Hello From the Other Side

Hello. It’s been a while, I know. For shits and giggles, let’s spend ten minutes inside my head this morning. It’s 5:19 am. There’s coffee and Klonopin and a healthy dose of hormone replacement therapy. This may be the crappiest thing to ever come from this space but the whirling dervish in my crazy lady brain needs to vacate and where better?

Has anyone else noticed that sometimes life doesn’t ask politely, but rather demands attention? It seems that mine has an uncanny knack for pouring instead of raining and the start of 2016 has not disappointed in the area of shit storms.

It began with puddles of water in closets, slowly but certainly trickling from underneath the baseboards after who knows how many minutes, hours, days, months (you get the picture) that pinhole in the shower valve had been leaking. So now there is a gaping hole in the wall that used to house the gorgeous mahogany built in bookshelves which, if I’m being honest, sold this house. I guess I should have been more concerned with the plumbing.

And homeowners’ insurance is bullshit.

The air in here is so dry and the noise is driving me out of my mind. If I’m being honest, that’s really not a big leap. I feel like an ass complaining when there are much bigger things- much, much bigger things not mine to tell. But, LORD BABY JESUS!, the noise and the mess. Not to mention the mold-free, hepa-filtered air is being blown out of the plastic encased room through an enormous tunnel that looks like a giant floating penis, a fact not lost on my twelve and thirteen year old kids.

My son will be twelve this week. My baby boy whose latest pair of cleats is a men’s size nine and a half! What tha?? He’s going to outgrow me soon and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It is really, really raining this morning. It was wonderful during the night but now that I’m thinking about going out in it this morning, I’m not sure I like it all that much. But I’m going because I need that mouth guard ($200, really?) I’m supposed to pick up today. Every time my jaw locks up I panic with the thought that I won’t be able to open my mouth. Ever again.

Blessing or curse? I guess that depends who you ask.

I miss my people, the ones who may or may not read this and the ones who do will think they should make plans to visit me on Sundays when they let me out of my little padded room for fifteen minutes. I wonder if that’s how it actually goes?

I should probably start making that gratitude list I’ve been putting off. Just throwing these thoughts to the wind I am judging myself. But, oh how I have missed doing this. Just writing. Writing. Writing absolutely nothing at all. It is freeing and therapeutic and hopefully what my exhausted mind needs today.

That and the gratitude list.

And Peyton Manning to win the Superbowl ring because it’s probably his last hurrah. Sadly, I’ve watched Cam Newton this season and I guess I may have to be satisfied with the fact that he made it to the big game.

With that thought the timer on my phone tells me that my time is up. Ten minutes is definitely not long enough but any more would just scare people.

 

 

Photo credit: flicker.com

To Be Yourself

One of the most difficult ideas for me to grasp in this life has been the concept of how to be yourself. When you grow up without the advice to do such a thing or any idea of how to begin, you sometimes miss the metaphorical boat and become terribly lost, alone, and, in my case, addicted to anything that made me anyone but myself.

I was well into adulthood, and parenthood, before I got a semi-firm grasp on the idea and every day there is a new lesson. Call me a slow learner.

One of the most important things I have always wanted my daughter to know is how important is to be yourself. There is no more frightening thought to me than my children not having learned what they need from me to navigate what can be some very slippery slopes. It is my job to hand them the tools. How they choose to use them, well, that’s up to them.

My daughter is home schooled this, her eighth, grade year and she is determined to return to a brick and mortar school next year when she begins her high school journey. I think for the first time since the day she was born, I am more frightened of something than she is.

This child is the one who clung to me when I tried to drop her off at preschool. I begged, begged her dad to drop her off once because I just wanted one morning without the battle. He agreed and called me as he  left the school parking lot and explained to me that he would rather gnaw off his own arm than ever have to do that again. Needless to say, she became a preschool drop out.

Her father or I would have to lay with her at night until she fell asleep. I’m talking REM cycle sleep. I cannot tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night on the floor next to her toddler bed, her hand on my head and fingers twirled in my hair.

She begged me to home school her from the day she started kindergarten and I refused. As it turned out, she did just fine in the neighborhood public elementary school. Middle school was a different story and for several reasons, she finally won the home schooling battle.

She wants to have the high school experience. I am thrilled. I am proud. I am terrified.

I feared she would cling to me forever while secretly, and selfishly, hoped for it at the same time.

For one of her final assignments this semester she was required to write an essay about how she thinks she has changed over the years, a short thirteen of them that seemed to have passed at a speed so much faster than light and impossible to record.

When I read her words, I cried. The tears were a mix of sadness that all I have now are photographs and memories of the little girl who believed I hung the moon and would wear nothing unless it sparkled and absolute pride at the extraordinary young woman she has become, unique and honest, filled with compassion and joy, who no longer needs to wear the sparkle. She is the sparkle.

I want to share, with her permission, an excerpt of that essay:

I have changed drastically over the last 13 years. The people I have met and the things I have seen and heard have shaped who I am today. I was a shy little girl who would cling to my mother and sob when she would try to drop me off at daycare. I could never go to sleepovers because I was terrified to leave the house.

Just look at me now.

Today I look back at the things I would wear when I was eight and shudder. Eight year old me absolutely needed bright pink and blue walls in her bedroom, thirteen year old me is not a fan. I was fearful of everything –  the dark, ghosts, clowns, you name it. That lasted until I started watching television shows like Criminal Minds and Doctor Who. Now I’m not scared to walk down the hall at night.

I remember when I was nine I made a list of all the things I was going to have as an adult. I truly believed I was going to have a glass house covered in Christmas lights, an enormous chandelier, 3 kids, and 30 dogs and cats. Now I understand that I am way to clumsy for anything made of glass, 30 dogs is a little much, and I definitely don’t want kids.

I have changed a lot over the years and I will continue to change in the years to come. There are always going to be changes whether they are positive or negative. Understanding that there is nothing you can do to stop change is important, because without change we can’t move forward.  So, instead of fearing the future, I am excited to see what it holds.

I think she’s gonna be okay.

And she still thinks I hung the moon.

Sort of .

to be yourself

 

 

 

My Own Hero

Anyone who has any idea who I am and how I operate knows that when the going gets tough, I mentally shut down.

Not just a little but all the way.

I still get up and go through the motions, begrudgingly putting my feet on the floor before the crack of dawn. I stand on tired feet, allowing myself the luxury of staring at my warm place in my bed for a moment or two, wishing I could just climb back in and sleep until this is over, but instead I  put one of those feet in front of the other again and again, until all of the things are done.

Almost.

I wake my family, feed them, get them to school, practices, football games, flights they must catch. I attend family functions with a smile on my face and what I hope is witty and engaging conversation. I make plans that I secretly hope will never come to pass and if they get to close to actually happening, I find a reason to excuse myself because I’ve used up all the witty and engaging and I don’t have the energy to fake another smile .

I run errands, pay bills, and fold laundry that has been through the dryer seven times. I might cook. I might order pizza….again.

I open my browser and scan emails or social media with the intention of jumping back in and being the good writing friend and supporter of so many only to close it again, not a one word of a post read or a status acknowledged. Most of the time my hands will hover over the keyboard, fingers twitching to respond to any and all of these things. And I do mentally, hoping against hope that this will be the minute that my wit and wisdom returns.

Almost.

Then I find my well-worn corner of the couch, a blanket, a vape pen, and an excuse to be quiet and alone until the next mandatory life task is required, of which there are many, and I curl up in my cocoon just waiting for the day the sadness and periodic internal rage will pass.

I think about the words my shiny new, and far too perky, therapist said to me and I reluctantly make another appointment with her considering that maybe the reason I dislike her so much is due to the fact that she told me things I really didn’t want to hear and that they are most likely true and the truth is a playground bully, solidly kicking my ass.

In the imagined safety of my self I hope but only after I scold myself for being such a coward, hiding from a blessed life and losing moments that I will never get back.

I fail at everything before I even begin because at the moment I cannot find it in me to become my own hero. My history is proof that I am quite capable of doing just that.

I think I’m getting closer.

Almost.

Good Writing Gets Lost In the Shuffle

I have gotten to know so many talented writers since I began this little venture almost three years ago. I get a ton of emails that I am constantly failing to keep up with and, as we all do, I scan social media – searching, searching, searching – for posts from those I already love and those I am destined to love.

So much good writing is getting lost in the shuffle!

Posts on social media channels move faster than the speed of light and I miss quite a bit of good writing no matter how hard I try. I am trying to remedy that today.

I'm tired of missing the good writing! Click To Tweet

So what’s a girl to do?

Why…she’s to conduct an experiment and create a place for you to link up posts you don’t want missed, would love to get more eyes on and would love to have shared.

Maybe this whole idea will crash and burn. Maybe it will be a diamond mine. In my experience, you never know until you try.

So, let’s get this week started on the right foot. Link up your posts for me here until 6 p.m. today. It doesn’t matter if you wrote it today, last week, last month, or last year. Give me your good writing.

Why not stay and have a look around? I don’t think it’s reaching when I say that you may find something that you might have missed, too.

 

Photo credit: tookapic via Pixabay.com


Life In Black and White

Everyone has a chore, or two, that they simply despise. Mine is dusting.

Ceiling fans are always in motion in our home. If I don’t turn them off I can’t see the dust on them. At a certain hour of the day, I lower the plantation shutters on the west side windows of the living room because every speck of dust shimmers and floats freely in a mocking dance.

Eventually I commit to bite the bullet and just get it done and inevitably I will get to the hallway leading up the stairs to my master bedroom, bright pink dusting glove firmly in place, and stare up at the pattern of black and white framed photos that have lined  that wall since the day we moved into this house eight years ago.

They are photographs of our children – his, mine, ours – over the years. As I make my way up I stop at each one and, either cursed or blessed with the memory of a writer, I can vividly recall each moment of our lives when the picture was snapped and time stopped.

The emotions I feel every time I see the story of our lives captured in freeze frame are both magical and painful.

There is my oldest daughter, beautiful at the age of sixteen, no indication in her lovely face of the turmoil she will both cause and face in the coming years. I miss that girl. I don’t know where she’s gone to because she is gone for what I fear is forever, a stranger to me now.

Then there is my a seven-year old girl sitting on a mantle clutching a teddy bear on her seventh birthday. Today she is a nineteen year old college sophomore, living in another city on her own and, as we hope they all will, finding her own way.

Then there is a photograph of a four-year old girl, now thirteen, stopped for a moment walking down the aisle at a beach wedding and striking a pose for all the cameras, one hand on her hip and the other placed against her tilted head, blonde hair blowing in the sea breeze, a shy and angelic smile on her face.

Then there is a closeup of my son in profile, a tad over a year old when it was taken. He is holding a sand dollar close to his face, eyes filled with wonder at his found treasure on his first trip to a beach in Naples. That same boy is now more than halfway to manhood at eleven, the little boy in him getting less and less visible in his broadening shoulders and thickening muscles. I can’t help but notice his walk that has become so much like his father’s and his grandfather’s before him.

Finally, the bright-eyed baby boy with barely a hair on his head who was my grandson, and still is, but for the fact that, for all intents and purposes, he is now my son. On the day that photo was taken and the day I hung it in its place on the wall, I had no idea the changes and challenges that life would hold for him.

For all of us.

There is a lifetime of memories on that wall, these few I mention just five of many, many more photos and moments displayed.

They hold such power, those photographs. They each hold a precious memory, a moment in time when all was right within our world. There is no turmoil. There is no pain. There is no regret in any of them.

It is the stories that come after to which my mind will wander, leaving me asking where the time has gone, what went wrong, and sometimes struggling to find that which is, in the bigger picture, so very right.

I suppose we all have that wall of photos whether it be literal or figurative.

I could let the dust settle and stay on the gallery I’ve created on that wall but I don’t. Those are precious days, all of them and I can tell you the story of each one like it happened just yesterday. I will never replace them and they will continue to gather dust. And I will continue, now and then, to dust them.

And I will remember that, although it would be nice, life is not always black and white. There are a multitude of colors thrown in that make it vibrant, tender, stimulating, and heartbreaking.

Despite what came after, and what still may come, this wall….this life in black and white….it is exquisite.

Dust and all.

Life is never black or white. There are so many shades in between. Click To Tweet

 

 

 

Photo credit: Diego Rodriguesde Castro via Pixabay

Walk On Like A Boss

Have you ever read something and it hits you square between the eyes.

It makes you laugh a bit but more importantly gives you a perspective you didn’t know you needed.

That is how I felt when I read this quote early this morning. I figured some of you might need to read these words this fine Monday morning.

While I can focus the words on my recovery and how I feel about life then and now, I can also make it fit into almost any situation that this crazy thing called life throws my way.

Time to start a new week, or carry on with the one that’s already begun. Do it one day, one hour, one minute, or one second at a time. Just do it like a boss.

...so I straigtened my crown and walked away - like a boss. #life #recovery #likeaboss Click To Tweet

like a boss

Liar, Liar

‘I am fine.’

That is the answer.

What is the question?

‘How are you?’

Liar, liar
Pants on fire
Hang your britches
from the telephone wire.

Why do we lie? Why are we so unlikely to tell the truth when it comes to how we really feel in the center of our souls? Is it due to the fact that upon being asked such a stock question we are programmed to answer with this generic and automatic response, taking the easier, softer way instead of speaking what is really on our hearts and in our heads, hiding who we really are and how we really feel?

Saying we are fine we can’t be considered a bother, someone contemptibly small. Pitiable.

In all honesty, most people don’t truly want to know how we are. It’s just common courtesy. Right? One person asks another person how they are and expect them to say they are fine, they are good and every once in a while even great. A social duty is fulfilled and life goes on.

What would happen if someone asked and we dared to utter in honesty

I am sad,

I am confused,

I am pissed,

I am sick,

I am giving up,

I am anxious,

I am lonely,

I am scared,

I am broken?

I can only imagine that the person asking the question would be rendered mute, caught off-guard by our audacity.

In all honesty, most people don’t truly want to know how we are. Click To Tweet

Maybe we would be surprised by another human being reaching out a hand, laying it on our sad, confused, lonely, broken, or pissed off shoulder and hearing them say, “Tell me about it.”

We are all so bound by the minutiae of everyday life; schedules to keep, jobs to attend, children to feed, bills to pay, chores to do, errands to run. We barely stop to acknowledge each other many times and when we do it is hollow and hurried. I am guilty of this, I admit.

At this moment, I have a thousand and one things I need to be doing and instead I am sitting here with this question swirling in my head. Am I completely present when someone needs me to be?

The answer, to my shame, is no.

I have been known to minimize the issues brought to me by people who are just looking for someone to be there for them and hear them say, not that they are fine, but that they are sad, confused, pissed, sick, giving up, anxious, lonely, scared, or broken and I say,

‘Oh, you’ll be fine.’

No damn wonder.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a listener. I am a solver. I have been down some rough roads, learned some hard lessons, and have accumulated some life experience that can help someone in need. If someone close to me needs me, here I am and I am all in.

When it comes to people I am not emotionally invested in and I see them with that look in their eye, the look of a person barely hanging on to their emotion and inches from an edge of sorts, I have all those things on my To Do list that make it inconvenient for me to take the time to lay my hand on their shoulder and say, “Tell me about it.”

I need to change that.

Not everyone needs to be saved but everyone does need to be heard. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Think about being a writer and being able shake loose the demons with the words you put on the page. Not everyone has that. Be that person’s page. Let them write the words.

On the other hand, I am awful at asking for help. I will most likely always answer ‘I am fine’ if I am asked how I am. To this day, after years of sobriety and knowing that acting alone inside my own head is not only pointless but dangerous…..I still do it. Maybe because I don’t feel worthy of the help of others when I don’t feel I am doing all I can to lighten the burden of the human condition.

There was a time in my life when someone asked me how I was and I said, ‘I’m fine.’ No I wasn’t. I was miles and miles from fine.

I was sad.

I was confused.

I was pissed.

I was sick.

I was giving up.

I was anxious.

I was lonely.

I was scared.

I was broken.

I thank the people who called me a liar and held me while I ranted and cried and finally,somewhat triumphantly, emerged from the darkest days of my life. I haven’t always shown the same patience and kindness.

I need to change that.

I need to be available when someone reaches out, not necessarily with words. Having been there, I know what it looks like. I need to broaden the scope of people I truly care to help in their time of need.

And I need to learn, or re-learn, to ask for help. If I’m not fine I should say so. Admittedly, that will be a work in progress but, in reality, I always have been.

And probably always will be.

Be there for each other. Ask the question and really listen for the words being said behind ‘I’m fine.’ If you listen with your heart, you’ll hear the truth.

Loud and clear.

 

**This post originally ran on Hastywords, January 2015**

 

Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire/gratisography.com

Am I Crazy To Keep Writing?

Days, sometimes weeks, will go by and I find I have not written a word. I suppose it would be more accurate to say I haven’t posted a word other than a random status or comment of social media.

I wake up each morning with thoughts on current events, daily happenings in my life, or burning opinions on social issues but I don’t post a public word.

I research for stories that are struggling to free themselves from the dark halls of my brain and in the rare quiet moment I manage to find in the midst of being a wife, mom, and what I hope is a productive member of society, I put them down in private space.

Everywhere I look in my home is a pen or pencil nestled next to a pad of paper or notebook filled with notes, ideas, thoughts, or feelings.

Words.

In the less than silent moments in my head the voice of doubt I am too familiar with cries out that I am insane for pursuing a passion that sometimes leads me to dead ends and rejection, ignorant opinions or deafening silence.

The voice of doubt tells me I’m wasting my time.

The voice of doubt whispers that I’m not good enough.

Am I crazy to keep writing?

The answer is, quite simply, no.

I don’t want to wake up twenty years from now with a hush in my head because I gave up the love of my creative life and that part of me has resigned itself to silence. I never want to live in a state of regret that I didn’t write, whether or not I do it well or to the satisfaction of others.

I may not ever travel the world because, while it is a lovely thought, I don’t hold  an enthusiasm for it.

I may never hold a world record or heavy medal for an outstanding achievement because that is not a desire that my soul needs filled.

I have found a world I never knew existed by letting the words flow. I am so fortunate to have discovered people who hold the same fire for words that I do. By consequence of serendipity I have a rich supply of words shared by some incredibly talented people who make me laugh out loud or shed the tears of one emotion or another.

I suppose if I am crazy then I exist in good company. Click To Tweet

Every thing I do in my every day life matters to other people. I feel satisfied that I do right by them all. I owe it to myself to do right by my self.

And so I write.

I write because I can. I write because I should.

I write because I must.

In the end, crazy is a strong word for what I am. I think I prefer mentally unrestricted.

 

 

 

Photo credit:  Pixabay

 

Fighting Fair on The Good Men Project

It’s all about love, trust, respect, good sex, and fighting fair.

I love when I’m able to share what bits of wisdom I have managed to scrape together in my 47 years, especially when it comes to relationships.

True, I’m now married to my third husband but, hey, we all make mistakes.  I’ve written before about those marriage mistakes. We live. We learn.

We hope.

I’ll never proclaim guru status but I know what works for me in my current marriage which will celebrate its fifteenth year next month. For the record, I have a pretty incredible relationship with my husband but I will also note that incredible does not mean perfect.

It's all about love, trust, respect, good sex, and fighting fair. Click To Tweet

I’d love it if you’d read an article I am thrilled to have published on a site I truly respect, The Good Men Project.  Just click the image and it will take you there. As always, your thoughts are welcome.

GMP

Enjoy your Monday and happy reading.

 

 

Photo credit: Pixabay and The Good Men Project

The Vicious Circle of Fight or Flight

I’m not sure why I hide myself away when I feel my world tilting on its axis. I often feel something close to envy when I read others sharing their secrets, fears, and indiscretions. I’ve never been good at that.

There have been many reasons lately that I feel as though I’m not part of the world. It is lonely behind the glass as I look through, watching and wondering at how not real it all seems.

For the past few weeks I have gone through the motions. I wake up in the morning and I do all the things I should. I wake my husband and children, make breakfasts, pack lunches, muddle through the always tedious and now tortuous chore of making dinner. I write out the lesson plan for home school for my daughter and shuttle the boys off to their own separate schools. I fold laundry, run errands, and pay bills. I keep appointments, make deadlines, and cheer at football games.

I hold conversations when I have to, smile when appropriate, and sometimes I even laugh.

I feel like a fraud.

The one thing I don’t do is the one thing I want desperately to do. I want to cry. I want to scream. A part of me wants to run while at the same time the other part of me knows I want to stay. I want to beg someone to see behind the facade that I am falling apart, piece by precious piece.

Everything in the world seems unreal to me, like I'm living behind glass. Click To Tweet

I’m in the middle of so many changes and, for me, change is an extremely uncomfortable phenomenon but I always manage to make it through to the other side. This time, though, I feel a little more lost and am having a harder time finding my footing.

I keep telling myself that this feeling, like all that have come before, will pass. But I feel the darkness, the weight of it so much heavier than I remember in the past. The decision between fight or flight passes through my mind more than once, or twice, a day.

And so I stay close to home, where my heart is. I keep getting up in the morning after a night plagued with nightmares and unfounded fears. I walk through my day, repeating the movements of the day before, repeating the mantra that this too shall pass.

In moments of clarity, I feel foolish when the goings on in my life are so very trivial when compared to many. I have to find perspective constantly but the cold, hard fact is that my feelings are real and not at all trivial to me. This is my life. My sobriety. My family. My health.

I have so much to protect.

So today I write to remind myself and hold myself accountable. I write the words here and at the same time speak them out loud:

Today, there will be no flight.

Today, I will fight.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Sebastian Marchand via Unsplash