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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I Am

When your soul is intertwined with another, magic can happen. Here is a collaboration piece written together with my best friend. Him in blue, me in pink. We can be the devil or we can be the angel, but always, we are there for the other.

You are my rock, my sunshine, the one that keeps me laughing. I love you, my friend. This is for you. 

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I am the devil,
And I am the light.
I am the dawn,
And I am the night.

I am the shimmer on the water,
And I the disturbance of the calm.
I am the world’s destruction,
And I am the world in your palm.

I am the fall breeze coming down,
And I am the warm sun on your face.
I am the thunder that makes you shudder,
And I am your comforting, safe place.

I am the restless that keeps you awake,
And I am the lulling sweet, sleepy feeling.
I am the tide that washes you away,
The stunning moments in life that keep you reeling.

I am the current that drags you down,
But I am the miraculous energy to keep you afloat.
I am the storm that blows you from shore,
But I am the rescue boat.

I am the rain on your fire,
But I am the perfect breeze to stoke your flame.
I am the spirit running wild,
I am the calm and the tame.

I am the soothing salve to your soul,
I am the fire to burn the world down.
I am the highway that leads you to nowhere,
And I am the safety of a tiny nowhere town.

I am the beat in your heart,
And I am the life to course through your veins.
I am the eye of the storm,
And I am the wind of the hurricane.

The fresh morning dew on green leaves.
I am the clear sky after the storm.
I am the tree that gives you shade,
But I am the heat to keep you warm.

I am the rock that you cling to,
The safety to be free.
I am the mountain that watches you conquer,
The strength beneath my feet.

I am the words that you cannot say.
Just when life has gotten hard.
You’re the safety of a new way,
The magic that lightens where I’m scarred.

I am the evil under your sleep,
But I am the angel for which you pray.
I am the darkest of night.
And I am the brightest of day.

I am the kisses to soothe your hurts,
I am the scars that remind.
That I am the toughest of all,
And I can leave the past behind.

A Loving Spanking

Friendship is an important aspect of life. We all need the companionship of others and all that comes with it. We need support, we need connectivity, we need affection, and we need to know we are cared about. I think most of us are aware of these needs and how close friends fulfill them. Another aspect of friendship that is much less talked about though is being held accountable; and that is focus of this blog.

Have you ever had a friend tell you you’re messing up? Have you had a friend look you in the face and tell you that you are making mistakes? How about, have you ever had a friend say, “I love you, but you’re wrong about this,” while talking? These are important moments.

No one likes to be told what they are doing is wrong. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty uncomfortable. The thing about this though, is the friends that love you the most are the ones that are willing to lovingly correct you. Fair-weather friends are not going to care enough to point it out when you’re headed in the wrong direction. To them, it’s not worth the risk of upset to call you out, so they don’t.

I have two very good friends in mind as I write this. One is my best female friend that has been in my life since the summer before high school. The other is my “boy bestie” that I have an intense relationship with. No one knows me better than these two do and I’ve written of both several times here before. My girlfriend has seen me at the ugliest moment of my entire life and loved me anyway. My boy bestie and I have spent more time on the phone together than me and any other person combined since the invention of instant messaging and text. I love these two like family. They love me back. This also means that sometimes, they call me out on my own shit.

I’ve made so many mistakes over the last 6 months that you’d think I was trying to set a new personal record. Drinks, men, and many other topics come to mind here. I don’t like writing this stuff out for the world to judge, but as always, if it takes putting my own life on blast to help others with an example, I’ll do it. One thing I can say through all of this is that I’ve been able to talk to my friends about it all. I let them see the ugly parts of me in the faith that they will love me anyway, and they do. But they also love me enough to bring up sensitive issues and correct me when I’m wrong. They do this because they have my best interest in mind.

When I’m getting ready to make the same mistake for like the 100th time, my buddy will tell me, “Niki, don’t do it. Just don’t.” He doesn’t mince his words, nor does he hold back. My girlfriend, being a woman, is a little more gentle with it, but she will do the exact same thing. She will point out when I’m on the wrong path. I won’t lie, there have been times that I’ve been angered by this, but in the end, I always appreciate it. I appreciate that there are those that love me enough to correct me when I’m wrong. I joke that it is a loving spanking, because while correction can hurt, it ultimately does good and is out of love.

These two friends bless my life immensely and I would do anything for them. I appreciate both of them for the unique ways that make them both wonderful. And I deeply appreciate the one big thing they have in common…they have my back.

I encourage you all to be this type of friend to those close to you too. You never know what kind of heartaches you can help prevent by being present, being supportive, but also being honest. How does that saying go…if you can’t find good in the world, BE the good in the world.

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And With Music, The Chapter Closes

I had a revelation a today.

I’m over it.

I’m over him.

Finally.

You see, for months, I’ve been healing slowly, one piece at a time. A little more every day my heart has formed scars where scabs once where. Every day, my soul has been bleeding less and less for him. Until today when I realized. . .it’s done.

It’s been months of tears, anger, more tears, and more intense anger. I’ve cried, screamed, sobbed, made poor choices, and repeated the cycle. But now, I get to sit and write this blog about finally being here.

* * *

I sat down and wrote those words several weeks ago, and then my computer died. My life is ~that~ busy. It took me probably about a month to find my laptop charger, have the time, and have the motivation to sit down and write at the end of a hectic day. In that time, I’ve thought of this blog every single day. Not only did I feel an intense desire to just write, I had so many thoughts I wanted to get out. I also wanted to get this blog out and then close that chapter for the rest of my life. And as always, I feel this crazy need to purge.

When I had this revelation, I was driving in the dark on my commute home from my day job. What started out as drive time that I hated when I first got this job has turned into “me time” and cherished.  During this drive home every night, I let my mind wander to wherever it wants to go. This has not always been a good thing. I can’t even begin to guess at how many of those drives home, my mind has gone to “him” or our breakup. I’d always felt this was a waste of valuable time, emotion, and energy, but now. . .now I feel like this was constructive.

I took months to process. To mull over every single aspect of every area of our relationship and our relationship’s demise. The in’s and the out’s and the up’s and the down’s. And in all of that time spent turning it over in my mind, I really, truly processed. In processing, I finally healed.

I came upon this revelation because of a song. Those that know me know that I am big into music and it’s always on. I had a love-hate relationship with music after my breakup though because so much hurt and tore me up to hear. That pain got easier each day, and I pushed through because there was no way I was going to let a man ruin music for me. There were definitely songs I avoided at times and even other times I intentionally listened to songs I knew would hurt, all as a part of my grieving process.

That day that I was driving though, I realized something. Those painful songs were no longer painful. I realized that no songs were painful anymore for me when it comes to him. I realized, when I can listen to any song in the world now without getting choked up at all, that’s when I know I’m finally over him.

In that healing, I also realized that I was no longer angry. The anger I’d felt for months was suddenly gone without a trace. I no longer feel any strong emotion connected to him. So now, I can reflect on happy memories with a smile and let the not so great memories go. I don’t feel upset anymore. I don’t feel animosity towards him, his family that doesn’t like me, or his girlfriend. I wish nothing but happiness for him and his children. I hope that his girlfriend is everything that he and his children need, because I still care and want them all to be happy.

For me, I was recently talking with a friend about how difficult life has been since August. For one, I’m so busy that I feel like it was August, and then I blinked, and now it’s suddenly January. For two, it’s been a hard winter. It’s been extremely cold here this year and my house feels a lot cold and a little lonely. On the flip side of that though, for the first time in months, I realized I was picturing a future again. I told a different friend a few months ago that I can’t picture the next season in my life at all, both figuratively and literally. So for me to suddenly be picturing spring. . .that’s a pretty big deal. I told her that I feel like I’m meant to endure this long, cold winter, but that my personal life is going to bloom when spring blooms outside. I don’t know why I feel this way, just a gut feeling I suppose, but it’s a new faith that has me smiling these days.

I don’t know what is around the corner for me next in life, but what I do know is that I’m going to keep fighting, I’m going to keep working, and I’m going to keep listening to music—for she is my therapist. And with music, this chapter is finally closed for good.

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This is the final chapter of my history with B. If you wish to read the entire story of the end in order, the links are:

Shattered. Simply Shattered.
I Lost Him, But I Found Me
I Did It!
Here’s to a New Chapter

A Woman. A Mother. A True Warrior.

*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
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A Different Kind of Love Story

I have recently mentioned a few times about the importance of friendship between women, and I can’t express enough how true that need is. As a woman, women are the ones that know you’re heart deeply. Your female friends are the ones that will understand what you’re not actually saying, will truly get what you are saying, and will be the most knowledgeable about how to best be there for you.

I personally have not had many long-term friendships. In fact, I’ve had only one. My friend and I met through church the summer before we started high school. We were both rowdy, feisty, and rebellious in our own ways. It was not a love at first sight friendship, but by the time we talked, we were hooked and instant “besties” from that first night.

We were young and wild and thick as thieves. We had fun together and rode the waves of high school and teenagerhood together. We had each other’s backs as we navigated that awkward stage of life where you’re no longer a child, but you’re not yet an adult. We got into trouble and ditched class together for no good reason during the week, and then we were angels in church as we soaked up the Word on Sundays. We were busy figuring out life and who we were, but we did it all together. We were an intense duo.

We were close, but these were the days before cell phones and social media, so when I “ditched” her to go to an alternative high school after acting up at our school, she felt abandoned (and rightfully so), and we drifted apart. We ended up stopping talking and put our friendship on pause. Neither of us knew just how close we would be again and just how much we would have an impact on each other’s lives in the future, but it would be revealed years later.

A few years went by after high school and we both led very different lives. I was going through the end of a failed marriage with elementary-aged children, and she was newly married with a baby when we were reconnecting. I was going through a disaster in my life and she was a sudden ray of sunshine to burst through the clouds in the middle of my storm. My entire life had fallen apart and I’d lost everything—my marriage, my house, my vehicle, 95% of belongings, and more. I was dealing with being a first time single mom in my early 20’s, divorce, overcoming drugs and their multiple impacts on my life, grief from the loss of my child, and then some.

MySpace was where she tracked me down, and I immediately clung to her like my life depended on it. I can’t remember how soon it was after she messaged me, but I dreamed about her. To this day I remember how in the dream she was standing in front of me with her child on her hip (I can still even remember her posture in the dream) and the message was that I needed her and she was going to help me. Almost 10 years later now and I can’t even begin to explain how true that has been.

She has been my support as I pulled my life out of the gutter. She has been my backbone as I have gone through being homeless, going through breakups, going through the loss of jobs, going through ongoing grief, going through heartache, and all of life’s toughest moments. She has watched me doing the ugliest of ugly cries. She has watched me rejoice in positive life changes. She has shared in my grief and hurts and my joys and happiness. She’s been there for everything. I’ve told her the things I can’t bring myself to tell anyone else. We’ve cried together over the worries of the world that hurt us both. She knows me better than anyone else on earth, including my family. Her and I, we are soul sisters.

When I talk to any woman about women needing a close girlfriend, this beautiful gift from God is who I picture in my mind. Everyone needs one of her. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the colors to my book, and the soul to my mate. It’s totally a love story, just a different kind than the movies are made about.

For women, we have to lift each other up. We have to carry each other’s burdens. We have to look each other’s hard moments, greatest fears, and heartaches in the face and say, “We are getting through this TOGETHER.” We ALL need and deserve this kind of love in our lives. So ladies, be there for each other during the good and bad life moments. If you don’t have a friend like this, then be it for someone else. You’ll find it in return. And always love each other and yourselves. It’s important.

Be blessed, my friends.
Moonshine Niki

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