Wednesday, September 30, 2009

wasted lives

Can a life ever truly be wasted? Can any life's worth ever be determined? Only to the individual making that determination. In perhaps what is my idea of the worst example of a life being wasted. A mother feels she must kill her infant daughter after a normal healthy pregnancy and birth, because said daughter cannot contribute in the right way for the needs of the mother's current family or society. This is a practice both current and of many many years past.

Will nothing ever come from this one individual little life lost? Maybe the mother will look back on the time she shared with that child in her tummy and it will mean something one day. Her society continues to fail and the same men of the same society- the surviving infant boys themselves- begin to fail and lose lives. Maybe she will never look back and that life lost will have to be more the value of what that loss meant. Maybe the disposed of little remains will be discovered one day, and they will affect the person who found them in a profound way.

Some people get to a point where their past choices leave them zero choice in what their life means. Prisoners, addicts (and I mean all types- food, sex, substance, work, etc), victims of abuse. The difference between these people and the infant girl who's life's fate was decided for her, is that every moment that they are here is a chance to make a different choice. A chance to to take a step towards making a difference- to themselves, to a loved one, to a stranger. Does a person have to want to affect others for it to happen? Obviously not. Even negative choices and what many people would call a "waste of life" can have a positive effect on someone else. Sometimes they may not even know they affected anyone at all- even when they are dead and gone.

Where am I going with this? Well as I have written it, I realize there are many things that all of this means to me, but I am going to stick to why I originally started this today. I am still wondering, what gives anyone any jurisdiction to decide the value of a life? I am getting increasingly aggravated by all of the propaganda that is continuing to lead this country around like a stray dog. American people are hungry to have something, to eat, and to belong somewhere.

Why is it that only the people with some sort of social class, societal standing, prestigious job, money, or that are working and paying taxes seem to have a voice? Everyone says Obama isn't listening. Maybe your right, maybe he isn't. MAYBE he is working hard to be a VOICE for people that cannot speak for themselves... people working 2 jobs to barely take care of their kids, people who have no paid time off, and no health insurance and wouldn't be able to pay their rent if they missed two days of work to go to a government protest, much less the money to get a flight, take a road trip, find a sitter, and eat, while traveling to Washington D.C. so that their own voice can be heard.

Now I realize, there is likely to already be a a new perception and perhaps judgement of what I am saying. People tend to get judged simply by association. I have just made an association with Obama that is likely to get me labeled rather quickly. Thing is, I am not ready to have a political association. I like playing devil's advocate, and opening up the possibilities of a situation and I definitely have my own opinions which I am absolutely entitled to. That being said, I have no right to JUDGE.

It is much easier to think of MY self, MY health care, MY Social Security, MY taxes and what I need. I personally don't have that option. I am one of the people who has mixed feelings about the government and likely always will. I am one of the many many Americans caught in middle class society, with student loan debts and a worthless degree in this economy. My husband works full time, but has no health insurance benefits available. I want a promising future for my family, but at what cost?

Can I be proud of a government that has covered up all the people still suffering since Hurricane Katrina that are still displaced, some still not knowing where their family got misplaced, if they even made it at all? People that don't get to decide if they go to a woman gynecologist or the best specialist accross the country and how much their outrageous copay for these things will be, because they have NO health insurance and they won't be able to afford ANY Dr.? Children going without basic healthcare. What happens when one of these children get Leukemia at age 5. Do you think, even with all of the foundations, mostly started by people that were busily working away at the American dream, when their own child was taken from them, that there is ever enough help to treat all of these children? Does it only matter if it is YOUR child?

I feel a constant sense of "only the strong survive" vs. moral obligation. What really IS best? ....and is the question even asking me or you what is best, or is it really what is best for the "people" as a whole?

I, unfortunately cannot rely on this country to help me raise my children. I cannot look to any one mortal man or woman for destroying my future or giving me hope. I fear that people really are so hopeless that they allow themselves to fall victim to propaganda and do not take the time to educate themselves and their loved ones.

I see people using their control in government positions of all levels, to fulfill their own inner emptiness. I also see people bursting forth with wholeness and goodness, taking the extra step to give back to society. Often times these same two people may work side by side.... passed the same background check, winning resume on file, equal salaries, equal responsibility, equal amount of power over another person or people. What is the chain of command that allowed for yet another person to judge their character? Who has decided that their opinions and motives are more valuable than yours or mine?

I challenge myself daily to ask myself, "What am I? Who am I? What do I want to be?" I also humble myself by asking "Who am I to judge?"

This reminds me of something my grandpa explained to me when I was little...

Whenever we went to church, my grandpa put $1 in the offering plate. Never did anyone question his judgement in doing so. Whenever my grandpa saw a beggar at a corner, he gave them $1. Everyone questioned his judgement in doing so.

One night when we were sitting and talking, he explained it to me. He said, "It is not my place to judge. I do not give $1 away because I expect something. I give it because I have it to give. My family has everything that they need and I have something extra. I do not know any better where the $1 in the offering basket goes, then I do where the $1 I give to the beggar goes. The intention to help someone is still the same."

I think I feel the same way about my taxes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just Today but....

This proves to be a forever changing and learning and growing experience... just when I thought I had something pegged or wanted to say this or that, I find someone who has it down differently. Is my fault reading and growing and learning before teaching or the exact opposite? Maybe. I am going to take it back a minute. I am going to quit worrying about the who's, why's, and what's, and how they might make me someone, and start building on these great relationships newly presented. Take me as you will :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

simply extreme.... or extremely simple?

To me its a little bit of both.

What could be better than waking up to the sunrise.... crawling out of my tent or camper.... taking a fresh breath of air in a new place.... making a fire and some coffee and getting ready to face the day after a great night of camping?

Doing it for a year.

even better?

Doing it for a year before I am older and retired, taking the whole family, and home schooling the kids while we travel around the US.

That's the plan.

8 mos away and counting....

What's my logic?

We have moved around a lot in the last 5 years and the kids have switched schools often. I have yet to be impressed with any of the schools they have been to and have been even less impressed with the social demands for kids of their age.

Whenever morals and values started to be replaced with designer jeans and name brand sneakers is probably when you lost me.

When I think of the most valuable things from my past, I think of conversations with my grandpa. I think of a neighbor that brought soup to the fence for our dinner because she knew we needed it. I think of the days each of my children were born.

I had a lot of "things." My grandpa always spoiled me to attempt to make up for all that I had lost. What he never knew is he did that just by being there for me.

I don't want to give my kids a lot of "things."

I want to give them memories. I want to give them experience. I want to teach them how to be responsible and competent.

I have never understood why so many parents seem to chose over compensating with material things instead of time or they "fix" everything for their kids to make the family appear complete and competent. The Dad that always pays for the best lawyer, but was too busy making the money to pay for that lawyer to teach his son why it's not okay to drink and drive in the new expensive car Daddy bought to make his son look cool. The mother that cleans her kids' rooms and does all their laundry and then is frustrated when they expect it.

It is only through my weaknesses that I have become strong. I would never hope for an easy life for my kids. I wish them trial and error. I wish them sadness so that they can learn how to make themselves happy. I am not here to do everything for them, but to guide them as they learn how to do for themselves.

I cannot wait to show them that there is so much more to life than what they see everyday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Simply Complicated ME... a story

the short version ;)

Putting my random thoughts and feelings down always proves to be very therapeutic and thought provoking. I have started putting a lot more thought into what I hope to set forth in my blog, as well as what I might like to look back on a long time from now. I never had a real complicated plan for doing this. As I read through blog after blog today I can see the vast array of blogging conceptions.

I guess my blog was sort of an unplanned for development, as are a lot of things in my life. I realize now that if I do not fill in with some of my everyday life and background, it might be easy to assume I am much more deep and dark than I am light and happy. Most of my deep and dark comes from my past, but surprisingly enough it isn't my present state of being. Although, get me going after a few drinks and an emotional movie or a deep conversation and I am guilty of being emotionally overbearing.

All of that being said, let me introduce you to my background...

My upbringing was anything but traditional. My mother was an only child and she had me at 18. In the late seventies that was a huge shame to a family. She chose a life of drugs, men, and stripping- stringing me along for an occasional wild ride to her work or a bar on our visits.

In her constant absence, I lived with her mother and stepfather, my grandparents. My grandpa had raised her since she was a baby and so he was my real grandfather as far as I knew. He was of Navajo Indian and Spanish decent and my grandma was German and Irish, so I had many cultural influences despite my lack of parental influences. They were also practicing Catholics, and so I was schooled at a strict Catholic school until 8th grade.

This all could have been quite an acceptable upbringing except my mother lost her battle with drugs and depression to suicide in 1986. I was 7. She hung herself, so it was particularly painful for me to understand. This horrible time of sadness intensified when my Grandmother died suddenly of a stroke a very short 34 days after my mother had passed away. Since I was an only child, I was always that very adult socialized child that knew too much and experiencing those deaths with too much adult perception was really hard.

Where did that leave me? With my (step) Grandpa. To me that was the only logical place for me to be. They had owned their house since I was born so it was the only "home" that I knew. What I didn't know is that everyone else but me knew my Grandpa was not my blood. There were immediate fears of it being inappropriate for an older man (he was 68) and a young girl to live alone.

Thank GOD a judge cared enough to ask me where I wanted to go and of course the only place in the world I wanted to be was with my Grandpa. We had just gone through the most devastating loss imaginable and I knew he couldn't read or write so we needed each other. I of course had too much responsibility for a child of (now) 8 years old. My grandpa could not afford to retire because the Race Track had let him go a year short of getting his retirement, so he still had to work. I took on most of what a woman would do. I helped with cooking and cleaning and I wrote out all the checks for our bills and balanced his checkbook. I also was 100% responsible for my school work and papers that came home. He was afraid if people knew he couldn't read or write they would take me away.

My adolescence was really anything but that. I lacked the love and attention of a normal family. My grandpa was afraid to show affection for fear it would be misinterpreted as sexual. he remarried to a family friend that was recently divorced- but it was for my benefit. He thought a woman in the house would solve my problems. It was too late. It didn't take long before I was looking for sexual attention. As you might have read, I was pregnant at 14 and lost the baby late in the pregnancy. It was really hard because everyone was happy for me, but me and the father wanted that baby. We had moved in together. He worked full time (he was 16) and I worked part time and went to beauty school in addition to high school. We had furnished the nursery and had everything we needed by ourselves long before she was born. In retrospect I can see now how hard it would have been, but I was used to taking responsibility so I am sure I could have made it.

We stayed together for 3 years after that. I had gone on to a Lutheran Highschool and they had made me leave while pregnant. I came back after I lost the baby, but me and my boyfriend had gotten out own apartment by the time I was 15. The school found out and demanded I get married as soon as I was legal age. I was still naive enough to think he was the one. So on my 16th birthday, I went and took my driving test and got my license... I drove us to the Justice of the Peace and we got married, I dropped him off at work, and I was back in school by 3rd period.

After I got my license from beauty school, I was instantly offered a job. I started out making around $25 /hr including tips. At 17 this seemed like it was all I would ever need and I thought I could only go up from there. I dropped out of high school with 3 lousy credits left.

We moved to a nicer 2 bedroom apt closer to my work. We had saved a lot of money so I was enjoying furniture shopping and decorating the new place and also loving my new independence from my job and all of the wonderful clients I was meeting. It all ended when I came home early and couldn't find my husband, and moments later he came down form the woman's apartment upstairs high on cocaine and smelling of sex. I wanted to die.

I moved out the next day while he was at work. I never even looked back. My grandparents house was over an hour away from my job and my lack of motivation was compounded by the depression of what had happened. Four years gone.

My next four year relationship started about a year later. His name was Thomas. We were common law married within a year and filed taxes as married- we just couldn't afford a wedding. We had two children. I was on bedrest from 22 weeks on with my son and from 12 weeks on with my daughter. I sat around eating and keeping my babies safe inside. I wasn't going to lose another one. I ballooned up to 316 lbs. I am 6' tall (and no I don't play basketball!).

Our relationship was pretty typical for a Hispanic man who believed a woman's place was in the home and a strong woman who had big dreams and goals. We fought a lot. He belittled me to keep me from thinking I could ever live without him and I resented him for it. Wanting 2 parents for my kids is what kept me there. My grandpa was already 78 and although still working, I knew he would not be there for long. His wife was gold digging nightmare, so i had no hope tehre either. I saw me and Thomas as all my kids had.

My will to have a "family" broke when Thomas hit me. I didn't know what I was going to be, but I knew a lot of things I wasn't going to be. A battered wife and mother was where I drew the line. It's a longer story I will get into in depth one day, but just for the sake of connecting people and events... Thomas died suddenly within a year of us separating. He was 27. Our children only 2 and 4. His death was weight related and besides the overwhelming grief and loss I felt for my children... I now feared I was headed for the same fate.

By this time I was in college full time and working part time. I pursued weight loss surgery with every ounce of my being. It was my only hope. When my grandfather died 8 short months after Thomas I was even more determined. My life was not not going to elude me like evryone else I knew and loved.

I did finally get approved for weight loss surgery. I was at an all time high of 380 lbs. I lost 200 lbs. I had reconstructive surgery (a body lift) to remove 16 POUNDS of extra skin and I also got implants to replace what were once the only sexy thing on my fat body... my boobs. I also had many complications and ended up having 6 surgeries that year. All with a 3 and 6 year old, school and a job, and only a loser boyfriend I cared very little for as support.

Once I was somewhat healthy and stable I kicked him out. I made the stupidest choice ever, and gave up all of my stability to move in with my step-grandma, who was saying she would have to sell my grandpa's house if I didn't help. She promised that if I finished school she would quitclaim the house to me so I could raise the kids there. Lie.

I was getting survivors benefits for my children, so I decided to go to school 15-18 credits at a time. I had failed almost the whole year that Thomas and my grandpa had died and I needed to catch up. My step grandma consumed my life, my time, AND my money. She paid the mortgage- an undisclosed amount, but the house had been bought 25 years earlier. I paid everything else and bought and cooked all the food. I had the kid's in daycare while I was in school and she would only babysit on rare occasion if the kids were asleep first and I came home right away if one of them woke up.

Somehow I still managed to meet Bryson. He was only 21 and not at all anything on my "must have's in a man" list. Somehow we connected right away and within a week we were together all the time. My grandma was very jealous and demanded that if I were to continue seeing him, I move out. So we did. It was kind of scary for me because I was very protective of my kids. He was very caring and helpful and I was still struggling with a lot of physical pain from all of my surgeries and complications. I wanted to jump in head first and enjoy this feeling, but my body would not cooperate and I started abusing pain pills so that I could function.

Pain pills make me sleepy and a sleeping Mom doesn't accomplish much. It wasn't long before we were abusing meth together. We just wanted to have every possible minute together and it was always just "one more time." One more time spiraled quickly down hill into a year. I was down to a disgusting weight of 155. We were living off of my survivors benefits and desperately trying to break away. What I didn't know until it was too late, was that pretty much all of Bryson's immediate family were on again off again meth users.

I blamed him and my paranoia started making me believe he actually conspired to get me to use the drug before he met me. He felt the same way about me. It had come to the point where I knew I had to leave because I could not do to my kids what my mom did. We had lost everything and were living in a hotel room and I was going to take the kids and leave the next time he left. I had asked my step grandma to give the kids a ride to school and pick them up and I was going to trick him into leaving when the kids would be getting back. I was going to plead my case to my grandma that she was all I had and that I needed treatment, and leave Bryson to find his own way.

I didn't get the chance. We were arrested and social services called and my kids taken away and placed with my grandma. It was the hardest time of my life yet. It also changed me and everything about my life. They found drugs in the room and that alone was enough to take the kids. I accepted responsibility for my drug use, but I was NOT going to lose my kids. That day was the last time I ever used meth. I was not allowed at my grandma's house and so me and Bryson came out of jail homeless with only each other. The survivor benefits were immediately transferred to my grandma for the care of the kids.

We lived in motels, then in a tent, then in a homeless shelter for a month. I was sure that without the drugs and money that Bryson would leave. Instead he petitioned the court to be a special respondent in the case and so he met all the same requirements that I had to as a parent. 6 intensive months of classes and therapy, monitored sobriety, supervised visits, and recovery and rehabilitation, I was given back full custody of my kids. I was asked to be a parent partner and help other parents who have lost their kids due to addiction.

We have both been clean since the day we were arrested. Almost 4 years.

Within a month of the kids coming home, we moved into a house and I found out I was pregnant. It was an even more complicated pregnancy than my first two and following more bedrest our daughter was born premature. Today she is a happy healthy toddler, about to turn two. My older kids are extremely caring and bright, helpful and independent. I will always have guilt about what I did. I will always envision a little social worker that believed in me, sitting on my shoulder, telling me not to let them down- ok and maybe sharing space with my grandma, my mother, and my grandpa :) I have had far too much time taken away, lives lost, and caused the most painful 6 mos of my life living without my children, to take anything for granted. Bryson has worked at the same place for 3 years (restaurant and bar industry) and I am a stay at home mom.

Wow can you believe I am done? If you are still here.... thank you... and I hope you will come back.... My adventures are just beginning :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sweet 16

I have thought a lot about tomorrow. I think in 16 years I have managed to make my way through the process of grieving one sweet little girl and still managed to dream her to life. Even though all of my hopes for what her life would have been went away like the beating of her teeny tiny heart, she left my heart full of hope. Hope for her to have peace. Hope that she felt love. Hope that I would get another chance to be a mother.

I cannot imagine how my life would be different right now. Of course I always imagine that someone who has died would somehow fit into the exact same life I have had since they left. The reality of it, is that nothing in my life would be the same. There is no possible way I would have the exact 3 children I have now. I might not have ever even met their fathers. Maybe my first two children's Dad would not have died if he had not met me or had our children with me. Maybe I wouldn't be alive? It is impossible to know.

For whatever reason, Arianna managed to live her whole life's purpose in one hour and 49 minutes~ 16 sweet years ago. Although I think of her often and imagine what it would be like to have a 16 year old at 30, I have found that I cannot dwell on all the "could have should have would haves," because she is where she is meant to be and so am I.

Thank you Arianna for the time you spent growing safely in my tummy. Without you I would not have known why I cannot carry a baby to term. My children are here today because of you. Happy sweet 16 angel baby.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seasons Change (me)

This time of year had traditionally been a time of sadness and darkness for me. The milder sunny days, filling up slowly with clouds hinting of fall and the even colder darker winter to come... reflected how I felt on the inside. I had so many associations with all the different sad days of this time of year. The end of August through September hold some birthdays and some death days for my Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, Thomas, and my precious little baby girl.

Over the past few years, Bryson and I have been able to recreate the way this time of year feels for me. He has been a constant person of support when I am sad or lonely. We have made many great family memories and enjoyed the beautiful fall days. I even look forward to what used to be sad, empty, solemn holidays. They are once again a time for family, laughter, and new memories.

Healing takes time and effort. At one point I didn't think it could EVER get better. Reflection brings me peace and a sense of accomplishment for continuing on when I didn't want to. All the little things that made me happy today are like invaluable little tokens for choosing to live when I didn't know why I should. I believe that I will be able to give my kids the right kind of emotional support in life even though I had to find it for myself. That is one of my major life goals. I know it may not compare to the usual life goals like owning my dream home, or being promoted to such and such prestigious accomplished somebody in some company, but it is a more important goal to me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

so they say....

You know I have been afraid for a long long time. "THEY" say the truth shall set you free, and although I believe, that when I tell myself the truth, it works wonders.... I still have this certain amount of societal doubt. This crazy burden of "should of" which leads to "could of" leads to me falling so easily back into worrying about what people think.... thing is it doesn't change me... it just makes me cautious to be me openly. I am blessed, if you will, with the unmaterialistic life of a person who has seen many a life changing times and experiences and love and loss and triumphs as well as failures and I have found the REAL people that love me for me. I am deciding that today is my day to take that extra step forward to open up and be me to the whole world... the people that judge, that don't forgive, that don't understand. Maybe my truth can help, can heal, or will just set me free... free free at last