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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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 horrible, 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. 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. Now, I don’t remember clearly if it was in this moment or another that she said it, but in my memory, my mother told me, “You’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” Either way, this was her line of thinking and I was told no.

We moved and 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, I was not able to have that order dropped. It gave me time to 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 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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God Bless This Mess

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…”
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*

Much love,
Moonshine Niki

Do I Deserve Love?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love. I’ve been thinking not just about romantic love, but many kinds. . . the love between family, the love a mother is supposed to have for her children, and even self-love. You see, my life has definitely lacked love in places where there should have been much, much more.

I was a child bride and had a husband that loved drugs and alcohol, he loved humiliating me and hurting me, but he didn’t love me. I have a family that isn’t close and doesn’t show love at all towards one another. Way more “fuck you’s” are thrown out between each other than “I love you’s.” Hugs don’t happen with my family and support is virtually non-existent. The biggest pain with that is that there is more love and support shown for some of us from my mother than others. Growing up feeling like I was somehow flawed, because I must be if my own mother can’t like me but clearly loves my siblings, has made me not love myself. If the easiest love to come in the world (the love of a mother for her child) isn’t there, and then my own husband couldn’t love me, then I must be truly broken and unlovable. That was my thinking for a long time anyway.

I’ve written several times about how women are harsh to judge and judge ourselves more than anyone else. We have constant media in our faces telling us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, slim enough. It makes self-love incredibly difficult. Then, when you add in abusive people, absent or hurtful parents, or other issues and incidences that cause pain, self-love becomes even harder.

For me, I had the lack of bonding with my mother as my foundation in life. Then, I got married as a teen and had 4 children back to back with an abusive man. I didn’t take good care of myself through those hard times in my life (thank you, depression), and so of course, I gained a ton of baby weight and didn’t lose it. I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t have any family there for me, and I was living through an abusive marriage with no idea that I deserved any better. I did not love me. In fact, I didn’t just not love myself, I downright hated myself.

Now, we can fast forward several years where I have been away from that man for a long, have lost some of that weight, have made many achievements and advancements in life, and had much personal growth. I’ve struggled still with self-love though. I’ve struggled feeling worthy, and as I’ve recently had a falling out with my family and have endured some other tough events, I’ve been thinking even more about love.

I realized recently that I’ve spent a long time hating myself. I’ve hated my tender heart, I’ve hated my body and the weight I’ve struggled with since I started having children almost 18 years ago, I’ve hated how easily I cry, I’ve hated my lack of self-control in so many areas, and the list goes on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked my face in the mirror and told myself ugly, hateful things because I felt I deserved it. If I exercised, I would think those horrible things to myself out of frustration that I ever let my body get this out of control. I just have been truly disgusted and so I punished myself with hate.

Well, several days ago, I suddenly had an epiphany. I’ve battled my weight for a long time. I’ve also battled many emotional issues for a long time. While I have continued to try to fight against these issues, I’ve tried using the same methods and with the same self-loathing I have always had. What’s that saying about insanity…trying the same way over and over again while expecting different results? That’s what I have been doing. I have decided that no matter what is going on with my family, no matter what man I do or don’t have in my life, and no matter how my body looks, I need to love myself anyway. No matter what, I am deserving of self-love. So now, as I do my daily squats, I’m telling myself in my head, “Look at you go! One. Good job getting active! Two. You are beautiful! Three. You deserve love! Four. Look at you empowering yourself! Five. . .” You get the idea.

If hating myself has gotten me nowhere, then there’s an entire world of possibilities if I love myself instead. It’s been easy to be negative for a long time, so I’m not going to assume that it’s suddenly going to be much easier to be kind to myself, but I can promise that I’m going to keep trying. I am worthy of that much.

This new journey of self-love is important because it’s not only for me, it’s for my children, for my friends, for my coworkers, and for everyone else around me. The better I feel inside, the better mom, friend, and employee I can be. It’s a win for everyone. So, here’s to my new journey. . .

Signing off with a smile and love,
Moonshine Niki

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Still Holding Onto Hope

I’ve sat down at the computer and written so many times about how I have a tender heart. It’s a recurring theme because it’s such a huge part of who I am, and my life is impacted by it. I wrote on Facebook about how you can’t expect others to treat you as you would them because it will sting your heart over and over. This is a personal lesson I’ve had to deal with so many times, and yet, I never seem to be able to truly learn.

As I listen to some bluesy country right now, sitting here with my laptop and cup of coffee on a very snowy day, I can’t help but think about this tender heart of mine again. I’ve said it many times, but I’ve been through a lot these last 5 months, and the blows keep coming. This is the hardest winter I’ve ever endured in my entire life. As we’ve had extreme cold temps and I’ve struggled to keep my house heated, I go to bed every night in a cold room with doubled blankets and the hope that I never have to feel like this again once this season is over.

I don’t know if it’s a weakness or a strength or a little bit of both, but I seem to be incapable of shutting my heart off. No matter how many times I’ve been stung, I always feel hope. I always have faith. I always wake up each day feeling renewed and looking forward to my future. Some days I get knocked backwards, but it’s never permanent. It’s just who I am and I can’t change it. Because of this, my plea is this; please don’t lead others on. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t string others along for whatever twisted comfort it brings you. Don’t keep someone close that you know is more emotionally invested than you are. Be honest, be up front, and be kind, because people like me are so easily emotionally destroyed by the games many barely give a second thought to.

I’ve been hurt by carelessness more times than I can count. Each time, I wipe my own tears and gather the broken pieces of my heart by my own strength, but I also wish that others knew how much of an impact it has. While I once again pick myself up and dust myself off, I take comfort in knowing that there will eventually come a day where I understand why it’s hurt so much up to this point. Until I get to that day, I’ll keep being here for myself, I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep feeling big because it’s the only thing I know how to do. I know that eventually, there will be a man in my life is going to be so happy that I have the heart that I do and is going to cherish it. Maybe I’ve met him already, maybe he’s going to read this, and maybe not, but I’m comforted by faith and will patiently wait. Big hearts love the best, and someday, this heart of mine is going to bless someone more than he ever knew possible. I’ll be falling asleep tonight with that peace.

Be good to each other, my friends. It’s a hard world out there.

Love,
Moonshine Niki

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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.

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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

The Weak Hunt The Wounded

The weak hunt the wounded–what a strong and true statement! I’d love to say I came up with it myself, but it would be a lie. You see, I have this friend that has listened to me vent, cry, and ramble for 2 weeks now. We’ve been the kind of friends to talk over Facebook and the phone for a couple years now (we know each other in real life, but we don’t live near each other anymore), but lately, he’s been one of a small handful that have been supportive, listened, and been there for me over and over and then over again during this time. He’s one of my safe people because I can trust him and there’s no pressure to be anything but me. He’s smart, honest, and witty and makes me laugh when I want to cry. We are very different people though and this allows us to talk about all kinds of life aspects and see each other’s different points of view.

Last night we were discussing dating, sex, friendship, and all other things real, adult life. We were talking about his standards for romantic relationships and mine and how they are different, but then the topic came up about people that prey on the broken. It was completely relevant and something that another friend and I were recently discussing as well. We were talking in reference to how he said that he thinks women have an easier time finding men than men have finding women. I had disagreed and said I felt it was the same for both sexes. He disagreed still and said he didn’t think women knew how hard it was for men. It was friendly banter to kill time and boredom when I had said it must be easy for anyone and how they only have to target someone below them. Then this blog post topic bloomed. He told me how that’s lazy and wrong and gave me that line “the weak hunt the wounded” in his response.

While we were talking about “casual encounters” this actually works all across the board with dating and life in general. In my most broken moments in life, I have attracted the most broken, unstable, predatory, ill-intentioned people. In my strongest, most positive life moments, I’ve attracted the strongest, most positive, stable, well-intentioned people. For whatever reason, hard times can bring the worst people into one’s life.

This is something everyone, especially women, need to be aware of. When one is going through something hard, not coping well, making poor life choices because of the pain, and is easily seen as not having his or her stuff together in life, the creeps will come out of the woodwork, I promise. The predators will come out to hunt you down and they can smell you from a mile away. So in your low moments, guard your heart, because it matters.

While I personally am not a fan of casual sex, my friend is, as are many other people in our society. That’s okay, we’re grown-ups and you’re allowed to make your own choices. But, please be aware. Make sure that you’re not making that choice to fill a broken piece of your heart, because I can assure you that afterwards, that hole you’re trying to fill will not only still not be filled, it’ll likely be bigger. If you’re seeking a partner for casual fun, that’s totally your choice, but remember, the weak hunt the wounded.

 

Stay safe, my friends.

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