Finally?

Is it true? Is it finally over? I doubt it. I know that’s pessimistic of me but this has taken so long already! More than two years ago I took my children and left. I packed up my things, loaded them on a truck; waited for my husband to leave, then packed up my babies’ stuff and loaded that too. There was no way in hell I was moving out without them. My babies were 7 and 13 at the time. My older two, 17 and 19, helped us all pack and move. Before we were finished my husband returned. He offers one child a chance to stay. Just one! Are the others not yours too?? This amazing son of mine told his father, “no, Mom said I didn’t have a choice.” And left with the rest of us. My heart had stopped beating waiting for his answer. Then we drove away.

A few days later I went to get more of my things, my children minus the one son, came with me. I was naive, I thought he would be reasonable. Instead, after some time gathering little useful things, I went into the kitchen to get somethings in there. I was, after all, trying to turn an empty house into a home for our kids… He became angry when I took a spatula. A spatula! Really? I didn’t care but he sure did. He grabbed me from behind and wrapped his entire body around me to get it from my hands, bruising my arms in the process… My children and I yelled at him to turn me loose. It was scary to say the least. He’s more than twice my weight and a foot taller than me. Not only did he do that to me but he did it in front of my children, in front of my seven-year old. I will never understand how a father could behave the way he does. I will never understand his logic. It’s not possible to understand crazy, that’s why it’s called ‘crazy’.

I took my baby and went and had ice cream, then we went to the sheriff’s office to report him. I know that was backwards, but I didn’t know what to do and I was shaking because I was so scared. I was scared of him and scared of turning him in. I was scared and I had a right to be. I had lived with that man for over twenty years and I had heard his promises that I could not survive without him, would not survive without him. I heard his statements, as if it was the time of day, that I was worthless and useless and a terrible mother, wife, person… I was scared and at the time I thought I somehow deserved to be treated that way. I was confused and terrified. It wasn’t the first time either.

That was over two years ago. That was the last time I went inside of that house until this past week. Since then we have settled in the courts for child support, and divorce. And only a few weeks ago, finally, for property. Finally. I was finally allowed to go back to the house and to pack up my things. I was finally able to have movers come and get my piano and all of the rest of the things that were divided. I had a friend help me the first day of packing, and my adult children the rest of the time. I was terrified to be in his house and I couldn’t pack fast enough or leave quickly enough. I did it, though, and I never have to go back again.

So, my question, finally? Is it finally over? Is this nightmare finally ended? I think so. I’m hesitant to believe it, yet, I think it is. Can I celebrate yet? Do I mourn the lost fairytale? Is this a state of shock that I am in? Questions remain… if he hated me so much, thought so little of me, then why did he make it so difficult to leave? If he loved me so much, like he said, then why didn’t he ever try to chase me? Why didn’t he even once try to convince me to stay? Why was he the one who filed for the divorce? A final discard. The man never changed and never will. Me, though? I’m different. I’m stronger, smarter, and happier than I’ve ever been.

thank you for reading,

me

I Did It

I did it. I made it through my week and am about to begin a new one. I honestly cannot believe I made it this far. Once in a while, almost every week, someone asks me how I managed to get where I am today. They ask me how I did it. They want to know how I can make it through everything. I tell them I put one step in front of the other, I cried a lot and I never quit. They say they could ‘never do that’, meaning they could never make it through what I’ve managed to do. This is so untrue. If I can be where I am today then so can anyone. The difference is not giving up and making the hard decisions. It’s reminding myself daily, sometimes hourly, that I am worth the effort.

I did it. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t anyone sprinkling fairy dust on my life, it wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t luck. It was me. I did it. I made things happen. I made myself get up and keep moving. I made myself talk to people I didn’t know. I asked for help. I did it. I let myself cry. I let myself be vulnerable. I let myself breathe. I let myself feel. Me. I did it. No one else. No one made me do anything. I chose my path and I walked it. Me.

I did it. I’m not going to lie. It was f*cking hard. People think I make things look easy and that’s a mistake that I made. I didn’t let many people in. I didn’t let others see my struggles or hear about my fears. I stopped doing that, though. Now? Now ask me how I am and if it is true I will say that ‘I’m fine.’ If it’s not, though? I will tell you flat-out, ‘I’m not doing well.’ Then, if you want to know more I will tell you.

This is hard. This making a life that I love is hard. This living thing, that I started embracing? It’s hard. It hurts. It stings. There are many times where I want to quit, I want to give up. Times when I wonder how the hell I’m going to make it through the day, let alone the week. So many times where I wonder where I’m going to find the strength to breathe, let alone move. Letting myself feel? Wow. I did it though. I did. I chose to let myself be me and the best thing of all is that I now know that I’m worth it. I actually like who I am, what a concept. Me, just me, perfectly imperfect.

I did it, though. I really did. I made it this far. I fought for it, claimed it and took it. This is my life now and no one else’s. I’m worth the effort and so are you. You are worth it. Just be you, be who you want to be. Just do it. I did.

thanks for reading,

me

ps. Just this week alone: I worked at my rotation, I packed the rest of my things at my abuser’s house (while he was still there), I spent time at the hospital with my daughter who had a seizure, spoke with friends, went out with friends, met with people about my business (also friends), let myself be vulnerable, let myself cry, went to doctors’ appointments with my daughter, got up each morning and went to bed each night, watched some of the meteor shower, cried some more, packed some more, cried some more, was terrified but kept going… just this week… but I called my friends for help, and the key here: I let them help. I did it. No one else did it for me. It was me and I deserve the credit. It can be you too. You are worth the effort, too.

Elegance?

What is elegance? How does one show elegance? Is elegance achievable?

Miriam Webster defines elegance as “A: refined grace or dignified propriety. B: tasteful richness of design or ornamentation, the sumptuous elegance of the furnishings. C: dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style, the essay is marked by lucidity, wit, and elegance. D: scientific precision, neatness, and simplicity, the elegance of a mathematical proof.”

And Wikipedia defines elegance as “beauty that shows unusual effectiveness and simplicity. It is frequently used as a standard of tastefulness particularly in the areas of visual design, decoration, the sciences, and the aesthetics of mathematics. Elegant things exhibit refined grace and dignified propriety.”

What is it about elegance that calls for me?

I think as I write tonight that elegance appeals to me due to its simplicity, its calm, it’s poise all showing a lack of chaos. Chaos is how I’ve often described my life, my thoughts, even myself. I’m a storm, a thundering mess of noise inside. So elegance speaks to me. A quiet, peaceful, graceful beauty to be attained. I want elegance to be how I describe myself: I want it to be how others describe me. “She is the elegant one.; the one there who has no fear, no care for things but who is always peaceful and happy.” That sounds good.

Being elegant would mean that I would be noticed for my calm rather than the storm that I’ve brought with me. Or maybe I will be the calm before the storm? Or the peace afterward?

It’s an interesting place to be. I love who I am becoming and I love helping others to find peace and sanctuary in my writing. Yet, I am the storm; the hurricane has been me. Can I be both? Can I be the fury when needed and the calm when necessary? Can I continue to be who I am while allowing others the room to be who they are meant to be? Chaos, after all, is still beautiful. Should I tame the chaos?

I know the chaos well now. I’ve marked its passage through my life and I am intimately familiar with it. But have I now mastered my chaos? Does it rule me no longer? It is still there. I can feel it sitting, waiting to pounce. But does it no longer have the control it once did? Have I made chaos my friend?

These are some of my thoughts tonight as I prepare for bed. I entertain the idea of elegance, such that, maybe I may attain it. Yet, now loving myself, I no longer fear my chaos, my personal storms that have made me this way. Shall I truly transition from fear to peace? Shall I stand taller, quieter now that my storms begin to pass? Shall I be elegant?

thank you for reading,

me

Don’t Wait

I know I keep harping on this but it’s so true. Life is short. Love your babies, hug your parents. AND take care of yourself!

You can’t wait any longer. You need to act now. You might not have another year, or another month or week. Life is short. Love now! Go for it! Go do the things you’ve dreamed of doing. Don’t wait anymore. Go dance in the rain, go play with the dogs. Go run around the block, bicycle, walk, whatever you like to do. Get outside with those you love. Or by yourself. Whatever it is you need to do, do it! Just do it!

If you can’t imagine yourself being like you are this moment in five years, then change it! Just do it. Do it! If you can’t stand the idea of living like you do right now in five years, then don’t. Don’t! You have the strength to change, you do. Do it! Life is worth it! You are not meant to be stomped on, beat up, or put down. You are meant for greater things than this! Quit waiting. Just start. Do it! Do one small thing that will lead to another small thing and then to another…

You can do it! I did. I’m just a little person with a big heart and I started with nothing thinking I was nothing… but I’m not nothing and neither are you. You and I are both worth it! Live! Today! Not tomorrow. not next week, not next year… today! You might not have another. There will never be a good time. The only time you have is right now. So what are you waiting for? Safety? Peace? If you don’t have it now and you don’t act on it you won’t have it tomorrow either.

Change doesn’t have to be giant, the little tiny baby steps work too. Telling yourself good things to combat the bad that you hear is small but huge… Tell yourself this. Tell yourself “I am worth it. I am beautiful.” Say it in your head, say it out loud if you can, just say it. “I am amazing. I am smart and capable.” Do not believe the lies that others say. Do not let others judge your soul. You were created by God for a purpose and that purpose includes living, loving and being loved. God doesn’t make junk. Don’t wait.

Every moment that you are awake you can speak kindly to yourself. You can combat the negativity, you can do it. I believe in you! I didn’t believe in myself before but I have changed that. I used to think I deserved my punishments, that I deserved my silent treatments and that I deserved to die. I was wrong. No one deserves that. No one, not me, and definitely not you. I wanted so much to give up, to quit. I wanted so much to just go to sleep and never wake up. Instead? I never gave up. I thought for certain I was crazy, but I wasn’t, and neither are you.

You have a right to live, truly live. You deserve to be loved and cared for. If you aren’t then leave. If you can’t, then get help. I did. I’m worth it. It was hard, it was terrifying, but I was worth the effort and so were my kids. You are worth it too. Don’t wait. Just do it!

thanks for reading,

me

Remember You – a note to myself

Write… Just write. You have been so busy and yet not and you think you are OK. You are. Just remember that things will get busier again and you will have to take care of yourself. Every day. Yes. Every day. You cannot wait for the weekend to catch up on self-care. You can not put it off until you have a day off. No. Self-care is required every day. It’s like brushing your teeth, you cannot go without it. If you want to maintain a clear head, maintain a feeling of calm; if you want to prevent the chaos from creeping back then you must remember to take time every day. You must remember to breathe. Take a walk, write, read, love on your babies. Breathe. Remember to feed your soul as you feed yourself. Remember to let the pain go, let your feelings feel; trust yourself because you know how to do this. Trust your instincts. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then take a step back, take some deep breaths… let yourself cry. Just do it. It’s OK. You need it. If you fight it you will eventually fail.

You know where you’ve been. You know what you’ve been through. You know it hasn’t been easy. You know this. Take pride in this. Accept that you are amazing and you are strong. Accept that you have moved mountains to be where you are. Accept it. Believe in yourself because you are worth it. Believe in yourself because you did it. Yes, you! You did it. You created this life from nothing. You made it happen. You are awesome!

Remember who you were and see the difference! Remember how hard you have worked! Remember how much you have cried, what you have faced. Remember! You are so capable and so brave and so vulnerable all at the same time. You are amazing! Let no one tell you otherwise. No one has been where you have been, no one. There are similar stories, but everyone’s path is different. Your path? Yours was long and hard and winding, but it was yours. Claim it! Accept it! It was you, yes you. You did it! You brought yourself here. You are amazing!

Now that you are here, remember to take care of yourself. Remember to be gentle with yourself. You’ve worked hard, you deserve your life. You deserve your peace and your promises of a great future. Claim it! This is your life now, no one else’s. You deserve to feel and to breathe and to smile and to laugh. It’s OK to cry and to be angry and it’s OK to want to quit. But don’t. Don’t quit. Instead? Take a deep breath, and rest. Rest your soul.

You are amazing! You’ve got this!

thank you for reading,

me

Feel? It’s OK

What’s it like to feel? To feel deeply the things in this world? To know that when you speak with someone, that they are hurting? What’s it like to wish you could make a difference, to want only good things for good people, to see good in people who have almost none left? What’s it like to know that good exists in the midst of evil? What’s it like to love like that?

How does a person manage to not be completely taken over by another? How does a person understand? empathize? with another who is having a difficult time? How do you distance yourself? Do you? How do you put limits on your emotions so that you can survive? How?

Feeling is painful but comes so easily. Protecting myself from others is what’s difficult. Simple? Feel. Just feel? But how? And will I still exist if I let those flood gates down? Will I still stand unchanged? No. I will be changed. But will that change be good? Maybe, and that is the risk I take. Loving deeply for others is a gift and a curse. A curse? No. Not if I don’t fight it. Being afraid of feeling is the part that’s a curse. But if I just let myself feel, let myself be, then it is a ride, a journey, not a curse.

I stood there, I saw her pain. I knew her fear. I only wanted to help. I let myself be there. I could not change things, I had no power to do that, but I could be with her. I could be a light on the way, a marker of good things to come. I could not help her physically, but what little I could give emotionally I gave.

And when she was gone, I cried.

My advice? Give, give unconditionally, just do it. The pain is worth it. Be open, just be it. The pain is worth it. Feel, it’s OK. Be changed. Life is worth it. Do not hold yourself back, let yourself be. You are worth it.

thank you for reading,

me

Bumps, Scrapes, and Faceplants

For one or two weeks each year I get to run around with a bunch of teenagers more than half my age. I get to pretend to be 15, 16, or 17 again. I play as hard as I can and I never regret a moment. These kids are amazing. They are willing to try new things, new challenges.

They get on the back of a tube behind a boat and they hold on for dear life. They do it even if the water is cold, or rough. They do it because of the thrill of being alive.They put on their life preservers, jump into the dark water, and climb onto the large tube… then with a thumbs up they begin to ride. They ride through the water holding on with all of their might. They slide from one side of the boat to the next and then back again, over bumps and turns. They try to hold on and not lose their pants. They try to hold on longer than the person before. They try to prove to the driver that they cannot be thrown, but they will be thrown. And so they fly. They fly through the air and land on the water, down they go and then pop back up. When they pop up they catch their breath, wipe the water out of their eyes, thumbs up and do it all over again. I love these kids!

They get on a jet ski, they take their time and learn how to drive it. They are careful at first, slow. They learn to ride the waves and to stay away from others. They listen and watch and drive cautiously. And then? Then, not much later, they see the leader take off and follow as best they can. After a few minutes, they find their courage, they find their speed and they race across the water; their faces covered with a smile. Dolphins are spotted and everyone slows to a crawl and watches, waits, looks for more. There, again, there’s another dolphin! What beauties! Such freedom! The dolphins swim by, ignoring us all, but we saw. What a delight it is to watch them!. And then I look at my kids, for they are mine for the week, and I see the smiles, the awe, the wonder, and I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Fireworks. Thunderstorms. Which do we watch? Fireworks of course, there’ll be storms again tomorrow. Across the river we find a place to sit and wait. People are everywhere, kids and parents, elderly and dogs, boats in the water… everyone waiting. The sun sets, the lights go out and then the fireworks begin. How do they do it? Such colors, such patterns! The beauty created in the night. The storms on the other side of us are dancing with lightning, far away; but in front of us? In front we are mesmerized, each beautiful display, the people as one, oohs and aahs and applause. My kids again, hope. Hope and peace. No one is upset, all are enjoying the night. How is it to forget the troubles in this world? How is it to know that right now, just for a moment, everything is good?

These are the reasons I volunteer here. For a week, I get to help these forget their troubles, I get to play with them and to love on them, I get to provide them a new way to express themselves. I get to be there when they learn something new, try something hard. I get to do it alongside them. I do it for me and I do it for them, for we are both blessed.

thank you for reading,

me