If Walls Could Talk…

…what would they say? Or better yet, if *my* walls could talk…what would *they* say?

This was a concept that was brought up between my longest known best friend and myself when we had a rare visit today. While the conversation about it was very short and actually not a reference for what I’m about to write about here, my immediate reaction to thinking about the question made me a little queasy as my mind went to negative thoughts first.

You see, while I’ve been incredibly quiet over the last several months, it’s not been because life has been unbelievably busy with happiness. I’ve been going through several big life changes going on at once. One of those changes is that my oldest child not only turned 18, but he decided he wanted to be independent and move out. Talk about a momentous occasion…

I have a very clear memory of when my boy was a brand new, tiny infant and I was upset because someone had hurt my feelings. As I clutched my happily sleeping, milk-drunk newborn to my chest and tears fell into his feathery blond hair, I remember wanting so fiercely to protect him from all hurts in life. I had felt maternal and protective over him since early in my pregnancy, but this was the first moment I clearly remember so desperately wanting to guard and protect his heart more than I’d ever wanted something before in my life. The love of a parent is strong.

In the blink of an eye, my doe-eyed, sweet baby boy turned into a tall, handsome grown man–a strong-willed, stubborn one at that. While he knew that I wanted him to wait for a while to move out (and for all good reasons), he was itching to be out on his own and made the choice to pack up anyway.

He’s my oldest so this is the first time I’m experiencing this momentous mommy occasion. Not only that, but it’s a big realization that my other kids that stair-step down immediately in age are right behind him. With my youngest being almost 16, I’m not all that far from having an empty nest. This is a big deal for any parent, but it’s even more so for me. You see, I’ve been a mama with kids in the home since I was still just a kid myself. I went from being a kid in my mom’s home to being a mom and wife before I was even 18. All I’ve known of adult life is parenting. It’s a whole new me and life in the process of transition right now and so many emotions that go with it.

Going through this, I’ve struggled lately with feeling weight of guilt and grief over ways that I have made mistakes over the years. I carry hurts collected over the years in ways that I’ve failed. As parents, we all know that we aren’t perfect and that we are bound to make mistakes. But being faced with the reality of how my time is up with my boy being a kid in my home and there are no more chances of parenting him in that aspect has been a hard pill for me to swallow.

All of this thinking lately has had my heart so very tender. So today, thinking about if my walls could talk, I immediately thought of my mistakes and dark and hard moments. I started turning it all around in my head though as soon as my friend left. Have there been mistakes? Have there been regrets? Have there been moments I wish I could take back? Absolutely. Is all that stuff what my walls would talk about though…?

We are often our own worst critics. I’m no exception there. Thinking about my children’s lives up to this point though, I’ve had some amazing moments too. I have overcome battles that many succumb to. I have lived life as a single mom for many years, often with very little financial support from anyone else, without my children’s father’s presence, without family checking on me and lending a hand, and often even while working two jobs. I have cared deeply about my babies and what they’ve had in life. I’ve struggled and fought hard, but…I’ve been fighting a winning fight. My children have been provided for and have turned into these teenagers that regularly blow me away with their kindness, helpful attitudes, and gentle spirits. They have been the kind of kids that regularly get compliments for being good kids. I can be hard on myself, but I then have to remember that it’s not just chance. My babies are good people because of the work I’ve put in and done right.

I love my kids more than I love having air to breathe, and I’ve never been shy about expressing that. Their whole lives, I’ve made sure to assure them of my love, both with my words and my actions. I have freely handed out “I love you’s,” hugs, and kisses. My kids have never had to question whether or not they are important to me. I fail daily because I’m human, but I also do right every single day.

If these walls could talk, they *could* talk about “unspeakable mommy moments” as another girlfriend of mine calls them. They could talk about mistakes, tempers lost, dirty dishes that have stayed stacked in the sink for too long, carpets that went too long without seeing a shampooer, and laundry that did three go-’rounds in the washer due to failure to get them into the dryer before they smelled sour. They could talk about endless times where pizza was bought for dinner because I’d rather pay for food to be delivered than to cook after working 12 hours in steel toed boots and coveralls in 20 degree weather, the times I’d skipped a shower in favor of just falling into bed in exhaustion, or times I’d rather toss leftover food-filled Tupperware dishes than to wash moldy spaghetti sauce out. I could easily write a thousand words here on my mistakes or poor moments. Is that truly what my walls would talk about though…?

I don’t think so.

My walls would speak of love and determination. They would speak of a strong family bond. They would speak of kids that grew up knowing their mother loves them unconditionally and would lay her life down to protect them if need be. My walls would speak of dance parties in the kitchen while cooking, silly sing-song voices being goofy when we’re alone together, loving life lessons being taught about growing up, and laughter–SO. MUCH. LAUGHTER.

I have never claimed to be perfect, and this post isn’t about boasting. I’ve decided though, while I fall short, my walls would glow talking about a family that is fierce, strong, and united. My walls would talk about what life and parenting all boils down to… Love. My walls would *proudly* speak of love.

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We Are The Village

I didn’t start to truly understand the importance of friendship between women until I was in my 30’s. When I was younger, I always said it was easier being friends with guys, citing reasons like drama and backstabbing. As I have gotten older though, I have realized the incredible power in women supporting women. There are going to be people who aren’t genuine and don’t have your back in life, male or female, and the relationships between women are powerful. This is especially true for mom friends.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for months. A few months back, in a moment of anger and frustration, I made a personal post on social media expressing frustration over women that have much support and even a partner that is currently out of town/state complaining about being single mothers. I said their feelings weren’t valid. I said they weren’t single moms and didn’t deserve to put themselves in the same category as moms like me who are without any support from a partner or my children’s father, financially or otherwise. In that moment of frustration over my personal life, and even jealousy, I did exactly the opposite of what I preach about women supporting women. I was tearing women down. As you can imagine, the post blew up with comments from all sides. I eventually had to delete it, but even once deleted, I couldn’t take back the negativity I had put out into the world. I couldn’t take back where I had taken frustration from my own struggles and used it as a way to put down other women. This behavior is normally out of character for me, but that night, I put ugliness out into the world. I was incredibly embarrassed, and I deeply regretted putting anyone down.

I talk often about women lifting up other women because it is incredibly important to me. As I’ve gone through hard moments in life, I’ve had the most uplifting words, advice, and acts of service from other women. This is often true of women that are older, more wise, and more experienced. They have been there. They have struggled. They have felt alone. So they know the best ways to help and reach out to younger women.

I recently sat at the dining room table with my very best friend, and as we were surrounded by rowdy kids, a naked toddler, and a fussy nursing baby, we discussed being moms and the support we really need. We are in very different seasons of motherhood and have very different lives. I am a single working mother, and my kids are now teenagers. She has 5 little ones ages 10 and under, is a (wonderful) stay at home mother that homeschools, and does whatever she can to help support her hardworking husband. I had children much younger than she did, and we discussed the ways that mothers need help regardless of age, number of children, and marital/relationship status. We talked about the saying, it takes a village to raise a child, and how much truth that holds.

While some mamas have mothers and sisters that provide loving support, there are many mamas out there without that support. There is a lot of pressure on us in today’s society to be super women…to be able to handle parenting, have well-behaved, clean, happy children, work, survive on sleep deprivation, keep clean houses, take care of ourselves, keep in shape, please our men, be desirable, and still be social–all without support from anyone else. Well, you know what? I’m telling you that’s a load of crap. For one, it’s impossible to do and be all of those things all the time. For two, we weren’t meant to have so much on our plates without help from others. In American culture, there’s become an intense pressure surrounding being mothers and stretching ourselves thin and the more on our plates the better, like it’s the fashionable thing to do. Women post on social media about all that they are accomplishing or all that they have to do and take care of, and then other women compare themselves and see all of their flaws and ways that they are falling short. Stop this! When you are comparing yourself to the mom that seems to have it so much more together than you, you forget that you are comparing that mom’s highlight reel to your lowest moments. The mom speaking on social media about where she is doing great in one area isn’t talking about where she is falling short in another area. We are ALL struggling in one way or another, but most of us aren’t willing to post about it. We talk about long hours at work or the amazing dinner we are cooking, but we don’t talk about how there’s been dishes sitting dirty on the counter for 3 days, or the same load of laundry in the washer that’s been washed who knows how many times because we keep forgetting to throw it in the dryer, or how we can’t remember the last time we’ve had sex with our life partner because exhaustion makes sleep more important than intimacy for weeks and even months at a time.

Now, I am not saying we should all post all of our ugly mommy moments on social media, or that we should not talk about our good and strong moments either. What I am saying is that moms need to stick together. Be real with your good girlfriends. Talk openly and honestly about your struggles because chances are, they can relate and have their own struggles they want to talk to you about. We all need loving support. We all need good friends we can tell about how we had a moment where we were so angry with our children, we wanted to physically hurt them, or how we lost it and screamed so loud that we fear the neighbor might question our parenting skills, or how we have worn the same pajamas and unbrushed messy bun for 2 days in a row and skipped a shower in favor of 15 more minutes of sleep and bathed with a baby wipe. Have you let your preschooler watch some obnoxious kids’ TV show for far too long just to have some peace for a while? Have you fed your kids McDonald’s for dinner 3 nights this week because you’re worn out? Have you let your 5 year old go to bed in his favorite new rubber boots because you just didn’t have the fight in you to battle making him take them off? Have you thrown out Tupperware that sat too long in the fridge because it’s just easier to buy more than to wash out last week’s molded spaghetti? This and so much more… guess what? We have all been there. There’s so much mommy shaming though that we don’t feel safe to acknowledge these hard moments.

So this is what I would like for you to do:

  1. Be real and honest with your friends. Be the example they need. You just might inspire that for them, which then inspires it for others, and so on. Let’s put an end to the judgmental mommy shaming. Also, ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in that.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others on social media. Remember that you are only seeing a tiny snippet of what others are saying and then comparing your worst moments to these great moments that make it online. Allow yourself to be real on social media as well. Don’t pretend life is perfect when it is not. It is okay to say you’re stretched thin, tired, and overwhelmed.
  3. Be there in practical ways for other moms that need it. Do you have a mom friend that just had a new baby or is just struggling in general? Show up with dinner for the whole family, and maybe even a bottle of wine. Go over and do the dishes or fold the mountain of clean laundry that’s become a living room couch decoration. Pick up the kids and take them to the park to give mama some time to just breathe. Offer to babysit for a date night, or better yet, if you can afford the splurge, offer to babysit AND buy a gift card for your favorite restaurant for the couple. Just be there in the ways you would like someone to be there for yourself.
  4. When you find yourself getting ready to mommy shame others, stop yourself and try to put yourself in the other mom’s shoes. We all fail at times, and we all make mistakes. Spread love and kindness instead.
  5. Share this blog with your mom friends. We all need a reminder that our real, messy, true lives are normal and understood.

I know this one was on the long side, but I’ve been holding it all in for so long that I had to share it all. To the moms that I offended and hurt that night with my angry rant, I am sorry. I pride myself on being the kind of person that will freely admit when I’m wrong, and I was really wrong that night. I hope you can forgive me.

Stick together, mamas. We are each other’s village.

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Shattered. Simply Shattered.

Shattered. That is my heart at the moment. That’s the best word I can come up with to describe myself. Simply shattered.

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Anyone who’s ever paid attention to my blogs knows that I’m not real private. I’ll tell pretty much anyone pretty much anything going on in my life. One thing I’m normally intensely private about though is breakups, if for no other reason, than just because I like having time to digest it all by myself without anyone getting in my business.

This time is a little different. I would really like to be private about everything, but y’all know me and I MUST write to process. So I might as well just lay it all out there. The love of my life told me he’s never been in love with me and left. Can you imagine the sting?

B isn’t a bad guy. If he was, I never would have been involved in the first place. The problem was largely timing. I knew better than to get involved with someone so fresh out of a bad marriage. Part of me even knew he wasn’t yet over his cheating wife when we began. What I did not know though was that I would still have all the faith in the world, and that it would break me.

This all started a week and a half ago. An argument no worse than any other (neither of us is much for fighting) on a Tuesday night would be the beginning of a very rough 2 weeks. It would be the beginning of the end. For the first time in our entire relationship, when he got up for work in the early morning that Wednesday, he left without kissing me goodbye. I somehow instinctively knew he wouldn’t too. While I normally sleep soundly while he gets ready until he comes to kiss me, I wasn’t sleeping that morning. I could just feel that something had changed. I had to pee but I didn’t want to move. I was trying to will him into coming in and kissing me. I laid in that bed and watched his shadow cross the wall from the outside and then listened to his truck back out of the driveway. I was crushed.

By the time I was pulling into work later that morning, he had told me he might be ending it. I was in shock and thought there was no way a little fight could mean that. I was panicked but trying so hard to hold myself together. I didn’t do well. I threw up uncontrollably. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think. Two days later, he told me he was done, but that he still wanted his children to come for the weekend at my house because of family plans that had been in place for a while and then move out the following Monday. What the f***. . .?!

I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. I continued with my throwing up, constantly crying, no eating, sleeping horribly cycle. I started dropping weight immediately and drastically. I felt like my world was ending. I begged and pleaded for him to change his mind. I tried to remind him of everything great about us. I told him how I’d never loved anyone in my life like I love him, how I never had fully given myself to someone before him, how much I thought he was my “forever” in life—all truths. What I couldn’t yet swallow though was that it all didn’t matter. He couldn’t change the way he felt (or rather, didn’t feel).

The weekend was hard. I love his children. Every moment was difficult because I couldn’t stop wondering if it would be our last. Is this the last picture together, is this the last time I would cook for them, is this the last time I would get a “monkey hug” before strapping them into their car seats for their trip back to their mama’s house? It was hard to go to his dad and step mom’s house for a BBQ because I love them so much. On that afternoon, after much talking and crying, he said he changed his mind. I didn’t feel relieved though, I felt terrified. Why the sudden change? Would he change his mind right back?

On Sunday, we took pictures together and I wondered if I would ever see them. I was so scared but so filled with hope. We talked Sunday night about all of the issues and I finally felt so relieved. I thought it was going to work. Every fear he had or complaint about our relationship, I had a valid answer, response, and plan for. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling like it was all going to be okay, but once again, I woke up on Monday morning just instinctively knowing that something was wrong. I noticed every time he did something that wasn’t normal and was out of place. I noticed he still was not calling me “baby” and was largely avoiding me. I knew what was coming. Monday night, he told me he’d felt I’d manipulated him with everything I’d said, including that I had gone along with the weekend hoping that he would see me with his children and family and realize what he was doing. That night, I listened to him but I didn’t freak out. I didn’t cry. He had said that he’d previously said he’d stay “for a while” and work on it and that he was still going to do that. I knew what it meant though. It meant that he was just trying to relieve the guilt he felt for changing his mind once again. I woke up on Tuesday morning angry. I then felt like I was the one being manipulated. He wanted me to relieve him of his guilt and tell him to just go. I spent most of my day fairly calm though until it got to the afternoon. Then I was getting upset. Everything about his behavior said he was done. And finally, for me, I was done on the crazy intense roller coaster I’d been on too. If he wanted to leave, then so be it. I was tired of throwing up, being unable to eat, and sleeping so poorly. I was tired of crying and fearing. I was tired of pretending like things could get better. I was tired of walking on eggshells worrying that I would upset him.

The final end started in text message. That was when that tired cliché of “I love you but I’m not in love with you” started. This time, there was no talk of ending things. It was just known without being spoken. I told him he never should have gotten my hopes back up. I told him I was going to hurt like hell, but ultimately, I know that heartache won’t kill me and that’s a lesson I’d learned already in life when I had to lay my child to rest. Then I told him we’d discuss him moving out when we were both home from work.

Things fell apart from there though. I was angry and crushed. I chose to cope that first night by drinking. I got angry at everything and everyone. It became apparent that I should not be there while he moved his stuff out. I went home before he got there and cleared off all of my stuff from the top of his dresser. I dropped his picture frame and saw the glass crack. While it wasn’t intentional, the angry part of me felt satisfied. I was on the porch when he pulled up. He knew I would only be there for a moment to help him change his relationship status on Facebook and to hide it so that others wouldn’t see the change and comment on it. It took less than 2 minutes and I was back in my rig, bawling my eyes out. I left knowing that I would not want to return to see all the holes where his stuff used to be.

I was so angry at him and yet I couldn’t blame him either. If he couldn’t feel more for me, it’s not fair to him, me, my children, or his children to keep trying. I stayed away from home until almost midnight. I didn’t want to go back but I knew I still had to go to work the next day and I had to go to bed. I walked into the bedroom and dissolved into tears again. I was rapidly bouncing back and forth between intense anger and sorrow. I wrote him an angry message on Facebook and sent it, took my clothes off, and crawled into my bed to cry until sweet sleep brought relief.

Yesterday was a blur. There was no one to really be angry at. There is no cure for any of the pain except to keep feeling it until it lessens. I talked with my children in depth for the first time last night. I told them what I need and expect from them. I told them that at 13-16 years old, they are not little babies anymore and they’re old enough to understand. There were many tears from all of us, but I reassured them that we can make it just fine as a family of 4. We are partners. It was a hard conversation, but I think we all felt better.

I didn’t get drunk last night, nor will I cope with alcohol to get through the hurts right now. Nighttime is the worst because it’s idle brain time to just think and feel. I’m going to keep allowing myself to feel without numbing it. It’s hard, but I have to heal the way intended so that I don’t do more damage. I refuse to do anything to make it any harder on myself or my kids.

I woke up this morning feeling better. There was no moment of confusion and having to remember what’s going on as there has been every morning for a week and a half. I’m down 17 pounds in 9 days (unintentionally) but I am starting to be able to eat more. I am heartsick, but I won’t be forever. I know that I’m going to be okay. I know that I’m going to heal. I know that I will continue to persevere for myself and my kiddos. I know that eventually, I won’t feel so shattered.

Rest Peacefully, My Child

I’ve heard before that grief is like a drunk family member leaving a get-together. He’s announced he’s leaving and he’s got his hand on the door and all of his stuff in his hands, but then he steps back in and he just keeps talking. The process then repeats. That’s exactly what grief is like. Just when you think you can pull yourself together and it’s all going to be okay and that grief is going to leave, it steps right back into the living room and sets his stuff back down.  

It’s been almost 12 years since I held my baby, rocked her, and sang to her as she took her last breaths here on earth. That’s 11 birthdays, 11 Christmases, 11 Mother’s Days, and so much more missed. Countless kisses, learning to ride a bike, booboos I can soothe, “I love you, Mommy”, moments of watching her sleep peacefully, brushing her hair, late night snuggles and talks, school concerts, and dancing in the kitchen have all been taken from me.

When my sweet baby first passed, I thought I was going to die from heartache. I thought there would literally be a chance that I would close my eyes and drift off to sleep and my heart would just stop beating because it hurt so badly. I prayed every night that God would bring her to me in my dreams so that I could snuggle and nurse her and breathe in her sweet baby aroma even if only for a moment. He didn’t though and almost 12 years later, I still wish that He would.

I used to write her poems. I wrote them randomly at first and then I wrote them on her birthdays and the anniversaries of her entering Heaven. Writing has always been my coping mechanism to help the chaos in my soul and losing her has been no different.

I initially started out writing this post with an entirely different plan and story to tell, but I just can’t right now. Instead, I’m baring my already naked soul to you all in a different way. Some day I will tell that story, but for today, I’m just sharing some old posts and poems.

For her 9th birthday I wrote:

Another One
I have a heartache, for which there is no cure,
I know a pain that most never will.
It claws, and it burns, and it tears me apart,
Yet, for its hurt, there is no pill.

It doesn’t matter how many years pass,
This day always takes me right back.
Back to the day you came into this world,
Up until the day that you passed.

You should be turning 9 years,
But you never even made it to three months old.
I didn’t get enough time with your precious smile,
Didn’t get enough time with you to hold.

I ache every day for you,
But on this day the ache is a little more fierce.
I miss you, and I love you,
And forever my heart, with grief, is pierced.

Happy ninth birthday, Gracie,
This poem is all I get to do.
So until next year’s day,
Know that Mama truly loves and misses you.
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For the 10th anniversary of her passing, I wrote:

It’s been 3,652 days. 522 weeks. 10 years. 1 decade since I held you in my arms as you took your last breath. In some ways, it seemed to fly by. In other ways, the time crawled. Every moment of the last ten years my heart has ached with the loss of you. Here I am, all these years later, and I still feel like I have a gaping wound in my soul. It will never heal. That hole will never be closed. I love and miss you with all that I am, Gracie. I’m in no hurry to leave this earth, but I’m joyous knowing that when I do, we’ll be reunited and enjoy eternity together in His kingdom. ♡

For her 8th birthday, the day before it I wrote:

Tomorrow
I just cried so hard it felt like the world was gonna end.
Tomorrow, we were supposed to celebrate the day you turn eight,
But instead, I remember every moment of your two months that I can,
And even after all these years, I still can’t believe this was your fate.

Missing you, I think and wonder about you so much.
Would you prefer your hair short or long, worn up, down, in braids, or in curls?
Would you be the girl outside playing sports and getting dirty,
Or would you be the one trying on dress after pretty dress, turning in the mirror and watching as it twirls?

A million questions I will never have the answers to,
Yet they constantly plague my heart and mind anyway.
These are not the thoughts and pains I should be having to endure
As we celebrate what should be your happy birthday.

Gracie, I’ll miss you each day that I have breath in me.
Forever on this earth, I’ll have a gaping hole in my heart.
But, my sweet baby girl, don’t you worry,
I take comfort in the knowledge that there will come a day we will no longer be apart.

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In January of 2006, I wrote:

In Time

My life must continue now,
Even though grief tore it apart.
The pain was enough to kill me
I thought I’d die from a broken heart.
But my family needs me stable.
My kids need me to be strong.
I know I’ve gotten better
‘Cause in the beginning, I thought I couldn’t go on.
I thank the Lord for every day,
Each day is a gift from God above.
I’ve gotten where I am now
From his all-powerful, never ending love.
Someday, I will see her again,
And a joyful reunion it will be.
Because, in time, life will continue.
It will be my family, Gracie, and me.
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In 2013, I wrote:

Never should a mother outlive her child,
Never should a mother have this ache in her soul.
Forever and always part of me will be broken,
Because without you I’m never quite whole.

My sweet, precious baby,
Without you, I should not be.
My whole heart aches for the loss of you,
This pain, I’ll never be free.

As your birthday nears once again,
The pain is once again brand new.
Because no matter what joy life brings me,
I’ll always be without you.

Gracie ****** *****, I love you with all that I am,
And I live a life with a wound in my chest,
Because no matter what comes my way,
I’ll always feel pain, knowing I laid my sweet baby to rest.10487201_1446806232264022_1392835415485502560_n

I’m never going to be the same. I’m never going to not hurt. I’m never going to get to a point where I’m suddenly all better. For the rest of my entire life, I will deeply miss her, I will ache intensely, and I will be incomplete.

Happy birthday once again, my sweet angel. There will never be enough words to tell you how much I truly love you and will forever. Rest peacefully with the angels until I see you again…PhotoGrid_1469225388613

Love,
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Her Rapist’s Eyes

***Trigger Warning, I’m going to discuss sensitive topics including rape in this post. If that makes you uncomfortable, please do not read further.****

I was conceived in a prison. That’s right, you read that correctly. My life came into existence because my mom was incarcerated (unjustly in my opinion, but that’s another story) and my biological father was a prison guard. In short, I was conceived in rape.

There was no clear, out of the blue moment I remember being told this, it’s just something I’ve known my entire life. In fact, I do remember a moment when I was 5 years old that I wanted my mother to clarify for me what the word “rape” meant. It was understandably a confusing concept to me as I barely understood where babies even came from—and the only reason I knew that was because I was a very bright child and demanded to know how my sister got into my mother’s belly when I was 4.

Rape. It’s an ugly word. It puts a bad taste in one’s mouth. If you’re like me and it’s something you’ve endured yourself, it might be a word that makes your breath quicken and your heart race. If you’re fortunate enough to never have been closely impacted by this act, even then, it’s likely a word that makes you squirm in your seat a little. It’s no easy topic, but it’s one I feel has to be talked about for many reasons. One big one is because people (yes, people, not just women, not just children, all people) that have been victimized deserve to know that it’s okay to talk about it. There is healing in talking and telling one’s story. If we as a society walk around whispering it like it’s a dirty word, it makes it that much harder for those that have suffered to find peace. It’s not the “f bomb,” it’s real life; it doesn’t need censored.

Now, my mother has never been fond of talking about that time in her life and I understand that, but there came a point for me where I really started to question what had gone on and I wanted answers. This became especially true when I got married and my mom gave me my birth certificate and for the first time, she explained to me that I could not lose it. She told me that when paternity was established in court, my birth certificate was revised to add “him” to the father line, but when that happened, they (whoever “they” are) also changed my last name on the birth certificate from the one I was born with to his last name. She told me that she never went through the court system to change it back; therefore, if I lost my original and had to purchase a new one, it would have his last name. This really sparked my curiosity.

After that point, I started really considering finding him, but I was afraid. What all did he know about me? Did he want to know me? Did he have other kids? Did they all hate me because of my existence disrupting their lives? Would I be shunned? Would he ever face me? What if………?

When I started wondering these things, it was before the Internet was as easy to use as it is now. I started actively looking and calling phone numbers in 2002. I knew only his first and last name and a couple of states that he’d lived in over the years. I had no success and so it was put on the back burner for a long time after that, and yet, it was always in my mind still. 13 years passed before I decided to try something to find him again. I paid a private investigation company to find him. I gave them the details I did have, gave my debit card info, and then waited. Within days I had an email. I was given what the company thought was his address, the names, addresses, and Facebook account links  of his 3 children, and the phone number for his youngest child.

I immediately checked out his kids’ Facebook profiles in search of at least a picture of him. I couldn’t see much info, and so I started thinking about how I should reach out. Should I Facebook message them? Should I send a letter? Should I call? What should I say? And it was in that panic of not being sure of what to do that I let that info just sit for almost a year. It was only just over a week ago that I finally decided to just send off a Facebook message and see what would happen. I said:

“Hello, XXXX,

I hope you see this message in your “other” box. I’ve had your Facebook contact info for almost a year but I’ve been afraid to reach out. I’m looking for information (especially medical history) and hopefully some pictures of XXXXXX. He is my biological father, making you my half sister. I’ve never had any real info and I’ve been nervous to ask. I don’t want you guys to shun me or shut me out. I’m extremely nervous sending this, but figure tomorrows are never promised and I might as well try. Please feel free to contact me here or email me at XXXXXXXXXXXXXX..

Thank you.”

I sent the message knowing it would be difficult for them to see it because of the settings with messages from strangers, so when I knew the messages hadn’t been read by the time I’d left work that day, I knew I was going to use the one phone number and just call. I stopped by the liquor store and decided it was totally appropriate to have a shot of whiskey before taking a deep breath and dialing.

Two rings, “Hello?” I felt sudden panic and was shocked at someone actually answering an unknown number (I didn’t even know other people still do that these days).

“Hi, um, I’m not sure how to really say this, I don’t know if you’re aware of me; I’m XXXXX’s daughter.”

There was some shock on the other line and lots of “Um’s” in the middle. His son explained to me that he was indeed in shock, but aware of me and asked to call me back. I totally understood his being blindsided by this and told him to go ahead and process and call me back later.

“But wait, can you tell me really quick, is he still alive?”

“No, I’m sorry, he passed away last year.”

I cried. I started crying before I even got off the phone. I hung up and cried hard. I cried body shaking sobs over this information. I felt instant grief. Not grief over my loss as one would feel over the death of a parent he or she knew, but grief over this missing piece of my personal puzzle. Grief over the fact I never got to face him. I never got to ask him any questions. I never got to hear his side of the story. I never got to know if he was sorry for what he put my mother through or the impact it had on me. I never got to know if he was sorry that he never reached out to me. I never got to look into his eyes and ask anything at all.

I walked back into my house after I hung up and poured another shot and then stood in the kitchen just holding it and bawling. My poor teenage boys had no real idea what was going on. My children, whom are extremely connected to me and my emotions, jumped into action and immediately came to me. My oldest hugged me tight for a few seconds while I proceeded to cry harder. When he let go and I was still standing there doing the ugly cry, my younger son then came and grabbed me with such intensity, I was surprised, He held on even tighter while whispering comfort in my ear.

I was shocked at my own reaction. I had no idea I’d feel so intensely. I had no idea it would hurt me to my very core. I had had a feeling when I was driving home from work that night that I was going to find out he had already passed away as I knew he was in his late 70’s, but I was unprepared to hear it for certain. I literally cried without stopping for more than an hour. Then, for the next several hours, I cried at the drop of a hat. And just when I thought I’d pulled myself together, my biological brother called me back.

We talked for 30 minutes and in that first phone call, I could tell that I liked him already. He was open, honest, and tender. He told me facts I’d been wanting to know my entire life. He told me that he thought that his (our) father had had an affair with my mother. We discussed how even if it was consensual (a claim my mother adamantly denies, and I believe her), the law is very black and white on this topic. When being employed as a prison guard, it is illegal to have a sexual relationship with an inmate. Much like a “willing” teenager with an adult, it is considered rape, and for good reason. It was then that he told me something that was incredibly dear to me; he told me that no matter what the circumstances were, he was embracing our newfound relationship and that he is there for me. I then cried some more.

That night on Facebook I wrote, “Those moments. . .those moments that knock the air from your lungs. . .the moments that punch your heart with the force of a Mack truck. . .the moments that hurt so intensely you don’t know when you’ll come up for a breath between sobs. . .I hate those life moments. I feel a MAJOR blog post coming on.” That blog post I spoke of is this here.

***

In the time that has passed since that first day, I’ve had so much on my mind. I can’t help but think about what my mother went through. My heart hurts for her. I can’t imagine it’s easy for her knowing that I’ve reached out to his family. I know that she just wants me to have peace. I can also imagine that me revealing what I’ve done to get in contact with them has probably also brought up old feelings for her. Unfortunately, I don’t really get to know what she is thinking and feeling because we’re not very close and we don’t talk much.

Because of the situation surrounding my conception, we never bonded like normal mother and child. She remained in prison after I was born and I went off to foster care. The first 2 years of my life are something I know almost nothing about. But even once my mother was “free,” she was never really free. She endured hell and then had a child to take care of in the center of that. I love my mom, but her entire situation was damaging and had an impact on everything about me. The foundation I had in life set me up for failure–and oh boy have I failed (there are plenty of old and future blog posts about that, so I’ll skip over that here). But I don’t blame my mom. She lived through a really shitty situation and she came out of it the only way she knew how to. She chose to give me life even when the prison tried heavily to convince her to have an abortion. She kept me and later told me that it didn’t have to matter that I was conceived in such a manner, I could be just hers. Sadly, it did matter, it still does, and it will matter the rest of my life.

Through all of this though, I have a newfound respect for my mom. One of my first requests of my brother was to see pictures of “him.” I was simply curious to know what he looked like. Because I look so much like my mother, I never thought there would be any physical resemblance. Within a couple days, my brother sent me some emails with several pictures. I was totally unprepared, and when I opened an obviously old photo of his wedding, I found myself staring at a male version of my own face. It took my breath away and tears again sprang to my eyes (for like the millionth time in the last couple weeks) because I was looking at my own eyes in this old photograph. Once I’d gotten over the initial shock, I again thought of my mother. This woman, this incredibly strong woman, raised me as best as she could, she loved me, and she disciplined me–all while looking at a child, her child, who has her rapist’s eyes.

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***

Side note: When I started writing this blog post two weeks ago, it was meant to be about “him” and I. It’s turned into a complicated post, but more about my mom than anyone else. My mom is exactly where I get my strength from. She is where I’ve gotten my independence, my strong will, and my courage. Ladies and gentlemen, my mother is a regular badass, and I’m proud to call her my mom.

My Child, I Would Die For You

There is nothing on this earth like a mother’s love. It is strong. It is fierce. It is unbreakable. A mother’s love can make a calm woman rage, a safe woman get into a dangerous situation, and a passive woman become aggressive. This is something I’ve known since the first moment I laid eyes on my precious firstborn and it was solidified when I noticed the hospital had somehow burned the back of his scalp. I’m a non-violent, loving, tender woman—until it comes to my children’s well-being being threatened.

I have a child that has been a handful for his entire life. As an infant, he cried constantly and no amount of rocking, shushing, feeding, burping, or changing could soothe him. By the time he was a toddler, he had meltdowns that could blow anyone away with his ferocity. By the time he was entering kindergarten, we knew that he was different and would likely always require tender care in parenting. We’ve had our ups and downs, but he has mellowed out a lot and is figuring out his way in this world as a teenager now. He is sensitive to many things though, such as how he perceives others to perceive him. He gets upset easily and has a hard time handling “big emotions.” This causes problems sometimes, but I never give up hope that he will figure out how to manage it by the time he’s entering adulthood. But the other day I had a moment that truly reminded me of how intense a mother’s love is.

As my son was upset about something small, he went out to the front of the house to cool off. He’s very good about removing himself from situations he knows will cause a blowup. I happened to be with a friend at a local thrift shop when it began, but when I arrived back home, he was sitting leaned up against one of my vehicles parked on the street. I was concerned, both for his safety sitting on the road and for his emotional well-being in general. Because of him sitting against the van, I stood near him on the street as I tried to coax out of him what he was feeling. Then what happened next seemed like slow motion.

I glanced up as a car passed us and I watched the driver turning to look at us over his left shoulder. This caused a chain reaction. It made him veer slightly to the left as an oncoming car came around the corner. The man veering made the oncoming car turn wide to the right as she was making a left turn onto my street. I immediately could see her laughing and looking at her passenger—and NOT seeing my baby sitting right in her path. Now mind you, I live in a small town in a residential neighborhood. I live in an area where you can’t speed and you have to pay close attention because on any given day at any time, someone’s small child could go running into the street after a ball or a pet could go darting out. This young woman though clearly was not paying attention. As my son sat oblivious on the asphalt, I saw her coming right for him. There was zero time to think logically and going off of instinct, I screamed out at the same time as I moved towards him with my arms outstretched. In my panic, I just wanted her to see me and so I was running forwards towards a car coming straight for us. I was standing over him and leaning my arms out as if I could protect him from her car by shielding him. She heard me and I made eye contact with her as she then swerved back to the left to miss us. I was so angry that she wasn’t paying attention and I was angry that my son didn’t realize he was putting his own safety at risk. It was several seconds later that I realized—I just stepped in front of a moving vehicle without thinking rationally to protect my child! I just risked my life to save his! In that scary moment though where I didn’t know if she was going to look up in time, there was no real thinking, I just was willing to do whatever it took to save my child.

At the end of the day, it’s not like she narrowly missed us by inches (she was several feet away still when she saw us) so it was nothing harrowing. But it was eye opening for me and for my son who also realized what I had risked to help him. The worst case scenario that we avoided was for her to hit us both. I didn’t think about that risk when I did it though.

Even the best behaved teenagers can be hard to raise and be a handful. But as moms, we keep up the good fight and continue to parent even through the ugly moments. There’s nothing in the world those teenagers can do that would make us go, “Nope, never mind, I don’t want to be a mom anymore; I don’t love that kid anymore.” And in the hard moments where we feel our child is in danger or he or she is being wronged, well…like a meme I just recently saw on Facebook said; I solemnly swear I’ll be a classy mommy…until you mess with my kids. Then I swear I’ll be the biggest, redneck, ass whoopin’ mama you’ll ever meet! And this is true. Believe it.

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Thrivin’ Survivor, That Is Me

*Repost from old blog site*

You’d think that knowing that I am strong, plus surviving some of the hardest things one could experience in life would automatically make me fearless, right? Wrong.

I’m facing a breakup. Lord knows that isn’t easy. After almost 3 years of dedication, 2 sets of children, and 1 combined household, I’m pretty much dreading “the talk” happening. How is that though? How is that so scary when I have been through so much—and survived?!

I’ve been sexually abused multiple times since I was a kid. I have had children as a teenager, gotten married a week after I turned 17 to a man that turned into a raging, abusive drug addict, and endured several years of mental, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse during that marriage. I have watched my then husband overdose, almost die, and recuperate—only to watch it happen all over again. I have battled chronic pain more than half my life that is at times crippling. I have held my infant daughter as her life support was turned off and she took her last breath, battled CPS, and pieced my life back together after meth. I have gotten through being homeless, jobless, and broke. I have battled court systems. I have battled people that wish me harm. And I have battled my own inner demons.

Nothing quite feels as terrifying as one’s husband hitting her in a rage, making her fear and know her life is in danger. Nothing feels as heartbreaking as laying one’s child on a hospital bed and turning away knowing one will never get to pick her baby up again and smell her scent, feel her warmth, nurture her at her breast, or hear her sweet cry again. Nothing is as hard as having to fight for one’s children against a government agency with a vendetta. And yet, I’ve been through all of that and survived and come out on top. I’ve not just survived, but I have thrived!

Even with that being the short list, I’m reading back over it and now sitting here wondering, how the hell am I afraid of a little breakup??? I need to just face it head on. Ready, set, go. 3, 2, 1, takeoff. Get it done, woman. There’s no way in hell that this is what suddenly breaks me! I am STRONG! I am powerful! I am woman—HEAR ME ROAR!!