In the middle of life chaos recently, I heard this beautiful song that hit me instantly because I could relate. “Here’s to the brokens… The misfits and wannabes… The part of you that’s just like me…” The lyrics floated out of my speakers and right into my heart. Music has always been a big thing for me and I can feel intensely for songs I can’t even personally relate to. These days though, life has been….different, full, busy, emotional, so when a song comes on that I CAN relate to, then I feel even more intensely. “The wildflowers and holier than thou’s… The diamonds that are never gonna leave the rough… The rolling stones that are always stuck… The all-nighters and the lost I’ve never found…” The song continued as my very full heart started to do backflips of emotion as I heard every note. Driving to work, I let the song serenade me. “God bless this mess… If this is as good as it’s gonna get… I’m gonna hold you like I know it’s gonna be okay again… I got a hurricane in my heart… Keeps on rattling the gooder part… And honestly, I’m just an honest wreck… But I’m trying my best… God bless this mess, oh, God bless this mess.”
What hardworking single mom with a life full of mistakes couldn’t relate to this?! As of late, the struggles have been intense. I had begun to be filled with misery going to my day job every day. I was filled with dread every morning walking through the door, but also felt trapped for so many reasons. The inner struggle over what to do was strangling me. I felt like a failure for being unable to make it work, for being unable to make any of the others in the office be able to understand my heart, for beginning to resent how set apart I was. I was suffocating.
On top of the work issues, the ongoing disconnect from my family has been very difficult for me to accept and make peace with. Not only has there been zero contact for a couple months now, but social media has rubbed salt into the wound in ways I didn’t expect. I’ll take an order of insult to injury please! I miss them. I especially miss my sister whom I have felt was my only ally ever with them. It’s been painful. I have felt this alone very few times in my life.
“Here’s to the waiting… All the waiting that we have to do… The dreams we make that never come true… And all the hurting that comes without warning… Here’s to the view from the tile of the bathroom floor… Ain’t we all been there before… And the hell bent sun that’s gonna come up the next morning…”
Amidst many other stressors, hurts, and normal life issues, I have just felt burdened. I have so much on my plate and so little in the way of relief, support, and resources. Music has been one of my biggest comforts. So, listening to this song, I decided; screw it. I quit. I wrote a short and sweet email and turned in my resignation from the job that I once loved, but ended up despising. Immediate relief.
I don’t really know what happens from here, but one thing I know, I’ll keep asking for God to bless this mess.
“Most the time I forget to pray… But when I close my eyes, I just say… God bless this mess…”
The link is below. Check it out as this post doesn’t do the beauty of the song justice. *I do not own the music, nor did I make the video*
*This following is a submission for a local writing contest.*
Almost three months ago, I felt like my world was coming to an end. The man I loved so much, the first man I’d ever given my heart completely to, the man that I would have bet my life that he was my forever told me he was leaving and that he never loved me. On top of the heartache that threatened my ability to breathe, I knew I was in for a rough ride in many ways. On top of the pain that felt to be shredding my soul, I knew immediately that this meant I was going to have to get a second job.
You see, I am a single mother. I have three children that depend on me to provide for their every need and have no one but me to rely on. Losing my house or my vehicle was not an option. Not feeding the kids was not an option. Giving up clothing, household and hygiene supplies, and school supplies was not an option. I do not receive child support though and I have no one but myself, so I started job hunting on my lunch breaks from my day job. Within a few weeks, I was given a new uniform and learning the ropes of the food industry for the first time in my life.
Since then, I’ve been learning to balance those two jobs along with my “mom life.” Working 6 to 7 days a week has become the new norm and exhaustion has become a growing presence in my life. Sadly, I quickly started to become bogged down with life stress as my heart had no time to ache over the loss of my love.
As he has been posting pictures with his brand new pretty girlfriend on Facebook, I have been trading in my quality time with my children for evening shifts serving pizzas. As he has been out spending his weekends spending money, I have been praying to be blessed with good tips so that I could put gas in my vehicle. As he has been doing God knows what at night, I have been falling into an empty bed and quickly letting exhaustion pull me into the sweet relief of sleep before I have a chance to lie there and think about everything.
For several weeks, life has felt increasingly hard and dark. I’ve been overwhelmed with the worries and felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I had allowed loneliness to start to crowd my good judgment. I began to drown emotionally. I love my children more than I love having air to breathe, but any adult knows that there is an intense innate desire in us all to have the companionship of another adult. Between being lonely, the severe stress, and the lack of time, I started to feel like I was not a woman. I didn’t feel like a human being. I felt more like I was expected to be a robot.
The tears came daily for many weeks. I fought back when I felt it was me against the world, but then started to feel like my fight was fading. Then, just as I was reaching my breaking point, just as I was starting to open up to friends and tell them I’m in a dangerous place, there was a sudden breakthrough.
As I watched a gorgeous sunset with one of my best friends after work one day, I brought up to her how I need a better vehicle. It was in this conversation that a new plan was born. While it will take effort on my part to be controlled with my finances, my friend and I discussed how I am going to rearrange my bills, how I’m going to reduce certain financial obligations, and how exactly I’m going to be able to eventually quit my second job.
I left her house that night with a big smile on my face. Suddenly all the bricks of stress that were adding up and taking away my ability to breathe were lifted. I could see a new light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in a few months. I went to bed that night with a renewed sense of peace in my heart.
Not only was I relieved that night, but I’ve woken up happy again every day since then. I feel like me again. . .and that right there is the biggest gift I could give myself. I’m in a good place again.
While there are things that have happened during this time period that I wish I could take back and that I wish that my children could un-see and un-hear, I am thankful for a few things.
My children have been able to see me get my heart broken and experience a deep pain that was life altering. They have seen me fall apart under stress and heard my sorrowful sobbing through the walls. They have seen me truly exhausted and stop caring about so much that I normally would. But my children have also seen me continue on when I felt I couldn’t. They have seen me sacrifice. They have seen me do what needs to be done so that they can remain stable. They have seen me fight back when life was doing its best to kick my ass. They have also now seen me turn around and become me again during this battle. They have seen the gray skies clear and happiness shine on my face again without any man. I have always said that if it’s me against the world, that’s okay because I’m a fighter. Now, my children have seen that their mother is nothing short of a true warrior. And for this, I am happy.
That night’s stunning sunset
I can’t quite tell which end is up and which is down lately. I’m kind of lost. I’m overwhelmed and I’m obviously in a period of personal growth and like I’ve written before in Growing Pains, growth hurts. I’m feeling a little chaotic inside these days. I’m feeling overstimulated by a lot in life. I’ve pretty much run away from social media, I’ve shut many people out, and I’m not quite sure how to straighten out all this yuck that I’ve got going on inside. The only thing I do know is that I need some time and space. I need time for me to just figure out what I’ve got going on inside my own heart and mind.
I’m feeling let down and disappointed by many events and people in life. I have so many friends and even family that profess love and support and yet are oddly absent. Don’t get me wrong, I have a couple people that are present and supportive and I’m beyond blessed by them, but those that are lacking leaves a pain in my heart. I feel unworthy because of it. It’s been a lifelong struggle for me, I continue to feel that I am not enough. I’m not enough to be loved. I’m not enough to be anything but disposable. I’m not enough to for a lifetime commitment from anyone, let alone a lover.
How do I overcome this? How do I get out of this funk that I’m in? I’m not quite sure of the answer to that. One thing I’ve realize recently is that I’m still not over my ex, or rather, I’m not over my heart being broken into so many pieces. I want to be. I’m angry at him. I don’t sit at home and think fond thoughts of him and pining away for him to come back. I don’t want him to want me. I don’t care what he’s got going on in life or what him and his barbie are up to (speaking of which, I’d love if my friends and loved ones could stop telling me when they see him; that’d be great). But I’m still not over the situation nonetheless. It’s only been two and a half months since he rocked my world in the worst way. I truly loved him with every fiber of my being, so I guess it’s understandable that I’m not over it yet. I’m also guessing that the only way to get over it all is time. I don’t know how to not be angry though. I don’t know how to not have negative feelings about how long he strung me along, telling me he loved me, letting me play step mommy to his children, washing and putting away his laundry, cooking for him, encouraging him in life, building him up, planning a future for us as a family all while he used me. Used me for security, used me to fill the void he had while trying to get over his ex, used me to help with his children, used me for all that I was only to turn around and discard me and my love like trash. To break my heart, rock mine and my children’s world, to tell me he never loved me. The more time that passes, the more I can recognize all the warning signs I was previously blind to. And with that, the more angry and stupid that I feel. I was foolish, and he broke my heart in a big way.
The more that I type here, the more that I realize that many of my issues are anger in general. This is why I love writing. I feel scorned by several people. Aside from my ex, I’m frustrated with the lack of support and help from my family. As I work two jobs, 6 to 7 days a week, as I am constantly running, constantly in a rush, constantly feeling like I don’t even have time to breathe, I’m upset at where I feel like I should have family there for me but don’t. I’m upset that while my sister gets help freely from my mother, including being able to move back home during a hard financial time, I do not. Never would it ever even be on the table. I work constantly, something which my mother talks negatively about as if I have a choice, and yet, there’s judgement and nothing else. So, of course, I’m angry.
I can’t figure out whether I’m going to implode or explode, but one of ‘em is coming if something doesn’t change. I just find myself flailing lately and with a short fuse. I want to lose it. Publicly even. I want to type in my best shouting voice and tell everyone on social media what I think. I want to spill every thought and feeling. But for now…just this angry ranting. That’s all I’ve got.
So, to every single person that has been absent when I so desperately have needed you; fuck you. I’m angry.
Life has been busy lately between work, kids and home life, and freelance writing. It’s been so busy, in fact, that I haven’t sat down to write out of pleasure in a while. I’ve had some things on my mind lately, and I figured it was time to sit down and bang this post out.
Most people know how difficult it is dating as a single parent. In fact, if you don’t know this, I’m going to assume you live under a rock—a very large, dense rock at that. It’s HARD. To find someone, fall in love, blend families, and then live life in blissful peace is the equivalent of our modern-day fairytale because it’s pretty rare that that’s how it works out.
One reason dating is so difficult is because we live in a society that encourages fast paced living, self-indulgence, and frequent changes. You don’t like your car? Trade it in and get a new one! Tired of your job? Quit and find a different one! Aren’t happy in your relationship/marriage? Leave and find a new one! It’s no wonder that there are so many single parents and broken families out there. Dating is hard enough without adding in children’s laundry, daily football practice, piano lessons, dirty faces, and whines of “Moooommmmyy” or “Daaaaddddyy” in the middle of first and second dates and those first few sweet and yet awkward phone calls.
I personally have had a couple serious relationships after my marriage with my children’s father ended, and I’ve also had some time casually dating. Let me tell you what, that shit sucks! In fact, I was seeing someone last year and we were a few dates in. . .and then he witnessed my son have a rather large meltdown. Apparently that was enough for him because the next day, he texted me and said he needed to “take a step back.” So, back into the dating pool I went.
At this point, I was just over the whole thing. I wasn’t looking for casual sex, but that seemed to be all that was desired on all of the popular dating apps. I was a single mom of 3 teenagers, working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and was tired in every way possible. I wanted to find a partner, but it was not going to be through a dating website, and I’d lost pretty much all faith that it would happen at all. Then, a miracle happened. I met B.
We had a lot in common and much that was different too. While I had been in the dating game for a while (around 7 years since I had split with my ex-husband), he was brand new to dating. There were speed bumps and signs that pointed to maybe we shouldn’t get involved, but we were both enamored from the beginning, and so we pushed forward anyway and decided to become an official couple. In that decision, we have obviously become involved with each other’s children. Have I mentioned yet that dating as a single parent is hard…?
When you are in a brand new relationship, it’s easy to get lost in the stars in your eyes and the mush in your heart, but let’s face it, real life doesn’t stop just because you’re falling in love, and one giant reality is children.
When B and I met, my children were 15, 14, and almost 13. Teenagers are hard enough, but as I mentioned before, I have one kiddo that tends to make men turn tail and run. My son is an amazing person and full of charm and charisma normally, but in his hard moments, he is a handful to say the least. I love him and all of my children with all that I am, but I’m more than a mom. I am a woman and I have needs that go beyond my children. I need to be loved, to be desired, to be held, to be listened to, to be emotionally supported, and to be paid attention to from another adult. I never would want to put my children on the back burner, but I wanted a partner in my life too. But if I said that I wasn’t scared as hell about finding someone who fit everything I needed AND was able to handle my son (and children in general), I’d be lying my cute little skirt off. To make it even harder, I was downright terrified that I would fall in love, become vulnerable, let my children fall in love and become vulnerable, and then go through yet another heartache together again.
For B, he was pretty much brand new out of his failed marriage. He was still understandably hurting, tender, and guarded. His 2 children are much younger than mine and he feared not only being hurt in the same ways his ex had hurt him, but he naturally feared his children would get hurt too. They are so young that dating and then enduring another breakup would be so difficult for them to understand. He didn’t want to go through pain again, and he didn’t want his children to experience anymore pain. All of this is totally normal.
So there we were, 2 messes, 2 families, 2 grown up hearts, and 5 young hearts being meshed together. We were scared and yet we moved fairly fast in many ways because…well, LOVE! Before we knew it, we were neck-deep in this appointment, that school event, diapers and potty training, sibling rivalry, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping together.
B has handled my son’s meltdowns with amazing patience. I have changed his son’s diapers and helped potty train. He has regularly picked up my children from their bus stop and listened with love and support to me complain about my children’s father not paying child support. I have cleaned up his children’s vomit from the stomach flu and listened to him with love and support complain about everything unfair at his job. He relates to my children in a way no one ever has and provides support to them. We plan birthdays and holidays together, we discuss parenting, discipline, and consequences together, and we work out our finances to maintain our home and provide for our children—all together. He lifts me up with his silliness and humor, and I keep him grounded with my seriousness, and we navigate life this way TOGETHER.
So, while I’ve rambled a long time about my own personal experience at dating as a single parent, I’m now getting to my real point. To my children, B is just B. He is Mama’s boyfriend. To B’s children, I am just Niki. I am Daddy’s girlfriend. Language evolves over time, and it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t raise families and cohabit in one household without being married. Because of this, there is no in between word for what B and I are to each other’s children. We are not step parents; we haven’t quite earned that title yet, but we are so much more than just our children’s parent’s significant other. I know there are so many people all over that also fall into this category. So I think there needs to be a word invented that covers those of us in the middle area. When you wipe butts, drive to appointments, cook, get in the middle of kids fighting, deal with bed wetting, buy clothing, and handle pretty much every aspect of parenting for your partner’s children, you are more than just a girl/boyfriend.
We were recently at B’s child’s birthday party and as I was telling people about all of the last minute errand running, putting together presents, and all of the other chaos that happens to all parents right before big events like this, I mentioned my desire for that word and to write this blog post about it.
B suddenly looked over and said, “There is a word already.” I was shocked and thought he knew something I didn’t.
“What is it then?” I questioned.
He then looked me in the eye and said, “Badass. You’re a badass, and so am I.”
And you know what? He’s totally right. It’s not quite the word I was looking for, but it couldn’t be more accurate. We. Are. Badasses.
Looking back, I can see where I was naive in this relationship, and it inevitably ended. While things didn’t work out for us, I am still so proud of and in love with this blog. Those partners of parents that are parenting in every way from disciplining, to cooking, to enduring 317 episodes in a row Spongebob, to kissing boo-boos, and running endless errands–those parents deserve a better title. Many people choose to forego marriage these days, and to say those partners are no more than “Mom’s boyfriend” or “Dad’s girlfriend” is something I think needs updated to catch up with society. While we still haven’t created one yet since the original posting of this blog two years ago, I stand by my original statement… You can just call each of us Badass.
I’m feeling pretty good today. I’ve had a lot of up and down lately which has been pretty chaotic inside for me. Raising teenagers, man, let me tell ya…it is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And of course, money stress is always…well…stressful. But all of that aside, I’ve had some really big blessings lately and I feel pretty damn lucky to be where I’m at.
When I was a scared 17 year old kid walking down the aisle to say “I do,” I knew it was a mistake. When I was immediately upset afterwards and didn’t want to leave with my new husband, I knew I’d made a bad choice. With all that I endured in the years after, I totally understood the joke about why divorce is so expensive (because it’s worth it, duh!).
I had many ups and downs in the years following and endured a few bad relationships that left me with little hope about finding “the one.” I thought that I would never get the amazing relationship I’d always hoped for.
When thinking of relationships, I always dreamed of feeling like a princess. I had dreamed of being with a man that said sweet things to me, a man that didn’t raise his voice to me (or worse), a man that connected with my children in ways that made them feel the broken inside of them was being healed, a man that would hold me tight and scare away my demons, a man that made me feel that no matter how I look, I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, a man that would show me I was worthy of being loved, a man that would make me feel safe in every way. This seemed like the impossible, but I still kept trying… And then something truly amazing happened—I met Him.
*Please know that everything I say after this point may sound like a bunch of clichés strewn together, but I truly mean every word.*
Never before had I clicked so instantly and so well and on so many levels as I did with Him. He made me feel amazing from the start. His sense of humor stood out immediately upon meeting him. He clearly marches to the beat of his own drum and I’ve always loved that. He’s not afraid to be goofy and silly and for me, being the kind of person that is mostly serious and takes everything at face value, it was the total opposite of who I am. You know how they say opposites attract? That is us. There are so many things about us where we are extremely alike and there are others where we are total opposites. We complement each other well.
He also was the first to be so tender with me physically and with my heart. Of course being a man, he brought up typical flirty “man-like” topics, but he did so in a way that never made me feel belittled or like he was just hoping to hop straight into bed. On our first date, he very sweetly took my hand as we talked. He didn’t rush me, he listened to me, and at just the right moment, he leaned over and sweetly kissed me. I felt like a school girl with a crush; I was all full of butterflies inside. It was a great date, and from that night on, we were inseparable.
Let’s face it though, all relationships are good in the beginning or they wouldn’t start at all. Even for the beginning though, things with him were better than any other beginning I’d ever had. But you know what is even more awesome? Now that the honeymoon phase is fading and real life is setting in, things are still amazing.
In a relationship, you have to learn about the other person, and I don’t mean their favorite food or movie. I mean the things that you learn a little later on, like what makes him or her tick. When he or she is angry or upset, what does he or she need most? Close comfort? Space? Time? These are the things one starts to really learn once the honeymoon phase is over. This is where he and I are at right now. He is busy learning that if we have had a disagreement, I don’t care how upset either of us are, I still want kissed and hugged and told “I love you” and “goodnight” before we go to sleep. I’m busy learning what upsets him about the way I talk during a disagreement and that he needs space when frustrated and that it’s nothing personal against me. These things are important. And while no one likes to argue or have uncomfortable moments, I find much comfort in knowing that we have been together long enough that there are no facades. We are well aware that we each are not perfect. He knows that I get overwhelmed by noise and can’t even fake being okay when I’m overstimulated. I know that he gets overwhelmed sometimes by my constant desire to be “mushy” and intimate and needs a break from my emotional intensity. He knows that I need quiet time in my room to destress often and I know that he needs time to visit his family frequently. We are learning each other in ways that only time together can teach.
While living busy lives, both working, both having children, and both being exhausted regularly, we truly enjoy and appreciate each other. This is also a new concept for me. Never before have I felt in the middle of real life, after the honeymoon has ended, that I have been so connected to another. His smile, his eyes, his humor, his tender touch, his goofy dancing, and so much more—I can’t get enough. For the first time in my entire dating life, there are no red flags, no little nagging feelings of “is this really right?” going on in my heart and head that I’m choosing to ignore. For the first time ever, I don’t want anyone else in any way, shape, or fashion. He is everything. Everything I need, everything I want, everything I intend to keep. Forever. It’s all about Him.
*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!!