Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Missing You

          I'm sitting here deep in thought as I've done a thousand times before, with teardrops streaming down my face.  The holidays are particularly harder as you get older, at least they are for me.  Seems like so many conversations begin with "Guess who died" now.  I think about all the years that have gone before and I can't believe how much time I wasted. When you're young you always think the people around you will be there forever.  I know I did.  I never pictured a world where my grandparents didn't exist. I never pictured a world where my parents didn't exist.  But that world has now become my reality.  All my grandparents and both my parents are gone now.
          So often I find myself now sitting staring off into space, either lost in thought or reliving old memories.  I have a lot of regrets and wish I could go back and do some things differently.  I took them all for granted, especially my parents.  I remember getting into arguments with my mom and not speaking to her for weeks.  Now I'd give almost anything to talk to her.  I used to complain that she called me multiple times a day just to "chat".  Now I'd trade all the money in the world to pick up the phone and hear her cheery voice on the other end.
          Most of the time I pretend I'm alright. No need in depressing everyone else around me.  But secretly I cry a lot nowadays, pretty much daily as a matter of fact.  Anything can trigger my tearful outbursts; a commercial on the television, a song, something someone says, anything really.  I find myself jealous of people who still have their parents and grandparents.  I don't hate them but I sure do envy them.  I tell people all the time now not to take them for granted.  Spend time with them, call them when you can, don't complain about them.  They'll be gone one day and you'll miss them.  Yes I have become one of those people.
          I know I'm not the only person in the world who suffers from greater depression around the holiday season.  I'm not planning on doing anything to hurt myself, I'm just sad and miss my loved ones.  But there are thousands of people out there that suffer from depression everyday and the holidays make it ten times worse for them.  So when you send up a prayer or think good thoughts or whatever it is you do and/or believe in, keep these strangers in mind.  They may be closer than you think.  One of them could even be one of your loved ones.

Suicide Hotlines
Suicide Prevention Hotline
TWITTER lifeline
Psych Central

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daddy's Little Girl

          I guess one could say I had a strange relationship with my dad.  It wasn't your typical father/daughter relationship. I wasn't daddy's princess.  My dad loved me. I know that.  But for the most part I think I was a disappointment to him.  
          Dad was brought up in a different time. A time where if you had nothing nice to say, you didn't say anything at all.  A time where fathers didn't discuss certain topics with their daughters because it wasn't proper.  My dad wouldn't even tell me a dirty joke or anywhere around where I might hear it. That's just the way he was. It wasn't proper.
          Dad was old fashioned. He didn't want my mom to work outside the home. She wanted to be home with us kids, so it worked for them. Dad went to war when he was just nineteen. He witnessed things no human should ever have to see. It changed him. He came back different. He never really talked about it but you could tell it was always there, bubbling just below the surface. You had to be careful how you woke him up from sleep. He always came up swinging. 
          I'm fairly certain my dad expected me to remain a virgin until my wedding night and in a perfect world maybe I would have.  But as things worked out, I was not only not a virgin anymore, but I ended up pregnant right after high school.  When I broke the news to my parents, my dad didn't speak to me for three solid months.  I took that to mean he had nothing nice to say.  I got pregnant again two years later, and still wasn't married.  At least the second time I wasn't still living at home so I didn't have to see the disappointment on his face everyday. He hated that I had two kids and still wasn't married. He hated that I had to go to work to support those kids instead of being home with them where I belonged. Truthfully I think he hated everything about my life choices. 
          My dad and I joked around about trivial stuff but I can't ever remember having a serious conversation until I was in my early thirties. We play fought, bickered and joked around but all the serious stuff I took to Mom.  The first time I can actually remember my dad telling me he was proud of me was the day I got married the first time.  Proud of me? For what? Finally landing a husband?
          Dad never let Mom fight her own battles. Don't get me wrong, I respect a man who stands up for his wife but I always thought Dad took it too far. Dad's philosophy was Mom may not always be right but she's Mom, therefore, she's always right.  If Mom and I got into any sort of argument and she got upset, I could count on the obligatory phone call from Dad admonishing me for upsetting her and telling me it was time to apologize.  This practice continued until my mid-thirties, until my present husband answered the phone and refused to let him speak to me.  He got the point.  
          It wasn't until after my mom had passed away that my dad and I started to cultivate a more serious, grown up relationship.  I cherished it. It was something I had always dreamed of.  We started talking about adult things. He still wouldn't tell dirty jokes around me but I could deal with that.  I had the father I had always dreamed of.  A father I could talk to, relate to.  Too bad it didn't last.  We started to drift apart when he moved away and we talked less and less after that.  In person he would talk to me for hours but Dad always hated talking on the phone.  Even talking to me was no exception so our conversations, when we had them, were only for about twenty minutes at a time.  Not much time to really talk about anything.  Then he got sick and started to forget things, like where he left his phone, or the password to his laptop.  Months would pass and I wouldn't hear from him, until finally I heard from him that he had cancer. More months passed, I heard from him again, he would be gone by Christmas.  Two months later my brother called. 

       Dad was gone.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mom and Me

The relationship between my mom and me was tumultuous to say the least.  A roller coaster of emotions at times to be sure.  We were a lot alike but oh so different at the same time.

I won't say Mom grew up in some kind of fairy tale world because that would be untrue.  Let's just say she was somewhat sheltered.  She was the baby out of five children, though she didn't really get to know three of her older siblings until later in life.  My grandmother had been married before and had three children from that relationship.  When she married my grandfather, she had my uncle and my mom.  So she grew up with that one brother for the most part.  She didn't really talk about her childhood much.  Every once in a while I could get her to share tidbits of information but nothing of major importance.  She did say she resented her mother for working and not being home all the time like moms are supposed to be.  That probably explains why she hated the idea of me working and my kids going to a sitter or daycare.

Mom told me she only had one serious boyfriend before she met my dad and eventually married him.  Considering the fact she was only sixteen when she married, I mean how many serious boyfriends can you really have by the age of sixteen?  She had always wanted to be a wife and mother.  And Dad didn't want his wife to work outside of the home, so their setup worked for them.

I know I was a letdown when I got pregnant, not once but twice, outside of marriage.  And since neither guy really stuck around much afterward, that meant I had to go to work to support myself and the kids.  Mom made me feel like such a failure for doing that.  I should be at home where my children needed me, spending time with them, helping with their homework, playing with them, cooking for them, etc.  All the things a good mommy does.  Not out working so my children were spending a lot of time with some babysitter or worse yet, at some cold, unfeeling daycare.

Mom was very opinionated about a lot of things, especially things that were really important to her, like family.  Family was a big thing for her, and given she spent years not seeing her brothers and sister, I can understand why.  You needed to land a husband and you needed to have children.  Those were top priorities for her.  I had the children, but I failed horribly in the "land a husband" department.  She was thrilled when I finally told her I was getting married.  Having sex without being married was something that just plain shouldn't be done.  You know how parents have the birds and bees talk with their kids?  Well my mom had that talk with me and it consisted of one word...DON'T.  There was no "be careful" or "make sure you use protection".  I was told where babies come from, then told you don't do that until after you're married. Plain and simple.  So you can just imagine the disappointment when I came home and told her I was pregnant.

She was never happy about my having a job of any kind.  I belonged at home.  When I told her I was getting married, she assumed that I would be quitting my job and staying home after that.  She couldn't understand why we couldn't make a living on just one paycheck.  I guess we could have but it would not have been easy to say the least.  Mom had this idea that there were two ways of doing everything, her way and the wrong way.  That was Mom in a nutshell.  It made everyday dealing with her quite difficult at times.

Don't get me wrong, my mom was my best friend.  There wasn't too much I didn't share with her.  Anytime something good happened to me, she was the first one I wanted to tell.  Anything bad happened, she was the one I went to to cry on her shoulder.  It used to irritate me how she'd call me all the time.  She would call me everyday, several times a day.  And if for some reason I didn't answer, I could hear her leaving me "why aren't you answering your phone?" messages on the answering machine.  Ironically, now I'd give almost anything to pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


It's not that I wasn't loved as a child at home growing up.  I was.  I never felt like I was good enough but I was always loved.  My brother was more athletic than I was.  I was overweight and he was much slimmer.  I took after Mom's side of the family and he took after Dad's.  If there was more than one choice, chances are I'd make the wrong one.  I was always bad at decisions.  My brother was more analytical and logical, but I ran on pure emotion.

I was unfair to my brother.  I blamed him for the way our parents treated him better than they treated me.  I had so many rules and restrictions to live by that I went out of my way to break them or do just the opposite of what was expected of me.  Of course, he could do no wrong.  Not that he didn't make any mistakes mind you.  They just weren't the major screw ups that mine were.

Relationships, Lord where do I even start on that one?  I wanted so much for someone to love me that I wanted to give them anything to make them love me.  I shelled out money, went places, did things, all to make some guy love me.  And the one thing they all seemed to want was sex.  I started to equate love with the act of sex.  Surely if I gave a guy sex, he'd love me.  I wanted someone to look at me the way my dad looked at my mom.  It took me a very long time to figure out that look doesn't come from having sex with someone.  It's a far deeper and different kind of intimacy.

Of course my mom never understood this problem.  As I said before, she married my dad young so she never had to date around to find her Prince Charming.  I put up with so much garbage from men just to keep them around and I was ashamed of it, but I couldn't stop it.  I was desperate for that love I was seeking.  On the outside I looked like any other young woman, just trying to get by in this thing called life.  On the inside I was slowly falling apart, wondering if I would ever find what I was looking for, what I craved desperately and whole-heartedly from within my very soul.

My constant search for love consumed me.  I was so self absorbed in my search, I neglected my children.  My needs outweighed theirs.  I wasn't the mother they wanted, needed, or deserved.  Two little people who loved me unconditionally wasn't enough for me, or I just plain didn't see it.  They still love me now but they resent me for not being there when they needed me, and who can blame them?  I know I could have done better by them, and should have.

And it's not even like I never found love.  I did.  I was just too blind to see it when it did come along. I dated a couple of men who treated me really well and I'm sure they did love me.  For some stupid reason, I seemed intent on going back to the jerks who treated me badly.  My first husband loved me.  I know that now.  I might even have known that then, I'm not entirely sure.  But I took advantage of him and never appreciated his love so I ended up pushing him away.  My second husband was just a flat out mistake.  I married him, not because I truly loved him, but because I was tired of being alone.  He was there, he asked me to marry him, so I said "yes".  Big mistake.

By the time I met my third and present husband, I was so jaded and so tired of games, I was almost ready to just give up altogether.  I was totally honest and completely blunt with him.  About how I felt, what I wanted, what I expected and where I wanted things to go in my life.  And you know what?  He loved that about me.  He fell head over heels in love with me.  We knew each other less than a month when we got married but in that time I knew more about him than I knew about people I'd known for years.

I had spent the better part of my life at this point trying to appease people, giving them what I thought they wanted.  But with this man I could be honest.  He didn't judge me.  He didn't look down on me.  He didn't question my motives.  He just loved me.

And I knew he was the one when I saw that look.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Where do I begin?

I guess at the beginning is the best place to start. I was born, a bunch of stuff happened, blah blah blah, and here I am now.  Easy right?  Not so much when you're trying to decide just how to describe your life. Sure I have twenty thousand memories swirling around in my head, but how do I decide what to share and what not to share, what's relevant to my story and what's just white noise in the background?  

I guess to really get a good idea of who I am, we should really start with my parents. I mean everybody has them right? Even if they aren't in your life or you never know them, you still HAVE parents theoretically.  I had a mom and dad. I loved my mom and dad. I didn't always like them, but I loved them with all my heart.

My mom was the youngest of five children and my dad the youngest of three. Both of their parents had been married and divorced, at least once before. My parents married young. My dad was nineteen and my mom was only sixteen when they took their vows. She dropped out of high school to marry my dad. Not sure why her parents allowed this. My parents would've never allowed me to drop out of school to marry my boyfriend, but as I was told numerous times, things were different back then and they were much more mature at a young age than I was.

They weren't married for long before my dad was drafted to go to Viet Nam. I remember my mom telling me they had just found out she was expecting me two weeks prior to his receiving his draft notice. By the time he came home, I was three months old. He missed the entire pregnancy and came home to a ready-made family.  Mom always said he was a different person when he came home. Of course this isn't surprising. War changes people. He never really talked about it but he had nightmares we all knew about.  You had to be mindful of how you woke him up if you didn't want to get hit because he always came up swinging. Not intentionally mind you, it just happened. He left home a boy and came home a man; a man who saw things people should never have to see.

My mom was one of those people that other people liked to talk to. My grandma used to joke that she never met a stranger. Mom was one of those people who could meet someone in the grocery store and have them telling her their life story in a matter of minutes.  She was definitely a people person. She never really had a job outside the home. They decided when they got married that mom would be a stay at home housewife and mother. Dad never wanted her to work and she wanted to be at home.  It worked for them.  

Mom had suffered from health problems for as long as I could remember. She had back problems all the time and was in pain for most of her life.  She had problems during her pregnancies and suffered a severe calcium deficiency, causing her bones to be weaker than they should've been. All total, she was pregnant three times, but the first time she miscarried and lost the baby. Then came me, and finally my brother.  When she gave birth to me, they found I was breech, but not your typical feet-first breech. My legs were turned back up toward my body and I was coming out bottom first. She really should've had a cesarean but they weren't as common back then and I ended up tearing her up pretty good. I remember her telling me at one point one leg was coming and the other foot was turned up toward my ear, and in order for me not to be born with my leg broken, the doctor had to tickle the bottom of my foot to make me yank it back up inside, which caused me to shift, making it easier for me to eventually come out.  

Physical problems weren't the only issues my mom dealt with though.  She suffered from depression and around the time I turned sixteen, they discovered she was manic-depressive. Nowadays it's called bipolar disorder.  In a matter of minutes, she could go from being happy, to crying, to screaming and back to happy and never know why.  It made living in our house, how should I put this?...interesting at times to say the least.  Piecing together bits and pieces of memories from other family members, we gleaned that most likely her grandmother had suffered from the same mental illness but they knew so little about it back then it went un-diagnosed.  You don't get to choose the genetic line you come from so you just learn to make the best of the hand you're dealt.  

My brother was three years younger than I was so they tried to spare him seeing as much of it as they could. He was sent to stay with grandparents off and on when Mom's episodes got worse.  Personally I think she suffered from more than just bipolar disorder looking back on things now. When she had manic episodes, she would also sometimes have delusions. Very vivid delusions.  I remember once the cousin of a friend of mine was getting married and my friend invited me to attend the wedding with her.  My mom was convinced somehow that Jesus was getting married and that she hadn't been invited. She had my dad driving her all over town looking for the church.  Other memories are far fuzzier or maybe I've just blocked them out but that's the one that's always stuck with me.  Her episodes escalated until finally Dad had no choice but to have her forcibly committed for a while.  I don't remember much about her episodes after that because I tried to stay away from home as much as possible, paying more attention to my boyfriend or hanging out with friends so I didn't have to deal with the quiet chaos at home. I didn't share most of what happened with Mom with anyone, maybe because I didn't want to deal with it, maybe because I was ashamed. I don't know. It was just easier to pretend like everything was okay.  I got pretty good at pretending.