The Crazy Thing About Addiction [Part I]

I’ve seen a post circulating around Facebook that drives me nuts to no end, so I thought it would be fun to give my side about addiction.

We’ve all seen the “addiction is a choice” posts, talking about how calling addiction a disease is only enabling the addict and therefore allows them to feel sorry for themselves… Please.

Now before you sigh, roll your eyes, and stop reading this post, let me say that I am absolutely not in complete denial of those arguments. Yes, the moment someone decides to stick a needle in their arm, they are making a choice, and in some cases, I’m sure it does give addicts an excuse to keep using; however, to broaden the statement to apply to an entire group of people without consideration of how they were raised, why they made the decision to abuse these drugs, and what exactly does go through an addicts’ mind, is ignorance in its purest form. Let me begin by sharing my story.

For those that grew up along side of me in school, you probably have heard bits and parts of my story and know that drug addiction is a topic in which I am extremely passionate about. If there’s one thing that I hope to accomplish in my life, it is to speak out to those that are affected by a loved one’s decision to engage in such a damaging, heartbreaking addiction. I want you to know that you are absolutely, 110% not alone.

From my childhood, I remember cuddling up with my mom on the couch to watch Oprah every afternoon. I remember trying to squirm away from her as she tickled my feet. I even remember the way her thin, beautiful blonde hair laid against the back of her leather jacket. I loved this woman. I don’t doubt for a second that she loved me, too. We all have times in our lives where we have regret for the choices we have made, and that is part of the reason I have grown to forgive, cherish, and move on.

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I don’t have much of the paperwork on what happened, nor do I even really care to see it. Out of respect for all involved, I’m going to put this into the most courteous, easygoing way that I can. The paperwork I do have shows that on August 27, 2004, a “safety plan” was put into place by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. For lack of better words, our mother was struggling with addiction and my father was never in the picture. I was only seven and my little sister was four. This “plan” stated my sister and I were going to move in with our great-grandmother under the care of herself and my maternal aunt. To this day, I am grateful to these women for taking my sister and I in, keeping us away from the struggles of the foster care system. By November 15, 2004, the official order appointing guardianship to our great-grandmother was finalized.

As you can probably imagine, two kids at the ages of seven and four wouldn’t really understand the severity of what was happening. So my sister and I moved to a new school and started completely different lives. We started living with our aunt, uncle, and five cousins.

For a long time, the change wasn’t something that kept me awake at night. When I was old enough in school and big life events like first dances, recitals, and games began to roll around, I realized that something in my life was very different than a lot of my schoolmates. My mom was never in the stands during basketball games. She was not the woman to get me ready for school dances, and she was missing out on all of the great things I was accomplishing. I grew bitter. How could the woman that gave birth to me not care about me enough to be there for something so important in a child’s life?

My mother was in and out of prison throughout all of my elementary, junior high, and high school life. There were periods of times when I so badly wanted to talk to her that I had her write letters to my friends’ addresses from prison, in fear that I would get in trouble for talking to her. In her letters, my mother often denied the responsibility of us not being together, and this would send me into a rage. I eventually stopped responding to her letters, swearing I was done with all of the hurt and anger that she had put me through.  My friends and teachers that were oblivious to this situation made jokes or comments at school about hearing someone with my name being arrested for meth (My mother and I have the same name). Two of the times I found out about my mother’s arrest was because a teacher at school made a comment to me after hearing my name on the radio or television. I was nowhere near being able to get away from the pain that addiction had caused me.

It was somewhere along my junior or senior year of high school where I decided I was done being angry. Holding onto the resentment and despise that I had for my circumstance was only holding me back and keeping me from truly being happy. I honestly believe that if you want to be truly happy, you have to forgive those that have hurt you, and move on. I decided to see her off and on, and she even made it to one of my softball games my senior year. That was the only time she ever saw me play a sport. After long debate, the day before I graduated high school, I decided to call her and invite her to my graduation.

My mom saw me graduate high school.

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Throughout my entire life, seeing her in the bleachers that day stands out to me as just a truly beautiful, incredible moment of forgiveness, love, and progress. Although addiction has many downfalls, there can always be beauty found in something so ugly. No matter what an addict struggles with, we shouldn’t be so quick to turn our backs on them. You never know if you could be the one person that strikes the chord that leads them to recovery. Everyone on this earth has a purpose, no matter what mistakes they have made in the past. Take it from me, forgiving someone that has caused you pain is hard. It’s incredibly hard, but not impossible. The only way we can truly be happy with ourselves is to lose ourselves. Lose anger. Lose resentment. Lose barriers. Lose anguish.

Choose love ♥

Continue reading “The Crazy Thing About Addiction [Part I]”

EOD Thoughts: 01.24.2023

I find it crazy that we are already a week away from February. I think life goes by faster the older I get. That concept frightens me sometimes.

I don’t have a lot to say tonight. It’s not even 9 o’clock yet and I’m in bed. I’ve noticed that my productivity levels are up and down here lately. Some nights I find myself cleaning the entire house after I put the kids to bed, and others I am in bed before my daughter (we give her free reign to put herself to sleep as long as she is quiet in her room, this works remarkably well for our family).

The kids are seemingly better better this week. The coughs are slowly waning. I’m exhausted and in need of adult conversation that occurs outside of work. Is it embarrassing that I don’t remember the last conversation I had outside of work, or that wasn’t in passing with the cashier at the gas station?

I wonder if I will ever feel like more than a working mom. Wake up to screaming kid, get both kids up and ready, drop off kids, go to work, pick up kids, go home, cook and feed kids, bathe kids, put kids to bed. Repeat.

That’s all.

An endless cycle of monotony with no exciting plans for the future. Maybe someday I’ll have more to write about other than my sadness and exhaustion.

Perhaps not!

Tonight’s Reflection Quote:

Moms

Want vs. Need

I attempted to explain this difference to my daughter this afternoon. She stood in the doorway of the dining room whining for I don’t even remember what. She cried, “I neeeeeeed it!”

You don’t need it. You just want it.

Desire can be a tricky little bitch.

You see… when you really, really want something so bad it physically makes you feel ill…

and that thing never comes…

Tonight I just so happened to get on WordPress via PC instead of my mobile app. I usually draft up ideas on the go, so blogging from my phone is just easier and more convenient. Anyway, I noticed a notification that I hadn’t seen because I was on the app. It noted that I had an unapproved comment, so I clicked to see what it was.

I have written about my mom reading and occasionally commenting on my blog. Well this comment was from her from way back in the spring of 2022, but I hadn’t seen it until tonight.

I got mixed emotions reading her words, but in the end it all lead to one sad realization.

A realization I come to very often.

I want a Mom.

An actual Mom. As in, one who kisses boo-boos (both physical and emotional). One who I could call up on the phone when I need advice on parenting, or to ask how to make homemade cookies, or for no particular reason at all. Oh, how I would call this Mom up. I would tell her I loved her and I would make Mom & Daughter adult planned mini-vacations for the two of us.

Seems silly saying it out loud.

I’ve invented entire scenarios with my make-believe mother. The one not engulfed in a seemingly endless battle with addiction. One who would admit their faults and love me the way a child should be.

I want that Mom.

Again, Want vs. Need.

I didn’t say I need a Mom. Haven’t since age 7. And the one woman that swore to love and raise me in place of the woman that actually birthed me deserted some of her children, while still loving and spending time with the others. I was not one that she chose to continue to love and cherish.

It hurts me most that my children are missing out on invaluable relationships and foundations that are essential in the success and psychology of a family.

The two “mothers” in my life have brought me the greatest heartbreak, biggest feelings of being deserted, and most pain of all experiences I have emotionally survived in my life.

I don’t want to carry that burden to my own children. I am a great Mom, that I know. Because one thing that I have learned in the short four years that I have been a Mom, is that a great deal of being a good Mom is done by just showing up for them. You may not always get it right, but trying again and committing to doing better the next time is all it takes. Nobody really knows what they are doing anyway.

I don’t need a mom. I do damned well without one.

But tonight, I wish I could call you just for the sake of it.

Under the Bridge

We ran out of milk this morning so I made a solo trip to the nearest Dollar General for some more early this morning. Just my luck, the store didn’t open til 8 and I got there at 7:40. That seemed like too long of time to sit and wait in the parking lot, so I headed down to the river to pass some time and look at the water. I have always found such serenity and peace by the River.

I wasn’t there for any more than ten minutes, but after more than a week locked in with sick kids, I needed this mini-trip to town to clear my head. I guess it was a win that I showed up to the store before they opened because otherwise I would have missed out on this beautiful scene that I was able to witness this morning as the early day glow was rising on the bridge. Surprisingly, I was the only one down there so I got to soak it in all by myself, almost as if the sunlight was put there to comfort a Mom lost in motherhood much like myself.

My Smoky Mountain Wedding: The Details

One of the many things that a good wedding photographer will try to capture are all of the many small details about your wedding that often go unnoticed by the guests, but might be special to you (since you chose to incorporate them into your special day).

Today I wanted to share some of the small (but special) details that I incorporated into our wedding. I totally recommend getting a list of the small things that you definitely want captured so you can make sure your photographer captures all of the intricate details that you put thought and effort into!

Our ring box & invitations – perfect for a mountain wedding!
The rings
The dress before the Bride puts it on
The cake & wedding topper
The Bride’s bouquet (I crafted this myself!)
Ceremony decor
Getting ready

My Smoky Mountain Wedding: The Bridesmaids Dresses

Good morning & thanks for joining me on another Smoky Mountain wedding review! Today I’m here to talk bridesmaids!

These will be your go-to gals and if you go the traditional wedding route, will be vital in staying sane on your wedding day.

It was a tall task for us to ask an entire wedding party to make a ten (or more) hour drive to Tennessee, but we have amazing friends that were down to have a mini vacation in the mountains with us. We had five Bridesmaids and five Groomsmen join us, which was great!

When planning a wedding and choosing a date for the ceremony, it’s important to consider which season and background and foliage you want. I am an October baby in love with the fall, so I always knew I wanted to be married in October. I love when the trees change color and the pops of orange, yellow, and red give the scenery a warm glow. I chose green and orange to be my main wedding colors, along with accents of red and brown. My bridesmaids all wore different colors and different styles of dresses. I actually let my girls pick their own color and style of dress so that they could pick something that was comfortable to them and made them feel confident. All I gave them was a color palette and tone to choose along the lines of, but they all chose excellent dresses!

I’ll write more about my flower arrangements later, but I accented each bouquet with the colors of each dress making the colors all flow beautifully together. I highly recommend having your ladies where an arrangement of colors or styles because in my opinion it really gives the look more definition and opportunity for expression. Although the foliage in Tennessee at the beginning of October was just beginning to really change, the collage of fall colors really made everything pop and have a real sense of autumn.

EOD Thoughts: 01.19.2023

Moms should get extra sick time to use for their children.

I have a good job that offers great benefits. Jan 1 I was given 40 hours sick time for the year.

After today, and only 19 days into the year, I will only have 3 days left for the rest of 2023.

I have spent exactly zero hours burning my sick time on actually being sick myself. Last year I burned all of my PTO and sick time on lack of daycare or ill kids.

So when I fall sick later this year I’ll end up resorting to burning my vacation time instead of using it to spend with my family. It’s a cycle that I just have to accept, I guess. Although an actual vacation sounds pretty nice.

I wish working families better benefited from the work they put in. Of course I’d love to spend more time with the people that matter more than any job, but unfortunately society requires income and raising good humans doesn’t pay the bills.

My Smoky Mountain Wedding: The Veil

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, and I have committed to spending less time on toxic social media platforms, I have more time to commit to my writing. I got married in October of 2022 near The Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I did my wedding fairly inexpensively and we still had a beautiful wedding of our dreams. I spent less than $10,000 on our wedding, so I am here to share my tricks and advice on how I was able to save money and still have a wedding that was beautiful and just to our liking.

I started wedding planning right after we had our son Leon. He was born October 27th of 2021, and as a matter-of-fact, I believe we chose our wedding date while in the hospital for his birth. Anyway, it was 26 days short of being ONE YEAR that I spent planning, preparing, and readying for our wedding day. Now this was a lot of pressure! Dylan and I have been dating since 2016, had our first daughter and got engaged in 2018, had Leon in 2021, and then finally tied the knot in 2022 after nearly four years engaged. Once we had Leon, I think we both realized that it was finally the right time to focus and put the money towards officially becoming one. Raising kids in a relationship is hard and we have never really cared much about the labels. We love one another, cherish the family we have created, and it was finally time to wrap it up in a pretty little bow. I was VERY excited to finally share the same last name as my partner and two children.

So the first detail I really want to dive into about our special day is the veil.

As I was searching for photographers, I went online and looked at wedding shots that I wanted to make sure I got. I found beautiful photos of couples underneath a beautiful, long veil and I just knew that the Cathedral veil was for me. From the get-go, I knew I wanted to reenact those photos – and let me say, I am so pleased that I did because they are quite possibly my favorite shots from our wedding.

When I went shopping for my dress, I tried on several veils while at the store. Each one of them was no less than $400. Now, Dylan and I were paying for a majority of the wedding ourselves so I absolutely knew that a triple-digit price point was not going to work for me. So what did I do?

What any cheapo Mom does.

I got on Amazon.

And believe you me, I found the veil that you see pictured here. For LESS THAN $40!

I have never been one to care about the glitz and glam of name brand items, so going cheap never bothered me. If you are one that has the capability to spend the money on pricier accessories, go for it! But that won’t be what you find on this page, because I put together my entire wedding as cheap as I could and only splurged on certain aspects.

My advice on choosing the veil of your dreams:

  • Research styles and get an idea of which type of veil is best for you before you go dress shopping. If you aren’t willing to spend a ton of money on accessories, do not let the salespeople at bridal stores talk you into items that are outside of your budget. They are trying to make a buck, so be prepared to stick to your guns if you are on a strict budget.
  • Try the veil on with your dress before you buy! One thing about ordering online is that you may have to go through the return process if it doesn’t end up suiting your desire. It is best to research which veil styles work best with certain styles of dresses.
  • Don’t be ashamed if you have to stay “cheap.” I spent 1/10th of the price on a veil and nobody would even know if I weren’t writing this right now. You are wearing this outfit ONE time, so in the grand scheme of things, you have to weigh how much money you are willing to spend on something so miniscule as a veil. It is a beautiful garnish, but a veil does not define your beauty on your wedding day.
Photo under the veil
You can see the length and beauty of my veil here
Photo with my daughter under the veil; loved the embroidered details!

EOD Thoughts: 01.18.2023

Sickness has been running through our home off and on for the last two weeks. Seems like the Mom is never the one that gets to rest when illness runs it’s course.

The kiddos aren’t sleeping, battling fevers, but no puking so far (fingers crossed).

I am exhausted- still trying to work when I can while toggling sick children and a husband, I finished up my intermission college course and started a new semester, and if I have to change one more bedsheet I think I might faint… all on less than desirable rest. I have now forgotten the last time I slept through the night without being wakened by the needs of a crying, snotty-nosed child.

But I’m holding strong. Like all mamas do.

I will continue to wipe the noses, hold them in my arms, and look for the light of a new day.

What I’m Giving Up In 2023

It’s a new year! Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday.

I am welcoming 2023 with open arms and hoping that it is a great year. I have set some goals for myself in 2023 that I want to take seriously. I read that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you simply write them down, so this is my version of putting pen to paper.

Here are a few things that I am focusing on in the New Year.

Spending so much time on social media

I spend far too much time pointlessly scrolling on social media. It takes away time from my family and does no benefit to my mental health. One thing that you have to keep in mind while on social media is that everyone has an appearance that they are wanting to sell on social media. Whether that image is reality, is not always portrayed accurately. I have the downfall of comparing myself and what I do or don’t have to what I see on social media. Maybe I’m not skinny enough. Maybe I feel like I got left out. Maybe I am creating a fake scenario in my head simply because of what I see online. I am smarter than wasting any more energy on sh*t that doesn’t matter. In the end, those that want to be in my life will be present whether or not I am on social media. I deleted Twitter months ago and haven’t been very active on Instagram for nearly two years now. I deleted Facebook on Jan 1 and don’t plan to spend much if any time on the platform any time soon. In 2023, I am committing myself to my family and my physical and mental health.

Alcohol

This holiday season had me dealing with a lot of emotion, burnout at work, finishing up a semester and starting another in school, all while still trying to keep alive the holiday spirit for my family (which I love doing, btw). Work really had me feeling down, so I’d get the kids down of an evening and have a drink a few nights a week. Not that that was even all too bad, I just know that the toll that it can have on my body and wallet just isn’t worth it. I enjoy drinking mainly in social settings, but now that Dylan works nights four nights a week, I have been using alcohol to let loose more often than before.

I recently read an article about the younger population using alcohol less and how non-alcoholic bars and settings were on the rise. It went on to give some pretty gnarly facts about the effects that long-term alcohol abuse can have on the body. One study reveals that between 2002 and 2018, the number of student adults aged 18-22 in the U.S. who abstained from alcohol increased from 20% to 28%, and from about 24% to 30% for those not in school.

I wouldn’t consider myself to have an issue with it, but I know that my health and wallet will greatly improve if I just cut it out. I may share cheers in a social setting with friends from time to time, but I am participating in Dry January and hoping to continue that habit indefinitely. I bought some Welch’s sparkling grape juice for our New Years party with the kids, but of course Della was not down to even try it. Dylan and I shared the bottle over dinner and found that it really was a pretty good replacement to scratch the itch if we ever are wanting some wine! I encourage you to look into “sober curiosity” if you get the chance.

Some health benefits to giving up alcohol that I found are:

  • Potential to lower mental health issues including anxiety and depression
  • Better sleep
  • Weight loss and easier weight management
  • Decrease in inflammation, digestion, and bloating
  • Increase focus, memory, and energy levels

Aside from giving up social media and alcohol, I am also making a more conscious effort to get a workout into my daily routine. The last two nights I have put the kids down and gone to the gym. I have a treadmill, bench set, some weights, and other equipment down in my basement, so there is really no reason why I can’t get down there even if for a small amount of time. Working this into my routine is going to help me tremendously because I really do feel better and have more energy when I get up and get movin’.

So here is to 2023 and making it a happier and healthier one! I am excited to see what is in store!