Sometimes, you put your foot in your mouth

I have too many words. All jumbled around in my head. I hear the advice from my mother ringing in my head… “Jenny! Keep your big mouth shut!” I can’t even tell you how often I heard that phrase growing up. I had a big mouth. I’d sit and talk about anything with anyone. I’d share my opinions, I’d ask all the questions. I was a talker. I’ve learned to keep things to myself over the years… I’ve also begun to struggle with suddenly being too quiet. And what a strange pendulum swing to find myself on. In the past couple of years, I’ve really been working on finding the right balance between the two. And although I, for the most part, do a fine enough job of it – there are also times when it feels like I fall flat on my face.

I had a moment like that yesterday. I knew I needed to say something… but I also knew it would be wise to be very careful with my words. As it was highly likely that I wouldn’t be able to clearly paint what I was trying to say with them. And if I somehow screwed up and my intentions were misunderstood, I’d be hurt and worried and unsure of the end consequences. I even tried to talk myself out of speaking up. “Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’m being unreasonable? Maybe my thoughts aren’t quite complete enough to share yet! Maybe if I speak up – I’ll lose? Maybe if I share – I’ll have to face judgement or fear?” Again – my mom’s advice rang in my head.

And then the moment came… My words came vomiting out of my mouth before I could even stop them… despite all my practicing and planning and lecturing of myself prior. Even in the moment – I was yelling at myself in my head. “OMG Jen… What are you DOING?! You’re totally not making sense!! You’re confusing the situation and making it muddy! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP JEN!”

…. But I persisted. Man, i’m an idiot sometimes. I got so worked up that my tears began to flow. And the words became more jumbled in my head. The logical side in me suddenly could see that I was no longer clear. My comments and arguments were no longer quite aligning to what I’d set out to say. But I did have good intentions. I was trying to strike that balance. Trying to find the place where I could share what was hurting me. Where I could somehow share that perhaps a new boundary or at least the concept of one was starting to grow. I apologized. I’d completely flubbed up this beautiful day, this beautiful moment. But in no way could the genuineness behind my apology be articulated. “Bah! Why are you LIKE this JEN?! Why do you have to be so broken sometimes? Why can’t you hold your emotions in check long enough to speak when you’re feeling scared?!”

And all I can say is that afterwards… at the end of the day when I curled up in my bed, when I looked back at that moment to think about how it all went…the tears flowed freely and my whole body shook. I felt both pride that I did speak – and shame that I didn’t speak well. And the whole situation rocked me to my core – because I woke up with a wet pillow, swollen eyes and a raging headache. My tears had obviously continued into the night.

This morning – i’m trying to figure out why this shook me so much. I’ve certainly put my foot in my mouth many times in my life. Why did this one moment leave me feeling so tangled up … and I think it comes back to vulnerability.

If I look back at my past – I have always hated sitting for long in uncomfortable moments. Sitting in that level of discomfort is so bothersome to me that I will try and “fix” it. I will try and do whatever I can to bring about some sense of relief… some clarity… a rule.. an expectation. I think in those moments, when I’m the MOST scared – I’m looking for a box to put myself in. And sometimes, I might look to someone else to define the box for me. Maybe because I’m struggling to do it myself.

I believe in embracing vulnerability and know that there is strength in embracing those moments in our lives. Often it’s in those vulnerable moments that we learn and grow the most. But I also know that it’s been in my vulnerable moments that I have been hurt the most. And that often it’s been the people that I truly love and seek love from that, intentionally or not, have hurt me the most when I’ve been the most vulnerable. You’d think I’d give up sharing and being brave at all. I suppose that’s why I push myself to speak up and to keep being brave. I don’t want to stop in my path of growth and learning and self discovery.

And that is why – I will keep going. Even tho I’m now scared of the consequences of my speaking up. Even tho I still don’t have a box to put myself in. I’m determined to learn to sit in the moment. It’s a lesson that is long overdue for me. And I’ll have to learn to be ok with occasionally putting my foot in my mouth.

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. 🙂

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”.

My family… and funerals.


Today was strange.  Truthfully, I don’t have a lot of experience with funerals.  My daughter insisted on going, and although I had my misgivings, in the end, I was happy she’d come along.  I love that she and I are buddies.  I keep waiting for the terrible teen to show up, but so far (knock on wood!) it really hasn’t hit all that much.  She’s a good kid.  And it was her and I who stood with and for our side of the family today.  We were there to support Dad and my step mom and brother and sister.  But a funny thing happened…

In the end… big picture… we stood as one family together.  It’s the first time that has happened on my dad’s side of the family since I was a teenager.  I hadn’t seen my uncles or aunts or cousins since.  That side of the family has always had it’s issues.  They could never figure out how to just come together.  I was surprised so many of my younger cousins remembered me.  I really didn’t think they would.  Us “kids”, today, we all said enough was enough.  We’re going to get together and screw the old folks, if that’s what it takes.  The idea of it makes me very happy.

I am still processing all of what happened today.  So I apologize if this post comes out in spurts. When I write – I just let my thoughts just come out and then I hit post before I chicken out.  Very rarely will I edit my thoughts, so sometimes, my punctuation and flow might be a little bit raw.

I had a range of emotions when I saw my aunt and her daughters today, and truthfully, I’d done my best to prepare for it.  My aunt is/was addicted to plastic surgery.  And at least one of her daughters seems to be following suit.  I had to remind my daughter not to stare impolitely.  My aunt used to be so very beautiful.  Super model-like.  I cannot quite fathom how bad a person’s self image must be to get to where she is.  So frail and oddly proportioned in places that weren’t quite natural.  She’s not old by any means, I’d wager, she’s in her her early 50’s.  But she looked aged in a different way.  It made me feel incredibly sad for her.  I know nothing of her life, so I cannot judge or begin to understand.  But it still made me feel very sad.

She didn’t know it, but her and I have a common bond.  Grandpa wasn’t happy with either of us.  Her, for her problems with her addiction, and me, because of Ben and a few misunderstandings.

I always felt a bit strange around that side of the family.  I can remember as a kid, feeling both a part of them… and yet.. an outsider looking in.  There was a song by Mariah Carey called Looking In.  As a younger teen, I related to it in how I feel about that family.  I can remember never quite feeling like I mattered with them.  It hurt as a kid, and as an adult, for the most part, I’ve worked my way through it.  Until today, when they listed Grandpa’s grandchildren and forgot me.  Dad had to jump in and say something.  And while I’m grateful and happy that he did… it still stung an old wound I’d forgotten that I’d had.

I learned some things about Grandpa today that I never knew.  He helped build the space needle.  He and Grandma did some interesting entrepreneurial things together (owned a snack bar, a restaurant and something else but I’m not remembering it).  He was 83.  And he had MANY girlfriends.  It was quite funny.  The first girlfriend he ever had was there, along with a few others.  Many had become family to all of us.  🙂

At one point, they invited people to speak.  I don’t know what came over me, but I spoke.  I said how Grandpa was always the one who prized courage.  You might not feel it, but just take a step.  Then take another.  That doing that.. the courage would come.  You might start off in the wrong direction, but you have to start… then you can course correct.  I also said how Grandpa was always there for us.  It didn’t matter if a year had gone by, we could always just call him or come to him.  He’d listen.

Then later, everyone was reminiscing about the last things they told him.  Here, I stayed quiet.  I didn’t need to share my last words.  I felt shame.  I cried.  And it’s ok.

My daughter and I ended up wandering the cemetery a little bit.  We found my great grandmother and great grandfather on my dad’s side.  We put a rock on each one and cleared some of the moss that was growing.  I didn’t know they were there.  We promised each other that at some point, we’ll come back and leave everyone a flower.

It was strange to see my Dad cry.  I don’t think I’ve seen it before.  Maybe during Ben – but truthfully, I don’t recall.  It hurt to see him hurt.  He and I hugged often today.  I tried to give him whatever courage and strength that I could.  He commented on how today was the worst day ever… that he’s sad that he won’t be able to talk to his Dad anymore.  I reminded him that he can still talk to his Dad anytime he wants to.  As I do with Ben.

Grandpa was jewish, as were his adopted parents.  The ceremony was really quite interesting.  Of course, because I don’t speak hebrew, understanding all of it was a bit of a challenge.  We all helped to shovel dirt on top of his casket.  The sound of the first couple shovels was oddly an uncomfortable sound.

Today was better

Because of my blog post yesterday, I gained the courage I needed to speak up.  That’s truly the benefit of writing in this blog, it helps me work out what I’m thinking in my head and be able to come to others with a clear message.  🙂

Today, I’m feeling a bit better about things.  I woke up this morning and it was as if something clicked.  I don’t want to be mopey any more.  The christmas season is here!  It’s time to water the grass on my side of the fence and just enjoy life!  Sure work is stressful – but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let any of that take away from my favorite time of year.


I want to bake cookies.  I want to go see xmas lights.  I want to sing carols and wrap presents.  I want to give gifts and be thoroughly spoiled in return.  I want to bundle up near a bon fire and drink hot cocoa with a little kahluha in it and watch the xmas ships drift by listening to some good jazz music.

I want to revel in what I love about this time of year.  The quiet moments, when snow is falling and the world goes still.  The crazy chaotic moments, when the kids all wake up on christmas morning and there’s music and laughter and exclamations of surprise over gifts they weren’t expecting.  It’s the time of year that I am more aware of how good I have it.  When I will randomly hand out a $10 or $20 bill to homeless folks I see on my commute every day.

It’s the one time of the year when I just want to give to everyone I see – and make sure that they have enough.  That they are warm, fed, and loved.


Why?  Because …. it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  🙂  Damn it! 😀

Much love to all of you in neverland.

lipstick kiss

Gift of Strength

Tonight I got an odd lesson in where I learned to embrace my inner strength.  I always attributed it to my grandparents and mom.  It’s interesting, as an adult, how we see things differently than we did as a kid.  Tonight, I called my dad and went over there tonight with the kids.  We had a good time.  He kept pouring the wine and pestering me about what was up with me.  I finally broke down in tears.  Shared all that’s been weighing on me.  Dad doesn’t like tears.  His wife hugged me while I got the reaming I didn’t know I needed from my father.  He told me to put my walls back up, embrace my strength.  Stop worrying about pleasing every body else in my life and focus simply on me and my kids.


To let no one into my walls unless they have earned it and truly deserve it.  He’s taken the stance that his life is his castle – he’ll defend it to the death and protect and care for what is truly his. Everything and everyone else – they are on the outside of his castle (myself included) and unless they come to him, he won’t bother about them and that I need to do the same.  Told me to tell other people to shove it and to just work and be happy in my castle.  He says it’s what I do, what I’ve always done.  Do it and quit being a coward.  He also said how he’s never worried about me.  In all that I’ve gone through, he’s never worried that I wouldn’t pull through.  I’d get lost and he knew I’d find my way.  That I was smart and quick on my toes as far as thinking things through and stubborn enough to pull anything off.  My dad can be very blunt.  🙂  As a child, I hated his lectures and rants, but as an adult, I recognize when I need them.

Poor T called in the middle of my dad’s lecture and in my wine induced loose tongue, I invited him to come join us with Dad.  He showed up with roses and snickerdoodle cookies (I know – he’s a keeper that one.  A man who’s brought me both steak, and now cookies).  We all ate dinner and enjoyed good home cooking, played with the kids, teased each other, and caught up.  I played a prank on my brother for him to find when he got home. I’m grateful to have spent the evening feeling relaxed, happy and in a better place with family that I love.  It was nice for T to see it too.  As messed up as we all are, my family is my family.  I love them.  I love spending time with them when we all can.  I loved having him there to share that with me.

Tomorrow, I will go to work.  I will do as Dad said (to some degree).  Going to put up my walls and just enjoy doing what I love doing.  Design.  I’m going to focus on the happy things in my life.  I’m going to follow my heart and do the things that will improve my life moving forward, rather than slow it up or hinder it.