Survival

Some days are spent, in their entirety, holding my breath. Keeping things in.

I want to scream.

I want to run away.

I want to cry and sob.

I’m so tired.

Some days I just want to let go. I want someone else to take the wheel and drive this car.

I want to ask for help.

I want to not have to ask.

I want to rest.

I’m so tired.

These years have been the greatest of my life. They have been filled with endless joy and happiness. But those things did not come easily or free of pain along the way. They came with days and nights full of fear too. Living on edge afraid of losing my babies, my self. Many torturous lessons in staying in the moment, and letting go of control.

Today I am far better at both of those things. I’ve learned I absolutely have no power over anything outside of myself. And I have learned that if I am constantly worrying about tomorrow I miss the joy of today. I could see and hear those sayings all of my life, but I would have never learned what they truly meant if I hadn’t lived what I’ve lived.

I’ve perfected nothing. I am still in the trenches learning as I go. Today I am reminded that with joy can also exist pain, simultaneously. I know for me, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the ups in life, and a peaceful knowledge that the downs don’t last forever.

True, these years have been survival years. Truer still, these years will soon enough be a distant memory. So, for now, I choose to be present for all of this. The pain, the joy and everything in-between.

Self

I wake up with a spiked paddle in my hand.

From the moment I get up off my knees I silently beat myself with that thing all day.

Yes, I know better. Doesn’t matter. The damn weapon has been attached to me for almost as long as I can remember.

Some days I am distracted long enough to whereas I forget to beat my own self down for a few hours. I can assure you I will pay for it at night, in the dark.

Not sure if there is much difference between this self flagellation and my many former vices.

I’ve put in some work over the last several months to allow myself to lesson the beatings, but they still come.

With all of the added silence that comes with this new isolation, I am finding myself having to constantly put the paddle down. Instead I reach for the phone, or a book, or busy myself with endless cleaning.

I try to remind myself to treat my own self kindly, to use positive words when I talk to and about myself. Sometimes this works, and other times I just tell myself to shut up.

Can we please open the world back up now?

Perfection

I am far from perfect, I know that.

What is not as easy to acquiesce though, is that I do not have to be perfect.

Day in and day out my mind is telling me that if I don’t complete each item on the to-do-list with impeccability, I am nothing. Zero. Might as well go back to bed and not show my face today at all.

Not worth the air I breathe.

I make it to the bottom of the stairs and realize I forgot to pray:

“Well wow, what a piece of shit. When are you ever going to get this right?”

Didn’t set the coffee pot up last night:

“Seriously, it takes one minute to do, get it together!”

Not to work by 8am on-the-dot:

“It’s just two kids, plenty of women do plenty more, there is no excuse.”

You had also better believe that I am not asking for help along the way. That is the ultimate sign of weakness. If you see me as needing help then I’m not picture perfect, and again, who the hell am I.

I am worthless.

I don’t need help, what are you going to do? Something that I can very well do for myself? Why? I just can’t wrap my brain around that concept. If I’m not doing it all then you will think that I can’t, and you will know I am really nothing.

If I am not perfectly poised in polished perfection, then what and who am I?

I am unexceptional.

I am just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill human being.

Why is that so hard?

Wouldn’t it be easier to just relinquish control of it all?

If I were to let go, it will look like I dropped it.

We just can’t have that.

Or can we?

 

Self-Care

Do you hate the question as much as I do?


“So, what are you doing for you?”

I get it, I do. But what self-care looks like to one person is not what it looks like for the next.

It is okay to not have time for some classic form of this thing. For me, I don’t need one more thing to feel like I’m doing wrong.

Self-care can look like singing at the top of your lungs to the steering wheel.

Self-care can look like helping a friend.

Self-care can look like deep breathing while lying with your children as they fall asleep.

Self-care can look like peacefully cleaning, or folding laundry.

Heck, self-care can look like typing out your rambling thoughts for the world to see.

You get the idea.

You do you, and leave the rest for the crows.

Nothing was that bad. 

I’ve heard it, and believed it, my whole life.  

And save one or two incidences, no maybe things weren’t that bad. For someone else.  But for me they created a world of cumulative experiences where I knew I could only be loved if I gave someone what they wanted.

Otherwise I was a bitch.

I’ve never had the self-esteem to walk away from that.  I had to fix it.  I had to make sure you didn’t think something negative about me. I had to be liked and loved.  And that’s how I learned what people wanted from people like me.

It wasn’t the rape that destroyed me.

It wasn’t the sexual assault by a state trooper that annihilated me.

It wasn’t the inappropriate baby sitter.

It wasn’t the hospitalizations beginning at 14 years old.

It wasn’t the boys who wouldn’t be my friend if I didn’t do what they wanted.

It wasn’t the girls who had those exact same expectations, though I thought I’d be safe.

It wasn’t the Sexual Harassment on an almost daily basis from the time I started working.

It wasn’t the countless nights I didn’t know what happened but could surmise.

It wasn’t even the fact that all these people could do these things and walk away with zero consequences, when the price that got paid came out of my pocket: My self-worth.

Now, add them up. 

Add each instance, from each column up.  

What you are left with is a person terrified to be back in the outside world. Skin crawling, self-loathing, can’t breathe mess of a woman.

Petrified of things that should not scare me. But they do.  They do because it all adds up.

A row of bushes lining the sidewalk?  I can’t walk past them alone.  I will walk in the street before I walk past a towering hedge at night.

If I am alone my back is to the wall, I will not allow you to touch me when I can’t even see you coming.

I can’t walk down a sidewalk and have someone else be coming up it.  I need to step aside and wait, I can’t take the stress of wondering if you are going to try to kill me.

I speed up when I pass construction workers, cops, men, groups.

I go into full defensive shut down at the doctor’s office.  Don’t touch me, don’t ask questions, move away from the terrified lady on the table.

No, maybe none of it was all that bad.

But for me, I think it just all added up.

 

 

No More, Not This Time

Walk into a room and before any words are spoken, you know they all hate you.
Somehow from out of the crowd of people hating you, comes a friendly face.
By now though, you already know what comes attached to that face.
A want, need, or desire that you do not intend to fulfil.
You want them to befriend you.
They want to use you.
Maybe they do decide they like you. But for something unsustainable.
Then, when the pedestal they put you on shatters, they leave you.
98% of my relationships are conditional.
Am I pretty enough to parade around?
Am I too loud with opinions, or feelings for you?
Am I shocking you by not wanting to bed you?
I wish the bubble thing that you can stay inside of to protect yourself was real.
I wish my first instincts weren’t usually correct. I wish I didn’t almost always know what you want before you even mutter a word.
Here’s the thing though. I do know. I learned far too early what people want.
I’ve spent years proving to myself that I am more. That I have skills and assets outside of what a person wants from me.
Slowly but surely, I am learning that I am enough, even when the masses want more.

 

Smash and Grab

We all know a Wonder Women. She is the one that you know will save you. When you are lost she will help you find your way. When you’re stuck she will build you a ramp to get you out.

You’re right, she is a Super Hero. The thing is though, even Super Heroes need a break. They need time and space to rescue their own damn selves. And that simply isn’t possible while saving you simultaneously.

These are the times when heroes need to mend. Regenerate their strength in whatever way they can. She needs to be surrounded by other strong people, places and ideas so that she can focus on her healing.

The thing is, she likes being super human. She likes being the one you need. But just because she likes it, doesn’t give you an invitation to use her.

If you have a Super person in your life, the best thing you can do is learn from them. Stop taking pieces of them. 

At the very least, don’t steal from the front register, while also ripping off the backroom.

Learn.

Grow.

Be something Super yourself.

Parent

I’ve never known what I wanted to be when I grew up. At least not in the typical sense. But for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom.

In my wildest, most vivid dreams I could not have imagined this life I have today. There were days, years even, that I couldn’t see past my own two feet. Let alone clearly enough to care for a family.

While going through my own trauma, I had no idea I would one day need every ounce of that strength to help me see my children for who they are and what they need. It isn’t that I think our experiences are the same, but whatever it is that I need to be their mom, I have. I have it, because of my own journey, my own lessons.

This isn’t easy though. Not by a long shot. I’ve noticed though, that to be good at something does not have to mean it nessesarily comes easy to you. It is okay to struggle, because for me, that is where the growth is.

It is natural for me to think I know what is best, and that noone else could possibly provide it for them. That I alone can protect them and keep them safe. This is ego talking to an extent.

The reality of this parenting thing is that much like most other things, I can’t control what is going to happen to them. I can give them every last shred of what I have, and every pearl of wisdom I possess. It still might not be enough. They are still going to get hurt, fall, screw up and honestly, suffer.

I have to chose to believe that if my suffering was worth it, theirs will be too.

If You Knew

If you knew what goes on in my head you would need a shower to wash it off and a padded room to calm down in. Sometimes I surprise myself with the shear amount of terror I still have coursing through my veins.

A person I don’t know askes me where I got my “Hollywood teeth”, and my spine prickles with anxiety. Bullshit. My teeth look just like the next persons, so take what you’re offering elsewhere.

Then I second guess that initial response. Telling myself it’s all in my head. Jenn, he’s just being kind. Shake that shit off your aura and buck up.

Expect at the same time there are four other men staring at me, all of which are not usually in the same room at the same time as me for starters. Plus, I am usually not alone. But today I feel alone. And today my skin is crawling and all I want to do is get up and leave.

That’s not true.

I don’t want to leave. I want the fear to go away. I want to believe that I’m okay. That no matter what comes, I’m fine. I am safe. Nothing is going to happen. No one wants anything from me that I am obligated to give them.

Instead, someone I don’t know touches my back with their whole hand to get my attention and asks me if I’m going to bring my “perfect teeth into the other room” with them. I want to scream.

That feeling of fight or flight kicks in, but instead of either of those choices, I hide. I smile, laugh, and hide quietly. Typing this, my lips are pursed, my body is rigid. My fingers are so loud on the keyboard.

The thing is, I think these are dominoes. Each little stare, or touch, or inappropriate comment throughout the day or week adds up. And on a day when my load is already quite unusually heavy, the last thing I have time, effort or energy for is teaching folks to keep their hands to themselves.

Even as I read through this I hear the anger in it, I can assure you that it is pure fear. Fear of what? I don’t know yet exactly. But that fear runs through to my core.

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