back room

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I have a personal/family blog that I started when I had my first child, mid -marriage. It honestly was just a way to keep up on what was happening in my life and record cute stuff my kid did. Over the years, I posted all the highlights, as well do on social media. Obviously, the heartaches I was experiencing with my husband or in reality weren’t being posted. Most of the time, I was doing my best to keep my head deep in the sand to the direction my family life and marriage was heading. On the outside of our walls, we really did have it all. We were the power couple. Let’s be honest, many other people wanted what I had, and looked at us  in envy.  I didn’t really want to burst their bubble, or maybe my own. In all honesty, I wanted to live the life that I  was portraying. It was not hard to wish for that. We had the nice house, the beautiful little boy, with a baby on the way. We were a good looking couple. Drove nice cars. Had great friends and family. Always did fun things. Husband had a great job. What they didn’t see was the insecurities that came from my husband’s porn addiction, trying to recover from earlier affairs. Anxieties, insomnia, arguing about husband spending too much money. Fighting because I was constantly criticized whether it was about dinner, sex, parenting, etc..  Or crying because I felt like he talked down to me. I didn’t feel like I was an equal partner. Always wondered if he was talking to girls at work and possibly having another affair. Some of these problems were normal, and some weren’t. But I knew how to put everything aside and try to pretend I was okay, but he put on a show. After fighting, we would go out with friends and he would tell everyone what a great wife he had (after telling me how terrible I was). People didn’t see the silent treatments that would or could last several weeks. But we knew how to love our kids. That was a huge reason to keep us together. There was a lot of laughs and fun times, but it was because of how well I could wrap all the problems up in a box for another day.

Fast forward to the present, after going through a hard divorce and custody battle and getting on the recovery band wagon. I decided to update my old family blog and took off my ex husbands name and start updating it with our new adventures. For so long it was too hard to even think about going to that website. But I didn’t want to forget all the years of memories that were there. So today, I happened to go into the archives. Not on purpose but accidentally. The only way I can describe it is as if there was a room in the back of the house that you have lived in for years that you never went to because it was filled with all video tapes and photographs of your old life that brought you a lot of happiness and a lot of pain. Almost like you had boarded it up. Then for some reason you walked in the room after all these years. You walk in and immediately are filled emotion. Your heart racing and memories racing through your mind, good and bad. Seeing pictures of your kids and their childhood with two “happy and perfect” parents. Christmases, Halloweens, picnic dates, family vacations, kids first birthday’s, etc.. First thing I wanted to do was run back out of that room to the other space in the house that is safe and comfortable with the thoughts of today and forgetting about what could have been or what was. But instead I slowed myself down as I slowly clicked from post to post and just taking slow breaths. Appreciating each picture, each memory.  I feel that I need to stay in there and not run. My eyes filled up with tears. Why does this have to hurt so much? Today my life is so different. I looked so pretty as a young mom, but I know the pain my heart felt and the inadequacies I experienced day to day. My kids were so small, why didn’t I enjoy them more? What if I didn’t leave, would things have gotten better? What if I never starting using, would he have treated me differently? What if he hadn’t worked with her, would he had that affair? What if I didn’t ask for a divorce, would we have found happiness like we had hoped for?

As I slowly “walked out of that room” and stop reading all the old posts, so I didn’t get stuck on the what if’s, I clicked on the “compose a new post” and started writing about where my kids and I are today. The things we have learned and the fun things we are doing. How grateful I am to be clean and enjoying my children. Typing about how authentic my life is today. No need to put on a show. No more wasting my energy on a man who is never happy with what I do or how I act. I might not look young like I did in those pictures, but I am wiser and my smile is real. Life has changed for me dramatically, but thank God that I can walk in and out of that back room that I have had blocked off for years, and I can come out of it still alive and looking forward to today and my future. Take down the boards of your back room, find the courage to accept what has happened and live in the present. Love yourself for where you have been, what you have learned, and who you have become.

XoXo

my recovery

re·cov·er·y
rəˈkəv(ə)rē/
noun
1.
a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
“signs of recovery in the housing market”
synonyms: recuperation, convalescence More
2.
the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
“a team of salvage experts to ensure the recovery of family possessions”
synonyms: retrieval, regaining, repossession, getting back, reclamation, recouping, redemption, recuperation

I am realizing that being in recovery is something that can look very different from person to person. My recovery is my own and something that is very personal to me. Just like above in the definition says “returning to a normal state of health, mind, and strength.” That word “returning” gives me a sense of heartache. I know what that entails. It sounds like such a simple word, but the act of returning is anything BUT simple. It’s grueling and painful. It’s scary and emotional. Returning to a healthy state is so challenging, that so many people go right back to the lifestyle they have tried sprinting away from to begin with. It’s a song and dance cycle that can take years off of people’s lives. Not just the addict, but the loved ones that stand by and are affected so deeply. I attempted this cycle numerous times. I think all addicts go through something similar to this to an extent. After the cat and mouse game of using begins to take it’s toll and you want or hope for a change. You try to do it yourself by cutting back all on your own. Obviously, there is denial all through this phase. After you fail repetitively, looking in the mirror and feeling defeated- you know it’s finally time to be vulnerable and ask for help. Getting help is different for everyone. Also, some people don’t go down this avenue, they get pushed into getting help through getting arrested and going to jail. But somehow someway, we all get to the point where we can’t lie to ourselves anymore and it’s time to return to health; sobriety. If you are really lucky and among the very small percentage you can get the help you need the first chance you get. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. We all have different paths and reasons we get to this point.
After a few different bouts of sobriety and returning to health as stated in the definition above first I have had to experience a new low. I have felt deeper pain then the time before. I’ve seen darker days. I’ve cried more, pushed my family away more, lived with depression on a level I didn’t even know was possible. Everything was magnified. I couldn’t live another day like that. Getting to the place and state of recovery that I am currently has been harder than the time before. It’s a lot of work and will continue to be. There were many dark days but with my hard work has come happiness. The weight that I have been carrying for years has been lifted. The cloud following me has disappeared. The sun is shining brighter. My kids laughter is louder. Food smells better. I run faster. Colors are brighter. My smile is bigger. Movies are more entertaining. I love harder. Sugar tastes sweeter. Recovery is a daily choice and very different for everyone, but recovery for me has made my life worth living again and with that, I’ll take the good with the bad. It’s worth it. To whom is still struggling, I get it. It’s not easy, but don’t give up. Keep up that fight. Take one step in front of the other and take baby steps. You are worth it. Your life is worth it.

XoXo

age & stage

 

As I read this article on my local news website, my heart felt like it was in my throat and tears formed in the corner of my eyes. I can’t imagine what this beautiful family is experiencing at all, but I can imagine what Emily must have been going through before her death.
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My son was just barely two years old and I had just found out I was pregnant again. My marriage was not fantastic but better than the years earlier. We had bought our first home and I had just quit my job to be a stay at home mom. Since I was pregnant, I stopped talking an anti-anxiety medication that I realized I was relying a little bit too much on for sleep, but didn’t expect it to be too rough. And what I started experiencing was some anxiety going to bed at night, fear of not sleeping. Now it seems really silly to say, “I was afraid of not being able to sleep.” But it was honest to God 110% the truth. It would start a tailspin of panic attacks and a huge dive in my mental health. It stopped just being at night, it was following me at all times. Never sleeping. Watching the clock all night long, tick tick tick while trying to slow down my heart rate. It would just get worse. After fighting the night all night every night, I would be a walking zombie on the brink of a break down while trying to function as a new mother and also carry a baby inside my body. My eyes always burned, my heart was always racing so fast, my adrenaline was always making me sweat and causing such weird symptoms. Every little thing I had to do took way too much energy. I did this every day and every night. I tried everything. Hot baths, classical music, vitamins and supplements, massage therapy, reading, praying, watching movies, boring movies, therapy, ER visits, calling hotlines. I would be outside in the sun on a beautiful day and watching families in their yards, while I was sitting on the porch feeling like I was under my very own dark cloud. I was screaming inside but felt like no one understood what I was experiencing. My panic attacks obviously turned into major depression. I got to the point where I thought about aborting the baby so I could drown myself in sleeping medication so I could just shut off my body. People would always say, “at some point your body HAS to shut down and fall asleep.” But it wouldn’t. It would want to, but my mind and heart racing wouldn’t stop. It was the weirdest battle I would fight day in and day out, every hour. I started finally sneaking Ativan (anti-anxiety) medication that used to help me. After taking it, I would read about the side effects if you took it while pregnant. It would say that the baby could come out with a cleft lip and palette. I would just imagine having this baby and seeing him/her with a cleft palette and not be able to live with myself. I would cry and call nurses and hotlines asking if I could get an ultrasound that day just to see if my baby had the cleft lip/palette. My husband at the time, didn’t know what to do for me. He finally drove me to the ER when I was freaking out and crying. They literally looked at me almost with disgust. They sent me home with 2 Ambien and told me to check with my gynecologist on Monday morning. The minute I took the Ambien, it was as if my body and mind would start to calm down. So Monday I got right into my doctor and she explained that it was much healthier to take an Ambien to sleep for the baby, then go through such trauma like I was putting myself through. The guilt from taking any medication ate at me, but after she explained it that way, I relaxed a little but it still bothered me. So I would have anxiety all day but in the afternoon I would start getting ready to take the pill just waiting for the relief it brought. I would take it as early as 6 pm. I didn’t care about the side effects, like how crazy I would act and not remember the next day. It was such an unhealthy cycle. Anything was better than not putting myself through the hell I had been through. My husband and family didn’t understand why  I would rely on this pill so much and why I would take it so early, rather than not right before bed. This went on all through my pregnancy and after, but I was functioning. I was able to be a mom and a normal human being, but night came and I couldn’t go without my special pill. When my daughter was born and I saw her for the first time, she was perfect. I was still so afraid that I had caused her to have some type of problem with her looks or her health, but when I saw her I bawled. She was beautiful and seemed to be perfect. I fell in love and cried and prayed to God thanking him for her and that I was able to carry and deliver her and she was healthy. But even in the hospital, I was relying upon something for sleep. This went on and on. I’ll never forget when I went to take it at night and realizing my 90 supply bottle was no where to be found. I usually had it in my purse but realized it was missing. I immediately drove to the park where I was in the day and started going through the garbages. That was such a low knowing what a problem I had. I always told myself it was better than ever feeling those anxieties and panic attacks I would have all day and night long. I knew EXACTLY what it was like to have postpartum depression and to fight the battle that other women talked about. I continued to taking anti-depressant and Ambien for years, but after getting out of my unhealthy and toxic marriage, I also faced my problems with substance abuse. This was a huge issue in my life but I didn’t want to face it until reality set in after my divorce and that I had to look myself in the mirror and love me. I will never forget my therapist years ago would always say “Age and Stage” in response to my guilt for needing medication. What he meant by that was that there is an age and stage in all things. My babies were little then and I needed more help. That was the stage of my life then. Sleep was extremely important being a young and pregnant mom. But over the years, I have a new stage where I get more sleep and things are different and my focus and age has shifted. Luckily, after much hell and then help, I am finally in a place where I am no longer on anti-depressants nor do I need Ambien. There is one medication I am currently taking but I am weaning off that as well.  There is an Age & Stage in all things and we need to be kinder to ourselves and have self compassion. I have always been so understanding and compassionate with everyone else but myself. I look back and wish I would have been more loving and understanding of myself while going through such hard and traumatic times.

Coming back to The Emily Effect, I pray for her husband and those sweet kids. I pray for the women that are currently in the struggle and wondering what to do, where to turn. Don’t keep it in. We are all in this together. There is too much judgement in life, we need to stop it in it’s tracks and fight against this illness. There are tools out there and sometimes they don’t feel like they fit you and your needs, but don’t give up. Talk about it. You are not alone. Keeping fighting until you succeed and overcome it. Remember, there is an age & stage in all things, things will change, perspectives and struggles shift. Grateful to my therapist, I kept a piece of paper in my wallet that said age & stage as a reminder. There is an age & stage to whatever problems you are dealing with right now, it won’t stay.

XoXo

 

people watching

So this weekend, my kids and I got up on Sunday and decided instead of going to church we were going to enjoy the day together and do a few things we hadn’t done in a while. I asked them where they wanted to go for brunch. We used to do this quite a bit with their dad before the divorce so there was a feeling of routine and something comfortable about it yet it definitely felt new and different. It felt different to be the one steering the ship, or the captain as most people would say.  We went over to a quaint & local ma & pa shop. While sitting outside while waiting to be seated, it was an idea time to people watch. Lots of young college kids getting together after a night of drinking, a few young families, and as I looked around, I was the only single mom. There was a sense of entitlement as I looked around thinking, look at me go. I am finally at that stage where I am an independent mom and my kids are old enough to not throw a tantrum at the table when they don’t have crayons for them to color on the menu. I am finally that mom that is having a fun light hearted conversation with her kids and there seems to be some laughing going on. I remember being that young mom thinking how nice it looked to be in that place and hoped one day that I could be “that” mom. As I was enjoying the moment and my current cool mom status, I looked up at this very good looking couple that looked like they were pulled right out of a hip catalogue. Unfortunately it kinda ruined my proud moment and changed it immediately to a place of pity and feeling sorry for myself. Watching the way they were holding hands, with both of them wearing their flip flops and sunglasses, entangling their legs while sitting on the bench. I couldn’t help but think about their night before.. drinking with some friends and having some dinner and after going back to their apartment just to watch a movie and make love while they cuddled all night and wake up to go get brunch. Now I am usually not a hopeless romantic, I get that it doesn’t usually go that perfect, and if it happened to be perfect that night, it usually is followed by breaking up the next week, but that didn’t matter to me then. It made me start feeling lonely and missing a man grabbing my hand or putting my hair behind my ear cause it was in my face. Or waking up together  and having the rest of the day to talk and grab coffee.

Now coming back to reality, I was super grateful to be there with kids that love me and will always be my best friends. I know that somehow one day there will be a time that I have that man by my side (I sure hope so), but whatever the reason, it’s not time for him. It’s time for my kids. It’s time to get to know them and myself. To be the three musketeers and really enjoy our new dynamic and new bond. It will not always be like this, and one day I will wish I could go back to this time. So I am trying to enjoy and really take each tender moment not to just be BY them, but be WITH them.

single parenting

Below is an article I read and really liked:

Mother Suffering From Post Natal Depression

SALT LAKE CITY — I have mixed feelings when I admit that I’ve been a single parent for 16 years. My emotionally charged divorce left my state of being in a tailspin as I was trying to adjust to rearing two toddlers.

Over time, the new daily routines were established and life as a single parent became more tolerable with each passing day. There were so many occasions when I was depressed over the inability to prevent my divorce, yet, I am very proud and pleased by all the things I’ve accomplished throughout the years.

To remain single for as long as I have is a personal choice, but it has never been an easy one. My decision has afforded me the luxury of knowing I have given my children 100 percent of myself — but it comes at a price.

I’ve lived cautiously and frugally on my paycheck and child support; I learned to differentiate a “want” from a “need;” and, naturally, I placed my children’s needs before my own, frequently repairing my clothing so I could afford to buy my growing children school clothes, a pair of shoes or a winter coat. I’ve clipped coupons and donated my plasma to buy groceries, and discovered the variety of meals that can be made using flour, eggs and milk.

I am and will always be a fiercely independent person. It is not in my nature to ask for help, so the best things that were ever done for me as a single parent were often done without asking.

Here are some suggestions on how you can best help a single parent:

1. Listen

The most important thing you can do for a single parent is listen to him or her without judgment and free of your opinion, except if asked. Unless you have walked in his or her shoes, it is difficult to fathom the emotions and struggles faced by a single parent.

2. Perform acts of kindness

There are many inexpensive ways to assist single parents, however, it may be tricky if pride gets in the way. Mow a lawn. Shovel a driveway. Watch the parent’s kids for a few hours. Give them a gift card for gas or groceries. Treat them with a pedicure or a movie night. I had an anonymous co-worker leave envelopes with cash and words of encouragement. It was almost as if that co-worker knew I was choosing between a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk that day.

3. Inspire and encourage

Being a single parent is an emotional roller coaster ride. Sometimes a mom or dad needs to hear he or she is doing a great job despite the situation.

4. Don’t judge

As a person on the outside looking in, don’t be too quick to judge a situation. For some single parents, this is not a choice. Not knowing my situation, many people have judged me simply because I was divorced or expressed disappointment that I have placed my children in daycare. Yeah, sometimes my kids ran around like hooligans. Most days, I was crying at my desk. Rather than gossip with neighbors or co-workers, ask yourself, “What can I do to be of service to them?”

5. Don’t recommend marriage

It is unfortunate, but some see marriage as a solution to the challenges of single parenting. I was ill-advised by someone years ago to seek a new husband as being a single parent is “too hard.” Honestly, I want to get married again for the right reason: because I’m deeply and madly in love with the guy, not because I need him to take care of me and my children.

My best friend understood my sense of pride and independence more than anyone in the world. More times than not, I had lacked the budget to go to a movie, attend a concert or hang out with friends at the restaurant. Often, I would come up with an excuse as to why I could not attend. She had a way of convincing me that she owed me or it was her turn to pay the restaurant check. But I knew better. Rather than make a fuss, I graciously accepted her acts of kindness and friendship. It was her unspoken way of telling me she loves me and how much she values our friendship.

XoXo

that time again

On Friday I got the same semi- annual phone call from my ex. Whenever he doesn’t get right to the point, I know he is trying to tell me something. After trying to butter me up with discussing how great our kids were, he threw it out. He was back together with the same girl that broke up my marriage. The same girl that caused so many problems in my life. It’s as almost as if they are addicted to one another. They have broke up and got back together going on 9 times. As much as it shouldn’t hurt me, it does. I can’t lie. The pain is still there and real. It’s as almost as if it takes away my breath when he tells me they are making it work again. What goes through my mind is dropping off my kids to them. Watching them play house with MY kids. Her taking over. I think about my son walking in on them having sex on the kitchen counter during the middle of dinner time. I think about all the photos that get posted on social media of them in their swimsuits with her perfect 5 star body, with her arms around my kids as if she gave birth to them. I think about all the weekends that will go out of town to fun places to wow my kids while I am sitting at home alone and feeling inadequate worrying about bills to pay on my apartment. I think about the kids coming home after being with them for the weekend, with bags of new clothes and shoes, and my kids telling me all about their fun filled weekend and what all they did. This is why it takes my breath away. A lot of it is selfish, but some of it is because I know my sweethearts are being used as toys and pawns. Also because I know the things they are seeing during those times are unhealthy. That they aren’t given the attention they deserve. And they get close to this girl and the next month, she is gone. 

It makes me wonder when it’s my turn. After losing my hair from getting Diffuse Alopecia, I put on some weight and luckily my hair is coming back, but it has completely changed how I look and most of all, how I feel about myself. I’ve been given many trials and have been overcoming them one by one, but I feel like in some ways they are SO far ahead of me. When will I find some happiness where my ex looks at me and starts to ask himself, “did I make a mistake?” I know that isn’t healthy and I shouldn’t care about that, but truth is, I do. I want him to miss me and wonder what he could have done differently to save our family.

He is a narcissist and more than likely he will never feel those ways, but I want it to happen. I want to at least feel like I am confident enough that I know he wishes it even without having proof. I want to look thin and feel beautiful. I want a man to want me and think I am a catch. All these things are ridiculous but it’s my feelings right now.

I feel like he looks at me and pitty’s me. Thinks, “thank god I didn’t stay with her.” He looks at his girlfriend now and thinks how lucky he is. I couldn’t handle anymore of his abuse and I KNOW that, but why do I still have these feelings? Is it from not being healthy emotionally? 

These are the things I do know… I am sober. I have cleaned up my life so much. I put my kiddos first before anything. I do the best I can to be a better person every single day. I am lucky to have a second chance. I am lucky to be coming out from the dark past I had. But these are feelings that follow me. What keeps me going is reminding myself of all the changes I’ve made and where I have come from. I guess that will keep me going till something changes for the better. So next time when I get the phone call from my ex, it won’t take my breath away. It won’t hurt. It will not affect me, because it won’t matter.

XoXo

making peace with your past

I was reading an article about not feeling adequate and came across this passage:

Make peace with your past and present so you can have a bright future

Making peace with your past and embracing your present is sometimes a difficult thing to do, yet they are very important. You can never be fully satisfied when there are still negative feelings from the past lingering around you. If you make peace with your past and embrace your present, your journey towards your goal will be more satisfying and peaceful.

Making peace with my past is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Is this hard for anyone else? Anything that is a reminder of my choices that really screwed up my life, is like a kick in my sensitive gut. It helps if I am in the process of making some much better choices and actually feeling the benefits of doing so, but what about the days where I am struggling to just finish the day?  Looking back to my past at all is what murders my spirit or my smile for the day. Then I stop and ask myself, “are you still in that place? Are you making better choices? ” The answers to those questions, help me to keep going but the pain still is under there somewhere. It’s still roaming around in my brain. I am a pretty forgiving person, but for some reason when it comes to forgiving myself, it doesn’t happen very easily.  As compassionate I am with everyone else, I am pretty sure self compassion is the most important thing we need to keep on staying sober and healthy.

Embracing the present comes with making peace with your past. I deserve to finish the chapter of my past and move on to the next with a clear conscience and positive outlook. It is hard to start a new day with that heartache following you around from yesterday. There’s got to be a reason we lay down to rest and the sun comes back up in the morning. Maybe every night that we watch the sun set, we should let go of the pain and the mistakes we made, and as the sun rises start fresh and start new. Breath in, breath out. We are worth it. We are not our past, we are not our mistakes. Embrace who you are today in this moment.