Healing Hurts

I’ve been thinking a lot about deep hurts lately. The kind that cut deep into one’s soul and make one’s heart bleed for a long time. These hurts…these hurts that steal one’s breath, these hurts that cause body shaking, soul quaking sobbing crying…these hurts, I’m familiar with.

Today, I told someone about a memory of my oldest and youngest child together. It is probably my only clear and specific memory of these two children together since my youngest’s life was stolen from us way too early. The memory is a fond one, but after I mentioned it, I felt a familiar and yet horrible pain that I wish my heart had never known. The pain of grief…the kind of grief that you could never know unless you are a parent that has held your dead child.

It doesn’t matter how long has passed, there will forever be moments where intense grief sneaks up and squeezes my heart so hard it feels like I won’t be able to catch my breath again. Now, admittedly, these moments are rare now (thank God), but they happen at random and will happen forever. I can talk about my daughter without crying, and I do this frequently, but there are just those times where it is painful again like back at the beginning when she was first gone.

I’m certain that today’s pain was a byproduct of other intense hurts I’ve been feeling lately. It’s like having a fresh scab that gets bumped. While that bump wasn’t much, the wound is fresh, so it bleeds easily. That is my heart these days. I can only handle so much before I’m bleeding all over the place, and lately, baby, I’m bleeding.

I get told frequently in life that I am strong, and this is true. I continue to wake up each day with a smile and fresh hope, but it doesn’t make what I endure any easier. In fact, I don’t even know anymore that this is necessarily a good thing. It just is what it is. I personally don’t feel like it’s anything that I have a choice in—it’s just who I am.

So lately, while so much is searing my heart, while I continue to wake each day filled with hope, while each day something hurts deeply and I smile anyway, please know that doesn’t mean any of it is easy. I’m human and I hurt. Like so many others out there, I’m just trying to get through life. I’m trying to not just survive, but thrive. I have no choice but to believe that while there is so much that hurts today, there can be so much that feels amazing tomorrow. It is in this hope that I find healing. A healing that lets me keep going. So in the midst of pain tonight, I smile knowing that once again, I will be up in the morning with the world’s biggest hopes, and maybe, just maybe, tomorrow the hurts will be healed.

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Forgive Me???

I’ve been thinking lately about forgiveness. Not just forgiveness in general–not the kind you give someone else, but the kind you give to yourself.

When you make big mistakes, when you hurt others that you love the most, when you have moments that become the ugliest skeletons in your closet, how do you forgive yourself? This has been a question I’ve had for many years now.

More than a dozen years ago, when my child passed away, there was a member of my now ex-husband’s family that went around saying horrible things about me. When someone approached me and said, “’So and so’ is saying that you killed your baby,” I saw an anger I’d never known in my entire life. It took over everything and was all I could think about. I would sit at work and think about all the ways I wanted to hurt this woman like her cold words hurt me. It very quickly got to a point where I knew I needed to seek out help in figuring out how to let it go because the anger was eating away at me.

The advice that I was given was to forgive her. This shocked me at first because how was I supposed to even think about forgiving someone that could say something so heinous about me?! That was the answer though. “How do I do that?!” I asked. I was told that I needed to just keep telling myself that I forgive her. Every time she popped into my head, I was supposed to remind myself that she is forgiven, until eventually, I truly forgave her.

I can no longer recall how long it took for my anger to stop overpowering me, but eventually, I no longer felt hatred towards this woman. Eventually, I forgave her even. Ever since this, I’ve used this tool in many scenarios with many people because it is effective and gives me inner peace.

Back to my current issue though, I have held onto some intense grief and guilt about something else aimed at myself for many years. I’ve always felt that I didn’t deserve forgiveness. I made some horrible mistakes and I hurt the people most important to me. I didn’t just hurt them, but they are forever impacted and changed by this time period.

Now, because this was from so long ago, I don’t think about it all the time. I don’t dwell every day on the painful memories or even the guilt, but any time it is brought up, that guilt comes rushing right back to the surface. I feel a weight on my chest and I feel strangled, unable to breathe easily. I messed up. Now, we all know that for most of us, we are our own worst critics, and that’s true here too I suppose, but I just haven’t been able to let it go.

A few nights ago, something of the past was brought up and once again, I cried and grieved. As my body shaking sobs slowed, I thought about how long this has been plaguing me for. “Do I deserve my own forgiveness yet?” I wondered to myself, “Do I deserve for it to happen ever, at all?” For the first time, I’m thinking that maybe I do.

So now, I’m trying to figure out getting over that hump and allowing it for myself. I have to figure out after almost 10 years, how do I let go of this? My guess is that it is going to be the same way as it was to forgive the woman that spread those horrible rumors. I have to just keep reminding myself that I am forgiven when it comes to mind. Every time the guilt rises, I need to tell myself that I don’t need to feel that way anymore.

Already, there is some relief. Deciding that I am worthy of my own forgiveness is a big deal. That’s more progress than I’ve made in years and years. I have finally decided though, I deserve it.

If you are hanging onto guilt and grief and unforgiveness of yourself too, I’m encouraging you to take this step with me and choose to lay it down. If you can forgive others, what makes you so much worse? The freedom found in self forgiveness is worth it. You are worth it. So take that step, my friends. Embrace the inner peace. Forgive.

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*Picture from Google*

I Lost Him, But I Found Me

When he first told me he was leaving, I was understandably devastated. I couldn’t believe it and was in total shock. It hurt deeply and every day since has hurt. I didn’t think I could live without him. But (and it’s a really big but), I’m doing it! I’m healing a little one day at a time. Where my heart has been pained, I see it sting a little less every day. Where I once couldn’t imagine life without him, I’m getting used to the idea of it. Where I thought I couldn’t be happy without him, I woke up happy today. I wanna cheer! I want to get up and do a happy dance because I didn’t feel strong initially and it took me only a short time to be able to see that I am indeed strong.

You see, I felt like when I was losing him, I was losing me too. Who am I without him? Who am I as just Niki, and not B’s girlfriend? How and what is my life by myself? You know what though? I’m still losing him, but I’m actually finding me! I can’t emphasize this point enough, but keep reading because I’m going to tell y’all how.

So since this all started, I’ve been talking to a few friends about my heartache. One day, one said, “You know what helps? Running.”

I laughed it off and said, “Have you ever seen a picture of me? I’m not going running.”

He assured me, anyone can do it. He gave me the name of an app that even beginners can do. I downloaded the app but then left it for days without doing anything about it. I was being swallowed up by my hurts and just didn’t care about starting. That was on top of my normal issues that get in the way of exercise (especially something hard on my joints). I struggle with chronic pain, I have a busy life, and let’s face it, I’m just really good at making excuses. The idea stayed in the back of my mind though. I even mentioned it to one of my dearest girlfriends (who happens to LOVE fitness and exercise). So on Saturday morning, when I texted her about the anxiety that seems to come in waves right now, she immediately followed up with telling me to get my tennis shoes on and get my booty outside. She told me to use it as fuel, to go until I can’t breathe, and put all of that negative energy to use. So you know what I did? I put on my tennis shoes! She offered to put her kids in a jogging stroller and go with me, so that’s what we did. It may not seem like much, and I definitely didn’t start with jogging, but we power walked 2 miles with much of it being uphill. When we got back, I literally had sweat running. Wanna know something else? It felt so good!!

I kept myself fairly busy the rest of the day and tried to focus on anything other than letting my brain go into overdrive about what I can’t change. I had a planned date on Saturday night with another girlfriend and was happy to get out and do that. Unfortunately, that meant not getting much sleep, and the sleep I did get was poor. But you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning and could feel sadness and loneliness seeping in? Yep, you guessed it! I put on my tennis shoes! Without my friend this time, I took the dogs around the block, dropped them back off at home, and then did that same 2 mile loop. I pushed myself hard. I got home again covered in sweat and feeling on top of the world.

I went inside and went to get in the shower and paused to look in the mirror. I looked at how red my face was and how my hair was wet from sweat. I looked at my deflating belly that is already noticeably smaller with my breakup weight loss. I stood there and appreciated myself for the first time in I can’t even tell y’all how long. I saw beauty in my face where I’d forgotten it was once there. I saw attractiveness in my body where for several months I’d just been able to see fat. Where my self-esteem had once plummeted dangerously low, I saw and felt my worth for the first time looking in the mirror that day.

In this recent heartache, I’ve had more time on my hands. I’m not rushing anything to spend time with a partner, so I have time to focus. I’ve started lovingly taken care of myself. I take great care in the little things that I’ve previously not done as often or done hastily. I’m taking the time to shave my legs with care, to take good care of my feet, brushing my teeth, washing my body, moisturizing my face, lotioning my skin. Most of these things are obviously things I was doing, but doing them now is different. It’s with love and affection for myself. It’s done slowly and well. All of this is with new exercise and good water intake. I’m not consuming soda (okay, well except for that night out drinking hehe). I’m not consuming junk food. My initial weight loss was from stress, but hey, since it’s started, now I’m going to take it and run with it (literally as I haven’t yet started to actually jog, but I promise, I’m getting there). I deserve to be well cared for and there’s no one better to do it than me.

I lost him, but it’s giving me the chance to find me and make the changes that should have been made a long time ago. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m dedicated to this new self-care thing. It’s about time that I seek no love but my own. So hello, me, I’ve missed you.

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I Am Strong

Every day is hard right now. There’s nothing to fix it except to just keep feeling it all until it stings less and to develop a new routine and norm. I’m so used to my days starting with his kiss, to coming home to his goofy grin and humor, to sleeping cuddled close. Now I wake alone, I sleep alone, I live life alone. I love my children to pieces, but they can’t fulfill the “need” of having an adult in my life. I know with all that I am that I will get through this without crumbling, but I also know it’s not easy. I have no idea when I’ll stop feeling extreme anxiety in the afternoons. I have no idea when I’ll stop aching for his touch at night. I have no idea when it will stop being uncomfortable to be at home. I just know that eventually all those things will happen. There’s peace in that knowledge too. This is not the first time in my life I’ve experienced heartache. It’s not even the worst heartache I’ve ever endured (though it’s the worst in a really long time). I know I’m going to be okay though because I’m already experiencing moments where I feel at peace and have less moments filled with sorrow. At this point, the scariest part is the finances and not being sure if my employer is going to be able to help (which miraculously is a possibility) or if I’ll have to get a second job. Whatever that solution is, there will still be so much more peace once I have it figured out. Knowing that the financial aspect is the most worrisome part is also a giver of peace. I’ve grown to start disliking the phrase about being a strong woman, but it’s totally true. I am strong.  And at some point, my strong, cute ass will look back on all this and smile at the lessons learned and where this will take me. This doesn’t break me. I am not broken. No one has that power. I. Am. Strong.

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We Are Enough

It is crazy to me that I have to say this, but it is not okay to treat women like objects without feelings. Women are more than a pretty (or not so pretty) face walking by you. While I am currently working on a blog post about how women view and treat other women and how the media has an impact on how we feel about ourselves and each other, I had to interrupt my progress on that one to write this similar one.

I had the most disrespectful thing happen to me last night that has happened to me in quite a while. I stopped by the gas station on my way home from work and when I got out of my rig, I heard the noise of people behind me. Naturally, I turned to look for the source. As I turned over my right shoulder, there was a couple in a vehicle next to mine and I made eye contact with the driver. If this would have been then end of it, nothing about this stop would have been noteworthy, but in that split second that we made eye contact, he then barked at me. Yes, you read that right, he barked at me like a dog. I was so shocked that it didn’t even register with me until I was several steps further and around the corner out of sight. As I stood in line to pay for my purchase, I developed a lump in my throat. What made this man feel that it was okay to bark at me like I’m a dog? What made him feel that it was okay to deliver that blow to my self-esteem simply for looking his direction? The mean look in his eye as he did this stayed with me as I pondered his intentional hurtfulness while still in line.

While he obviously did not say anything to me, I took his barking as his way of saying I’m ugly and don’t deserve to look at him. In no way was I “checking him out” or doing anything other than instinctively looking in the direction that I’d heard noise. He didn’t know me or anything about me. And yet, somehow, he felt comfortable insulting me.

Initially, his barking at me stung my feelings. I thought right away about feeling fat and feeling like I don’t have the best clothing lately due to weight gain. I thought about my sloppy ponytail and my muffin top. It was uncomfortable walking back to my rig, and I wanted to rush so that he didn’t have a chance to say anything to me on my way back out. On the drive home though, I thought, I don’t have to let his ugly actions affect me and how I feel about myself! He does not get to have that power!

In American society, we are drowning in media and advertisement exposure. We need perfect hair, skin, and teeth. We need the newest fashions, the best products, and to buy, buy, buy. Advertising is effective because we are now constantly being told we NEED these things to be desirable, to be good women, and to attain unobtainable perfection. We are constantly faced with the photoshopped versions of beauty on every glossy magazine cover, on every clothing website, and even on ads on the side of the city bus.

We can rise above this, ladies. You don’t need to be a consumer to be a good woman, a good partner, a good employee, a good mom, a good sister, or a good anything else. Smile brightly, laugh loudly, and hold your beautiful head up high everywhere you go, because YOU own your beauty and happiness. Don’t let anyone else rob you of it.

While there are mean and hurtful people out in the world, we do not have to let them hold power over us. As women, we have a hard enough time feeling good about ourselves and feeling like we are enough. We deserve to think positively about ourselves. Please don’t let the mean-spirited people of the world steal your happiness and confidence. We deserve to KNOW that we are enough— with every stretch mark, every roll, every varicose vein, and every freckle, mole, & scar.

You. Are. Enough.

I. Am. Enough.

We. Are. Enough.

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The Disowned Devil

Things have been crazy weird lately and I’m not really sure which end is up and which is down. I wrote about finding my biological father’s family in my blog, but on Facebook, I only had said that I met family I’d never known before from my biological father’s side and that I have older siblings. The other night, I received an intense phone call from my grandmother (my mother’s mother). I was answering a call from the high school at the same time as she was calling, so initially it went straight to voicemail. Because I detest listening to voicemails, my recorded message requests that callers hang up and text me.

The voicemail she left started off with her sternly saying, “I will NOT text you. . .” and I knew immediately that things were headed downhill.

“I am SO upset with you right now over this taking up with that puke bastard’s offspring. I wonder if all of them are legal, and if any other people out there have been raped by him. I am FURIOUS.”

Tears instantly sprang to my eyes as I felt the blood drain from my face. I knew there had to be some kind of fallout somewhere from all of this and it looked like I’d found it. I didn’t want to have any confrontation at all, but I didn’t want to disrespect my grandmother by not calling back either. I took a deep breath and redialed.

She began to yell as soon as she answered. She was upset for all that my mother has gone through. She talked about “her baby” and all the bad that she had endured. I tried to defend myself. I tried to explain that I wasn’t looking for a relationship with my father (which is impossible even if I was since he is deceased). I tried to explain how I just wanted information and I didn’t set out to have a relationship with anyone. She didn’t care what I had to say and told me that I have to choose—either them or her.

My grandmother mocked me crying, refused to listen to what I had to say, and then told me, “You know, Niki, you have to think of someone other than yourself for once in your life.”

That touched a nerve. It is very much in me to care about others around me. It is very much in my nature to bend over backwards for others, and I would give the shirt off my back to a stranger if need be. To be told I’m so selfish and need to stop thinking about myself was a slap in the face. On top of just who I am in general, I had agonized over all of this for all involved. I didn’t want to step on my mother’s toes. I haven’t wanted to step on my new siblings toes. I haven’t wanted to stir up negativity. I have spent hours thinking and worrying about it all, thinking about everyone, and thinking about everyone’s feelings.

I ended the phone call there. There was clearly going to be nothing positive from continuing to talk and I was no longer in control of my emotions either. I cried. Hard. During the conversation, my grandmother claimed that my siblings couldn’t be good—they come from the Devil. She refused to acknowledge that they had not done anything at all personally against my mom or anyone else involved. I felt defensive on their behalf, but even more, I felt stunned because if they are bad simply because of their DNA, I must be bad too. I’m his child too. Am I the Devil???

Then, things got even worse when I got on Facebook and saw that my grandmother had commented on the status about finding my siblings. My original post had said, “. . . Most people don’t know that I’ve never known my biological father and that while all the surrounding details aren’t public business, I can say that my heart is truly happy to have found that I have 2 brothers and a sister. . .”

My grandmother commented, “And if all the details were made public who would be so proud. I used to be your grandmother but you go with that new family now and leave me out of your life.”

I was so embarrassed and hurt. That comment had been there for 30 minutes before I saw and deleted it. I didn’t want to delete her from my profile because I was hoping she would just be temporarily upset and would calm down. I’m also not a fan of social media drama and deleting and re-adding people. Less than an hour later though, another comment appeared, “You can go with that my granddaughter but cross me off the list of your family. You know why.”

Again, I deleted the comment and cried some more. I then shared a poem I’d written about being a strong woman, and she then commented beneath that saying, “Bull.”

What was I supposed to do? My own flesh and blood was angry at me. I never in my life thought I could do anything to make my family disown me. Isn’t a parent’s (and grandparent’s) love supposed to be unconditional?

When I was finally feeling like I was starting to recover from the crazy emotional roller coaster of all of this, this event set me reeling again.

I don’t know what is going to happen from here. I don’t know that my grandmother will ever forgive me (even though I feel I’ve done nothing wrong). What I do know though is that I’m going to just continue on with my life. I’ll keep going to work every day, parenting my children every day, and just living life every day with some faith and hope that everything will be just fine. I also will continue on knowing that I am indeed a strong woman, and all of this will be all right.

*Update: A few months ago, I received a call from my grandmother. She had apparently started to worry that some health problems were maybe going to take her life, and she feared that she could suddenly die with my thinking she hated me. She called to tell me she loves me and that nothing I could ever do would make her not love me. We’ve only talked once since and my heart still feels like it is recovering from this event, but I am grateful to know that she is not standing by her original “we’re no longer family” stance.*

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Feeling Raw

I feel pretty raw lately. I’ve been trying so hard to climb out of the funk I’ve been in, but I seem to only be sliding further down into it. I feel lonely. I feel misunderstood. I feel like I’m the source of others’ frustrations. I feel like I’m not supported. I feel stretched thin. And did I mention I feel lonely?

This funk has been tough on those around me. I would say it’s also probably accurate that it’s pushed others away. I feel so lost and unsure of how to find myself again. I have been living a hard life for a long time and while it’s hard, I think that people tend to continue with what is hard because it is familiar and change is hard too. It’s hard and scary.

Sometimes all I want is for those closest to me to hug me tight and just remind me of their love and support. Lately, that seems to be in short supply, and the more I want it, the more I notice the absence of it. I just want to feel connected to others. I want to feel that I truly matter. I want to know that someone looks at my face and thinks, “Gosh, I sure am lucky to have her in my life.” I want these things because at the moment, I just feel like life is slapping me across the face every time I turn around.

I need to figure out what to do to help me. I have to figure out what changes need to be made and figure out a plan for them. I have to figure out how to let go of the negative forces—whatever they may be. And mostly, I have to figure out how not to forget that no matter who has let me down or hurt me, that’s not my fault and doesn’t affect my worth. I ~am~ worthy.