Super Power Training

Late one night not long ago, my son was engaged with me in an epic battle to avoid going to bed. Every excuse and delay tactic he could throw my way got tossed. Eventually, he settled hard on the old “monsters” routine and we were at a stand off. I was tired and depleted from trying to talk some reason in to a five-year-old. Then, I blurted out an unusual solution. “I have super powers, and I put up a forcefield around our house. No monsters can get in. They can’t even see us.” After a few follow up questions regarding the strength and coverage of this forcefield, my son smiled and finally laid down to go sleep.

Success!

My son felt safe thanks to my “super powers,” and I got to go to bed. The following weeks, however, my son started asking more questions about my powers and what I could and could not do with them. I started to feel guilty about lying to him…

Enter my completely unintentional start to walking the path of mindfulness.

Yes I know, it’s another freaking article about mindfulness! Don’t run away just yet, and yes I will probably bust out the other M-word before this blog is over. I have never been “good” with or consistent at meditating, and the word mindfulness was an interchangeable synonym in my brain’s thesaurus. I was surprised to find out that they are not.

I started my mindfulness journey sitting at my temp-job desk, a cubicle no bigger than an elementary school desk, listening to Audible. I’m late to the audiobook scene. As an English major in undergrad, I maintained my love of good old-fashioned paper and ink books with entitlement. But, when faced with 40 hours a week of mind numbing drudgery to pay the bills, I finally caved and signed up. I had no idea what I was missing.

I have been absorbing so much from self-development books such as Happy is the New Health by David Romanelli, The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner, The Craving Mind by Judson Brewer, Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, The Five Keys to Mindful Communication by Susan Gills Chapman, The Mindful Day by Laurie J. Cameron, and Peace in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh among others. Mindfulness is a topic touched on in all these wonderful works, and I have had some seriously wonderful success applying mindfulness practices in my own life.

Back to my super powers. I do now believe I have started to develop a real super power, and that is mindfulness. I saw the opportunity to change my lie to my son to something wonderful. After a few weeks of intentionally applying mindfulness practices in my life, my son and I have bonded and connected on a new, deeper level. When we spend time together, I live together with my son in that moment and have observed just how much he loves being around me and doing things together.

I asked my son one morning if he would like to start Super Power Training with be in the morning before leave for work. He was all for it. After a quick YouTube search for Mindfulness Meditations for kids, I was happy to find a whole range of options. For the past two weeks we have spent anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes sitting, breathing, and meditating together. My son has a hard time sitting still, but we make a point to begin and end our time together sitting up straight and taking deep breaths. He has slowly been getting better at it, and so have I!

Making Super Power Training part of the morning routine keeps me accountable to my meditation practice every day, added precious quality time with my son to my day, and sets both our days up for success from the start. I am amazed and grateful for just how big of an impact living mindfully has already had in my life, and I am excited to see just how much things will change.

Instead of getting told about the F-bomb my son dropped on the playground, I get to hear about how he spontaneously gave his teacher a hug for the first time. That is some seriously good shit!

Pregnancy Safe Teas

Tea has been a long time interest in my life. My mother would always drink herbal teas while I was growing up. I didn’t appreciate tea when I was younger, but I have become a tea enthusiast since I started college. My first fiancé was Taiwanese, and I loved going shopping in Asian food stores with him. I tried all the different teas I could find and consider myself an expert at that point. I was completely unaware that most if not all ethnic groups have different and wonderful types of tea they traditionally drink. 

Once I left college, I got a tea of the month subscription through Teavana from my ex-husband for my birthday. My tea-encyclopedia exploded past the basic jasmine, green, white, and oolong teas I found at the Asian food marts. Rooibos teas, fruit infusions, matcha, nutty/savory black teas, and many many more made their way into my life. There is almost an endless variety to be found and tried. 

Prior to finding out I was pregnant, my favorite teas were Zest tea for a caffeine kick and Yogi/Traditional Medicinal teas for a plethora of health benefit specific blends. 

Now that I am pregnant, however, I cannot enjoy these teas. So, I thought I would share a few teas that I have found to be pregnancy safe. The first tea I grabbed when we decided to try to get pregnant was this Raspberry leaf tea.

There was some confusion on my part as to what the health benefits of this tea are for pregnant women. I, like many other women, thought it was a tea to be drank to help induce labor. However, upon doing more research into this tea, I found that it does not induce labor at all. This tea actually helps strengthen the uterus and can help stabilize a woman’s menstrual flow. As such, I bought a big bag of organic Raspberry Leaf Tea right away. This tea is best drank paired with another, more flavorful, tea, but it can be drank by itself. If you are anything like me, though, and like to forget you are steeping tea, I will warn you that this tea can get quite bitter if left to over-steep. 

To replace my sleepy time tea with heavier hitting ingredients, I have opted for my local grocery stores organic brand of lavender/chamomile herbal tea. While searching for this tea, I ran across Celestial’s Tea Well – Gut Health tea. Normally, I drink detox teas and Traditional Medical’s Smooth Move tea to keep things flowing. So, I was excited to find this Gut Health tea as a pregnancy safe option to keeping my gut on track. Instead of herbal laxatives and detoxing agents, Celestial’s Tea Well – Gut Health tea offers prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber all wrapped up in a warm, creamy cinnamon oatmeal flavor that is both comforting and tummy friendly. 

I also grabbed a box of Bigelow Benefits Calm Stomach to pair with my Raspberry leaf tea. Calm Tummy tea is a good precaution for any nausea I might experience. I was very lucky with my son not to get any nausea unless I absentmindedly took my prenatal on an empty stomach. However, I know that every pregnancy is different. So, I figured I was better of safe than sorry. Plus, the tea tastes yummy whether I need it to settle my stomach or not. 

These are just a few teas that I am currently enjoying. As with most things during pregnancy, if you are unsure if it is safe to use, take, eat or drink; check with your doctor. I am not a medical professional and am only speaking from my experience. 

What teas do you enjoy? Are there any other pregnancy safe teas you recommend? 

Another Bun

I am going to have to spill the beans here, because I cannot keep such a monumental life change out of my writing. A week ago, we confirmed that I am pregnant! This will be my second child, my husband’s biological first child, and it’s a whole new ball game this time around. 
The first major difference of this pregnancy this far is the fact that I don’t have health insurance. Last year was the first year of my life I haven’t had health insurance through my employer, and this year will be no different. We signed up for a plan through the Market Place; however, I cannot pay the premium and start coverage until they have confirmation that my state plan has been terminated. So, I am sitting in this uncomfortable limbo waiting for paperwork before I can schedule an appointment with a doctor. It’s not an ideal place to be at the beginning of a pregnancy.
On the plus side, I have been alcohol and nicotine free since prior to becoming pregnant. I started taking a prenatal about a month before conceiving as well and have cut out all other medications, caffeine, and risky foods. It has only been five years since I was last pregnant, but I was surprised to realize how much I had forgotten already. 
No more medicinal teas. No more melatonin to help me sleep. No more eggs medium done or soft (unpasteurized) cheeses. No more energy drinks; even the “healthier” ones. No high intensity (high impact) exercise. No super hot baths (a necessity for surviving Chicago winters). 
It sounds terrible, and initially it is uncomfortable to not be able to reach for something in the medicine cabinet to fix all my problems. However, after a week of grumbles and growing pains, I am surprised with just how well, healthy, and pain free I can live without those things. Herbal teas, staying hydrated, meditation, heating pads, and Reiki seem to be keeping this formerly medicated momma pretty happy. How lovely is that? It makes me wonder how much time, money, and energy I have unnecessarily expended putting chemicals in my body. 
I will say, however, that I have yet to master sleeping well throughout the night without any form of chemical assistance. I have gone from hardcore prescription sleeping medications during college to medicinal tea with passion flower and melatonin supplements to help me fall and stay asleep. I am, somehow, able to fall asleep on my own relatively fast these days with the aid of SleepStories in the Calm app, but I am waking up several times a night and tossing and turning. This could be attributed to hormonal changes, but it is probably largely a transitional hiccup from no longer being on anti-depressants and sleep aids. I am also sure that it would be much worse if I was not exercising regularly. 
Regular exercise during the winter is more challenging this year than normal. Usually, I look in to a gym membership, but that is not a risk I want to take in this pandemic. So, I am left to lean back on my tried and true YouTube fitness channels to keep me on track. Thankfully, owning a home for the first time has given me the advantage of having a whole room to exercise in. Woohoo!
As with my first pregnancy, I anticipate a lot of research into healthy nutrition, exercise, and more, which I look forward to sharing with you along the way. So, stay tuned for lots of pregnancy tips and updates to come!!

Breaking Bad Habits and Building Better Ones

Habits, both good and bad, are hard to break. I have learned how to break bad habits and form new good habits effectively these past couple months. I have finally quit vaping and have incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily routine. Such a feat can seem overwhelming, but I actually found it to be relatively pain free. How can this be?

I have tried quitting smoking (when I smoked cigarettes) and vaping more times than I can count. Full disclosure, it is still a challenge even as I am writing this. Years of using nicotine rewires you brain to become very dependent upon it. Just thinking about vaping can illicit a powerful craving within me. The key to my successful cessation this time lies in what I did before quitting. Instead of setting out to rid my life of a toxic bad habit, like so many people have done for New Year’s resolutions, I decided to first ADD something into my life. I decided to actually give mediation a fair shot.

Dedicating time to a daily meditation routine, in addition to some exercise every day, gave me undeniable positive results. Let me say, I was not a “good” meditator initially. It’s hard for me to sit still for 20 minutes and almost impossible to quite the storm in my head. However, as with most things, time, practice, and dedication produced results. I found myself becoming more mindful in my day to day life. I was able to deal with stress differently and show myself compassion and appreciation for taking the time to do these thing every day. Now, my meditation and yoga/exercise habits are fully established. It is hard for me to “skip” a day, because I have turned it in to a positive habit in my life.

Now I was ready to break my old nemesis and cut ties with nicotine. The compounding benefits of meditation and exercise enable me to be mindful of cravings once I stopped; to label them as mere craving and let them go. During my journey into meditation, I read several books on mindfulness and Buddhist teachings. I am now able to observe my thoughts without getting to attached (most of the time), and find solace in the knowledge that I am not my thoughts and that everything changes.

There is something very empowering and comforting in being able to say to myself that “this is just a craving. It will pass. I am growing.” Also, knowing that the craving and discomfort of no longer vaping would pass was very helpful too. These are things I had hear before but never gave much confidence too. However, in a mindful lifestyle imbued with meditation and self appraisal, I have learned how my thoughts can be so very powerful and also very insignificant. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m not nearly as eloquent as a Buddhist monk.

What I can say, is that I have never regretted taking time to meditate. I always feel better to some degree after taking this time to slow down and at the very least I am never worse off for doing so. Exercise is another great mood boosting habit. If you are having a hard time breaking a bad habit, I would highly recommend by starting with adding good habits into your life first. Building these habits gave me an increased sense or self-worth and appreciation for the time and energy I spend doing things. It will help put into perspective the true nature of bad habits working against you.

I have started to pick new good habits to add to my life. These habits include: drinking water first thing in the morning, drinking tea before bead, and stopping eating food for the day after dinner. I enjoy the journey of adding new good habits into my life now, because I know that on the other side of the initial struggle to establish these things in my life is a level of satisfaction and reward that continues to pay off.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn't work) for you?What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn’t work) for you?

The Starting Line

This year has been extremely transformative. I have not had or not taken the time to write anything, as I have been busy with life. I completed two semesters of graduate school, my father came to live with us, we got married, bought a house, I quit my job and quickly found a new one, and all this in the midst of the chaos of the pandemic and political and social turmoil of 2020. And yet, if feel like I am standing at the starting line of a new life.

I had no idea that the trip we took to Florida at the very beginning of March would be the last bit of geographical freedom we would enjoy for a long time. I felt like there was a big shift going on inside of and around me, but I had no clue how much change was headed our way. Now, as I enjoy the last few days being home before I start my new part time position, I feel as though even more change is to come. I assume that the world will be very different in a few months, but the changes I anticipate seem to be at a much more personal level.

For about a month now, I have been practicing yoga in the morning and meditating at some point throughout the day. Some days I even took a little time to journal. The more I do these things, the more I feel centered, balanced, and the days feel less heavy. My back pain is slowly reducing and my chiropractor says it is healing. I have also taken the first steps to dipping my toes into the world of Reiki.

Although I am a bit of a critical observer, nothing but positive results have followed my pursuit of demi-spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation. So why not? My mother-in-law is a Shamanic Reiki healer, and I have had three sessions (distance sessions) so far. I also had one session with a different healer right after returning from Florida in early March. Each session has been different, profound, and beneficial.

I have set out to educate myself about Reiki, chakras, and spiritual self-healing. I randomly selected some books from amazon and ordered a bunch. So far, the book introducing the history and basics of Reiki has been most attractive. However, I have read farther in the chakra book, and find it all to be quite fascinating. I am stating to connect the dots in some of the terminology used in my yoga practices and what they really mean. I am also starting to learn that all good advice in life seems to be the same, only said in different ways and through different approaches. My current favorite is “relax, nothing is in control.”

Stuck in Chicago

You would think that in our current pandemic reality I would have plenty of time to write. In truth, I do have more time; however, I am still “working” in my ghost town daycare that just won’t seem to shut down. I teach art at my son’s new daycare. I am used to 90 or more kiddos coming in and out of my studio all day long. Since Monday, I average 20 kids total. So, I do have more free time, although, it is not the same as many other people sheltering in place.

Where do I start with everything that has happened? I started school shortly after the holidays and applied for a job at a fancy daycare to supplement my income. For a while I was working full time, attending graduate school part time, and retained my old job part time. It was incredibly stressful. I eventually broke down. I stopped attending regular meetings and stopped calling my sponsor. I relapsed in a new and terrifying intensity. Everything got very bad very quickly, and I was ready to watch it all burn. I was done with life and didn’t see any coming back to it. I can still remember how I felt, and how much it hurt. I was exhausted and alone in my mind. As my new sponsor explained it, it was like having my soul sucked out of me. It was a profoundly painful experience. I was pushed further towards the edge in my insanity. The paradoxical nature of this was that it wasn’t such a scary place to be in the moment. Living is hard. Dying is easy, and I was tired of fighting.

What was I fighting? I suppose it was a false sense of control over my life and my disease. I was running myself ragged trying to do it all and ignoring the most important parts of my life. It makes me wonder if any of it is worth the trouble. Money comes and goes, and by the time I’m done with grad school I’ll be about $60,000 in student loan debt. I thought that finding a career path that would allow me to be of service to people would complement my spiritual program. Now I’m having doubts.

I don’t know if I would have made it out of this relapse alone. Thankfully, my partner called me on my bullshit and quickly got me to a meeting. I got a new sponsor right away, and my partner and I were able to go on our trip to Florida. Six days in Florida bliss felt like it lasted six seconds. We haven’t even been back for a full week yet, and it feels like it has been months. I hate living in Chicago. I am not built for the lack of sunshine, the oppressive overcast skies, air that hurts your face, and weather that confines me to my home. I can’t hack it anymore, and I’m just plain tired of living this way. In Florida I was filled with hope and inspired by the possibilities of the future. As I sit here in my empty studio, watching the rain on the sidewalk outside, I just want to cry. That feeling of wanting to get away from here creeps back in to my heart, and I wonder how long I will last this time.

 

Clarity in Shadows

I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners.

A moment of clarity, so late in this day. Keeps my eyes open, to ponder a new way.

I don’t know why clarity as to come this late, but I suppose it comes when it comes. Better late than never; they say. I have these precious moments, fleeting seconds when I realize that all my turmoil, mental anguish, emotional torture, everything; it’s all just me. I have spent countless hours scanning over my life trying to figure out how to situate things just right to make everything okay. I keep searching for that last puzzle piece to pull into place to make the picture complete. I search in vain in relationships, lifestyle changes, diet, nutrition, school, work, and other people. I berate myself for not being more healthy, for not being a better mother, daughter, and friend, for not being more open with my partner, and for not being where I should be in life; which is where again?

I know that I am capable of overcoming obstacles. I know that I can make better choices to eventually line up a future that I currently would find more acceptable. But what about now? I’m only in to month three of living in my new home with my partner, and son and I am scrambling to figure out where to live next. Nothing is wrong with where we live. It’s a nice home in a great location. It’s a bit of a financial burden for a full time-mother, part-time grad student, and part-time therapist/teacher. But there is nothing wrong with right now. Why can’t I just be happy in this moment?

This questions leads me down the rabbit hole. What is wrong with me? What can I do to make things better? Exercise, eat better, find a better job, buy a car, find better ways to spend time with my son and my partner. Maybe a picture or some home decor would make it feel more pleasant… Sure, none of those things would hurt, but I am still here, locked in this hellish nightmare of a mind. I am ultimately alone with my thoughts of self defeating contradictions. I should be more creative, but art supplies are expensive. I should spend more time with my son doing fun things, but I am about to start classes and will have even less time. We should make a date night, but it’s all but a miracle to get things lined up to just get to meetings. I should take a few minutes to meditate, but I’m already in bed and am physically tired. Every idea I come up with I immediately shoot down, and I hate it.

I hate how self-defeating I have become. I hate how closed off and completely torn up inside I feel. I have all these emotions and concerns and don’t voice any of them, because I have either labeled them not important enough to talk about or to much of a big deal that I don’t want to bother or upset anyone else with it. I’m not even giving myself a chance. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and I feel like I’m starting to live the same life over again. I do not want that life. I do not want that hell. I want out of my mind, right now.

I pray. I write. I read. I search for the thing that is going to give me what I need to live the way I want, and all I can reasonably conclude at this hour is that I am keeping myself down. Why?! Why for fucks-sake do I do this? Do I really hate myself that much? Do I really think so little of myself and my needs that I have to extinguish them the moment they crop up? Only I don’t really extinguish the flame, they all just simmer below the surface waiting for me to lose my sanity. Why do I put myself in this small, miserable, torturous little box? I think it’s because it is the only way I have learned how to survive.

I make it sound so dramatic, or perhaps that is just my inner bitch chiming in to diminish it. I have been in survival mode for so long, that even if there wasn’t a fight to be having, I was fighting none the less. I don’t know how to handle just being. I don’t know how to live a life based in today’s void of threat. I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners. All I know how to do is fight and hope that once the next monster is slain, the dust will settle to a happily every after. As illogical as I can see this for as I sit here describing it, I don’t know how to shake it. I don’t know how to relearn to live in a life of peace and possibility. I don’t know how to change.

 

A Loud Mind

Late night; In a fight. Thoughts holding tight; Don’t feel quite right.

This post will probably not be too cohesive. I can’t sleep and my mind is racing. On to of that, my stomach is under siege by something. So, here I sit with Morgan Freeman on in the background narrating some documentary on death, rituals and God.

Anxiety flourishes over New Year’s resolutions I haven’t started in time. It’s absurd, that I should even think there is a “time” in which to make changes. Yes, there is global momentum around this time of year, but change is always possible. Each day is a new opportunity. Exercise, eating healthy, meditation, mindfulness, and self care. They are always on my list, but never high enough to prioritize as I wish I did lying awake at night. I have been exercising more, and I do, in general, eat a mostly health diet. (Although, I certainly over indulge my Achilles heel; The Great Frozen Overlord; ice cream.)

I had some success with mindfulness and meditation yesterday. I set an intention for the day, via mantra, that I took a few minutes to visualize before crawling out of bed. The day seemed lighter, and my heart was happier. Today, I forgot and returned to the trudge of daily living. It is so hard to take the time, though it’s only a few minutes. Why is that? Perhaps it’s the same reason I’m lying awake right now. My mind chatters too much to focus. Contemplation swirls in mesmerizing patterns, and I lose time and desire to commit any more to quieting the madness. Still, I know I fare much better when I make the time. I need to take the action until it becomes second nature; habituated.

How do I slow this mind enough to turn off my autopilot? Writing is certainly one way I am able to at least slow the flow in my head. Thus, why I am writing right now. Exercise is another tool of the like, as I am focused on my body and usually the clock. Haha.

Meditation seems all but impossible right now. I like to think I am too busy and just have too much going on to slow down. But as I sit here reflecting on it, I am starting to realize that although I am very busy being a mom, student, therapist, partner, and soon teacher, a lot of the chatter is purely of my own making. I can’t count how many goals I set for myself each day, only to pick them off one by one to either completely dispose of or replace with a “better” one. It’s almost infuriating.

I should focus on this. No, maybe just focus on that. I’ve tried focusing on X and Y and Z before and it went nowhere. Focus efforts to A, B and C. But maybe refocus; again and again.  It’s exhausting and meanwhile I’m flying through my day, not present in the current moment, thinking about moments that haven’t or may never happen. Future tripping, someone once described it as. Mindfulness and meditation, I know, can help this. But I guess I just don’t know how to get started. I guess carving out a time and making a quiet space would be a good place to start. I am torn, as always, as to purchasing the Calm app to help guide mediation. I know it works well for me, but I always wind up not using it. I don’t prioritize it, and that needs to change.

All the while I am worried I am not a good enough mother or a good enough partner. I am job searching, getting ready to start grad school, anxious about purchasing a vehicle, wondering how I’ll pay rent in the next few months if I commit all my saving into a car. Pros and Cons, this or that, up or down or inside out? Who knows? Not I.

What’s the point?

Sometimes I feel as though the only way I am able to get things out of my head are to speak them to no one in particular. I spend so much time analyzing, dissecting, and discounting different feelings, that most get tossed away or shoved in a bottle labeled “To Be Dealt with Later.” In any given week, I can go through days of depression, anxiety, gratitude, irritation, annoyance, exhaustion, and just plain uncertainty. Each emotion, among a variety of others, are valid in their own way while also completely insignificant. It always changes. I always change, my feelings change, and life changes. Everything passes; so why hold on to and obsess over one state or another? At least this is my overarching attitude toward any discontent and life’s many dissatisfactions.

I know that not dealing with emotions can be dangerous, and it is a “skill” I am particularly good at. However, I am not sure how to go about retraining myself. Before I open my mouth I am analyzing every word. Am I being to selfish? Am I being too selfless? Is this a legitimate concern or am I overreacting? Am I projecting? Is it really that important? Most of the time I am thinking default to “this too shall pass,” or “I am going to not focus on this and try to focus on being of service to others.” The selfless serving nature of my default is mostly helpful, except in those cases where the feelings keep cropping up. I can only push my feelings aside so many times until I start getting quiet, bitter, and resentful.

What do I do then? I consider letting them out. I should talk about what’s bothering me. But again my inner voice chimes in; “your problems aren’t that bad,” or “you’ve already brought this up and wasted enough time, effort, and energy on it.” Still, I’m grappling with deep seeded emotions on a daily basis. What, then do I do? Inevitably I am forced here, writing my thoughts out for a faceless audience to whom I feel less threatened and judged by than any real person in my life.

So here goes. Lately, I have been feeling all the discomfort and violation I have accrued from all the relationships with men in my past: prompted from watching documentaries, to crappy rom-com shows, to real life objectification. Most recently, being brought back to the one traumatic moment with my partner, opened the bottle on all my other baggage in that category of my life. And there is a lot of it.

Uncomfortably objectified by my un-medicated bipolar, alcoholic father; I sought approval and validation from a very sick individual, in multiple ways, while building this wonderful emotion barrier I have today. The very first boy I ever kissed in any real sense of hormonal awkwardness, was a summer thing. We saw one movie and met for one lunch and that was it. He went on to proclaim that we had had sex, and that I was slut to the entire high school I had just started attending. I was shocked and angry, but as it wasn’t true and he was very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I let it go. I was pressured into my first “relationship” as a tech intern in high school. The hyper sexual narcissist played to my naïve insecurities, pushing me to do things I was very clear I had no interest in doing. Finally, I put my foot down and told him to back off. This lead to a hostile work environment and me quitting that job and my interest in IT for good. I was raped of my virginity at 16 by a self-sworn good guy. He was only a monster in a mask. After that, I dove into the arms of a 21 year old, metrosexual man-child. He was also hypersexual in every sense of the word and loved to comment on my weight and brand/style of clothing. I didn’t care too much at the time as I had started drinking and he could buy me all the booze I wanted. By the time that was over, I left him for suspecting he was cheating. I’m sure he was, but had no hard proof. I learned to leave before I got too hurt.

Throughout high school I hung out with a group of guys I called my brothers. I never saw them as anything more than that; though each of them, at different times expressed their interest in me as more than a friend. One of them I would be engaged to. One of them I would marry and divorce. The one I was engaged to brought me into a world of drugs and alcohol on an entirely new level. I loved keeping pace with him. I loved getting lost, doing crazy shit, and not thinking about my problems. His lifestyle made that easy, but I was also trying to go to school and start a life for myself. So, eventually, I gave him an ultimatum to either quit the drugs, or I was gone. He quit the hard drugs, and I all but browbeat him into proposing to me. Still I wasn’t happy. I was drinking more than ever and blamed him for all the problems he had gotten me into. After graduating college by the skin of my teeth, I broke it off with him. I wasted no time trying to building a life with my now ex-husband, starting with earing my title as barfly when we were dating. I would get drunk and call my ex-fiancé. On a handful of occasions he picked me up and I would go out drinking and/or drugging with him. Once he had tried to make a move on me as I was passing out, and I asked him to take me home. Then next time was much worse in scale of the fight with my ex-husband. I drank more, drugged more, and woke up out of a blackout sore and without underwear on. I was too ashamed of my drunken behavior and my bad decisions. I never said anything about it. I had, after all, put myself in this situation. But I’ve come to learn that still doesn’t make it okay.

My ex-husband cheated on me. He pressured me into having sex before I was ready after our son was born, and complained to me for not paying enough attention to him. He blamed my inattention for his cheating and constantly asked who I was out screwing if he couldn’t get ahold of me immediately.

Stepping back a moment, my first job after my tech-intern position was at BestBuy, where my asshole of a boss hit on me relentlessly. Eventually I quit. After college I worked at Omega as a second job, where my 60 something Greek manager asked if he could kiss me. The other managers, all related, shrugged it off as him being an old man. So I quit. After being a stay at home mom for two years, I went to work as a hostess/bartender at Carlucci’s. I knew I was going to get drunk idiots flirting with me. I didn’t know two of four managers would be pursuing me like a dog with a bone. One particular bus “boy” liked to kid around that my son was his. He’d ask “How’s my boy doing?” in between invites to hang out, or lunch, or just go out back. His eyes devoured any decency. He was a salivating hyena.

So, no, I have not had a lot of positive experiences with male friends, with male colleges, or with men I placed my trust in. That’s why my most recent trauma from my current relationship was so bitter for me. It was just a drunken mistake. I am not blowing in out of proportion, and how could I given my track record, but it was the fact I and once again, thought I had found something different, something real that was once again shattered in that moment. I’ve recovered from that, but it’s there in the ever growing gallery of unpleasant life experiences with men.

It’s not surprising anymore. I try not to think about these things, because they just steal my peace and serenity. Yet try as I may, I can never really get rid of the trauma. It sickens me to the core, and yet it’s so fucking common-place. Oh well.

See, I feel like I have wasted my time an energy just saying all that. What’s the point anyways?

Worthless

I don’t even know where to begin. Everything has changed, and no, that is not an exaggeration. I have a new home, a new career, and am starting grad school in about a month. I no longer have a car, a mother, nor sufficient income. I am the old person at work. I am the single mother who barely sees her son. I am the partner left wanting. I am  a ball of stress, anxiety, and loneliness bound up tightly in a straight jacket with a bad buckle. I am scared. I am trying my best to make a life that I hope I won’t regret. I am nothing I used to be and everything I always hide.

New beginnings are enticing and exciting at first, however treading the path unknown is quite frankly terrifying. Less so when you have something to hold on to. Something steady to keep you anchored and sure footed. Without it, I feel like I could be swallowed into oblivion by a single wrong step. All the while I’m wondering, what have I done wrong already. Where have I faltered.  Have I been so neglectful in my tireless effort to forge a better life that I should no longer be a preference? Are my actions something so egregious that I am someone to be placed aside for more satisfying company?

I thought love persevered; strengthened through time and overcoming countless trials. I am yet again reminded I must know nothing of love. Perhaps this is all my fault. I am not so big headed to think I am infallible. I make mistakes as I am human. I am a human who feels old, worthless, and unimportant to the one most important to me. Though I am sure this is probably not entirely accurate in reality, it is how I feel, and it fucking sucks. It really fucking sucks.