What if we don’t have to be broken?

I think one of the most difficult parts of growing up is finding the strength to pull the skeletons from your closet. It would seem so much easier to hide them away forever and leave the past in the past, but in everything we have done that we are not proud of, there is a little piece of ourselves hidden among the ashes.

I hear a lot of people say they are broken. I have even said it myself in the past.

What if we don’t have to be broken?

What if there was a way to put ourselves back together?

When I first started writing my memoir, I remember it being very painful at times. Revisiting memories that I had selectively forgotten in order to save my own sanity.

As soon as I opened the door to my childhood, they all came rushing out and the wall of security I had built began tumbling down out around me.

It was from within one of the lowest moments of my life that I found my greatest strength.

One by one, I confronted all the residual emotional patterns that I had built up during those years.

The feelings of disappointment, neglect, abandonment, and loss.

The root of my constant need for approval and codependency.

My fear of love or the loss there of.

Piece by piece, I began putting myself back together.

Until I came to a place of great appreciation for all that I had experienced.

I was a new person the day I finished the first chapter and even more so as I wrote the final page.

And now, as I struggle with the pages of the 2nd, I am reminded of the same reluctance I felt when I wrote my very first blog post.

I know writing this next phase of my story will be just as, if not more of an emotional roller coaster than that last.

The first was during my early childhood and most of it was about my mother and her skeletons. There was aftermath, but it was her aftermath.

This next book will begin as I am entering High school, my mother having  been missing for just short of a year. I was lost and confused, but determined to act like neither of those were true. I don’t even know that girl now.

I picked up one of my old journals for inspiration and I barely got through the first few pages before I had to put it down. I could feel the pain on those pages and worse yet, I knew what was to come.

The moment my mother left me, something in me changed. Something it took years of reflection to understand. I spent a great deal of my life beyond that point feeling as though I always had to prove something to someone. In the earlier years it was proving to everyone else that I was not my mother. Showing them that I could conquer anything and everything she couldn’t.

Needless to say, it led me down a road where I did a lot of things I am not necessarily proud of. Things…the majority of the people in my life have no idea I did and for that matter would have a hard time believing I ever could do.

Up until now, I was not ready to share these things with anyone, let alone the whole world.

But you know what?

The person I am today is not just the result of all of the good things I have done. It is also and maybe more so, everything I have done that I am not proud of, those little piece of myself hidden among the ashes.

I am living proof that in this life, we are not bound by the mistakes of our past or the circumstances placed on us by others.

If telling my story is an inspiration to even just one, it’s worth it. That was the whole reason I started this blog and went on to write the book. So believe me when I say, I am not going to quit now, just because I hit a raw moment!

Thank you to everyone who has been so patient, yet persistent 🙂 in kicking my butt back in gear!

The wheels have started turning and I promise you’ll be the first ones to get a sneak peek!

 

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Inspired Action

In anticipation for the revival, I went back and watched Roseanne from start to finish (Ya, it took a while!). I just watched the last episode.

It was exactly what I needed at the exact moment I needed it.

I forgot how powerful her final monologue was, especially the end.

When it 1st aired, I was barely a teenager, dabbling with the idea of someday becoming a famous writer from a very small town much like, if not exactly the same as, the fictional town of Lanford, IL.

Say what you will about Roseanne, I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but this show was a staple in my life. It may not have been as wholesome as Family Matters or Full House, but not everyone’s life was wholesome. Especially not mine.

In the midst of my dysfunction, it was a comfort (although fictional) that not every family was quote on quote normal, but it didn’t matter as long as there was love.

Lately, I have been struggling to find the inspiration to finish the next chapter of my memoir. And then today, I heard this…coincidence? I think not 🙂

Roseanne – Final Monologue – May 20, 1997 (an excerpt)

“…In choosing life I realized that my dreams of being a writer wouldn’t just come true I had to do the work. and as I wrote about my life I relived it and whatever I didn’t like I rearranged. I made a commitment to finish my story, even if I had to write in the basement in the middle of the night while everyone else was asleep.

But the more I wrote the more I understood myself and why I had made the choices I made and that was the real jackpot

I learned that dreams don’t work without action
I learned that no one can stop me but me
I learned that love is stronger than hate

And most important I learned that god does exist and he and/or she is right inside you.
Underneath the pain,
the sorrow,
and the shame.

I think I’ll be a lot better now that this book is done.”

Her last sentence reminded me of how cleansed I felt when I finished Insane Roots. It was like a therapy session of my own making and I think that is why I am struggling so much with the second book.

There are things I experienced during that time that up until now I was not ready to deal with. Pain buried so deep, I had almost forgotten it was there. Or at the very least, grown accustom to its sting.

Revisiting those memories, means the opening of old wounds and breaking down walls it took years to build.

But it also means healing. A necessary process in moving forward. And maybe someday, moving on.

The person you all know today is not the girl in the pages of Insane Roots, nor is she the struggling teenager in the chapters yet to come. She is the woman who survived them.

And I think it’s time to finish her story.

 

The Responsibility is Yours

Do you feel as if other people are always the ones messing up your positive vortex?

Abraham Hicks would say that is impossible. It is your negative expectation that is the cause. What you expect from someone it usually what you are going to receive from them. It’s like you are replying the same sad story over and over again in your mind and by doing this you are giving power to that negative vibration. Therefore pulling more and more of it to you.

“You need to forget that you don’t jive in order to jive” – Abraham Hicks

Abraham’s advice is to simply start over, to retrain your way of thinking about that person.

Get a notebook and make a list of the positive aspects of that person to help you move past the negative aspects that you keep focusing on.

Learn how to activate a different part of them in you.

If you truly care about someone, I think it is worth the time.

I find this to be very good advice, given my recent situation.

I was hurt, but that is no reason to keep replaying all the pain over and over in my mind. Justifying to myself why my feelings of disappointment are valid.

There is no room to grow from that place and chances are if someone has been in your life for a long time there is a reason they are there.

Sure relationships and friendships change over time, but it is our responsibility to adjust to them if we truly value the presence of this person in our life.

I am working, so making a list of positive aspects of this person will have to wait until later, but in the meantime I have a plan.

Each time a negative thought or recollection comes to mind about this person today, I will intentionally try to think of a positive time I had with them or a nice thing they have done for me in the past.

If I keep expecting this person to let me down or take advantage of me, they will just keep doing it because that is the vibration I am putting out.

It will be interesting to see the change in them when I begin to expect positive behavior from them rather than negative.

It’s worth a shot right?!

 

Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Emotion Vs. Rational Thought

Well I must admit that I am pretty fired up with all the recent activity surrounding my mother’s resurfacing. I am experiencing a multitude of emotions and I have no idea where to begin in sorting through them. So I have decided to do what I always do in this situation and that is to write!

For those of you who do not know, my mother was just released from prison a few months ago. Our history is quite difficult to summarize (hence the memoir series I am writing), but to put it simply it is the reason for the title Insane Roots. I can tell you that insane is exactly how I feel right now. I know that allowing her to influence me emotionally only gives her power, but regardless of what she has done to me I still find it hard to ignore her presence. I think the reason for this is that deep down I want to believe she has changed, that we have a chance of reconciliation, that we can make a new start. Sadly, I know that these ideas are not rational and rooted in the same emotions she has used to real me in so many times before. I know I just have to be strong. Story of my life!

After my grandfather’s funeral (described in my previous post: And The Story Continues…), my mother disappeared yet again. It was rumored that she had taken off to Phoenix, but no one really knows.  She violated her probation for the 100th time and obtained what I can only assume to be her 27th identity according to the newspaper article of her most recent capture. At the time I was working as a leasing agent for a property management company in Madison, WI and had cut all ties with my mother.

I was on a property showing one day when my supervisor radioed me to let me know that two US Marshalls were waiting for me back at the office. They would not tell him why they were there, just that they needed to speak with me immediately.

I quickly finished up my showing and headed back to the office. As you can imagine, it does not reflect very well on you to have two US Marshalls come in to your place of employment asking questions and demanding to speak with you. Thankfully, I had spoken with my supervisor, our legal staff and the owner’s of the company about my mother’s background shortly after I was hired to make them aware of the situation in the event that she were to try to locate me there. I never imagined that it would be law enforcement who would come looking for me.

When I arrived at the office, my supervisor pulled me aside and asked if there was anything I needed to tell him? I told him that I was sure this had to be about my mother, since I had never been in trouble with the law and reminded him of my previous disclosure to him regarding my mother’s past. He gave me a hug and walked me up to the conference room. Thankfully everyone involved was very discreet, but I was still mortified!

As if that was not bad enough, the interrogation that followed was absolutely humiliating!

I entered the large conference room where the two officers were waiting for me. As I opened the door, they were both standing by the window with scowls on their faces. “These guys mean business” I thought to myself as I eased my way in and closed the door behind me. They waited until the door closed to begin speaking. They introduced themselves and told me to take a seat. As I shook their hands, I noticed that mine were shaking intensely and I worried as to what impression this would give them.

I sat down and they immediately asked me if I knew where my mother was. I explained to them that I have not spoken to my mother in several months and told them the story of how I discovered that she had ripped me off (most recently) for close to $1000.00. I could tell that they did not believe a word I was saying. They were both very cold, but I guess they are supposed to be. They drilled me with questions for close to an hour, revisiting the same ones periodically to make sure my story matched up.

After a while they seemed to get frustrated and began threatening me. They told me that they could obtain a warrant to search my home and if I was not there they could force their way in. I told them that forcing their way in was not necessary and if they wanted to come search my home, I would gladly give them a key. He then reminded me that if I was indeed hiding my mother that I could be arrested for harboring a fugitive and they would have the authority to come back to my place of employment and arrest me.

At this point tears began to well up in my eyes as I explained to the officer that my mother was the last person I wanted to see. I told him that I didn’t know where she was and I honestly didn’t care as long as she just leave me alone. As the water works began, so did my confession. I poured my heart out to these men. I told them of the letter that was mysteriously stuck in the screen door of my home a few weeks after my grandfather’s funeral. There was no post mark, but I could tell by the hand writing that it was from my mother. In the letter, she told me how disappointed she was in me and blamed me for her being arrested the day before her father’s funeral. She went on to say that she couldn’t believe I had betrayed her like that and even though I had wronged her, she still loved me.

By the end of my story, I could feel the officer’s compassion beginning to surface, but they were fighting it back with professionalism. “Do you still have the letter?” one of them asked.

I told him I did and that I would be happy to bring it to him. Unfortunately, it was at my house and my commute is an hour so it wouldn’t be until tomorrow. He told me that tomorrow would be fine, but asked that I scan him a copy first thing the next morning and bring him the original after work. I agreed and took his card that contained the email address I was to send it to.

The officers exited the room and closed the door behind them. For several minutes I just sat there, in shock I guess. I took a few deep breaths, composed myself and continued with my work day.

That night, I arrived home and immediately searched for the letter. When I first received it, I was so angry that I almost tore it up. Boy am I glad I didn’t! This may be the one thing that would save me in this situation. I found the letter tucked in my keepsake box (some keepsake) and placed it in my purse for the following day.

The following morning, I scanned and emailed the letter to the Marshall who gave me his card as soon as I arrived to work. When the day was over, I collected my things and headed down to his office to give him the original. When I met with him, his entire demeanor had changed. He now had a strong look of sympathy in his eyes as he greeted me.

I sat down at this desk and handed him the letter. He just stared at me for a moment and then said, “Wow, you are a very strong lady.”

I shrugged. “I take it you have read the letter then” I replied with a bit of a smirk on my face.

He apologized for doubting me and I told him that I understood that he was just doing his job, he didn’t know. He asked me if I wanted him to make a copy of the letter. I thought about it for a moment and then told him no. I didn’t think it would be something I would have any interest in reliving.

I never heard from the Marshall’s again, but I did hear from my mother several years later. After she was arrested this last time, she wrote me another letter. I almost didn’t read it, but again something in me hoped that it was finally the apology I had been longing for all these years. It was not.

It was instead another letter of disappointment. However this time she wanted to let me know that she had forgiven me for all the wrong I had done to her. Are you kidding me?! And to top it off, she included a long list of items from the prison commissary that she would like me to send her money for if I could find it in my heart to do the right thing. It was in that moment when I made a promise to myself to NEVER let my emotions rule the big decisions regarding her again. I love my mother, but I cannot continue to rely on the false  hope that she will change. I need to be rational and base my decisions on the facts. Which in this case show me that any relationship with her at this point in time would be absolutely self-destructing.

The letters she sent me seemed to say all the things that I should be declaring to her. I never wronged her. If anything, I enabled her and I guess that could be considered wrong, but I always had the best intent. She should not be the one offering up forgiveness, that should be me. Forgiveness is freeing, but it does not mean that you have to put yourself in a vulnerable situation. I forgave my mother long ago, but that does not mean I am ready to allow  her to walk back in to my life again, just to do it all over again.

I remember the last time I thought she had changed. I went down to visit her in Florida after she was released from her five-year sentence in Tallahassee. She had missed years of my life, so I brought down photo albums for us to look through and catch up. She flipped through the pages as if she was looking through a magazine in the doctor’s office. I remember feeling like I meant nothing to her. There I was trying to reconnect with the most important person in my life and she just flipped through pages like she could care less. It absolutely broke my heart.

I refuse to put myself through that again!

It’s all About the Lemonade!

It is hard to believe I started this blog just over a year ago and it has since then allowed me to pursue my life goal of writing a book. When I look back on the person I was when I started blogging, I am proud to be able to point out the differences between who I am today and who I was then. I think it is very important to be aware of these changes in ourselves, because it helps us to connect with who we are and reminds us of the actions we do not wish to repeat. Back then, I had nothing but hesitation to put myself out there (in any form). I was fearful of rejection and in a place mentally where self-defeating thoughts ruled my every day life. I second guessed every decision I made or thought of making. I harbored feelings of resentment and anger for those who wronged me and most of all for my mother. I was weighed down with the pain of my past and in some cases the weight of my present. I did a fairly good job of covering up my feelings of inadequacy, but those who knew me well knew what I was feeling.

My old boss told me once that people looked up to me and held great respect for my opinion. I just laughed at her. At the time I remember dismissing the comment as truth and attributed it as consolation for the promotion I was just over looked for. I realize now the reason I didn’t receive the promotion was because although the majority of the office felt more comfortable coming to me as a manager than many of the managers, it didn’t matter because I did not believe in myself. How can someone put you in a position of power when you feel that you are powerless in your own life? I had a great deal of resentment for her for a long time about this and I am not ashamed to admit now that I was wrong and she was right.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. Had I received the promotion I wanted so much, I would have probably never left the company to pursue my true happiness. I may have been content, but I am not sure I would have ever been genuinely happy. I no longer hold any resentment for the situation. Instead, I am thankful to have been overlooked.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we all need to pick up everything and move half way across the country in order to find our own self-worth. In many cases, we simply need to take a small step back for a moment and ask ourselves the hard questions in respect to who we are and what we really want. Everyone works through their issues in their own way. Personally, I was in such an emotional rut that it was necessary for me to take a much larger step back and out of the situation. I am a very loyal person and because of this, I sometimes find myself compromising my own wants and needs for the wants and needs of others. I have always had a problem with using the word: NO. I had started on a downward spiral of emotional hell and stepping out of it for a moment was just want I needed to realize what a bad state I was in.

I needed to find my strength and learn to have faith in myself and others again. I needed to feel that it was possible to love without tragedy again. I knew this would not be impossible where I was, because I am easily distracted by tending to the needs of others. I don’t plan to say away for ever. The Midwest is my home. I will be back there in the near future, but not until my search is over.

When the familiar feelings of inadequacy begin to creep in, I try my best not to fall back in to the same self-defeating actions of my past. It is not always easy to snap myself out of the cycle, but I find comfort in having an outlet for these emotions. When I am feeling discouraged, I am able to look back on many of the posts I have written and remind myself of just how far I have come. This allows me the realization that the situation is not hopeless and I alone hold the ability to rise above. My two most thought-provoking posts of late are those that I wrote on Random Thought by Insane Roots;  Why do we do What we do? and The Freedom of Forgiveness.

Both of these posts remind me of where my self-defeating thoughts are coming from and that I have the power to stop them from taking over my life. We must forgive those who have wronged us and move on with our lives. It is not productive to dwell on our mistakes or the mistakes of others, but rather to find the lesson to be learned and move forward with wisdom and grace. Everyone has their fair share of heartbreak in life and the more tragedy we are faced with the stronger we can become. In the end it really is all about the lemonade. The first pitcher you brew from the lemons of life may be bitter, but as you practice the recipe and learn to add a little sugar to the mix, it becomes a bit easier to swallow. As you become more and more confident in your abilities, you are able to try out new recipes and eventually the bitterness subsides and the tragedy becomes refreshing rather than depressing.

The first step in personal growth is believing in yourself. Only then will you be able to internalize your true potential. Don’t let the world tell you who you are or define your purpose in this life. Know yourself, support yourself, and trust yourself. It is not a sin to be confident and it is okay to feel disappointed or discouraged at times. After all, we are only human and to be human is to encompass all the emotions inflicted on us by our surroundings. However, you must also learn to free yourself from inadequacy and revel in the power you have within yourself. Although you may be flawed (we all are), you are amazing, you are beautiful and you are powerful!