Insane Roots: The Missing Pieces

The story continues fall of 2020…

The memoir series continues with the 2nd installment, Insane Roots: The Missing Pieces.

Readers will follow Tiffany, now a teenager, as she navigates her way through the wake of her mother’s many con-schemes in an attempt to discover the truth behind the mystery of the woman who left her behind.

And so, as promised, below is the first of many glimpses of what is to come. Thank you all for your continued support and patience. It has been a long wait, I know, but soon you will understand why.

Insane Roots: The Missing Pieces

Introduction (working excerpt)

In the summer after my eight grade year, my mother disappeared. Something she had done many times before, but this time there was one detrimental difference.

This time, she left me behind.

It was rumored she hooked up with a local biker at a bar in Rockford and planned to hit the open road for the rest of the summer, but knowing my mother, if that were true, she wouldn’t be with him long. He would either become suspicious of her intentions or she would bleed him dry and move on to the next. It may sound harsh, but reality is not always pleasant.

The fact is that no matter where she was or who she was with, there was no real trail to follow and there wouldn’t be for years.

I thought the first book would be the hardest to compose, seeing as I was a child in those pages and my recollections were foggy at best. However, I was fortunate to have had the help of loved ones to fill in the blanks.

This time, there were years and years of missing pieces and no one who knew anything about where she was or what she was doing.

My mother remained missing for the duration of my high school years. At a time when I needed her most. Milestone after milestone without her to share them with. There were homecoming dances, boyfriends, sporting competitions, and all of the usual coming-of-age moments one would expect in a young teenage girl’s life.

What was she doing all that time? And how in the world would I be able to find out enough (if any) to write a book about it?

And here is where it becomes a bit comical…

The one thing I know to be true about my mother, is that no matter where she was or who she was pretending to be, it was a sure bet that she would meet up with law enforcement somewhere along the way. Depending on how serious the crime was, they may never discover who she really was, but I also knew that she had a habit of reusing her aliases by mixing up first and last names or perhaps using one of her real married names with a previous first name alias or visa versa.

All this is good information, but it didn’t point me in any good starting position. After all, my mother had 27 known aliases at this point. That is a lot of name combinations!

And then I remembered one night hanging out with a few friends that gave me just the jumping off point I needed. We were talking about the book and the number of aliases my mother had been arrested under and decided to go to Mugshots.com to see how many we could find. Three of us searched simultaneously on our phones and began yelling out as we found them. There were so many, spanning years!

This is where I needed to start.

I began going through each listing one by one, cross referencing the date/location of her arrest with the name(s) she was using at that time.

Once I had a list of dates/locations and names, I was able to start narrowing down where to start digging for information on what she was doing during the time she was missing.

And let me tell ya, my mother did not disappoint!

While I was battling my teenage angst, my mother was living a whole new life, several of them actually.

A part of me was delighted by my investigative skills and relieved to feel like I had finally made some headway in piecing it all together.

On the other side of it though, I felt a bit defeated. I wonder now if perhaps it was better not knowing.

During the time she was gone, I think it helped to believe there was some legitimate reason she left me behind. As if that made it better.

It was certainly better than what I now know.

I thought I had worked through my resentment for my mother and for the most part I have, but I think there will always be a piece of me that will never fully heal from the abandonment I felt when she walked away.

And that’s okay, because it is the reason I am writing this today. It is what made me who I am and why I have chosen to share my story. For all those years, I felt like I was the only one fighting this battle. The loneliness I held on the inside was crippling and held me back from so much for so long.

Until the day I realized I wasn’t alone and that everything I was feeling wasn’t something to be ashamed of or hidden away from the world. It was a message to share, because you never know who may benefit or what kind of inspiration it may offer to someone else in the same position.

So, as with the first book, this too has been an emotional journey and a growing experience. One I had not anticipated, but that I am extremely grateful for.

 

 

 

 

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The Breaking Point

Have you ever been pushed to the point where you feel as though no matter how much you try, you just can’t seem to get your head above water; emotionally, mentally and in some cases physically. Over the last few months, I have felt all three.

If it were not for having someone with whom I feel unconditionally loved and safe with, I’m not sure I would have been able to find my strength over the last few months.

I have always been that person, dying on the inside, but smiling on the outside. For there will never be a day when I awake without the feeling that a piece of me is missing.

No matter how much time passes, the pain of the past will never truly disappear. I will always be the daughter who was left behind. The girl with the scars buried deep within my soul.

But in that moment, before I begin the battle of the day, I remind myself of all that still remains. Those who have chosen to stay; to love me. Not despite being broken, but because of it.

There are those who understand my silence. Those who know that when I chose to disconnect from this world, it is not because I do not want to be there for them, it is because I can’t.

I try to give as much of myself as I can to others, because I know what it feels like to feel alone, forgotten, and tossed aside. The problem in this is that I have yet to find the balance between being everyone else’s rock and spreading myself too thin.

So instead of being aware that I am taking on too much and communicating that to those around me, I just break and shut everyone out. My mind begins to spiral and depression rears it’s ugly head.

For those on the outside, I appear to be cold or distant, which makes them upset, causing them to lash out and hence continuing the spiral down into the darkness.

For me, letting people down is the worst thing I could possibly do and so I try to please everyone all of the time. Sounds like an honorable trait in theory, but the fact of the matter is that it is an impossible goal. One to be met by failure almost every time.

You can’t please everyone all of the time and you can’t be there for everyone all of the time either. First of all, there just isn’t enough time to be everyone’s rock and it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself first, before tending to everyone else.

A few weeks ago, my entire life shifted. The future potential of which I am greatly excited for, but change has always been a bit of a trigger for me.

Hmmm…I wonder why? It couldn’t be all that moving around when I was younger could it? Or never knowing where my mother would pop up and reek havoc on my life.

I took the first week off to gather my thoughts and create a plan, then the next week I started acting on that plan. I was feeling good, but still a little raw emotionally. I knew what I really needed was to walk away from it for a little while and take some time to let it all sink in.

As luck would have it, I had a trip scheduled to house/pet sit and help run the business for a family out of state, one I consider as my own. We have known one another many years and have grown quite close.

Words can not express how thankful I am to have them in my life. I would not be who I am having not known them.

It is a rarity for me to feel comfortable enough with someone to not be afraid to truly open up and be myself. Those I am able to do that with, I hold above all others; it’s unconditional at it’s best!

I ended up getting super sick just before I left and was down for the count for days, which made the need for recovery (mentally & physically) that much more important.

At a time when I was feeling a bit like I was losing stability in my life (i.e. employment), knowing I would be doing something I enjoyed (their business) and was good at, gave me something to focus on, while I let all the unknowns brew on the back burner for a while. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything except house/pet sit & run the business.

And the emotional things I was dealing with (family health issues, depression, loss)…well three dogs will keep you laughing and smiling all day long, so that was just a bonus!!

Seemed like the perfect situation to take my mind away from struggle and focus instead on the many blessings in life. And it did.

Until…in true ME fashion…I began putting this unnecessary pressure on myself to over achieve.

There always seems to be this underlined sense of urgency when it comes to anything involving anyone else, but almost no sense of it when it comes to myself.

The only exception being the aspect of failure and how it relates to how others view me.

I am not sure where this intense need for approval came from, but I can only guess that is stems from my inner struggles with abandonment, such as, “I must please or everyone will leave”.

Seems a bit irrational, I know.

But than, someone goes and proves you exactly correct. You see, while I was trying to get myself back up on running again, I neglected to tend to others who may have needed my help.

I was too immersed in finding my own strength that I didn’t realize someone else needed it more, and for that I am regretful. I didn’t think I had anything more to give, but I should have at least thought to try.  That is my mistake. One to end a friendship over, I would hope not, but that is not for me to say.

All I can do, is what I have already done, apologize.

I think the important lesson here is in communication. Especially for those of us that struggle with depression. It’s hard to talk about, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s okay not to be okay sometimes and you shouldn’t be afraid to tell the people closest to you as much as you want to be there for them, you are struggling to take care of yourself.

It doesn’t mean you love them any less or you are any less of a friend. It means that you respect them enough to be honest with them. It is when we hide our battles and fight them alone where everyone loses.

Those of us with depression and anxiety need to disconnect sometimes in order to reconnect. If we don’t, my may disconnect forever. It is a constant fight, every day, but it is not one to be ashamed of.

It is something to be proud of. Because every day you make it through, is a day you’ve won! It is a another reason to keep going.

Some people will keep going with you and some will not, but that is their decision, not yours.

Be kind, not just to others, but to yourself.

Ghosted

I will keep this short and sweet this morning. Call it another public service announcement from T-Bell if you will, but I cannot go through this day without sharing with you a very important lesson I learned this weekend.

So, Sunday was my birthday. A day that has been hard for me since I was a kid. Mostly because I never knew where my mother was most of the time, which usually meant that as a child, I would spend the whole day wishing and hoping that somehow she would reappear and she never did. So year after year, my heart would break just a little bit more. This year was no different.

You see that is why people don’t understand how important being remembered is to me. For someone who is always forgotten, a simple text or phone call to say happy birthday means more to me than anything in the world. Just once, it would be nice to not be disappointed.

I had such an amazing day on Sunday, so much fun! I went to the car show with Daddy J, which was a blast and then a few of us came back to my place for an impromptu hang session. It was everything I could have asked for and more.

When everyone left, I came back inside and started catching up on my birthday texts 🙂

When I replied to the last one, I realized that two very important people had still not sent me anything? And I don’t mean gifts, I could care less if you buy me anything. Although, my friend Elaine did hit it out of the park this year!!

Two of the people I care for most in the world, showed me just how little they care for me. I kind of expected it from one of them. I know him well enough to know it was not really because he doesn’t care about me, but rather he just cares about himself more. No surprises there, he has been this way his whole life. It doesn’t excuse it (believe me I ate his ass!), but the point is that I know in my heart that he never intended to hurt me.

The other, was a complete surprise. It was someone I thought I could count on, someone I thought valued my presence in their life. Someone I never thought would blow me off, especially on the day he knows I struggle with. We lost touch for years and having him back in my life this last year has been great. It was so refreshing to spend time with someone I could truly be myself around, someone who truly saw me and valued me for all that I am. Which is why, his forgetfulness hurt more than anything I could have imagined.

Now, I try my best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt…Maybe something horrible happened, he lost his phone or a million other acceptable reasons for treating me like garbage. And so, at first, I tried to give him a chance to explain. One simple text from me to say that I was a little hurt. No response.

Okay so now I am worried, maybe something did happen? He doesn’t normally blow me off like this. And then the next day came, still no response.

“What’s the deal man?”

No response.

And that is when the waterworks began. Which pissed me off, because I thought I was done crying over stupid inconsiderate men, but I guess not.

I realized in that moment, that the friendship I thought meant as much to him as it did to me, clearly did not and boy did that sting.

We all screw up, we all forget things, but to not even acknowledge it or me? How cruel is that? Especially coming from someone who deals with the same emotional issues that I do and knows how much his actions would hurt me.

I can take a hint, but at least have the common courtesy to tell me you don’t want me around anymore instead of taking the cowards way out and ghosting me…on my birthday of all days! I deserve more than that, a lot more.

His actions disappointed me more than anyone’s ever have, because I never saw it coming, but I guess I should be thankful for that.

To him, for reminding me that I need to make better choices about who I give my time to. There are those that value me in their life and those that simply use me to fill their time when something better is not available.

And the timing could not be more perfect. As you remember from my last post, I have been taking a long hard look at the people in my life and well, I guess as heart broken as I have been over the last few days, at least I know now where I truly stand with some people.

I am so thankful to the people who remembered me on Sunday (even if FB reminded you, teehee I get it and it still counts).

If it was not for all of you, having been forgotten may have stung a lot worse.

The lesson here, if it’s not yet clear, is that no matter how much you care about someone that doesn’t give them free rain to disrespect you.

And if you are someone on the other end of this, try to remember that no matter how much you don’t care about someone that doesn’t mean your actions do not have the ability to destroy them. Try to be kind, respectful, is it really that hard to allow someone to leave your life with their dignity still intact?

I think not.

Oh Yes I Can!

So much has happened since Friday’s meltdown that I almost don’t know where to begin, except to say that sometimes everything has to fall apart in order to fall together.

Last week was one of those weeks where everything seemed to go wrong. The details of which don’t really matter. It was just one thing after another until it eventually became too much.

I’ve been doing so well with handling my depression that I was really disappointed in myself that I allowed it to grab hold of me the way it did, but I realize now just how necessary it was to begin this next phase of my life.

I did some much needed re-evaluating of my life and myself this weekend, including the relationships with others and how I am allowing them to impact me and in some cases hold me back.

I was caught up in such a spiral that I knew the only way to do that was to leave my house aka my comfort zone and completely detach from everything and everyone. So, I left Friday afternoon to go camping, left my phone in the car, bought a new notebook & some fancy pens (it’s an addiction 🙂 ) and escaped from it all.

It may have only been 3 days, but I feel like a new and improved me!

I started by centering on the common emotions I feel when I am spiraling and trying to get to the bottom of where and why they have the ability to have such power over me.

We all go through dark times and it is necessary if you want to grow in any way and if none of us know what’s next than is there any other reason to move forward but to grow? I welcome the darkness sometimes, but it is when it takes control that it gets truly scary.

It almost always begins with overwhelming sadness, but isn’t that really what depression is? Why was I so sad? I have a million things to be thankful for, but when I am in those moments of spiraling out of control, I find it hard to reach for any good feeling and I end up in a state of what’s the point? instead.

And that is when it clicked. It is the feelings of hopelessness, unworthiness and lack of purpose that are at the root of it all.  In those moments, I feel as though I have no place in this world, that my life is meaningless. Over the years, I have given so much of myself to others, only to be left behind and so I have this belief inside of me that I am unlovable, unwanted, undervalued and that everyone leaves in the end.

That is simply not true or at least it doesn’t have to be.

This is my life, my time and I need to stop giving so much of myself to other people. Especially those who do not appreciate it or me.

I need to find a way to give my life purpose, not for others, but for myself.

It is much easier said than done of’course, but I was determined to find a way. I don’t want to feel the way I did on Friday ever again. I know that may not be entirely possible right away, but we all have to start somewhere.

The two biggest challenges for me is finding balance, specifically, the balance between work/relationships & personal time, but how?

Let it all go and see what/who stays.

In regards to relationships, I asked myself the following questions:

Who are the people I gravitate the most towards?

Who is there when I really need them?

Who are the people who have shown me (not told me; words are cheap) they really value having me in their life?

Who are the people I feel most drained around? Those I associate with more out of obligation than an actual desire to spend time with them?

What are the relationships that I am putting more effort in than I am receiving?

Those that fall into the first three categories, are my people. Those who fall into the last two are people who have got to go!

It’s time to weed that friend garden and give the energy to those who truly deserve it, instead of wasting it on people who find no value in having me in their life.

Today, I feel refreshed. As though a large weight has been taken from my shoulders.

I didn’t just go over the people in my life, I reviewed my goals for the future, personal and work related. I took a long hard look at my life and the people in it as a whole and I am excited to move forward, even if some folks will not be coming with me.

I have such a better handle on everything now.

It’s like the clouds have finally cleared and I am no longer searching for the sun; I am the sun!

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I Just Can’t

Well, today I hit my breaking point. I feel foolish admitting it, but sometimes I feel like I just can’t do this anymore. You know…this life thing.

In my heart I know that is not true. After all I have been through in my life, is there really anything I can’t overcome?

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t become too much sometimes. There are moments when it feels like everything is falling apart around me and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

The search for clarity becomes one of overwhelming defeat and I am left with what seems like nowhere else to go.

It is never just one thing, one emotion, but rather so many it makes my head spin and I can barely catch my breath.

And in some cases, like today, the emotional pain becomes so much that it becomes physical.

The best way I can explain it is this heaviness in my heart. Like someone is standing on my chest as my bones crack beneath their feet.

And the worst part about it is that it is almost as if I feel like I deserve the pain…is that really messed up or what?!

Spiraling this much is actually not that common for me. I have my ups and downs, a little spiral here, a little spiral there, but always manageable.

This time it’s much worse. I haven’t felt this out of control emotionally in a very long time.

I am pretty seasoned at beating my demons but I am only human and there is only so much a person can take before they begin to crumble. And crumbling I am.

I know it will pass eventually and if someone asked what it is I am in need of, I’m not sure…maybe a hug?

Or perhaps just to being held for a moment would make it all okay.

Whatever it is I need, I know it’s not words. I’ve tasted that poison too many times before. Words mean nothing when spoken in vain.

I desperately need action of some sort.

I feel so alone, unvalued & misunderstood.

Again, my rational mind knows that is not true, but I can’t seem to convince the rest of me of the same.

I know it sounds silly but I have this overwhelming feeling that I am simply broken beyond repair.

Unloveable and becoming unable to love.

And not just the romantic kind of love although I’m not sure that will ever be possible again unless I can get a certain someone out of my head.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and take back the confession of my love to him. I would have kept those feelings hidden forever if he hadn’t told me it wasn’t all in my head, that he felt it too, but that’s something else entirely. People change their minds and it’s not like he’s gone from my life. I treasure our friendship, even if it hurts sometimes.

What’s going on is so much more than unrequited love. After all if there is one thing I know how to deal with and very well for that matter, it’s rejection.

I’m sure the longing I feel for him is part of the pain I am experiencing right now, but I’ve been dealing with that for almost a year now. It’s always there under the surface, reminding me of something I will never have.

Today is no different, but there is so much more at play here.

Everything seems to be falling apart around me, including me.

I’m exhausted and angry at myself for being exhausted all at the same time! It’s excruciating.

And the scariest part is this is the first time I’m not quite sure what to do. Normally, I would surrender to the darkness, ride out the wave and revel in how brightly I burn after it all fades.

And then…it would all become art.

This time there is not a doubt in my mind that surrendering is the opposite of what I should do this time.

How do I know this?

Because the last time I felt this way, I did and well if you’ve been following along all I have to say is…it’s only happened twice before and it wasn’t pretty.

So what do I do?

The only thing I can think of.

To step back from it all, from everyone and re-evaluate my life.

Where am I going? What am I doing? Do I stay or do I go?

It’s time to answer those questions.

The search for the answers will be a much needed distraction and when I find myself struggling, I just have to focus on all the positive things in my life.

Even though they feel hard to grasp right now, I know I have the power to rise above it.

I just need to find my strength again.