Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

About an hour ago I left a presentation on “How to pay less for college”.  In summary, I’m worth more alive than dead.  Actually I have been hyper aware of this for some time.  I also learned I’m a day late and a dollar short, with zero ducks in a row, for this college preparation thing.  Though I noticed from many sighs and rubbing of temples that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in this matter.

The triggers come quickly when I walk into a high school.  The lockers, the hallways, the pictures on the wall of which I was never a part of.  I find tears start welling up in my eyes and I have to work hard at composing myself.  This usually manifests in me looking like an angry bitch, which actually isn’t all that far from the truth.

high-school

I hate being at the high school even though it wasn’t one I attended.  I went to a different high school every year.  Parents divorced my sophomore year and we moved each year after.  When other kids were going to dances, learning to drive and keeping up their grades in hopes of getting into a great college, I was severely depressed, smoking pot, binge eating and planning my suicide.

Going to three different high schools I became lost in the system.  Not bad enough or good enough to hit anyone’s radar.  My father had abandoned me and my mother was lost in her own drama so there was no one to consider my future.  I remember them talking about taking the SAT in my junior year and saying how much it cost. It was a small amount but we were dirt poor so I didn’t believe I could do it.  I was also deeply involved in finding a way to die so I didn’t consider a future.

The gentleman doing the presentation was a financial planner and has been giving these presentations for over twelve years.  He spoke about grants, scholarships and loans and I had to struggle to stay present as my mind brought me back to being a teenager.  Could I have gotten a grant since we were so poor?  Could I have gone to college?

Please don’t ask me what I dreamed of doing or tell me it’s not too late because Grandma Moses didn’t paint her first painting until she was 78.  Don’t tell me this.  The harsh reality is that I stopped dreaming at 15 years old. I’d wanted to be a ballerina and was practicing in the living room one day.  My mother said, “What are you doing?” and I replied, “Practicing.”  She let out a laugh and said, “Why?!?”  I could see the look in her eye and knew better than to share but did it anyway “Because I want to be a dancer.”  She laughed louder this time while looking me up and down, “You will never be a dancer!  You’re too short!”  Now I’d love for this story to end with me proving her wrong and going on to be a prima ballerina.  But no.  Instead I quit ballet and stopped dreaming.

Life became about survival and still is to this day.  “So when you are planning your child’s education…” {Why didn’t anyone plan anything for me?  Why didn’t I matter?} “When filling out the FAFSA….” {Was this even around when I was young?  I don’t know.  I’m confused.  I’m overwhelmed.} “So depending on what percent…” {What could I have done with my life?  Was there any hope anyway?}

I left the school as fast as I could after the presentation was done.  I tried to focus on my car and not see the auditorium or the football field.  Each place is reminder of what didn’t happen for me.

It’s been decades since I was in high school but the pain is still fresh.  I’ve found that things I thought I was over resurface when my child hits the age I was at when some trauma happened.  I wonder if I’ll ever get to the other side or if I’m doomed to a life of flashbacks and triggers.

I send my son pictures of me at my desk with the caption “Don’t let this be you.  Work hard.  Go for your dreams.”  He wants to be a screenwriter and eventually a director.  “How is he going to survive and pay his bills?” You know what; I don’t know.  But I sure as fuck will support him.

 

 

Writing Challenge Day 4 – I was “All In”

Writing Challenge Day 4 – I was “All In”

My previous posts in this “Writing Challenge” were whipped out to simply get it done.  I really didn’t have a subject or idea of any kind.  They were off the top of my head blabber.  Yet today I was hit by something and want to speak about it.  It’s the assumptions I hear about people like myself who have left Christianity and our level of involvement or how hard we tried.

all-in

I’ll give a brief history of my upbringing and what brought me to where I am today.  Born a pastor’s daughter in Dallas, Texas.  My father was what I like to call “run of the mill Christian” but leaned Baptist, and later preached for that denomination.  Fundamentalist, legalistic, pro-life (99.9% of the reason to vote for someone), full of hell and damnation and waiting expectantly for the Rapture.  My beliefs were based on what I was taught and spanked into me.  Most everything revolved around fear. Fear of getting in trouble, fear of angering God and most importantly the fear of burning in hell for eternity.  I floated in and out of being a hard core believer and doing whatever I wanted.  Yet even when I was “backslidden” I knew what I was doing and assumed I’d straighten out soon and then have a juicy testimony.

My parents divorced when I was 15 years old and the church was down right evil in the way they handled it.  It wasn’t all their fault as my father was on a door to door mission to rip my mother apart and make sure everyone believed the divorce was entirely her fault and he was a blameless victim.  I chose to live with my mother and paid dearly for that decision.  So still in and out of church, bitter and heartbroken by how the “loving Christian family of God” treated us, yet still believing this was my only hope. It was a painful and isolating position to be in.

Once I had a child I figured I had to pull my shit together and “raise in up” in the church so he’d accept Jesus and not be burned in hell.  My husband and I went to a few churches where we attempted to fit in and play the game but were always the outcasts.  I knew way too much bible for anyone to bullshit me and I was ready to fight about it.

With all my fighting and anger, I was still desperate to be on the other side.  I begged, pleaded and screamed at God to give me the “peace that passes all understanding” and nothing happened. I did every alter call, read every book (and corresponding workbook), prayed every prayer, fasted, tithed, asked others to pray over me, had demons cast out of me and annointed my doors and window frames in oil. I even flew to Houston for a “Forgiveness Conference” that ended up being roughly 10 people at a table in a small church.

Yet I felt nothing.  My prayers weren’t answered.  I was alone.

My final stop before finally checking out was at The Crossing Church, which I’ve detailed on another blog for 5 years.  When I started going I said this was it, I was going all in and if it didn’t work then I’m done.  I had no idea how prophetic these words were at the time.

The point, which I’ve taken way too long to get to, is that I was fully “all in”.  If there is a deity, then s/he doesn’t want me.  But I beg of you, don’t dismiss my efforts, my pain, my suffering and my journey by saying I didn’t do enough.  Over 40 years of spinning my wheels and now I have the joy of being out.

 

Writing Challenge Days 2 & 3 – Exhaustion

Writing Challenge Days 2 & 3 – Exhaustion

Didn’t make it to the computer to write yesterday.  I wasn’t expecting to be as “not sober” as I was in the evening.  So today I have roughly 35 minutes to make this a double post.  Sadly my mind is blank.  I have two thoughts which trade places in my mind: I’m so completely exhausted and I’m sick of my Facebook news feed.

Lets talk about an easier subject to tackle – my exhaustion.  I’m exhausted for many reasons, the first being my fibromyalgia (or the more technical diagnosis of Seronegative Spondyloarthropathy).  Going from Summer to Fall brings on intense muscular pain.  All season changes hurt but this one is the worst.  I feel like someone took a bat to my entire spinal column.  Yoga helps to keep movement to my body and I also use other “natural remedies” to keep the pain away.  The exhaustive effects are felt mentally as well as physically.  It’s painful to watch others living their lives while being immobile on a couch.  Now given, I am still at a level at which I can push through and not like so many others who truly aren’t able to move.  Yet it wears on me.  It brings me fear as I wonder how much worse it will get.  Though I was assured by my last rheumatologist that I do not have a degenerative disease; I feel the symptoms getting worse.

Feeling like the pain, the immobility, the exhaustion is getting worse then leads to more fear.  How will I take care of myself?  What if I can’t work?  Who will take care of me?  Living in the moment is a nice idea, and preferable to trailing off into my nightmares, but not always a reality when the hurt gets more aggressive.

Admittedly, I’m exhausted from life too.  I’m tired of fighting: fighting to be heard, fighting for my rights, fighting for my boundaries, fighting for those that won’t or can’t fight.  So tired.  I’d love to walk away from it all but that’s not who I am.  Yet I’ve been fighting from birth.  Being born female into a conservative Christian household is a slow torturous hell for someone who was made to be outspoken and vocal.  The fight is constant too.  The worst is when the men in your life, men you find to be good and strong and moral, still make underhanded misogynist comments.  We’re supposed to smile and be nice because “they didn’t mean anything bad” all the while dying a little more inside.

km turned back

I still make myself small when I don’t want to.  Get small to avoid conflict, avoid the fight, avoid the drama.  Make sure everyone around you is happy.  Suck it up, appease each person, be cordial, don’t anger anyone, just shut up.  I would doubt most males could relates to any of what I just said.  Yes, those with strict upbringings may relate to some, but it never hits the level it does when you are female.

So I look for the balance.  Walking the wire between being exactly who I want to be and not stirring up a whole big batch of bullshit.  I want to believe that one day I will no longer feel my survival depends on keeping balance.  I long for the day I jump off to the side that is all my true feelings while flipping off everyone who requested my silence.

This post was all over the place.  Not what I wanted. Not even fully authentic as I saw faces coming to mind as I typed and I worked my words to fit what would be middle of the road for all.  Yet for today ~ this is all I can offer.

beingwhoyouarequote

Writing Challenge Day 1 – Survival

Writing Challenge Day 1 – Survival

“The hard season will split you through. do not worry. you will bleed water. do not worry. this is grief. your face will fall out and down your skin and there will be scorching. but do not worry. keep speaking the years from their hiding places. keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have died. keep the rage tender. because the soft season will come. it will come. loud. ready. gulping. both hands in your chest. up all night. up all of the nights. to drink all damage into love.”

~ Nayyirah Waheed, salt.

This is day 1 for me of a 31 day writing challenge.  I should also mention that the challenge officially started 7 days ago, so I’m behind and I will complete it late. Though in my hyper scheduled life I’m early for everything, in the larger life picture I do things later than others.  Please don’t call it being a “late bloomer”, dear fuck, I’m not blooming at all.  I’m surviving.  Survival takes time, energy and more tenacity than would be needed for those who flow smoothly through the seasons of life.

Finding the perfect subject matter and things to say generally leaves me immobile and not writing.  So as was suggested from a blogging friend (with a huge following and much more skill than I): just write for 10 minutes.  So I will warn you this will be straight stream of consciousness and in all likelihood will bunny trail off into the wildness.

I’m sick of surviving.  Life is rarely happy, and certainly not easy, when you are surviving.  Yet survival is the protection my mind devised to keep me sane when the walls of my life collapsed time and time again.  I held on while wanting to die.  I pressed forward with no plan, no dreams and no hope.  I didn’t want to live but could never quite put killing myself as a priority over staying alive.

Survival involves a lot of fear.  Most decisions are fear based.  Even in the moments you try to “live in the moment” and give yourself some joy, the fear will overtake it all saying “You’ll be sorry.  Don’t hope.  Don’t expect too much.  Being happy now will only make tomorrow worse.”

It is interesting now that I’ve left Christianity, and really God too, that I’m actually much calmer about the future than I was when supposedly God had my back and my future was to hang out in heaven with Jesus.  I never felt the peace that passes all understanding.  Not once.  Not with all the begging, pleading and screams of my heart.  Nothing.  Knowing it all rests on me now is an easier place to live.

longer

 

Accepting the present ~ as it is

{be honest}  Types a few words.  {Hey!  not that honest!}  Deletes.  Get it done by 6:43am.  Whoops!  It’s 7:20am.  It’s 9:35am.  It’s 10:22am.  Scroll Facebook feed.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Eat some ice cream.  And a brownie.  Heart racing.  {What are you scared to say?  Admit it.}  Procrastinate some more.

Today is my birthday.  I was born the exact year, day and time that Woodstock was starting.  Did you do the math?  I’m 47.  I immediately got sick as I saw that number.  I’ve worked hard in the past 7 years to hide my age, to pretend I’m younger and to try to portray myself as anything but what is the truth.  Sure there are all the usual reasons of age being mocked in our society and youth is celebrated.  There is shame too.  Shame that I should have been more, done more and not be where I am.  A lot of shame.  Yet at my core I truly look at my age in awe.  I feel so much younger inside, and by younger I do not mean “young in spirit”, no, I mean emotionally immature by a good 10+ years.  I look around all the time for an adult and find I’m the oldest in the room!
Woodstock-1969
So know that stating my age is an act of courage for me.  Though in the past year it’s been thrown in my face time and time again that I was never fooling anyone.  I recently had a 30 year old send me a funny meme that use “AF” and he proceeded to explain to me what “AF” stood for.  My stomach dropped as I realized he thinks I’m an old person that doesn’t understand today’s lingo.  (Was lingo an old word?  Ut oh.)  I quickly responded with “I may be old AF, but I sure AF, know what AF stands for!”  (Hey old timers – it means As Fuck.)  I died inside.  He knows.  They all know.  I’ve had women I looked at as significantly older than me, both in looks and attitude, say, “Well you know how it is for people our age.”  OUR AGE?  No.  No, no, no, no and no!  We are not the same!  I’m spunky and sassy and sexy and you are OLD AF!  Oh, you’re actually younger than me?  Well isn’t that interesting.

So here I am.  47 years old.  Looking up the wrinkled ass of 50.  Ugh.  But I own it.  Today I choose to own it.  No, my life did not turn out as I planned.  In fact, I didn’t have any plans.  I was fully on the Highway to Hell (take this any way you choose to take it) and prepared to die.  So really, if you look at the trauma I lived, I’m doing fucking fantastic!  I’ve heard people stop caring what others think in their 30’s, so I’m a little behind but I’m getting there.  The wisdom I have today is hard won, and you know what, I know a lot.  I can’t change the past or the journey I took.  And would I do it all the same if I had the chance?  Oh fucking hell no!  I hate people that say they are OK with going through horrors because it got them to where they are today.  But I accept it and I’m still breathing.

I’m working hard on staying present.   Trying to live the exact life I want.  Setting boundaries for the first time.  Learning to breathe through the bullshit.  
So as I end this post, which feels scattered and unsure (exactly how I feel at this moment), I encourage you to be honest, to express your truth and to live the life that you want.  As I say frequently these days, “You’re about to die…..what do you really want?

I will not be her

Her.  My mother.  Now much has been said about how tumultuous the mother ~ daughter relationship can be.  Mothers and daughters fighting with each other for connection and autonomy.  There has also been as much said about abusive mothers and the trail of pain they leave behind.  My mother is somewhere in between.  I type this with my stomach in a knot, worrying about saying too much, yet desperately needing to share my truth.  When I had my son, my only child, my mother said, “You HAVE to have a 2nd child!  You need a daughter!  You need to experience the mother daughter dynamic!”  I replied, with a glare, “I’ve already had enough with you and I don’t need anymore.”

I’m not ready to share the nitty gritty of it all.  There is way too much.  I will say she did nice “motherly” things, and still does, but in a self-serving way.  The children never came first.  Her wants and desires always took precedence.  And if we were caught in the crossfire, well to quote her, “Tough!”  I’ve learned recently that my mother is a narcissist.  I’m an empath.  A narcissist and an empath are a horrible combination, as the empath gets destroyed.

So I had a baby and decided that this sweet child would always come first.  No matter what.  All decisions were made with the overarching thought “I will give him a better life.  He will know without any question that he’s loved and accepted.  And I will not be selfish.”  He bit me while nursing during teething episodes and I took it instead of putting him down and saying, “No.”.  I wanted him to be first.  I spent every waking hour of every week end with him, leaving no time for myself, as I felt so guilty that I had to work.  I praised his every move.  I did anything and everything I thought a “good parent” should do.  And though there have been bumps along the way, I have an amazing young man now.

Yet he’s pulling away.  He’s doing what a normal healthy 17 year old boy should do and establishing himself as an adult.  After all these years of giving him everything, and seeing I’m no longer number one, it hurts but I accept it.

I find thoughts creeping in, that I haven’t had for nearly 30 years, of running away.  Thoughts of packing a suitcase, jumping on a plane and flying away with no plan at all.  (I’ve done this multiple times.)  Running away would be something she would do.  Or rather, divorce, marry  a few more times, get in a mess and expect me, her child, to bail her out.  I will not be her.

I’ve been spending money on myself lately.  Spending wildly with the core thought “I’m about to die anyway!”  This mantra came on since the death of my father.  Life feels very short and I feel like I’ve missed out.  Missed out by being safe, saving and surviving.  I want to buy something ridiculous as a big “fuck you” to all those telling me I can’t.  But this would be her, selfishly thinking only of her wants.  I will not be her.

It’s terrifying when you see the behaviors you despised, those that hurt so deeply, being acted out by you.  It is difficult not to worry that because these are the genes you come from that this is what you are destined to become.  A lifetime of working to be different only to hear her voice in your own, see her actions become yours and to feel that selfishness creeping in.

I’m at a crossroads.  How can I live the life I want and still be a good mother?  And most importantly; how can I not be her?  My only answers are awareness, doing the next right thing, being cognizant of my actions.  Because above all ~ I will not be her.

mother daughter

 

 

The last paragraph

The last paragraph

Since leaving the church in 2011, and fully accepting my Agnosticism in 2015 (give or take), I’ve left Christianity.  Yet even while being out I find I still go on what I call “Christianity kicks”.  I start seeking it out again looking for anything redeemable.  Searching to see if perhaps I missed a key point.  Oh lets just say it; I’m looking for acceptance from a deity, if one exists, who has spent my entire lifetime ignoring me.   Having celebrated Easter yesterday (ham – yes, church – no), I suppose all the “He is Risen!” posts trigger my indoctrination to kick into high gear for a bit.

Now when I say I get on a kick, I do not mean reading the bible.  I’m not sure I own one anymore.  No, I read stories and experiences in hopes that maybe Jesus simply hasn’t gotten around to me yet, and in these people’s journeys I might find something new.  There are many Christian blogs around where people delve into some deep and heartbreaking shit.  There are people expressing doubt and searching.  There are some that walk dangerously close to the edge of not believing.

So close.  Eight, nine, ten paragraphs worthy of Job screaming out to the heavens.  “Why have you forsaken me?”  “Where are you?”  “Help!”  They justifiably sob about loss and hopelessness.  They swear, fight and flip off the universe.

Until the last paragraph.

In that last paragraph everything gets quickly wrapped up in a sparkling Jesus bow.  I wish I could say they give enough of their story that you are able to understand what occurred that their God suddenly made everything OK; or is about to make everything OK, as they pray, believe, have faith, lean in, etc… Nope.  Pain, suffering, shit, torment, heartache….yeah, Jesus!  I follow along hanging on their every word, believing I’ve found someone that gets it, yet the ending is always the same.

So was it that simple?  God/Jesus made the wrongs right?  The Holy Spirit wrapped its loving arms around them?  Enough faith and belief reconciled the atrocities done to them?  I do have many theories as to what occurs here and I won’t share them as they aren’t kind or helpful.  And really, I’m not trying to take away people’s faith, even if I consider it an illusion.  The truth is that last paragraph feels like an emotional slap.  “Works for me and it sucks to be you!”

So what’s my last paragraph?  My answer to just about everything: I don’t know. Head in my hands, a deep sigh and back to it.

km turned back 2