I’m Making Change My B****

*Repost from an old blog site*

Changes.

Man, I’ve never done well or liked change in my life. I remember a story from when I was little that my mom used to tell. I remember her telling me that when I was a very small child (preschool age), my grandma had changed her hair. As soon as I saw her with a different style, I freaked out and was incredibly upset that she no longer looked like the grandma I was used to seeing. And that story pretty much describes how I’ve been with change my entire life.

Lately, there’s been so much change, and I’d be lying if I said I was adapting quickly and easily. It’s been very difficult. It has not been easy adjusting to dealing with every aspect of life completely by myself—cleaning, parenting, car issues, pet issues, cooking, and a million other things. I don’t love having no one by my side, no one texting or calling me because they miss me, no one checking in on me. I don’t love knowing that every single issue there is, I’m the only one responsible. I don’t love that no matter how lonely or sad I feel, there’s no one out there to fix it. I can only fix myself.

It may not be coming easily, but it’s coming though. I’m adapting slowly but surely. I’ve learned a lot about how the only person I can really rely and depend on is me. Only I can save myself. I’m going to be just fine. I will figure out how to not only survive by myself, but I’m going to thrive, baby! I’m strong. I’m independent. I’m smart. I’m passionate. I’m driven. I am woman—hear me roar!!!

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Life Lessons In Death Dreams

Years ago, after my daughter passed away, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Sadly, my worst symptom is nightmares. Over the years, it has gotten better, and I don’t suffer from the nightmares nearly as much as I used to, but when they happen, they have a big impact.

I had one last night that was so intense, I thought I was going to throw up from the intensity of the feelings that I woke up with. I had a very detailed dream that I was going to die. In the dream, I knew I had a date coming up that I was going to be killed. I didn’t want to die, but somehow it was going to happen, and I didn’t have a choice. I scrambled trying to get my affairs in order. I dreamt of taking my middle son shopping for all of his favorite clothes. I remember thinking that it didn’t matter how much money I spent because there was nothing I needed money for once I was gone. It brought me joy to see the happiness in his face, and I was trying to memorize every second of our time together hoping I could take it with me in my afterlife. I dreamt of holding my daughter and bawling my eyes out, trying to tell her what was happening and teach her every life lesson I could think of that she would need living without her mama. In the dream, I stayed off of my Facebook until it was time to do my final status to say goodbye to the world, wanting to leave words of wisdom behind. I remember desperately not wanting to leave and not wanting to be without my children, and hoping that in Heaven, the time would pass quickly until they were with me too. I was terrified and full of sadness. In all of this, I was suddenly faced with the fact that I had wasted so much time in my life. My focus hadn’t been where it should be, I hadn’t cherished my children enough, my life was wasted, and it was too late to change anything.

I woke up in tears and breathless this morning, praising Jesus that it was just an awful dream. Even as I write this, there are tears streaming at the memory of how it all felt. I got out of bed and just wanted to hold my kids tightly. As I was driving them to the bus stop this morning, I was thinking about the lessons here. I’m NOT dying right now. While I have wasted time in my life, I can change that now. I can refocus and make the time I have count. I can’t go back and change any of my yesterdays, but I can change today and keep that change up for my tomorrows. Life is not guaranteed, and this nightmare was a lesson in being present here in the present.

A friend of mine posted a status on Facebook this morning talking about similar points as this post, and she said, “You’re sitting there banking at the hope of your tomorrow; an uncertain future. Live your life, now, while there’s time. Stop putting your happiness into a savings account. Spend it, daily, while you still can. Love, now, enthusiastically. It’s the investment with the largest return.”

I can make my time count now. I can watch less television, spend less time on social media, spend more quality time with my kids, spend less time waiting for the weekend and more time finding happiness in each day, and spend less time wallowing in misery and more time working towards goals. We’ve all heard that saying that life is short, and this is true. The older I get, the more quickly the time passes, and I want to make the most of it.

So, okay, Universe, duly noted. Thank you for this necessary reminder. In this death dream, I’m reminded that I need to live life.
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Helping Through Hurts

Sometimes we are on the verge of learning a new lesson or changing something big in life and all we need is a gentle nudge in the right direction. This is a huge reason that I write so passionately and honestly. I write in hopes that if I bare my soul, my heart, and even my faults and mistakes, I can maybe have an impact on others. So in that style, here goes…

Many people know, but in case you are not aware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I have my own personal story of domestic violence and feel blessed to not be in that situation anymore. I would rather be single than to ever have to endure abuse again.

When I was 16, my mother did not like not being able to control what I did with my newborn. When we butted heads when my son was 3 weeks old, my mom kicked me out. Shortly after, I got a call one day saying she wanted to talk to my son’s father and I. When we arrived, she told me that she didn’t want to be legally responsible for me anymore and so she was going to sign for me to get married when I turned 17, “If you want to,” she said. There was never a real choice though, and so wedding planning started.

I was young, I was stupid, and I knew getting married wasn’t the right thing to do, but one week after turning 17, I did it anyway. I got pregnant again right away, when my oldest was just 4 months old. I was terrified but so badly wanted to just live adult life already. We were poor and we struggled in many ways, but it wasn’t so bad at first. My oldest was the easiest, most happy baby in the world. Being his mom meant everything to me, but I had no idea though that life was about to seriously go downhill.

My next child was a difficult baby and I felt like a failure of a mom. I was only 17 and married with a toddler and an inconsolable infant. Life was hard and my husband was not helpful. We were just kids trying to be like grownups, and we didn’t have the life tools yet to be successful. Add a few more years, a few more kids, an opiate addiction and alcohol abuse on his part, and then the death of our youngest… this was the perfect recipe for things to take a turn for the worse.

The abuse started out as mental and emotional. Calling me names, making me scared, telling my kids awful things about me (as they were just toddlers and preschool age). Then I endured ongoing sexual abuse that I won’t lay out the details of. Then he began trapping me in rooms, holding me down, shoving me. I had a few scary moments where I thought he was going to kill me. I’ll never forget scrambling across the rough concrete of my driveway on my hands and knees while drunk as he was turning his truck around in the yard to come after me. It was very rare for me to drink at all in those days, and to be inebriated and suddenly terrified of him was more fear than I would ever wish for anyone to feel.

I was isolated, I had no friends, and no close relationship with my mother or any other family. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. To make matters worse, my now ex-husband lost his job and lost his CDL. We had no way to pay bills, and we were going to lose our house. We were going to have to move an hour away to move in with his family. I didn’t want to. My only option was to ask my mother for help. I was scared because she’d told me when I moved out at 16 that I would never be allowed to move back in. I asked anyway. I told her that he was abusive and that I wanted to get away. I asked if my children and I could move in until I got on my feet. My mother told me, “You’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” Despite her being my mother and me asking for help not only for myself, but for my 6, 5, and 3 year old, I was told no. I was absolutely heartbroken and had nowhere else to go. We moved with him into his parents house.

When we moved, life went further downhill. The abuse got worse, the drug use was worse, and I was miserable. I was able to attend community college though and made a friend. I quickly came to trust her and opened up to her. I knew my life was bad and that I was on the verge of disaster. One day, I was sitting on my balcony telling my friend about whatever recent abuse was going on and she said something that would forever have an impact on my life. She said, “If in 20 years, your boys treated their wives like your husband treats you, how would you feel about that? Or what if in 20 years, your daughter’s husband treats her like your husband treats you?” I felt horrified even picturing it. She went on to say, “This is the example of what marriage is to your children. You are teaching them that this is okay.” I knew I had to change it.

This conversation was the beginning of the end. Shortly after, there was another fight. My husband was throwing furniture across the room. I was scared and my kids were scared. I tried to get them into the car to leave, but my husband disabled something in my car so that I couldn’t start it. For the first time, I had the courage to grab the phone. This time, a report was made. Not only was a report made, but the courts put a no contact order into place. I truly believe this saved my life. No matter how much my feelings softened over time apart, and I began to miss the old good stuff and fear being an adult and parent alone, I was not able to have that order dropped. It gave me time to really think and realize that this was my chance, it was time to get away from him.

While there is so much more to this story, the important part is where my friend had the courage to gently and lovingly nudge me in the right direction. I didn’t suddenly change everything that day, but it made an impact on my life and forever changed our lives. If you are enduring abuse, this is me nudging you with my story. It doesn’t get better, abuse only gets worse. Please, seek help. These days, we have Google and there are infinite resources available at your fingertips. Reach out. It gets better when you get away.

Much love,
Moonshine Niki

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Today Is The Day

I’ve had a hurting heart for a long time now. Most of my life has been painful in one way or another, and this is garbage my heart has hauled around with me wherever I go, in good times and bad, in happy and sad…

Thirteen years ago yesterday, I gave a doctor permission to turn off my sweet baby girl’s life support. Thirteen years ago, I took my precious 2 month old baby girl into my arms and rocked and sang to her as she took her last breaths and left this world. Thirteen years ago, I became a different woman. I wish I could say that over time my heart has healed and it’s just a horrible tragedy I now reflect back on with sadness. Some of that is true. I’ve done as much healing as is possible with the loss of my child, but grief is a forever “friend” for anyone that has lost someone close. The problem is that since that day, my life has been one battle after another, one tragedy after another, one heartache after another.

Becoming a bride at 17 set me up for an incredibly difficult life in ways I NEVER would have expected. Times were hard, I never had money, and I had an abusive husband. Then my world was rocked with my baby girl, and life got even harder. I let one hurt stack up on top of another, then another hurt layered on top of that, and so on. I let these hurts layer on top of my heart like one very heavy stack of bricks weighing my tender heart down.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are so many ways my life has improved since, and I’m no longer that broken 21 year old girl with 3 small kids, a mean, drug addicted husband, and carrying around fresh grief, but every hurt I’ve endured since has been added layers. I need to be free of this weight.

So…the answer? I have my first therapy appointment today. It’s time for me to figure out how to let all this pain that I wear like a heavy coat in the heat of summer go. It’s time to love myself enough to heal. You see, I think those of us that go through long term pain in life tend to go back to it, caress it, love it, hold it close because it becomes our comfort. It’s familiar. It’s always there. And life without it can be scary, so we hold ourselves back with it. Well, I’m done with that. I deserve a happy life, so today is my first step in that direction. I may be a single mom, I may be a tender spirit, and I may have been dealt a shitty hand in many ways in life, but I choose to not let any of that hold me back any longer. Today is the day. Today is the day my healing begins.

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In My Bed

I do a lot more thinking in bed than I would like to, especially lately. Last night, I was lying there wishing for sleep but experiencing some pretty intense back pain from work that left sleep elusive for a long time. This time though, while I was lying there, this blog idea came to me.

I laid there last night thinking about beds. As an adult and a parent, so much happens in bed. It’s the place that lovers make love. It’s the place that moms comfort sick children. It’s often where laundry gets folded, where we take reprieve from stress in the middle of the day, even if only for a moment, and where exhausted people fall in at night in hopes of good sleep.

A lot happens in bed as grownups, and I know that for many of us, it’s our favorite place. When I have a lover, my favorite time of day is when I get to set aside life’s stress and cuddle up to the man I love. I love those few moments of talking, winding down, and snuggling up. I love to lie my head on his chest and just listen to the heart I love beat. If I’m lucky, in those moments before sleep, I get to use my body to show him just how I feel, but even if I don’t, I’m still so happy to breathe in his scent and feel his breathing with mine as we drift off to sleep.

As a single person, I know bed is still my favorite place, just obviously for different reasons. Lately, it’s because my bed is my sanctuary. I get up every day with a determination that I’m going to give my all into making a good life for myself and my kids with just us. I’m making specific effort into not using any of my old Band-Aids to temporarily ease pain. I have a history of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms to mask hurts, and I’m hell bent on not turning to those this time. There’s no men that aren’t special to me. No slamming whiskey doubles home alone while I feel sorry for myself. No pot smoking while indulging in high calorie, high fat, high sugar foods to stuff my feelings down.  So instead, I take care of my adult responsibilities each day. I get up, I clean, I do laundry, I take care of the animals, I do all the mommy things (oh my gosh, single parenting is tough work), I keep up with my self-care (which is going to be revealed in depth in a later blog), and I go to work.

Coming home from work, I know I get to still set aside life’s stress and fall into my favorite place, bed. I may be alone in it now, but I get to relax, I get to rest my weary and aching body, I get to just be still. No more stress for the day, no more “adulting,” and no more effort into tackling the world. I get to just breathe.

I feel more peace now than I have in a quite a while. The stress can be high, but there is so much relief in doing things the right way. I’m loving this new me. I’m still the same strong, feisty, sassy woman, but I’m also the woman that for the first time in her entire life, is proudly standing tall in her choices, knowing that she couldn’t be doing any better. So, here’s to my new life, here’s to late night thinking and creativity, and here’s to my bed!

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Onward and Upward, Baby!

When I sit down to write, I normally have a specific topic and some kind of outline I intend to follow. Every once in a while though, my heart is just full and the only clear path I have is to just actually open the computer and let my fingers go. Today is the latter.

Heartbreak…. Man, oh man, heartbreak. It’s something we all are familiar with, but it’s one of those things that unless you are in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be. Sadly, for this, I’m also currently experiencing the latter. In. The. Thick. Of. It. The crazy thing about this heartbreak though is that it’s a complex mix of emotions. More complex than I have ever experienced before. I didn’t initiate it, but I should have. Things weren’t right and we both knew it. I’m a sap though and loyal to a freakin’ fault, so out of love, I kept trying.

While he initiated it, even while it stung and hurt and part of me didn’t want it, I still knew it was the right thing. What I did not realize was how much it still would hurt. So what do I do now? My financial situation is up in the air and I need to come up with a plan, and quickly. In fact, everything is up in the air, and it is terrifying. I hate the way it feels, stress constantly tearing my stomach up, nights spent tossing and turning and not being able to sleep deeply for long, and being exhausted, but sleep not easily coming either. I did not want to be here again! And even more than that, I didn’t want my kids to be here again.

So here we are, having a brand new start again. Once again, I’m trying to figure out what will probably end up being a second job, and figuring out what our new normal is. The one thing I know for sure though is that I want to be okay by myself. In fact, I want to be happy by myself. I don’t want to live my life looking forward to the someday when I will inevitably meet someone new. I’ve been on a journey of self-love for a little bit now, and I definitely intend to keep that up.

I am worthy of love, self-respect, happiness, stability, and a good life, even if it is alone. These are my current goals. I know we are going to be okay. So for me and my almost grown babies, it’s upward and onward, baby!

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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.