Sometimes my house is a zoo, literally. I have two dogs, two cats, a toddler, and a significant other...all living under one roof. I've always been one of those people that feels compelled to rescue things, friends, men, and animals. I've learned through my trials and tribulations to stick to the animal rescue part since animals seem much more grateful of my efforts. When I was a kid we lived out in the country and had about 7 acres of land so that afforded me quite a bit of space for my rescue missions. Twice I rescued baby rabbits after my dad mistakenly uncovered there nest while mowing, their mother wouldn't return after that so I took them in. I called a veterinarian to be sure I fed them the right milk. They were so little that I had to feed them with a dropper. When rabbits are babies they don't know how to swallow so you have to rub their little throats so they learn to swallow the milk. I built them a little house and filled it with the reminants of their nest so they'd feel close to their mama. I loved watching them grow and I wanted to keep them for a pet but I knew that was no kind of life...they needed to be free so I kept them as long as I could, made them feel safe and loved. Once they were old enough, I let them go. I also rescued a squirrel with a broken tail, no clue how it was broken but he was pretty upset about it. I rescued countless baby birds, a whole slew of kittens, a dog with a broken leg, and a baby raccoon who's mother was killed in a trap. I needed to rescue things. When I look back at all my missions of mercy I realize that it was actually me that needed the rescuing. I wanted someone to pick me up, mend my broken wings and make me feel safe. That never really happened so instead of playing the part of a victim, I chose the role of savior.
My life has been filled with many rescue missions, some successful, some failures. I've tried to rescue so many people from themselves that most times I ended up being the one that needed to be airlifted from the wreckage. My days of rescuing have become fewer in number, most likely because I learned that the only person that can save me is the person with the most experience in rescue missions, me.
Do you have any secrets? Can you keep one? When I was a kid I was horrible at keeping secrets. I'd always tell my brother what he was getting for Christmas, even though my mom told me it was a secret. I'd tell my friend's deepest darkest secrets...well as deep and as dark as you can get at age twelve. I just couldn't keep my mouth shut no matter how hard I tried. Once when I was about 14 I saw my friends whispering to each other but as soon as they saw me, they stopped. "What were you talking about," I asked them. "Oh NWC we can't tell you because you cannot keep a secret," they replied. "Of course I can," I promised even though history had shown my lips were rarely ever sealed. They refused to let me in on their secret and I was left an outsider. I was devastated and I made a vow that I would learn to stop 'telling secrets'. I started with little things like not telling my mom where my brother hid her cigarettes and I moved on to bigger things like not telling my mom that my dad received secret calls from various women while she was away at work. I got pretty good at not 'spilling' and eventually I earned the trust back from my friends. When I was 15 my best friend was having some family issues at home. Her father was an alcoholic, I, better than anyone, could relate to how she felt. We used to pretend that we lived in a far away place where no one knew our name, our history, our family. A place where there were no parents fighting, no doors slamming, no tears shed over what was...only hope of what could be. Although I knew these were fantasies that would most likely never come true, my friend became obsessed with finding a way to make them reality. One night while she was sleeping over, we lay in bed telling secrets. I told her about the crush I had on our History teacher, she told me about losing her virginity to the boy next door. I told her that I took twenty dollars from my mom's purse, she told me she wanted to die. I wasn't sure what to say, I was 15. She told me about how she just couldn't imagine living in a world with so much pain. Part of me understood, my own world was filled with pain but still, taking your own life, I was too much of a coward for that. I hugged her and told her that it would be ok, it's all I knew to say. Even though I knew that pain could consume you, I still believed that some day, it would go away or at least - hurt less. In the morning when we woke up she made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone her secret and since I'd become such a good secret keeper, I never told anyone those things she whispered. I look back now and I wonder why I couldn't distinguish between keeping a secret and telling the truth to save someone. I guess when you are 15 the fear of being an outcast is enough to over shadow any truth that needs telling.
My friend would be 38 years old today, if I didn't keep a secret.
Secrets can destroy things. We keep them out of fear, out of loyalty, out of shame. We keep them because if people knew our deepest and darkest secrets, they might not love us anymore. We keep them from friends, for friends, because we're friends; we keep them because we're afraid of change. We keep them and we keep them and we keep them. We've all become champion secret keepers. Something to be proud of?
I want love to be enough.
Enough reason to open your eyes.
Enough incentive to close them.
I want love to be enough.
Enough of a friend to comfort me.
Enough of an enemy to let me go.
I want love to be enough.
Enough strength to hold me up.
Enough of a coward to let me fall.
I want love to be enough.
Enough that the hurt matters less.
Enough that the scars don't run too deep.
I want love to be enough.
Enough to make you stay.
Enough for me to let you.
Have you ever tried to control everything around you? Everything that affected you? I have, I mean I do. Sometimes it can be an annoying trait, even to me, but as much as I try to let it go, relinquish control - I can't. I sometimes say that I have no interest in controlling the things that have nothing to do with me, I'm flexible like that. In reality everything in your life affects you. Things you see, things you hear, people you know..and sometimes even people you don't know. Once, I was in denial that I was a control freak, well maybe freak is a harsh word, I am a control maniac. Better eh? When I was young I controlled nothing. I couldn't control how much my father drank, how much my parents fought, how much life - hurt me. It seemed that everything I knew, every bit of my experience - was controlled by outside forces. You know that saying, "people only hurt you as much as you let them?" I never believed that statement because as much as I tried, people hurt me, regardless of how I felt about it. As I grew older I watched my mother go from being the 'dominated' to the 'dominator'. She survived her life the only way she knew how - by controlling it. So I watched her and I learned. It took me a long time to realize that I had the power to control things. It took me many broken hearts and sleepless nights to stand up and say, "I'm not taking this anymore." Although my plan seemed full proof I forgot to figure in a few pertinent factors, people will only be controlled as much as they want to be. Ironic isn't it because that means your control over them is really controlled by them. Now that I know this tidbit I realize that is exactly what happened to me. I let people control me, control how I felt, and control how I reacted. One day I stopped letting them - control me. I guess just like everything in life there has to be a fine balance between control and loss of it. You have to know when to lay down your sword and when to hold up your white flag. It's not easy...oh it's so not easy. The thing is that if you keep trying to control your world you will actually lose the very thing you are trying to gain - security. We control things because we want to know the outcome, we want to ensure that our hearts are safe, our worlds are peaceful, are existence is what we want it to be. Each day will become a battle, between the things you can control and the things you cannot.
I'm learning, slowly but surely that the things I can control are much less in number than the things that are beyond my control...but it's ok, because you know what? I'm actually not as tired as I used to be. We can really only control one thing in this life - ourselves.
I've been through a lot in my life, come through most of it a pretty strong person. But tonight as I sit here typing this post I've found out that I have a weak spot. My daughter has been waking up the past few nights just when it's time for me to go to bed. I try to be really quiet so that she doesn't hear me, her door is shut, the lights are off...but still she senses my presence. The ritual of the past nights has become that I go and sit on my bed, feet firmly planted on the ground so I don't run to her too quickly. I sit for what seems like an eternity until her screams get too much for any human heart to bear. I go to her, hold her, kiss her forehead and tell her mommy loves her. Her reply every night has been, "Alice lay down with mommy?" My God, what sort of mother am I to deny this precious little being? Well I've read all the books, I've watched Dr. Phil, I know if I start letting her come sleep with me it'll be pure hell getting her to go back to her own bed. But really my bed is big enough and the thought of her little warm body pressed into my curves is really appealing. Her breath on my face, her baby soft smell permeating my nostrils...yes it sounds almost like heaven. But wait...no I cannot be weak. I lay her down, scratch that...she's clinging to me so tightly there is no possibility of laying this child down again so I hug her and put her back in her bed while I pry her tiny little fingers from around my neck, she sobs so uncontrollably as if her heart has just been ripped from her chest, yet still I leave her there - in her space. She screams my name, "mommy, mommy," and now I feel it too, my heart is being ripped apart. Usually I go back to my bed, get under the covers, and wait. Did you know that in 2 minutes you can count over a thousand sheep? I swear those 2 minutes are the longest I've ever experienced in my life. As she finally quiets down, her breathing returns to normal...and so does mine. I've wondered why all of a sudden she's decided she needs me to make it through the night, she slept so peacefully for the first two years of her life. Part of me hopes she's over it soon but if I'm honest there's a bigger part of me that secretly longs to hear that cry at night. Yes I'm selfish, I like to be needed. I know too soon she won't be clinging to me, she'll be pushing me away. So it's ok right? I can hold on to her for now. I wonder if she knows that I need her just as much.
Somehow I have managed to reserve a space in this existence where I can be free. I have learned that freedom can be complicated. It may be something we are born with, the freedom to breathe, freedom to exist, but to actually feel it, revel in it, cherish it, becomes a battle in self-discovery. How do you know if you are really free?
It seemed that I would never pass this place in my life where pain seemed to prevail over all else that existed. The parts of me that once mattered, the parts I cherished and relied upon to carry me through one day after the next, were buried beneath the rubble of my experiences. I tried to brush away the soot and ash that colored my life gray, but my arms grew tired and weary and the light at the end of the tunnel began to fade. It’s amazing how much strength it takes to pretend life is bearable. I had become a wonderful actress, always smiling; the world took no notice of the tears that streamed down my face because I always turned away. The world saw a networkchic that was strong and witty; a networkchic that never let anything hold her down. What they didn’t see was the fear in my eyes, the fear in my heart, fear that at any moment I would forget my lines. I’d lose the part, never get the Emmy, and be left with a shell of someone I’d hoped to become.
So here I stand. Appearing empty-handed to most, but to myself, I’m richer than I have been in years. Sometimes I sit quietly and ponder how I arrived at this place. The course I mapped out for myself proved worthless and after all was said and done and I discovered the only real map I needed was the one engraved on my heart. Life has a funny way of leading you right back to the place you started. It still amazes me how many times we run miles around ourselves just to travel one kilometer. Now my feet are almost firmly planted on the ground. I hesitate when I say that because sure enough just when I get my wits about me, life will throw me another curve ball and I’ll lose course again. I know this much is true, that light at the end of the tunnel, it’s getting brighter and if I squint enough I can almost see the promise land on the other side.
So many people have passed through the doorway of my life, some leaving traces of themselves behind and some vanishing as if they never existed. I have had promises broken and some kept, I have cried tears for others and many more for myself. I have lifted myself up when my arms were tired and I have walked through misery even when the blisters on my feet threatened to prevent my swift escape. I have loved and I have hated, both with equal intensity. I have questioned others motives but more often questioned my own for those are the ones that seem to lead me down the same familiar path time and time again. Pain has plagued my heart and many times my soul, yet in the face of adversity I somehow grasp onto to what I know, onto what I trust in, and it leads me through. What I know is that no matter where I travel or what strangers I may encounter along the way, the friends that I have held dear, new ones and old, the friends who have seen me at my worst and at my best but choose only to remember the best, are the reasons that I survive. They are the reasons I have strength, the reasons I believe in myself. Because of them I am able to make promises, ones I know I can keep.
I promise to remember who I am and when I forget, I promise to ask my friends to remind me.
I promise to listen to my friends and place as much faith in them as they have placed in me.
I promise to be honest, even when it hurts, and be comforting even when I myself am in pain.
I promise to lean when I am falling and lend my shoulders when I stand strong.
I promise not to run away, because I've run too many circles around myself.
I promise to use my heart even when it feels broken, and my head even when it's spinning.
I promise to remember that this journey is a bridge to something better and on the other side is a door which I can unlock with my faith...and if I lose the key, I know my friends will always have the spare.
I want to be a strong person. A person who has normal happy days where memories stay where they are supposed to stay - in the past. I want every step I take to be a solid motion towards something better, but this is reality. My reality. Sometimes it's just so hard to loosen the chains that tie you to the ground. Some days I think I'm strong enough to break free of the jail I've put myself in, some days I think I'm lucky enough to find someone with a key and they'll scoop me up in their arms and say, "NWC, it will all be alright," and I'll believe them. But I'm smarter now, I know no one else can save me. Some days I write things on this blog that inspire some of you to be strong, but sometimes I forget to read my own words, some days I feel illiterate. I wonder how many times I'll have to go to the back of the line and learn the same lessons all over again.
This morning when I came into work I was feeling a bit defeated. Somehow I'd let my positive outlook slip away, how could that happen? I started to read some of the comments left on my post yesterday and one of them really moved me. Lance said, "You are building a bridge. A bridge to a relationship with yourself again." And then it hit me, this is the way it's supposed to be, good days, bad days, days filled with reflection. A bridge is a passage, a means to get from one place to another. Right now I'm on the middle of that bridge, sometimes I have to turn back to look at where I've come from - so I remind myself that the grass truly is greener on the other side. No one needs to come rescue me, I have the key to my own jail cell - I just need to remember which pocket I've put it in.
I used to believe that only other people could buy you presents. After years of setting my expectations too high for what other people should give me, I finally realized that sometimes the best presents are the ones you give yourself. This necklace was my birthday present to myself. I didn't go searching for it, which kind of made it more special. It's a blue sapphire on a silver box chain which was made in Nigeria. Strange eh? I bought it because it came from a far away place - kind of like me. Some days I feel a million miles away from myself.
Most of the time I don't think about my favorite things. Most of the time I remember the bad things, the things that make me angry, the things that annoy me, the things that fill up my moments so that anticipation of the ones to come, dwindles. But today as I walked up out of the train station, the cold wind hit me in the face and I took a deep breath and remembered something, I'm alive. Regardless of my circumstances - I'm alive. We all base so much of our existence on circumstance, where we live, what we do for a living, who we know, how much pain we've endured - that we lose sight of the things in our lives that make us happy. Favorite things, things that make you smile and sometimes even cry, things that make you get up every morning or sleep soundly at night. Circumstances are merely moments waiting to be redefined. I want new circumstances, I want to rejoice in the things I love, my favorite things. Here are some of mine:
finishing a good book and wanting to read it again because something in it moved me
having someone notice that I changed my hair, and complimenting me on it
my daughters smile
knowing I'm the reason someone is smiling
smiling for no reason at all
sand between my toes
the smell of salt air while walking on the beach
driving in the country by myself with the windows down and the radio turned up
a good song that makes me feel something
holding the hand of someone I love and feeling as if we were fused together as one
watching my favorite tv shows in my easy chair with the blanket tucked around me
the first snow fall
laughing so hard that I pee my pants and then forgetting what I found so funny
waking up without being tired
surprising people that think they know me by proving their assumptions wrong
writing - and have people feel something through my words
knowing I have favorite things...and remembering them
I hope you have favorite things...and that you get to experience them often. Please give a shout out to msmegnolia because today she is going to stop smoking...right MsM? Go on over and give her some support.
I've missed you all...really I have. Honestly there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't wonder how you all were, wondered if your days were good ones. Somehow each and everyone of you has become an integral part of my life, the people I look forward to knowing, your stories, your pain, your laughter. You are like spokes on the wheel that carries me through each day. I'd be off balance without you. I never thought this would happen, that I'd find friends so far away yet so close to the place that matters - my heart. I've always found it easy to make friends but it wasn't until I came here, this blog place, that I realized the friends I'd made, except a very few exceptions, were not friends that really knew me, knew my history. Mostly that's my fault; I never trusted anyone enough to let them know me. I never trusted they would stay after knowing me, knowing the pain that has shaped who I am. But right here, I was able to open up and start the process of healing myself. I feel so lucky not only to have you visit my space, know my bits of history, but return the favor by letting me get to know you. As JJ always says...I see you, I'm grateful for that. Now I'm off to catch up on the wonderful bits of your days that I've missed. It's nice to be back.
I went on vacation to relax, rejuvenate, and to leave some pieces of myself behind. Pieces that have become to heavy to carry, pieces that weigh me down so that I often find it too hard to forge ahead. I was able to succeed - somewhat. Although I came back with more than I expected, still I was able to clear the fog from my head. The ocean has a sort of healing power, washing over you and exposing even the best kept secrets. As I sat on the beach watching the waves crash against the shore, it felt as though I were watching the stories of my life. So many times I've been pulled out to sea, lost in something bigger than myself, only to come crashing back to some reality that throws me off course again. But this time, when the motion moved me, I let it. My life - here in reality, is filled with pain that I've held on to. I'm not sure why I do that but somehow the pain that has so haunted me has become company. Sometimes we get so used to the pain that when it starts to subside we find some way to bring it all back to the surface. The pain becomes all we know and trying to escape it seems near impossible. I thought I knew the source of all my pain, parts of my childhood, the sins of my father and the men I wrapped myself around trying to rewrite history. Some of the pain, I created myself, partly as an excuse. If I was in pain, then I didn't have to worry about healing. Sometimes healing is harder to deal with than the wound itself. The ocean is filled with salt water and we all know salt may burn a wound but it also helps it heal. I let that water wash over me and I can feel it now - I'm starting to heal. I left some things behind at that vacation hide away, but I brought something back too - strength.
I couldn't miss a HNT so I popped on here to post a cute little pic I took yesterday. Vacation is wonderful and I'm seriously thinking I must find a job down here...just somewhere that hurricanes don't hit.
It's taken a few days but it's finally happened, I'm relaxed. I've been on vacation since Friday and upon my arrival it was questionable whether or not the weather would warm up enough for me to lay on the beach...but it has and today I spent the better part of my day laying in the sun and building sand castles with my daughter. Life should be this blissful all the time shouldn't it? Or maybe if it was we would appreciate these moments less.
I had a chance earlier this evening to walk on the beach by myself, something I have not done in at least a couple of years. My life always seems to be filled up with other people and other things, so much so that taking a walk alone becomes near impossible. But tonight, I walked, I drank a glass of wine, I remembered what it felt like to have space on the inside and the outside of me. So many thoughts swirled in my head, thoughts of the past, questions about my future, but through every single one of them one thing remained constant - I felt at peace. The turmoil I so often feel, the regret, the guilt, the pang of wanting something more, disappeared. I could be me, the good me, the bad me, the selfish me, the me that belonged to no one else except me. I want more of these walks, more of these days that seem so full of possibilities. Can I leave this place and take this new found peace with me? Can I pack it away like a souvenir, take it home and put it in my scrap book to look at when I have forgotten what it felt like to be at peace? I'm going to try.
I think everyone should take a vacation at the beginning of the year so that they can wipe their slate clean, start over, leave the bad stuff behind, find hope, take a walk alone and realize - some things have to be done all by yourself. I'm going to hold on to this, the Peace in me.
Yes it's true, I'm actually going on a vacation. It's to nowhere exotic but it's not Chicago and my company doesn't have an office there...that's what matters. It's warmer than 35 degrees so to me, it's balmy. There is white sand and an ocean just footsteps from where I'll be laying my head at night. I'll be able to spend the entire day in my flip flops and bikini with no lawyers in sight, at least not ones I have to cater to.
So my friends I will try to post while away but it most likely will be sporadic since the last thing I'll really want to do is turn on my laptop because then I'll be forced to check my email and be reminded a reality is back here waiting for me when I return. It's ok to be in denial as long as it's only temporary right?
À bientôt mes amis, être bon et être heureux.
stumbling through the hallways of my life
knocking my knees on misplaced furniture
feeling the walls around me
hoping they would lead somewhere
tripping on memories thrown by the wayside
swallowed by the darkness
frustrated by the blindness
I rubbed my eyes
a glimmer of light
I can see it now
wide open spaces
no broken pieces to make me stumble
and something - better
my eyes are open
We all leave things behind, people we cannot love anymore, those who cannot love us, memories that are too painful to carry, pieces of ourselves - intentional or not, there are things we discard. I've become a champion runner, dashing towards some finish line that is barely visible. I've run marathons away from myself, trying desperately to be - someone else. Rarely have I looked back at the debris littering the road I've followed, most times ignorance is bliss. Yesterday I was cleaning out old desk drawers, drawers that I have not opened for more than ten years. It sounds crazy doesn't it? I've moved this desk from place to place, decorated it's surface with vases and pictures, ignoring what it carried on the inside. I've bumped my hips on it's corners as if it were trying to reach out and speak to me, "look inside," but still - it's drawers remained closed. It's amazing how something so material, so solid - can still be invisible. I'm not sure why yesterday became the day for me to look inside, maybe it was a step I needed to take to move on, to become that person I long to be. Whatever the reason, yesterday I opened up my past, reminders of the things I left behind. I found pictures of my ex-husband and I, happy and smiling, young and ignorant, in love with the people we thought we were. I found letters I'd written to my father and never sent, letters that exposed the most broken parts of myself - the parts he owned. These things made me cry, not because I left them behind, but because as fast as I'd run away, as much distance as I thought I'd put between that life and this one, here they were - exactly where I'd left them. I guess I've avoided opening these drawers because they contained pieces of the self I have tried so many times to heal, but couldn't. I loved my ex-husband but I didn't deserve him - so I left. I thought I'd forgiven my father, but I hadn't. Pretending pain doesn't exist doesn't mean it's not still there lurking in the shadows waiting for a ray of light to expose it for all that it is. So I sat down an I looked at those photos, I smiled at that girl who thought she'd had all the answers, I smiled at the boy who loved her with all his heart, and then I put them where they belonged - in the past. I read those letters, part of me wanted to send them to my dad but I knew that wouldn't accomplish what I really needed it to so instead I called my dad up and told him I loved him. It took me so long to look inside that desk, maybe before I wasn't strong enough, but now I am. I emptied those drawers and placed everything in a box labeled, "old junk." I think for now, I'll leave those drawers empty.
Well I made it - past a new year and another birthday. I was sort of depressed yesterday for many reasons, getting older is never easy especially when you feel you've failed yourself. As I sat around feeling pity for myself I decided to think about the past year of my life, look at where I'd been both physically and emotionally. I remembered what I posted about New Years, going places or doing things with full conscience. So many times this year I've gone forward with blinders on, relied on others to forge a path that I could follow, it seemed easier that way. When I started this blog it was for reasons I wasn't completely aware of, but then I started to type the stories of my life, the things that so often defined me - or at least I thought they did. I used to think that the easiest task was keeping people out but over the past year I've discovered it's easier to let people in than to keep building walls. So I'm here now, forging my way on to something else, something better. I used to think life would be an easier proposition, but it isn't. I used to want something from every person I loved - acceptance. I used to think that perfection was the only thing that could make me desirable, but I was wrong. Now I know life is hard, but that's ok because every day I grow strong enough to endure it. Now I love without expectations, that's what love is supposed to be. I'm not perfect and now I believe that's what makes me worth knowing, worth loving. This new song I've looped in the background is by Kasey Chambers and it's named "the Captain." We all need someone to lead us - sometimes, but eventually we have to grab a hold of the wheel and set sail on a new course. There's a line in that song, "I tend to run away and hide," well that was me last year, this year - I'm done hiding.
Well hopefully you've all made it into this new year with a smile on your face. The new year has always been hard on me because I not only have to ring in a new year, the very next day I have to do it while celebrating being a year older. Today is my birthday. It's hard not to be a little bit depressed because most of us are never really where we want to be, in life that is, when our birthday comes around. I try to stay positive but honestly it's hard. I guess I just never feel as special as I want to be, as loved as I know I deserve, as strong as I know I need to be. I'm not seeking pity as much as a sounding board. This is a brand new year, a chance to change things, to make myself as special as I want to be instead of relying on someone else making me feel that way. Have you been able to get past it - the doom that lingers over turning another year older? How? I know I should look at the good things in my life, and I do, but how do you accept that you are not where you want to be, and if you do accept that, does that mean you sacrifice something you may never be able to get back? I don't ask for help very often, I can usually pull myself up by my boot straps, get back on the horse, and ride off to some place that makes me feel better - but I'm asking, how do you make it all ok?