Thursday, March 06, 2014

The marks humans leave...

I just finished reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, and in it one of the protagonists writes in  a letter, "I want to leave a mark... BUT...The marks humans leave are too often scars."

It's been 10 years since I have spoken to my mother and just under 10 years since I have sent her any sort of communication. It's mind blowing to think all of the things she has missed out on in my life in these last years, and it's mind numbing as to why.

In the last 10 years I lost my father-in-law and beloved cat to cancer, and 4 other beloved cats to old age and illnesses. I have lost and gained best friends, survived the near break up of my marriage, gotten diagnosed with fibromyalgia, had 2 more children and lost one.... and so much more.

10 years and 10 days ago I lost a baby just 3 days before my oldest child's 3rd birthday, and 10 years ago today I lost what I had thought was my tether to this world. Despite everything I had endured in my childhood I was still so desperately co-dependent upon the person who had birthed me. To this day I still have a hard time calling her my mother, or mom. She simply does not deserve the title.

My earliest memories of childhood include my real father sexually abusing me after my parents separated/divorced, and my mother humiliating me for wetting the bed at the age of 3 or 4 by making me wear nothing but a diaper around the house. The remaining memories are sprinkled with few good ones, mostly centered around holidays and food... the rest are painful.

I was blamed for my biological father abusing me, surely at the tender age of 3 or 4 I had done something sexualized to make my father do that to me. I was also blamed for my older brother trying to touch me and exposing his erect self to me, and for my older brother and step brothers unlocking the bathroom door with a coat hanger to watch me go to the bathroom,  shower and undress. I was to blame for why my mother beat me countless times, and why she verbally abused me because I was the reason she was crazy. I was to blame for her marriage failing with my stepfather because I was his only daughter and he sometimes stood up for me. I was to blame for her basically having to prostitute herself to feed me and my brothers after my parents separated. She hated me, she wished I had never been born because all her troubles were because of me.

A lot of these things were also said to my younger brother, rarely to the precious older brother who was the star athlete and her ticket into the world of popular kids and popular parents. He could do no wrong, and any time I spoke out against him to tell her how he choked me when she wasn't in the house or how he tried his best to molest me but JUST fell short of actually following through to completely ruining me... I was beat mercilessly, sometimes while he watched. I spoke the truth and shed light on his ugliness and was beat for "spewing lies" about her favorite, and he watched... never looking away.

Ten years and 8 days ago I called my mother and let her know that I needed some time to heal after having my second miscarriage. I told her I needed a few weeks to myself after losing the baby and that I loved her and would call her in a few weeks. 10 years ago today she sent me an email telling me what a horrible parent I was, pointing out all the mistakes she thought I had made with my oldest, who had just turned 3. She thought giving my child a swat on the butt and putting her in time out was abusive.

This from the person who laughed evilly while beating me with a belt then kicking and punching me, ripping my hair out as she shook me by the hair. This from the person who punched me in the stomach when I was 6, the person who nearly broke one of my fingers from bending it backwards, who had grabbed me by the hair and beat my face on a dash board, causing me to decide to jump from a car going 40 mph because I feared for my life...the person who was supposed to protect me. The person who was supposed to love and cherish me.  The person who to this day has never fully accepted the responsibility for putting me and my brother through complete and utter hell.

So, ten years ago today I avenged my 3 year old self, and all the selves that had been hurt by her. I wrote her an oddly calm yet scathing email, unleashing all the wrath I had within me. I would not walk on egg shells for her anymore, fearing that she might threaten or possibly follow through with killing herself as she had done in the past. I threw off the shackles of shame that she alone held the keys too, denouncing all of the horrific things she accused me of causing. I took those keys and smashed them with my words as I pounded them out on my keyboard... I burned them to obliteration and scattered them to the winds when I hit the send button. I felt the weight of the world lifted from me, I felt sanctified and cleansed by fire... she couldn't hurt me anymore.

I still bear the physical marks, I still struggle with the emotional ones. I struggle to be a good mom at times, to NOT BE HER. I have made mistakes as a mom and wife, I have used my words to hurt. I was already planning on writing this post but then I saw this today on Facebook: Imagine a world where the words you speak appear on your skin... Would you be more careful of the words you say?

My words have appeared on the skin of my children in form of sadness and tears. This saddens and horrifies me, and yet I KNOW. I know I must do better. I always apologize for the hurt I cause them with my words but it's not enough. 

You hear about the "God grant me the strength..." quotes. It shouldn't take strength to do something that another person deserves and is entitled to because the love you have for them should negate everything else.

So God/Supreme Being/Creator, show me love... give me the love my broken and healing heart has lacked. I am no longer a child, but I am still your child. Grant me the love to love my children like they deserve. Help me accept the love people show me when I feel unworthy. Fill the void inside of me where a loving mother should have been. Continue to show me I am no longer broken, but whole.

Continue to show me I have always had the love inside of me, all along.

Amen.

Monday, June 03, 2013

24 Years Ago

Sometimes it feels like 100 years ago, and sometimes it feels like just yesterday that I married my soul mate and love of my life.

Our 25+ years together has been bumpy, rocky and sometimes seemingly impassable, but here we are one year shy of our silver anniversary.  I can only attribute that to the both of us growing into stronger and more forgiving people, and having faith.

Twenty-five years ago my mother told me we would never last. She blamed John for almost killing me after I was very near death from a tubal pregnancy. She sat my then fiance' down and told him I was damaged goods and he deserved better because I had been sexually abused- right in front of me like I wasn't even there, meanwhile John sat calmly and let her finish, then told her plainly that I had told him EVERYTHING about my childhood. Her sabotage didn't work, thank God, because I had been completely honest with him in our first week of dating.

She made me change my wedding date 4 different times because she had plans, unwilling to change her plans for my wedding. She took control of my wedding planning and told John he could only invite 15 people out of 250 invites because she was going to pay for the reception as a gift. She eventually threw me a wedding shower but then kept all the gifts that I had stored at their house while I was in the Navy, all because John argued that 15 people were not enough from his side. She cancelled the wedding reception, kept my shower gifts AND told me she had prayed and God told her she (and the rest of my family)  wasn't allowed to go to the wedding... then lied to my brothers that because I was mad I had uninvited all of them.

My mother's pastor grudgingly held our wedding ceremony in a dirty church with small pieces of lint and paper scraps in the aisle, after my mother - I am sure- told him how I had been disrespectful to her. He didn't look at me a single time during the wedding ceremony, which was certainly rushed and maybe lasted 10-15 minutes. He glanced at John a few times but only looked over my head.

None of my immediate family came to our wedding, but my mother's sister and her family came, including my aunt's in-laws who let us call them "granny" and "gramps" as kids. My art teacher from high school came, I was and still am so very touched she would do that for me. We had navy friends there, and John had quite a few family members that flew and drove from Iowa and Virginia. I had my great grandmother and some high school friends who showed up for me as well.

We had about maybe 40 people show up to our wedding, but some of the guests did not go to the reception. All in all, we spent 1000.00 for our wedding, my off the rack wedding dress costing just under half of that. The rest was spent on flowers, a 2 tier wedding cake and flowers we ordered from a grocery store, and John and his brother's tuxedo rentals. Luckily a family friend and mom of one of my high school classmates had heard about how my mother had treated us and she graciously approached John and I about having our reception at her house near her pool, and she and another family friend bought and cooked the food for us for a measly 100.00. What a blessing that was!

When it came time for the wedding to begin, I almost had a nervous breakdown because John decided that arriving 5 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start was completely appropriate! I figured after all the craziness he has experienced from my family during our 11 month engagement, he had probably gotten cold feet.

I still missed having my family there, but was very thankful for the family that did show up; my aunt and her family, and my art teacher- who secretly I had always wished had been my cool and quirky mom. I was very blessed to have had a father-in-law who had been sweet enough to ask me if he could walk me down the aisle, even though we hadn't met yet.

The first 25 years of our relationship- just like our wedding day- has been bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. I willingly give my husband most of the credit, though. He knows how genuinely messed up I am and loves me despite all of it. He knows me like no other, he knows all of my dark secrets. Every. Single. One. And I am almost positive that I know all of his. We are both damaged from our childhoods. Sometimes we can be rough around the edges but we manage to love each other through it, because we see value in all that we have conquered in the past.

What makes our relationship continue to grow despite rough patches? I think it's because our valleys have been so low at times that it makes the high points that much higher. It's the bitter in the bittersweet that makes it all that much richer and sweeter.

My younger brother told me a few years ago that considering I was the black sheep of the family, he had always thought that I would be the one married 3 times with all sorts of kids. We both had a good laugh out of that since he and my older brother have both been married 3 times each, and here I am chugging along in my imperfect but lengthy marriage.

From meager and troubled beginnings we came... A 19 year old bride and a 21 year old groom.We were talking last night in bed, just an hour into our official 24th anniversary. Looking back, we would have still kept our wedding small if it meant we would do it our way, on our terms.

OR used that 1000.00 to get married in Vegas. *wink*

To my husband, The Male Income Support Unit:

I love you, John. Thank you for loving me when I was unlovable, forgiving me when I was unforgivable, and for understanding my crazy from it's deepest roots. Thank you for giving me 3 adorable kids and 25 years.


The first 25 years have been a doozy... I can't wait to see where we go from here! All I can say is it better not involve me getting pregnant again.


Love,

Me

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's been a year

One year ago today I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and it's been one roller coaster of a year for sure. It's been a long, dark and scary back alley of a year in some respects; an alley that I thought I was destined to walk alone, desperately looking over my shoulder as I scrambled to find an exit or some safe haven from the horrible unknown that skittered in the dark closely behind me.

Then around a week later my best friend in the whole world was diagnosed, and in the most odd/bizarre/tragic/morbid/comical way... suddenly I was not alone. We traveled  together, huddled in the dark while taking turns shining a flashlight for each other; shedding light on pitfalls and outright stumbling blocks in our path.

We have laughed and cried together out of grief and terror, we have fallen silent and morose. We have joked about the possibilities of the illness, and have related to each other in ways that even our loved ones fail to comprehend. Monique and I both have a better understanding of what we are dealing with, and we have shared a wealth of knowledge with each other.

In these ways, my life has somehow become richer. Through common ground and despair, we have connected on a level I never thought was possible. We had discovered mere months before being diagnosed that we were best friends, already a friendship deeper than ANY friendship I have ever had outside of my marriage. So deep in fact that she asked that I be the godmother to her unborn daughter. :) We have so many similarities, so many odd things in common that it's mind boggling... then to have this happen?

The most mind blowing thing from all of this is that we have not met in person yet. In just 14 days I get to meet my other soul mate, my sister from another mister... my life doppelganger.

I am so thankful and utterly grateful to have her in my life. We have gotten each other through so many rough spots in the last 12 months, and have created a relationship bound (and gagged) in love and laughter since July 2011.

Simply put, I could not have gotten through this last year without her*.

I cannot wait to see where this road goes next, Monique "Bella Boo"!
I'm positive. *wink*





*Of course it goes without saying that I could not have gotten through this year without my loving and supportive husband, who is the yin to my yang. Love you MISU!





Thursday, February 07, 2013

12

My baby is going to be 12 in 21 days. TWELVE.

My oldest child... the beginning of something truly beautiful, a new phase of my life that I thought I would never be lucky enough to experience.


It's been gritty and tortuous being a parent, and at other times soulful and stomach-hugging hilarious.

Today, I realized that my oldest child is so much like me, so much more than I had ever realized. I mean, I had always thought she looked a little more like me and we share a eerily similar sense of humor. We inflect on words the same, and our laughs can be the same growly, bark of a laugh or nearly the same hysterical howl. We share almost the exact same nose, and we both feel the same dread over the size.

But beyond all of that, while we talked about friendships, I could see the person she is becoming. At some point we were both exasperated and my eyes were opened, as I forced myself to listen more instead pontificating aloud, sharing my "refined" wisdom as an adult.

As I admitted to her that I didn't know everything I saw something click in my daughter, as if those were the words she had been longing me to say since her existence.

I stopped for a moment and told her that all I ever want for her in life is to do good, and not make the same mistakes I did. My words are meant as a cautionary tale, never judgement. I want to give my kids all the things my mother didn't like sound advice and a bent ear... understanding.

We had an honest talk about a friendship she has that has turned sour, and this person is no longer viewed through rose colored glasses and Anna is finally seeing her for who she really is: a mean spirited brat who enjoys humiliating and bullying others. Now that Anna has rekindled a friendship from  grade school- who this mean little bully does not like- now the bully has caught my daughter in her icy glare. Anna has now been bullied.

Don't weep for my child, make no mistake... my daughter is strong in will and most of the time character. I am proud of her for standing up to this miserable little person, and for standing her ground.

She is a bit hard headed like her dad's side of the family, and she can be a little tender under her hard shell... both of which she gets from me I think. It hurts me to see her frustration (and hurt, though she refuses to admit it), but I laid out the options/choices ahead of her in this situation.

1. The obvious backstabbing and dirtying of the name of said person, justified by tales of all the ways this person has hurt her... which NEVER ends well and ALWAYS backfires.

2. Stay neutral and continue to defend herself while faking her way through this botched "friendship".

3. MOVE ON. Leave it all behind and enjoy those people who really truly are her friends.

She did say midway through our talk that she had just had the realization, "Why am I bothering to be friends with her?"

So if nothing hopefully she now understands that confiding in her mom can be cathartic and therapeutic, and that I am an ally and not the enemy.

And maybe, just maybe she realizes that I do pretty much know what I am talking about. Most of the time.

Usually.

I learned today that it's not such a bad thing that we are so much alike.

I hope that one day she realizes it too.

Peace,
Mary