Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama



Growing up, never giving in, rising above

Something happened yesterday that has made me think. And get angry. And sad. And ultimately, thankful.

I was told by someone I used to know a long long time ago that I’m not the same girl I used to be in high school. In the context it was given, it was meant as an insult. And I was insulted, so point taken. Congratulations. But it also made me think about how she is absolutely right and I am thankful I’m not.

In high school, as I have mentioned before in this blog, I was a complete rebel. In a Catholic high school, it doesn’t take much to be a rebel, so I guess comparatively speaking, I don’t know how much of a rebel I truly was.  However, I did some pretty wild and crazy and utterly stupid things. I rejected everything “establishment”, I couldn’t wait to go my own way, do my own thing, live how I wanted to live, be who I wanted to be. If that meant living out of my car for a few weeks or staying on a friends couch, so be it! I could go with the wind baby!!!

After graduation, I went to OSU and quickly realized that I was less than nothing there. I was a blip on the screen. No one knew if I was in class or not. No one was looking for me at the library. Friends from high school lived on campus. I lived at home. I felt like I didn’t fit there, and in retrospect, I didn’t try to fit there. I should have. I could have. But I didn’t.

And so different options came up. After living wild and seriously crazy for a few years, I wound up married. And I’m going to be brutally honest because, well, it’s MY blog, I did it because I was tired of living the life I was and I thought, well, guess this is better than not doing it. That is no reason to get married. Ever. As much as I hate him now, I can honestly say I don’t think I ever loved him. He was a means to an end. He was a way out.

He was also one of the biggest assholes known to man. With the exception of Rob being born, he was the biggest mistake of my life. No woman, friend or foe, should have to endure what I did. Controlling. Beatings. Degrading. Menacing. Did I say controlling? Yep. Have I mentioned before how he threw me down an entire flight of stairs while I was pregnant? How when I tried to leave after that, he literally ripped wires from my car so I couldn’t go anywhere? How I ran, barefoot in the snow, pregnant, to a friends house to stay until he calmed down? Have I relayed how I showed up at my parents house with a black eye, cut swollen lip, bruises everywhere and begged them to not make me go back there? The divorce papers were filed the next day. Rob was 3. He didn’t need to see that growing up. He couldn’t be the next punching bag. 

THAT changes a person. That changes you to the core of who you are. That fundamentally alters your psyche, your outlook, your perception of what is going on around you. To this very day, I can not stand the smell of cigar smoke. That bastard used to hold me down, and straddle me and blow that smoke in my face til I gagged and cried. Then he laugh, or slap, or spit at me and let me up. So, don’t mind me when I go to another room or leave when the cigar’s start coming out. It’s not you, it’s me. 

I could continue on and on, but I won’t. Let’s just stop the examples of transformation in my mid 20’s. Am I the same person as I was in high school? No way. In less than than 10 years from graduation, I had permanently changed. But I think part of that is also maturity. We mature as we grow older, no matter how good or bad those years are. We learn, we adapt, we start seeing outside of our own little world and realize the enormity of everything around us. We try to find like-minded AND opposing viewpoint friends to help us continue to grow and see things differently. And we don’t have to agree, but we can certainly learn a thing or two about civility. We can disagree without name calling or personal attacks. Isn’t that the way to grow in a positive direction?

I think of who I was in high school, and that girl is still here. But she’s wiser. And older. And has seen things, done things, lived through things I hope you never know. So even though I’m still jamming out to some killer 80’s music (and oh, I do. I do.) and I wish I had the body I used to have, I’m jamming out knowing some of the lyrics mean something completely different now than they did back then. But I’m still smiling.


Self-image: what’s true and what’s your own lie

I cleared out 6 boxes this morning. It great to actually see the wall in my basement again instead of boxes piled on boxes piled on boxes. It took me hours to go through 6 boxes and served to remind me why I kept those boxes for years. Some of them are from high school. MY high school! 

As I was clearing through them (and it really is pretty easy because there are only 2 piles: throw away or keep) I found things I couldn’t even remember and some that were bittersweet memories. I found an actual invitation to Honor Night from my senior year. I didn’t realize I went to class enough to even qualify for Honor Night! It was REAL!! I didn’t forge or fake it! I just stood there staring at that thinking….”Did I go to that? Why can’t I remember that?” One would think I could remember such a monumental occasion in my high school career since I’m positive it only happened that one time!! 

I found my uniform skirt. We were the last class to go through DeSales with only a skirt. The “Jumper” started after us. So by senior year, it was VERY easy to see who was a senior just by her uniform. Jumper = underclassmen. Skirt = Senior. Oh yes, we were very awesome in our herringbone skirts. Don’t mess with Catholic girls. 

I held up that skirt and looked at it, realizing I could now probably fit one leg in it, but in high school, I felt so fat. So many of the girls were skinny, and fit, and cheerleaders and had boyfriends and were the things that give girls eating disorders now. I had my size 10 skirt and was a fatass. At least in my head. I see pictures of me from back then and I think good grief, if ONLY I could have thighs that size again. But the whole time I had those skinny thighs, I thought almost daily, how fat I was compared to the other girls.

I don’t think that feeling ever goes away for high school girls and unfortunately, I think it has only gotten worse in this technology based era. Girls snapping photos of themselves in low cut shirts, thrusting their chests forward.  Shooting pictures of their asses in the mirror. Naked pictures that eventually wind up getting passed all around school and beyond. “Juicy” written across their butt. (For the record, if I would have ever dared to try to wear anything with the word “Juicy” written across my ass, my Dad would have not only burned that article of clothing, I guarantee any future shopping trips would be accompanied by him or my mom. Plus I would’ve been grounded for 18 years for even considering to wear it.)

The other girls, the other 95% that aren’t taking the pictures are looking at the pictures. They are sizing themselves up. Comparing. And the internal dialog starts. How do you ever quiet those voices? 

I’m going to share something that I have never ever mentioned to another soul. (That’s what blogging is for, right? Spilling your guts? Who is reading my trivial dribble anyway?) When I got my first “grown up” job at the ripe ole age of 19, working for a bank, a friend of mine and I were chatting in the breakroom, laughing about something. I distinctly remember laughing because the laughter abruptly stopped. Some douchebag (yes, I’m trying to bring douchebag back. Like “fetch”, but not.) guy in his mid 20s came up to us said, “You’re both pretty hot, but I would marry you (pointing to my friend) and not you (pointing to me) because after 25, the only thing that’s going to be skinny on you is your ankles.” And with that….he walked away.

It is now 27 years later, and I still remember what I had on that day. I don’t remember going to my Honor Night at school, but I remember this no name douchebag who insulted me so badly that I’ve never forgotten it. I still look at my ankles sometimes and think, yep, only skinny part of my body. How flipping insane is that?? And it’s all internal dialog.

We must teach daughters, and nieces, and cousins, and friends, and anyone else you can reach, that they do not have to have Juicy written across their ass. They don’t have to aspire to look like the Homecoming Queen or the latest model on the cover of Cosmo! Healthy, fit, confident. That’s what matters. Preach it to them. Daily. Because sometimes, you never know what voice their hearing inside their head.  

And so it goes….

I couldn’t decide what to title this blog post. I couldn’t even write the past few weeks because I kept thinking I needed something insightful, or popular, or relevant, or now. But when I woke up this morning, I thought….this is MY blog and I can write about anything or nothing. I can sit here and write about the color of my underwear if I want to. (Bright pink today for anyone interested)

What really prompted me to write this today is that tomorrow is my husbands birthday. And you might think this is about his birthday, but it isn’t. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Because woaaaah baby, do we have a story to tell there. But instead, his birthday got me thinking that it’s almost the end of March. This is Spring Break week for Ryan. After this week, it will be April. APRIL!!! He gets out of school mid May. So you know what this means??? This means that my youngest son will be finished with his Freshman year of high school in mere weeks!! How can this be?? No, really, I want an answer, how can this be?????

It just makes my brain start working in over time. 3 years. So much will happen in the next 3 years. It goes by so fast. I wish I had a pause button sometimes. Or at least a slow-down button. When my oldest was in high school, it just seemed to pass with a blur. One minute he was a precious Freshman walking into his huge high school, the next thing I knew, I was ordering senior pictures, and a graduation cake, and moving him away to college. Boom, it was over.

And now, it feels like the same phenomenon is happening again. Moving too fast. Blink. One year is over. I mean, we have already scheduled classes for next year. We’re getting those blanket college inquiries. He’s going to have to start trying to decide what he wants to do, and if and where he wants to go to college. Of course, right now, he’s still the little kid who thinks he’ll be able to move into a mansion in West Palm Beach after graduation and he’ll join the NBA. The NBA part might be a joke, but not the West Palm part. Or South Beach. See?? He isn’t picky.

But that makes me realize that in 3 years, we can go south and get out of this cold weather hell. A condo on the water? Yep. Sign me up. Of course, that’s to say Michael doesn’t need to move sooner. Who knows what his job will bring. But at the very latest, 3 years from now, I’ll be packing and dealing with moving 900 miles away. Wow. In the meantime, I’ll just keep stressing out about how my baby is almost done with Freshman year. And how I can’t possibly be that old.

Teens and the Death of Common Sense

Well, this past week has taught me so many lessons, I don’t even know where to begin. So I think I’ll list my lessons, and then expand on them as I go.

1. Parents have learned that as long as there is no photographic proof, it’s almost impossible to prove anything.

2. Honesty does NOT pay off, especially when dealing with the school.

3. Kids getting drunk and/or high is ok with 98% of the people around here. (Also see #1 regarding this)

4. Only a handful of parents actually care about their kids well being.

5. People will never fail to surprise and shock me.

It is simply AMAZING to me how parents have been handling a situation that occurred in our relatively small town this past weekend. Huge party. HUGE. Kids from 8th grade through seniors in high school. Drinking. Pot. Make out sessions. And if you’re reading this from my small town, and you think for one second your child wasn’t involved, I have an island to sell you in the south Pacific. How can you truly believe that your child was the only one who wasn’t participating? Your child knows better, right? Your child would never do something like that, right?? Mmm hmmm. Let’s be clear, you’re contributing to the problem. Denying that there is a problem is part of the problem too.

Some parents are thinking, well, my child wasn’t even there so this doesn’t affect me. Really? Bet they were. Unless your child was home with you, curled up on the couch, watching a movie right next to you, you might want to check into where he or she really was Saturday night. All night. You might want to check some text messages, or their Twitter account. If they still use Facebook (which I doubt), check it. Check Instagram, check all of the latest apps, you might be surprised at what you find. Or better yet, what you don’t find. All texts deleted? Wonder why?

One of my favorite Judge Judy-isms is “Ya know when teenagers are lying? When their mouths are moving.” Yep. That’s the truth. My own darling told me he was spending the night at a friend’s house. I won’t name the name, but it was a male friend. 3 of them were going. No big deal. They’ve done it before. Lots of times actually. Except they pulled the ole bait n switch and that child told his parents he was spending the night at one of the other boys houses. Got it? Yep. So they go to a girls house to a party. A girl who all 4 of these boys had been forbidden to go to her home for past grievances. Sigh.

They worst part of this whole thing, is we had NO IDEA this was going on. None. We didn’t find out the truth until Monday from a brave mom who told us the truth, told us what had gone on all night long at this party. We are grateful and thankful for her honesty and courage to tell us something she knew we would not like, something we didn’t know and something that would surely cause divide.

Which brings me back to my numbered list. I realize that we live in an age of technology, where it seems video and/or pictures are taken everywhere. Please don’t think that unless there is photographic proof of your kid taking a drink or lighting up a blunt that they aren’t doing it. If a parents comes to you, actually comes to you, saying, look, this is hard for me to tell you, but your child was doing this, for the love of all that’s holy, believe that parent!!! Believe them! Yes, even over your own child saying “It wasn’t me.” “I wasn’t there.” “I didn’t do it.” And for the parents who are having the parties, supplying the alcohol, looking the other way from the smoky haze in the corner, you are more guilty than these children. Just because there is not photos of you pouring into a glass of a smiling teenager, karma will find you.

That brings me to point #2. You parents who have denied your child was involved when asked, I hope you’re happy of the example you are sending your child. “Lie so you don’t get in more trouble.” That’s the message, loud and clear. You’ll be living with those consequences for a lot longer than the consequences of our honesty.

The last three points are pretty clear. Parents just don’t care. Saturday night was their date night, or their sit on the couch night, or maybe their own party to attend. More concerned about being their friend than their parent. More concerned with how it will look to other parents for anyone to find out their kids were doing wrong.

Well, I care. I care that my child lied to me, that he was somewhere he was forbidden to go, that he did something he was not supposed to do and that he will have consequences from his actions. I care that he learn a hard lesson now than thinking he can keep getting away with it. I installed the locator program on his phone, for if and when he gets it back. I’ll be walking to the door to any house he goes to that, once he’s allowed to go anywhere. There are only 2 other people who will be permitted to drive him anywhere outside of our household. I can’t seem to fathom a time in the distant future where he will be able to be out past 11. No sleepovers, no parties, no lying.

But you go ahead and believe your kid wasn’t involved.