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The giant corkscrew of life

corkscrewSometimes you just get sick of all the little lies that it takes to be around other people, all the I’m doing fine stuff, all the it’s for the best stuff. Sometimes you just remember, in what seems like an out-of-the-blue moment, that you’re pissed off. Sure maybe you’ve worked on all the mindfulness and the breathing, and the waking up and being grateful to be alive stuff. But suddenly all that seems so far off…

I’ve been a marvel at that stuff, let me tell you. I threw myself into it, learned, grew, learned more. Sure I messed up, but I could feel the progress, and people could see it. Can still see it I suppose. So I guess I was thinking I was maybe heading to the finish line you know? I’ve been to that amazing place, the one I want to just stay in for the rest of my life. That place where I’m at peace with what’s been done, at peace with my child being a stranger who somehow believes I’m worth hating, or trying to hate anyway. The place where I know she doesn’t hate me, I know, I really know. The place where I can see her father’s point of view on life and know that this, all of this, is just a symptom of the terrible hurts he’s lived with for his entire life time.

It’s really a lovely place. Only somehow I slipped out of it. I did. Maybe more like fell actually. I’m really shaking mad deep down, like war paint mad. But It will fade, I’ll get through it again, I always do, and it always gets easier. I just didn’t expect to feel the same crappy way I have so many times just as strongly after doing all that damn work and forgiving, all that breathing. And right now I can’t breathe, and I want to scream, and rip and tear, and shake the world. So naturally, that came up in counseling, heh. And I was told of course it’s natural to go through this whole cycle over and over, it’s like a corkscrew, she said. But it was unclear if I’ll eventually be able to open the wine. It seems to me that’s the point of all the work though, right? One great thing – I’m lucky enough to be reunited with my son, after a few terrible years. We’re both still healing and figuring out who we are, but we have lots of love, so that’s a great start.

Still I keep twisting my way through this angry place and I know I don’t want to stay here. I’ve seen way too many people who never get out of it, and they are dying inside. I’ve tried to pull some of them along as I corkscrewed off into better ways of coping. And even now I don’t want to join my voice to their furious chorus. I don’t want to wring my hands and go all outraged victim either. Screw that. Well, corkscrew it anyway I hope. I know the victim, and she hates me. I’m just collateral damage compared to that. I’m not that angry anymore about all I’ve lost. I mean, bullshit, of course I am, but that’s just one of those dull aches I carry under my skin, you can tell it by the dead spots like the rest of my scars.

But I am dead furious at what’s been done to her. No child should ever have to explain to one parent where the other one got the money for the new TV, or keep notes of mistakes in a journal, or lie like a trapped animal. She was well and truly trapped. I hope she’s feeling freer now. That’s all I had left to offer I guess, letting her go without calling in lawyers and screaming about *my* rights. I do have them, those rights. I’m custodial parent in the last signed legal anything. And that’s worth exactly nothing unless I decide to actually put on the war paint (spoiler alert, that won’t happen, because why make more pain, really, when there’s been so much). Oh but the way she left, no words, no confrontation, just a lie about getting help, working together, all of us for her, and then poof. Somehow everyone just made it clear she wasn’t coming back, wasn’t getting help. Somehow I just knew. Still, I didn’t think it would be two and a half years and counting… I mean, I’d been warned, but I never really believed it would go that far. Even she told me it was war. I’m just thick. Add that to the journals.

Ah, some sadness is coming back in, that’s progress. Maybe I’ll wake up less pissed tomorrow and I can get back to the kind of healing I actually enjoy. This kind sucks. But, apparently, it’s necessary. Because I guess we’re all screwed, really. We find ourselves back in the dark hallways we swore we’d never revisit. We gain back the weight, or re-lose the temper, or get afraid of elevators, or revisit the rape all over again. Yeah, cliche though it is, we handle stuff when we’re ready. I’m apparently ready to throw myself at this a bit harder this time, and maybe make even more of a mess. I’m apparently ready to talk about it more, to write about it more. I really really hope this will help me make it to that wine someday.

Dear John,

wedding

7/2/10

There’s a line in this song I like, and I really do like the song, it’s gorgeous actually (Sooner Surrender by Matt Nathanson), but this one line, it just kept bugging me, just that niggling bit at first, then more. So I thought about it, because I’m into staring at stuff that makes me nervous. And it made me realize something really huge that I love about you. And that’s pretty cool considering I’m a little mad at you right now. (Only a little, and I’m sorry for being a little weird the last few days too.) So anyway the line is:

“You got someone new singing you your songs now.”

And I hear it and I think:

“Okay, I get that he’s a musician singing to a lost love, but still, wtf? Why isn’t she singing her *own* damn songs? I love a musician and he’d never say it like that.”

And it’s been slowly dawning on me that it’s because you never have sung me my songs. You always just gently stepped aside and let me sing if I felt like it. You’ve done a pretty amazing job of not being like most guys I’ve ever met (who needed to own me in some way). In fact it’s so revolutionary to me that I used to fight it. I was confused about the freedom I didn’t even understand that I had until you took it for granted. I was pretty mean. No, horrible. You weren’t peachy either. But damned if even through those fights (the ones I think I started just so I could yell out loud some of the crap we were going through), damned indeed if you didn’t treat me like my own person. And with so much more respect than I was showing you at those times.

I wish more people were like you. I mean, not in every single way, sorry love, but just giving each other space to be whoever the hell they’re trying to be. And you change and grow into something new a lot, and yes it makes things a little chaotic, but never boring, and I’m free to grow any way I need any time because you get it. And you have my back, and I hope you know just how very much I have yours. I just want you to know that I think you really are the best person I know. Thank you for five weird and amazing years of marriage, and for all the rest to come.

Love,
Liesl

 

It was what it was

serenity

It may not shock you to learn that I’ve spent the last many years feeling that I wasted most of my life. That’s a rough statement, really, but true. Also, I probably did waste a lot of it. I mean, I took my own sweet time in limbo. And so, after years of therapy and deep digging, countless hours of agonizing over pretty much everything anywhere, I have come up with two words to say about that.

“So what?”

So… it really sucks.

“So what?”

So… some people are cruel and their actions and lies have hurt me and mine. Life isn’t fair!

“So what?”

So… oh. Um… Well, I suppose I could learn from it and move on.

“Yeah! You got this!”

Sure I still tell the tales of loss and woe here and there, but it’s just a story now. An origin story. My origin. Not as exciting as “I was bitten by a radioactive spider” as stories go, but you gotta work with what you have.

Everybody suffers. The world can be cruel and harsh, and so many humans are not humane. And so what? We are here, now. Who we are now is made up of who we have been and what we’ve come through. Of course our origin stories help define us. But when it comes to what we can actually DO about anything, all there is now is now.

I’m skating on the edges of serenity these days. I can feel the truth of things flowing through my awareness. I can feel the power of letting go, setting myself free from the guilt and obligation, and even the pain of my past. It is done and gone, and my trying so hard to change it has kept me standing still for a while now. I can learn from that too. Nothing is wasted of my life, I am here, now, because I was there, then.

Wait, I hate that, oh, I still want to fight that in my heart, because I want to agonize and hate my past forever, and light furious fires over so many injustices.

But no. The simple things are true. I’m here now because I was there then. 

It was what it was.

And now my feet are facing forward, and I can move ahead. That, all of that, the past, was what it was. Now is time for what is, and for thinking about what will be, if I choose to make it so. Now I feel the power, because I am creating my own life. I may not be Spider-man, but I am mighty.

I am mighty, hear me… meditate?

So yeah, serenity and peace can be hard, especially with all the chaos around us right now. But if ever there was a time for us to be kind to ourselves and one another, this is it. It is what it is because we are making it so. We can choose to waste our time (is it really wasted?), or to see things differently, or to set healthy boundaries, or to shake things up in our own way. We are not as stuck as we might think we are. We can change every moment that follows this one.

The past was what it was, and I’m slowly and gracefully (or not) becoming who I want to be, with at least a touch of serenity.

Phenomenal cosmic… wait, what?

red_coatI’m noticing a lot of things lately about life as an invisible woman. It’s true that long ago and for a long time I was also invisible, but I was scared, and didn’t know enough to think about the upsides to this. I mean, I’ve spent a lifetime of comic book reader’s scorn for the “power” of invisibility. Power, I said? Bah, that’s lame. I used it to hide, nothing more. That was all I wanted from life, once.

But now I’m this sort of rounded sweet thing known as a Middle-Aged Woman, and it’s honestly as if I’ve fallen into this graceful spot where I get to watch everything. Nobody cares that I’m there, because I’m decidedly not a threat, not important to the story, irrelevant in fact. I don’t mean I feel irrelevant, I mean that’s the perception. It doesn’t hurt my feelings really, but it’s taking a bit of adjustment to realize what life has changed me into this time.

I’m the kindly aunt, or the sad cow, or the spinster, or the woman in the large hat who is over-focused on her flowers. Good, I say, the better to watch you all. Bad, though, I say, because I could help you so much, but you don’t even know I’m here.

Women have a habit of changing form in society as we age. I should be used to it by now I suppose. But I did spend a bit too much of life in an ivory tower, so perhaps I’m even more naive than when I began.

We begin as princesses, adorable of course, and so sweet. Never mind that I went through my childhood with messy hair and muddy elbows. People saw what they expected to see, and so I suppose I was as much princess as any other girl. That idea still makes me gag though. :P

Sometime far before we’re ready, we find we’ve magically become sex symbols, equally wanted and reviled, competing for what we’re told is the prize of a lifetime. Some of us just want to stay princesses (or keep our messy hair and muddy elbows), but this isn’t how the world works. We rarely even stop to wonder how it happened, it’s all just moving so fast and violently really.

Next stop: wife, which can still be sexy, but usually moves to mother pretty quickly. Yes I’ve heard of milfs, thank you, but the point is that we are put in boxes, and that’s that, you know? Jumping in between the boxes doesn’t exactly set one free, does it? We’re handed this purpose, be sweet, be there for sex, be there just for one, be the one who cares for everyone, and we swallow it don’t we? No, I didn’t, but it made no difference in how I was perceived, how I’ve always been perceived.

And then I suppose we come to me, now. I’m currently mostly invisible, and will probably continue to be so until I either die quietly or crash my car into someone so that they have no choice but to notice me. I’m now and forevermore the old lady in the corner cracking one-liners before the next commercial break. Well, we do notice one another, I must say. It’s a new club for me, and we see one another, which is at once reassuring and sad.

Why sad? Because we are amazing, that’s why. We are the wise(r) women, the ones who have “been there” and truly “done that” and really are writing the book. We are the ones I wish I’d met when I was  younger, although I’d have assured them that I knew what I was doing thank you very much.

I am the opposite of the Genie – Itty bitty bit of power, phenomenal cosmic living space. Now that I know what I know, what do I do with it? Well I’ll get back to you, but try to pay attention when I do, will you?

Growing things

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Fire oasis :)

My fingers are numb, and I’m walking like a bent zombie thing. I wake up every morning and pop Tylenol, cursing mildly because I want Aleve but I promised family I wouldn’t take it anymore (I’m on blood thinners, and apparently this is more than mildly unhealthy to do). I make that groaning growling noise old people always make when getting out of a chair, and stumble to find the coffee.

I’m sore, beat, achy, and ouchie. And I’m so happy. Because I am getting stuff done, you see. I’m not blooming where I’m planted (I hate that!), but I have been planting blooms, and larger things. This year we made the big dirt fire area into an actual fire “pit,” although pit is not the right word. How about oasis? Can there be a fire oasis? It’s not fancy, but it means the world to me. Oh how we’ve bickered through it all, and discussed, and dreamed. And then we just made it happen. Well, I made it happen, and my husband was a wonderful sport with an equally sore back!

15 - 18

“Before” picture. We still had a lot of fun with fire back then.

When it was finally done, I should have rested. I should have helped John plant the vegetables, something he’d put on hold while I went slightly berserk for a few weeks. I should have started writing the book I’m plotting out in my head. Oh do I have “shoulds.” So naturally, I started another project, the beginnings of what will someday (soon) be a zen/fountain area. I lined the space with rocks, filled with mulch, placed a few plants. And when that was done, I noticed how much I hated the bushes by the side of the house that were blocking the view of the fire oasis from the deck. I began to trim them. A lot. I overdid it but I felt victorious as I limped inside, which was getting to be a regular thing. The next day, I yanked three of the bushes out with some sort of crazy fury. And a shovel.

As I started on the fourth and last bush, something inside my back decided the mild warnings weren’t cutting it and sent a serious message. I begged John for help, and he got the last one out for me. Mind you, these were big things, even after the huge haircuts I’d given them the day before. And John was just trying to work on his vegetable garden in peace. I think this was the day I went inside and begged him to get me one of those old oxycodone pills I’d kept since my back surgery several years ago while I forced myself to be still, but the frenzy is all blurring together now.

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Yes, that’s a gnombie. And an unplanted electric dog fence. #howweroll

The next day I moved the heavy edging blocks into place and built a nice garden area on that side of the deck, mirroring the other side. I moved 25 of those things, and yes I counted through the pain. I also didn’t worry too much about leveling anything, because ouch, screw it. And the day after that I was out buying replacement plants, nothing too tall of course, we must be able to see my fire oasis from everywhere. Then home to plant, a little more mulch, and… Next project!

A landing in the yard by the deck stairs. Someday (soon is likely) it will lead to all the pathways I’m going to make. It was a bigger project than I planned, and my math skills failed me. My wonderful husband spent part of last Saturday running to the store with me for more gravel, and then later by himself for more sand. At some point, he gently tried to tell me one more time about his vegetable garden, and I finally snapped out of this crazed thing I was/am in enough to say oh, crap, I kind of suck, sorry. Then I went and mulched the “island” we’d created last year. And the next day I devoted to helping him by cleaning out the veggie garden area and making a much better looking spot for his new worm growing project among other things. See, the good news is John is also always making big plans, so as annoying as I may be, surely he has to understand at least a little!

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The dogs grooving on our hard work.

Yesterday we finished the landing. John was much more involved, and I think full of forgiveness because I finally helped him like I should have all along. Of course, there’s more to do, more more more. This morning I announced to him that my back was really pissed at me and I planned to do no heavy lifting when I got home from work. I may or may not have been lying.

See, the one thing I can’t seem to get enough of is this crazy hard work/progress sweat. It stings my eyes, curls my short hair into some sort of bad 80s perm look, smells ranker than the middle school locker room, and feels… amazing! I look around in wonder at what just a month or two ago was just a mess of dirt and some crappy bushes, and I think, wow. I think holy shit. I made this. I mean, John made it too, but I’m sort of glowing in the I can do it mode of someone who only ever dug holes to play in the mud before this. I’m a steward, I’m growing things and growing myself, and no wonder I’ve been acting like a crazed lunatic, it’s addicting as hell to create and nurture.

15 - 9 (1)

Birds’ eye view

Did I mention the birds? They love us so much. Sunday John asked me, over coffee on the deck, if I’d seen any hummingbirds yet this year, and I said no, not yet, and five minutes later I heard this noise, which I rudely compared to our largest dog Snoopy passing gas, and there it was,  feasting at the feeders John had hung with homemade nectar. I couldn’t get a picture, but I succeeded in scaring it off. By the time John came out with more coffee five minutes later, two more hummingbirds had visited, and I knew what their chirps sounded like. How had I not noticed that sound all these years?

15 - 5

Hops and hummingbirds and Buddha :)

Anyway, there’s a lot of metaphors I could put here, which is what I usually do. But the truth is, taking care of nature feels exactly like taking care of nature, and taking care of myself feels like that too. I’m always all too aware that I have lost the chance to raise my daughter, and I think maybe all of this madness has come from rediscovering that I have a lot to offer to the world. I am nurturing, something I’d allowed myself to stop even trying for far too long. I’m good at it, and I’m loving it. Someday maybe I’ll show her all the things I’ve grown into since she left.

In the meantime, there’s some pathways to build!

Yes, that says "live worms" - cracks me up!

John’s veggie garden. Spray paint says “live worms” – cracks me up!

Watering the weeds

my gorgeous gardenia

My friend Mollie called this the world’s tiniest gardenia. But I planted it, and it sure looks huge to me!

People that know me know that I’m what you could call a “recovering doormat.” They also know that I’ve had to work very hard at getting and staying emotionally stable while learning that it’s okay to feel stuff. I spent most of my life thinking I needed a reason, an excuse, and allowing other people (let’s just call them bullies) to tell me my feelings were wrong. I thought I was crazy for even having them.

It hurts me that… No, you’re wrong. Here’s why.

I want to tell you I’m mad… No, you have no right to be mad.

Well, you get the picture. I have stuff buried all over in this blog and poetry place about my mid-life epiphany that I’m allowed to have feelings even if they have no reason whatsoever. And so are you, by the way! So now, these days, when people try to tell me I’m wrong, I actually notice it, think about it, see it for what it is (bullying and control) and then I say to myself, Self, move on. This isn’t someone who will respect you, nurture you, or even make you smile. It’s harder when it’s a relative, but life is short, and my time really is precious to me.

I spend a lot of that time lately weeding the garden. It’s not only healthy for me to be outside moving, but the results are a beautiful space full of balance and color. The weeds I toss into a heap, and that heap goes into a container, and that goes away to wherever the city takes yard waste, with my blessing. Sometimes when I’m rushed I only have time to just water everything, and when I’m watering weeds, I think about life. Yes, I think about life all the time, it’s just this happens to be about weeds. Watering weeds feels wrong to me. All that energy going to something that is trying to take over my lovely space. Energy that could go to my flowers and plants, or the veggies my husband John is growing.

That’s what it’s like trying to fix things with someone who can’t respect your feelings. Sometimes, you just need to put the hose away and stop trying to make flowers out of weeds. Yank them out and toss them in the pile. Then, look at the space you’re creating, smell the flowers, and enjoy the hell out of caring for what you love. My garden is thriving, it’s really my first year feeling this crazy passion for it, and I can’t seem to stop working on it. The birds come and eat at our restaurant and frolic in the bath, and the dogs roll in the grass, and I look around with my husband and I say, Look at what we’ve created here! It’s the same in my heart. I’m not into blooming where I’m planted, but I do love taking charge of my garden. Happy Spring!

We should stop hiding

There was once a time when I looked good, like really really good. Like this picture here.00000262

Kinda nice, right? Of course, if you’d have asked me, I’d have said oh yuck, I’m meh at best. And yes, those fake pearls were all the thing in the 80s, so get off my back.

Anyway, blah blah blah, weight happens, and it happened to me. I could tell you it was trauma-related. It was. But then it was just comfortable. And then it was impossible. Also, I had kids, that sure was an extreme thing to do to a body. And bedrests and surgeries, and you get the picture, right?

Oh, no you don’t, because I don’t show those pictures. Well, until now. Because I was going through old stuff today, and found them, and it’s the day after Mother’s Day, and I’m with my kids in these, and I’m just happy being mom.

I never felt good about how I looked, never had the right clothes, never took the time to do anything about it except avoid mirrors. I lost a lot of weight about 10 years ago, and suddenly “Sure I’ll pose for those pictures…” Well, a lot of the weight is back on now, and I hate pictures of myself again. But I’m still posing for them sometimes. I figure I should have *some* proof of a life after all. I’m so glad I have the pictures from the last 8 years with friends and family, so many adventures!

But in my 20s and 30s I spent most of my time hiding from the camera. Apparently my parents weren’t fooled, and took shots anyway. Thank goodness! Because today when I looked at these pictures, I thought, wow, I remember that day, I remember that moment, the things the kids were doing, the books I was reading to them, the clothes, haircuts, all that love love love. And it made me happy. And then I was like, what the hell was I hiding from? Well, I’m glad someone found me. Also, I look gorgeous.

Now please stop hiding your beautiful light from the world! And I’ll keep working on that too.

P.S. Damn, those kids are cute, right?

me nuzzling my son

Sometimes you just gotta nuzzle.

me and my daughter

Oh her eyes!

me and my son laughing big

This kid still cracks me up constantly. <3

00000369

00000603

me and my son

You could manage to exhaust him into posing…

me and my daughter

MerleFest, camping and music and this cool kid.

very pregnant with my son

Didn’t deliver him for another MONTH!!

me very pregnant and tired

Okay, it wasn’t all delight!

me and my baby girl

She was born intense.

me reading to my girl

We used to negotiate the number of books per bedtime.

 

 

 

mewithkids

Gah!

rope_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFile

I lie all the time. I tell people I’m fine. Dandy. I mean, sure, there are some hard times, but you just gotta breathe. Go with the flow. I seem so wise, right? I mean, even *I* believe that I’ve got it together sometimes.

Well, that is until my tooth hurts so much I can’t chew, or let any water flow to that entire side of my mouth, and the dentist, who I took two weeks to call, says well dear, you’re cracking your molar from clenching your jaw shut all the time, that’s very bad. And then I get fit for a night guard, and told to use it during the day too when I can, because this isn’t just a night thing, hasn’t been for a while now. And the dentist, who FINALLY pronounces my name right by the way(!), says wait, your kids are all out of the house, what do *you* have to be stressed about.

And so I lie again, and say absolutely nothing that I know of should be stressing me out, I can’t understand it myself (which wasn’t really a lie, because I’m just dumb sometimes). And I go home and my own guts start to try to kill me with (ahem) very unpredictable and unpleasant behaviors. So I wait another few days, miss a day of work, and finally get my butt to therapy, where truth happens in spite of my best damn efforts.

Headaches, jaw clenching, gut issues, messed up shoulders and neck. Hmm, what do we have here? Well, it might just be stress. Let’s look deeper, shall we?

Oh my, the stress isn’t just simply daily stuff getting to me, it’s me trying to hold back anything, no, everything unpleasant, which works fine for a little while until the stuff all builds up and I’m trying to dam the whole ocean, which is really a terrible idea as it turns out. Scratch the surface of the dam and I start to leak, and please pass the tissues and just hold on tight because this might take a while. And I’m drowning in sorrow which is NOT depression (phew, for now), but still sort of just, well, awful. And it’s all this close to Mother’s Day when strangers ask about your kids, and friends ask about your kids, and why is this stupid holiday a thing anyway?!

I miss my kids, all of them. But mostly, I miss my girl, because I can’t even say hi to her and get a hi back. And I miss the promises life made to me when I pushed and pulled her out into the world, the ones that said I’d have a hard time with this one, she’s stubborn, and I was excited to suffer the future because I could raise her in love, and it was an adventure and I was up to it. I was, and I am. I was ready for the work. I wasn’t ready to lose the chance, and I’m lying whenever I say I’m fine about it. I’m not fine. But I’m okay. Or I will be okay. Or I’m lying again.

Either way, doctor’s orders, I’m working on a self-care regimen. My go-to method of coping is to not cope. I don’t know how to focus on myself for very long, and it makes me all weird and self-conscious. I don’t know if I should be around people or alone. I don’t know if I should write, read, or just watch re-runs. I don’t want to get a pedicure and I don’t think it will help, but oh I really do need a decent haircut. And some clothes that fit this stress-fed body. But but but I don’t know how to start. Also, where the hell did I put my night guard?

Permanent ink

IMG_2409I just wrote this statement about parental alienation, and it snapped me awake more than I expected it to: “It’s not enough to win, they want to erase us entirely and brush us off the paper with their fingers.”

Being ignored has always been a trigger for me. Little sister blah blah blah. But seriously, it was how I was controlled in my first marriage, whenever what I said was disagreeable. Don’t like what I’m saying? Look away, walk away, never speak of it again. Really want to hurt me? Yawn while doing all of the above. Roll your eyes.

When I walked away, I walked into a world where I existed, unique and amazing. I came into being. I fell in love! And then the eraser came down and started scratching me out.

Parental alienation is the act of wiping a parent of the face of his or her child’s planet. Memories are rewritten in shadows, new rules created. Doubt and fear are tools. “Is she spying on you?” “Will she try to kidnap you?” “Are you safe with him?” “He’s trying to replace me with a new wife/mommy.” Never mind that the now-horrible parent has been there virtually forever for the child. Never mind that the child will never be balanced from the damage this causes. Never mind. Let’s pretend mom is invisible, crazy, not worthy of love and respect. Let’s ignore her and get on with life, just you and me kid. Let’s twist everything she says and does into threatening dark shapes on the wall. This isn’t about something a normal mind can grasp. It’s honestly incomprehensible. And yet it’s my reality.

But here’s the thing. I’m NOT invisible. I still exist, unique and amazing! I’m done hiding and pretending I have ANYTHING to be ashamed of. Of course I’ve screwed things up, of COURSE. But no, not that badly. Not anywhere near that badly. Children of abuse still don’t disconnect entirely from their parents, in fact they often push and fight for connection. Children who are alienated do disconnect, and also from their other relatives on that side. They switch into a mode of hate, not just distance. They wipe out half of their entire being for the satisfaction of someone needier. It’s heartbreaking, and more so for the children than the parents. There really is no winner here. Just pain and therapy bills and uncertainty.

I’m a step-mother now to two wonderful kids. I’ve annoyed them at times reminding them to call their mother. I’ll annoy them more I’m sure. We need to know our parents whenever possible, where we come from, where we fit. I’d never wish this lost feeling on any child or adult. Yes, of course in cases of abuse it’s different, but this is not about abuse. Please try to keep an open mind when someone tells you they haven’t seen their children in ages – there’s so much shame in this, it’s a huge act of courage to even speak the words. I want to change that, I’m working on how, but I don’t know yet.

What I do know is that I’m not written in pencil that can be erased. I’m not invisible, I’m not going anywhere, and I’ll never give up on my children.

To my lost child, and the one found again: I was not just there when you were born, I was your home. You will always be a part of me, and I am a part of you. I will be here until the day I die, ready to accept you, hug you, listen to you no matter what. Unconditional love is yours already, and will never ever run low. All of the hopes and wishes I had from before you were born are always with you. I wish so much happiness for you. I love you forever. In permanent ink.

Golden Handcuffs

Colorado

So I went to Colorado to be with family and fresh air, and it was wonderful. Maybe a little too wonderful, because as lovely as it is here in Raleigh, I’m having a hard time settling back down to this ordinary life that I honestly resent living sometimes. That isn’t a complaint, just the simple truth. Life is about compromises, and that pretty much always means we’re left wondering about our choices.

Every big decision I’ve made has been fairly well thought-out, and yet when I look at the path I walked to get here, it sure seems random and strange. Like everyone, I enjoy the What If game, even though time has tempered the urgency of it all. I understand on some basic level now that things are the way they are and that’s more than okay. I love life and find many things to enjoy every day.

But on a less basic level, I sense that my life is passing me by while I spend most of my waking time sitting at a computer writing about things I don’t care very much about. No, not this blog, that’s different! This is about work.

We all need some kind of work. I’ve done a bit of everything from fast food to corporate fancy. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, a home-schooler, an advocate. Some jobs were incredibly fulfilling, some soul-sucking. And honestly, the best ever was while I was recovering from a severe bout of depression and my first marriage was falling apart, which is pretty hard to explain even to myself. But I here’s why.

It’s because I was writing. I was still home with the kids, who were in school. I wrote every day as soon as they were on the bus, and watched as most of a novel stretched into life. I had an active writing partner who kept me going and tossed ideas my way. I wrote and we reviewed, and then played games until the kids got home. I drank coffee out of giant vessels and refilled frequently. I laughed every day. It’s kind of crazy to me now that I was even able to pull that off for a little while. Yes, my house was messy. But hey it still is anyway, and no new novels so far.

In this new(er) life, I get up early, but as late as I can manage, and get ready for work while my wonderful husband makes me coffee (coffee is my soul-mate). I go to work and think about what I’m paid to think about, and try to squeak out the rest of my thoughts the best I can around that. Often I feel stifled, rushed, panicked, and always insufficient. I’m basically suffocating myself creatively so that my family can have food, clothing, shelter, and most of all, health insurance. I don’t come cheap in that regard; doctors find me fascinating. Health insurance is mandatory.

Years ago when my career was just beginning and I had no children yet, the direct employees where I worked referred to the Golden Handcuffs. This meant a job they didn’t love with benefits they simply couldn’t live without, a captivated style of working. I remember thinking that those problems seemed a million years off, but I suppose I was off by most of a million. And here I am handcuffed to my desk by ideas that weren’t my own.

And so now, back home and noticing my patterns, I’m faced with trying to either find peace with this arrangement or change it. I’m not a tree, and I don’t have to bloom where I’m planted. Eight years ago I started life over with almost nothing. I traded my slow and lovely writing days for the career I’d left behind. I’d left it happily really, thrown out my watch and my badge and walked on out. Walking back in was hard as hell, in spite of the amazing luck of a fast hire into a great team. That was two companies ago, and I work for an amazing company, with amazing benefits, and a great team yet again. It’s all amazing. So many people I know want to be where I am.

Now, how do I convince myself that I do as well?

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