Lessons from my life

I thought I was going to write to Ben this morning. I can’t sleep. I woke up early with my mind a buzz of thoughts. 10 years ago today was the last time I held him. The last time I felt his breath or heard him sigh. The last time. The LAST time. It hurts. It hurts more this year than it has in a very long time. And the past few weeks haven’t exactly helped me work my way thru it all. The promises I made to him keep replaying over in my head. I promised to hand out love like it was candy from my pocket.

I’ve been searching my whole life for something… To feel cared about. To feel loved. Not superficially.. but in that genuine, throw your entire self into it kind of love. The little girl who lives deep within me has been seeking for that feeling to be reciprocated for her whole life. She’s been seeking her place of comfort, her home, since she was 4 years old. She’s just wanted someone to pick her up and put her in their pocket. And that’s not something I admit easily. It feels like a weakness. But it’s not.

And this morning – I had a realization. A big one that left me feeling shook to my core. The only person who will love me that way – is me. Everyone else will have some sort of bias, or agenda… or worse, they will be too afraid and scared to open up and embrace the love that is offered to them… and the little girl will end up feeling hurt, let down, and unsafe.

The thing is – I have the courage to change. I have the courage to get cut down, and to still stand tall. I have the courage to walk in my shoes in a different direction… into the unknown. It’s funny – so many people in my life have commented that I am a force of nature. Stubborn and caring, I rarely back down, rarely lose. If I want something – I go after it and work my ass off to get it. I used to think that my courage came from my absolute faith that love is real, that it’s out there, that if you’re a good girl and you do right by people that it will come. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think maybe my best friend is partially right… you have to love yourself. Not because it will then allow love to find you – he’s wrong there – but because maybe it’s the only way you’ll have it at all. Sounds bleak, but I don’t mean it to.

I’ve walked a long road on this road of life. And anyone who walks it with me – whether it’s for a short moment, or for a long while will have to understand that I am not the same girl I used to be. I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve grown and my perspectives have widened. I’ve learned what grief and loss does to a person. I’ve learned what abusive marriages do to a person. I’ve learned how to love with all of who I am. I’ve learned how to choose myself, my happiness and well-being over the destructive or toxic – no matter how normal they may have seemed to me. Growing up with toxic environments or toxic people shifts your perspectives and makes it hard to know what’s healthy or not. I’ve also learned how to channel so much of my vulnerabilities into a new kind of strength and courage. I know what hides in the dark shadows of life. The monsters that used to hide in my closet or under my bed – are still there. But if you shine brightly and give all you’ve got – the shadows will fall back and the monsters will be forced to stay in their shadows. I may not always have blind faith when it comes to God. He and I have our ups and downs since Ben’s death. But when it comes to my ability to take anything on I have absolute blind faith. When it comes to knowing that the goodness, the care, the love I seek is out there…. I’ve always known that too.

I have no doubt that there will always be people in my life who “love” me. But to them, I’m going to want to say a few things… First off – thank you. Thank you for your spoons of energy, thank you for caring in those moments. Know that I love you too, and truly appreciate the love and care you give back to me. But… If I’m just somebody that you’re gonna leave, or if you’re just some habit that I’ll have to break. If you don’t feel something when you look at me…. just let me down slowly – I’ll be ok.

I’ve got a little girl of my own – I say little – but she’s practically all grown up now. But she looks at me. She thinks I’m this courageous, loving, creative badass. That I’m this amazing strong woman. And yes – for her, I will always be. But what she doesn’t always know – is that the little girl in me is still scared of the monsters in my closet. And now here I am, walking down the road of life trying to show her how to be strong and how to face the monsters from her own closet. Sometimes it feels strange to try and teach my children how to do something that I haven’t yet fully figured out. Talk about the blind leading the blind. ūüôā

It’s interesting to me… how I can feel both scared and broken and still stand tall and feel like I’m unbreakable. It’s such a strange mix. But all of it is truth. I AM a badass. I AM a force of nature. I AM capable of feeling emotions at a depth that rivals some of the best stories from literature. I am also capable of being hurt, even by the best of intentions. I’m capable of being misled. I make mistakes, errors in judgement, I overshare and often over communicate. In my head – it’s better to blurt everything that you’re feeling out and at least allow people to sort through it – than it is to stay quiet and keep it all in. But even that side of me is starting to change as I age. I’m learning that it’s often safer to sit. To ask questions. To listen. But even that fails me at times. Curiosity can kill the cat, after all. And even with all of my listening – I don’t always see the full story.

I don’t always have all the answers. How I wish life had a magic 8 ball at times. Although with my luck – if it did – I’d shake it, and turn it over, only to be told “Reply Hazy – Try again later”.

What is beauty really?

It’s dark. I’m at the park. ¬†The sun will be popping its head over the hills within the next 30 minutes or so. ¬†Puget Sound stretches in front of me. ¬†The lights of a boat quietly makes its way along the shore; I think it’s a tug, but it is still too dark to properly see.

A small factory is nearby and I get caught up watching the steam billow from the single chimney ¬†I sip from the coffee I brought with me. ¬†I have music playing from my phone – a song that I seem to play a lot lately. ¬†And I mean… A. LOT.

Scars to your beautiful

She just wants to be beautiful
She goes unnoticed, she knows no limits
She craves attention, she praises an image
She prays to be sculpted by the sculptor
Oh, she don’t see the light that’s shining
Deeper than the eyes can find it
Maybe we have made her blind
So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away
‘Cause cover girls don’t cry after their face is made

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful
And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

She has dreams to be an envy, so she’s starving
You know, cover girls eat nothing
She says beauty is pain and there’s beauty in everything
What’s a little bit of hunger?
I could go a little while longer, she fades away
She don’t see her perfect, she don’t understand she’s worth it
Or that beauty goes deeper than the surface
So to all the girls that’s hurting
Let me be your mirror, help you see a little bit clearer
The light that shines within

There’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

These lyrics, the words bounce around in my head.  I suppose they strike a chord.

Beauty.

Beauty is something so fleeting… so changeable, and yet so many of us strive to embody it. But what is it really?

We have this image in our heads and hearts of what the perfect version of ourselves would look like, and yet…

In nature – it is often the unique…

real-snowflake-under-microscope-wallpaper-2

the renegade…

macroyellowtulipfield

the inner play of co-existing dualities that are some of the most beautiful.

iceland-main

Beauty can be simple and can be complex.

plant

For too many years now, I have looked at myself as not beautiful. I’d turn such critical eye to my perceived faults instead of celebrating that which makes me beautiful and unique.

Enough is enough. ¬†Maybe it’s the state that the world is in lately, maybe it’s just a strange burst of frustration mixed with heartbreak and hope … but damn! ¬†If I can’t love myself, how can I possibly expect the people in the world around me to spread love? Enough with the hate. ¬†Enough with the judgements. ¬†Today… I celebrate myself. ¬†Today – I will celebrate you, your neighbor, your mother, your friend. ¬†For today – and every day to come, I will find a reason to spread a smile, and lift someone else up. ¬†The world must change. Let’s put away our walls. ¬†Love yourself, and love others.

Thanks for sharing a moment with me.  Off to work now!  Much Love!

The unseen forces that shape who we become

I had a lovely weekend, it was relaxing and productive in many ways.¬† I went out for sushi on friday night, found a great coffee shop on saturday morning and then went furniture and appliance shopping for the new house with one of my best girlfriends.¬† I wasn’t feeling very good after that and spent the rest of the evening relaxing with a movie and a cozy fire.

7

Today I got the pleasure of seeing Nana and Granddad.  It was a wonderful visit.  We had lunch and spent time catching up.  As I was leaving, my Mom called.  She was at the hospital across the street with my other grandma and a few family members.  My grandma had had a stroke, and she wanted me to come and say my good-byes.

Is it wrong of me that truthfully, I was only going for my step dad?¬† There are very few people in the world that I could honestly say I view as my “hero”, but he is most definitely one of them.

I have always admired his quiet strength.¬† How, even when he was angry with me, or someone else, he would take the time he needed to work through it in his head, and then come back and address things calmly.¬† As a teenager, when I’d fight with my mom, it was him who would come and hear my side.¬† He’d always listen.¬† He might not always agree with me or my approach, but he’d let me say my piece.¬† And then he’d share my mom’s side, and then he’d share his own perspective, and somehow, we’d always find a resolution.¬† He was always the one person who could quiet the stormy seas and make everyone feel calm again.

I adore that he’s silly and playful.¬† He’d wake me up in the mornings singing “We all live in yellow submarine” as loud as he could.¬† He’d make up silly songs about whatever we were doing or tell fart jokes, or quote monty python.

Today, I saw his strength crack.¬† I’ve only seen that maybe twice in my life.¬† And I remember the last time, I felt the same as I do now.¬† There’s something not quite right in the world when this man, whom I adore and look to for calm and quiet strength, cracks.¬† He was doing just fine until I got there and gave him a hug.¬† And he quickly gathered himself back up and drew it all back in.¬† He was staying strong for everyone in the room.

Seeing my grandmother today was more difficult than I’d anticipated it would be.¬† I haven’t attended gatherings at her house for a year or two.¬† She looked so different.¬† So thin and frail.¬† It broke my heart and made me feel scared to ever be put in her shoes.

Because this is my blog, I’m going to share some things… to the few family members who read my blog – please – know that I love my grandmother very much.¬† I’m not trying to tarnish anything about her… but this is my one place to be honest.

I have always had mixed feelings about my grandmother.¬† She’s my step grandmother, and when I was young, she made a more than a few comments that made me feel like I would never truly be a part of the family.¬† When I got older, I went through a phase where I wanted her to like me and connect with me, I even got a job in the banking world, an industry that she spent her career in.¬† She was a lovely cook and I’d often try and learn her recipes or talk kitchen tricks with her.

When my daughter was a baby, my grandmother watched her for a few days each week.¬† She loved and adored Alayna.¬† She would sit and rock her all day.¬† She wouldn’t even put her down and use the restroom while she was under her care.¬† I worked two jobs at the time to try and make ends meet, and I was so lucky to have grandma there to watch my daughter.¬† We didn’t always agree on things and occasionally she would make comments that hurt my feelings.¬† She’s of a different generation.

I loved family gatherings at her house, and hated them all at the same time.¬† ūüôā¬† I love that family, but grandma, as she got older, would extend visits as long as she could with the entire family.¬† She’d make the younger children wait until past their bedtime to open presents and the evenings just became harder and harder.¬† Grandma didn’t see the problem with playing favorites among the children and grandchildren, and I hated having to explain to my children why they were often left out.¬† So we slowly stopped going to the family gatherings.

Families are complex systems with a multitude of millions of parts.  I never really thought of how much those little moments and pieces and parts affected who I am today.

Grandma was always trying to serve and host others.¬† Even at the expense of herself.¬† She was giving and loving and loyal to her family.¬† Her children are truly some of the most kind and genuine people.¬† All of which have giant hearts and infectious laughs.¬† They wouldn’t be who they are without her.¬† She was a divorced single mom.¬† I don’t ever remember a man being in her life and instead, did it on her own.

I think I had a moment today when it really sank in that as much as I love her, grandma was wrong about one thing.¬† Blood doesn’t make you family.¬† I’m not related to her by blood, but I love her.¬† I love her family.¬† My family.¬† I’m honored and blessed to have them in my life.¬† I’m sad that change has hit our family today.¬† A big change. But I know that we’ll weather this change.¬† I know, because I’m just like them.¬† I too, channel moments when I embody strength, loyalty, kindness, and a selflessness for others.

I think overall, I handled the day well enough.¬† I came home and asked one of the roommates for a hug.¬† I just wanted a friend at that moment.¬† It had been a long drive home and I already wasn’t looking forward to coming home.¬† It didn’t really go over very well.¬† I got a very half-hearted hug and then what felt like being completely shut out.¬† It hurt.¬† It made me feel like there was no friendship there.¬† It helped me learn, yet another lesson.¬† Be careful who you go to for comfort or support because if you’re not, sometimes, you’ll just get burned.

Goodnight Neverland, much love to you.

lipstick kiss

Depression and Co-Dependency

Depression

Ok.¬† I will admit it.¬† Depression has hit me this week.¬† Fairly hard.¬† I’m feeling a bit withdrawn and a bit quiet.¬† I found a new counselor.¬† My first appointment will happen tomorrow.¬† I’m looking forward to it, as I have a list of things I want to talk about.

Co-dependency.  I want to talk about that.  I think, looking back at my relationships, both with the ex and with my family РI have a history of being in these types of relationships.  I want to understand how to break the cycle.  First I have to understand it, then once I can identify it and understand it, then I can work to change it; to stop it.

I refuse to sit and do nothing on this.¬† I refuse to allow the same patterns to re-occur in my life.¬† History repeats itself – well NOT anymore!¬† When I look up the “symptoms” of being a codependent person – I fit them to a T.

Low self esteem, people pleasing, Lack of boundaries, Care-taking, dysfunctional communication, Denial, problems with intimacy… yup!¬† I won’t lie, coming to realize that today was quite a shock.

I cannot fix problems that are not mine to fix.  I cannot change someone.  I can only change myself, and the worry, and head space that I give to trying to fix things really is only making the problem worse.

I’m nervous.¬† I’m finally getting really honest with myself.¬† I’ve been happier in the last 2 years than I have been in 12 years…. BUT… That alone cannot be the indicator that I use on whether or not I’m healthy.¬† I find myself slipping into the care-taking/people pleasing habits a bit more and more lately and it is, quite frankly, a slippery slope.¬† If I’m not careful, I will only end up in the same perpetual loop I’ve been in for most of my life.¬† I will not be that person again.¬† I just can’t.

Sometimes.. the truth hurts.

I got served up with a little bit of truth tonight.  From someone who knows me and has my respect and love as a sister.

“I’ve never seen you so unsure of yourself.¬† You’ve been so hurt, confused, and unhappy and mostly pretending to be okay.”

**insert long pause**

**compose self… wipe tears”

Fine.¬† Yes.¬† You’re right.¬† And yet, you’re not.

Because isn’t that life?¬† When are we ever 100 percent happy?¬† When?!¬† You can be happy for moments, you can be happy for periods of time… but there are ups and downs.¬† I’ll admit, I’ve had some stress piled on me for a couple months now.¬† Between kids health, my health, job stresses and then relationship stresses on top of that… yea, just a little added¬†stress.¬† That’s what happens though.¬† That doesn’t mean I’m not happy.¬† I run around and play with my kids, we snuggle, my daughter and I have a few shows we like to watch and a few games we like to play.¬† Sure, I even get run down and frustrated with them from time to time, but we still play and snuggle.¬† I’m quite satisfied with my social life.¬† I have a circle of friends that are more family than anything else.¬† Financially, I’m comfortable.¬† I’m not unhappy.¬† Am I unsure of myself?¬† Yes.¬† Do I pretend to be ok when I am not?¬† Yes.¬† Why?¬† Because my stress and worries are mine… I don’t expect anyone to worry or stress over them with me.¬† In fact, if they did, I’d be upset… they have their own world to worry about.

Yes, I’ve been hurt.¬† On a scale of 1-10… I’d say I’ve had more than a few 10’s thrown my way.¬† Am I confused.. sure… aren’t we all?¬† I don’t have a magic 8 ball.

“Reply hazy… try again later.”

Sometimes it feels like I’ve got all these expectations on me… and what I’d really like to do is throw my hands up in the air and scream “What the FUCK do you want me to DO?!”¬† I’m giving everything I’ve got.¬† Now with my back problem, I’m in a bit of pain… I’m tired… I’m still sick… And I’ve got a lot of shit on my mind right now.

UGH.¬† Ok… for real this time… Goodnight Neverland.