The Importance of Feeling.

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Feelings. Sure, I claim that I don’t have any, or that I have just one left. However, they are there. For me, I stuff my emotions deep down inside and rarely let them out. I’ve built up my walls so high to keep everyone out that the only way I can keep from exploding is through writing (unless I have writer’s block.. then it’s all downhill from there).

Unfortunately for a lot of us in life, we get hurt after sharing what’s inside of us with others. So walls get built, and walls get reinforced as we get older. I’ve had a rough couple of decades, so my walls I built are basically impenetrable. It’s been a major issue in past relationships. I have such a hard time communicating, but it seemed as though as soon as I’d let some real emotion out, it would come back to haunt me.

So I try and pour all of that rough unbridled emotion into pages of a journal. Or if I need to express myself and I didn’t see a way around it, a letter directly to someone. It always seems to help to let the words flow through my fingers and get it all out. However, it’s not as good as just telling someone.

There’s a different feeling there, being able to tell someone that something hurt you, or that something scared you. Being able to just spill it all out. It’s refreshing to let people see that you’re not “the strongest woman” (or man) that they know.

I was at my breaking point yesterday. I was in immense pain, from pretty much all of my joints as well as my chest and stomach (IST and IBD). The pain was so horrible I was having a hard time keeping the tears back in front of my daughter. Then to pile on the financial stress (because I’ve been so sick lately, I’ve missed work under FMLA. Daycare is very expensive even if I work overtime, so missing work put me in the situation of paying the mortgage vs daycare, food vs. daycare, Christmas presents vs daycare. So after 2 months, it’s up over $1000, and frankly I don’t see a good way to fix it) it just broke me.

I went home and holed up in my room with the intention of writing in my journal. Which I did, I wrote page after page after page. Yet, no matter how much I spilled onto paper, I didn’t feel any better. The pain obviously doesn’t go away with writing, but I was hoping if I could get rid of the turmoil and stress snowballing in my head, I might be able to handle the physical pain.

Then Jon came in. He had visited me on lunch, and I had basically hopped out of the car because I thought I was going to cry. He came in the bedroom, and gave me a hug and I just lost it. I don’t know if it was because I was in physical pain, or what, but it all just came pouring out of my mouth. Everything, with tears and all. Over the course of 20 minutes, all my demons roared out and I just let it go.

After a little while, I felt better emotionally, and was able to deal with the physical pain. We didn’t find a solution, and I still don’t know what I am going to do to catch up on my daycare bill, but I have ideas to cut the costs in the future. Either way, I was able to tell someone else what was bothering me/scaring me (losing my daycare.. losing my job) and I felt a lot better afterwards. I was able to talk for a while, and then take some pain pills and get a little sleep.

That was a good first for me. I don’t open up to anyone, usually. It’s something I’ll need to work on in the future. I don’t want to muck up this relationship with my communication issues, so I’m really going to try. Either way, knowing that not everything is on your shoulders, that you’re not the only one carrying the weight is a feeling I want to feel again. I’m just glad I have a partner willing to help me take on the world.

Feel.

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One of the things I’ve been working on this year, is accepting and enjoying life around me instead of just beating my own ass to do better. I don’t think I’ll ever stop pushing so hard, but that’s not a bad thing in my eyes, I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and how much I achieve each and every year. What I was doing though, was essentially killing myself trying to make life “better” for my child, and of course the men who shall not be named. I lost touch with the simple things in life and only focused on the future.

Could I finish this project before the next one had to be started? Would I be able to move out of my town in 5 years? Would I be able to keep repairing my car, or should I be saving for a newer model? Could I be happy.. in the future? Thankfully, I realized that I had no concept of the present during the whole -get the crash cart, her heart cant go much longer- bullshit at the tail end of last winter. Facing mortality, yet again, kind of makes you re-evaluate everything.

Through spring this year, I started focusing on the physical and emotional “now”. [Insert Zen Bullshit Here] When was the last time I really watched a sunset? When was the last time I laid in bed and¬†just listened¬†to the rain? When was the last time I watched my daughter play in the sand, without worrying about tomorrow?

I couldn’t remember. The ache that had developed in my chest wasn’t just my literal broken heart (subnote: I guess I could blame that on he who shall not be named hahaha) it was the lack of feeling.. the lack of seeing.. the lack of being right in the moment. So I started trying to appreciate the little things, and enjoy simplicity, especially with nature, in all aspects.

Truthfully, it took a couple of months to be able to be in the moment without forcing myself to pay attention. Worries for the future would take up most of my thoughts until I made myself feel the breeze, or until I directed my focus to the sound of the wind through the new leaves on the trees.

The last month and change, I finally noticed I was doing it without thinking about it. I could watch the sun glint off of my daughters blonde hair and think only of that. I could play catch with my dog, and just enjoy it. I could again write about things (mostly in my physical journals) that I was living.. instead of just worrying about what I would have to live through.

There have been many realizations along the way. I had to learn to become comfortable with myself, I had to start accepting things I wasn’t happy with, with my own body. (Still a work in progress, my surgical scars still bother me). How can you enjoy the cool night air on your skin, if you can’t bare all of it? To be comfortable with my own thoughts, had to be comfortable with my own skin. Then I had to acknowledge what I was capable of, what I had actually achieved. It was like a first step for me, then it was time to face the rest of my demons.

I’m getting there. I can set aside the future, and enjoy the current moment. I can just listen to¬†the sounds of my boots crunching over the leaves on the ground. I can¬†just listen¬†to the fire crackle in my backyard. I can watch my daughter dance around, I can just take part in¬†her joy when we dance in the kitchen. I can¬†just taste¬†the woody notes in my favorite tea, or the tang of my beer with the sun overhead. I can¬†just feel¬†running my fingertips across someone’s lips,¬†just feel¬†their touch.

Life is unbelievable short. It’s over before we know it. I think what I’m getting at, is how important it is to enjoy the little things in life.. to actually live.. instead of just living. Of course I worry about tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll ever stop, but now, I can live in today too. So no day is ever “wasted”.

Parenting: Frustration and Pride

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Every parent on the face of our planet has at least once wished their kids have children just like them. Now, raising my own child, I do have to say, sometimes it’s like arguing with myself in the mirror.

My kid is definitely my mini-me, without a doubt. She has the same mannerisms, attitude, and hell, some of the same dislikes. Getting her to clean up one at project before she starts another is like pulling teeth (while I ignore the yarn I pulled out in favour of writing). Arguing with her about why it’s important to rein in her smart mouth, while realizing my mouth is the root of half of my problems in my past is very odd. Watching her read through a chapter book in an hour reminds me of bringing Stephen King’s Misery to fifth grade.

My child is definitely my child. She pushes every button I have, gets under my skin like there’s no tomorrow. However, when I hear about her standing up to her bullies at school, I swell with pride. Watching her befriend younger children makes me smile. Watching her excel in the things she wants to do (art, writing, reading.. soon sports) makes me ever so proud.

Just like every other parent on the face of the planet, I hope I’m going a good job. I hope I’m everything I should be for her. I hope I teach her right from wrong and how to be a strong woman. After stepping on a Lego a few minutes ago, after a long day of bickering about picking up toys and not using attitude.. I threw my hands up in the air and thought to myself “I hope she has a kid just like her.”

Just like every other parent out there.

Christmas Time Lessons

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When I was in 5th grade, Christmas was looking pretty much like hell. My mother was dying of cancer, bills were abundant, and my parents were miserable.

My parents friends and co-workers got together and bought us presents, all of us, dressed someone up as Santa Claus and showed up at our house one night. That was looking like a really hard Christmas, and thanks to the goodness of our community, our last Christmas with my mom was great! I remember tearing through presents, while my mom sobbed with happiness. As I got older, every year I’ve reflected on it and felt blessed.

A month ago, my ex left. When he left, he took things I’m still discovering are gone. I came home to an empty house, with a beat up couch, the freezer, 2 plates and some glasses left. I was given one month to get a replacement for the couch and freezer on top of trying to figure out how to afford pots and pans, lamps, tables, plates, utensils.. the list goes on.  I had to figure out how to replace stuff I had taken for granted since my first apartment.. then pay my ex’s portion of the bills he flaked on. It honestly looked like Christmas was out of the question. My heart broke, not just because I was betrayed, but because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter a decent home AND Christmas presents.

So after I cleaned up the mess he left the night I got back home, I put Ashley to bed and sat on my kitchen floor and tried to figure out what I was going to do.

In the month since, I’ve found out horrible things about my ex, heartbreaking things, it’s been rough facing them, but this whole time? My family, friends, even people I haven’t seen in years, even people I’ve never met in person have rallied around Noodle and I. From couches to tables, to plates and silverware, pots and pans to hand towels started arriving or being dropped off. Books and pens, more cards than I can count. So while I covered bills, people who care about us covered what I needed, provided support and an ear. More recently.. presents. Noodle has received presents from family I haven’t seen in forever, and dear friends, I’ve gotten a few too. Hand delivered, fed exed, and left on my doorstep. I had managed to use what little money I had saved to get stocking stuffers and a few small things, but friends chipped in so I could pick out a few more.

A month ago I felt lost. I was worried, in tears and scared. Almost two decades after family and friends took care of my family the first time, it happened again.

The best part of everything that has happened? In one month, I went from feeling so incredibly sad and alone, to knowing I’m far from alone. In one month I learned how much people care for Noodle and I. I was lucky enough to watch a community rally behind us and stand with us, not once but twice. I am lucky enough to know, that while things will be rough for a little while, I know that we’ll be okay. I know that I have friends, that we’re not alone. I went from dreading Christmas to looking forward to it.

I think I learned the best Christmas lesson, twice. The world may be a scary place, but there are a lot of good people left. Knowing this, is the best Christmas present I could ask for.

Decency and favors. Love and Life Lessons. (Plus a realization)

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(I’ve refrained from writing about this on my public blog for two weeks now. Mostly keeping my comments to my private Facebook. However, I’ve neglected writing for some time now, and writing is how I heal. Sometimes journaling is not enough. So here we go. I’m taking back the things I care about, and my blog is one of them)

So I was informed today that I am not a decent person. Apparently because I got myself couches and moved my exes couch outside and asked him to pick it up.

I was informed that he was doing me a favor by letting me “keep the couch so you had a place to sit”.

Right. Because not putting it on the curb, along with the motorcycle and all the other shit in the shed isn’t decent. Because watching the dog that’s not mine until he finds a place to live isn’t decent. Because I didn’t do him a favor by standing by him for 4 years even though it put my family at risk. I didn’t do any favors supporting him financially and emotionally, through the toughest time in his life. Because it’s obviously my fault that he walked out, and can’t fathom that I’m not going to rearrange my plans so it’s convenient for him.

He did ME a favor by cheating, moving out and leaving us with next to nothing, just in time for Christmas? Taking all of not only his stuff, but stuff we bought together and things of mine? Just to put them in storage? He’s the decent person because he let me borrow a couch?

Right.

You know what? He did do me a favor. He taught me what love is, and what it isn’t. He taught me that I should never be dependant on someone else. He taught me that real men don’t cheat on someone they promised to love forever. He taught me that real men don’t break a child’s heart, then take even the toothpaste out of the cabinet on their way out. He taught me that I can do this all on my own, that I deserve better than all of that.

He DID indeed help me out, but it wasn’t letting me borrow his couch. It was teaching me that there are people will help us if we need it. People who love us and stepped in to give us a happy holiday. It was teaching me what commitment and devotion is. It was teaching me that someone who loves me won’t sleep around behind my back, putting my health at risk. It was teaching me what I want, how much more I deserve, and that there are good people in the world, in my world.. He taught me that he didn’t deserve to be part of it.

I hope on his quest for happiness, he finds what he’s looking for. I do. I just hope he stops hurting everyone who loves him along the way.

Smiling.

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Birthdays usually don’t go as planned for me. Not to say that they’re horrible, but more like I seem to have child-like expectations and the day seems to miss it’s mark.

I have to say that this year I was more than pleasantly surprised. We really had no concrete plans, but I enjoyed almost every moment of it. Now, at the end of the weekend, sitting here with my cup of tea, I am happy.

Ry, the kids, and I went up to the lake house to see my Dad. I love it up there, from the quiet (my aversion to people) to nature, to spending time with my family… I almost hate coming back. We spent some time outside, the kids got to go on a walk on the shore to collect shells, and ate some delicious food. Between spending time with my family and getting some quiet moments, it was perfect. Ry and the kids picked out a matching bracelet and ring set made from spoons and we did an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

After all of that, we made the trek home. While we were up north though, Zach and Ryan built me a tea case. From cutting, sanding to assembling.. it was all them.

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I absolutely adore it! I love handmade gifts, and the fact that both of them worked together on it makes me tear up. I love it.

So here I am, end of the day, kid in bed and tea in hand. It was a good birthday thanks to my family.

Society and it’s high expectations – aka: You’re not a bad parent.

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There’s a constant mental war going on inside my head. ¬†I believe every mother (and father) deals with it at one point, but for me, it seems like it’s waging every day. ¬†A rifle shot sounds as soon as I drop my daughter off at school, I mean come on, I must be a bad mother for working? ¬†Especially when I made a promise to stay at home with her when I was pregnant. ¬†On that note, another rifle shot sounds and I don’t know if a blended family is right for her.

Hot damn. ¬†The enemy line is approaching, when I yelled at her yesterday for sassing me when I asked her to clean her room? ¬†I must have wasted precious weekend time fighting with her. ¬†Hell, when I made her go to school when she was upset that other morning… that surely was the wrong choice. ¬†Explosion. ¬†Telling her we’d play outside tomorrow when she wanted to ride bikes and I was exhausted from work. ¬†More wasted time.

Yup. ¬†That’s it right there. ¬†That, is just a small portion of the mommy-guilt-war that wages inside my head. ¬†Being a parent is tough sometimes, I know for me that I feel a lot of guilt for what we *don’t* do, despite all of the fun stuff we actually *do* do. ¬†I think that no matter what we mothers do, how we act, or which decision we make, there is always the lurking thought when things settle down that maybe we could have done better. ¬†Maybe we could have made our child(ren) happier, or maybe we could have handled a melt down a better way. ¬†Parenting is not easy folks, at least not for me.

Growing up, my parents made it seem way easier than it is. ¬†My mother cooked dinner more nights than not, and my Dad never seemed to complain about work. ¬†Despite being booted out the door to go play as soon as we got annoying, I still held my parents’ .. well… parenting at top notch. ¬†Being children, we don’t realize that our parents were struggling too. ¬†Now that I’ve gotten older, and have heard some of the stories, chuckles, and tears about raising my sister and I, I realize that we just didn’t know. ¬†However, that doesn’t mean that the parents I was lucky enough to grow up with didn’t set some impossibly high standard for my own life.

For example, society has brainwashed us that a happy, healthy family eats together every night. ¬†That home-cooked meals create healthy, happy children. ¬†I know I’m speaking for more than myself here, but I know after a 14 hour day when I finally get home, just glancing at the ingredients to make dinner makes my brain hurt. ¬†So we’ll order something and eat something in our respective places. ¬†Later on that evening, when I’m back to work at my own desk, that guilt kicks in. ¬†I should have made dinner, we should have eaten at the table together. ¬†Despite the fact that we do more often than not, I will feel guilty for taking the easy route.

Of course I don’t remember the nights when we were kids that we got Wendy’s for dinner (one had just opened up by our house) because my parents were too exhausted to cook. ¬†Nope, I remember my mother’s home made chili going for hours and the corn bread from scratch. ¬†Instead of realizing that it’s okay to be lazy once in a while, it’s okay to be tired, I hold myself to that latter standard. ¬†My parents did it, with a lot more on their plate than myself, so why can’t I?

The end point of all of this, is that I, as well as too many other parents, might be being too hard on ourselves. ¬†With social media, technology as a whole we have too much to compare ourselves too. ¬†If that’s not enough, we have endless articles on what, who, how we are damaging our children. ¬†So we go about our days, pushing ourselves to line, and if we don’t accomplish what society has set up for us, we beat ourselves up. ¬†We double think what we are doing, and instead of enjoying the little moments, the happy moments, the good we *do* accomplish we are left feeling inadequate and lost.

No parent is perfect, and no childhood is perfect. ¬†As long as our kids are happy (despite having to clean their rooms, eat their dinner, do their homework and not be little miniature assholes) and healthy (as can be), we’re doing a good job. ¬†I’m not a bad mom for working my ass off or creating a blended family. ¬†You’re not a bad mom for not buying the latest gadget, and you over there? ¬†You’re not a bad dad¬†for yelling at your kid for talking back. ¬†Go ahead, take a break, just because your kids aren’t eating dinner 7 days a week at the kitchen table doesn’t mean you’ve ruined them.

Now if society and social media could just let parents know that once in a while, I think we’d all breathe a bit easier.