Hard Times, Harder Fight

This last week has been one of the hardest I have endured in a long time. As I have been fighting hard to make my life better, it seems that for every step forward I take, I am knocked back two. While I’m working hard to keep making forward progress, this last week made me feel like what little light I had going on at the end of the tunnel had been snuffed out.

I have written over and over again about hope, positivity, and choosing to focus on the good in life. I struggled this week though for a variety of reasons. It was like life needed to knock me on my butt, and once I was there, the blows just kept coming.

I got a new full time job. Yay, right?! Wrong. For one, I’m not thrilled to be back to living the two job life. Working 6 to 7 days a week is exhausting. It pretty much takes away any kind of personal life I can have and makes it seem like I just live to work. Two jobs is temporary though, so I can get over that. For the first time in my life though, I’m now in a factory job. The work is hard, the days are long, the rules are extremely strict, and my position is outside in the elements all day. Coming into winter now makes me cringe at the thought of having to spend 40+ hours outside in it each week. I was devastated when I realized my position assignment for this. It was definitely not what I had wanted.

On top of the work stuff, it seems that my entire personal life decided to fall apart at the same time too. While I don’t want to go into much detail because it’s not just my privacy at stake, but many others too, I can say that this week was nothing short of a shitshow. Every single day, life was throwing punches that were pummeling my heart. I cried, I screamed, I yelled, and then I cried some more. I even had a full on meltdown. Let’s just say that life was not kind to me over the last several days. I had several moments where I felt like this is all just too hard, and I wanted to throw in the towel. Exhaustion, adjusting to major new life changes, getting my feelings hurt deeply, dealing with parenting rebellious teenagers, and more all at once was enough to leave me crying like a little baby every single day. It was just an incredibly hard week.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this the last couple of days though, I am reminded of one thing. I can’t change a lot about my life circumstances right now. The one thing I can control though is my attitude. I have a choice in whether or not I crumple to the ground and let my entire world fall apart. I have a choice in whether or not I want to start this new job with a positive outlook. I have a choice in whether or not I want to wallow in miserable self-pity or if I pull myself up by the bootstraps and push forward with a smile on my face.

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It is okay to have those occasional meltdowns, especially when life is throwing the amount of crazy curveballs it has been throwing me lately. It is okay to cry and scream and lose it. Go ahead and meltdown. But then, when you’ve cried it all out, dry your eyes, wash your face, and then get back up! If life is going to throw punches, then throw some punches of your own back! You own your life, you own your reactions and choices, and you own your behavior. Focus on what you can change, and let go of what you cannot. These were the big lessons I was reminded of this week.

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And lastly, if you are struggling to the point that you are considering suicide, please reach out. There are many resources available and you are not alone. Your life is worth living.

Hang in there, my friends. Life is all about seasons and if you are going through an incredibly hard season right now, take comfort in knowing that a good one is coming soon.

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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Slut Shaming

I’m about to get real with y’all, and here’s your fair warning that I’m going to say some dirty words. I’m hoping you’ll keep reading though because this stuff needs to be said and understood by so many out there.

“Slut shaming.” Have you heard of it? It’s become a catchphrase in our current times that describes the act of putting a woman down for her real or assumed sexual activity. I think most of us are aware of this, but are we aware of how often we are actually doing it? Are we aware of how often we’re hurting someone through comments, looks, and judgments?

A few weeks ago, I saw a meme on Facebook a friend of mine shared that said something about how when a lonely woman goes out to the bar alone and then still goes home to bed alone, how she has standards and self-control, or something similar to that. The meme struck a nerve with me for a variety of reasons, but because I try to avoid arguing on Facebook over anything these days, I didn’t say anything. It has stayed with me since though.

When I saw that meme, it was kind of a punch to the gut. I can tell you that there are many, many times I’ve gone out lonely and still come home to bed by myself. I can also say there are times I’ve gone home to someone else’s bed. But, I’ll get back to this part in a moment.

Last night, also on Facebook, I had a friend post a meme that asked something about, “Does your mom know you’re a whore?” I made a joking comment on it, but again, it stayed with me. This morning, when there were several more comments on it, I commented again, “But is being a “whore” really the worst thing one can do? Like, I’m an amazing, caring, generous, kind person and my life goal is to help others. But I could also be sleeping with half of our little town right now. Does that trump everything and make me a bad person?”

I want you to think about this for a moment. How often have you said words like whore, slut, skank, hoochie, tramp, etc.? How many times have you given a dirty look to someone because of what she was wearing or because you’d heard. . .*insert “slutty” accusation here*? How many times have you dismissed everything human and good about a woman because of slut shaming judgement? Now, before you get too defensive and feel like I’m picking on you, let me tell ya, I’m just as guilty (if not more so) than the next person. I will be the first to tell you, I have been wrong here. The craziest part about that too though, is *gasp* I have also been the “slut.”

I have had broken moments in my life. I talked about this in I Am More Than My Cleavage. I’ve had moments where I’ve used my body to get the attention my heart needed. Sadly, many women have done this, especially if they had a rough childhood. Some of us that have been through really hard times have turned to physical affection as a source of comfort and fulfillment in our own brokenness. We try to fill a void in our hearts through physical contact as if being desired magically fixes everything.

While this is kind of a hard subject to talk about, it’s even harder to bare one’s own “secrets” and stories. But I’m going to do it anyway. So let me tell you a story.

I had a best friend years ago that I’m no longer friends with. She’s a pretty amazing person and much of her is all the great things I am not. We were instantly close when we met and she was the first person I ever used the term “bestie” with. We were also very alike in several ways. While we both battled our own hard stuff in life, there started to become a wedge between us. Honestly, I can’t even remember what started it or why, but it got worse. We then both did things that hurt each other. We both said things that were vile and ugly. One of my biggest regrets as far as her and my friendship is concerned was ever using the dirty words mentioned before about her, a woman I truly loved (and still do). She had been by my side when I was making some really poor choices as far as men and sex goes, and yet, once I was in a monogamous relationship, it was like I forgot my own transgressions and no longer had an issue with slinging out those awful words about her choices. Our friendship came to an end, and I still think about her almost every day since. In the couple of years since we went separate ways, I’ve had lots of time to think about my own actions. I’ve tried to reach out to her since, but she has never responded. I can only think that my hurtful words are unforgiveable. I’m so embarrassed that I ever insulted her in ways that I’ve been insulted myself. I’m no better than her or anyone else, which brings me to my next and biggest point. . .

The comment that I put on my friends status about “What if…?” is a really good question. How did we get to a point in society where we felt it was okay to judge and mistreat someone we feel is promiscuous? Sadly, a woman doesn’t even have to truly be that way, we can all just be going off of rumors, and yet, most people feel no shame in throwing out those words. Why is it acceptable to make those remarks and joke about it? What makes us feel that someone’s character, goodness, and humanity doesn’t matter and that we can verbally shred a woman over her sexual choices?

I’ll use myself as an example because who better is there to throw under the bus than me? I’m a good person. I have a huge heart, a tender spirit, and I love helping others in any way I can. I would literally give the shirt off my back to someone that was in need of it. I volunteer in my community, have given people in need items out of my own home, taken people into my home that had nowhere to go, and put my own safety at risk to help others. I also have made many questionable decisions in life. If you knew that I’ve slept with someone I’ve met off of Craigslist before, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve slept with 2 different men in 2 days, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve had sex on first dates, slept with someone else during a breakup to numb my heartache, or that there was a time in my past that I slept with people that I couldn’t tell you their names now, does that change your opinion of me? If all of these things are true, am I a “whore?” By most people’s definition, the answer to that would yes. So now, let’s say that by society’s definition, I’m a whore. Now what? Under that label, am I less deserving or respect? Affection? Love? Am I a bad person? The answer to each of those is no. I am not less deserving, and I am not a bad person. So then why is it okay for you to call me names? Why is it okay for you to look at me and judge who I am as a person based off of a few choices? Read this and understand this carefully please; it is NOT okay for you to treat anyone with less respect, no matter what their sexual choices are with other consenting adults.

Now, please know that I’m not saying that these are healthy behaviors. That’s an entirely different blog topic, and I have caused my own heart a lot of damage with bad choices. However, it’s not ANYONE’S place to decide what is good for another person. It is not my place, nor yours, to judge another human being’s sexual activity with consenting partners. When you take away everything else about a woman and label her regarding her sexual choices only, even if you are just sharing a meme on social media that doesn’t call anyone out specifically, you are telling women that we are nothing more than what our vaginas do. I am more than what happens to my vagina. You are more than what happens to yours. So let’s put some conscious effort into not shaming women for what they choose to do with their own body parts. STOP THE SLUT SHAMING. It’s important.

And as always, stay safe, my friends.

Love,
Moonshine Niki

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Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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I Lost Him, But I Found Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Figurative Festering Blister

I’ve shot myself in the foot with some of my own actions recently. Here’s the kicker though, while many want to be defensive when they have made not so great choices (which is normal; it’s human nature), I feel it’s extremely important to lay my defenses down in times like this. I feel it’s important and the right thing to do to admit my wrongs with no excuses. This has not been something easy for me to do. I’ve had to make a conscious effort for it and have done better as I’ve gotten older, but it is far from easy. No one wants to look someone else in the face and say, “Yes, I did this, and it was wrong.” It is necessary though.

When someone has felt wronged by you, no matter how slight, it can have an impact. A little splinter to begin with can become infected. It begins to swell, turn red, and get more painful. It festers and begins to produce pus. What started as a tiny sting becomes incredibly tender and painful. You know how you deal with a festering wound that has swelled up? You lance it. For this figurative wound, you lance it by being honest, owning up to what you’ve done, and apologizing. You set a plan for how it will be different because the best apology is changed behavior.

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This is something I had to do this last weekend. I’ve had to acknowledge where I have made mistakes (even though they were made unintentionally) and make things right. I’ve had to really consider my own choices and how I can make better ones. I think that sometimes we may forget how much we all are not the only ones affected by our choices and consequences. Those around us are affected too.

So, my friends, if you’re reading this right now and there’s someone in your heart and mind that you know you’ve wronged in some way, I encourage you to reach out. Admit your mistakes without any excuses, apologize, and then change your future behavior. There is not only healing for the other person, but it’s healing for your own heart too.

We Are Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You. Are. Enough.

I. Am. Enough.

We. Are. Enough.

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