They Stood In The Fire With Me

Walking and talking with two of my favorite humans through NYC was like coming home after a long trip away. There are so few people in this world that I’m one hundred percent comfortable with. The people I connect with in a “let it all hang out” kind of way are the few who have watched it ALL unfold. These are the people who know my darkest corners and still believe in me. They’ve celebrated my best and encourage me to do better. Being with those two that day feed my soul.

It had been a long time since I felt filled up in that way, it was overwhelming (and awesome). It was shear bliss to know that connection was still there. Even though we were discussing some hard things we’d all gone through over the years. It was an honest, real back and forth of thoughts and emotions. What a gift not to use my filter or edit my thoughts. To walk and talk and be filled with belonging and joy. Priceless.

Sitting on the subway chatting about friendships that have left us a Mariachi band starting playing. An eruption of laughter was unavoidable… the timing couldn’t have been better. It was a great add to the moment. A reminder that humor was still at the foundation of our friendship. A friendship that has proven to be a fundamental part of me.

The deep appreciation I share with them has created a safe place for me. They have stood in the fire with me and I’m eternally grateful for their love.

Screaming Profanities

I’m pretty certain the universe was shaking it’s hands at the sky in frustration because I just kept repeating the lesson. I hadn’t realized how quiet and sneaky my ego could be.

I was laying face up in the dark of night on a sheet of ice in the driveway, wrapped in blinding pain, screaming profanities. I was so pissed at myself. It was my first winter as a single working Mom and a solo homeowner. My ego had stopped me from asking my lovely neighbors on either side of me for help with the plowing, both had offered. Laying there on the ice luge my ego had helped me make, hating the garbage bins for sending me out into the freezing cold, the “what is wrong with me” recording started playing in my head. This time I knew, my ego was on the chopping block. Then the “please don’t let me be hurt” followed. Ego you are so fired this time. Finally the realization, difficult moments like these could be avoided if I just gave up listening to my ego. I flipped onto my belly, commando crawled to the nearest snow bank and made it to my feet. Relieved I was only bruised, stating out loud “must buy ice melt, must ask for help”. I felt a sense of pride, the message had finally clicked.

The next day after work I headed to the grocery, a busy afternoon yielded long lines at the check out. There was a young woman at the front of my line who’d run into a snag. The cashier had never processed a WIC check before.

For those of you who don’t know, WIC is an assistance program for Moms who need help buying food for their children. I know this because I was on the program till Hadley was almost two.

Watching the young women struggle reminded me of the embarrassment I felt using WIC checks. I remembered the stares and the remarks from the folks behind me in line. I hated it.

The big mouth old lady, behind the young woman and in front of me, was letting us all know how upset she was about the form of payment. She repeated several times “don’t you have another way to pay”. I could feel my blood boil. The old woman would not let up. “F off lady” sprung from my lips. “no one wants to hear your mouth” she spun around with a look of disgust. “You want the line to move faster than dig deep for some kindness and pay for the ladies groceries yourself”. Her mouth now wide open, her face bright red with rage. Her hands clinched in tiny fists.

“Did your parents raise you to be this awful?” She growled waving her tiny fists at me. There it was… there was my ego getting in the way. Of course my parents didn’t raise me to swear at folks in the grocery check out line. They did however raise me to be understanding and patient but in this case my past feelings of hurt didn’t allow me to convey my message in a productive, civil way. My ego lead me straight into shitsville. Damn it! Hadn’t I learned anything from my fall on the ice?

I acted like an ass. The night before and that day. For different reasons but both out of ego. Loading my groceries into the car, chuckling to myself about the spill I had taken on the ice. I mentally shook the hand of my ego and told it to head to the back of the line. Good bye ego! When we meet again I’ll be ready and aware.

We Are Both Learning

I’m seated in a very tiny room in front of 6 professionals filling me in on procedure and guidelines. My brain is working hard to comprehend what they are saying. I’m working so hard I can’t even glance to my right to look at Kevin (my super supportive boyfriend).

I’m fighting with my mind not to drift, stay focused, don’t panic. My cheeks are on fire from anxiety. I want so badly to understand whats happening with Hadley at school.

I have several, processing disorders that fall under the learning disability category. Diagnosed in elementary school I was given little to no help. It was the 80’s, enough said. The lack of understanding and empathy from the people in my forty hour school week broke my self esteem, leaving my self worth holding on by a thread. I believed I was stupid, a lazy disciplinary problem. My own family was often frustrated and disappointed in me. My brain doesn’t see numbers and letters like most folks. It doesn’t retain and commit things to memory as an average mind would. Years of hard work with experts (work that will never end) has me living a fully functioning adult life. Exhausted, but fully functioning adult, lol.

My sweet Mo has had a front row seat to the deconstruction of her family. She’s witnessed her father spin out of control with alcohol/drugs. She’s had major surgery (not life threatening). She has felt the harshness of mean people, yes adults. She didn’t back down and still gravitates to kind people. Amazing! She met the challenges she faced while watching her Momma’s heartbreak unfold with curiosity and love. She learned to handle situations that she couldn’t begin to understand, confusing even for grownups, with honesty. I’ve learned many things from watching her navigate our lives.

Resilience. Courage. kindness. Equality. Eight years old, these qualities are the ones she carries with her. These are her foundational pillars she shares openly with others (sometime she shares to much, lol). These are the super powers I know will help her work through the school stuff. School could be the thing to take her out. Self esteem, worthynesss, creative problem solving, are at stake in a system built to help our children grow. Scary stuff.

The massive number of children overwhelming our public school teachers leaves my little lady vulnerable to lossing the part of her she doesn’t know to keep safe. The part of her she should know how to keep safe. That part of me that no one showed me how to keep intact. I’m learning how to show her how to keep her self worth safe and intact. It’s our daily conversation about life that guides me to the things she needs from me.

This meeting has served me up a big ah-ha moment. I’m feverishly writing notes in the meeting. So much information. I write myself a note “rise to be the person who fills in the holes for her. Be the Mom that takes responsibility for the things the school can’t give her. Do what you do best, problem solve, get creative. Reach out to your tribe”. I have the most marvelous tribe.

I’m told she’s struggling in an average second grade way and improving with the extra help. She’s in third grade. It’s my understanding there isn’t a enough data todo a full accessment at this time. Ok. I exhale thank them, say our goodbyes.

Now we wait and see what the next 45 days will bring. They are going to look into it and meet with me again.

I’m sacred. I’m sad. I’m a mother with her hackles up. It’s my job. She’s my kid. I’ve started the conversation with school. Her classroom teachers are champions for her, I adore them. No need to sit on my hands waiting though. If I’m unsure about the way the school is working with her it’s my responsibility to keep her moving forward. So many wonderful people in our school. So many wonderful kiddos, but I’m in charge of just one.

This is another life shift… A life lesson for me. I won’t let this be the hole Hadley trips in on the path of growing up.

Belonging

As I thumb through my 2017/2018 journals (yup, plural) a theme presented its self. I was searching for something to belong to. I was looking for anything that would take away the loneliness. You know “fill my cup”. The journal entries read as stories of my failed attempts to find a person, place, or thing that invoked feelings of worthiness. Screaming at me from these pages is my life long struggle. A struggle I want to move past. I finally see that I crave a belonging filled with purpose, a belonging to my self worth, a belonging to my choices. Rereading my words brought fear and shame, it made my heart heavy like the lead vest at the dentist office. So many rushed, confused choices made out of what was reading as desperation. (Ugg, truth can be so ugly). Not what I ever intended for myself.

I set aside my “ah ha” moment because I need to digest my findings. I need to shift my way of thinking. I have some really big work todo on myself.

In a Starbucks on on a Weekday morning I ran into a friend… Their recent life situation was painfully familiar to me. I got misty just thinking of the emotional torture that we were discussing. “How are you doing” promoted a candid snap shot of the loneliness my sweet friend was feeling. A loneliness that has burned my cookies for years. A loneliness I wouldn’t wish on any good intentioned person, ever. There we were bonding and belonging over a shared loneliness. My ah ha moment just kicked me in my soul.

OK universe, thank you for the push. Now it’s time to get to work:)

I Filled the Dumpster

Figuratively I got rid of my emotional garbage. Literally got rid of garbage. Both were clogging up my life and stopping me from moving past my past.

As the full dumpster pulled away this morning a rush of joy filled calm is with me. The painful, humbling journey I’ve been on, that has often left me paralyzed, has come to a close.

The work I’ve done I’ve had to do alone. No one else can do this type of heavy lifting for us. It’s work that is overwhelming and scary. To realize my own life choices got me to a wonderful place is a big win for me. All the tears, all the sweat, all the self doubt, worth it!

6 weeks ago I called a friend, I asked for help. (That’s huge for me). To say it out loud “I can’t hang on to my tiny home.” was devastating.

I was stuck, spinning my wheels, couldn’t breath. She showed up with advice, guidance, solutions. Most of all empathy and love. No shaming or guilt was handed out. In that moment my world shifted.

I’ve learned to forgive (so hard to truly forgive) but was missing a very important piece, actually letting go. I hadn’t realized till Chloe was leaving that day that I needed someone to give me permission to let go. That there was nothing left in my old life. That the proverbially “come back” had started (and I’ve been crushing it) so get moving to a better thing.

Let’s recap…

Fell apart, check

Phoned a friend, check

Asked for help, check

Got said help, check

I’m thrilled with the results, check

OMG! Happiness!

I did the work, I filled the dumpster.

The emotional dumpster and the physical dumpster. I did it alone because I needed too. Asked for help at a crossroad and now I’m moving on to greater things.

Woot woot!

These past few years have brought me to my knees, knocked my on my ass, and punched me in the gut.

To stand on the back porch of my sold home, watching the dumpster pull away, smiling, not crying, feels amazing.

I wish us all to know such joy over something so simple.