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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Batten down the hatches!

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Wow!  What a day I’ve had.  I’m home sick today and had just woken up and decided to check my Facebook.  I browsed for a bit and then decided to check my daughter’s Facebook, as I haven’t done that in a while and we’re still in that learning/trust building stage of early teenage-hood.  I usually check it typically once a month or every other month, depending on what I find.  I don’t read everything, but I look for anything that might not be appropriate for her.  Overall, she’s genuinely a good kid, so I want to be aware if she falls down paths she might not be ready or prepared for.

Today, I discovered that she found her biological father and has been talking to him for just short of 2 months.  I have such mixed feelings about the whole thing, I suppose it’s what brought me to my blog to write about it.

On one hand, we spent over 50,000 thousand dollars and roughly 7 years in and out of courts to get to where we are.. or were.  Her bio dad signed his rights away years ago when my ex wasn’t my ex, he adopted her.  The birth certificate no longer even says her bio dad’s name.  (To note, that’s always somehow bothered me.  As proud as I was for her to be adopted by a man who adored her, who wanted to be in her life and would do what it took to see her be safe, happy and successful, it always bothered me that the policy was then to change that on the birth certificate.  He wasn’t there.  Biologically speaking – she’s not his.)  By all rights, for everything he’s done in her life, my ex IS her father.  They both love each other very, very much.  Her Bio dad doesn’t know her, hasn’t seen her and from how it looked, from our perspective, gave her up for less than respectable reasons.

BUT… Everything my daughter knows, is my perspective.  And even then, she knows pieces and parts.  She asked me a few years back to read one of my journals from back then.  I wrestled with it quite a lot.  There was a lot of mature content in there.  But I knew why she wanted to read it.  She wanted to know a little bit about him.  And she could gain some perspective from it.  I warned her, I told her how I only tend to write when I’m upset.  So it is filled with pain and torture – as in what I was going through emotionally.  And I told her that I would rather sit with her while she read it so she could ask me questions or talk through anything she was curious about.

It used to be, that I had a lot of hate and fear of her bio dad.  I was angry at him for a lot of things. When he disappeared the first time, I was just happy he was gone and out of our lives.  6 years later, he got in a relationship with a woman who was also a mom and he re-appeared demanding a reunion.  I remember being so angry that he could just come back in and demand that.  He hadn’t been there for the nightmares, the fevers or scary colds when you spend all night worrying over your child.  He wasn’t there for the potty training, the first words, the first sidewalk chalk monster drawing, the first day of school or the first broken friendship.  How dare he come in now and demand that I not only share, but do it across 2 states?  I fought it for a bit, and then the courts ok’d it.  I would retain full custody, but they’d allow him visitation for the longer school holidays and if I remember correctly, winter break.  They’d drive across a few passes and I’d have to give up a favorite holiday with my child.  It sucked.  And there was always an issue here, or an issue there.  It was a pain, but we were doing it.  The courts asked him to pay only a small amount for child support.  But half of other bills.  I remember what it was that “put him over the top” and started the path of him signing over his rights to the ex.  It was his $75 child support, on top of a bill I’d sent him for his half of a dentist bill and an eye glasses bill.  He was bitching and saying he didn’t have it, and I randomly threw out the “then sign over her rights and you’ll never have to pay for her again!” comment.  The next day, the process started.  It took a while too.  We had to go through interviews and a process to make the state confident that we were efficient, strong, loving team for the children.  I haven’t thought about her bio dad in years.  I don’t like to.  That relationship helped me learn a lot of valuable life lessons.  That relationship shaped who I became in a lot of ways.  I’m not angry with him, I’m not upset at all anymore.  How can I be when I don’t know him? He’s out of my life now.

What I DO have however, is fear.  I’m afraid.  I’m afraid that based on what I read from my daughter’s messaging, that she’s unintentionally given him ammunition, if he wanted to, to come back and stir things up.  I don’t want to have to hire my lawyer again, drag up the past.  There was a lot of bullshit.  And honestly, I don’t want to dredge it up.  I made mistakes too, I’m certainly not saying that.

I always told my daughter, that if, later down the road, she wanted to contact him and get to know him, that I wouldn’t stop it.  That I’d encourage her, but to do it safely.  I always asked for her to hold off until she was at the very least, 16.  Dang it girl!  You’re 3 years EARLY on this shit! 🙂

I panicked.  I cried.  She’s been talking to him a lot.  Every single day in some cases.  She’s shared with him what she read in my journal from years ago.  I feel betrayed.  I was clear when I shared it with her the first time, it’s my perspective, and it’s private.  She shared about our life, how the ex and I split, she shared … so much.  I’ve gone through a huge swing of emotions today… and where I’m at now… is an odd place.

I’ve recently been getting to know my own bio father.  And every time that I get to spend a chunk of time with him, I find myself wanting more because it’s been so interesting to really get to know him.  As an adult – I can open up and relate to him in ways I never could as a child or even teenager.  And the more I experience this, the more I want that for my child should she ever get the chance.  I just think I’d hoped that day would come after she was no longer living under my roof.  At a time when it would be no longer possible for him to have courts get involved and potentially “steal” her away from me.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to say to her when she walks in the doors after school.  I’m replaying everything in my head, all the choices I’ve made, all the things she talked to him about.  Just trying to figure out which way to navigate now.  It’s hard to know which way to go when you suddenly find you’re regretting some of the choices you’ve made to get you where you are.

Learning life lessons

It has been an interesting few days.  I’ve had 4 days off from work, and I won’t lie, they were most welcome.  Stress has been building up for me lately, and the few days off to sleep in, play games, eat good food, and hibernate were much appreciated.

Thursday, the plan was to do nothing.  Boring, I know.  But I have been boycotting Thanksgiving for 6 years now.  Ben died 2 days after thanksgiving and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. So I plan nothing.  Sometimes, I’ll get a hotel room, other times I’ll just binge watch movies.  The kids go to enjoy thanksgiving with the ex in-laws.  So it’s usually just me.  Around 10 am, my phone rang.  It was my brother and my father asking if maybe I’d like to come join them for turkey.

And this year – oddly enough – I said thank you and that yes – I’d love to.  You see, I’ve never had a thanksgiving with my real father.  They were always spent with my mom and step dad.  And they were lovely growing up.  But I always had wondered what it would be like to spend that day with my dad.  I got ready, grabbed a bottle of wine from my collection as an offering for the table and drove up to his house.  I was nervous.  I don’t know my father very well, he is still someone I am getting to know.

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It was lovely.  Relaxed and casual, lots of chatter and play, dad would sing whatever song was in his head… I have always loved my dad’s voice.  Smooth, deep, country… I swear – he could have made a career with that voice.  He laughs when I say that.  To him, he’s just playing around with it.

It dawned on me while I was heading over there.  I’m not angry any more.  The past 6 years.  I’ve been so angry and didn’t even know it.  I was angry with thanksgiving.  Angry at my family.  Angry at my ex.  Angry with the doctors.  Angry with fate.  Angry with God.  I was just… Angry.  And yet – no one knew.  Not even myself.   This year was different.  I didn’t want to boycott.  Suddenly, more than ever before, I just wanted my family.  I wanted to surround myself with the people I feel comfortable with.  The people who I know have my back – always.  Dad wanted me to spend the night… oh how I wanted to.  He and I chatted about all sorts of things.  Life, love, politics, human nature, psychology … some of our topics were light, while others were deep and full of emotions.

Friday, I decided I wanted to cook.  So I cooked a full feast, from scratch.  No canned goods, no canned soups, no pre-packaged stuff.  It was incredible.  T, R and I cooked and feasted and made merry.

Yesterday, I had a song stuck in my head.  It was still early and I found myself humming outside.  I’m not typically much of a hummer.  This song was playing insistently in my head to the point where I had to go look it up and just play it.  I found it on youTube.  A song I hadn’t heard in at least 8 years.  The lyrics had me instantly in tears.

I ugly cried.  I bawled and bawled and bawled.  Apparently, once the flood gates opened, there was no stopping it, because I literally spent the entire day in bed.  I still can’t get over what that felt like yesterday.  I’m sure to others I must sound strange.  It was just overwhelming sadness.  And to anyone else, they’d probably say “So?  Haven’t you been sad this whole time?”  My answer to that would be both – yes and no.

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I’ve appeared sad.  I’ve acted sad.  And on some levels, I’ve felt sad.  But really – I don’t think I understood what the sad part of grief looked like until now.

I wish there was an answer book for life.  Is this normal?  No way is it normal.  I realize grief is different for everyone, but shit.  To spend 6 years and not really get to this part of the cycle seems a bit – drawn out.

I don’t want to be angry any more.  And I have been – for a very long time.  Stubborn, Angry, Strong… and maybe I was scared to allow myself to feel sadness to it’s full extent because I was scared that it would somehow make me weak.  And if I was weak – that perhaps it would break me.  So I shoved it aside.  I forced myself to keep my head held high and square my shoulders and just keep moving.  Never allowing myself to really feel.  This weekend – I felt.  I allowed myself to swim in it.  Every time someone would try and cheer me up – I’d go with whatever my heart wanted.  If that meant I’d giggle or laugh for an hour – cool – and if it meant that suddenly a wave of sadness would take over and I’d snuggle under the comforters and just cry and cry – that was ok too.

Oddly – allowing myself to do that has been the most freeing thing I think I’ve ever done.  I don’t think that even I fully realize how often I don’t allow myself to really feel an emotion in the moment.  Perhaps, it is time to allow myself the freedom to practice that.

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I went and visited my Mom today.  We haven’t been as close lately and I’ll fully admit to and take the blame on that one.  I’ve needed some space.  But I was feeling a bit guilty over my silence and decided to drop in.  I’m glad I did.  My mom and I may butt heads, but really, it’s only because we are so alike.  She knows that I will always love her and be there for her anytime she needs it.  And I know I have the same from her.  We’re a family.  Perhaps a bit dysfunctional at times – but we love each other all the same.

Tomorrow, I will return to work.  I’m not ready – my game face isn’t on yet and my energy levels aren’t quite where I’d hoped they would be by now – but oh well.  It is what it is.  I’m about to go into “hell month”.  A month long crazy ride of long hours, short deadlines and lots of work.  🙂  But then January will come, and things will settle down a bit.  I may even get to take a vacation.  Lord knows, I’ll need it.

Much love to you all tonight.  Goodnight.

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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.

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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.

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UGH!!

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My god, what was I thinking?!  Seriously??  I know what I was thinking.  And at the time, it was right.

What am I talking about?  The ex; choosing to have Ben against all the odds; the debt that now hangs squarely over my shoulders and mine alone.  And that’s really the kicker.  Alone.  I never thought this would be only on me.  I’d never have thought to think that far ahead.  I’d have never dreamed I’d be a single mom, trying to make it in this big bad world alone.  Alone.  God that word just pisses me off.  And it shouldn’t.  I have no qualms with being alone.  I crave my alone time just as much as the next person.  But to shoulder the responsibility of a choice.  A choice I made WITH someone else.  To tally up the money I’ve put towards paying off that enormous debt put me in a bit of shock yesterday.  So far, thanks to several garnishments, I’ve paid just over $30,000.  Holy CRAP!  And then to tally up what the ex has contributed.  $0.00.  How much has he contributed to the kids?  Same amount.  His was fairly easy to tally up, what can I say?

I got my bonus today.  I should be jumping up and down and excited as all hell.  But when I do the math, 75% of bonus was taken from me, either by the tax man or the garnishment man for Ben’s debts.  Seventy Five Percent!!!!!!!!!!  That pisses me off to no end.  I worked so hard for this.  To hit where I am, to make what I do; to have earned this bonus makes me so proud – and to not even see it, is frustrating.  It would be one thing, if the ex has helping.  If I could look at the debt and know that it doesn’t sit solely on me.  But it does.  He’ll never pay it.  I know this.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand exactly how selfish and uncaring he is.  He showed it plenty this weekend.

Logan was over this weekend.  Just for an overnight.  I’ve missed him, and we had a lot of fun hanging out.  But he shared some things with me that were concerning.  He wanted advice on how to approach the ex.  Apparently he’s tried to talk to him about it previously, but it backfired in his face.  I was torn.  Of course I want to help him.  But I knew that by speaking up, it would put me squarely in the enemy seat.  Not a place I like to be in with him.  I trust him as far as I could throw him.  Not very.  😛  But for Logan, I did it.  I don’t regret it, but it definitely took a massive toll on me.  Emotionally, physically… I was a wreck afterwards.  He said a lot.  Refused to hear what Logan was saying.  Got defensive.  Got angry.  Told Logan to talk to the ex’s new girlfriend about this stuff instead.  How can I explain that Logan wanted to talk to people who’ve been in his life longer than 5 months?  He wanted his father to hear him, and even I couldn’t get him to see or understand that.  Of course, it quickly derailed, he flipped it and made it all about what it wasn’t.  It took all that I had to keep the conversation on a mature level.  The ex would raise his voice, goad me into raising mine.  I only slipped up once and when I realized what I’d done, I apologized for raising my voice and simmered instead.  The man threw everything at me.  My vacations.  Ben.  My wages.  Every button he could push, he did.  Every crack or weakness or insecurity he could dig or poke at, he did.  Because Logan was watching from in the car, I held it together as best I could.  I walked straight into my room, laid on my bed and screamed into my pillow.  Cried from a dark horrible place I haven’t done before.  I don’t typically have issues with anger or frustration like that.  I’d almost qualify this as angry despair.  How does someone justify that kind of selfishness?  How can you stand there and break your son’s heart for no good reason?  How can you erase (or try) the son you had that passed away?  Did it all mean nothing to you?  Ever?  Did I?  That’s just it…. I didn’t.  Will I ever to someone?  Is or was it me?  Maybe I’m not meant to have a partnership?  Who’d want to anyway?  For dating, sure… but long term?  I’m not convinced.  What’s funny, I walked into the kitchen afterwards, and the bro had a drink poured.  It was 11 am.  And me, not being a drinker, happily took it and gulped it down…grateful for the burn that scorched it’s way down my throat.

T and I have spent the day cooking with the kids.  We both need to save money and stop eating out so much, so in order to motivate ourselves to do that, he brought groceries over and we both spent the day cooking meals we could freeze for later.  2 Lasagnas, 2 pot roasts, Beef Stew, Seafood chowder, and thai peanut chicken were all on the menu.  The house smells so good and it was a blast to shop, and cook together.  We’ve danced and played with the kids, made faces at each other, had a ton of fun actually. His presence has been a welcome uplift; a vacation away from yesterday’s drama and my stress over my bonus.  I’m so grateful to have him in my life.

I’m scared to rely on anyone.  I’m very much an all or nothing kind of girl, what’s mine is yours kind of thing but it seems that relationships these days don’t work that way.  There seem to be so many rules that I either don’t know, or don’t understand.  it’s an auto reflex for me to treat my relationships as I’ve always done.  Apparently tho, that’s not how these things work.  The person who cares the least, holds the power.  How much is too much to spend time together?  I’d hate to scare someone away when for me, I am just doing what feels right to me.  When do you know to move things forward to the next level?  Or do you?  My answer to that is to let others pave that path so to speak, they can set the pace, but that hurts a little at times too, when the pace isn’t quite what you’d set for yourself.  Sigh.  I’m feeling a bit lost.  It’s an odd learning curve, one that I’m really struggling to master.

I don’t know what the right way forward is for me right now.  I do know that I will figure it out, I always do.  I’m independent, will take care of my own.  I will learn to stop wanting a partnership and just do for myself.  I do anyway – not a stretch to turn the heart off and stop trying to save everyone all the time.  The problem is, I am not convinced that doing that is the right thing either.  Guess we’ll find out.  Much love Neverland.  XXO!