Tuesday, August 31, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 10

Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

So this one is fitting for me today.* For a long time The Big O (one of my closest guy friends and part of my team of therapists**) has been telling me I need to cut all the men from the past out of my life. Let's be honest, I'm not very good at cutting ties and keeping them cut. Down the line, most of the guys I've been involved with pop back up in my life. Sometimes we try the "friend" route, other times we start dating all over again. Whatever the case, I seem to end up with way too much drama from recycled guys.

About 6 months ago I had a conversation with The Big O regarding the men in my life. I know he cares about my happiness, so he didn't pull any punches. He said that as long as I keep ties to these old guys, there's no room for a new one. He's right. For so long I've held on so tightly to the guys from my past that I've never really made room in my heart, or in my life, for someone new. That needs to end.

I need to let go of the guys who I've dated, who I've loved, who have hurt me. I need to let go of the belief that there was something between us that's salvageable or destined. I need to let go of the idea that somehow it's romantic for something to have failed but then triumph over all the obstacles. Even if they haven't set me free, I need to let go of the past and make room for something new.

*One of the guys I recently cut out of my life has been consistently trying to contact me for the past few weeks - most recently, yesterday.
**My team of therapists are a collection of my closest friends that I frequently consult for advice, support, and to smack me upside the head when I need it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'll Never Be Your Option

"Don't let someone become a priority in your life when you are just an option in theirs."

So I saw this quoted today and it felt like someone had thrown a Shuriken (ninja throwing star) at me. And it stuck. I can actually still feel the mark where it lodged in. Yeah, it sucks.

I'm guilty of this one BIG TIME. So... it's time to blog.

I suck at dating. I'll admit that readily. I'm a wonderful friend and an amazing girlfriend. I'm witty, charming, and downright adorable sometimes... but friends & boyfriends...well they know me. And to know me is to love me. But then comes the problem for me... how do you get there?

I'm an incredibly outgoing person. I'll talk to anyone. I'll be sassy and playful and intriguing. But I'll only let you in so far. You see, I'm also incredibly guarded. I'll keep a million people on the surface of my life, but for you to actually get in. Now that's a challenge. But once you're in... you're in deep. My gut's telling me that's this has something to do with why that quote jabbed me.

I've seen this pattern with the last few guys in my life. They show interest, I hold them at bay for a bit because well I have some really big walls. Even if I feel it, I struggle really hard with showing my interest in someone (aka being vulnerable) until I'm 100% sure they're into me. Now comes the problem. This causes some guys (maybe the good ones?) to assume I'm disinterested. They bolt. Then there's those are willing to wait and stick around. They lay low, keep it casual, give me time. But my experience lately is that those who do stick around and wait might just have some other options on the side. Unfortunately, I didn't really notice this until recently.

Instead, for some reason, I assumed that if they stuck around and waited, they must really be care about me and want to get to know me better. (Yeah, not so much.) Logically, I know people date around until they find that right person and something clicks. For me, it takes awhile to click so the pattern is, they stick around, I let down my guard, and I begin to care. And once I care, they become a priority. But since I didn't really show my interest or push for exclusivity early, we're now in a pattern of casual yet somehow I got attached. Next thing I know, I'm wondering how I became an option. Didn't they use the time to figure out they wanted me too? Oh no, see they took the time to figure out that they didn't have to choose... CRAP!

I know realistically, you're not going to meet someone and just instantly know they're "the one" you want to be with. That happens occasionally in dating, but generally it takes awhile to get to know someone and figure it out. So how do you know when to transition from option to priority? It seems no matter what a guy says when I first meet him, once we get down the line there is a line of excuses from "I don't have time for a full relationship but when I do..." to "I need time to figure out what's best for us." I'm so not the girl who likes to push. I don't want to force a guy into a relationship with me and I'm damn sure not going to give a guy an ultimatum to make him choose me. If he isn't going to choose me of his own accord, I'll move on first. And I have...time and time again. But sadly, it's only after I've realized that somehow I let them become my priority and while I somehow slipped into being an option.

I'm not quite sure how to balance it. I don't know quite how to navigate when we should have made the transition to priority vs. when I need to cut and run. But I do know I'm not willing to be anyone's option. I'm not ever going to be okay with being someones "B" or "C". If that's the case, I'll remove myself from his list. Period. I need to be with someone who chooses me and stops the list there.

30 Days of Truth - Day 9

I've been thinking about this post for the past couple days. I lived a very transient lifestyle for the first half of my life (if my count is right, I went to 10 schools before I'd reached high school) so I've lost touch with many people who I've cared for deeply. Whether it was distance, timing, or we'd just served our purpose for each other, I'm not sure. When it came to this post, I was sure who I was going to write it about (and believe me she's worth it)*, but when today came a different person was laid on my heart. A person who I hadn't thought of in a little while, but who I miss dearly.

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

Little Miss S came in to my life when my world was in chaos. I met her in the 6th grade. I was young and lost and broken. Looking back at it, she was too. Yet at the time she appeared so strong to me. She had deep brown unruly hair, a crooked nose, and a smile that was infectious...if you got to see it. Not many people did.

She was my partner in crime before I knew what real crime was. I had other friends...the "good girls", but Little Miss S let me be wild and crazy even if we were only 11. With her, I didn't have to hide the insanity that my life was. We smoked, drank (slipped peppermint schnapps into iced tea), and climbed out of the window at night to sit on rooftops and talk for hours. We never did anything terribly bad, but I didn't have to pretend things were perfect with her. She just was there. She accepted me for me regardless of any of the issues in my life. I did the same for her. We were just able to be two scared, flawed little girls who thought they could conquer the world but were terrified and exhilarated at where it might take them. She literally and metaphorically held my hand when I needed a friend more than anything in the world.

On one very dark day in my life (which will come up in another #30DaysOfTruth post), I considered taking my own life. I didn't think I had anything left to lose. Little Miss S stopped me. At 13 years old she sat with me and told me what an incredible person I was, she told me that I had more to live for, she let me know how much I meant to her, and she convinced me that I would somehow impact the world if I just gave it a chance. She let me know that I'd never have to be alone.

Just a few months after that night, we moved away. My mom took us to Nor Cal so she could rebuild our life. Before I left, Little Miss S and I had a conversation. We swore that despite the distance and even if somehow we lost touch, we'd always be there in spirit for each other. For a few years after I moved, we did our best to stay in touch. We sent each other letters and I even got to visit once. But somehow in my high school years we lost touch. I moved so often back then, and she did too...and somehow our letters just didn't get to each other anymore. I don't where she is. I've tried looking on social networking sites, I've Googled...but so far I've yet to find her. I'll keep trying forever.

But regardless of if I ever find her again, Little Miss S will always be one of my dearest, one of my best friends. She is in my heart and I feel her with me when times get tough. I lean on her and the strength that she gave me in my weakest of moments. I hope she feels the same.

*I did drift & lose touch with a very close friend, but we have since found our way back into each others lives. We discussed what caused us to lose touch. We've shared our loss of the years we missed. And we've worked at building a friendship that I think can and will be even stronger than what we had before.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 8

Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

So I'm really struggling with the prompt tonight. Don't get me wrong, it's not that my life has been all rosy or anything, but I have a few serious problems with this prompt.

1) I don't believe my life has been hell.
2) I have a hard time believing that anyone can make your life hell unless you give them the power to do so.

Now to clarify... I do believe people can make moments in your life hell. There are times in which others actions cause us extreme discomfort, pain, sadness, anger, etc. But that pain can only last if you don't let it go. It's up to you to work through it, to move past it, and to continue to live. I'm not trying to downplay any of the horrible things that can happen in life. I know that there are people and pains that can cause scars that last a lifetime. However, I also believe that you can't let these define you.

Honestly, I don't believe I have a person in my life that this prompt applies to so I'm going to approach it slightly differently. There are people in my life who's actions have caused me anger, pain, disappointment, and self-doubt. Even though I feel like I've grown from each of these situations (they've shaped the woman I've become), I still need to acknowledge that they have not treated me well:

Kentucky Devil: For bringing darkness to my family; for ending my childhood; for showing me the worst side of humanity

Mr. Biz: For being dishonest about your intentions; for using my trust against me; for endangering my health; for your betrayal

JD: For being selfish & using me to fulfill your needs without regard for mine; for not hesitating to hurt me again

Dad: For never taking the opportunity to get to know me or my sister; for caring about yourself more than your children; for demonstrating people's worst assumptions of Christianity

Saturday, August 28, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 7

Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.

There are 3 things that I live for... The things that make it worth living...
- my family (I do not define family by blood, I define it as those who are an interval part of my life blood or not)
- my God
- myself

I am so thankful for the people in my life. Without my friends and family, I really don't know how I'd make it through. They are my strength, my support system, and my motivation. They are definitely worth living for.

While I'm not an overly religious person, and rarely go to church, I do have incredibly strong beliefs. I believe that God has a purpose for me. I put my faith in that and am willing to follow my path wherever it takes me. I believe that is worth living for.

Life to me is an adventure. It's a series of experiences. It is opportunities to learn, grow, share, love, feel, persevere. Seizing those for myself is important. I am worth living for.

Friday, August 27, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 6

Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.

There's not much back story to this post, it's simple, honest, and pretty straightforward. I know most people have said they hope to never have to outlive their child. I agree wholeheartedly. I can't even begin to fathom the pain a parent must endure when losing a child. It is beyond my scope of comprehension. I do, however, have a point of reference...and that's where I'll go with my post.

I've said in some of my previous #30daysoftruth posts that my sister and I have a relationship that is much more mother-daughter than most sisters encounter. Part of the reason for that is that my sister has a medical condition that severely impacts her health. For the past 15 years, she's been in and out of the hospital regularly. When she gets sick, she needs constant 24-hour a day care (which has typically been split between my mother and myself). Despite our care, my sister typically ends up hospitalized a few times a year for 3-10 days at a time. A few years ago my mom moved to another state and I took on the task of taking care of my sister alone.* The years of prolonged illness have taken a toll on my sister physically, mentally, & emotionally. The pain and suffering she endures shakes me to the core each time I witness it. Her body cannot take much more of it. I've had to face the fact that unless they can find something to stop the cycle of her illness, I might lose her way too soon. So right now, at this point in my life, my greatest fear is that I might lose my baby sister. She's only 31 years old and I can't wrap my mind around a life without her. She is my best friend, my most precious confidant, the person I would sacrifice for above all others. I would gladly take her place if I could.

So for the purposes of this post I must say that the thing I hope I never have to do is to lose my sister. I pray will all my heart that God will protect her, heal her, spare her and that the doctors will find some way to stop the pain and illness she faces.

* I have an amazing support group of friends and love ones who are there to help me as I help her. I would be lost without them. They are truly a blessing to me for which I can't even begin to express my gratitude.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bucket List

Some of the things I want to accomplish in my lifetime:

- Pet a cow (accomplished)
- Graduate from college, B.A. (accomplished)
- Take a trip to Europe (accomplished)
- Get married to my soul mate
- Be a mother
- Learn to play guitar... so I can play for my children
- Hike Half Dome
- Spend a month abroad
- Write a novel
- Sit on the banks of Lake Lucerne again and write
- Own a home
- Skydive
- Visit Italy, Greece and Egypt
- Teach a child to read
- Hike once a week (spring and summer) for a year
- Start my own catering business
- Spend a week completely by myself (alone with my thoughts)
- Read Les Misérables (I've seen the musical 3 times but never read the book)
- Speak Italian with an old married couple
- Write a collection of stories for my children to read to their children
- Pay for someone (besides myself) to go to college
I know there's a bunch more I will add to this, but I wanted to at least get a few things up and posted.

30 Days of Truth - Day 5

Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.

For me, there are quite possibly a zillion answers to this question. I love life. I love experiencing life. So if I'm not constantly out trying something, doing something new, and wondering, "How the heck did I get here?" well, then something is seriously wrong. Awhile back I started a post that was going to be my virtual "Bucket List" here on this blog (sadly it's still sitting in my drafts but now I'm motivated again). I planned to post it so I can always have a place to come to add stuff, and well, to check stuff off. I can promise you, it'll end up being a LONG list.

However, for the purposes of this post. I'm just going to focus on one - the one that means the most to me. I hope to be the best mother I can possibly be. I honestly don't feel like my life would be complete, if I don't get the opportunity to raise a child - my child (biologically or adopted).

Although I'm not technically a mother, I have had a major hand in raising my sister. We have a relationship that is about 50% sisterly and 50% mother-daughter. It's been both a strange blend and a huge blessing for me. The moment that meant the most to me in my life so far, concerns her. About a year ago, she was sick and I was taking care of her. She turned to me and said, "You are a great mom." She didn't say, "You will be a great mom," or "Your kids will have a great mom". She said "You are a great mom." She brought tears to my eyes. The thing is, as motherly as I've been to her, I can't take anything away from our actual mother. My mom is the one who set the example for me of love, acceptance, sacrifice, compassion...and so much more. While I'm not her mother, my sister was right. I know deep down that I'm already a mother. It's a part of my personality. It's a part of my actions. It's a part of my soul. Yet my biggest hope is that I have the opportunity to express that part of myself in raising my children. I hope (and pray) that I get to foster their uniqueness individually, accept them unconditionally, teach them patiently, guide them with integrity, and love them eternally.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 4

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Why are these prompts so hard? I spent quite a bit of time today with my head running in circles about what I'd choose for tonight's post. At first I felt I knew what I was going to write about (my Dad). I know if it were up to him, he'd be the subject of this post. But for some reason even though I know I eventually need to write about him, the forgiveness aspect just didn't fit. As I was sprawled out on my couch trying to survive the heat, it hit me.

Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

I need to forgive my brothers. I'm not quite sure how to do it, but I do.

Like all families, mine had it's problems. There was a few years of my childhood that were like one of those Lifetime movies - abuse, alcoholism/drugs, and a man so obsessed with my mother he would have gladly hurt anyone in his path to get to her. You know the deal, right? Those movies didn't come from nowhere. Each family has it's own dark spots that you could make a movie about.

Yet it's not those years I'm writing about. When we came out of those darkest of dark years, my family was broken. You see, the the first 6 years of my life were almost like a storybook...or at least a show on ABC Family (happily married parents with 4 blissful children living in a Christian home). Then there was 4 years of pure hell on earth. When we got to the other side of it, my mom was a shell of the woman she once was. She was clinically depressed, addicted to drugs & alcohol, and completely unable to function. My dad, he'd already bailed. He couldn't handle it. So we were left with 4 kids struggling to survive. My brothers were 17 and 16. I was 10. My little sister was 8.

For a year or so we did our best to get by, to try and salvage our family but it was a mess. When my oldest brother got close to 18, he left. He didn't even stick around until his 18th birthday...he just left. And as soon as the younger of the two turned 18, he split too. And for a few years, they didn't look back. I was left at 12 years old trying to hold together a family that was in shambles. My mom was not only addicted to drugs, she'd become a dealer. Despite doing so in an unorthodox way, she did her best to provide for and protect my little sister & me. She'd set up systems with people to meet our needs. A pizza man would come by to bring us food in exchange for drugs. A cab driver took us to school so he could get his stash free. A guy delivered us sandwiches a few times a week for a free sack of weed. Everything else, I handled. At 12, I tried my best to be the parent I knew she couldn't be, but that both my sister and I desperately needed.

I'm sure you're probably wondering why this isn't about my mom, but I've long since forgiven her. A year later, we moved from So Cal to Nor Cal so we could try and start fresh. My mom got into AA & NA and tried to get herself clean. The next few years were still really rough while she learned to function again (stay clean, get a job, pay rent on time). We were frequently homeless - we lived on couches of other recovering addicts or stayed in seedy motels for 3 weeks a month (because that's as long as we could afford) and then spent the last week of the month living in our car until mom would get paid again. We showered at friend's houses or cleaned up in the bathrooms of the places she'd go to AA meetings. Through it all my mom fought to keep improving and try and rebuild our life. I've forgiven her because despite all the craziness she put us through, she fought her way back. In September she will have been clean and sober for 20 years and she spends every day trying to make her amends for the wrongs she's done.

Back to my brothers. I resent my brothers for leaving. Despite knowing their little sisters were alone in this situation, they took off. Brothers who had I'd always thought would be there to protect me. Starting at 12 years old I had the strength to stand up and try and help my little sister and my mom navigate the craziness that was our lives. I made sure my little sister went to school, that my mom ate, that we were all kept as safe as possible even though we were surrounded by shady characters. Yet my brothers were both technically adults when they left. For years I've struggled to understand how an "adult" could just leave two children (and little girls at that) in such a dangerous situation. We were their little sisters and they didn't even look back. They didn't check on us to see if we were okay. Nothing.

I need to forgive them. It's taken me a long time, but I know they were broken too and doing the best they could to survive. I know they left to protect themselves because they didn't know how to handle the situation. I know they didn't have the same maternal instinct that I had. However, I still resent them for leaving because I wouldn't have done the same even if I had the option. I resent knowing that as adults now, if their children were in the situation my sister and I were in, they'd do anything they could to protect them yet they didn't protect us. I know they love us but it hurts. I'm trying to let go of the pain and abandonment I felt. I'm trying to accept that although they were 18, they were children too.

I'm beginning to forgive...but I'm not fully there yet. I know that someday I'll be able to really forgive them and truly let go of resentment. I pray that day comes soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 3

So it's about to get hard. This post has been on my mind since I found out about this challenge. I knew there would be a few prompts that would be hard for me. I have a feeling, this will be one of them.

Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.

I've made mistakes. I've made many mistakes. For the most part, I've accepted my flaws but tried to work on them. I think I've been fairly forgiving with myself overall. Yet there's one situation where I'm afraid I might struggle with forgiveness for the rest of my life.

I fell in love with a married man.

To understand the gravity of this for me, you need to know I value marriage and it's commitment almost more than anything in the world. I think the only thing I place above it would be motherhood. I want both so badly that I can feel the aching in my body every single day...yet that longing isn't just for marriage, it is for marriage with the right person.*  I long to build a life and a family together.
But back to the confession at hand...

Since I value marriage so highly, I don't know how to forgive myself for having feelings for someone who is committed to someone else. I fell in love with him before he was married. And once he got married I tried to forget him, to move on. [At first I typed "I tried my hardest to forget him" but I had to erase it because this is 30 Days of Truth and that's simply not the truth. I did try and forget him, but part of my heart never let go and part of it didn't want to. I'm ashamed of that.] But I didn't really move on. I dated other people, I went through the motions, but he was there in the background of my heart. Eventually I let him back into my life as an acquaintance, and before I knew it, it was more than that.
While I never acted on those emotions physically (not so much as a kiss), I was emotionally involved with him. I know it's not right.

I can't forgive myself for this yet, because my emotions for him (although now even more mixed with anger, confusion, disappointment, etc.) are still there. I hate that there is a part of me who hurts that he didn't choose me - before he got married... and honestly, even after.

Someday I will need to forgive myself for having loved a married man. I'll need to forgive myself for having been involved in and impacted someone's marriage. Even without being physically involved, I have to accept that my relationship with him had to have hurt her. I need to acknowledge that my actions in some ways damaged their marriage. (I am not by any means negating his actions, nor am I naive enough to think that if it weren't me, it wouldn't have been someone else. I am simply trying to focus on and own my part in the situation). While I swore I'd never "get involved"** with him while he was still with her, I have to face that my mere presence and interaction with him had me more involved than I should have been. I am no longer involved with him. For now that's all I can do. Someday, I'll forgive myself...

*I've been tempted with the prospect of marriage before. I've even gotten engaged. But I couldn't do it because in my soul I knew it wasn't right.
** Date him or be involved in any form of physical relationship

Monday, August 23, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 2

Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.

Hmmm... Where to begin? I think I'm very fortunate that all my life my mother has instilled in me a love that is indescribable. Regardless of her faults (and yes, there are many), she never let me doubt my value and always taught me to cherish my individuality and love myself despite my flaws (there are many of those too!). There are a million little things that I've learned to love about myself - My sense of compassion. My intellect. My love of nature. My motherly instinct even though I have no children of my own yet. My freckles (that I used to detest). My ability to help others understand things that seem hard to them at first. The way my eyes squint when I laugh or smile. My desire to seize each moment in life. My fascination with words and writing. My endless need to learn. My tiny hands. My quick wit. That when I open my heart and love someone, I love him/her completely and without judgment.

But if I were to choose one thing about myself to focus on for this task it would be my resiliency. Like most, I've had my share of hardships and disappointments. Life has never been easy. But I've never seen that as a burden. I've always viewed it as a part of the adventure. I don't understand people who feel life is out to get them; that somehow they deserve an easy path. They miss the beauty in the challenges. They deny the opportunity to grow. They don't embrace the feeling of exhilaration that is a part of overcoming something difficult. For me each challenge offers the moment of knowing I'm stronger than anything that comes my way - That even if it breaks me down to my knees for awhile and leaves me writhing in pain, I will stand up again. Perhaps it's that I'm stubborn or that I have an over developed sense of determination, but I don't think I'd be happy on a path that was flat and simple. I love that I know that God has instilled in me a resiliency that will get me through whatever trials I'm handed in life so long as I hold on to my faith, determination, and those I love.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 1

So I recently saw a post on Twitter regarding #30daysoftruth. It's a meme that challenges you to answer some questions with complete honesty.* It intrigued me and I've been dying to start my first post. It's taken me a few days because of some hiccups in life, but I am committed to doing it.

I'll also admit that before I started the challenge I was determined to finish a few posts that I started a long time ago and that needed to just be done and posted for me to move on and write honestly from where I am in life now. I've almost completed them (and will as soon as I finish this post), but I wanted to get this one done today.**

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.

I try very hard not to hate myself at all. I've spent way too many years being overly critical of myself. I hold myself to standards that are impossible to meet and I'm aware of this. I can be my own worst judge. I'm trying to be more accepting of myself so this question is very difficult for me but I'm going to be honest throughout this process so that I can grow.

If I had to say something I honestly hate about myself it would be that I don't take enough care of myself. I pride myself on taking care of others, being aware of their needs, and doing my best to always be a good friend, partner, sister, daughter, etc. Unfortunately, I don't always treat myself with the same care and respect I give to others. I deny my own needs. I'm not sure exactly why I do this, but I do. Perhaps I feel like acknowledging my own needs makes me weak? I'm not quite sure. I don't feel other people are weak for having needs, but I feel vulnerable having my own. I'm consciously trying to work on this.

The interesting thing about the whole thing is that it isn't that I don't value myself. I have a good sense of self-confidence. I know I am valuable and that I deserve to be treated well, respected, acknowledged, loved, etc. I don't allow other people to treat me with disrespect. I just tend to get so caught up in taking care of others, that I put myself last on the list. I don't make time for doing things to care for myself. I know I need to become more aware of my own needs and make them a priority in my life. If I'm not willing to acknowledge and value my needs, it makes it harder for other people to value my needs. I'm hoping that in diving into the truth over the next 30 days that I can unearth some of the things I need to address in my life to make myself a stronger, healthier woman.

* Here's the link to the full 30 Days of Truth instructions
**That being said, you may discover a few posts showing up with dates in the past in the next day or so because I'm finally posting a few that have been sitting in my drafts.