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Meet the Critic

At my darkest and loneliest times, she is there. In the silence of the night, she is there. When I’m at my weakest, she is there. She is with me when I walk into an uncomfortable situation. After a heartbreak and in my grief, she never leaves me. When I’m on cloud nine, and hopeful she shows up. When I’m anxious and unsure, she is talking to me. When I’m hurt and angry, she supports my feelings. She validates my actions. She gives me the option to run away. She remembers everything I’ve ever said. She knows my past. She knows my weaknesses. She takes pictures, so I remember what we’ve done together and all of our experiences. She is the one who hasn’t ever abandoned me, and the one never stops showing up.

I’m sure you’re wondering who this is. Maybe a mother, a daughter, a sister, a lover, or a friend. She is none of these and all of these. She isn’t anything and she is everything. She is the voice inside my head that I fight to silence every day.

You may think that you know her, but let me explain. She isn’t there supporting me or empowering me to keep going. She wants me to stay this way so she can thrive while I struggle to merely survive.

Who Are You?

You won’t meet her, but im sure you know someone just like her. You can’t see her, but her voice is always there. You probably aren’t a fan if by chance you know her as intimately as I do. Consider this your proper introduction. However, I don’t know if you will understand.

She steals the spotlight, demands to be heard, and aims to hurt anyone who dares to silence her. She is the one who tells me that I’m never going to be enough. She shows me the worst parts of the people around me. She drives them away, then tells me “see they don’t love you. Otherwise, they would stay.” She manipulates my feelings and twists my words. She tells me the worst-case scenarios and keeps me fearful of my every move.

Where Did She Come From?

Sometimes, she sounds like my mother, telling me I will never be pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough, or just enough. Other times, she sounds like my abusers who made me believe I was always to blame. In my head, she can make anyone sound like a hurt from my past. She has pictures and videos she can play to remind me of every hurt I’ve ever endured. She holds the buttons to my triggers. She is persistent and doesn’t care about the consequences.

I know she is made up of the broken pieces of my past. She is the child who felt unwanted. She is the teenager dying to fit in. She is the young mother looking for a way out. She is the abuse survivor. She is a traumatized woman. She is bleeding in the shower. High in the bathroom. A thief. A covert narcissist. An abandoned young adult. A lonely wife. The mother who was too scared to fight back and save her children. She is the addict. She is the worst part of me. That’s who she is. She is the version of myself I’m scared to become and equally terrified she is the real version I keep hiding from the world.

Change Her, Break Her, Abolish Her

I have tried to allow her visitation and then quickly see her out. However, she is relentless. At times, she is the only one who validates the unfairness of this life. She allows me to be not okay. It’s oddly comforting to be able to wallow and grieve a life I didn’t live. However, she aggravates those wounds I am trying so hard to heal. She breaks them back open and makes them bleed.

The past suddenly becomes present, and she revels in the power to overtake me. She feeds on my pain. It is as if my own mind is going to destroy me slowly. She holds me hostage. I struggle to break free. No matter how hard I try, I haven’t found a way to rid myself of her.

Fighting to be Free

You may think I’m just negative or that I’m weak. I’m the exact opposite. I am strong because I fight this voice that prays on my downfall each day. I’m successful in defeating her, but she knows when to strike. She pulls me to the darkness and holds me captive to her cruel onslaught of verbal blows.

I’m unsure if others fight off this toxic voice made up of their past. However, I know it’s lonely when it’s her and I. Maybe another person wont feel alone with no one who understands that the voice inside your head is sometimes hardest to silence. Even now, years into healing I still struggle to find my healthy escape from her torture.

Now you’ve had an introduction. If sometimes you see me cloaked in fear, paranoia, resentment, anger, or anxiety, please know I did not choose this for myself. I don’t need your attention, but meet me with compassion instead of judgment. I’m broken, and this is what repeated trauma has left behind for me.

It’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s the hardest battle I fight in a day. It is a battle of dismissing my past negative and limiting beliefs. I try now to remind myself of the 3 years of work I’ve put into my healing. However, I fight every day for the future I want, not to stay prisoner to the past, I escaped. I hope you, too, can find healing, and one day, I hope there is comfort in silence instead of her voice telling me how I will never fully overcome the trauma of my past. You and me, we’ve got this! ☮️ ❤️😊~M

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Success, Strength & Socks?!

Life with kids

Holding back tears I asked, “DOES she have SOCKS?!” This was my BIG worry tonight as we walked through Walmart at 9:00pm on a rainy, random Wednesday night. College. My daughter is leaving for college…tomorrow and I’m worried about socks!? She is 18, dreams of being a psychologist, and the world is at her feet. Me, I’m the mom worried about if she will have socks as she goes out to show this world what striving for success and strength looks like!

I looked to the man who is my calm in the storm, casually walking a few steps ahead, he nonchalantly answers “yes.” I questioned him again. After all, I knew nearly every day, no matter how many pairs I buy, my girls are going to come steal my socks. In that moment he looked at me and calmly said “yes, your baby has socks.” I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.

Why was I crying in Walmart over socks? I’m sure I looked and sounded ridiculous. I was irritated. I was emotional. I was thinking about 18 years of time that came and went far too fast. I was happy and I was scared. So I was worried about socks. Silly, I was a wreck…but why socks?

It’s ironic, that a little over 18 years ago I was in labor. In fact, I vividly recall getting “new mom” anxiety at the hospital about socks for my new baby girl. I was asking the same question then as I was this very night. Of all things I was worried my baby wouldn’t have socks!

My mom rushed out to buy socks for my sweet baby and her tiny feet. In addition, she bought clothes to fit her tiny frame. My first was so little. My beautiful red haired, blue eyed, baby girl was full term, but weighed 6’8 and measured 17 1/2” long. So small. My first baby girl of my threefold, and my first true love.

Looking on as moms do, I saw my oldest daughter, with her two little sisters bickering. I laughed and tried to let them do their typical back and forth banter. I played the pull mom every direction and make sure she pays attention to each child. I tried to remain patient and calm as I listened to each tell me their “needs” or “wants”. My anxiety was growing, but not due to worry about her or even the other two of my threefold. I was forgetting something. Had to be.

As the night passed on I noticed my emotional state was becoming so high that I was becoming overly anxious. All the needs, wants and reminders flying around for all three girls. Then the little fights. As my anxiety increased so did my oldest daughter’s. I could see her feeling like she was getting “more” than her younger siblings. In addition, I could see her insecurity surrounding money start to make her flustered. As a result, I saw firsthand, that she was feeling all the anxiety I was trying to push down. Instead of her knowing why, I saw her viewing herself as the cause of every bit of my increasing anxiety.

I got her nearly everything she has needed over these past couple of months. We only have a few last minute needs to tie up. Yet, she still felt like she was causing my anxiety. That wasn’t it. Not at all. I was proud and wanted nothing more than for her to feel confident as she began college. Yet, I felt like I was failing her as our anxiety climbed together.

What I didn’t tell my oldest is that I wasn’t anxious over buying what she needed, her sisters bickering, or even the growing list. I was missing something, but I couldn’t place what.

This feeling was unshakeable. Maybe I was just being a mom and scared. However, I’m not scared of her making the wrong choices, failing, or getting into trouble. I know her on a level that goes beyond a typical mother/daughter relationship. We talk about everything. Above all, even if I don’t want to hear the truth, she doesn’t lie to me in the way most teenagers do lie to their parents.

Finally it hit me, right in that Walmart aisle and with those socks sitting on sale. I didn’t forget to make sure her feet were covered in clean socks. She had her toothbrush and pj’s. This went beyond the superficial level of material needs. I was forgetting the person who once inhabited that tiny frame.

She was moving beyond her past. I no longer saw a scared girl with anxiety standing in the aisles going through the mental checklist she made a year ago of everything she needed. I saw the person who had worked hard to find her own voice again. I saw a woman who was funny, kind, and a genuinely good person standing worried about her abilities.

My daughter deserves all things good. I want this for her and every good thing in life. She has sacrificed more than many. Furthermore, my oldest daughter has been my coparent even if she didn’t ask for that responsibility. She endured the hardest circumstances in submissive silence to avoid making life harder for herself, her sisters and I when the abuse we all endured was aimed in her direction. She suffered and sacrificed her childhood, her teenage years, and her own blood, sweat and tears to help her younger sisters and I survive .

Her strength isn’t only in the survival it’s in the story she is writing in spite of the circumstances she was raised in. That strength is in her smile that is contagious. The confidence in her own abilities and the goals she has chased, regardless of the people along the way who tried to tell her every reason she would never reach them.

Her complete transparency, self awareness, genuine kindness, and inclusive nature all are part of the backbone of her identity.
It’s takes bravery to walk through the fire, but it takes perseverance to walk through that fire and not allow your entire life to be consumed by the pain.

It’s takes courage to love with your entire heart and give of yourself to others, even though that love and gift has been taken advantage of since you were young. It takes commitment to make a plan and to speak it to others, but it’s the determination that carries you across the finish line. It takes fight to face your worst fears, but it takes ferocity to overcome those fears.

My daughter is just another girl to the world, but she is going to change the world of the people who have the honor to know her. My daughter is beautiful, smart, and talented. However, she is more than any pretty pictures or my bias words could convey. My oldest daughter is the smallest of my threefold. Nonetheless, at 4’11, the truth that she has learned is “dynamite comes in small packages…BOOM!” Get ready, because this girl of mine is about to blow up on your scene.

She is my daughter, my first love, and I’m so incredibly lucky she calls me mom. She definitely has more than just socks these days, she has a whole suit of armor that she forged in the fire of her past. That armor is her success story. The one she has written each day along the way and will continue to write until it reaches completion. I am just happy to be on the sidelines cheering her on and supporting her through this crazy train ride called life. To my threefold, to my first little love. You’ve got this! Together we’ve got each other, always. ☮️❤️😊~M

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Summer Break? Part 1

I’m only a week overdue for posting the update I promised! Summer has come and nearly gone, but the moms out there trying to mom mental illness, mom it solo or even semi-solo, mom through it all, no matter what. We’ll ALL moms know breaks are for everyone else, but you rarely catch one. For me breaks are few and far between. Sometimes, you would consider a psychotic break comforting. After all, it means disassociation, detachment from reality, some sleep, and three meals per day where YOU didn’t have to think about it. Then there is that whole meds, people wondering when the next episode is, and everything that would be left undone. Nope, not worth it!

Summer Breakdown?

I am proud to say that, no, my threefold and I, nor ‘E’ or my bonus kid have suffered from any major breakdown nor has there been setbacks. That’s right! It’s been a rough summer for my threefold. More difficult than I had hoped for, however they have progressed in ways I never thought I would see. I couldn’t be more proud and relieved to know that we hit a very bad time, but we were able to see it through to a path that didn’t involve inpatient or injury to self, property or some major crisis. However, that hard time was the closure of a chapter for all.

Summer Bucketlist

I wanted a Disney movie wonderful summer of family fun and kids enjoying marking items off of bucket lists. I wanted us to enjoy our lives after I had watched my aunt bury 2 of her sons at 33 and 29, my cousins, 2/3 brothers, the kids I grew up with and people who hadn’t even had the chance to have their own family yet. We needed to remember that while we still have life. We needed to live it.

I wanted my threefold and I to spend some quality time together without the stress of the previous school year. I needed to have those memories and I thought that’s what they needed too. I had hoped for vacation time and for all of my family to reconnect on a level that said “this is the good life.” As a response, life said my plans were not the same as life’s. Apparently we needed something else to overcome. {eye roll}

Summer Broke

This summer was hell and I don’t mean just the heat, these demon bugs we call mosquitoes, or the fires that were sparked by my anger, anxiety or my agitated mood. I had too much going on and my focus was not in the home. It was definitely not on me. It was not on ‘E’. BOTH of our vehicles broke down. Financially we were still trying to recover from February and March’s medical bills of the over 10 weeks of inpatient and partial hospitalization we have already had between #2 and #3 of my threefold this year. Not to mention the 17 weeks we were still working on from the previous. As it always seemed to be we were struggling.

I was stressed to the point I wanted to snap. I was impatient with my threefold, sitting and scheduling my life away from them while home, and so out of my depths. My focus was frazzled, fried, and finally furious at the circumstances I was in. I felt I was being oblivious to an obvious problem, overworked, overwhelmed, overlooked and finally I was OVER IT!

Summer Burn

I was ready to say “I’m done!” As my workload increased to that of a person expected to wear every hat of each position like a seasoned executive who wrote the rule book. I was trying to do the job of my superior, my support staff, be my own assistant, trainer, lead designer, sales superstar, the best, and I suddenly hit a wall. I decided to resign.

I had a staff who was overworked and overwhelmed. I had great people. In addition, they were trying to help . I asked myself why was this becoming such a nightmare. and it hit me. I was trying to save a boat that was sinking and everyone was about to jump ship. Why?

We have had high turnover for a minute now. My people didn’t quit. They grinder it out. They liked me…right? Well, I am likable, funny, driven, and have the memory of a person that will never forget about things that are really important. I’m just trying to hard or doing something wrong. I was trying to make people happy. It wasn’t the job. It wasn’t even me. It was the chaos that had come over the castle. I was merely coordinating chaos, and not correcting the issues causing it. Maybe, if I resigned it would be the white flag of surender saying I can’t manage the mess.

Summer School

My fairytale summer was shattered with my DIY crash course that I called “combat training”. I was battling the war at work and not only just promoted to a role as assistant manager in March, but I hadn’t been trained on how the processes to correctly handle the job. I had no idea that I was making things worse by constantly covering for my missing commander and chief. My loyalty and love for him and my livelihood depended on me finding the fix to any problem and showing my people I was the company woman who could handle anything. Even if I was I second guessing my every move. I knew my confidence would see us to calmer coexistence we all needed. I lied.

Summer Cold

My stress was making me sick. I had lost another ten pounds. I was not eating, not sleeping well as my mind raced at night wondering what did you forget. In addition, my usual routines all halted. Self care was non existent and my tolerance for other people’s problems went to the bottom of the list. However, I kept pushing. Something was going to have to give.

I decided to part ways. I was ready to resign. It was obvious that I was allowing yet another person take advantage of me. I wanted to give back what I was given, but I was becoming someone I didn’t like. I was becoming an angry person who hated coming to work because I was going to have another day of covering for someone else I cared for, covering for the man lying to everyone, and someone refusing to admit there was a problem. I was watching my past repeat in a work environment. I couldn’t allow myself to be broken and to become cold living in a hell I could escape from. I needed to stop the insanity. I was at peace with that.

Summer Escape

I had come to terms with my decision and turned in my resignation letter with a final lie. My lie said I had found employment that would allow me to be home more and present for my threefold. It is the only lie I felt believable enough that they wouldn’t put up the fight for me to stay. My tears had poured out of me writing that letter. I was devastated that it was a chapter that I never thought would end. At least until I funded my life as a freelance writer, designer, marketing guru, Facebook money mogul in the blogosphere of moms or whatever other dream that will one day create independence from a standard 8-5 job.

I loved this job. It was my break from my personal issues outside of there. I am awesome at this job. I am too good, actually. I am overqualified and I’m beyond grateful for that. I loved everything about my job. That was until I took the place of the man who walked out of this position before me. Red flag, maybe, but I saw my opportunity to step up. In that opportunity I sacrificed the thing I said I would not overlook again with a promise of more and a hope for the future we deserve. My threefold.

Summer Stolen

I had worked my butt off, literally, for this company. I felt I owed them after they moved mountains for me last summer to make it where I could be a mom and also have the place I could put that part away just for a bit and do something I loved. I was ashamed of my behavior. I was saying we needed more money than my own family needed me. A struggle any single mom knows.

Instead of staying with #2 at the hospital and going to the inpatient facility where I was needing to admit her again, I left her room in tears as she said “mom, it’s ok, you can go. You have to.” Did I? Well I needed to be in two places actually three, but I needed to not lose a promotion due to my personal life, because money had to become a larger factor.

We all need this to happen. I convinced myself I was doing the right thing. I know now she will always tell me what she thinks I need to hear in moments she thinks could be a burden. I was just blinded by a loyalty to a person who would use me and then replace me to save themself but I had no idea. As I was leaving I thought if I don’t get this promotion this will be enough to make me leave. I’m sacrificing more than I ever would, but hoped it would be better if I could have more control of the chaos. I could calm it as I could change the climate and bring the commander of my crew back.

Summer Storms

I got the promotion. The promises of change once our mid year inventory was over and the crisis at work calming down were as empty as any promise before. After deciding not to get blindsided by the brother who was thriving at this company, the man I fell in love with at this company and a few coworkers who had weathered this long hard season with me I was ready to make the move. My boss put up no fight or said any words of why I should stay. Instead, I was left thinking maybe he wanted me to leave. It was easy and unemotional. I was a mess about this, but me maybe I was just “replaceable”. I promised to help the next person as much as I could before the end of my notice in two weeks and was relieved. July would be the month that made our family reconnect and we could have some real quality time as a family. Again another storm brewed and I wouldn’t allow us to chase it anymore.

Summer Breakthrough

Little did I realize it was only the end of June and the chaos was fixing to get uncovered and everything was about blow up. I couldn’t have a summer break, I couldn’t afford a summer breakdown, we weren’t going to get a summer vacation that involved connecting and making the good memories of a life we were building and we had sacrificed for. This wouldn’t be the summer we deserved. It would be the summer that I found a way to breakthrough our barriers. It was the beginning of the new life. First we just needed to commit to weathering this summer storm and that was hitting us right at home.

TO BE CONTINUED….

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It’s Ok to Say ‘No’

I’ve been struggling with boundaries. I forgot that I am a person that has needs too. I think as a mom and a woman that I try to make everyone else happy and ok. Guess what? It’s ok to say ‘No’ to protect your peace. However, I know how hard it is to say ‘No’. I am learning that the ability to deny requests is going to be required for my own personal well being.

What About Me?

As a mom I’m constantly tending to my little people. I’m making sure everyone else is ok. As a manager at work I want to make sure my employees are ok. The list goes on. Suddenly, everyone is taken care of and I find myself at the end of the day physically exhausted, mentally spent and emotionally drained. I’m not selfish, it’s not about me, and it never has been. When is it my turn? Saying that out loud makes me feel selfish for even putting myself as a priority. That’s ridiculous! I deserve to be on my own list!

Wake Up Call

How did I decide to make myself more important to me? Well, I haven’t fully committed to doing anything honestly, but something has to change. I had a wake up call. I’m killing myself slowly by giving my everything to everyone else. That’s not dramatic. Unfortunately, that’s just the truth.

The past seven days I had ten hours of sleep total, I worked 60+ hours, helped my ex husband get into drug rehab, tried to care for my threefold, fix all my work problems, made sure everyone else got a day off, and maintain a relationship with my partner. I hadn’t eaten enough to sustain myself. I was too busy to drink a bottle of water. I totally forgot I was a person who needed to stop and take care of myself.

The Breaking Point

My breaking point was a cabinet truck that I had to unload by hand. I worked hard and got through it, but it took the rest of my strength. However, I kept pushing through the week. Suddenly, my body was in ketosis and I was dehydrated. My muscles were locked up. My anxiety was sky high. Also, my legs were swollen like I was 9 months pregnant. Yet, I still wouldn’t stop. I had blisters on the bottoms of my feet and had completely depleted every nutrient in my body. My diet was caffeine, ibuprofen, and the chaos around me. Enough!

Sounding the Alarm

Hello!!!! SOS. HELP! Everyone saw it and asked “are you ok?” When my answer changed from yes to no, that’s when it changed. I’m an adult, a grown woman. No one can force me to take care of myself or stop until I decide. My choice. My fault. My consequences. However, it was clear I was not ok for a long time. I didn’t know how to stop doing what I’d been doing for months.

Something’s Gotta Give

I’m figuring out how to change my habits. It’s easier said than done. Saying no to anyone that you care about or want to help is difficult. It’s easier to rationalize the yes than the no. saying yes to myself feels selfish. I’m used to going until I crash. I crash, recover, and repeat my cycle. It’s not going to continue to work if I want to be able to keep going.

It’s Ok to Say ‘No’

Self care is something people say. This involves more than taking time for yourself. I am not going to book a massage and pedicure. There is no mom vacation without my kids that is on the horizon. Going to the store alone, or sitting and meditating to clear my brain is self care. Is it all there is? NO! It’s more than that, but it starts somewhere!

Self Care for me the past 24 hours has looked like a lot like stuff people should do, but for me it’s difficult. My goals to keep myself going this next week are minimal.

  • Eating at least 1 meal a day. If I eat with my kids at dinner then I’m accountable to eat.
  • Drinking water and having something to drink around me at all times.
  • Sleeping. I’ve slept 12 hours. Yes 12. And I will probably sleep more. However, deciding to be done and sleep and getting at least 4-6 hours per day is a goal.
  • Take my day off from work and try not to worry about work.
  • Spend time with my kids doing something other than appointments or errands.
  • Work at work only
  • Take some time for myself
  • Say no if it is something I can say no to.
  • Stop saving everyone and save myself.

Now, I sit and prop my feet up. I try to keep food down, because my body doesn’t feel like it is ready for this. I sleep and I allow my body to adjust to not going. I have guilt for doing these small little things, but my guilt is due to my own inability to slow down and be ok with not being ok. ☮️❤️😊~M

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To the Man my Children Call ‘Dad’

It’s Father’s Day again. Another year you missed being a part of. What’s your excuse? I’m sure it’s my fault, somehow and some way. It always is. I kept them from you, I poisoned them against you, and I asked for a life that means I have to play both parts. In your mind, that’s the picture you paint.

Again, it’s Father’s Day and this year you actually saw all three kids and took them to the park then the mall. I even bought a card for them to sign. It wasn’t much, but I figured they wouldn’t want to see you empty handed. I’m glad they got to spend the day with you. After all, they don’t get to spend much time with you even though they had hoped things would be better and not worse.

I was seething with anger last year, but this Father’s Day, I am just sad for them. I am sad for my threefold who have spent a year begging you to be the dad they hoped for and the one they deserve. Yet, that’s not the father they got.

Instead, they have you as an example of what happens when you flush everything down the toilet, when you lie, cheat, use and steal. They get their father as an example of what happens when you excuse your faults and blame others for your mistakes. It’s truly sad, but it’s a lesson I will hope that they will learn from. A hard one.

You have lost everything. What’s it going to take? I wonder. You’ve stopped trying. First, you lost me, which should’ve just been a stepping stone to figuring out where you wanted to go in life, but it wasn’t. Next the kids, they stopped calling and visiting. Next, your job. Then girlfriend #1, and then all visitation ceased. Later, you lost the one person who loved you and supported you unconditionally. I think that’s what broke you.

Losing your grandmother was the one thing that broke your heart the most. Ever since it’s been another lost job, and another. You lost our old apartment and then your car. Just when you thought it would get better you bought a motorcycle instead of helping with your kids. You lost more visitation and then you lost your mind supposedly.

It didn’t take long for girlfriend #2 to see the manipulation and abuse you had put on those around you. You sold everything worth anything and then lost that too. The motorcycle, the car, the rent free living situation. Now another job. Finally, you’ve hit what I can only assume as rock bottom. You are homeless. You live in your car. You make no money and are barely scraping by day to day.

This Father’s Day is one where the sadness hits a low. I don’t know anymore if you’ll be here next Father’s Day and to even have that thought is sad. It’s true though, I’m not sure how you’ve managed to lose everyone around you, but there are three girls still hoping that you will become the dad they wanted and the dad they deserve. I’m hoping you find some peace in your path. This Father’s Day is here to show you that children give second chances, and third, and hope even when there is little proof that it will change. ☮️❤️😊~M