Sixty seconds

Recently, I saw a post on Reddit that asked the question: if you could go back in time and had ONE MINUTE to give advice to your past self, what would you say?

I have to admit that I have spent way, way more than a minute thinking about this question. Part of me rejects doing this because I know everything I have gone through made me who I am today. But then I think, fuck that cliche…why not tell myself all the things that will help “past me” be able to avoid pain, heartbreak, rejection, loss, and negative experiences???

So, here is what I would tell my younger self in sixty seconds:

“Listen to your gut. When your gut is telling you to run, run. When it tells you, don’t marry him: DON’T. MARRY. HIM. Don’t lie to cover other people’s mistakes or behavior. You think that you are protecting them, but you are really just hiding the truth, from the world and yourself.

Don’t settle. EVER. Forget having to kiss frogs and all that dumb shit. Kiss the frogs for fun, but when it comes to relationships, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Please, please do not be with someone who drinks. Promise yourself this and then DO NOT BREAK that promise. You cannot save anyone who doesn’t want to be saved. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you put someone else’s needs above your own. Don’t lose yourself in someone else. And always, always have an exit strategy.

Be nice to everyone. It isn’t a weakness. You never know what someone else is going through. When you think to yourself that you should call or text someone to check on them or see if they are okay, don’t assume you will always have the time or chance to do it.

No one has a perfect family or perfect life. Make the best of what you have. If you focus all your energy on the bad things, you will miss out on enjoying the good things. Forgive people, especially your dad, who don’t deserve it, even if they never apologized. Try to be the bigger person as often as possible.” *

*Okay, I literally timed myself reading that aloud. And I did not go back and edit it because I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. At first, this seemed really easy to do, but it much more difficult than I thought it would be, because how do you sum up twenty years of advice and lessons learned into one little minute? It is an impossible task. And really, how much do young people really listen to anyway? Lol! I teach 11th grade (so mostly kids that are 16 and 17 years old) and as much as I would like to think they hang on my pearls of wisdom, I know that they will have go out into the world and learn life lessons the hard way, just like all of us did- I guess that is a rite of passage. But really, why didn’t anyone stress to 16 year old me the importance of not settling…that would have been REALLY helpful ūüėČ

“It’s not FAIR.”

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How? Why? Already? What the actual fuck? IT’S NOT FAIR.

These were my first thoughts after hearing that my ex-boyfriend has a new girlfriend.  Then I hysterically cried and vomited.  Afterwards, I took time to really think about it and why I had the reaction I did.  I made it very clear to him that we were over.  I have started to move on and have been feeling better lately.  I know he does not have friends or family near him and is probably very lonely.  I know that for him, staying sober includes having to stay busy.  But…a girlfriend? It has only been a few months.  It makes me feel very replaceable.  Yet, that is not what bothered me.  The idea of him being intimate with another woman…that stings for sure, but also I do not think that was the real source of me being upset.  What it finally boiled down to was: it’s not fair.  I just kept saying that over and over.  He literally broke my heart, he destroyed our relationship, he lied and cheated.  I saved his life and he ruined mine.  And he moved on first??? And so soon??? And he is supposed to be focusing on his sobriety?? It’s not fair.

I am rolling my eyes at myself writing that.  I KNOW life is not fair.  And in the bigger scheme of life, my problems with him were minuscule with what other people around the world deal with.  I am not dismissing my pain or heartbreak, but I think saying he “ruined” my life is a little dramatic.  What happened was the most traumatic thing I have ever been through in MY life, but I know by comparison many people struggle with so much more.

A coworker of mine has two adorable little girls.  She is so sweet and kind to everyone.  Her 40 year old husband was just diagnosed with terminal cancer and this will most likely be his last Christmas.  THAT is not fair.

My best friend’s sister suffered a loss this year.  A good friend of hers was estranged from her soon-to-be ex-husband.  He went to her house late at night and shot and killed her…in front of their children.  THAT is not fair.

My friend, former lover, and colleague jumped off the tallest bridge in NYC to his death a few months ago.  He was an amazing person, teacher, friend…the funniest person I have ever known.  No one really knew just how bad his depression was.  When he jumped, he did not hit the water, but the concrete footer of the bridge.  THAT is not fair.

Life isn’t fair.  So many horrible things happen and even though it is upsetting and it hurts and I am surprised, my ex moving on is not really one of them.  I do not begrudge him happiness- I want him to be sober and be in a healthy relationship…someday.  I just don’t feel like he deserves it yet.  It is all still so fresh and painful.  And I think about dumb things, like is he “really” sober and what does he tell this new girl about me and everything that happened with us and his health and his family?  But then I remind myself that absolutely none of that has any effect on my life, except feeling a little emotional about it.

So, as the end of 2019 nears (thank goodness), I am really going to try to put everything that happened behind me.  I cannot dwell and feel indignant and hold on to the pain anymore- it is only hurting myself.  I am not ready to forgive him and I am not sure if I will be ready when he wants to make amends, but I know that I cannot move forward if I am always thinking about the past.  Some things are not fair and everyone feels that way about something in their life.

Steve Maraboli, an inspirational speaker, stated that, “the only thing that makes life unfair is the delusion that it should be fair.” I am not going to say that “it’s not fair” anymore about this situation.  What really is happening actually IS completely fair- that life is going on…for him and for me.

keep f**king going…

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I am here, my love.¬† I am sitting next to you as you lie motionless in your hospital bed.¬† Tomorrow will officially be two weeks that you have been in a medically induced coma on a breathing tube.¬† I keep thinking to myself, “but we were supposed to go to the mall and get dinner.”¬† You always hear about people’s lives changing overnight, you just never expect it to happen to you.¬† I am listening to the steady breathing coming from your lungs, but I know it is a machine doing the work for you.¬† I am wearing a plastic gown that has become a part of my daily wardrobe.¬† The sounds of the ICU has become just background noise.¬† The first few days I would jump every time an alarm went off.¬† Now, I can identify which IV drip is running low and I know medical terms that are 15 letters long (and can pronounce them).¬† I have a newfound respect for nurses, who have treated your body with such respect and have treated my broken heart with such kindness.

An hour ago, you opened your eyes, staring at nothing.  I tried to make eye contact, but you are so sedated, I doubt you are seeing anything.  I put on a latex glove and held your hand.  I asked you to squeeze it and you did.  But like a baby who smiles when they have gas, I wonder if it was just a reflex or if you could really feel me touching you.  I hate not being able to touch your skin without plastic between us.

I miss you so much, but you are right here.¬† I go through so many emotions every day, I feel like a crazy person sometimes.¬† When I am home, I feel guilty that I am not with you.¬† When I leave the hospital, I feel guilty to feel relief.¬† Why do I feel so much guilt? I didn’t do anything wrong.¬† I have always tried not to play the victim card when it came to my dad’s alcoholism, but I was a victim of it, just like I was a victim of yours.¬† I have to take responsibility, though, because I didn’t have a choice with my father.¬† I did have a choice when it came to you.¬† But, honestly, given another chance, I would still choose you.¬† You were worth the risk.¬† I saw all the good in you…so much good.¬† People always say they have no regrets and wouldn’t change things in their lives because they learned from mistakes.¬† I have regrets- I regret marrying my exhusband…I would have preferred to miss those hard lessons.¬† I will never regret you, though, my love.

I tried to pour my heart out to your mother.¬† I’m sure you can guess how that went.¬† One thing I tried to explain to her is that when all of this is over, she will still have you as her son.¬† When this is all over, I lose you.¬† I will have to start picking up the pieces and find a new life for myself.¬† I know it is the right thing to do, though.¬† We could not have continued living the way we were.¬† Well, I couldn’t.¬† I just would not be able to see you do this to yourself again.¬† Please don’t let this be in vain.¬† I wish I believed in god so I could pray for you to survive, to get better, to get sober, to be happy.¬† Other people who are religious are praying for you- that makes me grateful.¬† I have asked my Mama for help.¬† I talk to her and ask her to watch over you and to protect you.¬† She was the toughest woman I know, but she had the biggest heart.¬† She would say to you, “oh phooey- you wake up and get off those machines!”.

I wonder how long it will be before I stop loving you?¬† Maybe never.¬† Maybe it will just be a part of who I am.¬† Right now it is hard to be angry with you for your lies and your betrayal because you look so weak, so helpless.¬† But it’s not fair- I have a right to be angry with you.¬† It has to wait.¬† I feel like all I have been doing for the past two weeks is waiting (and you know I am not the most patient person).¬† But I need to see this through- for you and for myself.¬† Jess bought me a bangle bracelet as a gift that is just silver on the outside but on the inside it says, “keep fucking going…” And that is what I am going to do.

Lucky

Moving-Checklist-Tips

By the time I was 12 years old, I had lived in four states.¬† The first two moves I do not really remember that much because I was too young.¬† The final move was to a new town 1,500 miles away and I was in middle school, so I do remember it pretty clearly.¬† I can recall a farewell party from my Girl Scout troop where everyone signed a white tshirt for me as a keepsake.¬† I remember saying goodbye to my best friend who lived across the street from me.¬† She walked me home and we hugged and cried in the driveway, but then I wanted to walk her home, where we hugged again, but then she wanted to make sure I got home…we ended up saying goodbye about 40 times.¬† One funny memory from that last move was that my family was upgraded to first class, but they only had three available seats for the four of us.¬† My mom volunteered to sit by herself, while my sister, my father and me enjoyed the luxury of mini travel pillows and ice cream sundaes.¬† At one point my dad gave me some snacks to sneak back to my mom and I found her crying.¬† Naively, I thought she was upset about having to sit by herself (only later did I realize she was mourning the loss of her old life).¬† Strangely, I do not remember being overly upset, I think mostly because my parents explained the move to my sister and me as an exciting, big adventure…brand new house, great bedrooms, new friends, etc.¬† Overall, I have a lot of memories of that move, down to what the moving truck looked like (I remember being so in awe of the fact that they fit all our boxes and furniture AND our minivan inside the truck!)

I actually do have one vivid memory of the previous move.¬† We were moving from Colorado to Texas and I was only about 7 or 8 years old.¬† All I remember is sitting on the front steps of the house with one of the movers.¬† My mom had made sandwiches for all the workers from the moving company and I sat outside eating mine with him.¬† His name was Lucky and while I do not recall what we talked about, I remember him being really, really nice and very encouraging about starting over in a new state.¬† He must have made a lasting impression on me because from that point forward, I named every pet and animal I saw after him…there have been Lucky bunnies, Lucky birds, Lucky hamsters, Lucky goldfish, etc.

I think moving several times and experiencing different states had a big influence on my childhood.¬† I don’t know if I would consider myself “lucky” to have moved around the country, but I do think it makes me more empathetic to my students who are new to our school.

 

New name, same me

Hi all- the reason I started this blog four years ago was to have a place to openly, anonymously be able to write about my life, my childhood, my feelings, etc. ¬†Recently, someone I am very close to “found out” the name and has access to it, which makes me feel like I have to censure everything I write. ¬†The only option I could think of was to change the name and URL, which I hope keeps my privacy moving forward.

I sometimes forget how important this blog has become to me until it is threatened and then I remember how much it has truly helped me throughout the years…

The *Dad* Who Cried Wolf

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On Wednesday night, my mother called my cell. “I just called 911! An ambulance is coming to get your father. ¬†He said he can’t breathe. ¬†I think he’s having a heart attack!” Luckily, my sister was already at my house for dinner. ¬†It wasn’t even a second thought…we left our uneaten food on the table and jumped in my car. ¬†Even though it took us nearly an hour to get there, we actually got to the hospital before the ambulance did.

Long story short, my father had a tear in his intestines, which lead to a major loss of blood, which caused the shortness of breath.  They gave him a blood transfusion and ran a ton of tests and he was in the hospital until yesterday.  My sister and I stayed at the hospital that first night until almost 11 pm, waiting until he was stable and was admitted.

I called my father in the hospital on Friday during my lunch break to check on him. ¬†There were a couple of my coworkers in the teacher’s room when I called and he got so frustrated because he could “hear people talking in the background” that he yelled at me and then hung up on me.

He wrote his first nasty email within hours of being released on Saturday. ¬†He wrote that my mother is a “terrorist” because she threw away his cigarettes…that no one cares about anyone but themselves…that all we do is take…and that it’s “time for (my sister and me) to do something for him and PAY HIM BACK for everything he has done.”

I had not seen my father since Christmas before seeing him in the hospital. ¬†I sometimes felt guilty about that until I reminded myself that it was because of his actions that I chose not to be around him. ¬†He was nice to us when he was in the hospital and I thought to myself, “he must appreciate that we drop everything and run to be by his side when there is a medical emergency”…nope.

I do not mean to make light of a medical condition at all and I am not implying my dad is lying about that. ¬†Rather, what I mean by comparing my father to the story of the boy who cried wolf is that every time the little boy cried “wolf”, the townspeople reacted. ¬†They ran to him to see how they could help…and they were disappointed each time to find that nothing was wrong. ¬†Yet, they did not learn. ¬†They fell for the boy’s story every time.

That’s me with my dad. ¬†No matter how upset I am with him, no matter how much he has hurt me, if something happens and he needs his family, I am there. And afterwards, when instead of being grateful for us, he is mean instead, I retreat like the townspeople. ¬†I am disappointed with him and with myself and question why I fell for it again. I wonder why I still care so much. ¬†I use the excuse, “but he’s my father” to justify worrying about him.

So, like the townspeople, I am naive and caring and gullible.  But, eventually, my father is going to end up like the boy.  A day might come when he once again needs his family, and none of us will come. I am not really at that point yet, but honestly a person can only care for so long. Each time this happens, I think my dad will realize how lucky he is that after everything he has done to hurt his wife and daughters, that we are still there for him and he will change*.

*Isn’t that the definition of “insanity”…doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

(un)happy birthday

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Today is my dad’s birthday. ¬†Growing up, his birthday was always a day my sister and I dreaded because it seemed like he was extra nasty on “his day”. ¬†During the two years my father was sober, I actually enjoyed celebrating his birthday- we would BBQ or go out to brunch and he was pleasant and grateful for whatever gifts we gave him.

About 8 months ago, I found my dad the most perfect birthday card.  My family has a joke about chihuahuas and I found a card in the shape of that dog.  Even though it was so many months before his birthday, I bought the card anyway and saved it until now.  (Side note: I LOVE cards and have several card boxes full of cards for any occasion!!)

Now that my father is drinking again, I don’t even want to give the card to him. ¬†I know that sounds very silly and petty, but it is not really about the card at all. ¬†It is about the fact that for the past couple of years I enjoyed having a relationship with my father and throughout that time, I enjoyed family holidays again and looked forward to other occasions to celebrate. ¬†I guess when I look back on myself buying that card eight months ago, I feel dumb for how naive I was. ¬†His sobriety (following a stroke) was so abrupt and so absolute (pun intended) that I just blindly believed it was going to last. ¬†I took that card out of the box today and just felt sad. ¬†The dad that I bought that card for is gone…once again replaced by the alcoholic I am all too familiar with. ¬†And that’s really nothing to celebrate.

Is ignorance really bliss?

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Sometimes I wonder if it would be better- or easier- if my father did not get sober for two years.  He has been an alcoholic since 1990, with the exception of the 24 months after he had a stroke in 2013.  He stopped drinking virtually overnight and stayed sober for a full two years. In 2015, almost to the day of his stroke, he started drinking again.   It was a great two years and during that time I felt like I had a “normal” family and I made a lot of effort to reestablish a relationship with him.  I enjoyed talking to him and even began to look forward to previously dreaded holidays.  Just as suddenly as he stopped, he started drinking again and my psychotic, belligerent dad returned with a vengeance.

I’m not sure what is worse…having my old, sober dad I remembered from when I was ten years old back and then losing him again or having him have never stopped drinking at all.  I am grateful to have had that time when he was sober.  I’m glad that my boyfriend got to see the good qualities in my dad that I still remembered from when I was little.  I’m relieved that my mother had a break from his craziness during that time.

On the other hand, it feels like I was given a gift and then it was snatched away from me.  I was so numb to him and his behavior before his stroke…I could so easily ignore his insults and nasty emails and screaming voicemails.  I developed a pretty thick skin over the years of him being drunk.  Or perhaps it was more that I just got used to it (sadly).  Now, when I talk to him on the phone, I feel so much more affected by it.  It’s not as easy to shrug off as it was a few years ago.

I try to act like it isn’t a big shock that he started drinking again.  It was just a matter of time, right?  But deep in my heart, I did let myself believe that my mother and sister and I had all suffered enough and that we deserved his sobriety (I know that isn’t the way it works, but I desperately wanted it to be true).  The famous saying is: “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”.  Am I suffering more now because I have been reminded about the family and the life I could have had if my father didn’t become an alcoholic when I was twelve years old?

So what’s worse…losing my dad to the bottle a second time or never experiencing those two years of him not drinking?  I honestly don’t know.

The “Do Nothing”s

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My drunk father is back with a vengeance. ¬†One thing I definitely did not miss during his two years of sobriety was his pervasive intrusion and paranoia. ¬†Now when I call my parents’ house, he either answers the phone and monopolizes the conversation or he secretly listens while my mom and I talk (his heavy breathing gives him away). ¬†He opens any and all mail delivered¬†to their house, regardless of who it is addressed to (I remember never being able to open my own mail growing up). ¬†I have him blocked on Facebook, but he goes on my mother’s tablet and logs into her account to be able to look at my page (and then emails me about the things he reads). ¬†He is just out of control. ¬†This time I am farther¬†removed from it…having moved out of their house over a decade ago, but I am still exposed to it almost daily because my mother still lives with him and she and I are so close.

One of the things I hated the most about my father growing up is a strange complaint. ¬†He wrote on EVERYTHING. ¬†That mail I mentioned? Not only was it open, he would write “notes” on the envelope. “Who is this from?” or “Opened 12/10/98, 4:34 pm” or “Junk Mail”. ¬†He did it on manuals for new electronics, newspaper articles he printed from the internet, etc. ¬†But he also wrote elaborate, repetitive, insulting notes out by hand and would leave them on the counter for my mother- in his in all capitals print. ¬†SO MUCH WRITING. ¬†His most famous medium was Post-it notes. ¬†Oh god, they were everywhere. ¬†I would come home after school to Post-it notes on the front door, kitchen counter, by the phone…anywhere you could stick one. ¬†I jokingly sent my childhood golden retriever into the family room covered head to tail in Post-it notes once to make my mom laugh. ¬†It’s crazy what starts to become normal after you have lived with it for so long. ¬†Then came…the photocopy machine. ¬†That really upped his note game. ¬†My father would write out notes all over a piece of paper and then make 20 copies of it to spread around the house. You literally could not get away from them (because they were sometimes stuck under the windshield wiper blade on my car).

I recently bought my mother a calendar blotter to put near their home phone. ¬†My dad was always complaining he never knew what she was doing, so I figured she could write down doctor’s appointments and stuff on it (she is also becoming a little forgetful, but that’s another story). ¬†Yesterday while we were shopping, she mentioned she needed to buy a calendar and I was confused. ¬†I asked her what happened to the one I got her. ¬†She somewhat reluctantly confessed that my father wrote all over it. ¬†I assumed she meant his typical BS, but I asked what he wrote. ¬†Apparently, he filled in the block for each day with a handwritten “DO NOTHING”. ¬†That is my father’s favorite insult for all of us- we are a bunch of do nothings (my sister and I are do nothing takers). ¬†I’m not sure why hearing my mom tell me this affected me so much- I would like to think I am pretty immune to my father’s ridiculous behavior and verbal abuse or that at a minimum that I am good at trying to not care. ¬†I guess I adapted to having a sober father surprisingly easy and now it is a readjustment to have this guy back. ¬†It just sucks. ¬†Sorry, that’s not great writing and I would tell my high school students to think of a more elegant way to express that feeling if they wrote that in an essay, but it does. ¬†It just sucks.

So, one of my new year’s resolutions will be to just distance myself from my father again. ¬†No more calls, less visits, ignoring his emails. ¬†I tried with him so hard and for so long and now I need to refocus my efforts on other areas of my life. ¬†As far as my father is concerned, in 2016, I will live up to my nickname and will be a proud “Do Nothing” ūüėČ

The more things change,

the more they stay the same.

My suspicions were right…my dad is drinking again. ¬†It was a nice two years while it lasted. ¬†I am so disappointed and even though I should have been prepared for this, I am still a little surprised. ¬†I have had so many conflicting emotions about it. ¬†I saw my therapist and through talking about it, she made me realize that I am really angry. ¬†You might be saying “no, duh” (or maybe not lol), but it was a revelation to me. ¬†You see, I get upset. ¬†Being sad or upset is a more comfortable emotion for me. ¬†I don’t really do angry. ¬†Growing up, angry was not really something that was accepted and unfortunately, that carried over into my marriage. ¬†I was never the one who was angry- that role was reserved for my father and for my ex-husband. ¬†Through a good amount of therapy, I learned how to get in touch with my anger. ¬†My current boyfriend would tell you that I have gotten much better at expressing anger, I’m sure. ¬†But that says more about our relationship than anything else. Because I can am able to really be myself with him, I do not get anxious about being angry at him. ¬†That’s also why the one person I was always able to get really mad at and fight with is my sister.

So…back to my dad. ¬†I am really mad. ¬†I am mad that he never apologized for anything that he did. ¬†He never paid any consequences for his actions. ¬†And yet, my sister and mom and I gave him a second chance when he stopped drinking. He did not earn it. ¬†He did not deserve it. ¬†We just gave it to him. ¬†We made it so easy for him. ¬†We were all so desperate for a “normal” family and were so happy and relieved to have him be sober that we just were grateful that he wasn’t drinking. ¬†He should have spent the rest of his life making it up to us. ¬†He should have begged for our forgiveness for what he put us through. ¬†But, we never asked for that. ¬†We just acted like 25 years of abuse and insanity never happened. ¬†But that wasn’t enough, I guess.

He has started writing his nasty emails again. ¬†That’s why I started this blog to begin with. ¬†I joked that now I will have more to write about, but sadly, that is true. ¬†As I have weighed the pros and cons and deliberated whether to confront him in person, my sister snapped and wrote him an email detailing ALL of the horrible things he has done to her and to my mother and me. ¬†His response was that he thinks she is lying and that he doesn’t remember any of it. ¬†He said that if it is true, he is sorry, but that it was a dark time in his life and he has been emotionally hurt, too. ¬†I have mixed feelings about his response. ¬†It definitely doesn’t feel like an apology and he¬†was pretty dismissive about all the things she told him. ¬†It was like “I don’t believe these things happened, but if you think they did, then I am sorry”. ¬†Not even close to good enough. I’m also angry that he acts like he is the victim. ¬†That “dark time” lasted two decades and spanned throughout my childhood. ¬†He created that “dark time” himself when he chose alcohol over his family.

So now after two years of really nice, relaxing Thanksgivings, I am back to being anxious about what is going to happen on Thursday. ¬†Will he come to my house for dinner? Will there be a scene? Will he insult me in front of my boyfriend? Will he stay home? Will he be horrible to my mom when she gets home? Will he hurt himself? ¬†I honestly and truly did appreciate every minute of him being sober and I will never take those two years for granted. ¬†But now that he’s drinking again, it is really bringing back a lot of feelings and memories and I find myself regressing a little bit. ¬†But, as sad as that is to experience, I am trying to protect my heart by just staying mad.