relationship, it is all he knows. I see and feel him making herculean efforts to find healthy ways to communicate. He speaks of being healthy together and makes choices proving it is his intention to follow through with that goal. He is smart. Funny. Kind. Generous. Beautiful inside and out. And I love him. But then again, when I love, I love hard.
I have struggled to write, because once it’s in black and white, it’s real. My once charmed life is now moments of chaos and confusion, insecurity and fear. Not always, but they are definitely feelings of familiarity now. Perhaps this is how many relationships start at my age. We all have a history. But, if I am having such a hard time letting go of my past relationship, how can I expect him to? And am I up for more pain? My recent doctor’s visit showed that I have high levels of carbon dioxide. It was suggested that I become cognizant of taking deeper breaths. Unfortunately, It is virtually impossible to do while supporting the weight of an elephant.

Dear Mama (Run, Write, Love)

I had lunch with my mom today. I think she may have even enjoyed herself. The old days, I would think so and then only to learn later that I had upset her in some way. I use to say everything I was thinking to people I felt safe to do so with. I no longer do that – and if I do, I have learned not to (well practice it, anyway) take ownership of someone else’s reaction. Some may say I have grown up. I say I learned to shut my damn mouth. She and I have certainly come a long way.

Yesterday I found a picture of my parents on their wedding day and posted it on my Facebook page. They were so young, that they had to fly to Utah to get married – as it was the only state legal to do so in 1972. It is the only picture I own of my parents together and found it unexpectedly. I showed my mom the picture today. In the old days, she would have responded strangely. Perhaps in a way that made me feel that I was being manipulative. In all fairness, maybe as a young woman, I was unable to gauge her reaction accurately and that was my own unfounded interpretation. Either way, I found the picture yesterday, shared it with her today, as well as a couple of videos of my kiddos. It was all very casual. Maybe because I genuinely didn’t care about her reaction. As in, it was not the concern – not a I-don’t-care-stomp-stomp-slam “I didn’t care” reaction. Or maybe because she has reached a better understanding of who I am and realizes she can’t change me…? Either way, my intentions were not for a reaction. Maybe she felt that. Or maybe we both feel more comfortable in our own skin than we use to. Either way, we were cool- and that is cool.

Anyway, following our lunch, I started thinking about my mom and how I spent so much time not appreciating her strengths. Maybe she did the same with me. We could not be more different, she and I. In some ways, I think she had always desperately wanted for me to make different choices – as she was equally jealous that I was living the life she couldn’t, in some ways. For my part, I desperately wanted her approval and love, as all children want from their parents, as equally as I wanted to live my own life, on my terms. It’s a story as old as time.

Today, I feel it important to acknowledge my mother’s badass-ness, and that is really what this comes down to. My mother is smart. Ridiculously so. It’s interesting, because I tell my kids all the time (whose father is incredibly cerebral) that one is not born smart. A person must work for it. I believe this is true. However, on the other side of that argument is the fact that my mother’s father was freakishly brilliant. The man graduated high school at 14, and had his college degree at 17. I believe he worked at Boeing in Seattle as an engineer until his death (car accident) – in 1962, or near there. My mother was six, if I am remembering correctly.

Fast forward nine years, and my mother is knocked up by the high school football star, at 15. Not a great time to be a pregnant teen. Or two years later, a pregnant (again) and single young “woman”, with not even a high school education. Fast forward a few more years, the woman has college degrees in Biology and Chemistry, while raising two little brats. Bad. Ass.

My mother has her weaknesses, but damn, she is smart. Nurturing…maybe a stretch. I think I saw the woman cry twice in my life. I think I get that from her. I get my backbone from her. I like that shit. I have been in some predicaments in my time. My mother was sort of the blink-and-stare parent. Sometimes I would get a, “Well, you’ll be alright,” response. Maybe that’s really not a weakness. Maybe it wasn’t as easy as she made it seem. Maybe she was giving me some thick skin. Maybe she knew from my childhood, that I was certainly going to need it with the choices I was hell-bent on making, and by the experiences I had been exposed to.

Clearly, she made some big mistakes. Some that cannot be taken back. Who hasn’t? I have recently been able to appreciate her very liberal view on social issues. I was raised by a broke single woman in the 70’s, who chose a male dominated profession, which enabled her to pick herself up and ditch welfare. I can tell you the woman did not do this for herself. She is cheap as fuck – I mean financially wise, of course. Not really, I meant cheap as fuck in a really smart way. Anyway, I saw all of this happen. I remember attending some college classes with her, coloring at a desk, because she likely had no babysitter. I get stressed taking my kids to a doctor’s office sometimes! A college environment, are you kidding me? A young woman with a little brat in tow? From my recollection, this was during her post-graduate work at Oregon State. Bad. Ass.

Of course she was liberal in her social opinion. I have always gone against the grain in this department, as well. Thanks, mom! Thanks for at least opening my eyes to something other than going with what everyone else wants me to do. Ironically, it backfired a little, but hey, great job!

I have often wondered if anyone who has ever seen real struggle would ever choose a conservative social approach. I do know a few, but I don’t believe it’s the norm. However, I think that’s for another day, another blog entry. Which will likely happen.

In the words of Tupac – “Dear Mama, You Are Appreciated.”

In my own words – “Dear Mama, You Are A Badass.”

Clarity

I want a new dog. A black teacup poodle and I’m going to name her Oprah. I love Oprah. I mean I really love her. I am currently obsessed with her Sunday Soul Series on the OWN channel, and cannot think of anything specific that brought me to type this entry this morning, other than every time I watch her station, I feel like I am reconnecting with myself. Yes, I am a cliché. I am her target audience, and what in the hell is wrong with it, huh? Clearly I am a bit defensive here.

This past year has been hairy for me. I think I forgot who I was. Am. I have been apologizing for everything; for existing, really. I was looking to friends and lovers (yeah, it’s plural) to define me, to tell me that I’m okay or that I will be okay. Well fuck, I know who I am. I have been through some difficult times, and I have had to pick myself up by my bootstraps. Not my friends, not my boyfriends or husband. Me. Oprah sort of reminds me of this.

Now, some people may tell me (and some friends actually have) to take it to God, go to church, seek Him, find it in the Bible. As if finding something that speaks to me through any other outlet besides church is somehow blasphemy. If I weren’t so insulted, I would laugh hysterically, for many reasons. Generally these people have no concept of my beliefs or religious study, and frankly tend to be people who are new in their faith. I truly love this for them. Life is difficult, we all are just trying to get through it with the tools we have available to each of us. For me personally, I believe God speaks to us in our own language. Or in this case, through Oprah, who just happens to speak my language.

I use this example because I have a particular friend that seems to correct me every chance she gets about being grateful. Make sure I thank God. Ummm….OK, thanks, mom (?). I almost mentioned a recent breakthrough I truly felt, to my friend this morning, but I couldn’t stand to be corrected.

I recently ended a relationship because I finally realized that although I love this person, mentally and emotionally, I would be dragging this person through our journey together, everytime. I didn’t feel as though I could consistently give that kind energy to it. I still love this person, but have basically felt stunted – or that I would always be catching said person up to speed. Verbal communication patience is definitely not a strength Oprah gave me. I kid, I kid. Calm down.

I am not always good at explaining. Some of my best friends could easily attest to this. I have in fact, angered some friends because I say things regarding my feelings and when a friend cannot handle it, I have responded with “Sorry, but Take it or Leave it.” Being angry over my feelings does not change them, so I actually mean it. It took many years of therapy for me to deal with my thoughts, and accept my own feelings. Let me tell you, that shit is exhausting. Especially for someone like me. What I know is this; at the end of the day, I try and be incredibly tolerant, but I have boundaries and won’t apologize for them. If I kindly draw my line in the sand, I mean it. I have had to learn that it is usually a take it or leave it situation, when all is said and done. Boundaries should be respected, mutually. Or you just move on (this is where the leave it part comes in). A friend can accept those feelings or not. It really is as simple as it sounds. However, I have made a particular group of friends angry over this sentiment. Sigh.

Bringing me back around to my recent personal breakthrough – Clarity, if you will. Even a reminder, as it was something I already knew, but actually felt in my heart again. “Be clear in your intentions, and the universe will rise up to meet you,” -Oprah Winfrey. Damn, I love her. Have I mentioned that? Anyway, I really wanted to share this with my friend, but could not bring myself to do it, knowing I would likely be corrected. She would have missed the meaning and focused on the word “Universe” and how it should be “God” and how it was from Oprah, and therefore, likely closing her off from the intended message. Even typing this exhausts me a little. And considering writing is my preferred choice of any and all communication (I loathe phone conversations), one can imagine how conversing about this subject would throw me into a tailspin.

I have not been able to write in a year. Today, I felt the need to and the need to express my intentions clearly: I hope that God and the Universe and Oprah will help remind me to keep moving in the direction I clearly intend on going. I also hope that I can maintain the friendships I dearly love, while moving in said intended direction.

However, I am acutely aware that I, first and foremost, need to honor my own soul and if friendships are sacrificed by doing so, I will mourn the loss of them, and will always have love in my heart for them. But, we will all be just fine. Hopefully it will never come to that. Oh – and yeah, I used “hope” instead of “pray”. Go ahead and correct me, but you will have to get in line.

I fell in love with a young man on Venice Beach. He was sitting on his skateboard in front of a vintage typewriter, asking $6 for a poem on any subject. I gave him “Clarity” (again, looking everywhere for it, clearly) and he typed it out as I stood in front of him. It feels appropriate to add it here, as I have carried it with me for the past month. This took him about five minutes to type and I left with it, but went back to ask him to sign it, so was able to learn that his name is Jacob.

Clarity

It seems to
that I don’t
understand honest
clarity.

It’s not in those eyes.
Those iris swim
in opaque gel.

It’s not in those words
that get muddled
on their way
out.

It’s not in those hands
and certainly not
in the music that comes from
them.

But I seem to be doing just fine.
Dazed

like everyone else.

My Humps

My fever broke last night, after five days of sickness, three of which were spent in bed. Sometimes the flu feels like it’s endless. I mean how much can a person sleep? Apparently, quite a lot.

During my moments of lucidity, I had time to think, to cry, to be depressed and to be thankful. Not necessarily in that order. I did mention the fever, right? I mean, the people who know me, know that I’m not much of a crier. My middle son once asked me why he had never seen me cry. I told him that I didn’t know, but I really do. I think I feel like I never want to be “that girl”. You know the one…the over-emotional dramatically inclined girl – but yet sometimes,  I wish I were “that girl”. I think “that girl” gets sick less often, because she is able to ditch whatever she is holding in, onto others – or with her tears on a tissue, or pillow – wherever the crying girls leave that stuff. Maybe “that girl” is smarter than I give her credit for.

Either way, the past three days, I cried. A lot. I cried reading kind messages from my best friends, I cried watching movies that are generally not my cup of tea, I cried over my recent broken heart, and I cried over the knowledge that nothing is permanent. It was all very dramatic. Privately, of course.

This year has been a very difficult year for my family and me. There have been a lot of changes, which is uncommon for us. We lived in the same house for many years, had the same routine for many years, and had the same Christmas for many years. Until we didn’t. For the first time I can remember, I am truly looking forward to a New Year, and in some ways I was thankful for this flu. Even on Day Two of this flu, I knew I was thankful.  It felt like a necessary release of a lot of negativity that I have been stuffing down. Figuratively and Literally.

Somehow throughout the year, I have also managed to gain 25 pounds. This is unusual for me, as I have been a distance runner for a number of years. However, I have managed to pack it on.  I have added this on top of my things to feel weighted down (pun intended) with, emotionally.

Something changed for me, when my fever broke. Normally, I get out of my bed, check myself in the mirror and cringe a little.  I have been doing that for quite a while. Today, I woke up, feverless, looked in the mirror and felt grateful. Really, I don’t have any rolls. I carry my weight in my legs and my booty. My stomach stays flat. I mean, how lucky am I? I did a little booty dance, decided if I could still fit into my gorgeous wardrobe and  run at my normal pace with the extra luggage,  I would keep the junk in my trunk.

Besides the aesthetics of my big ass, I am quite grateful to be able to get out of bed, and make meals for my children who sustained on  cereal and cheese pizza for multiple, consecutive meals, for the first time in their young lives. You know what? We all are Ok. We are actually better than Ok. I mean, how lucky are we? I guess I just needed a reminder.

 

Ladies at The Abbey.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted….I guess I’ve just been busy with my family, friends and another writing project I’ve been enjoying working on in my free time. However, I find it once again, necessary to share my personal thoughts- and since a literary agent hasn’t called to ask me for my personal opinion on all things, I’m happy to find solace in my blog format (thanks Josh), and in my wonderful friends who have found themselves here out of boredom or kindness.

One of my facebook friends recently posted a link to The Abbey in West Hollywood. Many of you are familiar with this lovely establishment that I’ve been allowed to partake in some lovely and joyful evenings in. For those of you who don’t, it is a gay bar. A very fun and loud and dark and….did I mention fun and loud? Oh, and it’s mainly for the gays. Those of you who know me, know that I love the gays. For many reasons, really. I will get into that later….Anyway, this link was announcing that The Abbey would be banning all bachelorette parties. Meaning, those groups of screaming, drunk, obnoxious (not that there is anything wrong with those things – let’s face it…been there, done that, will do it again) eh…ladies – are eighty-sixed from sharing their joy within the walls of The Abbey. They say until gay marriage is passed, these woman do not get to celebrate their upcoming nuptials amongst those who do not have that choice.  I say Well Played, The Abbey.

The reason I find myself writing about this subject is because I cannot believe I have never thought about this issue. I consider myself an advocate – quite savvy in what is appropriate behavior in the gay community – although my favorite gay bestie has dropped the ball on my education a time or two (ahem… you know who you are), I am still ignorant enough to not see how this would affect the feelings of the people in the bar, besides obvious annoyance. Hello ladies….? You are happy to drag your drunk asses into a gay bar and party with the gay community, but how do you vote on the issue of gay marriage? For some reason, I don’t think it’s in favor, on statistics alone. Maybe that’s just the pessimist in me. Or maybe it’s from the idea that they could be so disrespectful as to celebrate in a gay bar. I mean, I love that place, but would never consider it as a venue for my bachelorette party. Although, truth be told, I’m not much of a Bachelorette Party kind of girl anyhow….Let’s forget that, though…

I have a friend whom I absolutely adore. She has many gay friends and believes in the right for gays to marry and yet doesn’t believe gay couples should have the right to adopt children because she – in her words –  is such a “child advocate”. Huh? Sister, if you are reading this, I love you and it is okay to have your opinion, and I would never sell you out. I also think that one day you will change your mind. Muah (she is also very sensitive). I bring this up because it all feels very hypocritical. How is it that we can still segregate this issue? How can we put such limitations and parameters on a lifestyle? I mean – I like you and have fun with you more than most people I know, buuut, I don’t think you are responsible, kind, funny, smart (or whatever criteria) enough to adopt children or choose a life partner and by the way – I get to decide for you because I’m soooo much smarter and I have a higher moral standing, obviously. Ugh.

Yes, I know this is not a new topic. It really just breaks my heart. I mentioned earlier that I would explain why I love the gays. There is a likely possibility that I am raising a child who will be gay. Or maybe not.  Maybe you are too, and maybe your child is too afraid of not being accepted so they hide it. Just maybe. Either way, I teach my kids now that they will get to choose who they marry. Yes, I know this isn’t true now. I believe that by the time they reach the age of marriage that it will be true. I really believe that.

I went to lunch with my mother yesterday (gasp), and I know it isn’t acceptable to compare homophobia to racism, but I’m going to. I’m sharing a discussion I had with my mother and it’s my blog, so I’m going to because it’s all the same fear and hate. Hate and fear. My mother pointed out that you cannot find a person today who will casually admit to racism and voting for segregation. Quite convenient, really. Yes, it’s a good thing, but basically, socially we have made it unacceptable to be racist. We are shocked that as a society, we once judged people by the color of their skin. I believe that by the time my children are in adulthood, they will be shocked that we once judged people by who they chose to love.

So ladies, take your drunk asses to the straight bar or to your friend’s house or wherever it is that you want to annoy everyone around you. I say, good for you. Just don’t take those drunk asses to the gay bars. It’s not effing cool. It’s rubbing your rights in the noses of the ones who don’t have ’em.

The Awkward Grasshopper

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve had so many thoughts that I’ve meant to type out, but alas, real life interferred with all of my “extra time” to write about it.

I’m currently training for a marathon. It’s been really interesting. I’m a really terrible “dieter” and find that if I don’t burn off some of my energy, I get quite moody. Reactive, specifically. Anyway, between those two issues, running seems to be a good fit for my personality.

I ran my first half marathon in September. It went really well, so I decided to take on the big 26.2 run. Currently, my long runs are 16-18 miles, and I’m doing okay with it. However, my body starts to fall apart on me if I don’t cross train. I hit the gym a few days a week, and recently joined….wait for it….Karate. Tae Kwon Do, specifically.

Let’s be honest. Karate is not cool. Unless you are a blackbelt, of course. Then, and only then, are you cool. Which, I’m not. I’m the 36 year old lady in the back of the class in stark white. Not. Cool. However, my hubby has studied another form of karate in the past, and really enjoyed it. He has talked about going back for years, and especially since our son has joined, but isn’t the kind of person to go out of his way to do something that doesn’t include his family, unless encouraged. Encouraged only by me jumping on the Not -Cool karate bandwagon with him.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve come to enjoy it a bit. My husband gets almost giddy before class, which of course, makes me happy. I’m learning how to take a punch and how to throw a few, and who doesn’t want that? I’ve also filled the cross training need in my marathon training. However, in over a month, I’ve told only two friends of this venture. Not cool, remember?

I’m a big Facebook junkie. It’s basically my socializing on most days. Prior to joining karate, my instructor was my Facebook friend. Like my real life, I am quite picky about who my friends are. Every so often, I “clean Facebook house”…i.e., unfriend people I don’t really speak with, or don’t remember clearly, even though 48 of my high school friends are common friends with that person. Basically, if I have a friend on Facebook, it’s by no means, to have a high number of “friends”. I say this because my Karate instructor is my friend. Well, was my friend. Until last week….

My hubby and I (the geeky white belts) were bowing out after class last week, when my instructor says to me (from across the studio- or dojo), “Hey, Sarah, I’m going to have to unfriend you on Facebook, because I’m just not suppose to be friends with my students.” Uh….awkward, as I’m standing with all of the other students, who obviously witnessed the awkwardness. Did you hear that? Yeah, it was a pin dropping. Sweet.

Yes, some of you may not think that this is a big deal. Maybe even most of you. Well, good for you. You are more evolved than I. For me, the geeky white belt, who was already learning humility through just being in class, being shunned by the 23 year old karate instructor in front of the other students was well, too much.

The hubby looks at me, I look at him. I say, “Uh…Ok.” I mean, what am I suppose to say? I think he – the instructor- was trying to make it casual. I really do. Maybe  he was trying to follow the rules and be professional, and from his perspective, could help him to be more respected by his students. Albeit, he was misguided in his attempt. There is also the possibility that he  doesn’t like me. Either way, my ego was in a bad state.

The hubby and I left. I discussed the awkwardness of the situation with my husband, who laughed uncomfortably, and then reminded me that the instructor was young. A very good point. Yet, I still couldn’t shake it. So, I immediately went home and unfriended him with a private message, kindly explaining how his open discussion make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. He called the next day. He told me that although the rule could be taken into more of a “gray area” context, because it was a rule specifically designed for underage students, for him, it was a black or white issue. Okay, then. Still awkward. At this point, I’m feeling really uncool. Apparently my ego is larger than I realized. Wow.

I went to class tonight. I listened politely as my instructor talked (again) about his friend’s new baby, and when he turned to ask me where my “partner in crime” was. My response was “not here, sir”. Black or white. I figured it was a better response than “none of your business.” Yes, I am 12, and a 12 year old with a bruised ego is not cool either.

The Sins of Our Fathers

Tonight was a gift. It was a night that also broke my heart in some ways.  I had no intentions of writing about this for possibly a long time, if ever. However, tonight it feels necessary. I went to a party tonight….

First, I think you need the backstory…

My mother was 17 when she had me. I have an older brother. She was 15 when she had him. I feel like I grew up with my mother, somewhat. I watched it happen, anyway.

My parents divorced soon after her pregnancy with me. I had limited contact with my biological father throughout my childhood. I may have seen him 5 times or so, until I moved out on my own – which was when I was 17. We grew up poor through my youngest years. My father was one of those guys that had a ton of potential. High School football star, super handsome, lots of charisma. Unfortunately, he was also one of those guys that, brutally speaking, probably peaked then, too. With no financial help from my father, my mother chose to go to college, when she realized that she couldn’t support my brother and me on a minimum wage job and welfare, very successfully. This was the best thing my mother ever did for herself and for us. I do not want to discredit her accomplishment. I do remember the welfare days and I remember the days after she got her job as a chemist. They were very different times.

My mother remarried when I was in the 5th grade. She met him at her new job. I must have been in the 2nd grade when he moved in. My mother has always needed a man to define her. I know that now. So, my stepfather…I loved him, and called him Dad. Except that, he had a severe drinking problem, and turns out, was a child molester. Specifically speaking, molested Me. I can’t tell you the exact year it started. I can tell you that I was wearing white panties that had the word “WEDNESDAY” printed on them, the first time it happened. I can tell you that I pretended to be asleep throughout the whole episode. I can tell you that I didn’t want to tell my mom because she had such a hard time in her life, and I felt like I couldn’t be the one to take away the happiness she had found in him. My mother’s role had always been “the one who had such a hard time as a single mother.” And she did have a hard time. I knew at that age, that I didn’t want to put her back in that role. She needed him. From my perspective, anyway.

The mind is a very strange thing. I can say that it continued unpredictably, and to the point that I slept backward on my bed even through my early adult years, out of habit. If he came in at night, it would give me a little extra time if he couldn’t spot me easily in bed. It would give me a chance to jump out of bed and hurry to the bathroom to throw him off. He wasn’t violent, and I think he must have known I wouldn’t tell, although it was never discussed. So,  I chose to forget it all. I told myself it didn’t happen. My mom deserved happiness.  There were symptoms, though. I would wake up in the bathtub in the middle of the night, fully clothed. Sometimes, I would wet the bed.  This is painful for me to type, but I remember that  I couldn’t wipe myself after peeing on occassion, because it hurt too badly.  

My stepfather lived with us until my sophomore year in high school. He hadn’t touched me in years. Not since Elementary School. It was much easier to forget, as time went by, or maybe just to compartmentalize.  He was the man that made my favorite dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread, and taught me to drive his Chevy Sprint, and picked me up whenever I needed a ride. He was my Dad. The only one I ever knew.

The week he moved out, I told my mom. I sobbed like I had never sobbed in my life. I started crying one night after my mom and my brother had gone to bed. I couldn’t stop and so I went and sat on the top of the staircase, next to her bedroom, hoping she would hear me. I couldn’t bring myself to just go in and tell her what I had chosen to forget for so many years. She did hear me and she did come out. I really don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t. I was a mess. I could hardly get my words out. Years of supressing and trying so hard to forget wasn’t easy to verbalize.  I wasn’t able to tell her exactly what he had done, but somehow, I was able to get my point across. My mother’s words to me were, ” I had some suspicions. ” At the time, I felt validated and relieved. As an adult with my own children, I saw my mother’s brokeness.

I begged her not to tell. I needed to think about everything. I was confused and sad about my dad leaving, which was confusing in itself. How could I not know how to feel? More confusing, I  kept having a repeat and random thought about him. A memory of him taking so many pictures of a little girl who had come over to swim with her parents. Why was nobody stopping him? Doesn’t anyone see how strange his behavior is? Me slamming the door into the house in the midst of these new friends visiting. Seemingly, for no reason. My mind was willing me to let these thoughts out. I kept remembering random things.I was unable to think about one specific thing or to think clearly. Just so many memories literally flooding at me. I had to have some time to think and examine my thoughts.

I think when emotional trauma occurs, it doesn’t have to define a person, but it does need a release. If the wound isn’t opened up and cleaned, it festers and seems to manifest itself in anyway that it can find release. I know that now, too.

The next day, I was home alone. The doorbell rang and there he was, standing on our doorstep. I remember that it felt as if 1000 years had gone by and I no longer knew him, even though the week before, I had been calling him Dad. In that instant, I knew she had told him, and I had to look him in the eye and acknowledge what we both had pretended never happened, for so long. I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t prepared.

I had my dog in my arms. She was a little terrier that had actually been his dog. I didn’t think she had liked me much, but I knew if I didn’t hold her, she would run outside. Actually, she had been his and my moms dog, and yet in that moment, she growled and barked at him. That little stinker growled and barked at him. Ha! One for the home team! I loved her from that moment on.

While I was standing on the inside of the front door of the house, and he on the outside, my heart was racing and my mouth immediately felt dry. I was afraid to talk, and I remember shaking. I was scared and confused. There was my dad, and I knew why he was there. In that confrontation, he didn’t blatantly deny anything, specifically. He said that  he heard what I told my mom, and he told me that he would never hurt me and that he loved me. I looked him in the eye, and at my 15 year old self, although unprepared emotionally, said, “you and I both know what you did, and I loved you too. ” I closed the door and those were that last words I said to him, until many years later when my mother, yet again, needed my strong personality to fight another battle for her. That however, is another story.

My mother’s and my relationship has been strained from this point on in my life. This was the defining moment in our relationship for me. My trust was broken and in that moment, I transferred all of my hurt and betrayal from this man onto the person who should have protected me. My mother.  She of course, denied telling him. I know that she reached out to him again, after this. I also know that she tried to make lunch plans with him, without me knowing, and in her brokeness is not able to acknowledge her part in the dysfunction.

I truly have moved on. I know that molestation occurs so disgustingly frequently, that it cannot define me. I am 1 in 4. I am not “special”. I am not uncommon. I processed it –  I did drugs. I slept with the bad boys. Too many of them. I picked an abusive boyfriend. I picked a healthy boyfriend, I was too broken for. I hated my mom. Finally, I focused on me, and thought about what I wanted. Then, I picked a man who was unfamiliar. Not my normal type. He has been good for me, patient with me, and we have learned from each other. We had kids, and that’s when it all resurfaced. When I held my first son in my arms, I could not imagine not fighting for him. Doing whatever I could to protect him. It was instant for me and has not lessened.

In the months following my son’s birth, I began to see the dysfunction of my experience more clearly. So, I sought therapy for the anger toward my mother, as it seemed to be growing. I would not allow her to have my son to stay the night with her and her new husband. I did not feel I could trust her. I knew that if she could not protect me, she could not protect my son. If something happened, would I ever learn about it? So, I chose to do my job as a mother and put his interest first, and not worry about what she thought. It caused some problems, though. However, I also knew that I had to seek help.  My mother and I were in one of our sick cycles of anger and resentment. It felt like it was leaking into my healthy relationships. Eventually, I ultimately had to let our relationship go. I do have polite conversations with her a few times a year, following a 4 year break, and that is just fine with me. It is a healthy balance for me, and it has taken me a long time to get here. I am fiercely protective of my children and my attempt to try and be as healthy as I can. It’s not an easy battle for me.

Only a handful of friends know this about me. I truly do not let this define me, and when I use to try and talk about it with my mother, she would become very angry with me. She felt like I shouldn’t discuss it and that I should just get over it. I just wanted her to hear what happened. She was not interested, and it made her very uncomfortable. Me too, frankly, but my wound needed to be exposed so that it could begin to heal, for lack of better explanation. She had tried to help me when I was 16, when she handed me a note that had 779-HELP written on it. That was that for her.

Some things in your life do not have to define you, but they do change the core of who you are. I believe this. I walked around angry for many many years, I have trust issues. Who doesn’t? There is always a story there, though. I have been changed by my experience. The trajectory of my life was changed and I am forever aware of certain things. I don’t share this with people, normally. It is just something that has happened, now. However, I cannot carry any shame in it anymore. I also can’t  apologize for it having happened to me. This topic is a cancer that nobody is treating. Child Molesters are all someone’s husband, father, uncle, best friend, cousin, neighbor, son. Nobody wants to talk about it.

The man that I had called my dad died 3 months ago. He drank himself to death. His internal organs shut down, basically. I saw it in the paper and I felt sad. This bothered my husband, who felt protective, of course. He couldn’t understand why I would feel anything toward him. A molester grooms his victim. We have all heard it. It’s true and it is complex. Mainly, I just felt sad because I wondered how anyone could waste their life to that degree. He poisoned himself to the point that his organs shut down. Dead at 52. I always wondered what came first. Did he drink to forget, or was he so drunk, that he could pretend he didn’t do it afterward? The other part of me had always wished to see him again. Not for an angry confrontation, but more of a peaceful moment that I had always fantasized about. The moment that I would make eye contact, hold my head up high, prance my beautiful, strong family through his sight. Sort of a “fuck you, you couldn’t break me, and you did not write my story.” Childish, I know.

So, tonight, I went to a party. There were 2 people there that brought this story full circle for me. My stepfather’s brother and my biological father. I enjoyed myself at the party in sort of a detached way. I am polite to people who don’t mean anything to me. That sounds like an angry statement, but it really is not. I experienced my father, once again, very intoxicated, teary-eyed, talking about “paying for his mistakes” with his children. Awkwardly hugging and kissing me, saying “I love you so much, baby girl”. Me, trying to comfort him in his brokeness, telling him that it’s okay. He, telling me how proud he is of me for pulling my life together. Parental pride should make you feel something. It doesn’t for me, sadly. I appreciate it as a compliment from a friendly aquaintance, and that is okay. The past is the past. If we had this scene happen once or twice, then fine, Unfortunately, it happens the one or two times I see him annually. It’s very awkward, and I politely listen. I believe people can pull themselves together at anytime. I hope this for him.

As for my stepfather’s brother. Big Sigh. I know from our conversations tonight, that he was aware of what his brother had done. I did not hide in my shame. I also did not come across as angry. It was also not the sole focus in our conversation. It has actually become more of a fact for me. For example, I learned to ride a bike when I was 4. I did gymnastic for many years when I was young. I was molested by my stepfather. I enjoy snowboarding and long distance running. Polite detachment. It is what I have worked very hard to succeed in, and I’m working on it everyday.

The party was a gift. I was able to recognize how far I have come. I did not need anyone to point it out, or notice it. I felt it. Or rather, I didn’t. It also made me sad, as it is not often I am reminded so blatantly of people who did break my heart.

At the end of the night, my husband came by, and I saw him come in the door. In the moment I saw him, I physically felt a weight lift from my chest, that I didn’t know was there.  It was another reminder of how far I’ve come.

The Lie

I did it. I told my 7 year old that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy were just things we believed in and hoped for, but weren’t exactly real. It was awful. First, I want to say that from the time he was born, I debated with my husband, on whether or not we should lie to our children about this topic.  It truly bothered me. My husband, who had survived two older boys said that it was fine to believe in things that weren’t real, and that we would confess when the time was right. He made it sound so simple. The lie part of it was. Well, when you start with a lie, and continue that lie for years, when exactly, is the time right? Never, actually.

I have some friends, who have always told their children that these characters of certain holidays, and celebrations, didn’t exist. They’ve been truthful from the beginning, while explaining that it was a discussion that should only be held within their family, because most kids were lied to. Although, I’m sure they didn’t exactly phrase it like that. That is probably my own guilt talking.

I remember the day I found out it was all a lie. I was washing dishes. My older  brother was drying. I was in the second grade, and he in the fourth. He blew the whistle, not only on my mother’s horrific lies, but he also chose to hit me with a twofer – the truth on how babies were made. What a shock. My mom confirmed the truth, and although I was always grateful for my brother, as I didn’t want to be the only second grader walking around believing in untruths, I was also heartbroken. It should have been my mom, right? Although, how could she know when this traumatic event/right of passage would occur for me? When exactly is the right time?

You may think I’m being a bit dramatic, but to see my baby realize that I was speaking the truth, and to laugh amidst the shock, and follow it up with some tears and real sadness, was awful. He needed details. Where do the teeth go? Let me see them. Who hides the Easter eggs? Who eats the cookies we leave out for Santa? Who is that guy in the picture that looks like Santa? Where do my letters go that I send to the North Pole? Inside I’m thinking, “wow, we really do create an extensive lie just for our own enjoyment.” Yes, we see the joy on our children’s faces, when we speak of Santa and his reindeer. As if they would only have joy for the Christmas Holiday if they believed in a fictitious invisible man and his flying animals? Then, when we see that they are putting things together, we create a bigger lie, only to eventually traumatize them by telling them that for 7 years, they were lied to. Awesome.

I know I could have waited a few more Christmas seasons. However, it was really bothering me. It was important to me that he hear it from me. Very important. I would have felt terrible if he discovered the truth on the playground. It was my lie, and I was going to own up to it, dammit. So, I took a random opportunity, and had the talk. I started with a hint at the possiblity that Santa and The Tooth Fairy may not exist. I also suggested that it was possible that it was a belief that makes us feel good, and threw in a few “using our imagination” terms and watched him process it. It took a good 10 minutes of letting him work it out. Then I held him and talked about it some more while he cried.

Then, after those 10 minutes, he realized something, and had a change of heart. He realized that he had a one-up on his brothers. He had grown-up knowledge that his little brothers did not,  and he couldn’t wait to use it. He asked if he could help wrap the “Santa” presents and hide the Easter eggs for his younger brothers for the upcoming holidays. Let the lies commence. Awesome.

2 Earrings and a Fat Coat

I’ve had some great responses to my blog adventure, including some great support from friends, old and new, and  as well as some questions – “what is it exactly that you’re doing?” to which, I have no response for. If I could only answer that one question – in every aspect of my life, actually. I have no idea. What is it that I’m doing? Not a friggen clue.

Today was one of those days that was made of up the things that make up most of my days. Kids, dentist appointment, work, friends, lessons for the kids, doctor appointment for the sick kids, etc…  I had a defining moment, however. It was in regards to my hubby.

A good friend took me out to lunch today, as a belated birthday present. Prior to lunch, we had a quick shopping expedition, where I mentioned that I’m thinking I would suggest to my hubby that he get both of his ears pierced and wear diamonds – not real, as he would lose them – in each ear. She was laughing, as I assume many people would. I’m not sure even why I find this attractive, nor do I know if it would look so hot on my husband, but it has recently crossed my mind. This friend was laughing because my husband is a professional, and the double diamond earring look may not work for him. She also said she may have to think on the idea. We were both laughing, and I told her that my husband would do it if I really wanted him to. My friend responded with something like, ” Of course he would. We know how easy you have it with him,” or ” We know he would. If only we all had it as easy as you.” This was not a sarcastic or snide remark. It’s the truth. My husband can be a real Pain in the Ass. Like most human men – or like most humans, for that matter. He also would bend over backwards to make me happy. It was not just a defining moment, I guess, but a reminder of the man I married. Although, the double diamond earring debate is still on, I appreciated the light my friend shone on my beautiful (most of the time) partner in life.

My middle child, who I will now refer to as Bugs, had a great day today. He was “on”, and frankly, I appreciate those days, and give him lots of praise for them. However, I experienced a moment that I was reminded to think less like a mom and appreciate the humor in who he is. We had just arrived at the stables where the boys take their riding lessons. My oldest had been out riding for the first half of the lesson, so it was time for Bugs to get ready, which included socks, riding boots, helmet and warm coat. All while standing in the back of our vehicle because of the heavy rainfall outside. He finishes and tells me he’s ready. I tell him he needs to put on his warm coat. He tells me he doesn’t want to wear his coat because it makes him look sooo fat. First of all, he’s 5. Secondly, the kid is in fact, underweight. His 15 month old brother weighs just 9 pounds less than he does, and this isn’t because Bugs undereats. In fact, he’s my best eater. It’s just the way his body is, and his freakishly fast metabolic rate. Thirdly, we aren’t the family that talks about being “fat”. I have always been cognizant of body image that I project and if I’m feeling “fat”, the kids won’t hear it. So, after I analyzed his comment and not only took the “how am I responsible for this” out of the equation, while simutaneously red flagging it for something to watch out for, I looked at it for what it was. Ridiculous. So, I started laughing. I know, if you are reading this and don’t know me, you may be concerned for my child’s self-worth. Or that he may have an eating disorder at 5 – which is so hilarious in itself, that I won’t even explain either too much. However, I will say, I’m trying very hard to make sure he grows up with all the stuff that helps in those departments.

Having kids is a constant reminder for me, that everyone is different, because my 3 boys couldn’t be more different. I so often am trying to get them to conform to so many things. Manners, politeness, education, expectations, etc…, that I often forget that they are their own little selves. I am not their only teacher, and I can only control the words and sights in my home. Bugs thinks high heels are slimming, too, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t teach him this.

First of all…

I guess I’ve always thought about blogging. I wanted a record of certain things. Maybe I also wanted a cathartic release of my feelings. I, like many people, have a certain habit of holding thoughts in a and then releasing them at inappropriate times – i.e., at the flaky painter, or the employee who doesn’t show up to work. No, I don’t yell and scream at them, but I call them out. Brutally. I know it’s not healthy. I also know it isn’t kind. I believe that as humans, we have a certain obligation to evolve. Some of us get stuck. I would like very much not to. There have been many places in my personal journey that if I were to get stuck at, it would leave me a blubbering pile of flesh and bones, curled up on the floor in the fetal position. Hard to raise kids like that. Or find happiness. No thanks.

Sooo….here we are.

I’m 36 years old and have been married for 9 years. I have 3 amazing boys who are my heart. I don’t always do the right thing for them, but I try my hardest to do better when I eff up. I’m fairly structured with my kids, as I didn’t have much of that growing up. Not cuckoo structured – but, I’m guessing those cuckoo moms don’t really think they’re cuckoo structured either. Feed the boys healthy food. Organic when convenient, small sweet daily. I guess my philosophy is everything in moderation. Don’t go crazy here, “everything” doesn’t literally mean “everything”.

I struggle with the changes that occur with my boys so quickly. Their ages are 7, 5, and 15 months ; Reef, Ripp Kai, and Wilder, respectively. My 7 year year old is very literal. Like his dad. Very science oriented. He has to be pushed to do physical sports. Yes, we push. Let me just add that he has a great time once he’s up and moving, and usually has to be pushed to stop, as well. Know thy children. We aren’t a big sports oriented family, but do push individual sports. Reef  has been riding horses and doing gymnastics for 3 years and karate for almost a year. Ripp Kai, gymnastics for 3 years and horseback riding on the occassion he feels up to it. He is much more physical, so I worry less about his physical foundation, if you will. They both also have been skiing since they were 3.

Ripp Kai is my character. He is very dramatic and emotional. He is also the kid that can make me laugh. I mean truly laugh. He has always had a love for dresses and anything traditionally girl-oriented. I mean, always. For his 2nd birthday, he wanted a baby stroller in pink. Saw it, and fell in love with it.  I am fiercely protective of him and feel passionate about allowing him to be who he is, without squashing his spirit. He is also aware that many people will be cruel because they think he should be who THEY want him to be. When he is home, he is exactly who he wants to be. I am his mother. My job is to love him and nurture the man he will become. Whoever that is.

Wilder is the baby. He’s got a very sweet spirit and is the seperation anxiety kid. Not terribly, but because my first 2 were –  and still are – mama’s boys, I just had only experienced the “okay, see ya later, mom” attitude. So, Wi has the label of seperation anxiety kid. Of course we don’t tell him this. I think it may be because I was home full time with my older boys, so getting away from me on occassion was fun. Whereas Wilder started having a sitter 3 days a week after he turned a year old. Or, maybe they just are who they are.  Wilder is the snuggler and seriously very smart. Yes, all mothers think this, but he knows about 10 words in sign language,  on top of his regular words. He can escape through the baby gates and the front door already. Scared me so much, I felt nauseous. As I said, I find it difficult to keep up with their constant evolution.

As for the hubby, he is an amazing man who has been very patient with my own personal evolution. I like to say I have with him, as well. Just like any relationship, I guess.  Although, I think I was a little more broken than he was. He was just more exposed. Which to me, says mine was buried just a bit deeper. That is for another time, however. Kevin is a professional who owns his own business, and I manage his office. Not my favorite job, I might add, although, I’m grateful for work.  Again, another time.

I’m excited to see how my own personal writing evolves and to be able to look back on these entries. Now, it’s time to take the kids to the movie I promised them.