Two weeks ago today at 5:22 p.m. I had a son, Patrick Charles. I had a plan, a schedule, I knew how things would go - but somehow God forgot to follow my lead. I was supposed to have Patrick on Friday 12/08 but after my amnio I started having contractions and they decided it would be best to perform a C section since the baby was laying transverse (sideways) in the womb. His lungs were not quite mature but they assured me he'd just need a little oxygen and he'd be fine. So at 4:15 they wheeled me into the OR and within ten minutes they were cutting me open. Patrick was a bit stubborn, he was big and didn't come out easily but after a bit of 'tugging' they pulled him into this world. I heard him cry and my heart most certainly skipped a beat. As quickly as they took him from my belly, the whisked him away to check him out. I could hear the doctors talking, something seemed wrong but no one spoke to me or my husband. Finally one of the doctors went to the Neonatal doctor and said, "mom is getting worried, can you fill her in?" Finally the Neo doc came over and told me Patrick needed oxygen and that based on his first assessment the baby was premature at 34 weeks. Then he left. I laid there stunned because I knew I was 38 weeks and 5 ultrasounds confirmed this. Patrick was 8 lbs. 8 oz., how could a premie weigh that much? They let me see him for all of 20 seconds before they took him away to the NICU. As I lay there trying to burn the image of my son into my memory from 20 seconds I actually got to see his face, I felt helpless. What happened after that is somewhat a blur because most of my moments were spent longing to hold my son, a son that had been taken away from me in an instant.
It took 5 hours for a doctor to give me an update, Patrick was on a breathing tube. He was breathing on his own but he needed some extra help inflating his lungs. Finally at 10:30 p.m. I demanded my nurse take me to see my son. Everyone had seen him except me. My husband took some video but can you imagine how much that hurts carrying a baby for so long and when he finally arrives you have to see his first moments of life on a camera? My reluctant nurse wheeled me into the nursery where I caught the first real glimpse of my sweet baby boy. He was the one that looked helpless as he lay there with tubes up his nose. I cried for him, for the first harsh moments this world had to offer him, for the mother he knew he had yet couldn't touch. I cried for him and I cried for me.
Every day after Patrick got better but not fast enough for him to go home with me when I left the hospital. As my husband wheeled me through the exit doors of the hospital tears streamed down my face. I was broken. I entered that hospital 4 days earlier with a child inside of me and now I was leaving the same place, with a hole where a child once was. I've been broken before but never in my life have I felt the pain, the loss, the anger...that I did at that moment. I was angry at God because I couldn't understand how he felt justified in keeping my child from me. I know that I should have considered myself lucky because Patrick would be better soon and many children lay in that NICU with much less hope of survival. But I was selfish, I wanted my child with me, in my arms, in my home, within my reach.
When Patrick was born he cried so hard that his little lungs sprung a leak. Air got trapped between the cavity and his lung so when he breathed his little lung could expand all the way. With the oxygen and flow they gave him it forced the air out so his lungs could expand like they were supposed to. There are not lasting effects, he's healthy now. Nine days after Patrick was born he got to come home. As I walked through the door of my house with Patrick in my arms, I became whole again.
Life can break you. Love can make you whole.
I'll try to write as often as I can but if I miss you before Christmas...Have a wonderful holiday.
In my life I have done many things. Some have scared the hell out of me, some have filled me with regret, some have changed me, and some have caused me to remain the same. Some were premeditated, some were on impulse, some I remember, some I still try to forget. Some things took courage, some were because I was a coward, some taught me lessons while others struck me dumb. Some things that I have done can never be taken back even though I've tried many many times. Some things I wish I could do over - but differently, some things I hope I never have to do again.
Friday I am going to have a baby.
When I look back on my life I realize that there are few moments that I remember being scared. I'm sure they exist but I've either blocked them from my memory or they have become so insignificant that they've blended into the woodwork of my life. When I had my first child I was petrified, not of the pain of childbirth but of the reality that followed. When you have a child you bring this tiny human being into the world that depends on you for everything. There were so many times I could barely depend on myself and the thought of someone else needing me for everything was the scariest thing I'd ever imagined. And then they laid her in my arms I was not afraid any longer. It's amazing how fear can disappear with one breath of your child's scent. How you can look into eyes that reflect your own and see only goodness and hope. Children are the chances we thought we never deserved.
On Friday I'm going to bring another life into this world. Am I scared? Yes. Not of the pain that comes from someone cutting your stomach open rather the pain of knowing that someday you will surely let this little being down. I've never been so afraid of failing. But I know that when I see his face or feel his skin on mine, fear will dissipate. Of course I'll fail but many more times I will succeed at teaching my sweet babies how to be compassionate and truthful and hopeful and loving. I'll teach them how to only be afraid of the chances they throw away, not the ones they take.
Once I thought my heart could never have enough room to love someone else, and then I met Alice. Once I thought loving one child took everything I had inside of me and then I felt Patrick's tiny hands brush the inside of my heart and suddenly I had more room then I ever dreamed of.
In my life I have done many things. Some change you and some remind you of who you were always capable of being.
Do you believe in angels? I think I do even though I've never actually seen one. There have been times in my life that something or someone has saved me, sometimes from myself and sometimes from other people. I suppose some would say it was just luck but honestly I believe in angels much more than I believe in being lucky. Luck is chance and when you come through the fire with nothing more than a few soot marks, you start to believe that some higher power is looking out for you.
I was worried about Thanksgiving with my step dad because he's gotten so much worse with the Alzheimers and my mom said he doesn't remember most people except the ones he sees on a daily basis. As much as I'd love to take Alice to see him every day, we live 3 hours away so that's impossible. I wasn't sure how I would explain to my 2 1/2 year old that her papa might not remember her but when Papa walked in and saw Alice, his face lit up. She ran to him and he hugged her so tightly that her cheeks turned red. He stroked her hair and asked how his sweet Alice had been. I can't begin to explain the relief I felt in that moment when somehow Papa remembered her. Most of the day I watched Alice and Papa play with Barbie's or watch Baby Einstein and I kept thinking that this may be the last time she's able to do this with the man she's loved since the moment she saw him. I remember the first time he held her she had her eyes open so wide and she kept trying to grab at his white hair. From that moment, her love has only grown. After they played for what seemed like hours Papa fell asleep with Alice on his lap so I told Alice that Papa needed a rest. She quickly obeyed as she hopped down off his lap and tiptoed over to me so she wouldn't wake him. "Look mama there's an angel," she exclaimed. "Where sweetie," I asked. "Right there, on Papa's shoulder," she answered as she pointed her chubby little finger towards a sleeping papa. The smile on her face confirmed that my sweet Alice could see angels.
There has not been one moment of doubt in my mind that Alice did in fact see an angel sitting on her Papa's shoulder. I believe we all have guardian angels but because we're grown up, less innocent and more cynical, we cannot see them. My hope for Alice - that she always be able to see the angels on our shoulders and maybe some day she'll even be able to talk to one.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day for those of us here in the states. It means a lot of different things to a lot of people and I must admit that even for me, the meaning has changed multiple times over the years. It seems that no matter where I was in my life, what pain I was going through, Thanksgiving was always one day that remained immune from reality. My family would gather around and pretend that we were all happy but even though that day retained a certain 'falseness' it also became a comfort. Sometimes it's actually ok to take comfort in things that may not be truthful to the core.
I know some of you write your grateful lists quite often and I'm always impressed how that list stays in the forefront of your life, reminding you of what you have. I won't lie, as much as I try each day to be thankful for what I have, sometimes I let the moments slip past with no acknowledgment at all. Try as I may to be more aware of my blessings, I've realized there is a difference between being aware of them and being thankful. It seems rather generic to start now, the day before Thanksgiving, but I'm going to do it anyway - because timing seems less important than the actual acknowledgement.
-that in a heart where once only pain existed, there is love strong enough to make the pain less 'painful'
-that I know myself better than I did before and I'm not scared of what I've discovered
-for second chances
-for people who have a stronger will than mine
-that sometimes it's ok to be scared
-that one man decided to ignore my request to 'leave me alone'
-that God blessed me with Alice and soon with Patrick
-that Alice 'touches my heart' every morning
-for the ability to forgive
-that I can remember the people that love me
-that people remember me for my accomplishments and not my flaws
-that I can be who I am and that people let me
My list could be longer but I realize it's not about putting the words down on paper or even saying them out loud, it's about really living my life in a way that reflects how grateful I am.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and whether you celebrate the day or not, choose to celebrate your life. Be thankful every day, every moment - until there are no more moments left. Happy Thanksgiving.
I know I've posted before about my step father who has Alzheimer's but it's been awhile. My mom had him admitted to a nursing home back in March because she could no longer take care him by herself. It was one of the hardest things she ever had to do outside of watching the man she loves deteriorate into someone that neither of them recognizes. This Thanksgiving will most likely be the last one he celebrates with us, at our home. It will most likely be the last one where he remembers our names or Alice's sweet face or how much she loves him or how much he adores the sound of her voice when she calls him 'Papa'. It will be the last time Alice sees him where I'll be able to pretend Papa is the same, unchanged, loving man. She's growing up so quickly and as her mind expands, his retreats into a place that none of us are allowed to visit. Soon I'll have to explain why he can no longer remember who she is or why sometimes grown-ups need help with the very things I'm helping her learn like tying her shoes, going to the potty, or putting clothes on. I'm not sure how I'll explain these things since I barely understand them myself. I do not know how I will tell her that Papa will not be there when she wakes up on Christmas morning. Although she's only two, her Papa being present in her life is something she's always known, expected, celebrated. She seems too young to learn the lesson that nothing lasts forever, hell, I'm too young to learn it.
I know that most of us believe that we own our memories, that they are ours now and forever. But they are not. They are simply moments we're allowed to possess for a passage in time until some higher power decides they can be no longer. One day we wake up and like tiny drops of rain washing specs of dirt from a surface, memories no longer exist. A moment is just that - a moment, which disappears the instant that it happens.
Until you watch someone you love, someone that used to know they loved you back - fade into a stranger with no past, you cannot accept that it will happen. Memories become things we no longer own.
Sorry for the gloom just before a weekend...but it's life and as hard as I try to avoid it sometimes - it's always there.
Yesterday I decided to treat myself to a mani/pedi and a leg waxing. I've always thought waxing your legs was sort of...well...high maintenance but when you reach the stage of pregnancy where you can't shave your legs yourself, waxing seems to be the only option left. Seriously do you know how awful it feels not to be able to reach your own legs? Quite honestly, it sucks. I can't put my socks and shoes on, I can't paint my toenails...hell I can barely see my toenails unless I lift my foot off the ground which is kind of dangerous since at this point my balance is questionable. I asked my husband to shave my legs and bless his heart he tried but he used the same technique he uses on his face which left me with tiny bits of toilet paper all over my legs. Not pretty. So I broke down and made the appointment and I'll be honest I had a little apprehension to the pain I knew was associated with waxing. I sat there trying not to think about how much it would hurt but that was near impossible after she ripped the first piece of cloth from my leg. I felt like a complete wimp, after all I have endured child birth but at least after that pain you get this wonderful little person that you can remind for the rest of their life the pain you endured to get them here. After getting my legs waxed all I got was nice smooth legs that I can't feel or see anyway. I suppose I could use this pain as a bargaining chip against my husband because really it was only because of him that I even cared that hair was growing wildly on parts that used to be shiny and slick. Trust me, when you are 9 months pregnant and you can't sleep, can't walk without waddling, can't remember what your pre-baby body felt like...the last damn thing you care about is 'maintenance'.
At least when Patrick does arrive he won't come out and be forever wounded by the sight of his mommy's hairy legs. The things we do for men....
When I was a little girl I remember seeing my mother cry. I remember feeling helpless. I remember that all I wanted to do, is make her not sad anymore. Over the weekend my husband did something that hurt me and although we never fight in front of Alice, I could not stop the tears from springing from my eyes. I left the room but not quickly enough to keep Alice from seeing her mommy cry. As I sat in the dark in the living room I heard her little feet thumping down the hallway. She came to me, "mommy are you sad?" I tried to explain to her that sometimes, grown ups get sad but she frowned as I spoke the same words my own mother said to me so many years ago. "Do you need a hug mommy?" "I always need hugs Alice." As she wrapped her tiny arms around my neck my heart was breaking all over again. I never wanted her to see me cry. I never wanted to place that burden upon her fragile shoulders just like my mother never wanted to place hers upon mine. But I'm human and as much as I try to be invincible, I am not.
After Alice wiped the tears from my cheeks she smiled and said, "all better mommy." "It is better Alice," I replied. Just like my own mother could not protect me from her sadness, I cannot protect Alice from mine. What I can do is teach her that if you have someone to love you through the tears, sadness doesn't last long.
Today for musical Monday I've chosen a song from one of my favorite artists Amos Lee. It's named 'Careless' and it seemed fitting for today. If you can't hear the music playing in the background click 'Here' to have a listen.
As the holidays draw near, I wish you all a few 'Careless' moments. It's what makes us strong - and human.
Once I closed my eyes to catch a few z's and woke up ten years later. I was kid with few responsibilities and the next thing I knew, I was full swing into adulthood. It happens a lot, time passes and I can't really be sure of where it went. I've tried to remember why this happens, that I've filled my days with things that seem to take no space inside my head and then I suddenly wake up and everything is different from the last time I paid attention. I make little promises to myself that I'll make something memorable happen each day, things to chart on the timeline of my life so that when I look back I won't be sitting here wondering how once again I've seemingly fallen into a time machine I have no control over. When you look at your life there shouldn't be big gaps between what was and what is but we fall into that nasty trap of believing we'll live forever, there will always be more time to make more memories.
I'm sitting here thinking about how I will have another child in 6 weeks or less. I can remember when I found out I was pregnant but after that, moments seem to blur. When I had Alice I promised myself I would remember everything about her, her 'special moments', her 'milestones' and you know what? I do remember every single one but what about me? I've let myself fade into the background like I've done a million times before. It's just too damn easy to make other things priority. I need to change that and not just change it for a day, for a week, for a month. I need to make my own moments 'milestones' so that one day if I wake up and feel as if time has slipped past me once more, I can remind myself that there was no 'slipping involved'. It was all about living and remembering and being grateful that God gave me those moments to make my own.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Decisions have never been my strong suit. I usually procrastinate in the hopes that someone else will make the decision for me and if they do, I complain that they made the wrong ones. I suppose when you grow up being forced to make decisions and those decisions often cause you pain, you end up deciding not to decide at all. As I stood there watching my daughter try to decide which pumpkin she wanted to take home I thought about how many more, bigger decisions she'd be faced with some day. When I was a kid no one prepared me for the types of things I'd have to decide, like whether or not to invite my father to my school open house for fear he'd show up drunk or whether or not to tell my mother that my dad was cheating on her after I'd walked in on their secret trist. Some decisions should never fall upon the shoulders of children should they?
After Alice stood there for about ten minutes trying to decide which pumpkin she liked best she turned to me and said, "mommy, you decide." I could only reply, "how about we pick two." Sometimes you have to make the decision not to decide at all.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
I heard on the radio news today about a man who found a bag washed up on the East Coast, I think Jersey Shore, that had 300 letters addressed to God inside. Have you ever written a letter to God? How about Santa Claus? Someone you thought wasn't listening when you spoke out loud? Someone you couldn't talk to so writing your thoughts seemed easier, safer? You know what? I've written letters to all of the above.
When I was 6 I wrote a letter to Santa Claus because my parents told me to and I was shocked when I actually got a letter back post marked 'the North Pole.' When I was 9 I wrote another letter to Santa Claus not because my parents said to but because none of the kids I went to school with believed in Santa anymore. I was devastated and I needed some clarification, clarification I never received but being the optimist I was I held out on the notion of Santa Claus another two years.
When I was 12 I wrote a letter to God asking him why he had not listened to my desperate pleas to keep my parents together. Every single night since I was 4 I got down on my knees before going to sleep and prayed that God would keep my family together. When I was 12 it was obvious he didn't listen because my parents divorced. I wrote a letter to Him letting him know how disappointed I was that he was too busy to answer one small prayer from one small little girl. Even at 12 I could be quite dramatic.
When I 14 I wrote a letter to my father reminding him of the numerous times I'd tried to tell him that I loved him regardless of his addiction and begging him to love me enough to change. I guess I thought that writing the word 'alcoholic' on paper would make him realize, he actually was one. He read that letter and he cried - but he didn't change.
When I was 16 I wrote a letter to the love of my life, or at least I thought he was, telling him how hurt I was that he took my virginity, my love, my heart, and left it by the roadside as he peeled out of my drive-way. I wrote the letter because I was too scared of telling him in person, too scared he'd leave me - which is what he did anyway. I still remember that my hands were shaking as I slipped that note through the vent on his locker and how he never even acknowledged that he'd read it. Maybe he never did.
I'm older now but I must admit I still tend to write letters instead of verbal communication. Maybe it's because I feel that I have too much to say, too many feelings that no spoken word could convey. Maybe I'm still that scared kid who thinks no one listens, at least not the way I want them to. I write in my journal every night. I write to God asking him to protect my children. I write to my husband asking him to be more patient, more understanding. I write to my father asking the same old questions that were never answered and probably never will be. I write to myself - to sort out my thoughts, to remember that it's still ok to feel things even if the rest of the world can't feel them with you.
Those letters to God that someone found washed up on a seashore, I have to wonder what they were hoping for. Maybe all they needed was to write what they could not speak in the hopes that someone might actually listen. I wonder if anyone did.
This year was my daughter's first 'trick or treat' experience. We made it to about 8 houses before she decided she'd waited long enough to eat a piece of candy and wanted to go home to see what good stuff she'd collected. I have to tell you that this Halloween was better than any I've ever experienced. To be able to watch the amazement on Alice's face as she recited "Trick or Treat" the way we'd practiced and then to realize that those few words meant someone would place candy in her 'ghost' bag was enough to fill up my heart. You know it really is extremely easy to forget how simple happiness can be. A piece of candy, a Tinkerbell costume, running around your backyard catching rain drops on your tongue...or a beautiful laugh!
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
I've always loved Halloween, not for the candy since I don't have much of a sweet tooth but for the chance to dress up as someone else, someone people wouldn't recognize. I suppose it was a chance to hide but regardless of the reason, the memories that I hold are dear to me so I wanted to share one with you.
When I was five my grandpa (my dad's dad) came to take us trick-or-treating. Him being there was a treat in itself because my father didn't get along with him well so he rarely made appearances at our house. I remember sitting around the dinner table with anticipation of the moment I could put my ballerina costume on so my grandpa could see I really was his 'little princess'. My mom had made liver for dinner; I hated liver. My father in his futile attempt to remain 'King' of the house told us we couldn't leave the table until every last bit was gone off our plate. I tried to eat it but every bite caused me to gag. I even tried to hide some of the pieces in my napkin until my mother figured out what I was doing and took it away. I dropped pieces down to my dog whom we nicknamed 'Hoover' after his ability to wipe the floor clean of every morsel of food, but even he refused to eat liver. Somehow my brother managed to choke down all of the liver off his plate and my father excused him from the table so he could join his friends 'tricking'. There I sat, alone. When I think back to that moment I think that was the beginning of the long string of events that would leave me feeling exactly the same way. My grandpa was angry at my dad for making such a big deal out of a kid not liking liver. They argued and my father refused to back down so my grandpa sat down at the table with me. He put his hand over mine and winked and somehow I instantly knew that even if I did miss out on trick-or-treating it would all be ok. And then...my father looked away long enough for my grandfather to shove all the nasty liver pieces into his pocket. We sat there for a few more minutes and then he exclaimed, "good job princess, now you can go put that costume on." My dad turned around with a look of satisfaction on his face, he had won - or so he thought. My grandpa and I walked hand in hand to each house in our neighborhood as I collected my 'treats'. I remember coming home when we were done and sorting the candy into piles of 'good, bad, and ok' as I sampled one piece from each. I don't think that candy ever tasted as good as it did that Halloween thanks to the man who was brave enough to pull the wool over my father's eyes.
It's hard to believe that it's been four days since I last posted..I usually try to make here more often but life has been getting in the way. I remember myself being more selfish - in some other lifetime. I used to do things I wanted, things I needed, regardless of whether I actually had other commitments. I suppose that's part of growing up isn't it, giving up things that are important to you without a second thought? I'm not sure that's a good thing but it seems to be inevitable. I have to admit that sometimes I resent the fact that I have no time but resenting something and being able to change it are two different things all together. Hell I've lived with so much resentment in my lifetime that I've finally figured out that it's kind of a useless emotion. Mostly all resentment has ever gotten me are years of being able to hide behind the blame I placed on someone else for the way events unfolded in my life. Once, ok maybe twice, I actually resented myself for being so damn self sufficient. I learned at such an early age to take care of myself, or at least to make it appear that way on the outside. I always thought being 'tough' was a good thing. I didn't need anyone but what I found out is that while I focused on being an 'enigma' the whole world learned how to exist around me. I really resented the world for that. And so I got tougher. The thing about being 'untouchable' is that eventually you lose the ability to feel much of anything. We can't live like that...really we can't. And so I stopped resenting the world since they didn't take much notice anyway, and I started resenting myself. Know where that got me? A new place to hide. It's always amazed me how many really good hiding spots there are in plain view of the rest of the world.
Anyway, I've been having moments of resentment lately, falling back into my old ways of making myself believe I really can do 'everything' on my own. The truth is, I can't. The truth is, I resent the hell out of that fact. There is one fatal flaw in making the rest of the world believe you can handle life without their help - they tend to believe you. So I'm sort of stuck. I've never been good at asking for help. I've never been able to admit that sometimes I just can't do everything. I have to learn rather quickly because I'm growing rather weary.
P.S. I miss all of you and I promise to catch up on all my fav blogs by Monday...I actually took a day off work. Maybe that's a start at letting the world see, I am only one person.
I cannot believe how cold it is. Today will be a high of 46 and can you believe that this morning we actually had to scrape the frost off the car windows? What is this world coming to when it's this cold in October?
On another slightly colder note...I was reading about how the Insurgents in Iraq have claimed a surge in violence in honor of Ramadan. Wow, how special that they celebrate a holy month by killing more innocent people. You know, I don't agree with the war in Iraq but, there is never a justified reason for killing innocent people. I can't imagine growing up in a country where you are taught that as long as you have a good reason and a religious cause to go behind it, it's ok to kill people. Some of you may not know that I'm married to a man who is 1/2 Palestinian. His father is Muslim but my husband is not practicing. It's been a wedge between us every time his father starts babbling about how those suicide bombers are justified because Israel started this whole mess. I always reply, does it really matter who started it when a child loses his/her life? It always shuts him up.
As much as I try not to focus too much attention on what's going on 'over there', it's hard because I've always been a person who is up on politics and world happenings. You know what bothers me the most? It's trying to figure out how I will explain to my children why people feel justified in war. You know when I was a kid I never thought about wars. I was born too late to experience any aftermath of any of the 3 wars this country has been involved in. I think that my parents never knew they should be grateful for that.
Today I want to live some place where war isn't a reality. Does that place exist?
Over the weekend I organized a kid's Halloween party for a bunch of the kids in our neighborhood. I've always been the 'party planner' among my friends, hosting the BBQ's, the Christmas parties, the super bowl Sundays. I guess I like to have people in my house or in my backyard, or maybe it's just that I like to feel like I'm not alone. But putting together a kid's party is more pressure than I ever imagined. With adult parties all you have to do is throw some snacks in a bowl and keep the fridge stocked with booze and everyone is happy but with kid's, well that's a whole different story.
It took me weeks to figure out what sorts of activities would keep toddlers entertained and their parents pacified long enough to keep them both from screaming but I finally nailed down some craft ideas that seemed to be a hit. There seemed to be so many expectations and once again I wasn't entirely sure I could live up to any of them. There I was waddling around with my 8 month belly trying to get everything in place, worrying about if everyone was having a good time when one of the mother's said to me, "Are you a teacher?" "Well no, actually I'm a software developer," I replied. "Oh well you have such insight to what children like I just assumed you were a teacher," she said. I had to laugh because through the years insight is always something I wanted but it rarely had to do with children. Mostly I wanted insight into the men I dated so that I could gain a little more control, or insight into my father so I could figure out why he was the way he was, or sometimes I even prayed for insight into myself so that I could stop wondering who the hell I really was. Everything that I've always done has been to meet someone else's expectations. Do you realize how tiring that is?
I'm starting to believe that being insightful really means closing your eyes instead of opening them. After all, it's when we stop looking at everything around us that we realize the only expectations that matter are the ones we hold for ourselves and that's about as much insight as anyone could ever ask for.
There have been times in my life when I felt 'empty'. Drained from all the expectations and the responsibilities there comes a point when you cry out, "I have no more to give." I've sat alone in my car for hours just to avoid going back into my house; the place where people want and need things from me. A place that most times I love but sometimes despise which leaves me feeling selfish. And then...my daughter runs to me with arms wide open as I walk in the door, "I missed you mommy." Or I lay on a table as they move a wand around my belly and I see "Patrick" there inside of me with his tiny face and hands reaching out to the mother he already loves. And then it happens, I find that secret reserve of strength, of love, of everything I thought I'd lost and somehow it fills me to the brim and allows me to carry on.
I suppose love is like that. It can take all that you have and leave you feeling empty and in a moment's pause, fill you back up again.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
Several times in the not so distant past someone who wishes to remain anonymous leaves comments on my blog which is not the part I mind. It's actually the judgmental words they choose to drop so casually as if words really had no power at all. On this blog I post things about me. Things I do not sugar coat or dress up in ribbons or lace to make prettier than they are just so that whomever happens across my posts gets an image more pleasing to the eye. There are a few people that pass by this space that know me outside of blog land which doesn't bother me in the least. My posts are so real to the truth of who I am that I've even shared this blog with my mother, my husband, and several other friends. I take extreme offense to the 'Anon' comments where they assume to know me better than myself. I don't post things here with the hopes that someone will tell me how great I am. I post my past, my present, my future. I post about the things I've been through that have made me stronger and the ones that still cause me to be weak in the knees. I share my pain not for pity but for comfort or understanding to some other soul that has been in a place similar to mine. This commenter has reduced my 'blog friends' to figments of my imagination or parts of a fairy tale I've spun around myself. I'd like to ensure this commenter that if I were spinning my own fairy tale the story would be written much differently. You see, we don't choose to be 'damaged' or to carry baggage that weighs down our shoulders to the point that we feel broken. We live with the circumstances that life has dealt us and some of us, if we're lucky, examine our flaws with the hopes that someday we'll see them as parts of a whole. Parts we love just as dearly as the characteristics we celebrate.
The friends that I've made here are real to me. I choose not to place their lives under a microscope in which I spend any amount of time trying to determine what parts of their posts are real. I read what they write, I take in what I can, I respond with the goodness that I know resides within my heart. You see, that's all we can do isn't it? We can only take in what life allows. I find it most amazing that although you seem to despise what I write, you still seem to frequent my blog and take time out of your own fairy tale perfect life to leave me comments.
I assure you dear Anonymous commenter, you do not know me. Even if by chance you happen to have made my acquaintance outside of this place, you have never been allowed inside the realms of my world. As for your last comment about the darkness not being able to hide all my flaws, it appears you may be right but I thank God for that reality because each and every day that I walk this earth, my flaws become the reasons I survive.
One last suggestion to this 'Anon' person, maybe if you spent a little more time examining your own life and less time looking at mine, you might find that your hands are quite full of your own baggage.
Have you ever been afraid of the dark? I don't think I'm like most people because it's not the darkness I'm afraid of, it's the light. It's the sun shining down on the parts of me I've kept hidden so that, well, they are not a secret anymore. To me, the darkness has always been my night light, casting shadows on the things that scare me so I don't have to see them. When I turn off the light I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders because when it's 'light outside' the burden of 'appearances' lay heavily upon me. In the light people can see your flaws, the ones you've worked so hard to conceal and no matter how hard you try to flee underground where the light cannot penetrate, somehow your feet can never take you there fast enough.
Someone told me once, "darkness may seem like the only place you can be yourself when really it's the place you pretend not to be yourself." God I've gotten good at pretending.
Maybe tomorrow I'll plug-in that princess night-light. Hey, you have to start small right?
I knew that yesterday was going to be cold. It was splashed all over the news..."Snow Flurries Coming," but for some reason it didn't prompt me to dig out my winter coat. So there I was standing on the El platform freezing my #$@$ off wondering why I do that...procrastinate that is. When I try to remember how I started that nasty bad habit I really have no idea - that's how long I've been doing it. I procrastinate everything and although it ends up causing me a lot more stress in the end, somehow I've convinced myself that if I can put off something that may cause me even a moment of unpleasantness, it's all worth it. I believe that of course until things pile up like a heap of garbage that I'm forced to sort through. I realize not that I not only procrastinate on things like digging out winter clothes or grocery shopping, I am an emotional procrastinator as well. There are so many things in my life that I've shoved to the back of my proverbial closet to allow me a few more brief 'pretend' moments of peace. It's amazing really how long you can actually live in denial or how often you can actually succeed at pushing off the 'bad things' you don't want to deal with. But then one day you'll find yourself standing on an El platform freezing your arse off and you'll realize that no matter how long you procrastinate, eventually the 'bad stuff' comes right back around to you.
I guess I really need to work on changing that about myself, the procrastination thing. I'm not exactly sure where to start but I think a really good place might be digging through that crap in my closet to find my warm winter coat. I'm really tired of being cold.
Have a wonderful weekend!
I want you all to know how much comfort reading your comments brings to me. For so many years I considered myself an enigma. When I began blogging I never realized just how much I had to say and how many people would actually listen. Although I wish none of the pain I've endured on another human being, I must admit that knowing there are so many others who have been through similar things helps me heal. It's sad really, the realization that pain exists no matter what walk of life you come from but it also brings hope because those same wounded souls have found the strength they need to make life better. If we put all of our scars end to end we'd probably be able to cover much more than half the world wouldn't we? Maybe what we really need to do is use that distance that our scars cover, as a bridge to get to some place better.
Every day I wake up there will be scars reminding me where I've been before this moment but when I open my window and look out at the tiny bridges we've built to get to each other - I'll know that scars can fade into something more pleasing to the eye, something you are not afraid to look at.
My father came up to visit for the weekend and we took Alice to the zoo. I love watching the way my dad interacts with her. He talks to her like she's a little adult and she loves the way it makes her feel important. As our day was wrapping up and we were headed back to our car my dad says, "I could sure use a cold beer." Doesn't seem like anything extraordinary does it? Well it wouldn't be if my father were not an alcoholic. In a matter of seconds I felt like I'd traveled back what seems like a million years ago to that scared twelve year old sitting on a bar stool at her father's favorite pub. I remember watching my father tip back beer after beer, occasionally glancing my way to make sure I hadn't moved. I remember feeling abandoned. I remember feeling trapped in a reality I couldn't escape. As I stood there staring at my father as he seemed oblivious that his remarks would bother me at all I responded, "I could have used a father when I was growing up." He didn't respond and now there was this uncomfortable silence surrounding us. We both quickly pretended that the moment hadn't occurred at all just like we've done a hundred times before but denial only comforts you momentarily.
After we got home and Alice went down for a nap we sat in my living room and it was apparent that neither of us knew how to get past the moment we tried to deny existence. "Did you ever forgive me," he asked. I sat there for a moment not knowing what to say. I know I've tried to forgive him and sometimes I think I've actually convinced myself that I have but then the reality of his disease stands firmly in front of me and the pain that's accumulated all these years seems to be the only thing I can acknowledge. "I'm not sure I know how to do that," I responded. Forgiving someone has always been hard for me. People hurt you and sometimes they don't mean to but other times they inflict that pain even when they are fully aware of it. I know he has a disease, one that he cannot control but this huge part of me despises the part of him that has never tried to control it. I think about Lash and how lucky his kids are that their father loves himself and them enough to get sober. Why didn't my dad feel the same? Why even now at the age of 38 do I still feel so 'affected' by his choices? I ask myself if I did to my children what my dad did to me, would I want them to forgive me? It's a hard question to answer because there's this huge part of me that believes that forgiving my father enables him to relinquish his guilt. Maybe there's this twisted little part of me that thinks his guilt is the only thing that allows me any sort of vindication. Maybe I'm afraid that if I forgive him it makes all the pain I've endured meaningless.
So we sat there, a father humbled by his mistakes and a daughter broken by them. So many times I've convinced myself that I'm whole, that I've accepted who and what my father is but the truth is I do not know if I'll ever be able to. I still wonder what he sees at the bottom of that beer bottle and if it's magnificent enough to keep him from looking up at the life he's throwing away.
This post is dedicated to dear Caterpillar's friend. Although he is a stranger to me, the pain he is going through is familiar. It's as familiar as my favorite pair of slippers, the ones with the cracked sole, the faded velvet, the tiny tear around the edge that makes my left foot slip out the side as I walk just...so. As unattractive as those slippers are I cannot seem to let them go. Sometimes pain becomes like that, an old slipper that fits just right. We convince ourselves that it's comfortable enough to keep because letting it go means breaking in another life, more moments, more memories - that may or may not fit as well as what we're wearing right now. But as hard as we try to keep what is, sometimes what we once thought was 'comfortable enough' becomes what causes the blister to form on the back of our heel. We begin to limp and eventually we're caught off balance and if we're lucky someone is there to catch us before we fall into a place where no arms could reach.
One day you'll go to put those old slippers on and you'll realize, they really don't fit at all. You'll pick them up, turn them in your hands as you reminisce about how they once seemed to be the only thing you could stand to wear. But then, you'll see all the cracks in the foundation you've walked on and decide, it's time for a new pair. It may be awhile before you throw them out, they may sit at the back of your closet buried beneath the new things you've tried to replace them with but just as Spring always promises to bring new life, they will make their way back to the top of the pile just in time to make Friday's garbage pick-up. As you toss them out in the back alley trash can a small pang of 'what may have been' will cause you to hesitate. But you'll glance down at your feet and notice how the limp has gone and you'll let them go. You'll close the lid and you'll walk away and next Friday when garbage pick-up rolls around again, you'll be waiting with another pair of 'old sneakers' that no longer fit you.
Empty your closet dear Caterpillar's friend and try on a new pair of shoes.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
Sometimes, we hold on to something that makes us feel 'safe'. We hold it tight and hope that it will 'pacify' us even if it's only for a moment. And sometimes someone comes along and tells you that it's time, time to let it go, time to be brave enough to face the world without that 'security'. It might be something we've held on to for what seems like forever, like pain. Something familiar even if it's painful, is better than not recognizing anything about yourself, isn't it? In a last attempt to hide our 'insecurity' we paint our faces hoping that we'll blend into nothingness and no one will notice, we are still very weak. In our minds we know that no material thing really makes us more 'secure' but we hold on to it anyway. Maybe it's just the mere act of being able to hold it, to own it - that makes life seem a little less out of control. And then one day we wake up and feel strong enough to try. We walk in circles around ourselves before laying down our 'security blanket' and glance over our shoulders a hundred times before actually walking away. But we do, walk away. We straighten up our shoulders, put one foot in front of the other, and we go on and the things we needed before to make us feel 'secure' - become mementos tucked away in a dusty hope chest.
Is it it time now, to throw away the pacifier?
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
Thanks for all your comments on my Friday post and it turns out the book Tab recommended is one my mom already has. I asked her if she'd heard of it and she said 'yes'. "Have you read it," I asked not meaning to sound sarcastic. "I suppose it's time to read it again isn't it," she replied? You see, I learned how not to let go from my mother. She dwells on things, things that have passed, things she has no control over, things that matter less then she thinks they do. I can remember the numerous men in her life that fell into that category "needs saving." Even when I think back to the friends she had, most of them needed saving too. I guess she figured that she couldn't save herself so if she helped someone else it might even out the score. Sound familiar? Isn't it funny how strong we become by saving other people yet when the tables turn and it's us that needs a hero, somehow we're paralyzed?
My last attempt to save a man was about 5 years ago and he was the man I moved to Chicago for. I was desperately in love with him but he needed to be saved from himself before he could love me the way I wanted him to. I still remember the day he broke my heart and the pain that consumed me. It was the moment that the last piece of string that held me together - snapped. As much as I hated him for breaking my heart he was also the reason I sought help. There's something about hitting rock bottom that makes you look up because there's nothing left to look down at. Over the weekend I went into the restaurant that he owns like I've done many times since I've put my heart back together and one of my old friends told me that he just got divorced. I remember when he got married only 8 months after we broke up (we'd dated for 2 1/2 years) and I was devastated once again because I wanted that person to be me. I can't say I ever really got over him. I'm a true believer that you never really get over love you just learn how to live without it or to love someone else. I learned how to ache less, how to trust myself enough to allow love back into my life but at times, I still miss him. When I heard that he just went through a divorce I didn't feel any of the satisfaction that I thought I would from his apparent loss; I felt sadness. As much as he hurt me I still loved him and wanted him to be happy even if it wasn't with me. I'm mostly whole now with only tiny bits still missing but my life doesn't belong to that same broken girl who chased after a man that couldn't love her. I left that girl behind and maybe that was the very first step towards walking away.
I thought that I still couldn't do it, walk away from pain and then some higher power sent me a reminder. Sometimes we cannot see the distance between what was and what is. More times than not we spend so much time convincing ourselves to look forward that we forget to glance back to remember where we started. People always tell you that it's looking to the future that saves you but sometimes it's what's in the rear view mirror that moves you in any direction at all.
P.S. I've added a new artist to my list of favorites and to you he's going to be an unknown. Ryan Star was on RockStar Supernova and he won my support after hearing a few of his originals so I bought his cd "Eye of the Elephant". Some of my favorites can be found here and the song I've chosen for Musical Monday is "So Ordinary" which seems to be fitting. I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.
There are some people in this world that have trouble staying but me, I find it hard to walk away. Most times I let the moments pass that are meant to save you from yourself or even more importantly - from other people. I stay beyond the realization that I belong anywhere but where I am. I stay even when the moments of bliss that brought me to a place have all but expired. I endure pain as if it were my destiny. After years of therapy and countless nights spent running away from myself just to allow one more day of staying put, I thought that I'd changed. I stay in friendships that only weigh my wings down - not lift them up. I take rejection personal and then I work harder to be accepted. I cannot walk away from work not because I love the job but because I can't stand to let someone down that depends on me. As I sit here staring out the window I realize that for all my effort, I still have no idea how to put myself first. I want to learn but can I do that without feeling selfish? Sometimes what I really want is to walk away from myself. The self that thinks she can heal every wounded bird that lands on her front doorstep. The self that believes letting others down is a worse fate then letting herself down. The self that sits here tired and broken and wanting to move her feet in the direction of the door - but has no idea how to turn the handle once she gets there.
I always believed that if I stayed it would erase all those moments where I was the one being left behind. I was wrong. Staying doesn't rewrite history - it repeats it.
Have a great weekend.
You are lying there beside me and as I watch the gentle rise and fall of your chest, I feel only peace. The curve of your tiny nose, the dimple in your chin are all parts of me yet they belong to you. The way your eyelashes curl at the ends as they touch your cheek must be the most beautiful thing I could ever lay eyes upon. Although I've known you for over two years, there are still parts of you that seem new to me on a daily basis. So many times I am amazed that I had a role in creating you. I never believed I had the power to create something, someone, so utterly perfect. Before you, there were only brief moments where I had enough faith in myself to believe in anything worthwhile. And now you are the most worthwhile being I've ever dared to give myself to. I've faltered so many times before without regret, without conscience, and the moment you were born my conscience became the guiding light that I knew I had to follow. Every single day that I am allowed to know you, I become a better person.
Someday I'll tell you these things or maybe you will already know - but I'll tell you again anyway.
Sometimes I wonder if it's just inevitable that parents let their children down. When we're young we put our parents on pedestals to separate them from the rest of the mortals. They are our protectors, our heroes, our friends and we never think about them making mistakes because they are not like other humans - they're special.
Someone told me once that childhood is what you spend the rest of your life getting over. I wish I didn't believe that but when I look around at all the broken people it's pretty hard to deny it's validity. It would seem that even the best parents somehow screw up their kid without really knowing that their doing it. I think about this a lot because as much as I want to be a good parent, to not let the demons of my past affect my own ability to parent, I know that the chances are pretty great that someday Alice will look back at her childhood and think, "my parents really screwed me up." Maybe it's how we're programmed, to remember the negative moments over the positive ones. Generally we choose doubt over faith, lies over truth, the road more traveled than the one leading somewhere off into places unknown. I don't really think my parents taught me to be that way, in fact it was just the opposite. They wanted better things for me, better chances, more choices, but somewhere down the line I faltered. I know I'm ok now but when I think about all the pain I had to go through and how long it took me to get here, I fear that somehow I'll make the very mistakes my own parents did.
I want to believe that what happens in life is not inevitable. I want to pinch myself every day to make sure I stay conscious of my actions. When we become someone else's parent life becomes less about you and more about them so the mistakes we make turn them into the victims. I never want my children to be victims of my actions. I wish I could believe that being aware was enough. Sometimes we know exactly what we're doing, who it might hurt - but we do it anyway. Sometimes we forget that we're standing on that pedestal in front of our children and it's up to us - not them, to have a damn good grip so that we don't fall off.
Ten years ago today I got my very first tattoo. It took me forever to decide what I wanted because it had to be something feminine, something subtle, something you could only see - if I let you. Ten years ago I had just left my husband and had gotten involved with a verbally and physically abuse man. I suppose that in a way, I was punishing myself for not being able to love a 'good man' the way he deserved so I sought out a man that would treat me like the loser that I felt I was. My heart was in a million pieces and I had absolutely no hope that it would ever be whole again. Hell, I wasn't even sure it was ever whole to begin with. So as I pondered what sort of 'mark' I was going to brand my body with, there really was only one option that seemed appropriate - a heart. It's a plain, simple little red heart placed near my left hip at the top of my left butt cheek. I remember feeling foolish as I laid on my stomach with my bum exposed on that cold hard parlor table. The tattoo artist had beautiful tattoos covering most of his body and here I was feeling brave for enduring one tiny 'label'. He could see that I was nervous, that I was unsure, and he touched my arm and said, "at least you aren't wearing your heart on your sleeve." I had to laugh because he didn't realize how true that was; I'd never been able to let my guard down long enough to put my heart anywhere, let alone my sleeve. So I got my little heart branded on my bum and I hid it from everyone for a very long time. I'd occasionally look at it in the mirror and it became more of a reminder that I had a heart and less of a 'statement' of my individuality.
Every morning as I'm dressing for work and Alice lays in my bed watching Dora, she jumps out of bed and races to my side, "Touch mommy's heart," she asks? She puts her tiny little finger right on top of my 'heart' and smiles. "It's a pretty heart," she says. "Yes it is," I reply and finally I actually believe it.
Someday I'm going to tell Alice how much it meant to me that she 'touched my heart' and how lucky I am that she came into this world to remind me that I had one.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Someone told me once that the only person who can control your life, is you. I've battled with this theory my whole life because most of my life I've blamed other people for the things that happened to me. I blamed my father for teaching me that trusting in people essentially meant letting yourself be hurt. I blamed my mother for teaching me that it was ok to a let a man treat you badly as long as they claimed to love you. I blamed people but I never blamed myself. I convinced myself that I had no control over how I turned out because circumstance makes you who you are and there's nothing you can do about it.
I can't remember exactly when I realized that I was in control of my own destiny. Maybe it was the moment I accepted that my self destruction was entirely of my own doing. I know things happen to us. Things that hurt us, damage us, scar us in ways that seem unrepairable, but what we choose to do with those things - is our choice. I've had many pity parties for myself and every time I've been the only guest. I've found that as much as people are drawn to tragedy, they are not drawn to misery. People can love you, support you, but even the best of friends refuse to stand on the sidelines and watch you self destruct. Once a very good friend told me she loved me and then walked out of my life. I hated her for a very long time because I thought she abandoned me when I needed her most. Years later when our paths crossed again I asked her why she left me behind. She replied, "I didn't leave you behind, I stepped out of the way so you could see your own reflection."
We often base our opinion of ourselves on what other people see in us. We measure the success of our lives by someone else's standards. We give control over the most important parts of ourselves to someone else because we're too afraid to grab hold of the reins and navigate our own path. We seek, we follow, we fall. And then we get up not because we're tired of laying on the ground, but because we're sick of the view from someone else's eyes.
Yesterday someone said, "this is how I see you...". My reply, "It's a good thing we're looking in different mirrors."
As my wise old grandfather always said, "If you don't like the view from where you are, turn around and look in a different direction."
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
Yesterday as I sat in my big fluffy recliner watching the rain pelt against the window and felt the gentle rhythm of Patrick's hiccups inside my belly, I felt at such peace. I've always loved rainstorms because it seems like God's way of giving us another chance. All the dirt and grime is washed away leaving a nice clean surface to start anew. I've always thought those storms that lasted days on end was His way of telling us that the dirt was pretty thick and it was going to take more than a simple shower to see the glisten again. When I was a kid I used to love to stand out in the rain, let it run down over me as if it really could wash away all the bad. Even though I know technically it takes a whole lot more than some drops of water to get a clean surface, I always felt better after I dried off. Have you ever done that...stood out in the rain and let it wash over you? Sometimes I think we let the water run over us but we hold on so tight to the grungy parts of ourselves that even a hurricane couldn't wash away the bad. It's all about letting go. Tipping our head to the side, letting the water run in and out of our ears to unclog the grime that's stopped us from listening to ourselves. Closing our eyes, letting the water drip from our eyelashes so that when we open them again, we see only hope. And while we're at it, lets open up our shirts and let the rain pour over our chest to wash away the layers we've let accumulate over our hearts that prevent us from loving the way we were meant to.
I walked outside yesterday and lifted up my shirt and let the rain wash over my pregnant belly. I was hoping to give Patrick a clean start when he decides to make his entrance. I'll leave you with my daughter's wise words..."the rain makes me pretty again." Sometimes we all need a good strong rain storm to make our skies sunny again.
P.S. an appropriate song for Musical Monday is by a very talented singer songwriter named Kasey Chambers and one of my favorite songs is "Am I not pretty enough". You can listen and download it from here. I also encourage you to listen to the song "The Captain" too.
Have a great Monday.
First I must apologize for being so incredibly busy at work that I have had little time to much else...including blogging. I'm going to catch up this weekend because I'm missed all of you dearly.
My niece started high school. Although high school was many many moons ago the experience remains in the forefront of my mind.
Girls are mean. In case you didn't know this I'll explain why I know this to be. When I was in 5th grade I decided to become a bully much the same way someone decides what their going to eat for lunch or which shoes to wear with which outfit. I was popular but not because I earned it, my father was on the school board, I was lucky enough to be blessed with decent looks, my family bought me things, I wasn't shy, I had a built-in pool in my back yard...all things which made it easier for me to be noticed and to be liked. Shallow reasons to befriend someone but when you are a kid you don't analyze the reasons people like you, you just accept it. I started off nice. I liked most everyone because my parents taught me to and I rarely ever questioned if someone was 'acceptable' to be my friend...until I met Ellen. Ellen took a liking to me, not in a sexual way since we were only in the 5th grade but rather in a 'look up to you' way. She followed me around the play ground, she listened in on my conversations, she was in an essence my shadow. I never much minded having Ellen around because sometimes it's rather nice to be admired even when you are too young to actually realize what real admiration is. And then one day Ellen wrote on her notebook "Ellen and NWC, Best friends forever." Sweet I know, but one of the 'mean girls' saw this and started teasing me that I hung out with losers. Ellen was small for her age, she wore thick glasses, she lived in a house that used to be a funeral home so instantly she was labeled 'weird'. As soon as my 'friends' started to tease me I lashed out, not at them, at Ellen. I called her 'weirdo', I told her to stop following me, I told her I'd never be her friend and amazingly enough - she listened. I continued on the path of 'meanness' by not becoming a follower but a leader. I led the campaign against little Ellen and in no time my popular friends thought I was cool again. Most of my 5th grade year and part of my 6th grade year were spent being 'mean' to Ellen and any other girl deemed unacceptable by the 'click' I belonged to. Eventually Ellen's family moved away and I changed schools and all those moments of meanness disappeared as if they'd never happened - at least for me.
Luckily after I changed schools I found the sweet girl I used to be and rather than become an enemy of the 'unacceptable' people, I became an advocate. Somehow I was always able to maintain my 'popular' status and make some very good friends with the people that nobody else deemed 'worthy'. Maybe it was because I cared little about what other people thought and more about what I deemed acceptable. When you stop worrying about measuring up to other people's expectations, the tables turn and you become the one people take measurements against. There's something appealing about a person who is secure enough with themselves to live their life the way they see fit. People stare, they wonder, they sometimes try to make you the strange one but when they realize their efforts go unnoticed, most times they accept you for what you are.
So, my niece started high school. Her very first day of school she fell off the bus when exiting, she got lost going to her classes and began to cry so her counselor had to walk her around to each classroom. In her second week her best friend decided that she needed to hang around more popular people and in a matter of days my niece went from being accepted to being an outcast. Her parents nag her about finding friends. They pressure her into finding 'just one friend' that she can ask to the football game. Without even realizing what they are doing, they have peeled the sticky label 'loser' off the wall and placed it firmly across her forehead. I know it's hard for parents. Parents want their kids to be liked but in reality who are we really wanting their popularity for? For us or for them?
Girls are mean. We can be emotionally cruel. We can throw insults out and forget them later. I'm not saying boys don't do this - but girls do it better. I wish I knew why this was true but I don't. I only know that I've been there and luckily enough my parents influence was strong enough that eventually I remembered who I was born to be.
A few years ago while visiting some old friends in my home town I ran into Ellen, the girl I bullied in 5th grade. Strangely enough she recognized me but she was far from the person I remember with big thick glasses. We sat and talked for awhile and as she explained her life, her accomplishments, her failures, all I could think about was how mean I was to her. When she got up to go I touched her arm and said, "I'm sorry." She knew exactly what I meant without me explaining. Her only reply was, "I always knew that underneath it all - you were, sorry."
I am worried about my niece. I worry that in her quest for acceptance she'll seek out the wrong types of people to be friends with. She'll allow herself to be manipulated by those who prey on the 'unaccepted'. I suppose part of me wants her to be mean back...at least to those who treat her with such little respect but the bigger part of me wants to march down to her high school and kick some freshman ass. Yes I know, real grownup of me right? I suppose what I will do is sit her down and drill it into her head that the very best friend you can ever have is the friend you find in yourself. It starts there you know? Acceptance.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Once I had a dream that I could fly. I climbed up on top of a mountain, firmly planted my feet squarely beneath my shoulders - and jumped. I had no fear of falling. No questions about whether someone would be there to catch me. I leapt before I looked, I spoke before I thought, I lived before contemplation of what may come. I was a child then, even though my years were many in number and technically designated me as an adult. I lived without regret not because I was brave; because I was afraid.
Sometimes clarity only comes when you experience regret. When the mistakes of your past flutter carelessly around your existence until you notice them, acknowledge them, and place them in the archive of your memory. It is then and only then that you can classify yourself as an adult because living a life without forethought or consequence - is called 'childhood'.
In my life there have been many moments where regret has plagued my thoughts but if I'm honest with myself, in those moments there was little ownership of the actions that brought forth that regret. I've discovered that it's damn easy to regret something you've done and quite a harder task to take possession of it. Recently I was listening to someone apologize to me for the way they treated me and immediately following their apology they began to place the blame for their actions back onto me. As I stood there listening to how much control I apparently had over their actions, I remembered being in that place. A place where nothing was my fault and everything that had gone wrong in my life was because of someone else's actions. I remembered that as much comfort as I thought being unaccountable gave me, it also left me powerless to change my life into something better.
Once I had a dream that I could fly. I climbed up on top of a mountain, planted my feet squarely beneath my shoulders - and jumped. I had no fear of falling. No questions about whether someone would be there to catch me. I leapt before I looked, I spoke before I thought, I lived before contemplation of what may come. And then when I hit the ground and the only thing there to break my fall was my own self esteem - I stood up, brushed myself off, and realized only fools jump without a parachute.
Once upon a time I lived in a place where stars lit the night sky. I'd lay with my dad on a blanket out in the middle of our pasteur and search for constellations. I remember thinking that I could stare at those stars forever. And then I grew up and I gazed at the night sky less often. Stars were still beautiful but I appreciated them less because I took it for granted that I'd always be able to see them if I just looked 'up'.
Eight years ago I moved to a city where the night sky is filled with smog, reflections of bright lights, and airplane beacons. Sometimes we don't even realize what we're giving up to be somewhere else. Every once in a while either because of a black out, less pollution, or a slow air traffic control night - I can remind myself how beautiful stars can be. It's not as easy to spot the stars but if I look really hard, I can spy one far off in the distance. I never thought I'd miss them but that's usually what happens when we take something for granted and then suddenly - what was once assumed, now becomes what's wished for.
My daughter and I were out on our patio the other night looking up at the sky. It's so different than when I was a kid, star gazing with my dad. I always had hundreds of stars to wish upon and now if we find just one, we're actually pretty lucky. So there we were gazing up at the night sky and for whatever reason, the stars seemed more plentiful or brighter or maybe it was that we looked around the obstacles - but we saw them in all their glory. I taught Alice how to wish upon a star and as she sat on my lap chanting "Starlight, Starbright, I wish I may, I wish I might..." life seemed so uncomplicated. She closed her eyes and made her wish and I hugged her tight hoping that some of her innocence would rub off on me; I remember when I believed that wishes on stars actually came true. We sat there for awhile longer staring up at the stars I've promised never to take for granted again, and Alice points her chubby little finger towards the sky and says, "Look mommy, there's love in the sky." "Where," I asked? "Right there," she said stretching her arm even higher as if she could almost reach out and touch those stars. Even at the tender age of two I still have no doubt that she knows exactly what love is and that somewhere up there...she did see love. And you know what? As I sat there watching her believe in something, I didn't even have to strain my own eyes to see what she saw.
There's love in the sky. The same stars I see are the ones you gaze upon which makes the distance between us, less important. We are different people, we have different experiences, but in those moments we notice those tiny spots of wonder - we are the same.
This is a somber day which marks 5 years from the tragedy of 9/11 but maybe for one day, one night, we can search out those stars that have no boundaries, no dividing lines, no ownership. Maybe we can gaze up at the sky and see the love that Alice sees shining as brightly as her heart. Let that love carry you through. God Bless.
P.S. As a tribute to Musical Monday I've changed the music playing on my blog to one of my favorite artists Alice Peacock. The song is I'll Start With Me and it seemed fitting for today...have a listen.
I never get tired of looking into the eyes of my sweet Alice. It's not just because she's my child, it's because in her eyes I see the type of person she has the potential to be. I often wonder if my own parents looked into my eyes as a child and knew the kind of person I'd be when I grew up. Did they know that my heart would always stay tender even after picking up the broken pieces time after time? Did they know that babies and animals would always make me feel 'squishy' on the inside? Did they know I'd be strong enough to not only believe in my convictions but to practice them? I think they knew. When I look at Alice I know that after all the bumps and bruises she'll surely endure, the person that remains will be full of compassion and conviction. I know because every day that I still have a say...I'll teach her how important those things are. And even when she wanders off the path I hope she'll follow, those lessons will be there like a lighthouse in the storm, waiting her return.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
A little bit of humor for today...I'm standing on the El Platform waiting for the train and I notice this guy in a tight black shirt. His man boobs were easily detected and as grossed out as I was, I couldn't look away. I guess I was curious as to whether or not he knew he had man boobs and didn't care that the whole world now knew too, or that he really was oblivious. I'm not really making fun of him, maybe he can't help the extra little 'somethin somethin' he carries up top there. But, couldn't he be like a woman an cover it up with a loose shirt, a jacket, or at least not wear a skin tight shirt?
It got me thinking about what people think looks good, and what we know - doesn't. I could name a few....but then you'd think me bad and shallow and...well something less desirable than I really am. So I'll pose the question to you. What sort of fashion faux pas really make you do a double-take and shake your head in wonder?
I hope everyone had a nice long weekend to relax. I spent part of my weekend attending my 20 year high school reunion. At first I was reluctant to go because what could I possibly gain from going back to a place where so much pain was endured? It's not that the actual experience of high school was painful, it's the moments that went along with it. Some would look at my high school year book and think I had it good...there are pictures of me on the cheerleading squad, pictures of me at prom, pictures of me with my 'football player' boyfriend - but as we all know looks can be deceiving. Sure I had a lot of friends, I had boys that liked me or thought I was hot, but I also had an alcoholic father, a mother that had to travel for her job so she was absent for most of the important moments, a brother that tried to escape our reality by joining the Navy. I was for the most part - alone. But despite all the painful memories, I decided to go back to the place where so many moments defined who I was going to be for the rest of my life. Back to be with the people that stood there beside me sometimes noticing the sadness behind my smile but most times looking past it.
As I walked into the reunion my heart began to race. I clutched my husband's hand tighter and leaned in towards his shoulder. I needed him to hold me up in case I fell, he knows that sometimes I'm not the 'wonder woman' I play on tv. As we stood in line waiting to check-in I noticed a few familiar faces, faces that had aged just as mine had, faces that carried the wait of their own realities in the laugh lines around their mouths. They handed me a nametag with my senior picture printed on it. My husband laughed at my 80's hairdo and I had to remind him that back then, I was considered 'in style'. As we started to wander around the room I started to feel more comfortable when I noticed a few of the most popular girls and guys now were sporting bellies and receding hairlines. I know it seems kind of cruel to celebrate someone else's misfortune of losing their hair or gaining weight, but there was a sweet justice to it all that I couldn't ignore. Back then, those people thought they were untouchable but time had proved them wrong. We all stand within the reach of time don't we?
I mingled with a few of my old cheerleader buddies and just like back then, I felt out of place. I was always the one to stand out of the crowd, to make friends with the 'outcasts', the unpopular, the kids that no one else noticed. Some of the people I knew back then, were still the same. The same sour expressions still decorated their faces and I could tell that they hadn't figured it out yet - none of us are more special than anyone else. Part of me was relieved that I wasn't the same, I've traveled miles past that scared mixed up teenager that adorned those hallways. But part of me wishes that something remained, something that still resembled innocence, but life has a way of beating that out of you.
After making the rounds I finally saw the one person I'd actually come to this reunion for, my best friend. We'd lost touch many years ago when I moved to Chicago and part of her held resentment towards me for leaving her. But as we stood there looking at each other all that remained was the love we'd once felt. She was the sister I'd never had, I was the friend she always needed. She was one of those outcasts, the people no one noticed - but I noticed her. We talked for hours and I know that I will try my damnedest never to lose touch again.
As my husband and I got up to leave someone grabbed my arm, spun me around and kissed me on the cheek. As I looked up I saw the very first boy I'd ever kissed; I was in the 2nd grade. I'm amazed I can still remember hanging upside down from the monkey bars, grabbing a hold of his arms, and demanding he kiss me. He obeyed of course after all I was still wonder woman back then. We laughed as we reminisced about old times and he told me something I'll never forget. He said, "you're eyes are still the same, full of sadness yet softened by their hope for change." At first I wasn't sure what he meant and then I remembered he was the one and only classmate that ever saw my father intoxicated. My father came to pick me up from a school function 2 hours late and Joey waited with me on the playground until my father finally showed up. As my dad stumbled from the truck I remember my face burning with shame at the thought of someone else discovering my secret. Joey grabbed my hand as my father called out to me, "I'll never tell," he said. You know what? He never did tell and neither did I.
20 years out of high school is a long time but I discovered that no matter how many years pass between what was and what is, there are some things that remain the same. I never used to be grateful for that.
No nekkidness today.
About a year ago a friend of mine sent me a link to a website of her former neighbor/friend http://www2.caringbridge.org/il/vickip/ . She explained how her friend was going through a tough time, she was in her 7th month of her second pregnancy when she was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. Almost reluctantly I clicked on the link, afraid of what I might find. Afraid that someone else's plight may be too intrusive on my life. Lord knows I had enough plight of my own. But I clicked and I read and ever since that moment this woman and her family have been in my heart. The baby was taken early so she could start treatment and although the baby survived and is actually doing well, the mother's fight against cancer ended yesterday. Left behind are a husband and two little girls, 3 and 1. Life is so goddamn unfair isn't it?
I think about my life and the things I've been through, the pity I've often felt for myself - I'm ashamed. When you strip away all that we are, all that we've been, all that we may become, what is left? We build walls to protect ourselves, we tell lies to avoid truth, we run away to avoid standing still, we search for ways to survive. And still we are the same fallible human beings. No matter how many times we jump off cliffs and manage to survive, we must face the reality that somewhere, life will lose to death. It's a battle we often ignore because we all know that ignorance is bliss right? And then one day every truth you've ever avoided manages to stare you in the eyes every time you look in the mirror and it's then that you realize, there is no avoiding the inevitable.
I've been so wrapped up in my work and my life lately that I've failed to make my rounds to all the blogs I love and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry that I can never seem to remember how precious life is until someone else's tragedy lands squarely in front of me, reminding me how lucky I am. I am bruised, I have fallen and gotten up more times than I care to remember, but I am alive. I have chances to right the wrongs, chances to create new memories to overshadow the bad ones, chances to love the people I've hated, chances to choose honesty over lies, chances to become something other than I am right now - something better. We let so many chances pass us by and then before we know what has happened, there are no more chances.
I encourage you to click on that link above. Read the story, feel that family's pain, and make your life less about chance and more about choice.
This morning I walked out to get in my car and right by my car door was a dead yellow finch. How depressing is that? I wasn't even aware that finches came around our place. Mostly I see those dreadful rats with wings otherwise known as Pigeons. It's funny how my daughter thinks those nasty birds are the prettiest things ever! I suppose when you are young there are many things you deem as 'beautiful' until eventually the rest of the world's view crushes the existence of your own opinion and sooner or later you end up playing along whether you wanted to or not. Sometimes it's hard to remember what you believed before someone else told you it was the wrong thing to believe in. I think we live in a society where people feel down right uncomfortable if everyone else doesn't think exactly the same way they do. It's sad isn't it? We learn at an early age to lose our individuality and become 'like' everyone else. People call you a freak or 'eccentric' if you happen to follow your own rules, believe in your own things -regardless of the majority. I suppose I'm guilty of both, following the crowd and expecting someone else to think like me.
I want not to be one of those in the majority. The real test on how much I believe in individuality will come when my daughter comes home one day with blue hair and her nose pierced. God give me the strength to celebrate her uniqueness instead of fear it.
I actually had a date with my husband last week...hard to believe isn't it? One of my favorite artists who remains to be an 'unknown' was playing a free show at a local hangout and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see him.
Amos Lee has become the kind of music I listen to when I need to 'feel' things. Did you realize that music has that kind of power? When you feel numb, some music has a way of reaching down inside you to give your heart a good 'flick' to get it to started beating again.
I first discovered Amos one morning when I was playing hookey from work and I switched the tv to the Today show. They were doing a series on Rising Stars and Amos Lee was the feature of the day. He comes from Philly and when you hear this guys voice, every single thing about him shares a glimpse of what the real Philly is like. My favorite song is Keep It Loose, Keep it Tight. There's a line in that song..."Sometimes we forget what we got, who we are - and who we are not." I think all of us can relate to that can't we?
So enjoy the music and as always if you'd like to download it and have a listen for yourself go Here .
Sorry I've been bad at keeping my blog up to date...but hopefully my week will slow down and I'll be off to visit you all tomorrow.
Enjoy the music...and don't forget to 'feel something' while you listen.
When you are pregnant, you can think of nothing but having your own body to yourself again. To be able to sleep in any position you want without someone kicking you. To eat what you want without fear of heartburn. To walk farther than a block without your back aching from the distance. But after giving birth you realize that the biggest part of you is now somehow, external. You'll spend the rest of your life trying to figure out a way to keep your child close enough for comfort and most times you'll fail.
In my life there have been many moments filled with disappointment. Hopes and dreams broken by fate, fading into the background because life just has a way of doing that to a person. Although I managed to survive and somehow come out the other side while keeping some part of myself in tact, I never wanted to experience disappointment through someone else's eyes. There's something about watching a child hope for something, then witnessing that same light fade from their eyes, that can break your heart in an instant. I know it's part of growing up, part of being human - to experience disappointment. But why? Why do people make promises they cannot keep? A promise is a contract right? Why do so many people care so little, so much so that they are willing to disappoint a child? Maybe it's because the person breaking the promise is rarely the same person who has to stand in front of that child and watch the hope flee from their eyes.
I want to protect my children. I want them to hope for things and to never be afraid that having faith in something, costs too much. I'm just not really sure I know how to teach that lesson. How can I tell someone else how to have faith when so often I have so little? People disappoint you. People break promises. Are these lessons I want my children to learn? Maybe the lesson is really for us, not for them. Maybe we need to learn what making a promise means.
I finally found a song that touched my heart just as much as the one I constantly play on my blog. Although I'll always consider Alice Peacock's Into the Light song one of my 'theme songs' I thought this new song, the one playing in the background fit perfectly in blogland. Listen to it and tell me what you think. Just in case you are curious the name of the band: . I found them by accident while channel surfing one night, trying to block out a fight I'd just had with my husband. The voice in my head was barely noticed over the volume of my anger and then I stopped on the Publice Broadcasting channel and this band was playing this song. Needless to say it stopped me in my tracks and as I listened to the words, mysteriously my anger subsided. Finally the voice in my head began echoing the lessons learned from my past, lessons shared from my blogger friends, lessons I need to learn over and over again. Being angry can strike you deaf, so much so that you'll miss the voice of reason.
I suppose it's fitting that I'm sharing this song, this band, on Musical Monday. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. You and I, we all have voices and here in blogland we choose to integrate them to make the most beautiful music on earth.
I was reading Caterpillar's blog and her posting about the tough decision she's faced with - ending a relationship that will not go where she wants it to, or staying out of fear that she'll lose the friend she's found. Reading her words has brought back so many memories. Memories not created so long ago. Memories that will probably never fade far enough into my past that some remnant of their pain will not linger. I know that it's not just women that do that, stay in relationships because they keep hoping it will eventually be more than it is. I know men get hurt too. I know this because I have been the one to hurt someone, the one to take and never give. I've been the person that we all despise not because I wanted to be, but because protecting myself made me selfish. It's easy to hate someone because they can't love you the way you want them to but it's much harder to understand them - and then let them go. I think we all get so tied up in the 'understanding' part that we actually start to believe once we do understand, we'll be able to get them to love us the way they should. I've learned something the hard way. Understanding why someone does something doesn't take away the wounds they've inflicted. It doesn't erase what we know or what we feel, it simply exists. We all scream "Understand me." We thrive for it, we claim that if we have it then all is right with the world. But we're wrong. Understanding someone means you don't hate them for their choices but it does not mean acceptance.
So I'm rambling. I suppose I just want to send Cat a message because I'm fearful that it may take much too long for her to 'understand' what I'm saying. In this life there are choices. Choices to stay. Choices to go. Choices to sacrifice. Choices to be selfish. Choices to understand. Choices to be confused. Choices to love ourselves. Choices to abandon ourselves. Choices to listen. Choices to be deaf. Choices to see. Choices to be blind. Choose wisely sweet Caterpillar. Some choices can only be made once.
It's easy to look tough when you have red popsicle on your face...really it is. My dear sweet Alice is just as tough as her mama. Good thing...she'll need that 'toughness' in this world we live in.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
I feel horrible lately for not being able to visit all my fav blogs. I swear it's not fair that people actually expect me to work and not go blog surfing all day. Honestly though, I'm one of those over achiever types that can't say no when someone asks me for help. It's nice being appreciated, it's nice when people have faith in your skills - but sometimes I need to step back and take a few moments for myself. I'm entitled, I think.
So I apologize to all my blogging buddies...I promise today to stop by and pay a visit. I may have to skip lunch to do it but I'm going through withdrawals here so sacrifice is necessary.
I wanted to leave you with a quote that I found in one of the best places to find meaningful words - the bathroom stall. Yes people still write on bathroom walls...some things never change. The quote seemed fitting given the events of days past.
"No doubt one may quote history to support any cause, as the devil quotes scripture. "