When dealing with others who are toxic

Do not expect to receive something from someone who doesn’t have what you want.

This quote has been running through my mind all day today. The things you have to tell yourself after dealing with a particularly toxic member of my family. I’m hoping that by writing about this, I can get to feeling better about things. But even I recognize that journaling can only do so much.

I’m faced with kicking my baby brother out of my house. I’m not looking forward to it, and honestly – it makes me feel like one big giant asshole. But I cannot do it anymore. At first, I thought that maybe staying here would be good for him, but the longer this goes on, the less respect I have for him. It’s time for him to go. He’s barely contributed towards anything, and comes home drunk or highly drugged at all hours of the night, often waking the household. He leaves food out, and has set off fire alarms, and last night – well – this morning actually… he came home with a completely totalled car. He’s already had a DUI and I’ve witnessed him coming home from driving completely plastered now a couple of times. What kind of example are my children getting from all of this? I told him he couldn’t stay. That I’ve had enough and that I was calling Dad. Dad needed to know that his youngest son was doing this, that the car he was still paying for was totalled. Yea – i know – I totally ratted out of my brother which in most cases, would not be cool. This feels a bit more life and death tho.

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I was scared to call my Dad. I knew the messenger would be shot at. I didn’t expect it to go the way it did. I didn’t expect to feel whooshed back to the days when I faced that same kind of verbal treatment daily. I didn’t expect to feel a moment of fight or flight… on the PHONE. I hung up. I walked for a few minutes. And then suddenly I had things I wanted to SAY! That’s not like me. My flight instinct is strong with my family – I clam up, go quiet and get the heck out of there. Today – I stood up for myself. Don’t talk to me like that. Don’t treat me like this. I have done nothing to earn this behavior being slung at me in it’s vileness. It felt good. It also backfired on me. Managed to get me in bigger trouble – but whatever. I don’t really care. You want to tell me now that i’m not your daughter? Cuz you’ve said it to me plenty of times in the past. I don’t care.

This is when the quote runs through my head the most. My father is simply not capable of giving me the kind of father/daughter relationship that I need.. why? Because he does not possess the skills to do so. Never has. Most likely – never will. So why do I continue to hope beyond hope that someday something will blossom and we’ll have a closer bond or kin-ship? That’s insanity on my part!

Dad asked me to take in my baby brother, and I did. And I can honestly say, I’ve given him just over a month here, I’ve really TRIED. But I can’t work with someone who doesn’t see that what they’re doing is self-destructive. I can’t help someone who has no desire to help themselves. And now – all it’s doing is dragging down my family’s ability to live successfully.

I’ve always done the right thing. I’ve always been the good daughter. I’ve always strived to do what was asked of me, what was expected of me. But now – I want to show my children that they don’t have to have toxic people in their lives. I want the people I surround myself with to be people who actually care about me. People who will put their all into building something healthy and amazing with me – because I’ll happily put in the effort to do the same with them.

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After all the drama – I took a moment to plant some flowers outside. It made me feel instantly better. I then spent the day with my kids. We played some Wii sports, and walked to the park. Enjoyed each other and did what we could to make each other laugh. I’m grateful for them. My children. I’m so lucky to have them in my life. I swear on the very last breath I take – that I will NEVER give to them, the kind of heartache and pain that my father has given me. I refuse. They deserve so much better than that.

Well, I better get some sleep. Goodnight Neverland. Happy Sunday to you!

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A unique perspective on parenting a teenager

I was talking with an old friend today and it dawned on me that I haven’t written much about my new perspective on raising a teenage girl.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared much about that experience at all.  Maybe a few hints here and there in some of my updates.  So here it goes.  I suppose I should say – trigger warning – this will be a rough story involving some very touchy subjects.  I won’t go into great detail – but they are kind of necessary to understand the catalysts behind things.

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It’s been almost 3 years since my daughter attempted suicide.  My girl… my baby… I’ll never forget the phone call from my ex husband.  It was late.  I was to meet them at the ER.  She was ok, physically, but she was not ok.  I was shocked.  I didn’t know it was coming – not by a long shot.  I climbed into that hospital bed and didn’t leave her side.  Quit my job.  Spent a year off just to get her to a healthy place again.  We got therapy for her.. and me.  We talked.  And talked.  And talked some more.  I learned more than I wanted to learn – but wouldn’t change it for anything.  She had her reasons – and while I won’t share any more of her end of that story – suffice it to say that these reasons were valid and justified and horrifying and nearly ripped my heart from my chest when I finally heard them.

Since then… we’ve built a new type of relationship.

We share absolutely everything.  I am transparent with her about absolutely everything.  So long as she asks.  There is no topic off limits, and no topic where I won’t give her a very straight up, very real answer to.  Even when it’s uncomfortable for me. I swear, the first time she asked me about masturbation and sex toys I damn near fell over!  But, over time, it’s become easier and quite frankly it feels more natural.  Sometimes I’ll preface things I say to her with “I’m telling you this because I’m being transparent, but I want so badly to shield you from it…” kind of statement.  Or I’ll say “I’m going to put my foot in my mouth about this…” and then share.

So many who meet us – think I’m nuts.  That i’m too open about things.  Too real.  But she’s going to be a full fledged legal adult in 2.5 years.  And she’s already been exposed to a lot of very grown up situations, as much as I would have wished otherwise.  At this point, the only thing to do, is to be real with her.  To break down and dissect the world around her, and make sure that home is safe, and that the people I let into my world are safe for her too.

And can I say – this whole experiment…because that’s essentially what it is – I am in unknown territory and am just trying to find my way through experimentation… has been eye opening.  I’m glad I went about it.  And I don’t believe it works for EVERY kid.  But I will say, it’s working for her.  She’s blooming.  She feels safe.  She’s making healthier emotional choices and seems to have healthier relationships now because of it.  She’s looking bigger picture and not getting so wrapped up in petty high school drama.  It’s inspiring to watch. The people in our world, who know her, and what she’s been through, have all commented that they see a change in her.  That she seems happy now.  She’s thriving and I’m so proud of the woman she’s become and is still becoming.  When she was born – I remember whispering to her that she was “the greatest thing I ever did”.  And even now – she’s one of 3 of “the greatest things I ever did.”

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December is finally here!

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Holy crap man!  This year, both, flew by and crawled at the same time.  But it’s now officially December.  On friday, we’ll put up our Christmas tree.  It’s a bit late for me this year, but oh well.  We do what we can.  I’m lacking in motivation to actually work today, I’d much rather be at home working on my side business.  Things are going well on that front – after this weekend, I’ll be ready to do a soft launch.  Going to have my products in one store front before the christmas season ends just to see how it goes.  Will give me the chance to change and tweak things a bit before officially launching next year.  Until then, I’m continuing to build up my stock and test my product to ensure everything is working beautifully.

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year.  I can’t wait to decorate the house.  I can’t believe that as of March 17th, I’ll have been in the house for a full year.  And hoo boy – what a year it’s been.  I hugged my daughter extra last night, reminding her that I love her and am proud of her for the efforts she’s put in to change some things.  She’s on a better path these days – and it’s a relief.  But it’s also a lesson learned – I now know how quickly things can change, how easy it is to get off course.  I will continue to keep a wary watch over her – to ensure she stays on track.  Her depression really snuck up on us all – and I won’t let it blindside us again.

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Yesterday I discovered that I’d been submitted for a job opening for a company I’ve been trying to get into for quite some time – the real bonus on the opening – it’s about 10 minutes from my house.  I have my fingers crossed, as I’m quickly discovering that I’m not enjoying the commute to my existing job, among other things.  I’d be a director again too – which would be nice.  The job I’m at right now, this is the first time in 7 years that I’m not a manager – and I don’t mind at all – but my new manager keeps having me do work FOR him and it’s starting to get a bit awkward.  It’s not my place to set the course for the team – it’s his, and I’m a bit leery to keep putting myself in a position to step on his toes.

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Ben’s anniversary came and went, and I’m doing ok.  Thanks to some friends, I wasn’t completely alone on Monday and it helped.  I’ve definitely been a bit quiet this week tho.

I had no choice but to stick up for myself yesterday with my mom.  I didn’t want to start a fight so close to christmas, but I’m finding that my tolerance of her negative energy is getting to be less and less.  I made a request of her.  All I asked was that I be treated with common courtesies and decency – just as you would with any person you interact with on a regular basis.  My request was not met well at first, but once my step dad finally stopped trying to talk over me and listened to my request – I think he understood.  Hopefully, he can help me navigate around my mom.  I love her, hell – I love our family – but I’ve always felt like I don’t matter to them.  Unless I’m not doing what they want me to – then it’s world war 3.  LOL.  Thankfully, I managed to simmer them down just enough to avoid utter catastrophe.  I’m not entirely pleased with the outcome – I always feel like compromising is one sided for me – but at least the war was avoided.

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Well – I better get to work.  Thinking of you Neverland.  Wish we could somehow hang out and play hookie today! 😀  Talk soon!

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Sunday night thoughts

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Tonight I spent some time quietly just sitting and reflecting.  Truthfully, I don’t do this enough.  It has been a busy weekend.  We had friends and their children stay the weekend with us.  I don’t think the house has ever had that many people in it, let alone sleeping in it.  It was a lovely weekend, high in energy.  Today, some friends came over for a visit, we watched movies and played Uno.  It was a lovely way to finish out the busy weekend, but I think what really helped to calm and center me was simply to light a few candles and sit cross-legged on my couch and just be in the moment.

It’s interesting, society spends so much time trying to distract themselves from living in the moment.  Movies, video games, social media, food, alcohol, drugs…. all of these things we use to disappear into.  Trying desperately to fill a hole in their lives that they may not even fully realize is there, let alone have the know-how on filling it.  It would be a lie to say that I’m not one of those people.  But every now and then, typically after I’ve had a loud, overstimulating few days, I have to just stop everything and just breathe.

I think I know how to fill it.  I think it comes with time and age, and just learning to understand who you are at the core of your being.  And accepting it for what is. But I’m also good at trying to fill a void.  🙂  And there are a few for me… more than a few.  I have a rich and full life.  A wonderfully large family, whom I see often, a variety of friends who are as near and dear to me as family should be, I have my children who I have very close relationships with… even loving pets whom I adore.   And yet, sometimes, I’m lonely.  It’s silly really – as I rarely have alone time, so how on earth can one feel lonely… but it’s the honest truth.

I spent some time thinking about that too tonight.  Why do we desire to share our lives with someone else… especially when we think about the fact that the journey we each walk down is ours and ours alone.  So logically, if that’s the case, then you will never truly be able to share your life with someone.  OR… I suppose you could look at it the other way – you share your life with anyone and everyone who touches it… to what degree and the depth that you share will vary and depend on a variety of variables.  My god I sound like an engineer.  I know, I overthink everything! 🙂

I’ve been in the new house almost 3 months now.  It’s amazing how time flies.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here so much longer than that, and other times, it feels like it was just yesterday that we moved in.  I think a part of that is just because of the swirl of other tests life has thrown at me since we got here.  I’m so proud to be here.  To own my own place.  I have a solid plan in motion on getting it paid off, and in a few years, I intend to invest in something additional – either property or business-wise.  It’s fun, knowing that those goals are not only in front of me, but very much attainable.  🙂

I’m looking forward to the summer.  Between my little garden (next year’s will be bigger if I have anything to say about it), my art, my children, my work and my new kayaks… I think the summer days will be quite filled with a lot of fun.

I’m building a full on art studio in my house.  It’s been quite a thrill so far to start putting together.  When I’m finished, I think I will finally have my dream studio space.  It’ll take me a couple of years to really get it where I want to, but I will get there.  🙂  I’m even making one of the rooms a photography studio – something I’ve been dreaming of having for about 5 years now.

Little pieces of my life, long-loved interests and hobbies are all finally starting to come together and find a place in my life.  It’s interesting to me.  I’d never have guessed that it would take me risking everything and breaking out on my own in order to find confidence in being myself.  At my core, I always saw myself as being fairly confident… but it’s only the last 5 months or so that I really feel like I’ve come into my own.  I see myself now.  All of me.  Not just the good parts and not just the bad.  I care about my own well-being.  Funny, I think I’d stopped.  Maybe I had given up?  Maybe losing Ben and my husband and my family and my friends did more to me than I gave it credit for.

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In the last few weeks, I feel a bit like Andy, from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”; when he climbs out of the sewer pipe and strips himself from the final rags from the prison and just stands in the pouring rain, drinking it all in.  Living life, even with all the scary parts, with all the pain, or insecurities, the grief, … is a spectacular thing.  I wouldn’t give up a single moment of it.  And I refuse to be one of those people who sit by and just accept the monotonous daily grind… especially when adventures can begin anywhere with anything.

My daughter is learning about gardening this year.  She has a few plants that she is growing all on her own, and even something as simple as a strawberry plant… watching it grow from seed to plant, growing and tending it, and now… the joy of the first few berries… has been an adventure for us all.  Researching a new subject for a painting or cartoon is an adventure.  Going on a weekend to explore a new city is an adventure.  Exploring the nearby lakes with my new kayak, all the wildlife and amazing scenery – these are all the adventures I’ve got going on in my world these days.  And it’s these types of adventures… that continue to fuel me and bring me so much happiness.

So to you, Neverland, go have an adventure this week.  I know I will.  🙂

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And that’s when it hit me…

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Work, kids, gardening, cooking, pets, house, art and movies.  That is how I’ve spent my time in the last few weeks, peppered with a few random things like kayaking or the occasional shopping.  Truthfully – I don’t watch a lot of TV in general.  I spend so much time in front of a screen with work, that the idea of sitting in front of one at home doesn’t hold a lot of appeal.  But once or twice a week, I’ll put on a movie and put my feet up and watch.

Last night, I was paging through my movie collection trying to decide what to watch.  I’ve been slowly catching up on some newer movies my brother brought me, as well as re-watching old classic favorites.  But in the last few weeks, I’ve picked up on a pattern, and it makes me laugh.

And that’s when it hit me… Apparently… I’m a total and complete 100%-romantic sap.

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In person, and to my friends, they’d probably say “Jen?” Ha!  I won’t admit that I’m a sap.  Why would I?!  I would adamantly proclaim that I’m a realist.  That the idea of true love and all that mushy gushy stuff is lovely – but unrealistic.  But then you look at the movies I’ve curled up to enjoy recently, sighing longingly over the happy endings or teary-eyed over the sad ones and I have no choice but to call myself on my own bullshit.  🙂

My daughter likes to giggle at me when I yell at the TV (please note, I ONLY do this when watching movies alone at home) – “Just KISS her already!!”  I do it with scary movies too “Don’t run UPSTAIRS you idiot!!” and things like “Oh crap – well you KNOW he’s dead soon!”.  I realize that the characters can’t actually hear me… and yet I do this.  A lot.  🙂 I tell her that it’s my job as her mother to give her things to talk to her therapist about – this can be one of them.  Why her mom feels the need to yell at imaginary characters through the TV screen.

I think it’s because I’m a visual person.  I get caught up in a story – as if I am actually there.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a book I’m reading, a piece of artwork I’m working on, a movie I am watching or even a daydream I’m having.  Apparently, my imagination is a fine tuned machine.  🙂  I suppose it makes sense, it would explain why I love my job as much as I do – because I get to use that imagination every single day.  🙂  At least this way, I get paid to do it.

Who would have thought that my mom was wrong.  As a kid – she’d tell me to get my head out of the clouds.  Guess in my case, it’s better to stay in them.  🙂

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Happy Thursday Neverland.