Thursday, June 23, 2011

Full Circle

I was asked to be a co-facilitator / mentor for the women's writing workshop for sexual abuse survivors. There is one woman in particular that my advocate has in mind for me to mentor and we'll be meeting later this morning.

I can't help but feel that I've come full circle in my healing journey. No, my journey isn't over. It probably never will be because healing from sexual abuse or any kind of abuse is a life-long journey. But I've reached a point where I can give back and be a blessing to someone else that's hurting; guide them out of the darkness and be their strength when they're totally depleted.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


1.    I’m a runner. I finally made my dream a reality.
2.    By the time fall arrives, I will have run at least 6 5Ks, 2 5K Adventure races and hopefully will be doing the Iron Girl Duathlon.
3.    The farthest one will be in Pequot Lakes.
4.    Running has significantly improved my asthma.
5.    I haven’t used my inhaler at all while running or even after!
6.    I’ll graduate in 2 weeks from Rasmussen but the ceremony isn’t until September.
7.    I’ll be the only one in my immediate family to have a college degree.
8.    Taking the summer off and am already registered for fall to start my BS in Healthcare Management.
9.    Already talking about my Master’s. Why wouldn’t I continue on?!
10. I have stayed on the Dean’s List the entire 2 years of school – maintaining a 3.80 GPA.
11. I’m looking forward to having the summer OFF! I’ve gone to school for 2 straight years and I just need a break.
12.  As of January 1, 2011 I kicked my Coke habit cold turkey. Only to start it up again on May 10th – the day I dropped my brother off in Hibbing.
13.  It’s the nastiest habit ever but it is a weird comfort, coping thing for me. I’m quitting again tomorrow.
14.  If I don’t, I will pick up all the bad habits I used to have and I want to change my coping skills in order to deal with this deployment.
15. Besides, my brother will NOT beat me at this game! LOL
16.  I’m at the best place ever in my life – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
17.  My relationship with God is healing. He has worked very patiently with me on trusting Him and letting Him be God.
18. I’m relieved and at peace with this.
19.  I feel like I’m back home.
20.  People keep asking me when we’re getting married. I hate that question.
21.  Yep, been together 11 years. We’re waiting until we have the money saved up for the honeymoon we want. Does that answer your question?
22.  Oh, where are we going? Greece. Possibly on a transatlantic cruise to there or a Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Turkey and Egypt. Or just to Greece. Can’t decide.
23. Plus, I want to finish my BS.
24.  Yep, things could change. I could change my mind and decide we’re getting married tomorrow. The date is up to me. But right now those are the plans so please don’t ask again.
25.  I hate a member of our family. She is a fake, a liar, rude and mean. She blames it on us.
26.  What isn’t seen is all the times we try to talk to her, include her and be nice to her yet we get totally ignored like she’s freaking Helen Keller. She won’t even look at us or acknowledge we’re there.
27. What isn’t seen is the times when she puts on a show and pretends to talk to us and be nice when eyes are on her.
28.  I’m tired of the bullshit and tired of being blamed for things that aren’t true. I won’t say anything, though, because it would only hurt someone I love very much.
29.  I love coupons and rebates!
30.  My favorite stores are Nike and Barnes & Noble.
31.  I am active in Operation Minnesota Nice and I love the feeling of making a difference in a soldier’s life. It’s the least I can do for them.
32.  I cry when I’m packing the boxes for my soldier and my brother because I wonder who isn’t getting any care packages or mail from home and I wish I could send something to everyone.
33.  Ever since my brother’s joined the military, I cry every time I hear the National Anthem.
34.  I cry a lot lately.
35.  It’s because I have so much to be thankful for. I’m so blessed in so many ways I can’t even begin to count.
36. I’m extremely proud of my brothers and their unselfish service to our country. And proud of our family for our strength.
37.  My life has completely changed in the past year on every level.
38.  I’ve crossed off quite a bit of my Goals for 2011 list but keep wanting to add more.
39.  Crossing things off my lists – whether it’s my year list, weekly list, daily list or whatever list I have going – gives me great satisfaction.
40.  I carry a planner and write everything in it. It’s my road map.
41.  The Big Bang Theory makes me laugh out loud. Sheldon’s a hoot.
42.  I can’t sleep without my big blue comforter. I even take it to hotels!
43.  My hair is the shortest its been since 10th grade…25 years!
44.  And I love it!
45.  Sean…not so much. He wants my long hair and curls back.
46.  One of my favorite things is my juicer. It’s fun coming up with different concoctions. The only bad part is cleaning it.
47.  While we were away for the week in Hibbing, I missed our dog so much that it hurt. I couldn’t wait to get home and snuggle with him!
48.  I hate dancing, singing and talent reality shows.
49.  Found out that Pitbull wasn’t black…and was disappointed. I love that guy’s voice.
50.  I hate shopping. Unless it’s for shoes, books, cleaning / office supplies and fitness stuff.
51.  I don’t like scary movies. I don’t even like shows like CSI anymore.
52.  They give me nightmares.
53.  Loved the Hangover 2.
54.  Laughed so hard at Bridesmaids that I was crying. Thankfully, I didn’t pee myself.
55.  I steal pens. From wherever I go. I can’t help it.
56.  I can’t wait until this Coding Practicum class is O.V.E.R. Even though I have a 99% in it – I really hate this class!
57.  I would much rather take College Algebra again. That’s how bad I hate it.
58.  It has to be at least 90 degrees outside before I stop being cold.
59.  I really live in the wrong state.
60.  I’ve never felt so loved in my life by so many different people.
61.  My favorite room to clean in the house is the laundry room.
62.  That’s weird.
63.  I rock myself to sleep a lot of the time. It’s a coping and self-soothing technique I learned as a child that stuck with me. Sometimes it really annoys me.
64.  I’ve learned to stop and enjoy and appreciate the small things in life. I must be getting older and wiser.
65.  My Android is driving me up the wall. I’m getting an iPhone.
66.  The main reason is so I can use the Nike+ app with the chip in my shoes.
67.  The other reason: so I can Skype by video with my brother when he’s in Iraq and I’m not by my computer.
68.  I hate the fact that I’m getting an iPhone. I don’t like following the crowds and buying things that are “all the hype.”
69.  My favorite apps right now are MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper and Angry Birds.
70.  I eat better when I use MyFitnessPal. And I’m more conscious of my water intake.
71.  I love Sean. Completely. No questions.
72.  I have several blogs and toy around with the idea of merging them.
73. Well, all except the one. The truth sets you free – found out that a lot of people already knew the truth and I never needed to protect myself. Relief.
74.  I just can’t seem to do it because I like to keep things separate and orderly.
75.  A goal for this summer is to write more. Blogging, poetry, book….just write!
76.  Going to write a children’s book with my daughter.
77.  Or several.
78.  Hopefully get them published!
79.  One of my favorite things to do is snuggle up in bed and watch animated and kids’ movies.
80.  Or pre-20th century period movies.
81.  I found out that tequila and I don’t like each other.
82.  I’d really like to get rid of everything in our house (except personal things) and start over.
83.  Oh, great…there’s the start of another list.
84.  I’ve started to collect Fiesta ware. I don’t know why I didn’t start that 20 years ago when I wanted to. I’d have more than a full set by now.
85.  I really like to go browsing around in antique stores. Thankfully, my kids do, too. It’s a fun way to spend a Saturday together.
86.  I wonder why they’re called antique stores? They should really be called rummage stores….treasure chests?
87.  Saw my first June bug of the year yesterday. Yuck!
88.  Every time I see a June bug it reminds me of being a kid and I start to giggle because there’s a funny story that goes with it.
89.  I can’t wait to go fishing with Sean on the weekends!
90.  Finally found the Yellow Brick Road. Followed it. Didn’t find the Wizard.
91.  Not even a munchkin.
92.  Sorely disappointed.
93.  We did, however, find Dorothy. And her house. And her ruby slippers.
94.  I crave Godfather’s pizza often. Just typing that makes my mouth water.
95. My days start between 4:30 & 5:00 am. I really like the early morning hours. That means I’m home shortly after lunch.
96.  I hate gossip.
97.  I can’t believe how different this list is from the first one I made.
98.  What a difference a year on your healing journey can bring.
99.  I still haven’t been able to do the “100 Things I Like About Myself” list.
100.              I’m going to add that to my Goals for 2011 list.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Cameron Andrew 9 lbs. 21 1/2 inches 2:01 am

Today is my baby boy's birthday. I can't believe he's 14 years old already!

I miss that tiny little boy who would run around in just his diaper, constantly eating and on the go doing boy things. I miss how he would come up behind me when I'd be sitting on the floor and he'd wrap his little arms around me, lay his head on my back and say, "Love you, Mama."

I miss the busy underwear and boots clad boy whose crazy antics would have us in hysterics. He was always shoving light sabers and 'guns' in his underwear pretending to either be a police man, army guy or Luke Skywalker. He was continually running...never walked...and so curious about how things worked and why things existed.

I miss our nightly routine of laying in his little toddler bed together. First we'd go through the list of all the people who loved him, then we'd go through a list of things he was thankful for that day. This was followed by a recap of the day and all the things that happened that made him laugh or cry. Next came his prayers and then I'd sing to him. There were three songs he loved: Jesus Loves Cameron (Jesus Loves Me revised), You're My Little Cameron (You're My Little Potato revised) and You Are My Sunshine.

I still call him my Sunshine to this day but when I try to sing it to him the response isn't the same. There is no crawling into my lap and snuggling up to me. Though he still, at 14, always always always comes to me and hugs me before he leaves to go somewhere or before he goes to bed. He still tells me he loves me. He'll even text me from his bed every night. The latest one - "Good night mom. love you and thank you. i had fun with you today." Makes my heart melt.

I've had bronchitis for the past 3 weeks and he was continually asking me if I needed anything, doing things for me and reminding me to lay down and rest. His heart is so big and giving. I pray it stays that way. His curiosity is still active and I'm daily bombarded with "why" and 'what if" questions. Thank God for the internet because his mind is insatiable! He no longer pretends to be Luke Skywalker or a police man. But he does dream of following in his uncle's footsteps and being in the army. Though he wants to be a Drill Sargent, not a Cav Scout. He is still shy but slowly coming out of that shell. He's respectful and sensitive...and still a joker with the ability to make us laugh.

I am so proud of the young man he is becoming and everything he already is. And I thank God for giving me such a wonderful gift.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Panel

I was invited to sit on a panel during a training session for social workers, probation officers, therapists and some other people to discuss the services we had received while Michaela was going through her depression and self-harm. There were 4 other moms on the panel. One had brought her daughter, Michaela's age, who had also outgrown her need for the programs. Another mom had brought her 3 children who were currently still receiving many services - to the tune of 6-8 appointments per week. Their ages were 18, 16 and 14 and I admire their bravery and willingness to come and share things in their life that were so personal, painful and raw. 

The professionals wanted to hear our stories and wanted our feedback on the good things we had to say and ideas on what needs to change. They also wanted to hear our thoughts on ways they could change in their approach to clients. I was very impressed with the professionals and how open they were to everything we had to say.

What I was more impressed with, though, were those of us who had a story to tell, those of us who were sharing such private and painful struggles with total strangers. And the way we all bonded together and supported each other on that panel. It was truly amazing.

Here we are - Mothers - with children that have or had mental health issues. We each shared the frustration and complete madness of trying and trying to get help for our children for years before anyone would listen to us. By the time we were finally believed and heard, the damage to our children was deep and not easily healed.

We all shared the pain and heartbreak of helplessly watching our children suffer and disappear into that black hole a little more each day having no idea how to save them from their illness or themselves.

We had all walked the lonely road of shame and guilt while uneducated and judgmental people had pointed fingers, labeled us bad moms, and judged our children and us without trying to understand what mental illness looked like or meant. 

I did not expect it to be such an emotional day. I thought the pain was behind me because Michaela is happy, independent, off any and all medications and  setting goals and achieving them just as quickly. But when the 18 year old girl who was still using services and currently in rehab began to tell her story, I lost it when she described herself as a self-mutilator. The painful memories of my daughter's raw cuts all over her body came flooding back at me. My heart went out to this girl who rocked back and forth as she talked in an effort to self-soothe. I wanted to scoop her up into my arms and rock her. I looked more closely at this girl as she talked so openly about her struggles, laying her heart right out in the open for everyone to see. She reminded me of my Angel Girl so long ago: hair dyed black, black fingernails, black jeans, black tennies, black tank top covered by a black hooded sweatshirt. She, too, had made several suicide attempts. The last time she had almost succeeded and expressed her joy that she had been found before it was too late.

My mind flashed back to that night when I was sleeping and suddenly woke up, feeling something was wrong. In my mind I heard Michaela yelling for me which was strange because I wasn't hearing it with my ears. The house was silent. I ran upstairs and burst into her room to find her there - bright red blood pouring down her legs and pooling onto her carpet. I had never seen so much blood in my life. And to see it coming from your child is a sickening feeling. I screamed her name and grabbed the first thing I could find to press onto the gaping, long cuts. I felt helpless, sick and so sad. I haven't felt that kind of complete and empty sadness before. I had no words. I wrapped her in my arms and rocked her while she sobbed and begged for help and apologized. I could do nothing but rock her and kiss her head.

I sat there on the panel that day and felt so blessed and so thankful. My daughter was still alive. I could still hug her and tell her I love her and continue to watch her live her life. I felt such pride at how far she had come and how hard she had worked. I thanked God over and over while I sat there and then laughed at the devil because his attempts to destroy her had failed. I had handed her over to God one night while I sobbed on my bedroom floor in desperation and asked him for an answer. I heard Him tell me to hand her over to Him and to trust Him. It was the best decision I ever made because He remained true to His word.

I hope that those professionals can somehow change the way things are done when it comes to getting help for children with mental health issues. Not one of us on that panel had gotten the help we needed for our children without jumping through hoop after hoop, while spinning on our heads, juggling three cows and singing the national anthem backwards. Yes. It is that difficult. For anyone experiencing mental health issues, it shouldn't be such a chore to get help. But especially for children and teens who are in their formative years.

One of the women on the panel has a 5 year old who is having the problems. 5 years old. Imagine that poor child and what she goes through on a daily basis.  The mom expressed her hurt and shame over how often she was judged and told she's a bad mom and that it's her fault that her daughter has problems. How often I've heard those lines! Uneducated and judgmental people - that's all they are. We aren't failures as moms because of the problems our children have. In fact, according to the professionals and each mom on that panel - we are Heroes. Yes, Heroes. Because we fought and continue to fight and are advocates for our children in order for them to regain their health. This women has two other children - one of them is the 5 year old's twin. So if she's such a horrible parent and it's her fault - why don't her other children have these issues? My son has had no issues, either. Can any of you uneducated doofs give an answer for that? It's no different than your child getting cancer. You can't control when and if you get cancer just as you can't control when and if you (or your child) will suffer from a mental illness.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wild Nights - Wild Nights!

In my Literature class right now we're studying poetry.  One poem that struck me and I fell in love with is by Emily Dickinson and it's full of passion.

Wild Nights - Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the Winds-
To a Heart in port-
Done with the Compass-
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden-
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor - Tonight-
In Thee!
                              ~ Emily Dickinson

I love poetry.... 

Monday, January 31, 2011

5 Down!

Today, I crossed 5 things off my list of Goals for 2011 that I completed. It felt amazing! I am such an oddball when it comes to making lists. I make lists furiously for everything. 

1. I will forget. 
2. I love the satisfaction of crossing something off.

My favorite one to make, though, is my goals for the upcoming year. They involve everything from projects I want to complete, things I want to try and do, personal, and spiritual goals.

By the end of February, I will be able to scribble off 6 more things.

This is My Year. So many good & profitable changes happening.

My Phoenix has returned to its nest and, once again, has gone up in flames only to be reborn into a new, beautiful creature.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Angel Girl

Written for my beautiful daughter: 
My blue-eyed little Angel Girl
Once draped in black disguise
Carving Scars; your skin, your heart
Marilyn. Clamorous. Manson. Silent.
Hollow soul. Embraced it
Fierce as a Mama Bear.
Believing – Come what may
Within the depths of you
A woman
Strong. And Free.
Today I heard your voice. Confident.
And proud.
You had glimpsed that woman
With your own eyes –
Not mine.
She was adorned in Fireworks!
Scars sparkled from a fire set free.
My blue-eyed little Angel Girl