My Very First Blog…

My Very First Blog…. I have always been one who has dabbled in writing. It is sometimes helps me put things into perspective.  I feel I can sometimes communicate better through writing rather than speaking, especially on topics that I am passionate about, that are controversial, or that I find interesting.

So, first a little about me and why I am doing this. I am a divorced Christian mom of two boys, “Tiny Rick” who is 19, and “Matrix” who is 13.  *** My children’s names have been changed for protection.*** “Tiny Rick” serves in a branch of our country’s military, is newly married to a wonderful woman, “My Only Daughter”, and they live out of state. “Matrix” lives with me. He was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome, many names for this, another common name is Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS), at the age of 3 1/2, is hearing impaired, and has some challenges but always smiles. Yep, you will see quite a few post about my children as well as the struggles of being an Military Mom, a mom of a special needs child, and many more topics.  As for myself, I worked for the State of Kentucky for 13 years, and left to be a stay at home mom several years ago.  I have been divorced for a little over 18 months, which has definitely been a struggle trying to figure it all out on my own. I am a recovering addict. I had been clean for over 2 years, only to relapse, and I now have been clean for over a year. Staying clean from any and all mind altering substances is a battle I fight every single day. The biggest mistake I made was thinking I would not relapse and that I had it under control, so now relapse, unfortunately, AND fortunately, is part of my story. I say fortunately because, it made me realize I am NOT exempt, I don’t “have it”, I will have to fight this every single day of my life.  I will probably devote more than one entry about the struggle with addiction, the effects it has on family, children, friends, and myself in the future.  I have been fighting an Auto-Immune Disease since February 2016. I was initially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, however over the last few months, my symptoms have changed, are still changing, and my physician is just as stumped as I am. I am currently going through more testing to try to pinpoint an exact diagnosis and hopefully that will get my treatment on the right path. “Matrix” and I are both involved in the Bowling Green Special Olympics. He has been competing for 3 years in the track and field competitions. I have been a parent/coach volunteer for the past 3 years, and I love it. It is the most amazing experience for he and I both.  I have 2 dogs that I absolutely adore. I got Atlas when I first moved into my apartment. He turned 2 in July, but is still a big baby.  He is a 50lb pit/lab/beagle mix, and he is smart, sweet, protective, but at the same time scared of his own shadow. Then in February of this year, “Matrix” and I fell in love with Charlie and had to bring him home. Charlie is a little 22lb Jack Russell/Rat Terrier mix. He is full of life. He is a definite cuddler and likes to be held to where he can look over your shoulder. He and Atlas finally after about 3 months became friends and now they are inseparable. They are too funny to watch, and yes, there will be several post about the “Story of Atlas and Charlie”.

Why have I started a blog? Well I have noticed more and more that I actually have a lot to say about certain topics, and the only outlet to express my thoughts, feelings, opinions is on Facebook, which I have to say is not the greatest outlet I feel for expressing my thoughts and feelings at length anyway. I am sure when people see one of my huge post they scroll right on past. So, I thought, why not start a blog. This way I have an outlet for me, and I feel it is very therapeutic at times to write out your thoughts and feelings. I have no doubt that there will be post that people will disagree with; everyone has their own opinions and we are all entitled to our own. I have no doubt there will be grammatical errors; I will try to keep those to a minimum, because it does irritate me when I see those type of things in others posts, however I am not a professional writer, never played one on TV, and don’t claim to be, so I am sure there will be changes of tenses, incorrect punctuation, etc, so please be patient. And lastly, I am doing this because I have been through many things in my life, from absolutely wonderful to scary to sad to horrible things, but I am STILL here. I have survived. And if anything I have been through or have survived can help or touch one person then it is worth it.

So with that I am ending my first post… Have a wonderful day…. 🙂

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Two words…

I try to keep most of my writing on the lighter side. I know the topics are quite serious in nature usually, but I really try to throw humor into it. Anyway, today while I am going to attempt to keep this light, it is very, uh hard to cope or deal with the emotions of this topic.

As I have discussed previously, I have two children, both boys, both very different.  My boys are my world. I love both of them so much, and I am so very proud of them. This is, however, about my younger child, which I will refer to as J for this post. J was born by C-section in February 2004. I did everything I was supposed to while I was pregnant. I took my vitamins, I ate right, slept good, all of it. I had two ultrasounds, the initial one, and then the one to determine that he was a he. Both ultrasounds, all lab work, all the OB visits, everything was normal. I had about 6 weeks of horrible morning sickness that lasted all day, and some crazy severe heartburn, but everything was normal.

C-section was scheduled because my first child was over 9 lbs, and the birth was very traumatic for both myself and him. The doctor did not want to cause any additional damage, risk my health, or the baby’s. It was also decided that after the c-section he would tie my tubes because that was all of the children I was planning on having.

The day of the c-section came. One would have thought that I was some sort of famous person because our entire immediate family was there. So on a Saturday morning, at 8 lbs 1 oz, 19 inches long, J came into the world. There were no complications at delivery. Everything was normal. I had no idea, WE had no idea, however that life as we knew it would be forever changed, and J was far from “normal”.

J was a good baby. Our older child did not sleep, still doesn’t, very well. J slept from the moment he came home. So much so, that the first time he slept thru the night, I woke up in a panic because I thought something was wrong. When he was about 6-7 weeks old, I went back to work, and he went to daycare, and the madness began.

J started out having ear infections, one right after the other. He had so many that he was finally referred to an ENT for bilateral ear tubes. He had ear tubes placed when he was around 6 months old. This would turn out to be the first of many surgeries he would have. By the time J was almost 3, he was a professional at ear infections, throat infections, pneumonia, RSV, and the flu. He had bilateral ear tubes placed about 5 times, adenoids removed, hospitalized with RSV 3 times, and had multiple bouts of pneumonia. At one point his breathing caused such concern he was referred to a pediatric pulmonologist at Kosair’s Children’s Hospital. After the last set of ear tubes caused him quite a bit of problems, his dad and I decided it was time to get out of Bowling Green, and get a second opinion at Vanderbilt.

J was slightly delayed in his milestones. He reached his milestones but was several months behind. This was also the case with his talking. When he would talk, I could understand about 10-15% of what he said. If you didn’t know him, you couldn’t understand him at all. Of course when we were at home, I just thought, “well, he is just going to be a little slower with things, and that is okay”. Well, that wasn’t the case. It was and is still okay, but there was a reason, we would find out,  why he was slower with his milestones.

We went to see an ENT at Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital named Dr. Steven Goudy. Dr. Goudy was absolutely amazing, and if it had not been for him, I am not sure where we would be today. The first day we were at Vandy, J with his head full of curls was all over the exam room and babbling non-stop when Dr. Goudy came in the door. We were doing the normal introductions, why we were there, what all we had been through up until this point, when Dr. Goudy stopped me and asked, “Does he talk like that all the time?”. I explained that yes, he talked like that all the time, and I only understood him about 10-15% of the time. He put J up in the chair, looked in his ears, throat, up his nose, and turned to me and said, “I think I know what is wrong with him.”. I was at a loss for words. Here is this doctor, who has been in the room about 2 minutes, and he thinks he knows what is wrong with my baby? Well…that was just the beginning.

We were sent for a test where a tube was ran thru J’s nose into his throat. No, I cannot imagine that as an adult, try holding a screaming 3-year-old while that is being done. It was so NOT an enjoyable experience. Anyway, the test was to look at his soft palate. When you talk, or scream, the soft palate is to close in one of three ways. This closure helps build up the pressure needed to say certain letter, words. If it doesn’t close then it can affect your speech. If it doesn’t close then it can also lead to other problems, such as pneumonia. When you have mucus, it is supposed to drain into your stomach, however when that does not close properly the mucus won’t drain to the stomach, it drains into the lungs, leading to the pneumonia. Once Dr. Goudy had those test results back he referred us to the genetics department to see Dr. Debra Freendenburg.

Our appointment with Dr. Freendenburg was March 2007. It was a very nerve-wracking appointment. I mean it is one of those moments you dread, but at the same time there is a sense of relief. I was happy that they were going to be able to tell me what was wrong with my child, and terrified at the same time. She reviewed his history, did a very, VERY thorough exam of J’s little body, asked all about family history, my pregnancy, everything imaginable. The she sat down and said, “I believe I know what is wrong with your son. We are going to get some blood work. It will take about 2-3 weeks to get the results back to confirm the diagnosis.”. I was stunned, at a loss for words (which if you know me then you know that is pretty hard to do). I didn’t know what to think, what to say. I swallowed my tears, not sure if they were tears of fear, sadness, relief, or all of the above, and asked, “What do you think it is?”.  “DiGeorge Syndrome”. I heard nothing else after that.

When I tell you that March 2007 was the longest month on record and the most difficult month in my entire life I am NOT exaggerating!! It was if time just stood still. It took forever for those 2 1/2 weeks to pass. I tried to keep myself as busy as possible because if I had any down time my mind went a zillion different directions. On March 24, 2007, I waited as long as I could possibly wait. I could not stand it any longer. I slowly built up my nerve and called Dr. Freedenburg’s office, and of course, I had to leave a voicemail. Back to work I went trying to pass the time. A little after 4:30 pm on March 24, 2007, the call came in, and I froze.

Now let me explain, I had researched this “thing”, this “syndrome” she told us about that day in her office. I had read everything I could find. Which was not the best thing to do, because the information out there on the great world-wide web, well it can be very informative, educational; however, it can also be extremely frightening to read. The possibility of him having this “DiGeorge syndrome thing”, well it was absolutely mortifying!

So as I was finishing up in my office for the day, a little after 4:30 pm on March 24, 2007, my phone rang, and my world stopped. “Mrs. Long, I have a few of Jackson’s blood tests back. I am sorry to say that he does have DiGeorge Syndrome”.  I blanked out. I did not hear much of anything else she said to me. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of blood work, ultrasounds, x-rays, and a whole bunch of test. All I could keep replaying through my brain was those 2 words. The two words that would from this point on be part of our vocabulary, part of our life– DiGeorge Syndrome.

We had our answer. After years of wondering why our baby was so sick we finally had an answer. That was a relief, sort of. It was a relief because we finally knew what was wrong, but it was also unchartered waters because of all the unknowns associated with DiGeorge Syndrome.

Fast forward 10 years, and today J is a 13-year-old. He is an amazing child. Life with DiGeorge has its ups and downs, but we know that we can get through whatever it is. Regardless how difficult, how frustrating, how frightening it can be, we stand together and get through it. J is much more than a label.  He is much more than a child with hearing aids. He is much more than a child with developmental delays. He is much more than those two words. He is much more than DiGeorge Syndrome, so much more.

Until next time….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate…

As a mom I have found that my boys highs are my highs, and my boys lows are my lows. Being the mom of a special needs child, his highs, his good stuff is cause to celebrate. However his lows, the not so good stuff, is rather difficult to navigate through. I have been blessed with two children, two amazing boys. They are my world. I am so proud of both of them. They have a few similarities, but for the most part they are polar opposites.

My older son has always been above the norm in everything. He hit all his milestones early. He excelled in school. He was one of those kids who didn’t have to study and still makes A’s and B’s. He took the ACT as a 7th grader, and scored higher than I did when I was a junior in high school! He is a very talented. His writing amazes me. It actually inspires me. My older son joined the military right out of high school. He has seen more of the United States than I could have ever taken him to see. He has gone thru basic training, and all of his other advanced training. He actually joined the military for one job, and found during his training he actually wanted to go in a different direction. He has stuck with it, and he finally is doing what he enjoys. The excitement in his voice when he would call, telling me about all he had learned. He has truly found his calling. I couldn’t be prouder.

My younger son, as I said before, has special needs. He was diagnosed at 3 1/2 years of age with DiGeorge Syndrome. When we got his diagnosis we were devastated. Everything we had read was scary. However, it was not as bad as we thought. When I say my boys are complete opposites I am not exaggerating. My older son didn’t sleep when he was a baby or actually even now has sleep issues, but my younger son, slept thru the night the moment he came home from the hospital.

My younger son, “JL”, has several medical issues we have battled over the years. He has hearing aids in both years. His hearing loss is permanent, and will probably continue to get worse as he gets older. He has had multiple surgeries and actually is going to have a few more in the next couple years. Nothing major fortunately, but they aren’t optional either. JL was always behind on his developmental milestones. It was hard not to compare my children. Especially before we had the diagnosis, I would be at the Dr for one of his monthly checkups, panicking because he wasn’t sitting up or walking yet, and my older son walked at 9 months. It was so hard not to compare them.

JL finally hit all his developmental milestones, he was just a little slower at it than some. So when he accomplishes something, something that someone without special needs can do easily it is a big deal. I don’t use the word normal because–well what is normal really? Normal to me is what you define it to be.

There are all kinds of things I celebrate when  accomplished by him. He participates in Special Olympics track and field. He runs the 100m dash, the 4 man 100m relay, and softball throw. Every year he has run, he has won gold, silver, or bronze. The very first year he ran, I saw him finally realize his potential. The 4-man relay ran the first night. His team placed second, the silver medal. When we were going to bed, JL looked at me and said, “Mom, I am going to win that gold medal tomorrow!”. Now to say I was stressed out is an understatement. I believed in him, but I was so scared he wouldn’t win gold, and he wouldn’t have been devastated. He was the youngest member of the track and field team so when he was ready to run, the entire track and field team was there. As he walked up to the start line, I sized up his competition. I was a little concerned about his first place prediction. That gun went off, and he bolted! The team and I all ran with him screaming at the top of our lungs, “GO! GO!”. He ran faster than he ever ran before, and when he crossed that finish line…he got FIRST PLACE!!! At that moment, he knew he could do anything he set his mind on! He believed in himself!! He went on to win 1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze during that year. And he has won a medal in every event, every year since then. He loves every part of competing. It took winning a gold medal for him to believe in himself and his athletic abilities. His mental abilities and educational abilities go the same way.

JL is in 8th grade. He has an IEP in place. His reading and math levels are between a 4th and 5th grade level. He struggles in many areas. When he has homework that he doesn’t understand fully, he gets to a point, he shuts down, completely. And then when he gets a good grade on a test or project, he beams with pride. He always sends me a text when he gets on the bus in the afternoons coming home. He lets me know if he has had a good day, if he has any homework, and anything else school wise. Earlier this week he sent me the normal, “I am on the bus.” text message. Then it was followed by, “Mom! I am so exited! I got 5 A’s and 1 B on my midterms!!” I couldn’t help but giggle at “exited” because I knew he meant excited. Anyway, at the end of the last quarter he had made the A/B honor roll for the very first time. He finally knew he could get all A’s and B’s, which again made him so excited, but it also made him nervous and worry that he wouldn’t be able to do it again, or keep them up. Once again, he proved he could do it! So, this week with his mid-terms having 5 A’s and 1 B, we celebrated! Not a crazy celebration, just dinner out at a placed he loves!

So again as a mom, when my boys hurt, I hurt with them. When my boys are successful, have accomplished something, and they are proud of themselves, I am right there to celebrate with them. There is no place I’d rather be.

Until next time….

Mom and Pappy Conder….

When I was born I was lucky enough, no scratch that, I was blessed enough to have 6 out of 8 of my great-grandparents, all of my grandparents, all my aunts, uncles, a lot of my great aunts and uncles living. And they weren’t just existing or alive they were a very active part of my life. Three of my great-grandparents passed away when I was little and unfortunately, I only have vague memories of spending time with the three of them. However I have a lot of memories with my other three great-grandparents, and even more memories with my grandparents. I come from a large family when you look at all of my great aunts and uncles and all their children(my cousins) and all of my cousins children, so on and so forth. It is a LARGE family.

On my dad’s side of the family, the head of our family was Mom and Pappy Conder.  They were my Great-grandparents, my Dad’s grandparents, my grandmother’s parents. They had seven children. All of which had multiple children, who had children, who had children, you get the idea. At least every couple of Sundays and every holiday we were all summoned to Mom and Pappys for lunch or dinner. Now, when Mom Conder called and told you she was having a lunch or dinner you had better be in attendance or have a really REALLY good reason why you aren’t. She would set up a big folding aluminum table in the kitchen at the end of the long kitchen table. There would also be a couple of card tables set up in other rooms. We would all squeeze into the kitchen so someone could say the blessing, then we would all line up, fill our plates, and have the best time.

Christmas time we would all gather in the front room, on the floor, couch, chair, where ever you could find a spot to squeeze into around the ceramic lighted Christmas tree to open our gifts. It was such fun. I love remembering those times.

Mom and Pappy’s house was such a special place. I can still see the house, each of the rooms, the furniture, the color of the walls and carpet, pictures on the wall. Mom Conder’s bedroom was so bright. She had two windows, one on the front and one on the side of the house. She had a full length mirror on the wall and hung her beads on it. Pappy’s bed was in the room where the TV was. He had a twin bed that had a drab green cover on it. His chair sat right next to his bed. A nightstand or end table sat next to his chair which was next to a window. Pappy loved his chewing tobacco. He had a small blue mandarin orange can sitting on the floor next to the leg of the table he used for his spit can. They only had one bathroom. There was the living room that was pretty big, more elongated that anything, but we used it for Christmas and when the whole family was there we would all gather in that room and catch up. The middle room had a big double bed and a huge dresser. This room connected the living room and the kitchen. There was a shelf sitting on the wall right before you went into the kitchen that had hundreds of salt and pepper shakers on it. There were so many, all different shapes, sizes, colors. Going thru the door way there was always a cabinet sitting to the left that had a cookie jar on it. Mom Conder always had just plain vanilla cookies in it.  The kitchen was huge. They had a washing machine, but no dryer. Mom Conder had a clothes line out back and then a wooden foldable drying rack inside. On the other side of the kitchen there were two utility rooms I guess you could call them. One had her deep freeze and shelves for all her canned vegetables and fruits, jams, and jellies. After Pappy died, Mom Conder had a parrot type bird, Rosie, whose cage was set out there most of the time. The other room was kind of catch-all for run over canned veggies, and it also had tools and odds and ends.

Pappy had an old black truck he drove. It had the “three-in-a-tree” gear shift. In the winter he had chains on his tires. Pappy was a little man. He was also very quiet. He always thought it was funny that I was scared to give him a kiss when I was little. He had stubble on his face, and I went to kiss him goodbye one time, and his stubble stuck me. After that it was a long time before I would kiss him bye, and it always got him tickled. I remember when it was really cold and snowy outside, Dad would pick Mom and Pappy up and drop them off at the bank on the downtown square where they cleaned. It is funny how some things I can remember so vividly. Out of all of my great-grandparents, and actually my grandparents, I know Pappy’s birthdate and his date of death, without hesitation. Pappy was born January 17, 1900. He passed away January 20, 1988. He was 88 years and 3 days old. I found this so crazy that he was born January 1900. That means he was conceived in 1899, last century, that is crazy to me. When Pappy died it broke Mom Conder’s heart. I remember asking my grandmother why Mom Conder didn’t smile in many pictures. She said that Mom Conder told her that after Pappy died she didn’t have much reason to smile. I envy a love like that. Maybe one day I will have a love like that.

Mom Conder was one of the most productive, busy, knowledgeable women I have known. There are so many things I can remember about Mom Conder. There were times she would lie on her bed, give me tweezers and have me pluck the little white whiskers out of her chin. I would do it for as long as she would let me. She was literally like super woman. I never remember seeing her physically clean her house, but it was always clean. She raised chickens in the back yard for their eggs and then when time for their meat. She had an enormous amount of fruits and vegetables she had canned. She made all kinds of jellies and preserves. She had a freezer full of bagged fruits and vegetables. She was always doing something. One story, which always makes me giggle and also reminds me of how spunky she was, was she was found on the roof of her house, cleaning the leaves out of the gutters. Oh, the funny part of the story…. she was I think 83 when this happened. Mom Conder was not a small woman. She always wore dresses and knee-high stockings. She had diabetes. So for her to be up on the roof in her dress at 83 years of age cleaning out the gutters of her house this was not something she needed to be doing. But that was her in all her glory. Her tenacious spirit was admirable.

I love the memories I have of spending time with Mom and Pappy Conder. Mom Conder eventually ended up in a nursing home in town after having several strokes. I took my first son to see her when he was just shy of being two months old. I was just shy of my 25th birthday. Even though she had several strokes which affected many of her abilities, she was able to hold my son, her great-great grandson. I have a picture of the two of them that day. A picture of her looking at him with a small smile on her face.

That was the last time I saw Mom Conder. She passed away peacefully a little over a week after I saw her. I still have that picture, the picture of her having a reason to smile if only for a moment.

Until next time…

Love you both always….

Millard Conder and Eliza Ann Stinnett Conder         Married 08-29-1923

b: 01-17-00                             b: 06-19-07

d: 01-20-88                             d: 08-08-98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I really want to say but don’t…

I am a huge people-pleaser. That is one of my many character defects. I realize that. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. It is hard for me not to be that way. I have tried really hard to change that part of myself, however it is way harder than I thought.

I have always been the person who doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t want people to hurt, and even more so I don’t want anyone upset with me. Yes, that is not only unrealistic to think I can always make people happy, but it is also pretty selfish now that I think about it.  Now I do have to say that there are several times I have shot my mouth off, said something really hurtful, or been very blunt about what I have to say, and it has not ended well for me. Because who ever was on the receiving end of my brutal honestly got their feelings hurt or got very angry with me, and of course that made me feel really shitty.

So, I did a little research on the topic, and wow… On one website https://lonerwolf.com it list 16 common habits of people pleasing personality types, and well I can identify with about 12 of the 16. Hmph! That is kinda worrisome I guess. Then it goes on to list why being “too nice” can be dangerous. Here are a few of the reasons: you suppress a lot of emotions, people use you, no one really knows the real you, there is extreme pressure to keep up appearances, and there is an intense need to be in control. Yep! I can relate to every one of those…

Now when I talk about being a people pleaser I don’t mean the small, trivial day-to-day people pleasing, which I guess is where it all actually starts. I am talking about the big stuff. I have a hard time telling people “no” if I don’t want to do something. When I worked for the State, I was there for the better part of 13 years, I literally drove myself crazy by trying to do it all. And that wasn’t just at work, that was at home as well. I am not working now, but I still have issues with over extending myself because I don’t want to say, “NO”, I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Not being able to say no does open up the door for people to take advantage of and use me. One of the common traits listed was “you believe in people’s ‘goodness’ even if they are clearly abusive towards you”. So I have a hard time saying no, which opens the door for people to use me, but I don’t want to believe that someone would do that to me because I want to see the good in them. Woah! That is exhausting.

It is frustrating not saying what I want to say or to say what I am thinking. When something happens and I don’t say what it is on my mind, it makes me so frustrated and angry with myself. After the moment has passed, I find myself, pacing in my apartment, or walking around talking to my self and answering, clearly upset about how I handled whatever the situation was. I talk to myself and re-do the entire conversation whatever it may be, saying what I should have said or what I wanted to say instead of  what was actually said but didn’t.

I recognize I have the “people pleasing syndrome”. I also recognize how mentally and emotionally unhealthy that is. And I DO recognize I need to work on that so I can give myself a break, a break from mentally beating myself up for not saying what I want, from letting people use me and take advantage of my kindness. A break from setting myself up for failure because I know that I can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time, so I am setting up an unrealistic expectation for myself.

So from now on I am going to make more of a conscious effort to say “NO” when I want to say it. And even thought it is going to be really difficult, I am going to make more of a conscious effort to stop people pleasing, and to say what I really want to say but don’t.

Until next time…

I’m Sorry…

Earlier this week I found myself all upset over something to the point I got very frustrated and emotional. I am a firm believer in when you are wrong you put your big girl panties on and own up to it. As hard as it is, I apologize, I say, “I’m Sorry”.  But earlier this week when I got upset it was because I felt like I was the one always apologizing. I am always saying, “I’m sorry” for one reason or another. Why am I the one always apologizing? I mean what about all the hurt and wrongs that have been done to me? When do I get my apologies? When do I get my, “I’m sorry”?

Let’s dive into this shall we…. Merriam Webster states the definition of an apology is, “an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by and expression of regret.” It also says that it is “an explanation that frees one from fault or blame”.  Saying I am sorry for something you have done or said is not always easy. I mean it is not easy for me to admit, “Hey I was an ass, I am sorry for my behavior” or “I am sorry I hurt your feelings”. I could continue but you get the point.

When I was in active addiction I did a lot of things, said a lot of things that were hurtful, damaging, harmful; things I cannot undo, things I cannot unsay. In Narcotics Anonymous you work “steps”. My experience with the steps is that they are a guide, a step-by-step guide that leads to a life, a life of recovery. I was initially scared of the steps. Well not necessarily scared, but I guess maybe intimidated is more the word. However once I started working the steps, I realized they were not meant to be intimidating. They were meant to help guide you to realize your wrongs, help right the wrongs that could be. They helped me discover who I really was, and why I chose to escape my life by using drugs to begin with. All of the steps are important in their own way, however two of the steps I found the hardest were Steps 8 and 9.

Step 8 in the Narcotics Anonymous book states, “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”. Step 9 states, “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”. Ok, so breaking that down Step 8 is writing down all the people you have hurt, all the people you have harmed in any way, make a list. Well, that list for me is quite long, not to mention people I don’t even realize I have hurt. Have YOU ever sat down and actually written down everyone you have hurt or caused harm to? That is NOT an easy task. Not to mention that list grows on a daily basis. Nobody is perfect.  Alexander Pope said, “To err is human; to forgive, divine”. Nobody is perfect, at all! So now, once you have that list made, you need to “be willing” to say I am sorry, to make amends. Those three little words–I am sorry–those are hard words to say. They get hung in my throat like a popcorn husk gets caught in your teeth. It hangs in there, gnawing at you, driving you crazy until you finally get it out.

Step 9 in Narcotics Anonymous states, “We make direct amends whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”. So not only do you have to make a list and remember all the things you have done and to whom, but now you gotta go and apologize to them? I have to actually say, “I’m sorry”? Oh unless me saying, “I’m sorry for doing or saying x, y, z” would hurt this person or someone else. Okay got it. But it is NOT that easy. I mean think about it, how is that going to be easy? It isn’t. It isn’t AT ALL!!

I will be the first to admit I am wrong. I am the first person to apologize when I do or say something that is hurtful or wrong. Okay, well not ALL the time, but I’d like to think I do/would. It is hard at time to admit you are wrong. It is hard to admit your words or actions have caused harm to someone, especially when that person is someone you care for or love. I don’t actually like to admit I am wrong. Who does? I have no desire to look like and idiot or fool or not know what I am talking about, but when I do find the courage to actually say the words, it is somewhat freeing. Then, of course, there is the flip side of all of this…apologizing too much, chronic apologizing.

I would say I am definitely a chronic apologizer. I find myself saying, “I’m sorry” for everything under the sun. When I was little I was taught to say, “Please”, “thank you”, “yes sir”, “no ma’am”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry”.  You were taught these things as tools to use in day-to-day activities. I am in Kroger, in the bread aisle. The aisle is packed full, and someone bumps into my cart. I say, “Oh! I am sorry!”. I mean that is basic etiquette right? Or is it?

Lets remember what an apology actually is for. Heart apologies help in fixing troubled relationship, ending conflicts, and working towards forgiveness. It is to admit our action or words hurt someone. But sometimes apologies are too easy and “I’m sorry” said way too much. Saying “I’m sorry” too often really makes the meaning of sincere apologies less than. I end up saying “I’m sorry” for things that are out of my control, things not on me, or just because. Back to the lady in the bread aisle at Kroger. She bumped into me. So why did I feel the need to apologize to her? It was not my fault. I mean if I was blocking her way it could be, but if I am on the side of the aisle, it is a congested section of the aisle, there is no reasons for ME to say “I’m sorry”.

Let’s look at it a different way… Let’s say I have said something to hurt Mary Sue’s feelings. I realize I have hurt her feelings, buck up, and say, “I am sorry.”. We are good right? Probably so, BUT what if I have said hurtful or mean things to Mary Sue before, not just once, but multiple times, and I apologize everything. Saying I am sorry really doesn’t mean the same thing if that’s the case. Why should she believe I am truly sorry when this happens on a regular? She shouldn’t. She won’t.

I am a serious “over-apologizer”, or you could say I suffer from “Sorry Syndrome”. (And yes, this is an actual thing.) Great! Another label or category I need to add to my list. Anyways, I googled “traits of sorry syndrome” and BAM! Ask Google and you shall receive! haha! TheLawofattraction.com list 6 different common traits of people saying sorry too much. First it says that “while sorry syndrome is a pervasive issue that is experienced by all sorts of people, there are certain traits that overlap with this tendency.” Then it list 6 traits: Compassion, Submissiveness in relationships, Agreeability, Lack of faith in ones own judgement, Strict background, and Anxiety. The website goes on to list ways to stop saying sorry too much.

After thinking about all of these things, I have realized a few things. First, I obviously apologize WAY more than I should. Secondly, I also apparently say “I’m sorry” for things that don’t need apologies a whole lot, like a WHOLE LOT!! Lastly, I cannot control if, when, how, or what someone apologizes. All I can control is myself.

I have apologized for a lot of the hurt and pain I have caused. I haven’t said, “I’m sorry” for everything yet. That is mostly because I am so horribly ashamed and embarrassed of my actions or words. One day I will, one day. Until then I am definitely going to work on the whole apology, saying I am sorry, as well as the over use of the phrase.

Alright well I think I have started babbling or rambling a little much, I am sorr….OH WAIT!!! NO! I am NOT sorry for vent, sharing, babbling, or rambling or for the length of this post. I guess I gotta start somewhere right? HaHaHa…

Until next time…

 

#MeToo

Normally, my process before I blog is I write my thoughts, everything down in my journal. Once I have the basic ideas down, then I fire up my laptop and get at it. I may or may not write word for word what is in my journal. Well, not today. Today, this one is just straight typing, straight from my head to the keyboard. I know… scares me too. HaHa!

Recently on the news they have been talking about a campaign that started on social media due to the sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations against the producer, Harvey Weinstein. The #MeToo Campaign is to bring awareness to sexual assualt, sexual harrassment, sexual misconduct, and rape. It isn’t just for females. People from all sexual orientations have reported being the victim of a sexual assualt, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or rape. It isn’t a female problem. It is a human problem. The campaign is giving victims a voice. It is letting communities, families, our country know just exactly how prevalent sexual assaults are.  The statistics are absolutely horrifying. They are so troubling and so…I can’t come up with an adjective strong enough to convey how sad and so disheartening they are.

#MeToo

Unfortunately I wear the label that everyone is so boldly posting on their social media accounts.  I chose not to post that on my social media account for various reasons, and I think that is a decision that each person has to make on their own.  Not only are people, who have been victims, posting the “#MeToo” but some are posting the stories of the their assaults, some are posting their perpetrator’s name, and that is their right to do so. I just, well, that is not the route I choose to go. I am not ashamed of what happened. I know that what happened was NOT my fault. I know all of that. And I have shared my story with others in hopes that it would help someone or show that person sitting there in silence, dealing with the shame you initially feel when you have been assaulted that they will be ok. They are not alone.

#MeToo

When I first started writing this, I actually looked up statistics about Sexual Assault and Rape. Not just to have facts about the subject but also I was curious.  I found all of the following statistics and information cited below on http://www.rainn.org.  Rainn is short for Rape, Assault, & Incest National Network. Folks, these statistics make me sick, literally physically ill. I am going to share some of these with you and to say that I am shocked at the numbers is a HUGE understatement!  These statistics are for people living in the United States.  Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted, every 98 seconds! That means that by the time you finish reading this, say it takes you about 5 minutes, in that 5 minutes, in those 300 seconds, 3 people living in The United States will have been sexually assaulted. Think about that for a minute. In the time it takes you to read this 3 people will be sexually assaulted. Kinda crazy when you think of it like that huh? In one years time 321,500 people age 12 and older will have been sexually assaulted. 9 out of 10 women and 1 out of 10 men are victims of rape. Out of the locations of where most sexual assaults and rapes occur at or near the victims home has the highest percentage of 55%. 48% of people were sleeping or performing another activity at their home when the assault occurred. Of the sexual assaults or rapes that occur 28% are by strangers and 45% are by acquaintances. 54% assaulted are between the ages of 18-34, and 50% of the perpetrators are 30 years old or older. 57% of perpetrators are white, 27% black. As far as long-term effects on the victim 94% have PTSD 2 weeks after, and 30% have PTSD 9 months later. 33% contemplate suicide and 13% actual go a step farther and attempt suicide. Sexual assault victims are more likely to use drugs than the general public. The last statistic I am going to give you is, well, just see for yourself…out of every 1000 instances of rape, only 13 cases get referred to the prosecutor and out of those 13, only 7 of those cases will lead to a felony conviction. 7 out of 1000 cases, and some people question why victims don’t come forward more often.

#MeToo

My story is like a lot of stories. I was young. I didn’t tell anyone for multiple reasons. I was ashamed. I felt like it was my fault. I put myself in the situation. Nobody would believe me. I would be embarrassed. What would my parents think? What would my friends think? How could I ever show my face again if I said anything? So I didn’t. I didn’t tell one single person until I was in college. I am not sure why I chose to talk about it when I did, but regardless, I did. I told my parents about what happened. I remember being so scared they were going to be angry with me, that they would think I was a horrible person who asked for it, because that is what I thought. And of course, they didn’t, they didn’t think that at all. That was such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I had carried that around with me for so long that it was affecting other relationships I had. I had flashbacks of what happened. I replayed what happened, over and over and over in my head. It was like it was on repeat or something. It was absolutely awful. I never fully dealt with the trauma from that until much later in my life, and until I dealt with it, it plagued every relationship I had. It invaded all my thoughts. It took a hold of me and really messed my head up. And looking back, it is one of  several things that I attempted to numb or forget with drugs and alcohol, which in turn led to addiction.

#MeToo

Today, I have dealt with what happened to me all those years ago. There are times that I still struggle with it. There have been times that I flashback to what happened. But for the most part, I am okay with what happened. I have to be. It is over and done with. It is in the past. And yes, it is one of those things that I still struggle to “Let Go”.  Today, I realize that it was NOT my fault. There was nothing I did or did not do that caused it to happen. There is nothing for ME to be ashamed of or embarrassed of. I was the victim. I did absolutely nothing wrong. Today I no longer look at myself as a meek, scared victim. Today… I am a survivor. Today… I AM A WARRIOR!!!!! Until next time….

#METOO

Letting Go….

I am not exactly sure where I am going with this. All I know is when I get upset, something is on my mind, or I am struggling with something the best way for me to express myself, feel better, or rid myself of my thoughts is to write. Get it out of my head, on paper, and then let it go.

Letting stuff go…do we really EVER let things that bother us go? I mean, really and truly let it go? I would like to think that I can eventually let things go that have hurt me or bothered me. And I will probably tell you I have washed my hands of it, that it is over, that I am over it and have let it go, BUT…it is actually still there. It is in the back of my mind, tapping my brain, “Be careful, you remember what happened…”. So then there is the question, is my problem letting go or is it that I don’t trust or have faith in myself and in most people, especially those who have hurt me?

I know the past is gone, I know that I can’t undo the wrongs, the hurt. I can’t change any part about it at all. I have always been quick to say the past is gone, can’t be changed. Yes! The past is gone. No! It cannot be changed. However if it could be changed, I don’t know if I would want to. Our past…all the rights, all the wrongs, all the good deeds, all the bad hurts, every single thing we have through makes us who we are. Yes, I wish I could take back the hurt I caused. Absolutely, do I wish I could erase all the pain and heart-break I have caused, all the pain and heartbreak I have endured. But I can’t. It is done. I can’t change any of it.

I read some things in a book, and it is pretty spot on with the “letting go” thing, and there are several spots in it I want to quote. The book is titled, A DAYBOOK OF POSITIVE THINKING: DAILY AFFIRMATIONS OF GRATITUDE AND HAPPINESS. The first two are actually under the title “Let Go Of The Past”.  Humph?! Well that couldn’t be more in my face, so I read it… “Don’t let old mistakes or misfortunes hold you down: learn from them, forgive yourself–or others–and move on. Do not be bothered or discouraged by adversity. Instead, meet it as a challenge. Be empowered by the courage it takes you to overcome obstacles. Learn something new everyday.” –Ashley Rice. The other one says, “No amount of straining, crying, or agonizing can remake one single day of the year that is past. But a little careful planning and thoughtful working out can make many glorious days in the future.”–Author Unknown.

I don’t believe I can escape my past, and I also don’t believe my past defines me. It is how I rise up and grow from my past and past mistakes that defines me.  It is how I live in today. However, it is hard to rise up from my past when there are others who want to see me fail, hurt, and are continuously there to throw it in my face. At the same time, it is also hard to rise up from my past when I am constantly are bringing it to the forefront of my mind. I mean, I can do as much as, if not more, damage to myself than anyone else by dredging up stuff from my past that I have done that I have yet to forgive myself.  But of course, that is a whole other issue and a blog for another day.

So here is the other excerpt from the above book that I have read and found significant in the topic of “letting go”. This particular one is titled, “Sometimes We Need to Forgive and Start Over”. This one is sort of long, so bear with me…. It reads, “Forgiveness is letting go of the pain and accepting what has happened because it will not change. Forgiveness is dismissing the blame. Choices were made that caused the hurt; we each could have chosen differently, but we didn’t. Forgiveness is looking at the pain, learning the lessons it has produced, and understanding what we have learned. Forgiveness allows us to move on toward a better understanding of universal love and our true purpose. Forgiveness is knowing that love is the answer to all questions and that we all are in some way connected. Forgiveness is starting over with knowledge that we have gained. It is saying: ‘I forgive you, and I forgive myself. I hope you can do the same.'”–Judith Mammay

So okay, let me hit highlights here…letting go, no trust, no faith, the past, and now forgiveness. Humph?!  So how do I go about forgiving myself for all the shitty things I have done? How do I go about letting go and forgiving not just myself but the people who have hurt me? I mean truly forgive? I want to move past it, all of it, every single thing. I want to forgive, live my life, live in the day, live for tomorrow.

Let’s throw in another word… acceptance. Yep, I know, such a fun word! Acceptance. So in order to “Let Go” of the things I hold against myself then I need to do the following: I need to accept my past. I already know the past is done, can’t do anything about it now. I need to learn to trust and have faith in myself to make the right choices from this point forward. I can’t trust or have faith in anyone else until I learn trust and have faith in myself. Then I need to forgive myself. Once I have forgiven myself, really and truly forgiven myself, then I will be able to start this process for others. I can learn to accept the things they have done to me, the hurt, pain; I can learn to start to trust and have faith in these people that they won’t hurt me again; I can learn to forgive the hurt caused by others; I can learn to Let Go.

Letting Go, Trusting, Having Faith, Forgiving, Acceptance…these words all go together, and are some of the hardest things to do. One step at a time I guess, one step at a time.  I hope you were able to gain something from this. I know writing it all out has helped me quite a bit.

Sooooooo…..Until next time….