In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Rite of Passage

When I entered my sophomore year of high school, I anticipated the initiation into high school, as I had heard tall tales of this rite of passage from those who had already experienced the thrill. At that time, I lived in the middle of rural Minnesota…on a farm and surrounded by small rural communities…the town I lived closest to, had a population of 50, with a general store, a feed mill, a bar and 2 churches. What more do you need?

The country school was closed, so all of us in the area were bused to the surrounding towns for school. While I was shipped off to one school, in a much larger town, many of my friends went to another, which was the one I wanted to attend because it was smaller and more of my friends were there. I hung out in this town more often then in the one that I was forced to attend.

Even though I went to school in the one town, I continued hanging out with my friends in this other town and participated in the activities that took place at their school. One of the traditions at their school, was the initiation of sophomores into high school.

The initiation was this…all new sophomores were randomly kidnapped by seniors, in groups of 2 or 3, after dark, when they least expected it. They would be blindfolded, given an unknown drink that had to be guzzled and then put in the back of a truck or in the trunk of a car. Then they would be driven around long enough to confuse the hell out of them… down country roads, field roads and even through woods and fields, before they were dropped off in the middle of no where, to find their own way back to town. Now remember, this was a time before cell phones so it’s not like we could call someone, to come pick us up.

This rite of passage ritual took place each September. Of course this ritual was not condoned by the school but they didn’t stop it. Parents knew about it and much like with our drinking, turned their heads to it and thought of it as harmless fun. No one was ever hurt in the process of this initiation and for the record, as far as I know, no one that didn’t already drink alcohol, was forced to drink it. It’s just that pretty much everyone drank already.

Much like our “start of summer ritual“ of jumping off the bridges, naked, into the cold river, we anticipated this rite of passage with excitement yet with a little bit of fear. Like I said, I had heard many tall tales of previous “kidnappings” and thought it would be fun. We knew it was coming once school started. We just didn’t know when. It was always in the back of our minds to be prepared but they knew us well enough to catch us off guard. These seniors were our friends so how mean could they be? I was a tough farm chic, how bad could it really be? (At least, I thought I was a tough farm chic. I weighed like 90 lbs. LOL)

I learned very quickly, the night of my initiation, just how mean my friends could be. I was taken with 2 of my good friends on a Friday night, from the parking lot, during a football game and we were already on our way to being drunk. After we were blindfolded and put in the back of a stinky farm truck, we were driven around for an hour. They took our shoes from us before leaving us in the middle of a field. At the moment, I was just so thankful that they hadn’t taken our clothes, but that didn’t last long because walking in a cold field, barefoot, is not pleasant.

We had no idea whatsoever of where we were and it was so dark we could barely see each other, let alone where we were going. So there we were in pitch dark, starting to feel the cold, but laughing our asses off at the pure thrill of it all.

We started walking and after all they had given us to drink, of course we had to pee. Dropping our drawers was no problem for my one friend and I but for my other friend, she would not hear of it and said she was holding it until we made it back to town. We walked and we walked.

Believe me, we were no longer laughing once the reality of this night set in. In fact, my friend,(the one who was holding her pee) who was kind of prissy, who had a history of crying when she was drunk, started crying. This wasn’t new to us because this is how she was. She was the “good” girl. She did good in school, was a cheerleader, and was involved in her church . She was the girl that the teachers and parents thought was good and pure. In reality, not so much. I kept her secrets. I let her keep the persona of being the good girl. I took the blame for her often so that she could stay out of trouble. She loved to have a good time and then cry about it.

We walked until we found a little patch of woods and looked for wood to start a fire. We found a few pieces of wood but we were unsuccessful in starting a fire so moved on. By this point, my prissy friend, started yelling at our other friend and I, blaming us for not finding our way out of there. Can you see where this is going? Yep, she was the poop on our party. She would not stop complaining and whining. She was acting like such a piss ant that we started calling her Miss Piss Ant. With the potty mouth that I had at that time, she is lucky, I did not call her the names I wanted to call her that night. She is lucky that we did not run from her and leave her all to herself to find her own way, because believe me, she would still be there today. Don’t think we didn’t consider doing this but she was our friend.

My other friend, had a flask of cherry slow gin with her, so whenever Miss Piss Ant, got too unbearable, she took another chug, which only meant that she continued getting drunker than we already were and so she was of no help in finding our way. She was my friend that was known to drink until she threw up, but in the mean time did a lot of stupid stuff , the kind of stuff that usually pissed other people off. In fact, I think she pulled me down on the ground at least a dozen times. And of course she thought it was funny. Me, not so much. She could have cared less whether we found our way out or not. And she had no problem spouting off obscenities at Miss Piss Ant. Seriously, at one point I considered leaving both of them behind to fight it out on their own and find my own way back but the rule of the game is you have to return together.

We finally found a gravel road and just as we relaxed in knowing that this road would lead to another, which could lead us to town, we heard a loud growl in the silence of the night. We screamed out from being startled and started running. If you have ever walked on a gravel road barefoot, then you know that running on one is just as painful. But, when your running from a farm dog that wants to take a bite out of you, you don’t really feel the pain on your feet until the next day.

Now remember, Miss Piss Ant, the poop on our party friend, that wouldn’t pee outside? Either she peed in her pants when she was startled or while running down the road. Once we had gotten far enough away, we stopped and she told us that she had peed in her pants. We laughed our asses off, but her, not so much. It served her right for being such a piss ant.

We walked that night for many hours. Eventually, we found a main road and we knew where we were. I learned that night, that walking on cold tar is much better then walking on cold gravel. I am sure walking in cold wet pants was quite unpleasant for Miss Piss Ant…enough to make her learn her lesson about holding her pee and being too proud to drop her drawers when it was necessary. I think she toughen up a bit after that night.

My other friend, ended up throwing up along the side of the road and while I was holding her hair back, a car came along and gave us a ride to town. Thankfully, this wasn’t against the rules.
Once we got back to town, we realized how filthy dirty we were after walking and falling down in a field for hours. We looked at each other and laughed. Some how having survived this rite of passage together, we felt closer in spite of some of the drama that had taken place during that night. As we walked down the main street of town, we found our shoes hanging from a sign. After putting our shoes on our filthy feet, we stood in the middle of the street and hugged. We passed the test. We could now say we had done it. We could now tell our tall tales to those younger than us. You can be assured that when we became seniors we had our opportunity to initiate our sophomore friends as well.

For some reason, this story came back to me the other day. In thinking about it, it kind of reminds me of how I am feeling right now. In a lot of ways, I feel like I have been blindfolded and dropped off in the middle of no where, am lost and I am trying to find my way home. This place that I am at right now, feels foreign to me. I feel like someone has taken my clothes and left me naked in a land where no one knows my language. I feel like someone(me) has removed the blindfold from my eyes and I am seeing things I don’t want to see. I am seeing new things every day. Sometimes, I want to put the blindfold back on.

I am still smoke free. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as removing smoking from my life, can reveal such a mess? Can cause me to act like such a mess? Of course it’s not just the “not smoking” anymore, that is the only issue…it’s all that was hidden underneath it. I question my sanity at choosing to do this when I was already in the middle of an insanity all of it's own, called menopause. I am a mess. I am not liking myself very much right now. I am taking baby steps in learning how to be gentle and good to myself though and if you know me, then you know this is big for me.

I am learning to breath through these moments…to stop holding my breathe. This is my rite of passage. I will find my way home. But, first, I should probably find my clothes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Something to Smile About

My time here on the computer has become even more sporadic then it was before. I miss it...I miss writing more than anything. I miss getting around to visiting you more often... but I keep thinking(and praying)that soon, I will get my life to be more manageable and it will allow me time for myself, in this way.

Since I quit smoking, I have been facing my giants head on. I've come to realize that if I don't face these things, and make some changes in me, I will eventually start back smoking again. I've quit before and it's the same things that keep sucking me back in. If I don't learn to face my fears without hiding behind a cigarette...if I don't learn to deal with my stress in a better way then with smoking...if I don't learn to deal with my emotions and start expressing them, whether it be anger, sadness, hurt or frustration, without stuffing them down with a cigarette...if I don't find new ways to reward myself or to celebrate without a cigarette...if I don't, eventually I will go running back to them, just like I've always done. I don't want to keep doing this.

Fighting giants can get pretty ugly. Stopping myself in the midst of a sweaty battle and taking a good look at my reflection in the muddy waters, I tell myself to keep moving forward. I can get pretty stinky some days. I don't always like what I am seeing in myself. I don't always like anyone around me either. Seriously, I am serving up a bowl of pissed off soup with this shit sandwich. Some days I don't know if I am coming or going. Inch by inch, step by step, I am living without smoking. I am living and breathing without a cigarette in my mouth to help me do it. Amen.

Every other time that I've quit, I never addressed these things. In the past, I quit for my children, and my grandchildren because they wanted me to. I quit, but deep down I knew I would go back eventually. This time, I quit for me. This time, except for the two little people, my children and grandchildren don't even know that I've quit. I didn't tell them yet, because I know they are tired of being disappointed when I started up again. Sometimes they do read this blog, but most of the time, they are too busy. Remarkably, they are not smokers and even though they hate my smoking, they have never been mean to me about it and have done nothing but support me in quitting. This time, I want them to come to know that I quit for me and that it's different this time. But, only time will tell...I just don't want to disappoint them.

I really do have these remarkable children. In spite of the imperfect mother that I am, they have become these great young adults...who, if I knew them outside of being their mother, would want to be their friend. Each of them, are so amazingly different from one another. Yet, each of them make me feel so loved and honored...more loved and honored than I feel that I deserve. Each of them, have given me the gift of grace, time and time again. And without them, I would not be here.

Even though these days have been on the hellish side of life, I have seen rays of sunlight shining through. Every day I wake up to these smiles...
It's these smiles, that are the last thing I see before I go to work(usually)'s these smiles, that greet me every day upon my return from's these smiles that I see, most of the time, just before's these smiles, that keep reminding me not to smoke and why I'm not.
They give me something to smile about every day...just looking at them, makes me smile.
Last weekend, my brother, who is my best Friend(well, besides my husband)watched the little people for the weekend so my husband and I could have a break for a night. He even took them to a Minnesota Twins baseball game! They had a blast and so did he. I think they tired him out! He is getting married in October to this really great woman and they hope to have children. They will make the best parents but until they do, I tell them they can borrow ours whenever they want!
Last, but not least, my little A man (2 year old grandson),is getting to come for a very short unexpected visit this weekend!!! His other grandparent's have a wedding in our area and they asked if we would like to have him for the weekend. Are you kidding me? We can hardly wait!
So the 3 little trouble makers will get to have some fun together while I chase them around and hopefully get some pictures of their trouble making. And believe me when I say, these 3 know how to get into trouble together!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Weeks!

It's 2 weeks today that I have gone without smoking! Yes, it's still crazy hard. And yes, I still crave cigarettes but I haven't given in to them. And no, I didn't think I would make it to this point...hell, I didn't think I was going to make it through the first day, let alone 14 whole days. I am facing my giants one day at a time.

This past weekend was my first big test. We had a couples shower for two of our good friends. I knew there would be lots of drinking and smoking. We couldn't miss it but part of me wanted to because deep down I thought I would be too weak to resist. At one point in the night, I wanted to smoke so badly that I went into the house to warm up and to take a break from being around it. I sat in the house and told myself all the reasons why I wasn't smoking...having to tell all of you that I smoked was one of the reasons I didn't. Knowing that I would have to start this whole hellish process over again is another reason I didn't. It was a long night but I made it.

Going into the weekend, everyone told me, that it would be okay if I gave in and had one. But, I know better. I know me. I know that one would never be enough. I know that one will lead me back to smoking.

I know I have a long ways to go before I'm in the clear. I know that I still have a lot of giants butts to kick. But, for today, I am proud of me. I am proud I have made it this far. And I have all of you to thank you, for supporting me and helping me to believe that I can do this. Seriously, you guys rock!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Giants

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

I picked the word “courage” to be my token word for 2009 and once again, life has served up to me, these opportunities, to learn the full meaning of wearing courage. These lessons that involve letting go, relying on my resiliency to keep getting back up when I fall down, accepting and yet trying to change my human flaws that try to rip my confidence away, as I try to put on the face of bravery, are brought to me…to keep me humble as I face “my giants” with courage.

In this present moment, the giant I am facing and fearing is “not smoking”…or so I thought. The thing is, in this past week I have found that “not smoking” is only the outside layer of my giant. Underneath the “not smoking”, are years of layers, of ugly filthy issues that stink from being past their expiration dates. I am on day 11 of not smoking and every single day these issues expose themselves to me and I have nothing to hide behind. I told you smoking was “it” for me but I never realized how much I have hid behind it. How much it was my false courage. I have called alcohol, “liquid courage”, and now I call smoking, “courage on a lit up stick”.

So many feelings and stresses that I was able to stuff inside, just by a puff of courage. I was able to still that quiet voice inside of me…I was able to keep quiet those things that wanted to scream. I could pretend I didn’t feel like crying…smoking stopped the tears from falling. Back in the day, drugs did this for me. It’s why I was high, every moment of the day, for years. With smoking cigarettes, I didn’t get high anymore, but it became it’s own high.

I remember the very first time I smoked. I was eleven. A year later, a friend of mine, taught me and another girl how to smoke for real(to inhale), in a back ally behind a bar, that all our families were in, celebrating a wedding. The 3 of us sat with a tray of drinks we had stolen from the bar, a joint and we each had a pack of cigarettes. He made us keep smoking until we were doing it “right”. Then we smoked the joint. All I remember is that for the first time in my life I felt free from internal pain. I was numb and numb felt good…it felt perfect. I was hooked.

I came to believe that as long as I was numb, it didn’t matter what was said or done to me. I could stand before my father and just watch his mouth move. It didn’t matter that he didn’t like me and that when he spoke to me, vile words came out of his mouth…it didn’t matter or penetrate to my heart…or so I thought. A guy could smack me and I would not feel it…it didn’t matter…or so I thought.

And thus, through the years of living and growing, and countless guys in my life, it didn’t matter how many bruises were left on my body or on my soul, it didn’t matter…or so I thought. I was violated on so many levels and I coped by hiding... by being numb, but that doesn't make it okay. Keeping it a secret your whole life doesn't make it go away or mean that it doesn't matter.

Since I became free of drugs, I have dealt with many of these issues over the years…to a certain point. I came to realize that these things that happened in my life, do matter, but there is only so much you can with things that are in the past. Of course there is forgiveness and grace and letting go. Even though I’ve tried so hard to not remember, I am human, with a memory that cannot forget. Maybe I’m not suppose to? Maybe there is another lesson in it for me? Or for someone else along the way?

Removing this layer of smoking has unearthed this truth for me. Standing naked before all of you and the rest of the world has brought me to my knee's... Realizing that as long as I keep hiding behind things like smoking, I will never see clearly what I need to see. Seeing clearly might hurt but in reality it won’t kill me. It's time for me to be truely courageous. It's time for me to face my giants. Much like David when he was fighting Goliath, I must rely on something bigger than me. And that scares the crap out of me.

I feel so caught in the middle right now. I look back to 12 days ago and the safety I felt in my smoking. I had no clue to what lay inside of me and the layer of denial that protected me. Right now, in this moment, my body, soul and mind scream for that familiarity. I feel empty and lost. I am scared. These layers that are exposing themselves to me, leave me naked and robbed. I am feeling. I am crying. I am humbled.

In my mind, I fast forward to what it could be like in 6 months from now. I want to be there. It’s getting from here to there without anything to hang onto. It’s facing “my giants” without false courage, whether it be liquid or on a stick or anything else for that matter. It’s like I am free falling and praying that I land some place soft…some place better.

It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to. Marilyn Ferguson

Thank you for all your kind words of support. Thank you for not judging me or looking down on me. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. Thank you for standing with me as I face my giants. Thank you for reaching out your hand to me and pulling me up. I love you guys!

Monday, April 13, 2009


I have debated, for the last couple of days, of whether I should write about this or not because I know in doing so, I risk being judged or people not understanding. Since this is my place to write about things in my life and I really need to get this out, I am going for it. I need to vomit this from my soul before it drives me bat shit crazy. Confession is good for the soul, right?

The honest to God truth is, I love smoking. I have had a love affair with smoking for a long time. I started smoking when I was very young and even though I have quit at various times since then, it is the one thing I continuously find myself going back to. I am not proud of this fact.

I could give you a hundred reasons why I love smoking but I’ll just name a few…I enjoy it. It‘s how I deal with stress. It calms me. It’s been my one constant friend. It’s how I celebrated. It’s how I rewarded myself.
It's my one indulgence that I don't have to share. I could also say it's because it's so part of my nature to like/love those things that are so bad for me.

Smoking has been my vice…my “one” thing that I do. I am not a big drinker, even though I will on occasion, enjoy a few too many. I’ve never like candy all that much. Food has never been my thing(actually been my enemy)…don’t get that much pleasure out of it, even though I do enjoy favorites. I am not a shopper. I don’t care if I buy new things. I don’t get my hair or my nails done. I am not into gambling. I’m not into video games. I’ve not ever had a hobby because of lack of time or desire to find something that interests me. After writing all this, I realize how boring I must sound.

Last September, I shared that I had cut down on smoking and was going to quit. I didn’t. Not only did I not quit, I started smoking even more. Yes, I was disappointed in myself and beat myself up good for it. Regardless, I still enjoyed my love affair with cigarettes. The bottom line is, until 8 days ago, I was smoking and smoking a lot…and I didn’t care.

Last Sunday, I had my last cigarette. At the end of today, I will have gone 8 days without smoking. I quit. I quit because I have had enough. I quit because of the cost…I really cannot afford them. I quit because of how bad they are for my health. I quit because of the example I set for my children and grandchildren and I know how much it bothers them that I smoked. I quit because smoking does not match up with my other life style choices of eating healthy and exercising. It makes me a hypocrite. I quit because my love for “it” has been greater than all these things I listed here and that is just wrong. I quit because not all love affairs are good...they even have an ugly side to them. I quit because it is time.

I have quit before and I don't remember it being this hard. I am determined to beat this addiction because I am tired of it beating me. I would have to say that quitting cigarettes is about as hard as beating my addiction to drugs. My love affair with drugs almost took my life and I cannot stand idly by and let cigarettes do that to me. Cigarettes have controlled my life, much the same way drugs did. I hate admitting this. I hate that I am so weak as to succumb to something that is so bad for me. I hate that I love something that is so bad for me. I hate this.

I am taking one day at a time. I sit here typing and my body hurts from the cravings. My chest hurts worse then it did when I was still smoking. I am so irritable and agitated at times, that it feels like I could come out of my skin. My nervous energy keeps taking away my ability to concentrate and I swear to God, half the time I have diarrhea of the mouth…help, I am talking and I can’t shut up!

I haven’t been able to sleep very well and if I do sleep, I have nightmares. I feel like I have lost my best friend. I feel so sad…I am near tears constantly.

I miss it. I know all of these things are a normal part of withdrawal. I know these things will eventually pass. I know it will get better. But, right now, in this moment, I feel flipping crazy. There is such insanity in addiction. Here I am, flipping nuts over a shit sandwich of my own making and now I have to somehow vomit this completely from my life.

Please don’t judge me. Please don’t lecture me on the harm of smoking. I am well educated on these facts. Please don’t tell me how stupid it is because I am first in line to call it what it is. Please don’t preach at me…in the past, I have preached at myself enough for a hundred preachers. Right now, I am trying to be really good to myself, in spite of how much I might deserve a slap across the head.

My motive in writing this, is to not only vomit this out of myself but to make myself accountable to all of you. I also wrote this in hopes that someone out here in the blogasphere, that has walked in my shoes, would be willing to share with me any tips or advice to help me beat this. I am open to hearing anything you have to say except for lectures or preaching. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing the fact that you are a former smoker in my comments, I understand. Would you please e-mail me instead?

If your someone that prays, I would appreciate your prayers. I believe in the power of prayer and I know it was my faith that saved me in my drug addiction and many other things. Everything that is in me is crying out(I should say screaming out)to be released from this thing that I hate, yet have loved so much. I must kiss this love affair goodbye, once and for all.
Last year, over Easter weekend, this is what little man spent his time doing.
This Easter weekend, little man got to spend it doing things like playing at the park instead!
Last Easter, little lady was getting buried in the snow by her uncles.

This Easter, little lady got to wear an actual dress. Since she loves everything girl, this made her so very happy.
Last Easter, we were playing in the snow and building snow Easter bunnies with our cousin.

This year, we spent our Easter outside again...except this time we didn't get cold!
Hip hip horray for our snow being gone! Happy manic Monday...and believe me when I say it's a manic Monday!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Threats and Bribery

If you are a parent and ever been sick, then you know what a trip it is to care for little people while you are sick….you know the kind of sick when you can barely lift up your own head, every single bone in your body aches, everything from your eyes to your throat hurts, chills, fever, cough, stuffed up head, kind of sick? The too sick to go to work kind of sick? Such was the case this past week.

This has been no spring break. While I was sick, and home alone with two little people, I came to realize some things, other than the fact of being reminded what it’s like to be sick while having little ones around...oh how soon one forgets these kinds of things!

Things I learned this week or was reminded of rather quickly...

1. By not watching TV during the day, or in the middle of the night, I have not been missing anything.

2. I watched a lot of children programs with my little people in order to keep them entertained and in one spot for longer than 5 minutes. I cannot believe the amount of programs made for children and how utterly irritating most of them are. While my little people were utterly fascinated with these programs that they have rarely seen, if ever, I wanted to poke my eye’s and ear’s out with pencils.

3. All I ate for almost 4 days was chicken soup. I am not used to eating soup out of a can or box so I never realized how differently the various brands tasted from one another. I don’t ever want to eat cheap generic chicken soup again. Ever.

4. Closing my eyes sends out signals. If I closed my eyes for longer than a couple of minutes, it seemed to be a signal to the little people to do those things they know they shouldn't do, which thankfully was loud enough to alert me to their shenanigans.

5. My phone rings a lot when I am not at home and whom ever is calling does not leave messages. I am guessing telemarketers? I was too sick to answer, and this bugged the crap out of the little people. Every single time the phone rang, I swear to God they screamed into my ear that the phone was ringing and then ran to the phone and stood there to listen to the answering machine play…and then back again to tell me that it was daddy calling. They just think it’s him because it’s his voice on the answering machine message.

6. I will never use toilet paper as tissue again. Kleenex with lotion in them is the only way to go.

7. Being sick the week before the Easter bunny is suppose to pay us a visit, worked to my advantage. I never thought I would stoop to the level of making numerous warnings daily, that the Easter bunny could be looking in our windows right now and he would know if they were good or not. Or to making bribes with getting to color eggs and getting to go outside if they would just play quietly in their rooms. Sometimes bribery, threats and warnings work.

8. Fruit snacks, fish crackers and cookies can not only be used as bribery but provide entertainment which keeps little people occupied for quite some time.

9. Having the little people play in a bubble bath while I lay down on the floor, bundled in blankets, next to the bath tub, provided them with a good hour of fun but next time I would cover myself with plastic.

10. The little people can run 37 laps around the house(inside of course) without stopping… and go up and down the basement stairs 7 times without stopping. It made me tired just watching them but they had a blast and it wore them out…although I must say that their chanting and shrieks made my head just about explode.

11. Why does it seem that the hours just creep by ever so slowly except for during nap time?

12. At the end of the day, I think I was happier than the little people, to see my husband walk through the door.

Now that I feel much better I can look back at some of these moments and laugh but at the time, not so much. I swear to God there were moments that I wanted to throw out the white flag. Just so you know, I came through on the bribes to go outside, later this afternoon and we colored eggs after supper.

Hopefully, now that the week is about over, things can get back to normal. I get to go to work tomorrow and the kids get to go to daycare. I don't know who is happier, them or me!

What kinds of tricks or bribes did you use when your kids were/are sick?

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Am Beautiful Like Me.

Wicked Step Mom, Amy from Five Flower Mom and Tricia from Shout have worked together to start a beauty campaign called “I am not beautiful like you, I am beautiful like me.” Their goal is to
teach the next generation about true beauty and self confidence.
And to help girls and boys to have a better self image and to stand up for beauty in all forms.

From a personal stand point, if you have young children in your life, I would high recommend taking a look at this issue now, so that you can set a precedence while they are still young and forming their self image…before they can be negatively affected, like my children were/are, from growing up with a parent that has a negative self image.

Every 2 weeks there will be a new topic related to this issue. This weeks topic is on how our self image affects our children. My story is more about what not to do than anything else. This is my story...

Back in September, I began to take a deeper look at my struggles with my negative self-image. As I researched this topic in order to find some answers, it was suggested that I take a week and observe myself. My eyes were opened up to my daily habits, the way I think, my negative self talk, the way I looked at other people as compared to myself and just how much these things filtered what I saw in the mirror…whether it be seeing too small of breasts, or not being thin enough. Even more so, my eyes were opened up more than ever before, to the affect this issue of low self-image, had on my children, especially my daughters, who are now grown. It also made me realize that my little people would be affected in much the same ways, if I didn't make personal changes now.

Much of my life has been spent in self-loathing and struggling to accept myself…struggling to accept my body. It is an ugly thing that eats at your soul and steals away the joy of living. When this is the filter through which you view the world, it affects everything. When I was in my early teens and even into my 20’s, and was starving myself and making myself vomit, and over exercising, I didn’t really understand what I was doing to myself. Reality is, I didn’t get help when I should have. When you choose, like I did, to not do something about it and instead pretend it doesn’t exist, I hurt those I love most in the world…mostly my children but I know this issue has also affected my husband.
I never intended to hurt them. I never intended to affect them with my negative self-image. I intended on making them feel better about themselves than I did, while growing up. I intended to address this issue by talking to them about all the right things. I talked to my children about feeling good about themselves. I constantly told them they were beautiful. I talked about the importance of inner beauty…about “who” they are on the inside…that how they were on the inside mattered more than what they looked like on the outside. We talked about loving ourselves for who we are. We talked about it all. I was trying to give my children something I didn’t have. Those were my good intentions but that is not what they heard.

I am sorry to say, none of those “good talks” are what they heard at all. What they heard was all the negative self talk that came out of my mouth when I wasn’t talking to them…when I didn’t think they were listening or paying attention. It was my actions that spoke louder than words…it was them watching me not eat and exercising for hours…it was hearing me make jabs at myself daily with negative words that tore myself down…that focused on my outside image. I was a hypocrite. I preached to them one way, but lived another. It was the small subtle messages that in filtered our daily lives. The very thing I wanted to spare my children from, was what I inflicted upon them. Ultimately my message to them was that they too would fall short of the standards of beauty if they were fat, small breasted or not pretty.

In not modeling a healthy self-image for my children, I hurt them. Children are like sponges, they soak up what is around them. What they see and hear…not just directly to them but indirectly in the messages we give them by our tone of voice, the conversations we have when we think they are not listening…in the tv shows we have on, the magazines we buy, the phone calls that they over hear while playing or in our over focus on physical appearance.
Even though it was not my intention to negatively affect my children, it has affected them nonetheless, because they grew up in this environment, in which negative self talk was normal. I specifically asked my daughters today, how growing up with me having a low self image, affected them. I asked them to be honest with me. This is what they said to me…

My youngest daughter said…“I guess from as far back as I can remember I have hated something about me. I remember thinking about food, exercise and being thin since I was a little girl. I have always struggled and fluctuated with my weight up and down. Its hard to hear your mom say she is "heavy" or "fat" when you see that she isn’t. Its even harder to hear, when you know you weigh more then she does. She never called me fat or made comments directly, but indirectly it makes you self conscious about your body. My whole life I have seen a beautiful woman pick apart her body, and now I see it in myself too. What is the ideal weight? What is the ideal shape? When will we be satisfied?”

My eldest daughter, who is also a mother to an almost 10 year old girl said…“I think that the kicker for me was when my daughter asked me the other day if I had low self esteem. I asked her what does she mean and why would she ask that. She said, " Well mom you always talk about how fat and ugly you are when we all know that you are not, so I think that you have low esteem." I never thought about how my actions were effecting her, now I know that they do. I guess I was so used to hearing things like that, that I never thought anything of it. She put me in my place and I now realize that if I don't want her to be like me and you guys, I have to stop talking like that (at least around her). It is hard. I know that I do not have a good self image. I do not blame you totally and by blame I mean I don't think you intentionally put that in our heads just like I didn't with my daughter, but it happened and now we have to figure out how to fix it and not continue on with this pattern of distorted self image.”

My middle daughter talked about this...I'm not quite sure how to start, but I guess how I look at it is your self image was modeled to us, as we were growing up and has been instilled in us, whether we want it to be or not. Insecurity, may be a big one and not being able to verbalize positive things about yourself. Not being able to recognize good in you and wanting to hear it from others and waiting to be reaffirmed from others, instead of yourself. Characteristics like that, I catch myself falling into. Basing yourself off of others, instead of depending on yourself.
The truth of their words, hits me to my core. There is no denying that I have negatively impacted my daughters, whether I intended to or not. My negative self-image was the breeding ground for their insecurities. Even though I am much better today, I still have a long ways to go. I am determined to put this issue to death. To start embracing my beauty so that I can stop passing this curse on to those that I love. I do not want my little people growing up in an environment in which they hear distorted messages of beauty. I do not want to be a hypocrite. I want my actions and daily words to match up with the message of beauty that I try to convey to my little people. It all begins with me…then and only then can I give them something that I too, embrace.

Please take time and check out the other posts written today on this topic of how our self-image affects our children.
In addition to WickedStepMom and myself, check out these bloggers who also committed to posting today and sharing their topical thoughts:
Amy at Five Flower Mom
Tricia at Shout
Lisa at Use Your Wisdom
Cate at Nature’s Child
Lisa at Crazy Adventures in Parenting
Jen at The Story of Us
Also, for a moving visual essay and commentary, read Suffering for Beauty at MomGrind.
You can also check out the Beautiful like me project home page.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Special Day!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my Sweetie Pie

Today is your 2nd birthday and although you are far away on this special day, you are close to me in my heart. I cannot imagine our lives without fill a spot that only you could fill. These past 2 years have been a blast and a joy as I watched you grow from this tiny little baby into the sweetest little boy. I was blessed to be there the moment you were born. The joy and love your mommy and daddy expressed in those moments is something I will never forget. As we cried tears over the miracle of life and the beauty that is you, I was awestruck over this incredible occasion of witnessing your mommy become a mommy and your daddy become a daddy.

No matter what happens in your life, you must always know how loved and wanted you were. You have blessed your mommy and daddy with much joy in their lives. Even though they are not together, they both love you with all of their hearts. You are surrounded with so many people that love and adore you.

Just one week ago, when you were here for a short visit, you filled our home with your joy. Your words, "I love you Grandma." and "Come Grandma." as you pulled my hand to take me to play, were music to my ears. You are so full of full of being a little boy that loves to run, jump, climb, dance, sing, talk, smile and laugh. Your kisses and hugs and giggles are precious gifts to me and all those you give them to.

Grandma could not ask for a better little boy to be her grandson. You are so polite and well behaved...your parents have taught you so well. You are so you counted in spanish for me and showed me all the sign language you already know, and all the songs that you can sing, I was completely amazed by you. You are a special little boy, that has me wrapped around your finger just as you are wrapped around my heart. As I sang Happy Birthday to you on the phone this morning, I could hear you pretending to blow out your candles. I wanted to come through the phone and squeeze you and kiss your little cheeks.

Happy Birthday my sweet little stinker! I love you all the way to the moon and back! From your grandma that danced the day you were born!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Time Is Not My Own

When I seen that this weeks topic for Jen’s Spin Cycle, was on the topic of time, my first thought was, I don’t have enough of it. I have so much going on that there is never enough time to get everything done, let alone do things that I would like to do…like writing in my blog, or writing in general and reading the blog’s of all you people, that have become my friends, that I care about and learn from…and who are my connection to the outside world.

There are small moments of time that I get to read and even smaller moments when I have the opportunity to write. I have considered shutting down this blog recently because no matter how hard I try to fit everything into my day’s, it seems I run out of time. And when I do finally find the time, I am purely exhausted and my brain cannot think…and then I am sad because all day, the one thing I looked forward to outside of my family, was writing and reading what you all wrote.

I pray for these moments, like right now, that I get this moment to write…even though there are a hundred things I should probably be doing instead. The thing is, it takes me hours to write something…anything…because of all the interruptions…because I have other things going at the same time…but mostly because of how my brain works. Which means trying to put lots of moments, here and there together, to write one post. I have shared with you that I have a neck and skull injury but something I haven’t shared is that I also had a minor brain injury caused from my assault. I don’t talk about this very much because I am ashamed. I don’t want this to be another excuse or roadblock in my following my dreams or to having connections with other people.

My brain no longer works like it did before my injury. I have had a hard time accepting this…more so than the pain. I have learned how to live with this fact but it’s something I struggle with every day. I have to leave myself notes for everything and even then I still forget. My memory and my ability to concentrate, especially when there is any noise(and with children, there is noise),are two things I battle every single day. Keeping my brain on track and taking words from my brain and putting them down onto paper or the computer is another battle. Add being interrupted in the middle of putting my thoughts down, into the mix and you have the reason why it takes me so long to write. Being in pain and exhausted does not help. It is frustrating but I refuse to give up.

My time is not my own. From the time my little people wake up(which is early) and until they go to bed, my day’s are filled up with caring for them, working at my personal care attendant job, making meals, keeping our home livable, keeping us in clean clothes and spending time with my husband. Some day’s I do the bare minimum just to keep up but it never seems like it is enough…like there is never enough of me to go around.

I know that spending time and being in the moment with my family is far more important than anything I will do in my day. I hurry through all the work I have to do so that there will be these moments that I can spend with them. To them, there is never enough time with me. To me, this time with them goes way too fast and I know that before we know it, they will have grown up.

These are the moments I want time to stand still. I know this from experience with my now grown up children. The memories I have of the time I spent with them growing up, are my most treasured happy memories. Now that they are gone far away, all I want is time with them. When I am fortunate to get time with any of them, as I have had recently with a couple of them, I cherish every second. I want to freeze these moments of time with these incredible people, that are called my children.

Here I am with these little people that I love like my own, with the most wonderful man on this earth. I save my best for them. They are worth every second of time that I invest in them. I know this without a doubt. I was reminded of this tonight, when, in the middle of reading and cuddling my little lady, she looked up at me and said out of the blue, “I love you.”

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, I have run out of the unexhausted, “best of me” time. I am empty and long to still have a piece of me left over so that I can pursue this writing that I love. Sometimes I am blessed to find a piece or two left and if I am really lucky, my brain cooperates. In the big picture, I know that this time of having my day’s filled up, is just for a season…I know that where I spend my time…my “best of me” time is being spent where it matters and with people that matter the most.

For now, I plan on keeping this blog. When you don’t see new posts by me or see me around your place, please know it’s not because I am not interested in what you have to say. Just know it’s because my brain is not functioning at it’s best or that I have run out of time, because for now,my time is not my own.

To read more spins on Time, go to Sprite’s Keeper and check out the Spin Cycle.