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]”

Earth Day 2022

Helllooo friends & followers! Today was a busy day at our house! I still worked most of the day, but we finished some Earth Day projects nonetheless.

I’ve previously talked about gardening on Between the Lens, but folks,,, it’s getting reallll.

This is our current layout and things are really moving along! Dylan got the posts up and ready for fencing to go around the garden. There will also be a cattle panel overhanging the walkway through, hopefully to grow our peas up.

We got strawberries planted also

On Easter Day, Della & I painted flower pots. Today, we planted seeds for flowers in them.

We’ve been working long and hard on our backyard. This is the creek rock walkway we’ve completed after several weeks. We collected the creek rock ourselves locally and laid it all ourselves. Today, we finished the edging, planted some shrubs, and mulched. I’m super excited for how this is all coming together. Owning a home has proven to be exciting and fun!!

We love this earth. We’re doing what we can to be more self-sustainable while also instilling the beauty of raising your own goods. There are many benefits to working in a garden. Even being in direct contact with the earth (getting your hands dirty, walking barefoot) has benefits to your health. It makes me so happy to raise my kids with firsthand knowledge of appreciating the earth, cultivating it, respecting plants and all living things. Life is wonderful because it can be appreciated among so many different aspects. I challenge you all to take some time to “get your hands dirty” or honor this wonderful world we get to call home. 🌍

Just a taste

Sometimes I feel like I’m the one that always has her shit together

But sometimes I just wanna lose control

I don’t wanna be responsible

I wanna be wild

I wanna be reckless

I’ve spent my whole life working my ass to prove to everyone that I’m not what I came from

That I’m put together

Accountable

Competent

Rational

But for just once

I’d like to make a little noise

Say what I think

Do what I want

Make messes

Not show up

Just be alone

But what does this say about me?

What does this mean?

I can’t help but wonder what I’ve been missing out on

I hardly learned lessons the hard way when I was young

I’m beginning to think I don’t know myself at all

Who is this woman who yearns for disruption

Yearns the chase

The uncertainty and unpredictability

For she is on the edge of a reckoning

And just wants a taste

Tidal Wave

Life is full of brilliant surprises –

both wonderful and painful;

but it’s really hard to see the bad when things are good,

and even harder to see the good when things are bad

I think that’s why we have such a hard time

feeling truly alive.

One moment

we are on top of the world,

shining,

smiling,

superior.

And then the next we are

stumbling,

curled up,

broken.

Life comes and goes in tidal waves

You gotta just keep riding it out

Because one day,

I promise you

Your soul will awaken with appreciation for life,

You will notice the smile of a stranger;

or the fresh smell of the rain;

or the warm sun on your skin

and you’ll know

you are here for a reason

Our garden: Year 2

Today marked the real start of planting for our 2022 garden. You may remember, I wrote about this last year– we had to plant all of our tomatoes and jalapeños in a pot since we were renting and couldn’t till our own true garden.

2021 actually brought us a pretty decent yield considering we grew everything in containers and kept them alive through the move into our new home.

But this year, we’re excited. We are making our plans to start a real garden sown outdoors since we finally own our own land. FINALLY we own a home and can do as we please, and a big part of who we want to become is becoming more self-sustained; which will be improved with the bearings of fresh, real food harvested from a garden less than 25 yards away.

We have big plans, but also understand that we are new to this ( and any advice is highly appreciated). We have plans for tomatoes, jalapeños, corn, bush beans, snap peas, onions, strawberries, cilantro, spinach, cucumbers, radishes, asparagus, carrots, mint, basil, and possibly more that I can’t think of right now. We also have an apple tree. I’d like to get some berry bushes and a couple more fruit trees planted this spring.

Now, if we actually get all of these to harvest? Who knows. We are new to this, so our expectations are in line with some disappointment but also some great fresh produce. I’m particularly interested in growing the spices and seasonings, and also hoping we can finally get some onion to harvest. We’ve failed with onions before, but I’d really like to venture into making homemade salsa, pickles, and spaghetti sauce!

Today I started the jalapeño and tomatoes seeds so that they can germinate indoors and eventually be transplanted out in the yard in 6-8 weeks.

Dylan has started with putting some stakes in the yard so that we can fence in the garden. The other night we woke around 3am to notice eight deer roaming our backyard. We watched them for a bit, as it was fun to watch them simply roam.

More to come on the garden front – we are so excited! I will update as the garden season progresses!

Kayla

I don’t have closure with the way you left

I probably never will

I thought I’d write a poem in honor of you,

But I’m not sure the words are going to flow

You told me several times that I was a good writer

It empowered me and made me appreciate the craft

Now here I am – writing with a broken heart about something I never saw coming. Something I cannot explain. Something I’ll never understand.

I’m losing my poem format, but my thoughts are jumbled and you taught me that sometimes I need to step outside of my comfort zone

You were my manager

For nearly fours years

I know we don’t always appreciate coworkers

But I can honestly say you had a light in you

That I’ve never seen

Bubbles and sunshine in the form of a human

Many of the thoughts and interpersonal conclusions I came to about myself and then wrote about on this very blog were because you pushed me to ask the deeper questions about why I act the way I do, how I appear to others, and perhaps most importantly how important it is to ask why.

Why did you react the way you did?

What were you feeling? Why did that upset you? What was correct in your reaction, and what do you need to work on next time you encounter the same feelings?

Yes, it often had to do with work

But you shaped it to apply to my life

And I’ll never forget it

Or you

My heart hurts

Every time I’m in the office

Or on a zoom call

I think of you and miss you

It was a simple relationship, but a very impactful one. The thing about loss is, you don’t realize that impact until it’s gone. Our team is slowly moving forward, but many of our hearts are shattered.

We miss you, Kayla

Her shirt 🥲🥺 and beautiful, infectious smile

My heart can’t rest

I just put my three year old to bed. Once I closed her door, I leaned up against the wall and sighed.

I’m disappointed with the lack of patience I had with her tonight.

I could have done better. I raised my voice.

Our son is four months old and just had his first two teeth pop through, so he cried a greater portion of the entire day. And no matter what I tried, nothing really seemed to soothe him.

I’m exhausted. Tonight is one of those nights where I miss life before kids. I know that’s a bold statement, but cmon. Every mom would admit thoughts like those if they were honest enough.

I’m fragile tonight.

Not to mention, I’m trying to mend my broken heart from the tragic and sudden loss of a dear coworker I shared nearly the last four years of my life with. There are no words to describe the pain of losing someone so brilliant and bright and bubbly. The speculation is killing me, as this happened Monday night and we are still waiting for an obituary and services to be announced. This was a very tragic and traumatic situation, so I do ask for all good vibes, prayers, whatever you do – to be sent to their family at this time. Work will never be the same. I’m in shock and disbelief and this whole week just has me feeling broken and damaged. My heart is wrapped in wire.

We’re all just tryin to make it through. This shit is hard, and that’s a fact. We never know the battles, regrets, and demons that people carry with them everyday.

All being said, try your best not to be too hard on yourself.

Rest In Peace, sweet Kayla – Thank you for being someone that pushed me and helped me see deeper into myself. I will take what you taught me and continue to remember the light you lit for our entire team 🕊🤍

The Treasure of Memories

Smartphones have absorbed our entire world. Our society runs through them in a lot of ways. They have single-handedly both destroyed the world we live in while also bringing the world closer than it has ever been before.

But I like to think of my phone as a tool.

Yes, I get on social media and play games and spend way too much time being unproductive on it… but today I’m thankful for my phone’s little tool called the camera.

There is a constant battle in motherhood. Loving your life, just as it is, right where you are at. But also hoping it gets easier, looking forward to tomorrow, and looking for the days when your life is no longer a constant sprint everywhere you go.

But the camera allows us a glimpse back into the moments we treasure. Memories no longer have to live in our minds. They come to life when you watch the video of your daughter’s first steps, or when you watch yourself become a wife. Photos let us step back into a moment and relive the happiness that we felt. All captured from this amazingly smart tool right at the tip of our fingers.

I’m thankful that these moments will be passed down and shared and relived for many years to come.

Life is too short to not enjoy. Turn off the noise, and focus on your happy. Groom your mind for positivity and live in the moment.

Check in on your friends!

We all have an old friend that we think about and say, ‘I should really hit them up sometime” but never do.

Life happens. We get busy. We don’t always prioritize relationships with our friends like we should.

Well, here’s your reminder: Check in on your pals. Even if you don’t know what to say. Even if it’s hard. Tell them you think about them. Tell them you love them.

You never know what someone is going through and life is too short to live quietly.