Monday, October 2, 2017

I don't know how

I don't know how to tuck my children in tonight and tell them that everything is ok. I can't seem to swallow that lump in my throat that gets larger and larger every time I read the news.

I don't know how to feel safe anymore.  Shootings in schools, movie theaters, music festivals.  At work, the hair salon, while you're being pulled over. You can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore.  You don't know who to trust.

I don't know how to explain to my little girls that their bodies will be looked at, used, and not considered their own business. I don't know how to prepare them for how men will look at them and treat them.  Not a single year goes by that I don't have at least one tearful friend tell me how she was raped.  I am 37.  I have cried so many tears for my friends an for myself.  I cannot fathom crying those tears for my own daughters and somewhere secretly knowing that the day will come and I will pray they physically and emotionally can survive.

I don't know how to go to church when the congregation says one thing and does another. When hypocrisy and double standards are paired with insecurities and rein supreme.  Because men and women are not equal there. Leadership is a trait that only men possess and you are not truly welcome, part of the group, and your offers of help are not good enough if you don't fit the mold.

I don't know how to smile today when my heart is so heavy with the realization of what this country has become. I can see the greed of men rise above the greater good of humanity.  People can be bought and sold while the sheep are sacrificed and nothing is sacred anymore. It makes me feel like this world is dying.  Certainly this country is.  If there is any moral high ground left, then it does not reside with the people running this country.  We have a president who screams at the people of PR to stop listening to fake news because he has no concept that they have no electricity or clean water. He is more concerned with making himself look good than acting as the public servant he was elected as.

I don't know how to help. I have friends in PR that I have no heard from. I am watching suffering all over this country as people reach out to loved ones who were in Vegas.  The political mudslinging has begun to happen and somewhere when humanity should be joining together, there are people STILL clutching their guns.  Would a mother hesitate to sacrifice anything to get their baby back who was pictured laying in a pool of blood in Las Vegas? Would you sacrifice your child to save your gun? Or just mine?

I don't know how to convince people that you are supposed to care about others. That God created each life on this earth and you are supposed to care for each other as your brother. As. Your. Brother. You are not allowed to tell me I should die in a gutter because I don't have health insurance. You cannot choose to not vaccinate your child and have it give my newborn measles so it dies.  You do not get to pack a peanut butter sandwich for your child if it will kill another.  You may not. Are you understanding me?  I don't give a flying fuck about your guns anymore. I care about the 40 children who were murdered in 2012 in SH. I care about the 60 people who died for no reason in Vegas.

I don't know how to be sympathetic to the population of people who think the revolution is coming and they have to stock pile ammo to protect their homes from "them". Who is it that is coming for you exactly? The Others. Those who are not like you. The enemy. Those of different color, beliefs, and background? Do you want to know what I think? It's you that's the problem.  You are the ones who are scaring everyone else.  Any decent human being knows that each person is a human being like them who has a brain and a heart that YES, may have different beliefs, but is not inherently evil or dangerous by virtue of them being different.

I don't know how to thank the good ones. You know who I am talking about.  The men and women who help when they don't have to. The ones who sacrifice themselves to save others.  The every day heroes in this country.  They are the glimmer of hope in this world.  The ones who pull me forward when I want to run and hide.  They are what the strength and backbone of this country truly are.  And through all of the corruption of the government, they prove that there are still come good in this world.

I don't know how to raise my children in this world.  I feel like I've been struggling with this for months. I'm ashamed of this country and what we've become.  I try so hard to teach my children right from wrong. I hear their questions about people's actions in the world and I fight back tears as I tell them that it doesn't matter what anyone else does.  You have to do the right thing. The right answer is always the right answer, it doesn't matter what anyone else says or does. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of what you do or say if you are doing what is best for the greater good and being unselfish.  The truth is always the truth and the right answer is always the right answer. There are no loopholes. There are no justifications.  The world can show you shades of gray but you can see black and white. You can understand the difference between right and wrong irrespective of what others do and say.

I don't know how to stop crying, even as I'm writing this.  There are too many days that I feel like I'm standing alone.  It's hard to say what you are really thinking when you know people will not agree.  It's hard to say no, this is the right thing to do when people don't want to hear it. When they will try to argue with you. They tell you to be quiet, that it's not the right time, that they don't want to hear it.  They don't want to be wrong. You don't get to cheer for restrictions being lifted on firearms, be upset that people over 11,000 people have been murdered in 2017, then tell me that they don't deserve health care to be treated from the massacres that you've enabled.  YOU DON'T GET TO DO THAT.

I don't know how to make you understand that this is not political. I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. I have a distaste for both parties and i'm not sorry for saying that the perversion runs deep in both.  Extremes of any kind are dangerous, and this friends is an age of extremism.  There needs to be a middle ground founded on common sense.  People deserve access to health care and education.  Women should have equal rights to men and be able to make decisions about their own bodies.  No child should ever go without lunch at school.  Contraceptives should be readily available and we must all be education on sex and STDs.  Abortion should be reserved for instances of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger or the fetus is not longer viable.  Not because you fucking decided you don't want another baby or you had a goddam oops.  Our soldiers deserve higher pay that includes mental health care.  Our veterans should be treated as heroes, not people who star in movies or play sports.  Every person who works 40 hours a week deserves to be able to pay their rent.  Every fucking person in this country should pay a flat tax to the federal government with NO EXCEPTIONS. You live here. Support your country and your country will support you. Maybe if 40% of american paid federal tax like they should then we could afford universal health care.  And maybe if we didn't have companies buying off the people running this country, then we would have some of these common sense laws in place.  But we don't.

I don't know how to fix that either.  Do you? Because I need help.  I need to sleep at night. I need to see the sun in the morning. And I need to give my kids hope that things will be ok again one day.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Crisis of faith

I've been wallowing in questions these last few months.  Maybe that's what happens when people you look up to let you down.  I'm sure its never intentional, but it happens from time to time. You go through your life and now and then someone will strike you as exceptional.  This is who I want to be when I grow up. That is sort of professional I want to be. This is right sort of leader. I want to inspire someone the way they do.  So what happens when that person you've put up on that pedestal comes crashing down?  Well, I spend too much time depressed, eating chocolate, falling asleep early, and my face breaks out apparently.
I've always been the type of person who didn't care what anyone else thought of me. People seem to think that extends to the whole of humanity. Really, it just means that I'm not worried about what "they" think, when "they" is a general reference to society. I will have people who impress upon me some sort of importance and that opinion is valued.  When that person lets me down, which I am quite certain is unintentional, it tends to create some problems. There's been a lot of that going on these days. People I thought knew and loved me turning out not to know me or give a shit about me at all.  Now I know your boss and your religious leader are supposed to at least fake it, but I never though it would be so damning to realize it really all was just an act.  We are all human, of course, but I tend to put too much faith into people. In fact, I think I put too much of myself in to most things.
I like to joke that I have two settings: authentic or awkward.  Basically, I am really friends with you and I get to know you and love and trust you...or I don't. I sort of nothing you. I don't wish you unwell, but I don't know you well enough to invest a real feeling. I don't care enough to make small talk. You're either in the club or you're not, but without the nasty rejection letter.
I'm always going on and on about my existential dilemmas. How is it that I put so much weight on the labels in my life but so little on what people think? It really doesn't make sense, but it makes me laugh. I am a wife, mother, technical editor, friend, and person of faith. Perhaps I'm a Bahai, but honestly I haven't participated in that religion in a very long time, even though I feel like I speak about it constantly.  I've spend a lot of time in religious institutions, looking around and seeing what is being said. I respect everyone's traditions and I'm always surprised by what goes on in these settings. I dated a Mormon for 5 years and spent quite a bit of time with the religion. I think the separation of the sexes bothered me most. I was with a man for 1.5 years that was Jewish. I loved and hated the traditions at once. Some were so out of date and I couldn't understand why they were still done, aside from guilt, love, and respect of past relatives. I spent over 10 years watching how Catholicism could take a man of superior intelligence, blessed with so many gifts, grind his teeth and declare he was an atheist.  For the past 3 years, I've been attending a Christian church and spending an absurd amount of time feeling like I don't belong and having my help turned away as they tell me everyone is welcome and should join in. On repeat. I just smile. My God it's all fucked up.
And here's the thing. It's all God. The same God. That ever present thing that floats through the air and runs electric currents through me and everything I see.  What's it all mean, dude? He's not telling me, but I hear him sighing in the sunset and laughing in the wind sometimes. We have had quite a ride together so far, me and God. Screaming at the clouds, praying for Him to vanquish the demons on the inside and outside, and finally surrendering to be whatever in the heavens I'm here to do. And I think that's the kicker: everyone here has a purpose.  I think we are all here for a reason and sometimes those reasons are good and bad.  That kills me.  Sometimes you are means to be put through the fire to be hardened into the beautiful tool that you are meant to be. That means someone had to light that match and watch you burn. When you think about it like that, it's not so hard to understand why I spend my time praising and praying for the people in my life, whether they loved/helped/hurt/hated me. Because they did all of it and they helped me be me.
But that certainly doesn't belong to any religion, does it? There's no magical book of stories that belongs to this time with rules that apply to the society that I live in that makes perfect sense. We are all children of God and we are all here to follow His bidding. You can fight it all you want. You can yell and scream and swim upstream. In the end, you'll fulfill your purpose. And honestly I think it'll be a good one. I think there are good and bad parts to everyone's life and you need to live all of those angles. Do your best, forgive yourself and those around you, and be honest.  The honest is the hardest part, I know. We all want to lie to ourselves, but you know the truth when you look in the mirror.
Do you ever notice that people can say all shades of crazy things to you, but only some make you mad? They are the ones that you assign truth to. Yes, the ones that you believe.  It's easy to laugh off nonsense, but if you feel that someone has accused you of something or suggested something that might hold truth, the earth shakes, doesn't it? It's ok to see yourself for who you are. It's also ok to see other people for who they are. When someone shows you who they are, pay attention. You can be wrong about someone's character. You can think that your pastor has the wrong job or that your boss sucks, but honestly, that shouldn't affect you. If they make you feel like you aren't worth caring about and you think they are right, then that's something else. You need to reevaluate your self worth and how you feel about the life you live if someone else is having that much of an impact on you.
Sometimes nobody else comes up with the right words for me, so I need to find them myself. This is really what I do here. I think.  I pour out my heart and examine my emotions and hopefully bring myself to a place of calm, logic, and faith. I feel like a lot of people live their lives according to what people accept as ok around them.  I do things a bit differently: I live my life according to a set of standards that is irrespective of the people or opinions of those around me. I feel like you should always do the right thing, take the high road, tell the truth, give your time and attention to people who need you, make room for good people and block out the toxic ones. I think everyone deserves grace and second chances. That's for you and for me. I think if you want to live your life according to God's plan that all of those things have to be true in your life everyday, because you can't half ass it. It doesn't mean you are always perfect, but it means that you know the rules and you know the score.  There's no finger pointing and there's no denial. I'm comfortable with this plan. I can admit that I've made a mistake and work to be better next time. It lets me always try again and keeps my goals high. I see my failures as the best possible way to empathize and forgive anyone who needs it. I am so incredibly imperfect I would never dream of judging anyone else. It also gives me hope that if I can look up to or love someone that is imperfect, then maybe someone can also do that to me.
So now where does this crisis of faith lead me? Now that the rumblings of disappointment and disillusionment have taken hold. Change, of course. Without change there is no growth. Without growth, there is no progress and no movement forward. This is without a doubt, why I always look forward to change. My whole world gets knocked upside down every few years. I look back and hardly recognize who I used to be. That's an amazing feeling. So I will take a deep breath, hold my moral compass close, and have faith that the current is going to take me on an amazing adventure soon. I wonder who I will be when I get there.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The never-ending journey

As the years go by, I have this sinking feeling that my struggle with the idea of my mother will never go away. You hear cliche stories about people being in counseling dealing with their mommy issues and you never want to admit that's you, but honestly, who would have a bigger impact?  As a mother myself, I watch these tiny creatures struggle towards adulthood. I think about how well I know them and how every action and reaction stems from something I witnessed and at this point can guess.  I have four children: two that I have given birth to, two that became mine two years ago, and all of four of them fight equally to lay next to me or on top of me when we watch movies in my bed.  My mother is always in the back of my mind.  I think about the judgment, fear, distain she always had for me. Her telling me that she loved me but she didn't like me. I remember how she always played favorites with my sisters.  I would be lying if I said that she doesn't influence how I treat my children today. I'm so sensitive to it because it hurt me so badly growing up.  There will always be a part of me that wonders how anyone can possibly want me when my own mother did not. And does not. She is still alive today, I believe.  Not that I want her back in my life.  In fact, I think that if she tried to come near me, I would do everything I could to protect my children from her so she could not do the damage to them the way she did to me.
I could tell you that I owe her some debt of gratitude for making me strong enough to make it on my own and forcing me to pay such close attention to how I treat my children, but that would be a lie. I don't feel like I need to put on a brave face about it.  I don't think anyone wants to do anything on their own. I would've liked to have had a mom to be excited when I was pregnant or come to visit and help with my newborn.  Every mothers day I can send flowers to my mother in law, but my heart feels empty that I don't have my own mother to say thank you to and I love you to.  And through my sadness, I gather my babies in my arms and I promise them to always be there for them. I swear that I will never turn my back on them and I will love them all exactly alike, no mater who they end up being.  And I will.  But the sadness and emptiness is still there. My heart hurts right now thinking about it.  I know I am not my mother. I will never play favorites with my children and I will do my best to encourage them to be themselves, irrespective of who I am or who I think they should be.  Honestly, I'm obsessive about it.  I worry constantly that I've bought one too many things or this one got more alone time with me. Maybe I listened to one's day and not another. It causes me constant anxiety. I have a tattoo on my arm of a mermaid (me) with three fish (my girls) and a seahorse (my son). I worry that my husband's two girls will feel bad that I have other tattoos for my other ones and not for them.  One day three of my littles had gotten slurpees and so I grabbed the fourth from her mom to make sure she got one too and my little 5 year old said in her most innocent voice "Momma you are taking me for a slurpee because you love all of your kids the same and you treat us the same." and I just started crying my eyes out. I try, baby girl. I try.
I think the most painful lesson my mom taught me is that love and family are voluntary.  You don't have to be part of a family with someone simply because you are blood related.  In fact, blood relation means very little. Family is about effort.  My family are the people who I go out of my way to love and take care of and the people who do their best to do that for me.  It doesn't matter how much money you have, how close you live, how often I see you, or what you can do for me.  That feeling of love in your heart for your family is something that you just know. Like how you feel when you see your little ones or you look into the eyes of the man you fight through life with.  The ones who see your house messy, watch you cry, and help you get up and dust the brownie crumbs out of your hair when life has knocked you down and you've eaten the entire pan on the kitchen floor. Again.
I love seeing people with their moms. I watch my girlfriends visit theirs, talk about how they couldn't live without them, call them best friends.  I see them get mani/pedis, go on family vacations, hold their grandchildren, and how they lean on each other. I wonder what that partnership and sisterhood feels like. I just like to be near it. I get extra excited when someone's mom is nice to me.  When my sister momma's mom made me a beautiful stained glass mermaid for my birthday, I nearly died. I naturally assume every mother on the planet doesn't want anything to do with me. Never mind the mother of the mother of two of my children.  I joke with myself that she hasn't met me yet, so she has plenty of time to decide she doesn't want anything to do with me later.  But I enjoy it while it's happening. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon, they were the only two people we really bought presents for (the mother of his children and her mom). Proof that family is who wants to make the effort to be around you and support you.
When my husband's mom came to visit last week, I walked in on him and his mom in the kitchen together. He was making spaghetti sauce and she was making banana bread, both from scratch of course because they are a matched set. The happiness and contentment of being together rose in the air and everything was bright. I watched for a moment and left, happy. One day I want that with my son. I want it with all of my kids.  To be happy just to be near someone and feel completely at ease being with someone who knows you and loves you for exactly how you are. And this comes on the heels of a rough patch between them and she had not seen her grandkids in two years...and now she has two more. Seeing her love all four of them showed me that my husband got his huge heart from his mother, which also filled my heart.
I know that I will never have a mother to make dinner with. I'll never look into her face that looks like mine and have her remember when I was just a little squish.  She won't look at her grandkids and tell stories about me when I was that age.  It still hurts me. I pray for my heart to let it go all the time. In fact, it's the big impossible thing that I am praying for this year: to have things with my mom resolved. I don't honestly know what "resolved" means. If it took me 7 years to fully heal from a 7 year relationship, then how long does it take to recover from 24 years with my mother? I'm already 13 years in and I don't feel like I've made much progress to be honest.  I know the key to happiness is realistic expectations and loving what is. But it's really hard to love my mom's role in my life, even if I expect to never see or hear from her again. We have these images in our heads about what parents are supposed to be and how we are supposed to interact with them. They don't take into account things like mental illness and the dozens of personalities that exist in the world. I know I've said over and over that I will be that mother that I always wanted, and I will do my best to be, but it hasn't helped me to deal with the emptiness left from her.
I know the answer is to count my blessings and be grateful for what I have. I know I'm supposed to not think about it, focus on what I can control, and move forward.  But just once, I'd like my mom to introduce me as her daughter with a genuine smile. To want to do some stupid mother/daughter thing with me and be excited to see me or talk to me. I want a family picture with another generation and to see my face in the generation before me and the one after me all smiling.  It seems so nice.  I've learned the hard way that not everyone can be civil or kind, love is not unconditional to everyone, that knowing each other is too great of a task for some, and at the end of the day, not everyone who is old is actually an adult.  But yeah, it must be nice.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

When you come undone

I have a hard time explaining why I have such a hard time with people and relationships.  I like to describe myself as shy or awkward, as if I'm trying to deter the masses from taking any interest in having real interactions with me.  I've been told that I love too hard and too often. Apparently I'm a lot of person to handle.  I think all of that is true.  I like to joke that my personal life is as big of a mess as my professional life is a success.  There's no high end on anything, but you can see how things are shaking out. Professional: employed by the same company for 16 that I love and earn a decent income. Personal: On my fourth marriage and have two kids from two different dads.  It could all be better and worse, but you get it.
I think the primary reason that I try to avoid people and relationships is that I live by the fundamental idea that all people are good and that we should tell the truth and do the right thing.  I don't operate in areas of gray very often.  I'm one of those people who will see something then pan out and see the root cause of it. I like to think I specialize in helping people grow up, mend relationships, and be who they were meant to be.  It's an exhausting endeavor on my part, but honestly I don't feel like it's any choice that I've made for how I want to interact with people. For whatever reason, I seem to be able to see people for who and what they are and help them. It's a tireless and painful job.  Very few of the people I help are there for me and I think that's ok. I have some really good friends and I'm blessed in that aspect.
Most people are very selfish creatures.  They're content to use you and move on.  Women always wonder how men fall in love with me so easily. How is it possible that I've had 8 engagement rings! Like it's some sort of accomplishment instead of something to be embarrassed about.  Well, the answer is simple: when you listen to them, men feel cared about, and they interpret that as something more than me doing what I do for most people. Luckily, women aren't in the habit of throwing jewelry at me, so it's less of an issue. Yes, men will tell me they are in love with me before they've kissed me. It's happened several times, so I smile at them and tell them they are in love with how I make them feel about themselves. It has nothing to do with me.  They even like to smile and tell me that they have no idea how this could've happened because I'm so not their type! If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that!  I'm nobody's type.  I get that.  I'm alway the exception.  One of the reasons I've always thought I was meant to be alone in this world.
But I'm not alone, am I?  I have a husband and four children.  I have people come in and out of my life constantly and I am constantly tired.  I had this idea about starting a new blog here and me sounding different.  I'm not sure why.  My writing has never really been happy.  I write when I'm in moments of deep thought, usually sadness or depression. I don't like that about my writing to be honest, but you can only fight who you are for so long. At the age of 37, I'm way past the expiration date of denial.  I'll give credit to my being a student of counseling my entire adult life.  I feel like I've internalized a lot of that process.  There's always been someone there telling me to be fair, think of others, see the logic, and make the right decision.  Be nice, girl. Take the high road.  It makes me feel like I lay down and take a lot of shit from people because I don't get to go crazy and yell and scream. There have been plenty of people lately who have treated me and my kids unfairly that I thought deserved a big FUCK YOU and instead of having that satisfying, destructive moment, I just turn the other way and move on.  Because I'm all about the high road. I do the right thing, pray to God for strength, and move past it.  Being an adult just isn't as much fun watching as the overgrown children I see around me.
This whole God stuff is hard too.  God comes in so many forms, doesn't he? It's like going shopping and trying to buy the correct spaghetti sauce.  There's a wall of options. In the end, I sort of just want to go home and make my own.  I think that should be ok too.  I have always disliked organized religion.  With all the corruption, prejudice, and arrogance, it's really hard to be part of it if you aren't like that as well.  I've tried on several different religions to see how I felt about them, usually because the man I was with was part of them, and nothing has stuck.  I've seen segregation of sexes, greed, vanity, cliques, arbitrary rules, and the garden variety bullshit you would expect.  The thing is, I don't think any of this has to do with God.  I love God. I love the spirituality of God and the universe and how all things are connected.
I really do believe that there is no darkness that the love and light of God can't defeat. When I am talking to someone and I see they are struggling, I always remind them that love is the answer. For all the pain that you've gone through, for anything that someone has done to you, for all the mistrust, fear, and anger that you have--love is the answer.  Every time.  Trust me, I've lived my life pouring out love instead of blood when someone has stabbed me in the back.  I really do pray for people who have hurt me and when I see someone doing better, I believe that my prayers are working and I stand up and grab them and encourage them to keep doing better.  You see, I find that even if someone is faking it, if you positively enforce it, they forget it started as a lie.  If you keep pretending to do the right thing over and over, you have to admit that you have started a pattern of actually doing the right thing. So keep going.  It's not that I can't see it's starting as fake. I'm not stupid and you are not fooling me.
There is a great peace and zen when you can see someone for who they are and accept them.  You don't need to like someone to see them.  You don't need to condone their behavior to accept it.  What happens is that you stop fighting.  You stop being disappointed and your expectations match reality.  There is peace in loving what is.  And I've had so many arguments about free will versus your life being mapped out to plan. I hate to admit that as time goes on, I believe in free will less and less.  I've met too many people and had too many crazy coincidences for that.  If you run into me, then you were meant to.  You may not stay with me for long, but I promise you that you needed something from me and apparently it's my job to give it to you since I have the skill set to help you.  I've spent a lot of time helping people heal their hearts and relationships around them. I've held a lot of hands. And it's ok that they let go of me and don't come back when they are done.  Not every friendship or romantic interaction is meant to last a lifetime.  I try not to take it personally and understand that I did what I was meant to do.  But it leaves me very tired and most days feeling a bit hopeless.
Most people tell me that they've never met another me.  At least the people who have those level of interactions with me.  Sometimes it makes me sad, but most days I just smile.  Really, I'm trying to not let anyone know what a "me" is because I have the tendency to get all used up.  I don't take enough time for myself to feel better. I get lost in the idea that someone besides me is supposed to love me or put me first because that's what I do. It's a constant cycle of disappointment.  And don't get me wrong, I have amazing people in my life. Just yesterday I went to yoga at my husband's urging and then had a spa day, courtesy of my friends who bought me a gift card.  I don't want to sound ungrateful for any of that.  But I think of the level of interactions I have with others, that it would be nice to just be left alone.  It would be nice not to have someone around me being selfish and forcing me to look and see that nobody is able to give me the kind of priority that I give to everyone else. I'm always last and today that's hard.
Today I'm feeling tired and used up and I want to be left alone.  Today I don't feel like putting on a happy face and checking in with people who need me.  I get frustrated and angry that I have more to do and care for than my kids.  Those are the people who really deserve my time and attention without having to take care of me back.  But all the sulking in the world won't take away God's plan for me or what I'm supposed to accomplish.  It's weird that I say that people are fundamentally good, but also selfish. It's weird that I've always voiced a preference for being alone, but I've only managed it for a few years at a time here and there.  I'm constantly married or getting married. I hate that I usually feel the most alone when I'm married.  Really I blame the institution of marriage.  I take it all so seriously.  Once I take those vows, then you get my full force love and commitment and it starts being clear what I'm really capable of putting in versus the more casual ok whatever, do what you want.  I'll sit there and bleed all this love while someone doesn't treat me with the same love, respect, and priority, and not leave until they leave me.  Then I sort of exhale and wait for the next one to show up hoping the cycle won't repeat again. Sounds stupid when I write it out like that.
I have this very logical brain. I look for patterns and I point them out expecting people to agree with me and tell me i'm right and it never happens when it comes to relationships.  The human race is really a bunch of optimists who want to buy this disney princess story really badly.  There's always the "it'll be different" and "lightening never strikes twice" and "that was just bad luck" or "don't take that personally". It's funny.  I'm an optimist at heart. I like to believe all of it.  I know better, but I want to believe it.  I look at the macro, the state of the world, and the micro, situations in my own life, and it all seems like a mess.  I don't know why anyone has faith in anything with what happens day to day.  I just try to put down as much of it as I can and keep walking forward. I help as many people as I can along the way.  I'm not sure what I'm moving forward towards, exactly, but I just keep walking.  I don't think there's anything else to do.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 1

Moving to a new home can be stressful. I suppose I feel similar writing this first entry here in my new blog. It doesn’t seem like it was 13 years ago that I started a silly little blog on MySpace, but it was.  I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 or 24 and I thought I was pretty amazing at the time.  Funny how that declines over time, isn’t it?  I that blog stopped abruptly when I had my miscarriage in January of 2009.  I had dramatically stated that my baby had died and nothing would ever be ok ever again.  I was both right and wrong.  I started a new blog in early 2011 about a month before I was to be single again, but not before I had welcomed my beautiful daughter Aurora in the world.  I was suffering from postpartum depression, although I didn’t realize it.  I was living this picture perfect life in my big house with my new car, looking like everything was fine when really the foundations I stood on turned out to be made of paper instead of concrete.  Six very long years followed.  I like to call them dark years.  I wrote anonymously.  I don’t think I was ashamed of what my life had become so much as I was lost.  I couldn’t find stable ground no matter how hard I tried.  I welcomed the love of my life, my son James into the world during these years.  I traveled.  I worked on myself.  I learned how to listen and be a better friend.  Most of all, I was trying to heal my heart and figure out who I really was and what I stood for.  In a lot of ways, I think that’s a life-long process and that’s ok.  But I finally feel like I’m standing on stable ground again and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. 
I don’t honestly know if this blog will garner the world-wide following that my last blog had.  Perhaps there was a greater intrigue because it was full of scandal and heartbreak and drama with no known author.  People from across the country and other countries would write to me and tell me they didn’t think anyone understood what they were going through and then I would cry for them because I didn’t want anyone to feel what I had walked through.  But I think this is just part of life, isn’t it? Pain is part of what you go through to grow and figure out who you are and what you stand for and that’s a good thing.  Had I not gotten the shit kicked out of me repeatedly, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I love who I am, flaws and all.  I live my life by two main principals: doing the right thing and accepting the truth. In my experience, they are two perspectives that you can’t screw with.  Excuses don’t work on them, they are impervious to distortion, selfishness, manipulation, or any other type of general fuckery that adults tend to use when they want to justify who they are or why they act the way they do.  That doesn’t make me perfect and it certainly doesn’t make me better than anyone else.  Let’s call it a goal.  For anyone who knows me, I freely confess to not always being right and fucking up regularly. Did I mention I’ve been divorced three times?  No pedestals or high horses here.
I love the truth. I was raised by a woman who lied constantly to make things appear how she wanted people to see them.  I’m a firm believer in loving what is.  This means a lot of things—it can be not bemoaning that I didn’t have the mother I “deserved” or acting like I was shortchanged in life, accepting the misfortunes that have happened to me without seeking pity, or perhaps looking at the unorthodox situation I’m in with my children and their parents and being incredibly grateful for it.  You see, I have these four gorgeous children, two of them I gave birth to and two of them step, who I live and would die for.  All of their parents, biological and step, do our best to get along and work together to take care of them.  If you want proof of miracles, look no further than my family.  My daughter’s father, who was my best friend when we were in our early 20s, and I have managed to heal our friendship and become friends once again. After knowing his wife for 6 years, I love her like a sister and I can’t imagine my life without her.  This woman is so amazing, she not only loves my daughter like her own, but she has found room in her heart to love not only my son as well, but my two step daughters, and helps regularly take care of any combination of the 4 of them when I need her.  Who knew that something that started with a tragedy of my divorce would lead to a situation that I’m so incredibly grateful for? Then I have the mother of my two step daughters that lives in my neighborhood who I talk to every day and consider one of my very best friends.  She was able to accept me as a person in her daughters’ lives and treat my other two children with love and kindness in a way that I would never expect anyone to do.  Just looking at these two women keeps my heart full daily.  Not to mention the fact that I have some badass daddies helping me raise all of these kids, including my current partner of course.  With any conflicts any of us parents may have had with our former partners, I think we would all agree that our daddies throw down for their kids. And what’s more important than that?  When I pray for all of the parents in our family, as I try to do daily, it’s to open our eyes to put our children first and open our hearts to each other to be the best parents we can be. 
Not that I would call myself a religious person or that all of us believe in God. I’m certainly not and we all don’t. It doesn’t stop me from praying, though. I like to think of God in a very omnipresent sense. That He is with all of us always, permeating all aspects of our life.  I joke that instead of talking to myself, I’m talking to God instead.  Really, Bro? What is the point of this? I better be learning something REALLY GOOD from all of this anxiety…and I always do.  I think the most noteworthy aspect of my life is that I always get what I want eventually, just not in my timetable and in the way I think I’m going to get it.  Honestly, I’m interested by religion.  I enjoy seeing how it all intersects from different viewpoints in different sacred texts and how people use it.  I like to think the word of God is truth and it’s for the common good and consistent with doing the right thing.  That means it’ll pop up over and over again in any religion you look into.  And from what I’ve seen, it does. It also makes it pretty easy to separate all the man-made malarkey that gets thrown into religious texts for political or monetary gain.  Sometimes it’s easy to get so frustrated with corruption that you lose the message, but I try not to.  Throw out the garbage and keep the good stuff. It’s worth it.  I’m hoping to pursue a PhD in world religions when my son gets a little older.
I wanted to start a new blog because I want to write something that everyone in my life can read, including my children one day.  There’s been a lot of talk about me turning the archives into a book and here’s what I think about that: my first blog is a testament to my innocence. It stopped when my innocence died with my baby. The time to grow up was upon me.  My life wasn’t all about trips to Europe and designer purses any longer and it took me a long time to come to grips with the reality of the world I lived in, which turned out to be a shell.  When my second blog started I was in such a state of chaos that I threw everything that I knew to be true out the window. I see it as a widespread panic. I almost wrote the blog, no matter how ugly things got, as a way to corroborate the truth. It was something I could put my finger on so that I could believe it all happened.  I don’t ever want to read those entries ever again.  Today, I look at my life and how settled I feel and I don’t want to add this to those years. I feel like that chapter is done.  I learned a lot about myself and the world and I’m content with that.  My only hope is that the pain and hardship I went through will help others when the opportunities present themselves. 
I think the biggest thing that surprised me about growing up so far is the amount of things that I don’t care about anymore.  I feel like the number of things that matter have decreased as I’ve gotten older.  I’ll be 37 in a couple of months and if I compare Tess now to Tess 10-15 years ago, the images are night and day.  Things that 26 year old me cared about that 36 year old doesn’t give a fuck about: year/make/model of my car, amount of money in my bank account, where I take vacations every year, my zip code/city, designer anything, where I shop, what people think of me, getting my way, being right, buying what I want.  Things 36 year old me cares about today: being a good person, something calling me a good listener/friend, being able to look at myself in the mirror, remember I’m not better than anyone else, not judging, setting a good example for my kids, pushing myself to do my best, having enough food to feed my kids, paying my bills, making time for people who need me, not taking out life’s frustrations on the people I love the most, and mostly, being happy.  People always told me that the older you get the less you know. I agree. I have nothing figured out, but if you want to talk to me, I’m happy to listen and maybe we can figure something out together.  But I promise not to judge you and I will love you for who you are with everything I have.  That’s me.  That’s the very best I can do and I promise you, your best is good enough too. In all aspects of your life.  Sound good?
So where am I now? I’m not sure.  I think I’m relearning lessons.  And let me tell you, that’s the hardest thing for me to admit to myself. I let the fact that I felt hurt and betrayed slow my progress to being a loving, supportive, trusting partner to someone in life.  That sucks and I have nobody to blame but myself.  Nobody is ever 100% guilty for things that happen in relationships.  We all play our parts and we all have a responsibility to learn from the things we did wrong and improve ourselves.  I don’t believe in demonizing people because all it does is prevent you from growing and learning.  I’m not innocent. It doesn’t matter what someone does to you, you are responsible for how you respond in any given situation.  When it came to relationships over the past 6 years, I had decided that my hurt was reason enough to not continue to learn. I told myself that what I had been doing didn’t work and so I should try something else.  What terrible logic and a load of bullshit.  So I continued to damage my personal life until I was pretty sure it was dead and couldn’t be resurrected.  And wasn’t I so satisfied that I was going to live out the rest of my life alone and in peace and quiet finally?
But we don’t get to plan our futures, do we? You meet people, interactions happen, and sometimes even if you run away and hide, you are found once more.  But I do believe in forgiveness, second/third/tenth changes, and the grace of God. I really do. I think we all have a path to walk and you are goddam going to accomplish what you are on this planet to do.  It doesn’t matter how big of a tantrum you throw.  And wasn’t I stuck in a tantrum for years? I really was.  Some things I’ve had to remember that I shoved down deep long ago:
1.  If you’re not crazy in love, it’s not worth it.  To be honest, I thought I only got one shot at it. I never dreamed I would find it again and get to be madly in love with someone I considered my best friend with my favorite face.  I just didn’t.  The funny thing is that it was my daughter’s dad himself who told me to wait for it again, probably because it had happened to him and he was so happy and was optimistic for me. You get to be right, buddy. Thank you for the encouragement. This is exactly why we are still friends. This is not to say that I did not love my son’s father. I did very much so. There were a lot of things I loved and appreciated about him, like how he acted as a father and took pride in his job.  But we were not crazy in love and I can admit that now.  Perhaps his purpose in my life was to bring me my son and I’m ok with that.
2.  You don’t talk badly about your partner.  I know better. I always have.  When you are married to someone, you don’t trash talk your partner out of anger or resentment or anything else.  I don’t care what they are doing to you. I give myself zero excuses or leeway on this. I did it in the past and I am sincerely sorry. It never should’ve happened and it will never happen again. What happens in a marriage should stay there, even once it’s over.  Some things are sacred and deserve respect. I cannot take back things that I’ve done to others or the way I hurt them. I can see that lack of trust and respect stems from these bad choices. I can resolve to relearn that lesson and move forward.
      3.  There is never an excuse to act superior. Oh yes, people. This is an ugly one. I may be better at something or I may be right. This does not make me a better person.  If you are with someone, you should respect them.  This means value their opinion or point of view, even if it is very different from yours.  Guess what? They existed just fine without you there and you are not superior just because you load the dish washer better, know a better way to drive somewhere, or have an easier time getting the kids to bed. So get over yourself.  I always say that your best effort is good enough and I need to remember that. It’s not ok to make some feel bad about themselves in comparison to you.  There are plenty of things that I suck at and I don’t want to be made to feel like shit over it.  I don’t always make the right choice, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of things in my past, and I am so, so far from perfect.  Love and acceptance is a two way street.
      4.  It’s all in or nothing.  You do not get to have one foot out the door or an escape strategy.  I know this all comes from fear. I have major abandonment issues from my mother to my exes. I tell myself that I’m better off alone and that I can do it by myself.  All that does is rob me of a real chance of stability and happiness in a relationship.  I know this.  It’s hard to trust and dismantle those walls we build around ourselves, but it has to be done.  I’m not talking about lowering the drawbridge to let someone in. I’m talking about bringing in the wrecking ball and bulldozer.  When we are young, it’s easy to love with all of your heart.  You still believe the fairy tale because you haven’t seen the devastation of heartbreak yourself. Your heart hasn’t felt it.  After having been around the block a few times, it’s a hard thing to swallow that fairy tale whole.  I think for me, first, I had to want to believe it, then I had to adjust the fairy tale so that it wasn’t all make believe.  Then I had to believe that my partner was capable of doing the things that made that modified fairy tale true.  No, you don't ride in on a white horse and take me to our castle after a white wedding and we live happily ever after.  But can save me with pizza when I burnt the lasagna and the kids are stuck on a torture setting, then help me fold four loads of laundry once they are in bed and still find the energy to have sex with me and fall asleep with me in your arms?  Cause that's my modern day love story.  Which means it would be my turn to be capable of doing those things too. Because relationships are a two way street and one person trying is not enough. Sometimes shit happens and things fall apart even with all the good intentions and effort you can muster. I see that now.  You can’t hold it against every man on the planet. That doesn’t make sense.  All relationships are hard, but if you find one that’s worth fighting for, you have to actually fight or that shit will fall apart too.

And so here I am. I’m not sure if this is the beginning or the ending or somewhere else in the middle. Maybe this is Chapter 3.  As typically happens in my life, I’ve become aware all of a sudden that I started walking in another direction than the one I was going in a moment ago, so I like to say it out loud, take a look around, and see if anyone else would like to come along with me.  I hope you will and I look forward to hearing from you along the way.