Wednesday, June 29, 2011

McBloggery 2 - "A Voice".

Well, all I can really say is that timing is everything. It's a damned shame that McBloggery is finally coming together right NOW, as I am in the midst of "issues" dealing with feelings, etc..traceable back to my marriage. It happens once in awhile. It's ultimately a good thing, because I end up discovering at least ONE thing about myself and what makes me tick, and why.  However, the end piece being "good" does not make the crap I go through (insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, crying, yelling, depression,distraction and lack of concentration- and last but not least, dwelling on past issues )  in the interim any easier as it's happening.
Anyway as I mentioned, it's too bad that McBloggery is finally up and running in it's beginning stages right now, in the midst of my mini crisis because I simply can't concentrate on the subjects at hand. I completely skipped last week, which was also the first week. I couldn't get my act together, and it made me disapointed in myself. Rather than beat myself up about it, I am moving toward NOT failing this week. As a matter of fact, I have already started my "A Voice" blog - but cannot finish it currently. It's a terrific subject - my daughter finding her voice and standing up not only for herself, but many others that lack direction and acceptance. As a matter of fact, I have a FEW inspirations for this particular blog subject. I just can't concentrate on it fully. There is too much going on in my own head to be able to clear the way for what I WANT to write about. I am going to shelve the post I already started and just pour out whatever comes. The only thing I do know for certain is that my submission for "A Voice" is going to be me, finding my voice - and calling out some deplorable behavior from people who have sworn love to another- and the long term devastation it causes in the people subjected to it.

It is always amazing to me the amount and severity of destruction one person can reign upon another's life. People in general have so much power. Power to sculpt and change another person's life. To mold the very way a person starts to think and view the world around them. A mother for example is a child's first interaction with the world. If patience, love, kindness and a genuine joy for life is shown by mom - what sort of initial outlook do you suppose that baby is going to have on the world around them? While mothers begin this molding, the entire family obviously contributes. The interactions between family members and the interactions with friends and strangers - all those around baby- begin to form what "normal" means to the person being molded - in this scenario it's a baby.
Let's look at another scenario. Let's look at my scenario. In my particular case, my mom was loving and caring. She worked around the clock in order to support us both, because she divorced my alcoholic father when I was two.She did absolutely everything she could to support and be a good example for me. To be both parents, because my father at best, was an inconsistent influence. Which was a good thing. He was not only always drunk - literally always - but he was also abusive.That little tidbit was discovered when I was 14. My mom stopped visits, reported him and took me to therapy.

My lessons? The woman does all the work raising kids. The woman is responsible when things go right, and when things go wrong. The woman picks up the pieces. The woman moves on no matter what wretched thing befalls her family, because she has to. If she doesn't, who will?

What then, were my lessons regarding the man? Basically that they are defective, destructive and abusive.

Want to guess who I married?

Well, he wasn't an alcoholic - but the rest of it panned out perfectly. The irony is that if he HAD been an alkie, I probably would have been fine. My ex-husband was a "happy drunk". He had fun, relaxed and was nice to everyone when drinking. He didn't drink often. He still managed to be nice to others,most of the time - but I do think some of his particular sociopathic tendencies did come out to certain people now and again. Employees of ours, maybe some of his more honest family members or friends.

My point in all this is I was sort of a blank slate when I met my husband, on what a man does, and who he is in a relationship. My mom dated when I was very young, but had a traumatic experience fairly early on, and stopped. I didn't ever have a man around to show me what they do. What their value is in a relationship. How they interact with you when they love you. All I knew up until this point is that they hurt you and disappeared. While it sounds like Im blaming my marriage on my parents, I am not. I am saying I didn't know what the dynamic was supposed to be between two people who loved each other. But I most certainly don't blame anyone for my choices but myself. So,when the proverbial shit hit the fan and I realized I was smack dab in the middle of an abusive relationship, it was basically just too late. I had no idea how to extricate myself, and if I am honest here, I didn't want to. Not because I like being mistreated, or because I  thought I deserved it - yet. I just thought it was normal.

It was because I thought I was in love with him, and because I had no idea this ISN'T how a man and a woman interact in a relationship. I was, in fact, desperate to keep the one and only relationship I valued. When things weren't BAD, they ranged from "okay" to "great". I am not a shrink. I don't know if this is true, but this is how I see it: He really did love me. As much as he could anyway.Whatever love meant to him, he felt it. When things weren't bad he did kind things for me. He took me out, he bought me things,he made sure we were taken care of and had what we needed and what we wanted. We had a family. But he was also afraid of me. Afraid of losing me. He felt inferior to me. So, he mistreated me. This, I didn't realize for a long time. Like maybe last year.  And I still have to remind myself that he did what he did because of his own issues, not because I deserved it. He could only feel big when I felt small. He could only control me through violence and threats - and only barely. Anyone that knew us can probably vouch for the fact that I did not lay down and be silenced easily. I was opinionated and rarely failed to make my point.I chalk up the fact that no one seemed to realize that he was abusive to his happy go lucky attitude- and the fact that I just dont appear to be the type to take being abused.

Even privately, which was a very different dynamic to our public personas - if I knew I was going to get hit, I pulled out all the stops. I recall vividly one afternoon he was saying some pretty nasty, vile things about me and how I deserved whatever my father had dished out- and making me feel small. Small and dirty and unlovable. It seemed that the more I ignored, the more he pushed...and I finally figured out he was just begging me to act so he could take the next step. I knew he was eventually going to make the fight physical, and then it would be over. I was sick of waiting. I wanted this to be over now.  So the next thing out of his mouth that was full of poison, I spit in his face from about 6 inches away and he punched me in mine.
Fight over.
Does that mean I made him hit me, like he always claimed? Does it mean I deserved it? Does it make him right about me? Hell, I don't know. I don't think so. I can personally guarantee, on my kids, that it was coming - I pushed his hand- but it was coming regardless. I just couldn't take anymore verbal abuse while I waited. He had made up his mind long before I acted.

I think all it means - to me at least - is that I would rather have been hit in the face than in the heart. Punches hurt at the time. Words hurt forever. He made me believe I was so unlovable on any level that he was doing me a favor by being with me, and that I only had friends because his friends were doing him a favor by associating with me. Cause he was THAT wonderful, and I was THAT worthless.That my opinions and aspirations were not only laughable, but things I should be ashamed of having. Isolation was easy to accomplish, because he bullied and controlled me to the point that all of my friends and family were all but gone from my life.You obviously cannot control someone who has back - up, right?  We associated with his friends and his family. My mom? Well, she was our babysitter. As long as she served a purpose, she stayed.

I can only assume that much in the way that my first relationships formed me, his formed him. I know certain things about those relationships that lead me to believe I am on the right track. I  remember deciding to not dick around anymore, to not always protect him, to just flat out say something to my mother in law one day after a fight. I was just fed up. They were over for dinner, as was our weekly routine, and the ex and I had literally stopped fighting as they walked in the door. Translated, means that we had argued, he was as nasty and demeaning as ever and had pushed me into a table. Then, as his parents drove up, he "flicked the switch" and was "normal". I don't have that switch. I still thought he was a piece of shit, and if I was going to feed his family, I was also going to feed their minds. At some point in the evening I said something along the lines of how it was so nice to live with someone who solved every problem that faced them by putting their hands on me.
His mother's response, without missing a beat was "You need to learn to be nicer, and not act up."
To ME.
I think it probably would have been a more productive thing if my ex had spent his formative years with a wrecking ball. Now, looking back on it - I do wonder how much - beyond what I have heard - my mother in law put up with in the course of their decades of being married.

While I was married I was ashamed to be myself. Now that I am not Mrs.Anyone anymore I am ashamed  that I allowed my family to be put at risk because I was afraid to leave and didn't have the self esteem to try. I am ashamed that one of my reasons for staying was that "he was a good father" and I didn't want to rob him of his six children, or them of him. The shame comes from knowing now, that he was NOT a good father.In addition to financial support, a good father would have made his entire family come first. He would have guaranteed that his children loved and respected their mother and treated her, and all women like gold, by demonstrating it himself. He would have taught them to be kind and care about people.

This father of six daughters and one son was molding these children to show you loved someone by belittling, hurting and abusing them. By using one against the other. By making them too afraid to have an opinion...fearful of having a voice. By accepting that treatment, I was reinforcing that version of love.

Today, I use my voice to show my children that no one can make you feel small unless you allow them to.
I use my voice to stand up for myself, for them, and for people we care about.
I use my voice to say that I wont ever take that from anyone again.
I use my voice to ask my friends to promise to bitch slap me if I do.

I use my voice to ask you to share information on Domestic Violence with anyone and everyone....but especially to educate yourself and to help someone you know in a dead end situation, if you can.

I chose this subject because I am trying to find MY VOICE, to be able to share firsthand things that have shaped and sculpted who I am and why I do things I do- share them with the one person who deserves to hear it from me directly.  The person I can't break old habits for and feel safe enough to share my thoughts and opinions without expecting a retort or condemnation.
I am so sorry Zachary, for all of the crap you have to put up with because of how the way I think was molded by another, hurtful, mentally unfit man. While I understand if you cannot, I do hope you stick it out and be patient. I feel that underneath all this...somewhere in there...I am a pretty amazing person. I'd have to be, to be able to hold a candle to you. Thank you again, for showing all 10 children in our home what a man, a father, a partner really is. You ask so little of me, and I fail to give it every time. It's just SO hard, but I'm trying.

 I choose to have a voice these days is to simply pass on information, whether it is my own experiences, or simple cold hard facts and statistics. Knowledge is power. Maybe ONE man or woman in an abusive relationship will find the tools in something I say or share and find their way back to their own voice. With that in mind, please explore these links. I've lived it, and these pages speak volumes to me - maybe someone you know can use them.

Please take the time to look. Take the time to forward if you know someone who may benefit. Always remember that your computer history can be, and in a lot of abuse cases, IS searched. Browsing on public computers (library, internet cafe, a friend ) rather than their own home PC, may be safer for someone in a DV situation.

You Are NOT Crazy
this link in particular shows the difference between Abusive vs. Healthy relationships - Even after being out of my relationship for 7 years, this one stops me cold. Validation is a powerful tool.

The Cycle of ViolenceThe first, most obvious step out is to realize the relationship is actually abuse, that YOU aren't causing it. It's also one of the hardest steps. See if this looks familiar to you.

Safety Planning
unless the victim has unlimited resources, they most likely cannot just walk out the door. These are things to consider.

Links to Womens Self Defense

Signs of Abusive Relationships
Do you wonder if what you or someone else is experiencing qualifies as abuse? If you need to wonder, it most likely is.

learn just how prevalent abuse is

I include these links because I was 15 years old when I met my ex husband. I stayed with him until I was 31. I wasted 16 and a half years thinking I didn't deserve better... there are girls all around you today that feel the same.

Love is Respect

Break The Cycle

Teen Tools on Dating Violence

Love is Not Abuse

 Last but not least

How Can I Help Someone I love Who is Being Abused?

Please contact local authorities or women's shelter if you are in immediate danger. Get out fast, get out now. There is nothing in your home that you can't live without, except you and your children. If you need to make that immediate, life altering decision, choose to leave. Next time you may not have the choice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Weight of the World

...Or more accurately, the Weight of My Ass. It only FEELS like the world. Both literally and figuratively. Here's the deal. I am 38 years old - and a mother of eight. I had a baby in September 2009 - and then had a baby in December 2010. That, my dear reader is a whole different recovery - weightwise - than having three back to back babies when I was in my twenties and early thirties. Let's just say there is a less forgiving air to my booty. I was NOT in the best shape to begin with. I did not work out and I ate what I wished. Adding two pregnancies on top of that has severely impared my sex appeal. And comfort level. And health.Fixing my booty, and self image and my probable life span has been nagging at the back of my mind, rather heavily since Wyatt was born six months ago. Heavily. < ~~~ See what I did there?

Let's discuss what brought me to the point that I thought I should discuss this horrible subject with you, gentle reader.
Today I approached my bathroom scale a number of times. Each time I had one of the following run through my mind:
  1. Do I get on NOW? My hair is wet. Water is heavy, right?
  2. How about NOW? Do I take off my flip flops? Three dollar rubber shoes are probably going to add a lot...right?
  3. Oooh, How about NOW? Tampon or - ummm...No tampon? Cotton seems heavy...
  4. Is NOW the right time? Didn't I hear somewhere that you are heavier at during the day?
  5. Okay - Now...Wait...maybe it was you're heavier at night, that I heard. Damnit.
I never got on the scale.

I am NOT an idiot. I do of course realize that the cotton content of  my Tampax Pearl is not going to make a goddamned bit of difference.I am quibbling about mere ounces. Something that wont even show up on my regular old, technology free scale. The point here is this - I have never been this heavy before. I have also never looked so bad - or on a daily basis, cared less. I've had NO social life. I bring kids to school, come home, go to an occasional appointment and spend the rest of my day with my kids. I don't Mani/pedi. I don't wax. I don't have any decent clothes that fit me.It nags at the back of my mind daily, but only roars to the front when I need to "dress" for something. Now, I am at the point that I am talking myself out of weighing myself because of a few scant ounces of rubber-water-cotton - take your pick. I have been in serious denial about what I need to DO to get my ass in gear.

The Facts:
Heaviest weight on record. Nearing the weight of childbirth.
Unhealthy lifestyle - my diet sucks.
Breathless when I get to my bedroom, on the third floor.
Clothes do not fit.
FAT clothes do NOT fit.
I HAVE decent cheekbones ... yet cannot find them.
I was plagued by high blood pressure and diabetes during my last pregnancies.
Activity level? WHAT activity level?


I have a terrible memory. I don't know if it comes as a part of my aging process, me blocking the past out as part of the abuse I suffered at the hands of my own father as a child, the abuse at the hands of my husband years later or if it is simply just something everyone goes through. I do not recall any father's days with my own father. He was an alcoholic who breezed in and out of my life when the mood struck. I never ever once saw him sober. In my entire life. He missed at least one birthday of mine due to being arrested. When he WAS available for visits they consisted of abuse of many kinds. He enjoyed scaring his kids. I recall being locked in closets many times. He chased us around the house wearing what at the time, was the most terrifying Halloween mask I'd ever seen. The other things he subjected me to are not things I care to discuss, and frankly I have difficult time remembering. I aslo don't recall any of the father's days celebrated with my ex-husband.  So, I am going to instead recount my first "parenting" memory with my ex-husband. I do not recall much of this incident ( like how it came about, or what happened after), but what I DO recall will be enough for you to understand the type of memories that dominate my mind when thinking of my only previous co-parenting experience. 

When I had Brittany I was 3 weeks away from turning 18, and lived with my mother in a two bedroom apartment in South Berwick, Maine. I left school about a year previously, so I didn't drop out because of having a baby. I actually left school - and I don't believe I've ever SAID this to anyone before - because I has having a hard time functioning after exposing my father for abusing me. I was in counseling and I was marginally involved with the prosecution of my father for his crimes. High School, and the social drama that was a major component in it, were things that were beyond my coping mechanisms.I already had too much on my plate. I didn't deal well. This is most likely something you wont be able to REALLY understand unless you have experienced any sort of childhood abuse ( in my opinion ). I don't believe I was very well liked by my peers. I had two best friends named Kris  and Katherine, that I spent all of my time with. At some point prior to freshman year, they simply stopped being my friends. I probably shouldn't blame them because I wasn't behaving very well at the time. Abused kids act out.  I lied a lot because I felt I wasn't "enough" the way I was- I engaged in risky behavior and I sought the only attention from boys I felt I could get. Girls didn't like me. Big problems, no friends, depression. So, I left school behind. I showed up at the adult ed office when I turned 18 and took some pretests for my GED. Based upon the scores of the pretests, I didn't "need" the classes offered, so simply took the tests and got the equivalency degree.  Since you can most likely do the figuring - this means I have an eighth grade education. I tell you all of this because then you may have some inkling on one of many reasons I put up with everything that I did. 

I didn't feel I deserved any better. 

Back to my first parenting memory. Mark, my ex-husband and I were in my mother's livingroom. My mother was at work at the Police Department. I was on the floor, Mark was straddled over my waist, hands around my throat, and for some reason his ski jacket was bunched up between our bodies, sort of under my chin. He was squeezing my throat, and I was struggling to breathe while trying to push his hands off my throat and  attempting to wriggle out from underneath him. There comes a time when you are in a situation like this that it goes from a scary, dangerous situation where you are struggling with hope of getting free - to the moment where you can't draw in anymore air and the hope is drained from the situation. That moment came for me that day when I arched my back and tried one last time to throw him off of me. I wasn't successful, and when I arched my back to get some leverage, I also sort of rolled my head back, so that I was looking upside down, behind me. What I saw over my head stopped my every movement. My eyes had locked onto my three month old daughter sitting quietly in her wind up baby swing smiling, and watching us. She was sort of listed over to one side and wearing a Christmas sweatshirt.Chubby cheeks and mouth engage in a silly baby grin. One of her first. I was still looking into her eyes a milisecond later when he let go of my throat and pushed the ski jacket between us up over my face and held it there. To this day, thinking about that moment still raises in me the panic I felt thinking about leaving my kid motherless. Ski jacket filled my nostrils and mouth when I sucked in the last air I could, and that was it.

Like every other time in the 15 years after that day that this type of thing happened, I have no idea why he just finally let go. Looking back, I think maybe I was just lucky because he had, for some reason, started THINKING again. Like mid-choke he became rational once again and - well- it was just my lucky fucking day. I do know that I eventually went limp and stopped fighting. I thought about that fact while he choked me again 15 years later for the last time on April 11, 2004 - Easter morning. At the last moment I went limp in an attempt to make him realize he'd maybe gone too far. And he let go. That time he did nearly go too far- after I made the decision to go limp, I momentarily blacked out and lost control of my bladder. The next time I opened my eyes he was away from me, offering me a drink of water. The neighbor had heard me screaming and called the police - he was arrested minutes later, and my life was forever changed. I have absolute faith that had he not been finally been arrested, initiating the stronger version of Me coming forward, I would be dead today, and maybe so would my kids. Something happened that day - something was different. We had been separated for maybe six weeks at that point, and I had finally had enough. I was not relenting. I was not letting him talk me into coming back. This day, that fact had finally sunk in - and his fight to keep us had turned into wanting to destroy.  I have felt for 7 years that I have to PROVE that to people we know. Why? I don't know. It has bothered me that he was able to convince people of a number of lies about me, about us and about that day. I no longer feel as weighed down by the need to clear my name in regards to what people have heard and believed from a crazy man. I know what happened. I saw the painful realization that there was no more "us", in his eyes while he was choking me- followed by an absolute burning hatred and need to destroy.  I have never felt that the  moment I was going to die was at hand before that moment - and I hope to never feel it again. I've stated repeatedly since that happened that I knew he would be the way I was going to die eventually. I don't feel that so much anymore. Chalk it up to distance and knowing how to protect myself better now, if you like. I chalk it up to something - someone else.

I'm not denying that in between those two times- the choking incidents I mentioned- that there were "good" times. Anything involving my children was a good time - and he wasn't ALWAYS violent. When other people were around, for example, he was nice, calm and "fun" to be around. We did get along when "things" weren't happening. I encouraged him to have his family and friends around us as often as possible to ensure his good mood. His family and friends because he had all but run MINE out of my life. It was literally regarded as an occasion when I got to interact with MY family and friends.

Domestic violence is a cycle. There is a build up period, where you KNOW something is coming. This period can last a LONG time. Eventually there IS violence, and then there is what is called "The Honeymoon Period". That period is when the abuser is apologetic and remorseful and basically does everything in his or her power to keep you on the hook. Then it starts all over again. Sadly, I ( I cannot speak for anyone BUT me ) got hooked on the honeymoon period. It was the only time I was shown how much I was "loved". I received gifts, promises, apologies and things were SAFE. Mark was my first relationship, and I guess , as stupid as this sounds - I thought this was the way relationships go. To be honest, once the cycle ( that you don't even realize exists while in it) is in "build up" mode, and you are literally constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. After a long time period, it's almost a relief when it finally does drop. Whatever he put you through you must have deserved, or why would he have done it? Once it's over ( and it's always going to be "ok", because he'd never REALLY hurt you- or kill you, right? ), you know that things will be good again for a few weeks. The worse he happened to have take it out on you, the better he'd treat you after. I lived for those times. I eventually started to expect, subconsciously, that to be treated well, get a gift, or have Peace, I would need to go through my punishment in order to deserve it.
Yes, people REALLY end up thinking that way. 
If you have ANY one in your life that is a domestic violence survivor, please do them the kindness of never letting the phrase " But why did you stay?" pass your lips. It is nearly impossible to satisfactorily explain that you, at that time, didn't know that you really didn't deserve it. There are still times and instances I can justify why he did this or that. While I KNOW I didn't deserve what I got, I knew how to behave to avoid getting it. Therefore it's sort of my fault anyway, isn't it?

You don't want to know how much absolute SHIT and how many destroyed relationships you go through, figuring out who you are after this type of life. Learning how to be in a normal, stable, LOVING relationship where you don't have to earn being treated well, or wait for a shoe to drop - is harder than it sounds. It's a process that my first instinct is to say "I'd never want to go through again", but my second instinct says "Don't get ahead of yourself, lady!" because in all honesty, I am still trying to get through the process.

I babbled on about all of this for two reasons. The first is I am trying to work through some things in my own head. Like domestic violence's cycles - surviving appears to also have cycles.  I am "fine" for a long time - and then, mostly without warning, some PTSD symptoms start showing up. Nightmares, flashbacks, regressing back to feeling, and acting like a victim. Like when I am afraid Zac is upset with me in any way. He is rarely angry with me - or at least he makes an effort to not show it if he is, but I am just so used to "being upset with" meaning something bigger and darker, and my response is to shut down. In general, the things that help get through these regressive times are basically just letting myself work through some of the feelings - and a lot of time that means digging up and discussing "stuff".  I don't "discuss" well.  Articulating any of this is VERY difficult for me. Writing it and being able to re-read it allows me to "file" it away, back in the dark spots in my mind. I can then, at least for awhile, walk away and move on. What appears to have brought this all about this time is the simple fact that I intended to "go after" my ex for child support on the six kids he hasn't bothered supporting for seven years. The fact is, I'm too afraid to attract his attention by taking him to court. This in turn, has brought up a lot of "stuff" for me to deal with.

The SECOND reason I've blathered on, is to give you some idea of what Zac has to deal with. Do you know what the ONLY gripe he has ever expressed to me about my occasional poor or irrational behavior? He is upset ( rightfully so) that I am more comfortable writing about my feelings than discussing them with him face to face. This man who would literally do anything for me, has one request from me- to simply be able to TALK  to him about my feelings- and I can't accommodate him thanks to being ridiculed for nearly a decade for HAVING feelings. On the rare occasion that I DID let the ex in on my feelings it was stored in his manipulative, hateful mind to be brought up later and used against me. Every single thing about my past abuse and relationship with my father was even brought up in court during the ex's felony trial and our divorce to explain that while yes, he did in fact act in an abusive way - it was MY fault he did so because my father was an alcoholic child abuser, so I was somehow asking for it. He used my past and feelings as a way to try and explain away HIS behavior and inability to control his anger issues. I suspect he also tried to use it as a way to make me feel small. That is, after all, the only way he could feel bigger than me. I also hid things away from my ex-husband simply because if there was something I had that had value to me, it became a target. I made him angry once, and the video camera he had given me to record my children was picked up and smashed on the counter top.  I made him angry another day and he took my dog to the next town over and left him on a back road. I made him angry another time and he took Jacob away from me. Jake was maybe 2 months old at the time and breastfed. He kept him away from me all day and told me I'd get him back when I worked hard enough for long enough in our home office. When I got the phone, because I wanted help, he came back into the room with the baby. He was holding him by the head in one hand sort of like a basketball. He waked over to me, took the phone and held the baby in front of me for a moment. Point made, he turned and walked back out of the room with the baby. I made him angry the day after I turned 30 by getting into a car accident and ruining our new Suburban. So he refused to replace it for a few months because "I needed to be taught a lesson". 

KNOWING that Zachary would rather cut off his own arm than hurt my feelings, much less physically hurt me doesn't make opening up any easier, I'm afraid. WANTING to be able to talk about everything that bothers me, and being able to make it happen are two entirely different things.

I wish there was a way to be able to convey to Zac the following things - and the weight that these facts actually carry in my mind and heart.

  1. Zac is literally the kindest, strongest, most fiercely protective person I know. His heart is true, it is dedicated and there is nothing in the world I can imagine him doing to hurt me.
  2. Zac's sense of family and priorities are the most loving, loyal and level headed I've seen. Ever. His desire to share his family - who are amazing, wonderful people - with me brings me to tears. His family's acceptance of all of us as their own makes me feel loved in a way I had always been missing.
  3. There is one place in the entire world I feel safe. With Zac. It's an amazing feeling knowing that someone you love isn't capable of WANTING to hurt you. No matter what horrible thing happens, everything is manageable, together. I am part of a team. I am half of the whole.
  4. Zac is the most amazing Daddy our kids - any and all under our roof - could ask for. Knowing my children are safe physically and emotionally in his care is amazing. KNOWING he wouldn't hurt my babies in order to hurt ME is something I have no words for.
  5. The simple fact that Zac would rather get two jobs and work himself into the ground than encourage me to take the ex to court for child support - not because he is afraid, but because the kids and I are- makes me that more dedicated to WANT to be able to face the ex and demand he financially step up. His sacrifice fills me with strength.I wish it erased the fear, but I don't think anything can do that.
  6. Zac leaves no question that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. There is NOTHING I lack or need to seek elsewhere.
  7. Zac's patience dealing with the wreckage of distrust, fear and vulnerability that another more careless, hateful man left behind in an entire family makes him a million times more of a man that M.L. could ever hope to be.
  8. Zac leaves no doubt in my mind that Love Don't Run.
Zachary, you give me so much every single day that I can neither express enough thanks and appreciation for, or ever hope to give enough back to you in return. My Father's Day gift to you this year is to give you the one thing you want more than anything. I am going to find a way to get over my issues preventing me being able to TALK to you about the things that hurt me and are that are important to me without shutting down. Letting my insecurity and fears come between us in ANY way is merely letting a small, hateful, unworthy man continue to win in his battle to hurt someone that doesn't deserve it so he can feel big.I am already afraid, at the concept of letting my guard down more than it is usually - but you deserve more than I have been giving. You deserve the effort involved with backing up these words of appreciation with action. I don't know how to do it, but you are worth it. We are so worth it.

I don't know what sort of "Faith" I have, but I AM a firm believer that every bad thing that happens to us is a lesson. Something can be learned from every situation - and sometimes the harder and more painful the situation, the more important the lesson or opportunity. I choose to believe in this case that if I hadn't experienced 17 years of absolute Hell, I would never have been able to appreciate the man I was to eventually spend the rest of my life with. I would have not known how important what I have now is. I would never have known exactly what I had in Zac, nor would I have been as appreciative of his dedication and have been willing to fight and sacrifice for his love - and our life together. I was given the gift of knowing exactly how amazing a Daddy and partner he is, because I know how bad the alternative is. I learned how much my family deserves and exactly what I am NOT willing to settle for.

Thank you Zac, for showing us how much someone can care. Thank you for encouraging me to fight fairly - and showing me that when we DO disagree, it is just that. A disagreement, nothing more, nothing less. Not having a shared opinion now and then doesn't mean you don't love me. It doesn't mean you are going to make me feel little or punish me for it. That took a long tome to "get". Thank you for not ridiculing me for having ideas and interests and caring about others. Thank you for never making me feel like I had to do something to deserve your attention. Thank you for giving your love and attention so freely that I never have to question if it exists. Thank you for never making me feel small. It makes you that much of a bigger man to not need to do that to make yourself to look better. Thank you for treating my children- our children - like they are important. The cards and words they gave you today were not MY doing. They expressed what YOU have given them and thanked you for it. You have no idea what a gift you've given us all by treating us with respect and just simply caring and loving us. I look forward to being able to recall so many more Father's Days with memories of love and appreciation. I hope we are always as worthy of you as you make us feel.

Friday, June 17, 2011

 I have been having a lot of emotional days recently. Nothing in particular has "happened", I think life is just catching up with me...and I'm a big fat wussy. I have been trying recently, to come to some sort of conclusion about my life. Some sort of resolution on who I am now, compared to who I used to be. I think I've finally come to the realization that I can be who I was, without being the victim I used to be. It's hard. It's emotional, and unless you've been there, you have no flippin' clue what I'm talking about. The resolving of this "stuff" in my head and heart is messy, and it has created a big, fat vulnerable hole I'm trying to figure out how to fill.

In an effort to post a blog AND not depress anyone with the way my mind has been working (even though for the most part, it's GOOD, not dpressing! )- I thought maybe I'd post a couple of links that simply struck a chord in me.

The first is a CBS News story concerning the debate surrounding testing for diseases like Krabbe disease within a more complete panel of Newborn screening.  Most of you will never have to stop and realize that while all of the happy "I just had a baby" celebration is going on during your hospital stay- your newborn has been tested for a number of diseases. This testing ensures that babies who have whatever your particular State tests for, get early care, intervention and attention. SOME diseases are curable, if discovered prior to symptoms developing. One of these diseases is Krabbe disease. Krabbe is a Leukodystrophy, just like Brittany's Alexander Disease. One of the many differences is that Krabbe can be treated, while AxD cannot. Untreated, Krabbe children usually do not make it to their second birthday. They are blinded, immobile and unable to eat and have many many breathing issues - requiring a vent - until they eventually pass away. It is painful. Krabbe prevents them from having enough protection on their nerves. Treated, Krabbe children may still have some handicaps, but do not need to perish.They do not need to live a short life filled with suffering.

Why does this matter to ME, when my daughters illness cannot be treated? It may not be curable, but if I knew Brittany had AxD at birth, it would have saved us 5 years of seeking a diagnosis. A lot of her health problems, personality issues and behaviors would have made sense, and she would have had access to an IEP at school MUCH sooner than she did.So, not only would I know my child was ill ( which, is a double edged sword, I admit ), but I would have had a direction in which to turn for help, rather than struggling for the past 7 years.
In short, my daughter already has the shit end of the stick- I could have been prepared and informed enough to make things easier on her. And yes, I do feel that is worth the cost of Expanded Universal Newborn Screening. If it was your child - and it very well could be, it would be worth it to you. If this were cancer or another more well known childhood illness we were talking about, there would be no question as to acting proactively. There would be no wondering if the expense of testing would be worth saving some, if not all children with cancer. This obscure set of diseases and the children they effect deserve the same chance.

How can you help? Learn about expanded newborn screening, and after doing so, hopefully you will also feel as I do, that it is simply something that NEEDS to be done. Maybe contact your representatives and ask where they stand on expanded NB screening. If they aren't behind it, inform them why it is important. Encourage them to educate themselves and take a stand and help get this screening mandatory. If that is all too much, I understand. Then spread the word. You are SO powerful, in such a simple way - and you, like most, probably don't even realize it. If you tell 10 people just by posting this blog, or the link to the news story, or a make simple statement that you support UNBS- you will have brought attention to 10 people - with the potential of also educating everyone they post or mention it to.

Please read the story and watch the video above.Also, visit Hunter's Hope and learn about Krabbe, Leukodystrophies and most importantly, Universal Newborn Screening.
"Hunter’s Hope was established in 1997 by Jim Kelly and his wife Jill, after their infant son, Hunter (2/14/97—8/5/05) was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, an inherited fatal nervous system disease." - Hunter's Hope website.
Jim Kelly, some of you will recall, is a former quarterback for the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Click the Team Brittany logo to learn what NBS testing YOUR state provides.

The second link, is a Mortifying Disclosure written by the mom of a special needs son. Completely different situation, completely different family, completely different disease - Same end result. I share this woman's view on being home and caring for her child. I am at a point where I am trying to move past caring what others' opinion is of why I stay home and care for my children. I shared this woman's feeling about the importance of "being there" prior to even knowing I had an ill child - after the chaos that my family experienced this past fall and winter with Brittany, I am more dedicated than ever to being here to raise my children. My fiancee works two miserable, low paying ( compared to a lovely white collar career ) jobs he hates, in order to make ends meet for our family. The ends, despite his dedication to working until he drops, do not ever meet. Brittany receives Social Security Income as well as Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled from the State. Our ends still do not meet. When my ex-husband and I decided to have a large family, we made a significant income. Our ends met. Always.We were able to meet our needs as well as have a very full life. We had a business, five brand new trucks, loads of business equipment, employees we supported and a brand new Suburban. We had a jet boat, 5 snowmobiles, 4 ATVs, a hot tub, an apartment house and did whatever he wanted. I was a PTA mom. A girl Scout leader. I volunteered in my childrens preschool and lead their parent organization all the way to State level meetings. I chaperoned most of the field trips for 3 different schools. I was the secretary for the Snowmobile and ATV club my exhusband and  I started locally. My kids all played sports year round. I ran my husband's office, published a newsletter and volunteered in the community. I provided childcare for others.We took regular, week long trips to the lake and went tubing, fishing and snowmobiling. I didn't stress about holidays - I hosted them. We didn't worry about having enough money for gifts and holidays. I hosted my inlaws weekly for dinner because they didnt take care of themselves and suffered strokes and diabetes. I waxed my damned eyebrows and got haircuts. We had whatever we wanted. Unfortunately, we also had a good dose of domestic violence. We also didn't have an appreciation for having as much as we did. I had a plan to leave when my youngest (who was 18 mos at the time ) went to school full time. That way, I could work full time and still be there when they were home. Some things - violent things - escalated without warning. I left. I -WE - lost everything.My exhusband went to prison after assaulting me one last time, so hasn't paid child support since we were seperated, even though he has been out of the pokey for multiple years now.  My kids lost their recreation, ability to play sports and unlimited possibility of  wardrobes, toys and day trips. They even lost my husbands side of the family because I left, and Mark chose to engage in activity (assault, stalking, harassment, escape from custody, etc )that landed him in Prison.Apparently, my kids were disowned because I decided to ensure my own safety and report it when he committed crimes against us. After all of this loss, we gained Peace of Mind. I am sorry and regretful to my children for the loss of our lifestyle. I am not, however sorry that I am still making it a priority to be home for them. The healthy ones as well as the sick one.I am also not sorry for the addition of their new brother and sister into their lives, even though it means we have a bit less as a result.I AM sorry that between the trauma that went on after my seperation, Brit's illness and a few other things, including depression and PTSD, I have all but squandered my parenting opportunities for the past few years. I did what NEEDED to be done. I covered their immediate needs, I cooked, I cleaned, interacted. I attended the functions I had to - but didn't have the emotional gumption to extend myself into any of the activities I used to.Now that I do not parent alone and have another, equal half to count on for support, I am trying to get back into the swing of things. I am trying to remember what it's like - and how I managed to do all of those things I used to do for my family. I'm trying to heal a whole bunch of hurts.I want to be the house that all of their friends come to. I want to be involved with their schools. I want to take them to story hour and chaperone their trips and all of the other things that create memories.I need to be here when things like "Last Fall" happen with Brittany's illness. I don't owe anyone any apologies for any of that. I don't owe anyone an explanation why my job is here with my family. I only owe my family the very best of me. I owe them an equal trade. TLots of money and comfort items and activities traded for safety, integrity, attention and the focus I used to have when my life was easier in many ways. It's not the same for every family. I don't place the same amount of value on material items that many do. I place value on a solid family life. Unfortunately I cannot provide both. I know the cost of the material things to my family and myself, and I'm willing to compromise in order to be here.

No one looks back at the end of their life and says "God, I wish I worked more".

I know not everyone feels this way -and I know not everyone is able to do what I'm doing if they want to. I don't judge - I don't feel my decision is best for everyone, but it's best for us. And "us" is all I can take care of.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This is how I feel today....
 While I wish i could say I was the Zombie finger, I am the one being munched on.So, for now - this is it for blogland - maybe later I will pull myself together and actually publish something worthy of your eyes. Maybe not. There's always tomorrow =)

Oh - for now, feel free to check out the blog I've been threatening people with, chronicling our efforts as a foster family for rescue dogs : Here
See? I DID do SOMETHING thus far today! Hall-e-loo-yar!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Okay, so there WAS something I forgot to share....

Much love and many thanks to Darby and Hannah, Tammy and her munchkins and Tiffany for their support!
Want one of your very own to show your support for Brittany's struggle with Alexander Disease? 
Click the bag!


Well, contrary to my plans, and previous blog - I have been failing at getting my blog (or anything else) organized.As a result,  I've also failed at the McBlogger experience.I've focused on getting the word out on the July fundraiser - and trying to figure out what exactly I plan on us doing for Leukodystrophy Day in September.  Plenty of time to plan you say? Sure, sure - if you have ANY idea what the Hell you're doing, which I do not. I am starting to think, in order to take some pressure off, that the walk we were planning on hosting, may end up being a very unorganized, personal sort of thing. Maybe get some friends and family together and have our walk, followed by a lunch at our house. The reason for all of this, is that while I've had a great ( and inspiring ) time working on the pancake fundraiser - it has wiped me out. I feel like quite the pathetic failure to admit that, but it's true. I didn't take into consideration the impact  "going public" with Brittany's illness was going to have upon me. It's been impossible to keep my blinders closed on the nature of her illness while trying to educate others on it and make them aware of her in general. It's been impossible to NOT be affected by other people's children suffering from this disease while trying to make sure their faces and stories are known along with Brittany's. We've been offered an amazing service by a friend of a friend, and the only thing holding that up is that I need to get certain pieces of info to him - and I've only been able to get a little together, because it tore me up. So Kayleigh, if you read this, please be assured I WILL get you what you need - it's just slow moving right now.
We had a bit of an issue last week that upset me quite a bit, in regards to Brit's health. It was actually more in regards to her care that the problem ocurred. In an effort to not double journal it feel free to take a peek here and catch up.
So basically, I need a small break, and that's what I plan on doing for the weekend. One more yard sale ( if I get around to it ) on Saturday, and Sunday a BBQ with my family unit to celebrate the weather and Zac's new second job.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend, and HOPEFULLY Monday I will be back in the swing of things and ready for action. Next week holds more docs visits for poor Zac's back and a nurse visit for Reagan's lead poisoning.