And So It Begins…

Oh Happy Day… – Joan Baez 1971.  Today started with purpose, it is ending with greatness, which leaves me singing!  Today was more than I could have imagined.  The past several months have been about discovery, understanding, forgiving and healing.  I was left incapacitated and unable to function for much of this time.  The past several weeks, I have improved greatly; thanks to good friends, prayer and finally understanding a bit (well, a lot) more about myself!  Being kind to myself and treating myself with love and forgiveness has played a huge role.  We all deserve to be loved and treated with the utmost kindness, especially from ourselves!  This is something I have never been very good at.  I have viewed myself in a negative light for so many years, because that’s what I was taught, that it was hard to see myself in that way.

Today, I can say things are very different and I love myself as much as I love so many others; and for those of you that know me, you know that I am a bleeding heart and will give until I have nothing else to give.  I cannot take credit for this revelation.  I have prayed, I have trusted God, I have trusted professionals and friends and I have wound up in an amazing place.  Quite possibly the best place I have been in at least ten years.  I can say, that even with the losses I have had in the past year and especially couple of months, I am HAPPY.  Do you have any idea how it feels to say that?  I AM HAPPY!!  I haven’t been able to honestly say that in years.  My heart is full.  I have an amazing support system, an amazing family and the Lord in my heart which makes all of the difference in the world.  I have developed so many new friends in the past year and have been able to do so many incredible new things I always dreamed of doing. I am in love with my new life!!  A new home, a new job and a bright future.  What more could a girl with my past ask for?  What more could any woman ask for??  Nothing.  I literally want for nothing right now as I sit here with a big smile on my face, alone, typing these few short words. I believe in my abilities.  I know that I am a strong, capable woman with a great heart and work ethic.  I secured an amazing new job; I provide for myself and my daughter and that is a huge feat.  I have to say that I am proud of myself.  That is another thing that isn’t easy for me to say…but I say it with full confidence.

I normally do a much longer and much more serious topic, but tonight – I just simply wanted to say what a great, happy day I had and I thank God for every moment of the season I am entering!!  Keep the faith friends, you can turn your life into something great too, if you haven’t already!!  It’s within you, I promise!!  God bless and good night!!

Instability, displacement. Blessing, disaster, or a source of strength?

“Stop leaving and you will arrive.  Stop searching and you will see.  Stop running away and you will be found.”  -Unknown

It is sometimes hard to really determine what affect our past has on our current day life and relationships. If you really stop and consider it, did your upbringing guide you to strength and stability, insecurity and instability, or someplace in the middle?  I believe that we often just go through the motions of life as we grow and don’t realize the impact and work on the shortcomings that we may have developed.  This is the main reason for my blog, my months (so far) in therapy and so many of the changes taking place in my life now.  I am understanding myself better than I ever have and realizing, as I have stated in multiple other blogs, why I am the way I am and understanding many of my fears.

I believe I have mentioned before that throughout my life we moved a lot and rarely stayed in one place.  This created more issues for me than I ever realized.  It made social skills a challenge, trusting people has never been a strong point to this day.  It is hard to walk into a room and believe that you belong when you are constantly on the move and having to make new friends everywhere you go.  If you read my original blog, you know – I was born in Corpus Christi, TX, was adopted there and at 3 years old moved to Mountain Grove,  MO.  I won’t take through every single move I went through, that would be incredibly boring!!  BUT, I can tell you that in the 17 years I lived at home I lived in 10 houses (that I can remember at the moment) as well as in our camp trailer or in our van for many months and 2 additional locations as well as a lot of camp sites and road time.  My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools, living in 2 different states!  That year stands out for me as the hardest year of my younger years for obvious reasons, and more that will come out at a later date.  It’s so hard being the “new girl” anyway, that being the new girl in the capacity in which i was, was extremely difficult.  What do I mean by “in that capacity that I was”, right??

Well let me back up just a bit and I will explain a bit.  At 8 years old, I was a pretty well adjusted kid living in Blue Springs, MO, attending the 4th grade local elementary school, not fully aware of how abnormal and inappropriate my life was.  I knew my life was a bit crazy and things were not the same as for most others, but as I have mentioned before, I was too young to fully understand the depth of what was taking place and what the lasting affects would be.  There were a lot of things going on inside of my household that many would not believe or comprehend, things that people might say was a tall tale or a wild imagination.  Many of the things I don’t fully understand to this day myself; and yet I lived it!   While many of you may think that what I sometimes post is just family drama or dirty laundry that should be kept within the family confines, it is my story that I am sure somebody relates to.  I tell you in such detail what took place in my life because I believe that to understand me and my story, you have to know details and what feelings were inside me.  You cannot put yourself in my shoes and understand if you don’t know the feelings I had and I truly want people to understand and feel what I experienced.  So know, this is very personal and graphic for a reason.

The well adjusted kid disappeared at 8 when my somewhat normal life came to a screeching halt.  Craziness escalated when my brother Brian got married.  He had married someone that he didn’t know well enough to marry and it didn’t take long for this to become a disaster.  This quickly caught up to him and he realized he shouldn’t have married her.  I mentioned before that my dad was my hero, but Brian was my idol.  I loved him so much, I idolized him.  He was the most handsome big brother, he was cool, he had the prettiest girlfriends and I admired him so much!  And most importantly, he loved me and he protected me.  He got me out of the house when he could, he bought me things I wouldn’t otherwise get; he took care of me the best he could from a distance, since he didn’t live with us.  That year, he bought me a teddy bear that at 8 years old, was the same size as me.  I remember sleeping with this thing on top of my body because it was just too big to cuddle, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of it.  That was the coolest thing I had ever received, and today, one of my best childhood memories.  He will never know how much that bear meant to me.

Anyway…how this ties to my topic today – instability and displacement.  Brian had married and had a child with a woman that was not who or what she claimed to be.  He was so trusting and such a loving soul; he believed her, he loved her, he married her and had a child with her.  He quickly found out that she was not someone to be trusted and she was also a child abuser, abusing their new born son, my nephew Willie.  Willie was the sweetest and most handsome infant I had seen!  I loved my nephew an incredible amount and so did my entire family.  Still wondering how this applies to topic I’m sure, but keep reading and you’ll understand this sets the stage for the displacement from my home.  My sister-in-law was a very unstable young girl and severely misled my brother.  She had lied about her age, her situation and multiple other things; and she did not want the baby she had just delivered.  She called my brother at work daily, saying the baby wouldn’t stop crying so he would come home.  After some months of him bringing the baby to our house so he could go back to work, very concerning things were appearing.  Willie was crying uncontrollably at our house on a regular basis which was abnormal, after examining his body, my mom found little pin holes in his fat creases.  Having the heart he did, Brian struggled with believing his wife would do anything to harm their child and tried to figure things out – how to keep his wife happy but protect his child.  When the crying worsened, it was clear he was in pain and doctor visits determined his esophagus was burned and tests ensued to determine cause.  It was confirmed that she was sticking him with pins to make him cry and she was putting lye acid in his vitamins which was the cause of the burned throat and the stomach pains he was having.  Ultimately, my brother clearly couldn’t tolerate the abuse and made the hard but only decision he could, and took the baby and left her.  He had to find help and my parents were readily available.  He didn’t want to divorce her yet, he still wanted to understand.  Unfortunately, as he began to understand there was no option but to move toward ending their marriage and cut off all contact.  It was an incredibly difficult and tumultuous break up.  The cops were called several times for disturbing the peace and as a civil escort when she was granted visitation rights with the baby.  This was a devastating time for my family, although I had no idea how deep it would go.

I know this sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie and I have often joked about my life being like a movie.  The sad truth is, it’s not a joke.  My life truly has very much resembled a messed up movie with multiple crazy family members!  But guess what!!  That was my REAL life!  That’s the cards some of us were dealt and that makes it hard to handle but we have no choice but to handle or crumble.  I’m not a crumbler, there fore it may not have always been easy, but I handled it!  Until the past year, when I began falling apart and looking at why.

Now, this is the segway back to topic and into  our next and most significant move.  Because of the craziness happening with the baby being poisoned and his health declining, the baby’s life was in danger.  The courts wouldn’t suspend visitation rights and my brother and parents feared that one more visit with her and Willie could be dead.  Nobody was willing to take that risk, we loved him too much.  That week, we spent the week packing our home into a storage unit, and putting only what we absolutely needed to live into the van.  Leaving behind my life-size teddy bear was the hardest thing I had to do to date in my short 8 years.  While I knew we were having a serious situation, I was still a child and that bear was my favorite thing on earth.  It was symbolic of my brother’s pure love for me which was so different than the perverted and disgusting lust that my other brother had.  Two very different types of affection, one is NOT love.  In any case, my heart was broken and my parents PROMISED me I would get him (the bear) back, along with all of my toys, my bedroom and our home for that matter.  For the record, I never saw the bear or anything else including our home, again.  We packed what we needed in our van in the night and went on the run.  At this point we were fugitives of justice, considered kidnappers with a baby.

There were 5 of us in the van:  Dad, Mom, Willie (baby), Andrew (abusive brother) and me.  This series of events over the next couple of years stands out as some of the roughest times I have ever been through in my life.  I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t know at 8 years old what “running from the law” meant or how serious the repercussions would be!  I wish I had never learned, but eventually I did.

The only positive thing about this period of my life is that with all of the distractions and the fact that we were living in our van, on the road, there was very little opportunity for my brother to bother me with his perversion.  This allowed me to relax a little bit and try to be a kid, but I didn’t really know how to any more.

After some weeks in the van (I’m not really sure how long), on the road traveling cross country to many states and stops, we landed in Saucier, MS where my parents had some friends from when they lived in Corpus Christi who were willing to help.  We stayed on their property in a camp trailer for a short time, until we found a tiny 2 bedroom house for the 5 of us to rent.  I started school again, being my second school in the 4th grade.  The insanity of the situation we called life kept me from being able to play with friends after school or have sleep overs, so I didn’t exactly have many friends.  My parents fought too much to have anybody over anyway…it would have been mortifying for anyone to witness that.  Then, some normalcy – I got to join a basketball team, my first sport ever!  I was so excited!!  My parents came to my first game, amidst a fight, and my mom made such a horrible scene at the game that I never went back.  As you can imagine, I was incredibly uncomfortable and nervous ALL of the time.  I also had developed what, at the time they called “nervous stomach”, which kept me in pain a lot of the time.  It was a long time before I actually got to go the doctor to find out why my stomach was hurting me all the time and I was the least of my parents concern.  Ultimately I got some medication that calmed my intestines and helped the pain so I could relax as much as possible, which still wasn’t a lot.

When I think today about some of these things it blows my mind that this was my life.  So while I have not had an easy storybook life, I have had built up a lot of strength, understanding and empathy for others.  This part of my story is long from over, and I will continue in another post.  For today, my focus was to discuss instability and displacement and how it affected me.  My crazy life has offered me so many advantages and many disadvantages; I mentioned a couple above.  Feeling the comfort of a home is critical to me.  For the past year and a half, my daughter and I had been sharing a house with my friend which allowed me to get bills paid off, relax a little bit financially, but also gave me a very unsettling sense of displacement because it wasn’t mine.  I wasn’t providing for myself fully.  Last weekend I moved my daughter and myself into a new home.  I have a sense of security again that I have been missing for the past year.  I couldn’t be happier!  It is very important for me to be in control of my life now because I had no control growing up.  I have been dependent on someone else for my happiness for a lot of my life, sadly.  I admit I am very much a codependent.  My self confidence has been low most of my life, but I am raising it.  Now, through so much work in my life, I am learning for the first time in my life that I am more than capable of making myself happy, taking care of myself and my daughter and overcoming the remaining humps in my life.  Today, I am an over-comer and am excited for every day that comes because it is another step in the right direction and continued healing!   I have learned the importance of giving back to those in need, I understand what it means to be without.  I want to give and help with my knowledge or my paycheck, whichever is most appropriate, at any given moment.  I am thankful for my life and the terrors and what I have learned.  I love my family, I love my friends and I love my mankind.  This will not change, but will grow!!  Thank you for reading, and I welcome any feedback or comments.  Please share if you know anyone that might be interested in my story!

Child Abuse is the World’s Greatest Silent Crime

“Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live.”  – Dorothy Thompson

Throughout our lives so many types of memories are created.  Good, bad, fun, scary, some indifferent.  I have memories of laughing harder than I have ever laughed before and I have memories of nightmare moments that many would never believe actually happened.  We have all experienced those moments, right?  Just some to other extents than others.  I believe that these assist in creating who we are as adults.  We turn out to be the product of our environment combined with things inherent within us.  Some people go through little and come out a mess and some live a life of hell and come out on top.  Things affect people in different ways and drive them to different abilities.  I am thankful today, that while I am one that went through hell growing up, a lot of abuse and contrary to that, I am a pretty OK adult!  I am full of strength I sometimes forget I have, I have a good work ethic and I have intelligence that got me where I am today; all while being a loving and compassionate person, (despite what some might say).  I love my fellow man and woman, although am often afraid to show it for fear of rejection.  I am in love with you, I am especially in love with me these days.  I am in love with the less fortunate who are trying to put food in their bellies or the bellies of their hungry children, and with their children who are struggling and hungry and don’t know any different.  I am in love with love, despite abuse; and in fact I crave it and don’t function well without it.  I think that would be exact reason I have made myself a priority lately and have focused so much on getting myself right.  I have learned that I cannot depend on anybody other than myself and my God to fulfill that hole in my heart that needs the love.  I am blessed to have the support system that I have now; but years ago, I didn’t have that.

I lived most of my formative years in fear.  Something that most people cannot fathom.  Fear of what was coming next, what was lurking around the corner.  Do you know what living in fear feels like?  Let me give you insight into what my world felt like, as I dealt with the fear and pain in silence and hid it.  It’s paralyzing.  Was there a punch to the face coming from my brother?  Will there be a black eye, will my jaw open wide enough to eat after he hits me across the face?  Will there be a bat to my ribs and will I be able to stand upright?  How long until I catch my breath?  Is there a 2×4 being swung at my head?  Will I be woken up inappropriately in the night and have to fight for my innocence?

Do any of you have claustrophobia?  Do you know where it came from?  I have it so bad I have to be pulled from the MRI tube 2 or 3 times crying because it terrifies me so badly.  How about fear of heights?  That’s my biggest one.  Fears all come from somewhere, you’re not born with them, they’re learned.    From the age of 3 or 4, (I’m not sure which age, but I know that was my age when I lived in the house where it started) we lived on a farm in Missouri.  Southern Missouri is filled with mountainous cliff hillsides, beautiful lush green trees and snakes.  Lots and lots of snakes.  As a 10-11 year old boy, my brother loved the snakes, toads, lizards – basically anything he could find to scare the daylights out of a 4 year old child.  He also was a good builder.  He build tree houses all over our property, one in particular that I was mortified to go up because that is where he kept his “pets”.  His pets being all of the creepy crawly things that I mentioned before.  I would be easily coerced into going up the tree house at 3-4 years old because I believed him that he wouldn’t do anything to scare or hurt me.  We are quite gullible at that age!  As a child you see the good in everyone, you don’t think they’re out to hurt or scare you and ultimately damage you for life.  So as I climbed the rickety boards nailed into the tree to the house portion, I would immediately see that he had NOT, in fact, gotten rid of any of his creepy crawlies and they he would lock the gate so I was stuck.  Stuck in the air, with him and his disgusting mind and jars of snakes, frogs and lizards.  (I was really only scared of the snakes because they were huge and scary; frogs and lizards I played with on the ground all the time.)  Here I am trapped with him as my commander to do as he says or he puts snakes on me.  Kind of like “it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose”.  Sick analogy, right?  But that’s what I think of every time, that’s how it felt.  So without further details, I tell you this is why today, I am mortified of snakes and I don’t like heights.  Now the claustrophobia, that’s a different story.  I suppose some of that came from him trapping me in a small space, but mostly from him holding me down.  Remember he is 7 years older than me and quite big.  He would be over top of me with my arms and legs pinned with his and first I would just get mad, then I would panic and scream and cry.  Eventually, he would be satisfied with his torture and let me up.  To this day, I cannot stand to be held down.  Not that this happens a lot as an adult, but in my younger years I found some superhuman strength if I got into a scrap and was on bottom, I quickly made it out of there and back on top.  Even playing around, wrestling, I feel trapped and will almost immediately freak out and start yelling.  I already told you how I react to the MRI tube and that is something I have to do several times a year.

Then there was my mom…what awful names will she call me today?  What would I do wrong today?  How would I displease or disappoint her?  What awful things would I be accused of when I was still very much innocent?  Will she grab me by the back of the head and slap me back and forth until her hand is tired?  How high will my anxiety be today?  Will my stomach hurt from the stress?  Will I need a pill to control my “nervous stomach” as they called it then.  Will I survive another day in this house?  How quickly can I get out and how late can I stay?  These were the thoughts that went through my head on a daily basis.  Utter fear brought all of these feelings to me every single day that I had to live in that house.  Put yourself in that mindset for just a moment.  Can you imagine that these are the people that you depend on, every single day of your life, yet you’re mortified of them?  Will they protect you or hurt you that day?  AND THEY CHOSE TO ADOPT ME!!!  WHY??  I’m not saying my life would have been any better anywhere else, but that question will always be there.  My life was hell and did it really have to be?  As a mother myself, I know I have not been perfect; in fact far from it.  I can guarantee you one thing though, if you ask my daughter if I love her she’ll say yes.  If you ask her if I would die protecting her, she’ll say yes.  I’ve had plenty of fails as a parent, but ultimately my child knows I would and DO, do anything in the world for her.  So please be clear, I am making no claims to being a perfect mom, but my daughter does not live in fear of me nor does she question my faith and love in her; and that is all I ever wanted from my mom.  Faith and love.  And protection.  I never got any of it before she died.  I will live with that nightmare for the rest of my life.

Then there was Dad…he was the closest thing to a hero I ever had in the house.  My dad was the best, although looking back now I don’t understand why or how he let everything happen.  He wasn’t a large stature man.  He was only 5’9″, retired from the military on disability with a very bad back and just not physically able to do a lot in the realm of protection for me.  He couldn’t fight off my brother by any means and hadn’t been able to for many years.  My brother is 6’3″ and weighed about 300 lbs.  Dad was no match for him and he couldn’t physically protect me.  He couldn’t protect himself or Mom either, as my brother often turned on them as well.  I will never understand why he didn’t get me out of there though.  Call the cops, do something!!  I know my dad loved me more than anything and I believe that to be the reason Mom hated me, jealousy.  She never worked.  He didn’t work.  So my entire life they were both home and Mom didn’t drive.  It was a very old fashioned home.  Mom and Dad cooked dinner together every night.  They went to the store together.  They hung laundry on the clothes line together.  They differed on my treatment.  Dad was never ok with it, but didn’t stop it.  So on one hand he was my hero but on the other hand he was the enabler.  I feel guilt when I say this, because I loved him so much, but it made him as guilty as the abusers by not putting a stop to it.  Silence is as bad as performing the act yourself.  Remember that people.  If you see abuse – DO SOMETHING!!!!  If you aren’t sure, find out.  Call somebody to have it checked out.  Could you live your life knowing that YOU allowed ME to go through what I’ve just described to you?  I couldn’t.  If I could stop all abuse I would, but I’ll take it one at a time as I can for now.

This brother is now in prison for the rest of his life, where he belongs, but the nightmares will never stop.  In fact, the first thing for me to do today was write because I woke up screaming at 6:30am over a nightmare of him and Mom.  The nightmare took place in our old house where I lived in high school.  He was in his 20’s by then and I had learned to stand up to him.  He would come and go when he pleased, not really living there, but showing up to stay whenever he wanted and the hell would ensue.  Most of my dreams, or nightmares, are a real depiction of what took place.  We are both home, I try to be calm, but the fear wells up and it’s as if he is an animal that can smell it.  The fear triggers his reaction and the hunt and fight are on.  In this particular dream last night (remember how crazy dreams can be), the fight began and several pieces I don’t remember of me trying to get away and scream but nothing came out; he ended up holding me down as described before, shoving paper into my mouth so I couldn’t breathe.  All the while, Mom was in the next room not hearing my cries.  This was a much more intense dream than usual and I didn’t know where I was but I knew it was a dream I needed to wake up from.  I didn’t know how old I was for instance or that I was in my bedroom or where the door was, because I was looking for it as I tried to wake myself from the screaming cries with tears rolling down my face.  When I finally woke, I couldn’t stop crying.  It’s a horrible realization that these things happen and not just to me, but to thousands of children and much worse than what I went through.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  It takes me back to a time I don’t like to remember, but I am thankful somehow that I have these memories because it gives me empathy and understanding for those that have also endured this type of life.  It also gives me the satisfaction of knowing I survived it, I have strength most don’t have because of it and unfortunately I have insecurities and fears most don’t have as well.  So in everything there is good and bad.  I ignored for so long…I focused on the bad…now I learn from it and focus on the good.

Thanks for coming back, more to come!  Love.

You can break, but in Balance

“Sometimes a heartbreak shakes you awake and helps you see that you were worth more than what you were settling for.” -unknown, but WISE!!

The past few months I have fought for everything worth having in my life and it turned out that some things weren’t serving me the way I pictured they were.  6 months ago, I had no clue what the difference was.  I didn’t know what/who was serving me and what/who wasn’t; I was so lost in so many tragedies and the unreal demands of corporate America.  It’s been a hard and trying time.  It’s been a time for learning and it’s been an amazing time to find what’s in my soul.  Severe situations can go one of two ways:  you can be awakened and strengthened, or you can crash and burn.  Sometimes you do a little of both, which I did.  I crashed and burned, hard – but then – through the storm has come a strength I forgot I had.  I wasn’t living in the present, I was depressed about the past and was anxious about the future.  I wasn’t very kind to a lot of people or to myself.  Even though I volunteered a lot of my time and it made my soul happy, as soon as I got back home I was miserable again.  My anxiety was off the charts, some days I didn’t even make it to the volunteer events or even out of my house, let alone to the shower due to the anxiety.  I have forced myself to get out there as much as I can, I have continued work on myself and I have overcome a lot.

I loved so hard and I wanted it back so badly but I didn’t get it.  I have been taken advantage of for years and I have continued to have so much faith in people, some more than others, and believed it would all work out the way it was supposed to.  Well, it finally has, even thought not necessarily the way I wanted it to be.  Like the image says, hold on to those who respect you and let go of those who don’t serve you.  When you’ve craved love, acceptance and appreciation your entire life, you want to believe that people will eventually see the good in you and ultimately return it.  When those you love don’t see or appreciate that, it hurts in an unexplainable manner.  Just as it did when I was a child. Amazingly, now I have some tools to work with.  I am no longer buried under 10 feet of devastation when I find it time to walk away.  Even more so, I have the ability to determine that it IS time to walk away from particular areas of my life.  I now have the strength to accept it and deal with it in a much healthier manner. I’m far from perfect, but I’m managing, I’m functioning and I’m doing what I need to do on a daily basis.  Some days better than others, but ultimately it’s working.  Walking away is never an easy choice, not an easy thing to do; but sometimes it IS necessary to appreciate and love yourself which is something I have never been good at doing.  I have made a life altering decision and I am walking away from something I have been holding onto for several years.  It’s not easy, my heart hurts.  Walking away from my mom was the single most hard thing I have ever done in my life until this.  This is hard, beyond hard actually, but I will come out better in the end and I have to believe that.

I am, for the first time in my life, living in the present, today.  It’s hard, don’t get me wrong.  I stress about the future, I worry about the past instead of thanking God for today.  Tonight, I am praying thanks to my Lord God for giving me this life, the ability to make these decisions and the comfort that I will prosper from this decision.  I love my God.  I love my daughter, I love myself and I love my friends.  God will guide me through the troubled waters and my friends and family will be there to help me stay on track.  I am happy in my heart even though I hurt and am sad.  Nobody will steal my joy again.  Ever.  This was a wrench in my plan that I had not anticipated, but one I will handle and accept with grace, intelligence and love.  I will begin another new chapter in my life and I will take the time to get to know myself, learn who I am again and love ME.  I can’t say I’m “excited” about it, but I do accept it and will handle it.  Professionally, I will also be starting a new chapter and that is exciting!  Also a little sad, because my work friends were also my family!  So many changes at once can be scary – but I am not scared!!  I am happy.  I will figure it all out.  I will accept each challenge as it comes at me and I hope this shows the world that I am back on track to becoming the woman I was meant to be!  It is also showing ME that I can handle things for the first time in a very, very long time.  I am getting back to being the strong, withstanding person that I was my whole life.  Only this time, I will deal with things…not stuff it down and ignore the feelings.  I will work through them and I will take each issue piece by piece and handle it!  This doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it means it will be healthy and I am so excited to feel this way in the midst of heartbreak.  I’m not sitting here crying, falling apart, or having a pity party.  I am good!  Sad, but good.  Mad, but good.  In Vail.  How do you be anything but at peace in a place so beautiful?

Please let this be a lesson to everyone what therapy and dealing with emotions will do for you.  NEVER, EVER count yourself out.  You are always there for yourself if you seek God’s help.  I have grown in my relationship with God more in the past month than in years.  I know what I want, what I expect of myself and what God expects of me.  It starts with me and believing.  A lifetime of pain and mistreatment can never be erased, but the damage that it did can be minimized and repaired a little at a time with His help.  I still have so far to go, but I believe in Him and He believes in me.  What more can I ask for?  I trust, I have faith and I will overcome this obstacle as well.  It won’t be easy and I will grieve, but I will be ok and that is the first time I’ve been able to honestly say that in so many years.

What are your challenges?  What makes you feel inadequate?  What hurts your heart so badly that you feel like the tears will never stop?  Is it one thing?  Is it multiple things?  Has it been building your whole life or something recent?  Do you have a relationship with God?  Do you pray?  Do you talk to Him and tell Him how you feel and what you need?  Most importantly, do you hear Him, listen to His answers and believe Him?  Or do you try to force your will instead of His?  I know what I’ve been doing and it hasn’t worked.  Now, I have slowly been understanding and “getting it” and I am growing and repairing day by day.  Ultimately, we must trust Him and ourselves.  This is what is going to lead me back into telling my story with confidence and honor and dissolve all shame with regards to my history.  There is a story to be told and I am going to share it!  Thank you as always for being here with me on this journey and more to come soon!  Have a great week!!  I know I will.

Change…Evolve…Love

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”  -Albert Einstein

I’ve been away for a while!  I’ve had a lot of sickness, frustration and changes over the past few weeks and I have not been writing and I have really been missing the outlet.  Tonight will be a short and sweet post as I have several posts that I have started and need to put more thought and energy into.

The past few weeks have brought about many frustrations but so many amazing changes.  I will soon be announcing some of these changes, but for right now let me just tell you I am doing great!  I am finding the peace and happiness that I have been longing for, for many years.  Everything is not perfect and no, there hasn’t been any huge breakthrough in my relationship.  In fact, when I think about it, many of the circumstances themselves haven’t changed all that much, but my reaction and change of heart have changed dramatically!  It’s me.  I have began thinking of things differently and have taken more pride and love in myself; I have began looking to God more and His word for my comfort instead of other people.  Other people don’t fulfill that hole in my soul, He does.  I’m also not saying that a simple prayer fixes everything, because ultimately it’s the choices I make and if I actually LISTEN to the response when I ask for His guidance, that bring me to the place I want to be in life.  I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.  Life is a daily challenge and struggle, but I find less of a struggle these days and I find things that were too painful and unmanageable before, to be things I can handle and deal with today.  My guiding light is shining brighter than ever before and I intend to continue growing and that excites me!!

After 8 of the worst months of my life, (and I’ve had some BAD times in my life) I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel and feel more like I can focus on getting back to telling my story as opposed to using the blog as an outlet to get out of bed every day.  The fact that we have tools is so fantastically amazing, but really seeing results from the tools is a whole other story!  I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress I have made in my life and how much happier I am overall.  My ability to manage day to day life is sweet and it’s a gift that I will never take for granted again.  When you lose that ability, you’re lost.  When you find it again, you’re blessed.

Thank you all for being with me on this journey; even though at times it’s very graphic and unpleasant.  Unfortunately, that is how life is sometimes and we cannot be ashamed of it or hide it.  I have had enough shame and hiding for a lifetime, and I refuse to do it any more!  I am me!  I am going to continue to tell my story with life and spunk where appropriate and other times with tension and emotion because it is due.  My life is still my life and my story still my story; so while my heart and life are changing in amazing ways, my life was still not a cup of tea that will be for everyone to handle.  I hope that you will see from my words tonight that there is always hope even when you are at your lowest and I can honestly say I was at the lowest point in my life this year.  However, I have made multiple breakthroughs, made new friends, found lost family, learned to give from the heart in even more ways than I knew possible, made an even stronger relationship with God, repaired a lot of relationships, especially with myself and learned to speak my mind in a healthy and productive manner.  These are huge feats for me and I hope that what I’ve been through has helped you in some way.  I’m sure there will be plenty more drama to come, however with a change of heart, I will be better equipped to deal with it in the future.

So again, I thank you.  I also remind you that if the facts don’t support the theory you have for your life, change the facts – not the theory.  Put yourself back together and move on!  Happy days to all of you…there are many stories to be finished and published on the road to my continued recovery!  Please, as always, if you like what you read share with your friends.  I would like to start having more of a following and be able to help and inspire more and more people daily.  I am going to share a secret with those of you that read this…I want to turn this process into a motivational series of some sort.  Ultimately, this blog will turn into a book of my life.  I could use all of the input I can get to determine what is interesting and what isn’t.  I want to make a major difference in not just my life, but yours!!  Thank you ALL!!  Much LOVE and watch for more posts coming soon about my history!

Next Steps, Lessons and Learning

“Some days your life is all about your dreams, hopes and visions for the future.  But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other…and that’s okay.”  -Unknown

WOW, what a year 2016 was!  And to be honest, it is right in line with the rest of my life!  HA!  I have learned so much about myself, others around me and many that have exited my life in one way or another.  There has been great success, massive failure, pure joy, overwhelming pain and a lot of denial and acceptance.  I have been learning to come to terms with many things in my past, my present and to not be so concerned with the future.  I am practicing one day at a time which is a major challenge for me.  I tend to overthink everything!!  I have created more obstacles for myself from this habit than in any other way.  I have been in therapy to try and work through many of the poor practices and patterns that I developed early in life that have led me into somewhat of a breakdown for lack of other words and to be fully honest.  One of my mentors, Lori Harder, says this quote:  (I apologize, I may butcher it) If you’re living in the past, you’re depressed, if you’re living the future you’re anxious but if you’re living in the present, you’re at peace.  My goal is to be in the moment, day by day, hour by hour, down to minute by minute.  My goal is peace!

Before the breakdown, I felt it coming.  In hindsight there were a lot of signs, I just didn’t realize what the result was going to be.  My stress level was off the charts.  I decided to seek help through therapy.  When I first started therapy last year, I did not have the right connection with the therapist that I needed for effective treatment.  Maybe I just wasn’t ready, I’m not really sure.  After a couple of months seeing her, I felt we were making no headway and I stopped wasting my money.  A few months passed and after failing miserably at working through things for myself, I realized I was getting worse.  I went on a search for a new therapist.  God led me to somebody that has been incredible.  For the past few months I have been working with someone that has become my safe place; I really feel I can confide in her and I am finally having break through moments and realizations of what is going on in my head and body.  Acceptance of the reality that is and was, is key.  Learning that taking responsibility for your life, your actions and deciding that you truly want to get better is the first step on what I would consider a marathon, because it’s definitely not a quick sprint to the finish line!  Stop the pity party and accept things that have happened in the past and continue to happen in your life.  Recognize the patterns.  Take the steps to change those things you need to change in your life and watch the changes you put into action begin to make a difference.

Facing things that have happened over a lifetime can be a lot more difficult than it sounds.  If you don’t face these things, though, you end up where I have been, which is quite broken.  There were a lot of things that I didn’t even realize were as traumatic as they were, a lot I blocked out. Many daily occurrences were a lot more difficult for me to handle because I was in such a negative space.  I never realized what a wildly inappropriate life I had growing up, because while I was living it as a child, I didn’t know any different!  Even as a teenager, I could recognize that my house was different, but still didn’t realize HOW different and wrong things were.  It was rare growing up that friends were allowed to come to my house.  Obviously others realized that things weren’t “normal” in my house and parents didn’t want their kids exposed to whatever was taking place at my house.  I can’t say I blame them, when I look back on it as an adult with a daughter, I never would have allowed my daughter to go to a home with such strange things happening either.  I tell you this because this is where my feelings of isolation and inadequacy were planted.  The formative years are so difficult already; add instability at home and the feelings compound.  Confusing years become more difficult and you do the best you can, which for me, resulted in a shift to survival mode. I have lived in survival mode for the majority of my life.  I stuffed so many feelings down, didn’t DO anything about the feelings that I was having and even began blocking out some feelings all together. It became easier to have no feelings, show no emotion, other than anger.  I became a very angry teenager and a bit of a bully.  I know I hurt people that didn’t deserve to be hurt because sadly, it gave me power that I didn’t have at home.  If you were one of those people, I’m sorry.  I was tough (on the surface).  No vulnerability!!  That’s not healthy, which sounds obvious – but so many people do it anyway and eventually if you don’t deal with “it”, whatever “it” may be, you will break, like I said, and like I did.

Before you break, you’ll feel a myriad of emotions; hurt, anger, confusion. You’ll probably not be very good at relationships because you’ve guarded yourself so much.  You won’t really know what to do, where you belong or how to handle every day situations.  You will likely experience anxiety, depression and not even realize it until it’s too late.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I was on edge every day at home and work.  The most simple of tasks became mountainous to me.  I no longer enjoyed what I was doing and I have always been very passionate about my job.  My mind was elsewhere and I didn’t know why.  My personal life was a wreck.  I was constantly biting off heads, not respecting people that are closest to me, being reckless and not respecting the life God gave me.  I felt like something was definitely wrong with me but I had no idea what or how to fix it.  I blamed it on the chronic pain I experiencing but there was a lot more to it that I didn’t realize.  I would bet that if we all stood back and looked, most of us have some of these feelings to some extent.  It’s how we deal with the feelings that will ultimately control the outcome.

I have made so many mistakes throughout my life.  Undoing mistakes is not possible as we all know.  There’s no time machine that will allow us to go back and re-do, no mulligans.  So all we can do is make amends where we can and change our behaviors.  It’s not as easy as it sounds and it’s not an overnight process!  You don’t just sit down in the chair and talk to yourself or a therapist once a week and bam – you’re all better.  It takes talking and listening, accepting what you hear and say, practicing what you’re told and ultimately like the quote I started with, put one foot in front of the other every day and take it one day at a time.  I can tell you the work is worth it. Stop living in the past and don’t worry about the future.  Today is what matters.  Who is in your life right now?  Who has been your support system recently or in the past?  Who has been there for you and who has hurt you?  Those that lift you up, let them.  Take their help, lean on them – they care.  They do it for a reason!  Don’t deny them the grace of showing you care and compassion.  It does something for them as well.  Those that hurt you, forgive them.  Forgive, but ultimately decide if they are people you would willingly accept back into your life and if you’d be able to salvage a healthy relationship.  If not, you forgive – then bless and release.  Leave them to God.  He will handle them and while you can pray for them every day, you cannot “fix” them!

Ultimately, you are in control of you and your responses to others.  Control what you can in your life.  Don’t stress about the past and don’t be anxious about the future. Live in the moment, live for today.  Thank God for the day he has given you.  Thank the Lord for the people and things he has blessed you with and be grateful.  Be mindful of how you treat others and while there is something to be said for the old saying, “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, I learned a long time ago, you can’t control or manipulate how people treat you with your behavior.  You can only control your reaction, not the overall outcome from their behaviors.  Remember, control what you can.  Do our Father proud, do yourself proud and make those around you feel appreciated and loved – no matter how they make you feel.  Love conquers all.  That, I can assure you, is true.  It doesn’t have to romantic love.  It can be parental love, cousins love, friends love, faithful love or lovers love.  But love is the most powerful emotion there is and can be used for good or bad.  Make sure you’re appreciating it and using it properly.  Give, love, trust and listen; but never, ever compromise YOU and your heart or beliefs.

As always, I am trying to build a following, please share and comment.  I want your feedback!  Is this helpful or just the ramblings of a mad woman??  I hope to see you come back and share with others!

I Miss My Mommy!

I don’t have a fitting quote to begin today’s entry with as I usually do.  I think I can just say that she [Mom] did the best with what she had while she could.  Choices were made, lives were lived as such.  She was great, then she lost herself and ultimately pushed me out. Did she have regrets?  Did she really still love me or did she hate me the way it seemed?  I will never know, she’s gone.  I write this today to remember good times and deal with some of the bad.  I honor her today for wanting me, adopting me, giving me a home, loving me in the best way she could and keeping a roof over my head (most of the time).

Remember when you were little and you’d get sick and only mommy could make it better?  Well, I am sick as a dog this week and man do I wish I had my mom to take care of me!!  My early mom, that is.  I have a lot of laying around time and I am upright long enough to do some writing.  I essentially had three moms in one.  When I was little, my mom was great and today I write about that mom, and as she began morphing into the next stage – which was not so great.  As far back as I can remember, I was Mom’s little buddy and I was by her side all the time.  I remember standing on a chair for hours in the kitchen with her doing everything she did right by her side.  I did dishes with her, I helped her cook, she always let me cut out the biscuits, I would weed the garden right next to her.  She would dig the trench I would drop the seeds and cover them.  Harvesting was my favorite time!  She loved to play tricks on me with the corn…saying that if you watched close you could see the sprout pop out of the ground!  I waited and watched as she giggled and finally told me she was teasing me.  Those were the good days.

My parents were foster parents in Corpus Christi, TX when I was born in 1971 and after being in the hospital for 8 days with jaundice, I went home with them as one of several foster children in their home in addition to the 3 boys of their own.  Mom had recently miscarried and had been devastated by the miscarriage and wanted a little girl so badly.  She said that as soon as I came home with them, she knew she wanted to adopt me and felt like God sent me to her after her loss.  She didn’t know the gender of the lost baby, it was too early but she was sure it was a girl in her heart and I was meant to fill that void for her.  Back in that time in TX, the laws were such that if you wanted to adopt a foster, you had to give up your right to foster any more kids; so they traded their foster license to adopt me.  That always made me feel so special.  I was chosen!  Most of my life (with exception here and there) I looked at myself as being chosen, not given away.  As a small child I didn’t feel any different than the boys, I felt like part of the “family”.  It wasn’t until a little later that this changed, but I’ll get to that.

Mom was a good mom when I was little, as far as cooking dinner, keeping the house clean, regular housewife chores.  She was never one to get up and fix my hair for school, or walk me to the bus.  Only on the first day did she fix my hair, then she was back to sleep for the rest of he year.  Dad got me up and ready every day and I fixed my own hair and picked my own clothes.  But she was great when I was sick.  She would rub Vicks on my chest, give me a hot towel and stroke my hair.  That was my favorite.  To this day, I love to be held and have my hair stroked, especially if I’m upset or don’t feel good.  But as an adult, that’s rare, it’s a little weird.  Haha!  Sometimes my daughter does it for me which is sweet because I always did it for her.  I put her to sleep that way every night.  Her hair grew with a little bit of a cowlick and I think it’s because I rubbed her hair that way so much!  Anyway, I digress; back to the story!  She sang to me a lot and I thought she had the best voice!  I remember asking her why she wasn’t a singer on the radio because she had such a pretty voice.  In hindsight, it wasn’t that great, but she was Mom and I thought everything she did was great!  I would get to lay in her bed or on the couch when I was sick.  I would get to watch Captain Kangaroo which was my absolute favorite which I rarely got to watch because I was at school!  Also often, the antenna didn’t pick up the channel, but she would try real hard to place it right when I was sick.  That’s what a mama does…whatever it takes to make their baby feel better.

Outside of being sick, I have many other fond memories of Mom as a young child.  Snow days were especially fun.  We lived in Southern Missouri by this time, so we had a lot of snow and ice in the winter.  Dad would pull us on an old car hood behind the tractor which was so fun!  We had a sleigh he hooked up to the horses to pull us and a huge field we could ride in, it was a true winter wonderland on our farm!  Lots of sledding took place, we had a steep hill driveway, but a lot of rocks.  We had the Red Ryder sleds and would wax up the tracks good and fly down the hill!  Steering those was a trick…but a lot easier than the plastic toboggans!  We wore break sacks on our hands and feet to keep dry, mom didn’t want us getting frostbite, we would stay out for hours!  When we came in she made the best hot chocolate ever.  Nothing we had was ever from a can or jar…so it was not a mix, it was the real thing!  Homemade everything.  I guess that’s where I get my love for cooking and the challenges of homemaking everything.  It’s rewarding to see people enjoying my home cooking!  I didn’t appreciate it as a child because I didn’t know any different.  Now I know how much work, time and effort it took for her to feed our family.  These were the good days!  These were the fond memories I have of childhood.  To me, this is what being a mom is and that this is how it is as long as you and your child are alive, no matter their age.  Before I got sick this week, Ali was sick last week and even at 20 years old, I treated her like she was 5.  I waited on her hand and foot and got her anything she needed.  Once my baby, always my baby.  This was a concept that I wish my mom had known.  Unfortunately, this didn’t last.

I’ve written before that age 8 was the magic year, or age that life went to hell.  A lot of things had changed since our hot chocolate snow days.  My oldest brother had moved out by the time I was 4 (my brothers are all much older than I am) and married when I was 6.  My middle brother was my favorite, he is 12 years older than me.  I have so many amazing memories of him.  He took such good care of me and loved me so much.  He got me out of the house as much as he could because he knew I wasn’t treated right even when I didn’t know it myself.  I can remember him taking me on dates with him, which I’m sure his dates truly hated!!  Ha!  We were a package deal.  He wasn’t treated the way he should have been either and had also now moved out of the house and I missed him so terribly.  My third brother was awful; the one that produced the majority of the abuse I endured throughout my life at home.  He was sick, and not just mentally.  He had hid first open heart surgery as a toddler and had heart problems his entire life living with a pacemaker in prison today.  I don’t know all of the details of what was wrong with him, but he had a lot of issues which made him “special” because Mom considered him her miracle baby.  He always got special treatment and he got away with everything.  With this being my only companionship in the house now, I became very sad and lonely, and scared.  The abuse became much greater once Brian was gone.  Andrew knew that there was nobody there to protect me because Mom was oblivious and turned a blind eye and Dad was running the farm and farming the fields from dawn til dark.  I tried to spend as much time as I could in the fields or helping Dad in the garden or with the animals but often I was just in the way so I had to be at the house.  I was actually 7 during this particular year I am speaking of and when a lot of the trickery began from my brother.  That year I was hit in the ribs with a baseball bat resulting in a cracked rib and the wind knocked out of me and a head butt that resulted in a swollen black eye, bloody nose and a chip in the bone just under my eye socket which remains today.  It was such trauma to my body that I got incredibly sick and was out of school for two weeks but never once got a visit to the Dr.  Both were looked at as “accidents” and this was my first time knowing that I was not truly safe in my own home.  It became painfully aware that mom was going to choose Andrew over me no matter what he did, and Dad would follow along to keep the peace.

Over the years, the choosing of Andrew over me grew and grew and the abuse got more violent and unnatural.  Mom and Dad were fighting a lot and I know that often they would fight about us and who was on whose side.  Mom was a force to be reckoned with and Dad was very much a peace keeper.  This was the beginning of Mom’s mental instability, or at least when it became visible to me.  Dad would often have to hold her down because she would just go crazy.  She went to the doctor and I remember Dad forcing her to take her “pill” and she would calm down and go to sleep.  When she would wake up she would act like nothing happened and everything would go back to “normal” for the time being.  But I was scared.  I never knew when she was going to go off and when she was going to love me.  I stayed in my bedroom a lot and played with the animals on the farm a lot.  Everything went downhill from here.

My 8th birthday, I spent with my Aunt Francis and Uncle Paul in Blue Springs, MO and I have no idea where my parents were.  I remember that my cousin Bobby made me a cake and they had a little party for me because I was missing my parents.  They weren’t perfect, but they were my family and I loved and missed them on my birthday.  They were all I knew.  We had moved into Blue Springs and off the farm at this point.  These were the final days of any “normalcy” in my home life.  My parents showed their love for their boys during this time and I was along for the ride.  Andrew became very sick for a while so he was bed ridden with in home care and a tutor so Mom was with him round the clock.  After he got better, the next crisis was Brian’s and it was a doozy.  I will save that for another day because it leads into another chapter of our life completely.

As parents, we do the best we can with what we have at the time and our capacity is only so much.  Some are better equipped to deal than others.  My mom was mentally ill, my dad was lost I think.  I’m not sure I understand it yet and I never truly will since they’re both gone.  I can’t ask them questions.  I can only work through the details in my head and draw the best conclusions possible from what I know.  I know they loved me, especially Dad.  Mom, I believe she was jealous of me and my independence (as if I had a choice).  Most of all, I believe she was jealous of my relationship with Dad.  She chose Andrew time and time again and turned her head when he abused me so I didn’t want to spend time with her, I wanted to be with Dad because at least he attempted to protect me!  So I would be in the garage with Dad while he worked on the car or help him with yard work or just run errands with him.  Mom really started showing hatred toward me at this point.  The little things that a mom does for her girl were no longer of interest to her.  She became completely belligerent and angrily jealous of Dad ALL the time.  She accused him of so many crazy things and accused me of covering for him when we went somewhere.  It was pure insanity.  She had lost her parental feelings for me at this point, I feel.  She never lost it for the boys, but I was an outcast even though I was a young child and did nothing wrong, ever.  I developed a nervous stomach condition which by age 8 I was in near constant pain from.  Finally at 15 I was able to see a doctor and get medication for it.

Each of her children were very different, we all had our own personalities and desires.  As the picture at the top states, each situation is unique.  Mom had her own challenges and different skills and abilities or DISabilities as the case my be.  She wasn’t perfect and sometimes she was down right awful.  I have often wondered since she died if she really still loved me or not.  We hadn’t spoken in years and I will tell you friends, that is a hard thing to swallow.  I’d like to think that through all the abuse, blind eyes, hurtful words and just plain not being there for me, that she did still love me.  Maybe I just want to believe that but I do.  Maybe it’s what I need to get through the days.  As a mother, I cannot imagine ever falling out of love with my daughter.  Alex is the best thing that ever happened to me and while some days I want to strangle her, (hehe) no matter how old she is, you’ll find me at her bed side if she’s sick or right by her side any time she needs me.  I will love her more than anyone or anything for LIFE.  How could you not?  Food for thought…anyone else have parents that passed while you were estranged?  I would love to hear anyone else’s perspective.

As always, thank you for reading, please share my site!  I appreciate your following me and reading my story.  There is a lot to it and my life has not been a fairy tale by any means.  While it saddens me, it has made me who I am and I am stronger for it in the end.  In spite of everything, I love and miss you Mom.