Did you know? Or did you just not care?

Mom,

You’ve read my words on this blog and I’ve tried to explain the anger from my side, but I still have received no real apology or any comfort from the idea that you may be remorseful.

Did you know that in three instances the way I found out you were going back to prison was from teachers’ and classmates’ snide remarks at school?

Did you know that I got a blanket from the DCFS worker the day that we were taken from you and I clenched that blanket and cried nearly every night for months? And the only reason the monthly streak of crying out for you ended was because I gave up the hope that I would ever even see you again?

Did you know that sometimes I’d wonder if your death would comfort me so I’d have closure that you were okay instead of wondering if you were out on the streets?

Did you know that the first time I ever saw your mugshot was when I Googled my name in my freshman computers class?

Did you know that every basketball game I played in I scanned the gymnasium hoping that you’d be there? You never were.

Did you know that it’s because of you that my first tendency when experiencing trauma is to get so angry I want to punch a wall? I held so much anger for the greater part of my life that I still have a hard time finding the healthy way to release it?

Did you know I held a handful of pills in eighth grade because I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore?

Did you know I cut my wrist with a broken razor blade just so I could feel pain that was physical instead of emotional?

Did you know? Or did you just not care?

23 Years of Adventure

Today I am celebrating twenty-three years of life. Twenty-three years of love. Twenty-three years of adventure.

I heard my birth story from my aunt and grandmother a bunch of times growing up. I think mainly because, as they tell it, it was a wild day! My mother was in labor prematurely and it was sometime in the morning when my aunt and grandma took my mother in to the hospital. I don’t know exactly how many weeks early I was born, but they had to life flight my mom from our local hospital to the hospital at the capitol, Springfield. My aunt and grandma tell the story that they actually raced down the interstate to beat the helicopter. They both swear they were in the hospital parking lot when the helicopter landed.

Sometime just after lunch I was born via emergency c-section. My back was actually up against my mother’s abdomen when they cut her open to deliver me, so I have a large scar across my back from where they cut me when performing the c-section. I was so small I wore doll clothes because preemie clothes were too big. I’ve been told it’s a miracle I survived.

But here I am. Flourishing in the sunlight, and dreaming of tomorrow. I have been blessed many times in this life. I do my best to slow down, breathe it in, and enjoy the things that bring me joy. In honor of today, I have made a list of a few of the things that bring me JOY!

  1. My beautiful daughter, Della Rae. Her spunky attitude and playful heart brings an overwhelming sense of pride every time I look at her.
  2. My handsome fiancé. Dylan’s passion for music and sly rhetoric reminds me that the simplest things in life are the most important. Our love is truly an adventure and I cannot wait to marry him in just over one year!
  3. The adrenaline rush that comes when you start to run.
  4. Sunrises.
  5. My family.
  6. Pumpkins patches and autumn weather.
  7. Hugs.
  8. Hearing “I love you”
  9. Good hair days.
  10. Singing in the shower and on road trips.
  11. The way my keyboard sounds when I type really fast at work.
  12. My daughter’s laugh.
  13. Hiking and camping.
  14. Pay day!
  15. Sunday morning snuggles in bed with Della Rae and Dylan
  16. Softball and basketball and football and hockey and any sport, really.
  17. Blogging and the friends I’ve made through WordPress.
  18. Mexican food and margaritas.
  19. Friends.
  20. Watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Some are silly, some are very common. But all bring me joy and make me enjoy the life that I am living. Today I am celebrating twenty-three years of life. A good life.

I am so very blessed. Here is to a life full of love and adventure!! 🎉🎁🎊

Gun Violence & A Parent’s Love

With the tragic and horrifying mass shootings that took place in the United States this week, everyone has been in an uproar about gun control. I get it. Let’s do something. But I think the one of the reasons we have such an awful gun violence issue in the United States is something that gun control simply cannot fix. None of what I want to talk about today has anything to do with gun control or taking away anyone’s right to bear arms. 

It’s easy to argue that the person pulling the trigger is responsible for the damage they cause, because that is the normal conclusion to come to when you hear of someone committing such a heinous act. And I would totally agree with that statement; however, there is another side to this that I feel is worth at least considering.

We have a gun problem. But more importantly, we have a HOME problem.

Since when did we become a nation filled with careless parents? Since when did we allow our nation’s children to be so disrespectful, lazy, and so careless about life? Since when is nearly 60,000 kids locked up in jails across America something that we are okay with?* Since when?

I know that most of America’s mass shooters haven’t necessarily been teenagers, but according to an article in The Washington Post, they are getting younger. Since the shooting in Charleston, more than half of shooters were under the age of 30. You may be quick to imply that it’s the younger generations’ fault that all of this is going on since they are the ones pulling the triggers. True. Ehh, kind of. 

What if I told you that children are have higher self esteem, communicate better, improved academic performance, and are less likely to have psychological and behavioral issues when they are exposed to love and affection at home? In 2010, researchers at Duke University Medical School found that children with loving and conscientious mothers grew up to be more resilient and happier adults. The study followed 500 children from infancy to their mid-30’s.**

I know with 100% certainty that I don’t have to fill this post with a ton of statistics, links to articles, and sparkly, mind-boggling information. You have the ability to google any topic you choose, so I urge you to go read up on just how important we are as parents in shaping loving, gentle, and soulful children.

It is absolutely critical that we show our children love and affection, and that has absolutely nothing to do with guns. Life can be busy and adulthood is overwhelming at times, but we cannot forget that we are raising tomorrow’s generation. Let’s raise a generation that is loving and passionate and gentle and open to talking about mental illness. Let’s love our children fiercely and show them that they have caring people that they can rely on – no matter what.Let’s raise a generation that knows that pulling the trigger of a gun is rarely a necessity.

You want to end gun violence? 

Quit teaching hate from within the walls of your own home. 

Stop whatever you’re doing that you think is more important (it’s not) and go love on your kids.

 

 

 

* – https://www.aclu.org/issues/juvenile-justice/youth-incarceration/americas-addiction-juvenile-incarceration-state-state

** – https://www.mother.ly/child/how-a-parents-affection-shapes-a-childs-happiness-for-life

Photos from Washington Post.

Good News … Finally!

Life has been absolutely CRAZYYYY lately… Is anyone else ready for fall, too? I haven’t had much time to put into my writing because I feel like I’m so busy I can’t even breathe sometimes. Everyone tells you it’s hard being a mom, but you can’t really prepare yourself for something like motherhood. I think what I miss the most about my life before my baby is that I had unlimited time to spend on myself. Not that I ever really did all that much, but the option was always there to pamper myself if I wanted to. My life has changed now to the point where I can’t even take a shower at a relaxing pace because I’m constantly worrying about what is going on outside of the bathroom…

However,

I do have some life updates that I feel like are worth sharing. I know we all get into slumps, and hopefully if you find yourself in one now, this will give you comfort that there is always light at the end of the tunnel!

I got a promotion at work! I’ve been working at my current company for almost a year now. I was hired on last August for a part-time position. Five months later, I took a leave for the birth of my daughter. Two short months after that, I returned back to work. Not long after my return, my manager asked me if I would be willing to work full-time hours. Since I was in a part-time position, I would still be ineligible for employee benefits, vacation and sick days, holiday pay, and performance-based bonuses. So, in short, I was working full-time hours, but not getting all of the benefits that the rest of the full-time staff was entitled to. To be frank, I was getting screwed!!

A full-time position opened up within my department, so I thought, ‘What the heck, I’ll just throw my name in the hat!’ My boss told me I’d still have to go through the entire hiring process of a three-person panel interview and online testing. Sooo, we scheduled the interview and testing. I walked out of it all totally disappointed and so sure they wouldn’t give me the job. I had envisioned the scenario over and over in my head and I felt like I had let myself down. It didn’t go at all like I thought it would. But of course, it’s human nature to be harder on yourself than what was reality. I was offered the job!!

I am now going to get good health insurance for myself and my daughter, a $2.50 raise, holiday pay, bonuses, etc. After some long, hard months, things have finally turned around.

I’m also officially enrolled at my university again to get a degree in Business Management. I start on August 26th. I’m suuuper excited to get back to learning and furthering my education. It’s going to be tough, but there is no one more determined than I!

How is your guys’ summer going? Our county fair started last night, which means FAIR FOOD, DEMOLITION DERBIES, AND VISITS TO THE BEER TENT! Can’t wait to hear from all of you! Sorry it’s been so long!

Story time!

Sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t a fictional story… I haven’t had much time to put into my writing lately, but I wanted to give you guys a quick glimpse into what I’ve been up to lately!

1. I have a baaaad rash of POISON SUMAC. 🌿😭 A few friends and I thought it would be fun to go creek swimming, but to get to the water we had to walk through some high weeds and grass. We must’ve walked through a patch of poison sumac because OH MY GOSH my legs are broken out and itch soo bad! It has spread on both legs, both feet, up onto my hips, and on my bum! I’ve never had poison ivy, so when my fiancé broke out I didn’t think I would too! Turns out, I did and I have GOT to get to the doc because I can’t take this anymore!

2. We had nearly $500 stolen out of our house this past week. It puts a huge strain on paying the bills this month. We don’t know who did it or what to do now that the cash is gone. VERY frustrating!

3. I have a job interview for a full time position at my current workplace! After the awful poison sumac and stolen cash, this news was a light in a dark tunnel! If I get this job I will make $3 more an hour and be offered great medical benefits. Fingers crossed I get this job!!! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

4. Babies grow SO FAST. My daughter Della turned SIX months old on the 5th!! She is the best part of my day and it’s so fun watching her grow!!!

What have you guys been up to? Sorry I’ve been a bit absent, but I’d love to chat!! Drop a comment!

Excuses & Friendships

Maintaining friendships after parenthood is hard. Most parents will agree.

But I always kind of had a hard time keeping up with others even before I had a baby. I have always been more introverted, and I can’t really think of a time in my life where I truly felt like I had a “best friend.” Sure, I had people I trusted, hung out with, and considered more than a simple acquaintance, but I never really felt a connection deep enough to where I felt totally comfortable and completely understood.

A short time ago, I had an old high school friend message me and ask how the baby and I were. I hadn’t heard from this friend in quite a while. I will admit, I was being petty about her not coming to visit me like I feel a good friend should. After all, she lives a county away from me. When she messaged me, I was busy doing whatever thing I had on my list of things to do as a working mom, so I gave her a simple: “We’re good.”

I didn’t mean anything negative by it. I was just … BUSY! So she ended up getting upset about how she tries to keep up with me now that I have a baby and that all I do is shut her out. I can see where she is coming from. In all honesty, I will probably always be the type to keep my distance when it comes to outsiders. I like friendship and I do believe that healthy relationships are important, I just no longer have the time to put a bunch of effort into people that aren’t making an actual, solid attempt to see me. You can make every excuse under the sun as to why you don’t go visit someone, but when it comes down to it… it just shows that you don’t actually care that much. And I told her just that.

How much you care is how much you try.

On the other hand, I had a friend that actually put in a great deal of effort to see me and meet my daughter for the first time. When I first got out of high school, I headed straight to Eastern Illinois University. There I met a girl named Tiffany. Now, we both only went to school there for one semester, but we were thick as thieves. We would run out to my car and smoke cigarettes, go to the frat houses, and hang out in our dorm rooms. All college fun… but that was four years ago. We never lost touch. 

Tiffany and I while in college

Tiffany and I this past weekend

I actually met up with Tiff in Chicago about a year ago, and then this past weekend she made the four hour trek to come visit me and meet my daughter.

I’d say that is a helluva lot more effort than most people give.

And we had only seen one another one time in the last four years.

My point of this isn’t to bitch about the people that aren’t putting effort into relationships.

My point is… The people that care, will show up.

It doesn’t matter if you only knew them for a total of four months.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen them in years.

And it doesn’t matter how far away they are.

If they care, they will show up.

 

Sharing My Story & Creating a Following Along the Way

I woke up to a very cool WordPress notification on my phone!

I HIT 100 FOLLOWERS!

I have always loved writing. English classes were my favorite, I loved writing essays and doing research. I took Journalism classes in college. Even though I love writing so much, making it a career seems unfeasible due to the fact that I live in a rural area where making good money from writing would be next to impossible. So I decided to start this blog. I did not know anyone who blogged personally and I definitely didn’t know any popular bloggers… so trying this out was something I started with no idea how it worked or where it would lead. I just knew I wanted to share my story with others in hopes that my words would help someone else with similar experiences. Growing up with a drug-addicted mother and a father I didn’t even know the name of, I felt so alone. As I started talking more about what I experienced as a kid, I realized I had a unique talent of offering advice and sharing my perspective to those that were like me. I realized that I wasn’t alone. I realized that maybe I was the light of hope and understanding for someone else, like I had always wanted someone to be for me.

I am thankful that this site has allowed me to share my story with both friends and strangers. I have received so much encouragement and love from my readers, and that makes it all so meaningful. I knew from the moment that I could gather my own opinions on my situation that I wanted to share it with anyone and everyone, so that someone like me wouldn’t feel the loneliness and desperation that I felt on my very worst days. I hope this blog has brought hope and comfort to those that have struggled with similar circumstances. I hope this blog has shed light on the problem with drug addiction we face within our families, communities, and world.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support. It means more to me than I could ever express in writing. 🖤

You are not your parent’s mistakes

You are not your parent’s mistakes. You are not responsible to carry their burden.

I have always struggled with this. Living in a small town community, nearly everyone knows your business, baggage and all. The thing about me, though, was that I was so very different that most of the other kids in my high school. When I say that I was from a small town, what I mean is that I graduated from high school with a class of 54. There were only two students in the entire high school that identified as something other than white. When I say there was no diversity, I mean NONE. Zilch.

So to feel like the outsider when most everyone was all so alike, was like carrying a bowling ball in my backpack hoping no one would notice.

I was ashamed of my mom. She was using meth and was in and out of prisons all throughout the state. And I felt like it was written all over my forehead, as if someone could see her mistakes when they looked at me. I felt nervous if someone looked at me for more than a few seconds.

They probably know that I’m the kid of a drug addict.

So my confidence went on the decline. I didn’t give people the benefit of the doubt – I just assumed that everyone could tell what I came from. I thought my mom’s choices defined me, and that held me down for a very long time.

I grew up, moved on, and came to understand that the person she became was not going to be the person that I would become. I wanted different, and I was in the position to do so. My aunt and uncle took me in, taught me right from wrong, supported me, and loved me as their own. All I had to do was believe in myself as much as they believed in me.

It’s hard to distance yourself from something that feels like a part of you. I will always feel the void where my mom doesn’t exist. I will always feel a tingle of embarrassment when someone tells me that they know who my mom is. I came from her. I exist because of her. 

And to decide that those things don’t matter is very hard to do.

I am not my mom’s lapse in judgement. I do not have to carry the weight of her misguidance on my shoulders. I am not her.

I am strong-willed and brave. I have a brilliant mind. I am a force to be reckoned with. I am happiness and power, rolled up as one.  I am nature. I am beautiful. I am hard-working and resilient. I am me.

There is so much that am, and it has nothing to do with my mother.

You

Are

Not 

Your

Parent’s

Mistakes.

Drug Courts & A Failed F*cking System

I wrote a few weeks back that my mom was getting out of jail and going to rehab. I was excited, but I tried hiding it. Part of me knew something was going to fall out. The thing about hope is that even though you can prepare yourself to be let down, you can’t prepare yourself enough to not feel the hurt of failed expectations.

She went to rehab for five days.

Five days.

Five. 

Days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken, but how I feel is much more than just a heartbreak.

I am furious.

 

I am furious at the system. I am furious at our courts. I am furious at the people that turn a blind eye when they know that someone needs their help.

SHE COULD BE A MOTHER. She could have been our mother for YEARS now if someone would have taken even a SECOND to pay attention to what the hell was going on in our situation.

It all started in the early 2000’s. The first time she was arrested for possession and fighting. I would have been around five years old. So you arrest a young mother for fighting on the streets while high on who-knows-what, and you’re not going to do anything to make sure it doesn’t happen again? What about the second time? Third time? Fourth time?

Oh, right. THAT’S when we finally take the kids.

But she should have been provided the rehabilitation and help she so desperately needed WAAAAYYYY before it ever got that bad. It has been eighteen years since this all started and nothing has been done to help her. I am furious because in this country drug addicts can relapse and relapse and relapse and get locked up several times without getting any help! By now, we should all be aware that it is cheaper to rehabilitate addicts so they don’t relapse than it is to lock them up over and over and over again…

When did we stop caring about people? Or rather, why don’t we care more about people? It is unfortunate that many addicts’ stories are just like my mother’s. An endless cycle of drug addiction, arrest, lengthy prison sentence, release, and then it starts all over again. And again. And again.

I lost my mother because our court system is designed to allow addicts to fail. 

She was arrested this last time for possession of meth. She was sent to a rehabilitation facility for FIVE DAYS after a twenty year-long span of drug addiction. Do you want to know why? Because they release those that aren’t seen as a risk of relapsing. 

ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS???!

She has been an addict for twenty f*cking years and you’re gonna tell me that after FIVE DAYS in your facility, you think she isn’t going to go right back to the drugs?! WHAT. A. JOKE.

This is what I mean when I say that the system is designed to let people like her fail.

I am heartbroken. Outraged. Furious. Disgusted. Appalled.

If she would have gotten help the first time she was seen as having a problem, I could have a mom in my life right now. But instead I’m sitting here pissed off, writing a blog about how the government helped in making my life a living hell.

Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve never talked about mental health on my blog before, but I figured it’s a great topic to talk about, and since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, there’s no better time than now!

When I think about words that describe myself, I first think about words like happy, energetic, motivated, determined, etc. But the truth is, there are more times than I’d like to admit where I feel the exact opposite of those. There are days I want to pull the blankets over my head and sleep the day away. There are days where I feel sad, have no energy, no motivation, and no patience.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million people) experience mental illness in a given year. Also, mood disorders, (including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder) are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults 18–44 years old.

So if so many people are affected by a mental illness, why do I feel so alone when we realize that I may be suffering, too?

When I look back on my life, my darkest time was definitely throughout my junior high school years. I remember talking to the school counselor a lot during my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years. It was the time in my life where I most struggled with the absence of my mom. I think it was when I first started to fully understand what had happened to me and began to realize that my life was much different that those of my classmates. I was angry a lot of the time. I grew up in a family of six siblings, and at this time I remember I would get in trouble a lot for hitting on them. I don’t consider myself a hostile person, but at that time I was looking for an outlet of my emotions that didn’t involve talking about or dealing with the severity of them. I resented my mom and the fact that she chose drugs over my sister and I, but my sister was years younger than I was and couldn’t fully understand what had happened. She was only 3 when DCFS took us from our mom. So I was dealing with all of those demons completely alone- even the person that I went through this with couldn’t help me.

It was my eighth grade year when I hit rock bottom. I had a bedroom in our basement, and my bed was one of those bunk beds that had a desk under it instead of a second mattress. I was sitting at that desk listening to some of Eminem’s darkest songs and thinking about how much I hated what I was going through. I got up and searches the medicine cabinet for any and all pills I could find.

I went back to my desk, laid the pills out, and started writing goodbye letters to my loved ones. Before I got through the last letter, I was bawling and starting to realize that this wasn’t something I could go through with. I imagined what my family would be like as they read these letters, and I realized I loved them WAY too much to put them through something like that.

I went to school the next day. During PE hour, I gave my best friend the letter I had wrote her the night before and explained to her what I was feeling. We cried together in the locker room and she took me to go get help from a teacher.

I’ll never forget that moment.

We grew apart in the following years, but I have treasured that moment of love and understanding for all of these years. She was the one that picked me up without judgement and led me to the help I needed. I love her for that to this very day.

Many years ago!!

There is no shame in getting the help you need. I recently read a post on Facebook that said something along the lines of hoping that one day getting help for mental health would be as normal as going to the doctor for an injury, and that getting released from school for mental health would be as normal as leaving for a tummy ache. What a world that would be. Let’s end the stigma against mental illness and help those suffering get the help they need.