Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Tree

Image result for family treeA few weeks ago I decided to go exploring. If you have read much of my blog, you are very aware that my childhood was a hot mess; honestly, “hot mess” is pretty mild. Anyway, I decided to join a website that helps you build your family tree hoping I would learn more about my birth father whom I have never met. When I was 11 months old my Mom and birth father got a divorce. My Mom moved home with my maternal grandparents and that was that. No visitation from the birth father and no child support. Just my Mom and I making a very rocky go of it.

I had in my mind that I wanted to learn about the people on the paternal side of my tree. I don’t have any plans to call or visit anyone; I just wanted to see how that side of the family tree fleshed out. Learning about the other half of me has never been something I particularly cared about, but lately I have been curious. Other than a few wedding photos that I have of my parents I literally know nothing other than the information tainted with anger and disappointment that my Mom had shared with me.

Without information about your father you cannot say what medical cards are on the table for your other side. You read through medical forms and shrug because you have no clue what lies ahead for you based on the paternal family history. The lack of information is in some ways easier because I cannot worry or obsess about things I know nothing about. Thanks to pictures I have found from my parents wedding, I know that my height and my nose come from my father’s side. I have long legs and a big nose and no one to thank…

I started my tree with the names of my parents. Every so often there would be a little hint from the website that I would pursue and find someone new to add to my tree. I would poke around for a little while each day and then take a break. Each time I went back to the website, there would be another little hint or two or three.

The trouble is that my tree is flourishing on the side that I already know the most about, my maternal side. My paternal side is barely worth calling a branch let alone a tree. I have poked and dug around the roots of the paternal side but nothing seems to be happening there. I find myself looking at the website everyday hoping for a new hint, something, anything, which clears the way to a blooming paternal tree.

Look it’s not like I am walking around with only one functioning side of my body, I know that. It is just that I wanted a little peek into the other people that influenced my being. I had hoped to read about my paternal grandmother. I know that my grandmother came to see me a couple of times but my Mom would not let here in the house because my birth father was not paying the child support that he was instructed to pay by the courts. On one hand I understand my Mom making this line in the sand with my father, but my Grandma? I guess sometimes you flex the power you think you have in hopes of a result. In this case there was no result except that that side of my tree has shriveled away.

I find myself feeling like I have lost something even though there was never really anything there. I hoped I would stumble across a nugget of history that I could hold on to. Just a little pebble from the path I came from…but, for now that is not possible.

I have another month with this family tree service and I plan to use it. It is just hard not to get frustrated, disappointed and sad when you are climbing a tree looking for family fruit and you’re barely two feet off the ground with no hope of going any higher or even grabbing one piece of fruit. I am not going to lie though; I have a really hard time understanding how my birth father or anyone really can just turn their backs on their own children and never look back. When you think about it, this really doesn’t bode well for their character. It also makes for a disappointing and unhealthy family tree.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Release Your Story

It was 46 some odd years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Every detail is still firmly seeded in my brain. It is something that you never forget but never think about until you hear someone else’s story. I was molested. I was 10 years old and entrusted to the care of my Mom’s boyfriend for one night, the next day her girlfriend would be by to take me to her house. Mom had to go out of town to help care for my aunt who had become very ill and she made quick decisions and left.

I remember the feeling of being left, how alone I felt and when this boyfriend came to comfort me I was immediately uncomfortable. I knew in my young heart that something wasn’t right, but I was alone and I didn’t know what to do. I honestly let myself believe that what happened was nothing. When my Mom’s girlfriend came to have me stay with her until Mom would come home, I let my young brain put a band aid on this wound and tucked the molestation away. I felt I had done something wrong and I didn’t want to get in trouble. So now I was alone and guilty.

This boyfriend eventually broke up with my mom because of me. He told her I was out of control, I had problems and it was just too much for him to take. After he left, my Mom yelled at me and told me what he had said to her and how her sadness was because of me. I remember being hurt and sad because I was still alone with this truth inside me that I felt I couldn’t tell because this would be my fault too.

The problem with the band aid I had applied to my brain was it would slip off now and then. The memory would come up and I would indict myself and shrink back to that little lonely girl. I know that that molestation changed me. I went from trusting and being happy to being angry and lashing out. I was longing for love but afraid to let anyone close.

Once when I was 19 years old I was driving me and my Mom home from an outing. She spotted that old boyfriend on the side of the road with car trouble. She asked me to stop and I told her “NO”, and then I told her why…she didn’t believe me. That was when I knew It was not me that had the problem, that’s when I knew I really was alone and I was the only one that could keep me safe.

I have spent many years going to therapy and counseling working hard to work my way through that young life. It takes time, lots and lots of time and you still can never erase the moment that changed your life. All you can do is decide that what defines you is better than that one moment. I reach out to that lonely little girl as much as I can. I do silly things and try to laugh and live life to its fullest every single day. I had to rip the band aid off to heal. I couldn’t keep pretending to protect others while I let myself suffer.

All it took was a friend talking about girls that are in difficult situations and what she was hoping to do to help them and protect them so that nothing happens to them. That conversation brought back that day long long ago. This time though I decided it was better to tell you about it than turn it back on myself. There are more victims of molestation and rape out there than we know. I think that is because we put that mental band aid on and hope that it protects us from remembering. Eventually you have to talk about it. Release your story into the capable hands of a counselor or therapist and grab your life back. It is great revenge to live your life fully.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Being Right Is Not As Great As You Think

Recently I have been on a quest to find the reason my youngest is tired all of the time. When I say youngest you may be envisioning a toddler toddling about but my youngest will actually be 20 in just a few short weeks. The truth is this tiredness and basically not feeling well has gone on for a long time. I would say most of her life.

Now before you start judging me as an inept parent let me just say that I have spent many hours visiting doctors and having her tested for a myriad of things. I have had several moments when I thought I was pretty darn close to the answer only to find I wasn’t. I had many times suggested to my daughter to take allergy medicine but the truth is parents are totally ignorant until the time comes that you are not. Those times usually involve an event that makes you undeniably right and your child has no other option but to tell you “You were right” with an ashamed face.

Just a couple of weeks ago my (“you were right”) moment arrived but honestly it didn’t matter because I was so happy to have some answers. I had decided to take my daughter to an allergist in hopes of crossing this possibility off the list. When we arrived and they started poking my girl with different allergens and testing her breathing my daughter was a little freaked out, but as her body started to react to the different allergens, getting red and itchy we knew we may have finally found the answers we had been hoping for.

It was a long arduous process but after almost 3 hours we learned that she was allergic too:

Cockroaches  (please note that we do not have cockroaches at our house)
Dust mites
All molds indoor and outdoor

So basically everything,  and then… just for fun they threw in the fact that she had asthma and was only breathing at 43%. No wonder she didn’t feel good! As a parent how do you come back from that bombshell? Seriously 20 years in and we are just now finding this out?

I myself had just been diagnosed as allergic to dogs and since we have two it’s a little tough to avoid them. Our dogs are suppose to be non allergic dogs which I shared with our doctor when he told me the news a few months ago and his comment was, “there is no such thing”.

So here we are pretty much bathing in allergens at our house. There is an old saying that knowledge is power, so now that we know what we are up against we are coming out with allergy meds a blazing and an inhaler so that breathing can continue. Honestly, it is so much better than anything else that might be found and just knowing what she is up against helps us help her.

Truly in the end I’m not happy I was right, I’m just happy we have an answer and hopefully we can turn things around for our youngest girl. So parents, the lesson here is, being right is not as great as you think. It is, knowing your child knows your right that really matters!

Friday, March 18, 2016

My New Beginning

It wasn’t long ago that my home was bustling with children going in all different directions. These days with one grown daughter working in Connecticut another living away at college and one recent graduate living home but working full time and enjoying a full load of activities after work, the bustling is not as often. I remember when my nest was officially empty and people would give me a sad frowny face and ask “How are you doing?” I never knew quite how to respond.

You see, I am doing great. I have not longed for more children or mourned my children moving on with their own lives, I have picked up my own life and I’ve been making a go at being me. I am not great at being me, but I keep trying. At one time I was immersed in my children’s lives, working at their schools and cheering them on in their activities. Now I have stepped back removed the safety restraints and they are flying solo. I still give advice but its different now, now the weight of what they decide to do is theirs to bear. My stake in the game is gone.

It’s a strange feeling when you swing from the bar and there is no net. I owed my children the chance to see what that is like. The freedom to decide and choose your own destiny is a freedom no one should be denied. For our American children it is often taken for granted. I have often been disgruntled about being the ambulance. You know the one that rushes in and saves the day after warning that something is a bad idea or the times you have given a thought or a piece of advice to the stiff stop sign arm with a loud “MOM” at the end. Now I say what I think and hug if I can and hope and pray that God has their back while I have mine turned.

Truth be told I say I’m great but deep down I miss the being needed as much as I was and I miss the constant reminders that mothering while tough is rewarding on many good days. Days, when you get it right and your child even tells you so or the days when you watch them succeed where they thought for sure they would fail. These days the reward is theirs and I can no longer hang on and claim some responsibility.

I am proud of the life I have and even more proud of the lives my children are building for themselves. I guess it is time for me to take a page from the books my girls have written and work on me. I have been dealing with a loud STOP sign arm of my own and honestly I think I am way more difficult than my children ever were. It is really and truly time for me. This all starts with a commitment to write more. Pouring my heart into words is what I love to do and its really time to get back at it. So for all of you I am asking… please stop the frowny faces I am fine. Being an empty nester is not my end, it is my new beginning.

Friday, February 19, 2016


My husband and I recently went on vacation to someplace warm and sunny. It was a wonderful relaxing get away, something that we have not done without our children EVER! That alone was exciting. Our schedule was our own and I guarantee if you try it you will love it. Of course we have waited over 20 years to do it. I have grey hairs from waiting so long. Annnyyyway...one of the things that I found interesting and relaxing to do was search for sea glass and shells that may have washed up on the beach. Sea glass comes from glass items that deteriorate in the water and the little bits and pieces wash up having been tumbled and smoothed in the sand...brown, white and green, and on a lucky day you might find the elusive blue. It was like treasure hunting, finding these pretty pieces and tucking them into my pocket to admire and put in a jar when I got home.

Thinking about these treasures made me also think about my  own treasures. Bits and pieces of me that have been tumbled and polished over the years and also the pieces of me that have become trapped and don't seem to surface as they once did. These are the treasures that we set aside over time thinking we will come back to them one day.
I want so badly to find away to get back to that part of me. 

I want to focus on the wonder and joy around me but many times get trapped in Facebook scrolling through so many wonderful sayings and stories and then often times horrified and saddened. I spend way to much time flicking my finger on the screen scanning the treasures of others while mine sit dormant. I know I have something in me that is tumbling and polishing its self and I just need to stop and take the time to search for it.

It will not be as easy as walking on the warm sunny beach...(sigh) but somehow I know if I take the time to relax and focus on the calmness and the thrill of the hunt I may even find an elusive shiny something that reminds me that I have treasure left inside me.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, January 25, 2016

When the Mood Strikes

I’m in a mood. It is not a good one and it is not a bad one, it is a “Meh” mood. I am annoying myself, so I cannot imagine what it is doing to those around me. I find myself talking louder and more aggressively and to add more fun to the mix I seem to get irritated very easily.  I think I am fighting some kind of inner battle with myself. Like I am depressed or upset but my brain has not categorized it so my body is just taking this deflective posture until it figures out what’s up.

Need an example? My husband just came out of his office and struck up a conversation about chocolate. You know the yummy sweet cocoa deliciousness? He found some in our pantry and wanted to let me know in case I was longing for something sweet. Nice guy right? My response was caustic and loud. Not really mean just aggressive. All of a sudden I looked at him and said “I am yelling, why am I yelling?” We both started laughing but my laugh turned into crying because I am so frustrated with myself. I have some ratcheted stress that seems to be getting worse, not better.

My husband’s take on the whole thing is that I am watching way too much news and internalizing it all. Mark feels my best course of action would be to avoid Facebook and the news. Take a break from the daily updates of insanity. He might be right. I actually waste way too much time trolling through the endless ridiculousness on Facebook. I like Facebook. I see things and hear about things from friends that I cannot see all of the time and I like that. Also included in the nice friendly updates is other people’s dirty laundry, personal unsolicited opinions on any given topic and a boat load of crazy. This kind of stuff can turn just about anybody crazy if they spend enough time looking at it.

The news is another ball of wax. I am just not someone that processes the news well. I take it all on. I can’t just “let it go”. Many stories I see and hear stay parked in my brain and become the scroll bar inside my head, like my own personal highlights page. That’s when “the mood” strikes, the loud growling mood that comes out of nowhere and attacks all in its wake. I am going to take my hubby’s advice. He has the most to gain from my attitude change if I pull it together so why not give it a try. 

Besides if I drag myself away from the negatives, maybe I would have time to write more. I’d like that. Who knows, maybe you would too.

I am going to pack up my loud voice and trot out a good attitude today, but first I have to post my blog and load it on Facebook…AGH, I know…I promise I won’t look at anything!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Let's NOT Talk About Politics

We have finally made it, it is 2016, a Presidential election year. I know it is hard to tell where the hard line is for campaigning anymore since practically everyone jumped into the presidential race a year and a half ago, but none the less here we are. I have bobbed and weaved my way around the topic of candidates as best I can with a slight slip of the tongue here and there for so long now, I’m not sure I can make it another 10 months without saying something that will end a friendship or if nothing else totally tick someone off.

You see, I am opinionated and I have strong feelings about many things (which you probably already know if you have read my blog before), but I draw the line at politics. I am passionate about what I am passionate about and I have strong feelings about what I think our country needs and doesn’t need, but I don’t want to argue with a friend over it or even have a passionate discussion over it. I’m just not that girl.

 Someone asked me point blank last week who I was voting for and it startled me. I was not expecting to have to pony up with a decision just yet. Honestly, I am just not ready to decide yet and I really don’t want to talk about why or even who. Can we all just agree to not talk about politics? Please?!

Here is the thing; say what you want about each and every candidate out there, in the end personal preference is the decision maker. What your life has been like for you. What your faith or belief system is and your gut. You’re out there RA RA RAing over somebody that just might be the last person I would find suitable, but I like you and now because of politics I am scratching my head. I thought you were different than that. Who knew you bent in that direction…now not only am I uncomfortable I am having a hard time  finding the words to share my thoughts because…well…I don’t want to!

Look, no matter how passionate we are about any of these people, someone is going to win and if you didn’t vote for them you are going to be upset. That’s a fact. So let’s agree on a few things:

*its politics, people win and people lose.

*You vote for someone they win and sometimes you regret it later.

*Not everyone agrees with you, no matter how loud you talk and no matter how strongly you believe in the person someone is going to have another person in mind.

*The great thing about America is that we can make our own choices about who we trust to lead us.

*Talking about politics is not everyone’s cup of tea, so respect those of us who have strong feelings, but like you enough to NOT want to talk about it with you. You will know us by the slight smirk and distant look in our eye when you bring it up.