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]”

It’s wedding week!

I’ve been casually MIA- for good reason.

6 days until “I do.”

I have planned our entire wedding in less than one year and under $10k dollars (which is nearly unthinkable today).

And did I mention… vacation?

Thursday morning at about 4am we will head to Pigeon Forge, TN where we will be married in the Smoky Mountains on Saturday. Send good thoughts, as the long travel (10-12 hour drive) we are asking of our families is what brings me the most worry.

I’ll be sure to update with plenty of pictures after the big day, but here is some of what we have been up to lately!! (Other than full time jobs, college, and wedding planning!

Pumpkin patch
Leon is almost 11 months old!
Our sweet Della Rae
Jeep rides!
And even time for a date night here & there!

Now for final preparations and packing!!! 🤍💍

A Good Mom

A Good Mom never believes that she is a good Mom.

Perhaps, I suggest to myself, it’s just how I stroke my broken ego after a long day of chasing children around the house.

Who knew a three year old could push my buttons so quickly? No one warned me of this!

Or, maybe they did. I just didn’t listen.

Sometimes I wonder how I’m supposed to be the adult and parent two children. I mean, I don’t even want to call to schedule my own appointments, let alone be responsible for a tiny person?!

Seems bizarre, but I seem to be doing okay at it.

When I was pregnant the first time, I remember several women telling me, ‘It’s instinct. You’ll know exactly what to do.’

Oh? That’s your idea of good advice? I have no idea what I am getting myself into and I’m supposed to just trust that I will instinctively know???

But I think I am beginning to understand that they just might have been right all along.

It is easy to love wholeheartedly and be tender loving. It’s easy to want to be everything for your child. We worry because we care so immensely that we just beat the hell out of ourselves when we forget, or worry too much, or be too bold, etc etc. The list of things we beat ourselves up over really could go on and on and on. It’s so easy to be the person your children need. You may not be perfect, but I believe the love and care comes instinctively.

But, I digress.

We were made to do this. Motherhood often feels lonely and the unknown journey can be paralyzing, but we really are just all flying by the seats of our pants. No one reaaaally knows what’s going on, and if they claim to, run… Because those are the people that are waaaayyy too comfortable relying on the comfort of a world we longer live in.

The times are changing, but you are a good Mom. You possess the tools you need to make it through anything. Mothers of the world, we got this.

To The Mothers Who Wonder if Being Present is Enough: It is.

There are days when performing the most basic tasks of motherhood is all the strength that I can muster up. Sometimes I take the “easy way out” even though I know I shouldn’t; like giving my daughter chocolate milk for bed, or letting her watch a little bit too much tv…

At the age of 7, my sister and I were removed from our home with our mother because she had substance abuse issues and an addiction to methamphetamine. I remember the mother before DCFS came in and changed what I thought I knew forever. I remember soft cuddles on the couch. And every week we would get out our TV dinner trays and sit on the floor to watch the newest episode of Fear Factor. I remember a blissful and loving childhood when I reminisce on the years I remember with my mother. I don’t remember a ton, maybe more than most (perhaps it’s made-up in my head), but I do remember that she was always there. The memories of that period of my life that I cherish the most are the ones I remember being curled up with her, tickle fights, doing crafts, spending time in the kitchen.

It was 2003. I didn’t know it then, but the day I left our home with DCFS was the closest I would ever be to my mother again.

All throughout adolescence, I had my bouts of extreme anger, pure hopelessness, and resentment towards my mom; and this was all well-masked by my focus on being a hardworking multi-sport athlete, straight-A student, and an active role model in the community. I felt put-together and distracted from the “loss” of my mother by becoming someone with the morals, work ethic, and dedication of the strong leaders, teachers, coaches, and friends that I was surrounded by. I feel very blessed for their contributions to who I am, but I would be lying if I said there could ever be anyone to replace my Mom.

As the years went by and I grew into a young adult, my mother was in and out of prison several times. We had very little communication all throughout my middle school years, until I was in high school and able to make an effort on my own accord. I scanned the stands of every game I ever played in, hoping to see her there. She never was. I wrote letters to her in prison using a friend’s home address instead of mine. I was brokenhearted and didn’t know the right ways to cope. I begged and pleaded to God, asking him what I did to make her not want me. Our relationship could never be completely restored, even if I wanted it to be. The pain of not having a mother still fills me with astounding anguish at times; it’s usually short-lived, but every day I wish I could call my mom for advice. I had my children without my mother. This fall, I will get married and she will not be there. This is a pain that I feel constantly.

I promise you, your presence in your child’s life is enough. Even if you don’t have a clean house today. Even if you let them skip brushing their teeth for one night. Even if you don’t love all of the parts of motherhood. Even if you question if you are truly a “good mom.” Stressing over these minute instances just proves that you are the best mother for your child.

I am speaking from the perspective of someone who both treasures the memories I have with a loving and kind mother, and also as someone who daily mourns a lost relationship with their mother: You, most definitely, are enough. Even if you feel like you could have been better. Even if you made a mistake and it’s eating at you. Even if you feel like the biggest failure on your bad days.

You’re human, you’re trying; but most importantly, you are present.

Every day, you wake up and commit your life to your child. Being there matters. Children may not remember everything you do together, but even when you are being hard on yourself, I hope you take comfort in the thought that they will always know that their mama was there.

Because there is one helluva hole left behind when they aren’t.

Garden Update!

Life is crazy with two babes, a full-time job, college classes, planning a wedding, Sunday night slow pitch softball league… what else?

Oh, a wonderful garden!

Reminisce with me… This time last year we were preparing to move to this house (our first time as homeowners!) and had tomatoes, jalapeños, and several other plants growing in pots. We dreamed of a garden in the earth and were excitedly making plans to prepare the garden that we now have!!

We made our dream a reality (in most parts, but not to say there hasn’t been stumbles along the way)! There are still plenty of ways we know we can improve (a lot of which require $$$), but I’m still so excited about what we’ve accomplished.

Here’s the layout:

Raised bed with lettuce & radishes; peas growing up a trellis cage; potted mint; bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapeños, green beans, corn, and carrots sown in the ground
Baby lettuce 🥬
Radishes
Strawberries 🍓
2 potato plants 🥔
Tomatoes 🍅
Carrots 🥕
Corn 🌽 , green beans, jalapeños 🌶 , & tomatoes 🍅
This year I am attempting to grow sunflowers 🌻!! I’m so excited 😆
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Apple tree progress 🍏

We are so excited for the progress and I will update with more photos soon!!

EOD Thoughts: 06.19.2022

Perhaps today isn’t the day to write what I feel

Maybe I should give a shout-out to the men in my life that are wonderful fathers

Or acknowledge the importance of the celebration of Juneteenth

But instead

Tonight I feel sad and that’s all I want to put on this page

Tomorrow will bring a new day

But I know that a new day will not result in a “parent” choosing to accept you

Or congratulate you, or hell- even wish you the best

Tonight I’m sad because I believe she very actively, possibly subconsciously (but doubtful), hopes that I fail

All while publicly loving and admiring a few of her other (favorite) children all over Facebook

Maybe it shouldn’t bother me

I guess it hurts knowing I’ll continue this world without a mother figure

She was supposed to be “the replacement”

She was supposed to fix me

But instead, she’s another woman that continues to break my heart and fails to love me the way a mother should

Or, I suppose, the way I believe a mother should love their daughter

I just imagine the future with my daughter…

And I know it involves tons of phone calls, adult cuddles and day dates, and one day… the involvement with her children should she ever have her own…

I don’t know what a relationship with a woman is regarding these important memories a mother and daughter should share

But then again… how would I know what mothers and daughters should do???

Tonight I’m sad, that’s all

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!