Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017, The Year That I Start Biting People

I warned a friend months ago that I felt like 2017 would be the year I start biting people.

Months ago.

I haven't actually bitten anyone.

Yet.



But...I know that's probably because some of the people I have been the angriest with should be thanking the fact that they live far enough away from here that they're firmly outside of my bite radius.

There have been so many things that have angered me in so many new ways this year. SO FUCKING MANY THINGS.

Oh, yeah, I'm probably going to swear a lot here, so prepare your delicate sensibilities. Unless you've been here a while already and know that about me.

I swear. A lot. And I really don't care what other people think about that. I'm sure that in some people's eyes, that means I'm not a lady. Whatever.

If you think I care about your assessment of my femininity...excuse me while I have a good hearty belly laugh for a minute.

This year has truly been one shitshow after another, and I'm wholly convinced that this election season has infected our entire society. Not only do some people resoundingly NOT care about other people, they're not even trying to hide it anymore. Just go ahead and slap that proclamation of hatred on your forehead, folks.

I've watched as people around me suddenly woke up to systemic racism, only when it was revealed that someone else they held up on some pedestal wasn't who they pretended to be.

Hero worship is a powerful fucking drug.

I don't do heroes. I never have.

Wanna know why?

Because people are the worst.

For real.

Sure, there are lots and lots of people who do important things, who invent and create and lead and produce amazing benefits to society.

And every single one of those people has done or said something that would knock the air out of your hero sails, rip the mast in half and sink the motherfucking ship.

Does that invalidate the good things they do? Of course not.

Is it disingenuous to talk about the terrible things they've done, that they've said, that they've encouraged, that they've benefited from? Not only no, but hell no.

It's disingenuous NOT to talk about it.

We're all human and we all make mistakes. Some of us make those mistakes over and over and over again enough times and with volition enough that they aren't mistakes at all, but deliberate choices to be assholes. Just because we also did something amazing doesn't make us infallible. Nope.

Of course there are degrees of awfulness. Some people who've done amazing things don't have a long list of horrendous offenses. Sometimes the harms they've perpetrated are relatively minor. But some of them have stood on the backs of others climbing up to the top of that pedestal, content to take the work of others and claim it as their own. Some of them hurt other people in unimaginable ways. Some of them aren't who you think they are at all.

Two of the universes I'm part of have dealt with this already THIS YEAR, and people wonder why I don't want to talk to anyone at this point.

TWO OF THEM.

The problems at the core?

Cultural insensitivity, racism, appropriation, abuse. All kinds of shit that no one likes to talk about or admit exists...the kinds of things that people can't seem to see until that spotlight shines down and they have a come to Jesus moment.

Age isn't an excuse here.

It just isn't. I don't care how old you are, it doesn't give you a pass on this stuff.

Systemic racism is absolutely a thing. One of the comments I've written and written and written this week goes a bit like this:

The entirety of maternity care in this country is rooted in misogyny, in racism, in classism, in fetishization. Our system routinely fails MOST women, but it fails women of color more. It fails children of color more. The evidence is indisputable.

The entirety of postpartum care in this country is, wait for it....the same. Failing most women, failing women of color more.

And a HUGE part of the reason it fails women of color more? The resolute unwillingness by those in positions of power and privilege to see it in the first place.

So, you know, if you're totally fine sitting idly by as maternal mortality rates tick higher and higher in this country that somehow simultneously claims we're going to be great again while stripping women of their access to the not-good-enough health care they currently have, you're what is wrong with this country.

Talking about inequalities, particularly those supported by the data, does not perpetuate racism. Racism wasn't invented by health researchers. We didn't just conjure it up by running a regression analysis.

FFS

...

My husband wants me to try and relax, to stop being so fucking furious all the time. He wants me to be able to let stuff go. And he does and says all these things to me because he worries about me. He knows how much this all wears me down. I'm writing this in the hope that letting some of it out will lift some of that weight off my shoulders. Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. He wants me to understand that I don't need to choose to engage in every fight to which I am invited.

Sometimes, though, those fights come right to my door and won't stop knocking.

Knock

Knock

Knock

And sure, I (maybe) could let shit go. Maybe. Some of it. Within reason.

Unless it involves my children. In which case, you don't want to knock on this mama bear's cave door.

And if it is my children that you come knocking about, know that you will unleash a wrath within me that might never fade entirely. I don't care how long I've known you, or how close we once were. I don't care that you're older, that you believe I owe you my time or my answers or my respect. There is no respect left. There is no love left.

We are just done.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Besides which...

I am the one who knocks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

To The One Who Pushes Harder and Harder...

I haven't written this yet, but it's not officially your birthday yet, right? You weren't born until the afternoon, so technically this isn't late. Yet.

I still totally have time.

Winky face.



You won't be able to read it until tonight anyway since you have a track meet after school. Birthday = Hurdles. Somehow, for reasons that I don't fully understand, you are running and jumping over things on purpose. My dad used to do that when he was back in high school. He was actually really good at it, too...even ran the steeplechase. Held on to some records for decades. Clearly the affinity for track and field skipped a generation. I have always had bad knees, and somehow on hurdle day, they were always giving me trouble. Okay, maybe I milked it to avoid the hurdles. *runs away*



I know that if Grandpa were still here, he'd have been on a plane to watch your first race. He'd be so proud of you. Wherever he is now, I hope he's watching.

You see something like a giant hurdle and say to yourself, "I can do that".



And then you do.

About this time last year, you decided to compete in the triathlon over the summer, even though you hardly had the stamina to swim one length of the pool at the time. You pushed yourself, you developed the endurance, and you finished.



You've already started training for this year, making your pool distance on your first attempt and shaving time off your personal best. For your birthday, you wanted a road bike. And you got one.

Ever since you were a baby, you've been obsessed with going fast. Then going faster.



You were the one who spun the tires on the powerwheels Jeep bald as a toddler, now you're the one timing miles on the bike.

Let me just take a moment right now to thank whoever Craig is for inventing his list, because we were able to find you a bike for a reasonable price.

Just last night, after getting home from helping your dad with your brother's cub scout meeting, you whipped up a batch of white chocolate fudge. The house is usually littered with your cookbooks and magazines and recipes and ingredient lists. There's always something in the works, some new creation you need to try out.



This year, you started middle school, going back into the world of public school again. You were nervous at first, but have transitioned easily. You've made new friends, you've rekindled old friendships, you've branched out on your own. When the ugliness of adolescent drama has reared its head, you've weathered it with grace, learning the hard lessons in life that people will disappoint you, but that it almost never has anything at all to do with you.



I know how impossibly hard it is for you to not take things personally. I know because I am the same way. You're learning. I'm still learning. It's hard when you feel things as big as we do, it's harder still when people you love choose to hurt you.

I wish I could tell you that this lesson would end soon, that people would stop being awful...but it won't. You'll just get better at dealing with it all.

Don't let it harden you to the world, though. Don't let it change who you are. Don't let it stop you from putting yourself out there, from forming new friendships, from trying new things. Don't let it change your passion, your determination to do the right thing, your seeking of fairness and justice. Don't.

Those things make you who you are.

You were hesitant to sign up for the science olympiad team this year, not sure of what it entailed. Your sister would be participating for the last time before she moves on to high school. Though I know that it may not seem like it now, and certainly didn't seem like it then, someday you both will look back on this time and see what you achieved together.



Speaking of things you did together, you were on the same volleyball team too. Then you have been there, quietly supporting and cheering her on as she built the gay/straight alliance club at school. You even helped her find a dress for the gala dinner she was invited to attend.

That's who you are. You're always there, for all of us. You're always the first one asking if you can come along. You're always willing to sit in the stands, help out, cheer the loudest, hang out in parking lots at drumline shows for entire days. Even if your siblings don't always return the favor, even if they're too busy, too moody, too teenager-y, you always, always, always support them.



You have a special bond with the baby because of your willingness to help, and he is drawn to you especially. He blows you kisses every morning after I drop you off at school, and when he wakes up from his naps in the afternoon, you're usually the one he asks for. You're always the one that volunteers to wear him when we go somewhere that his little legs won't carry him.



You've grown up so much this year, learning to juggle all the responsibilities of school and homework and sports. You've pushed yourself in things I would have never even attempted. You've always got a second bag packed, whether it is for volleyball or basketball or track or the pool or a sleepover.

You're a journey in chaos at times, a whirlwind of activity and emotion, wrapped up in this tiny body that came with two hollow legs. You can out-eat anyone in the house when you're training...it really is impressive. It's a good thing you cook too.



You're a force to be reckoned with in this world, a passionate fighter who loves with your whole heart. You don't do anything small. You're not afraid of a challenge. You'll teach yourself if you have to. Then you'll start timing laps, keeping track of how much faster you went this time.

Keep running, baby. Keep going faster.



I'm proud of you.

Happy birthday.

...and I love you more first.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Is there a statute of limitations on this stuff?

My husband stayed home from work yesterday. Over the weekend, he'd fallen up in the mountains, going and hurting himself in the process. When he could hardly move, I insisted that he should probably go to the doctor just to make sure he didn't do anything that won't heal on its own. The diagnosis? Torn cartilage around one of his ribs.

And yeah, he got the, "At your age..." lecture from the doctor. Weekend warriors of the world, I salute you. So do all the orthopedists.

Since he was here, he did all the things he does on any given day...just most of the time, at least during the week, he does it when he is at work. On that list of habitual daily things...he checks the pictures on the cloud from this day in prior years.

I tend not to do that, for a few reasons. One, I am deeply in the realization that my kids are growing up before my eyes right now and don't particularly need to see pictures of them as squishy infants at the moment. Two, I've got issues. A boatload of them in fact. Once you've dealt with PTSD as a result of your issues and needed years of therapy to work through them, you kind of give up being a tourist in your own life. Three, I'm usually too busy teaching the homeschooler and preventing the toddler from dismantling the house all day long to remember to check.

He checks.

Sometimes when something makes him feel things, he sends me a picture or texts it to the kids.

Sometimes he laughs, trying to figure out what that picture was - especially on the days when it's abundantly clear that some kid lacking photography skills had clearly taken one of our phones and had a little photo session.

Sometimes he's quiet and reflective.

And sometimes he's a mixture of annoyed and pissed and amused.

Yesterday was one of those.

The pictures he saw, and then showed to me immediately since he was here?

The ones of the day of the fire.

"The" fire.

I always feel really unsettled this time of year. Edgy. Or at least I have for the last five years. It took me a while to put two and two together, but the days when it's prematurely warm and windy are always the worst, especially when it's towards the second half of March.

The reason? The fire.

The one that I still don't really talk about, and have only mentioned briefly here before. I think maybe it is time for me to finally write about it. I know that it'll likely end up with me getting a few messages from people. I know that someone will probably tell me I'm wrong, because that is usually what happens.

I actually brought it up independently a few days ago, not realizing we were so close to the anniversary. A friend is dealing with a situation similar in far too many ways to the one I was in back then, six years ago. I see her and what she is going through. I see the guilt and the conflict and the questioning, I see her trying so fucking hard to do the right thing, never sure of what it is. I see her shielding her child from as much of it as she possibly can, knowing that she has a duty as a mother that is bigger than her duty as a daughter. I see it. I see it because I lived it, and because I understand how impossible a situation like that truly is to endure.

So, the fire. "The" fire.

My father had died about six weeks earlier. My mom had come out here to visit, in anticipation of moving out this way. She needed to get out of the house he died in, and I understood that she had to come here. So she did.

And she was not in a good place. She hadn't been for a long time, and maybe never really was. She was doing this thing that I've seen so many people do when they lose the person who was the center of their life, and they spiral out of control. She was reckless, she was irresponsible. She was spending money as if it actually grew on trees, which was precisely the kind of thing my father hated most when he was alive. She was newly free of his guidance, and living it up on her terms. Smoking like a chimney, even in the wake of watching her husband die of lung cancer.

And then she was here.

That afternoon, I had to take one of the kids to an eye appointment. She offered to stay here with the other kids so that I wouldn't have to take them. I hesitated just a moment, but then the overwhelmed mother in me said, okay. I left and took my daughter to the doctor.

At the time, my oldest was not yet nine years old. The same age his younger brother is now. My younger daughter was five. The youngest back then was only two.

The wind had picked up quite a bit, but I didn't pay too much attention to it.

When we turned onto the street coming home, the gusts had picked up more. I saw what appeared to be smoke and started to panic a bit. As I pulled around the curve and could fully view our house, I realized the smoke was coming from our yard.

She was out there, trying to connect the hose to the house, as it was still too cold to leave it connected overnight. Desperately.

The mulch was smoking all over the yard, visible flames in a few areas. The underbrush of the plants all along the fence were engulfed. And the flames licked the top of the fence line, urging their way upward with each gust.

I screamed. Threw the car into park. Told my daughter to go into the house and immediately call 911. I ran to the side yard and ripped the hose from her hands, still not connected. Got it all together, and started stamping out what I could with my feet while pouring water on the fence.

She was yelling.

"I don't know what happened".

"It's not my fault".

"It was the wind".

I screamed something to the effect of, "Why didn't you call 911? Where are the kids? What the fuck happened????", then told her to go inside and get the kids and get them out of the house. Make sure 911 had been contacted.

She told me that we didn't need to call 911. And that everything was fine.

She finally stopped arguing and went inside.

I started screaming at the sky right about then. Sobbing.

Tried to call my husband over and over, his phone going straight to voicemail.

The only thing that kept the entire yard from going up was that I'd just soaked the dry brown winter grass the day prior. I shudder to think how quickly it might have spread if not for that. Whether the house could have gone up, whether my neighbor's might have.

Then the sirens. They got louder and louder.

Two trucks. Fire chief happened to be on duty that day.

By then, I'd managed to put out most of the fire myself. They checked​ the fence for hot spots, dug around the post to make sure there wasn't anything smoldering where we couldn't see.

Chief asked what happened. I told him I didn't know. That I'd been at the doctor with one child, my mother left here with the other kids, and I'd come home to this.

She came outside, hysterical. The oldest was holding the baby. The girls were holding each other.

Immediately defensive, she confronted the fire chief. Insisted that it had been put out. Not the fire, the cigarette.

She pointed at the can she insisted she'd extinguished the cigarette in, now rolling around the yard in the wind.

He didn't believe her.

My eldest child stepped forward, told them what he'd seen. She had gone outside, again, to smoke. Left him in the house to watch the others. Told him to leave her alone.

She was out on the porch, smoking in 40mph+ winds, talking on her cell phone. She'd put her soda can on the railing, laid the still lit cigarette on top, and it blew off, starting the fire. 

She was on the phone.
Smoking.
In the wind.
Outside.
Instead of watching the kids.


The cigarette that was more important to her than watching
the kids. The cigarette that lit my yard on fire and destroyed
my relationship with my mother.


She turned around and with a vengeance in her face and in her voice that I'd come to be quite familiar with, she called him a liar. To his face. In front of us all.

He insisted he was telling the truth.

I had no reason to doubt him.

He had no incentive to lie.

The chief pulled me aside, asked me if she was mentally stable. I said I was questioning it. He asked if there had been anything traumatic in her life recently. I said yeah...my Dad literally just died. From smoking.

He shook his head.

Asked me if I wanted to press charges.

Told me they'd have her arrested and charged with arson and child endangerment.

I said no.

I said no.

I said no because I hadn't yet fully wrapped my head around how reckless she was. I said no because I was still trying to protect her. I said no because I wanted her to just get her shit figured out and be a responsible adult.

I said no because I was in denial of the truth.

I said no because I was still leveraging the safety of my kids for her benefit.

I said no.

I should have said yes.

Maybe things would have been different. Maybe the path she was on would have changed. Maybe things wouldn't have ended the way they did. Maybe she'd still be here now.

I don't know and wondering does me no good now, on this side.

She's been dead now for three and a half years, and nothing about that is reversible.

What I learned in that moment and the months and years that followed was that I couldn't fix her. I couldn't make her better and no amount of trying would help. Didn't stop me from trying.

What it did, though, was damage my kids. Damage me. We required years of therapy and work to undo the damage.

She referred to it from that day forward as, "a small incident". Never took responsibility. Never accepted that she'd caused it all to happen, never admitted that she was lying, never once apologized to my son for accusing him of lying.

And I knew that I could never trust her again.

I could never leave her with my children again.

She absolutely could not live with us.

All this happened six years ago yesterday, and it took me this long to tell this story.

Is there a statute of limitations on this stuff?

Maybe, just maybe there is.

I'm guessing it's around six years.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Unpredictability of Time

I wrote a post on Facebook yesterday, lamenting the fact that one of the theories I'd held fast to throughout my tenure as a parent was breaking down.

I used to believe that there was a little bit of comfort in the fact that we don't really observe our kids growing up, at least not in the "oh my gosh, they are so much older" sense that occurs when we see children who don't live with us after a few weeks or months and they're suddenly so much taller and more mature.

I used to believe it. Clung to it, in fact, because this parenthood gig is essentially a lifelong journey with bitter sweetness.

The days can sometimes drag on for what seems like an eternity, but you blink and inexplicably, that toddler is looking at colleges and you wonder what the hell happened to the linear progression of time.

They were just born yesterday, weren't they?

They grow up, children. Whether we want them to or not, and they opt not to obey our time frames at all.

I used to think that there was at least some small comfort in the fact that we can't really tell how much or how fast it all has happened though, just because of the benefit of proximity. We are with them daily, see them constantly, and that truth makes it virtually impossible to pick up on the subtle changes constantly taking place.

Sure, they get older, but it's just a minuscule amount at a time, virtually impossible to take notice of.

Or at least it was.

Until this past week.



The theory broke down.

It no longer holds any weight, at least not in my house.

For reasons that defy explanation, I can suddenly see my kids aging before my eyes. I don't know if it is the days ticking off the calendar that my oldest child will still be here at home and my need to confront that reality. I don't know if it is the fact that both of my daughters are smack dab in the middle of their growth spurts at the same time. I don't know if it's the ever changing set of gaps in the teeth of my eight year old. I don't know it's the toddler who has seemed instantly to have transformed into a kid in the past handful of days.

I suspect it's likely a combination of all of those things, hitting me at once.

I suspect also that it probably has something to do with my deliberate awareness of it all, those moments as a parent when you just quietly sit and observe who they're rapidly becoming and you wonder how you were ever able to create these people and how they chose you to be their parent and why you are so lucky to have this chance.

Kids. Teaching me I've been so wrong about so much of what I thought I knew, and on a daily basis no less.

I've given up wishing for a pause button because I've had children long enough to know that such a thing doesn't exist. Instead, I'm trying to just live in this moment as much as I can. I know it won't last for long.

I've blinked before.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

How a Pregnant Giraffe Gives Me Hope (in a world rapidly descending into chaos...)

I feel like I've already written about this giraffe, and I know for certain that I have been periodically checking in on her for about a million years. Maybe I overstate a bit, but it sure feels that way.

I've spent more time looking at giraffe vagina lately than I ever imagined possible.

And I say this as a person who generally spends more time staring at vaginas than most people ever will.

(If you didn't already know, I am a doula....so try not to make it weird, you guys.)

Anyway.

I can't even remember who the first person was that insisted I watch this live video of this giraffe in labor all those weeks ago. Whoever you are....side eye.

"In labor".

Giraffes aren't actually deemed to be in labor until hooves are showing, which means that this giraffe we've all been staring at for weeks is not now and hasn't yet been in labor on this live video, but we've all wasted hours of our lives watching giraffe vagina just to get filled with eager anticipation every time she lifted her tail.

Then pooped.

Also, this is information that I did not know about giraffes until a few weeks ago, so look at that....we're all learning, here.

There was a night this week that I really thought she'd finally go. She looked like I remember in those last weeks. Miserable. Uncomfortable. Pissed. Couldn't get up and down without a whole production. She was having labored breathing and everything.

But then no.

Let me tell you...as a doula and a as someone who has birthed five humans, this is a thing. The whole OMG the baby is coming right now but then....nah. How about you stay pregnant for another week or so? Good times.

My name is Kelly and it has been seventeen minutes since I last checked on April.

This is not April, but it is a giraffe.
Thank you, public domain pictures.
In these past few weeks of staring at the backside of this giraffe, though, I've been amused. People watching is basically my favorite activity in the world as it is, and something about the semi-anonymous nature of the internet brings out the best and worst in people.

Clearly, it's not actually anonymous because all those comments posted to live videos have the name attached, but there's an illusion of insulation involved as we all sit from behind our own screens away from other people, all staring at the same ass together.

And people reveal so very much about themselves, and collectively they reveal so much about humanity. It's interesting, to say the least.

There are people that clearly have spent large portions of time watching and waiting. They are the people who are hardcore invested in this birth, the ones who express great relief every time they have to go actually do something else and come back and she's still knocked up. OH THANK GOD I DIDN'T MISS IT, they exclaim! Yeah, she totally waited for you, Karen from Columbus, Ohio.

There are the people who are constantly praying for April to have a safe delivery, asking Jesus to help her. I'm not convinced that's how it works, but whatever floats your boat. I'm pretty sure that if Jesus or God or whoever actually intervenes when asked like that, he/she/they would probably opt to tackle larger issues than a giraffe who isn't actually in labor yet. Just saying. Also, I'm pretty sure prayers about sporting events fall into the same category.

There are the people who are convinced she needs pain medication or induced, and as an actual doula, this one annoys me for about 47 different reasons, but I figure there's no reason to argue with people who can "sense" that a giraffe on the other side of the country that they are watching on their phone is in pain. Maybe they have abilities I don't possess. Who knows?

There are the people who show up just to rant about zoos in general, about how awful it is to have animals in captivity, and I while I agree that humans are generally terrible about forcing animals to entertain us, the past few weeks also saw a rhino have its horn cut off with a chainsaw by poachers in a zoo, so the common denominator seems to be that humans are the worst, no matter what.

There are the people who seem certain that the animals are being neglected and underfed and forced to live in these tiny stalls...but anyone who has watched for more than a few minutes knows none of those things are true. Some people are super committed to what they believe, though, and nothing will sway them otherwise.

There are far more giraffe experts than logic says should exist in this world on these threads, arguing with other giraffe experts about every aspect of giraffing. Oh wait, they aren't experts. They're just people with an internet connection and time to kill.

There are the people who reported the live feed for obscenity because thousands of people staring at a giraffe's vagina must be sin filled and dirty. Yes, that actually happened. I assume those are the people who have only ever had sexual relations for the purpose of conception, and probably stuck to the missionary position, then said a few rosaries afterwards. Sex. It's how we all got here. For real, though.

There are the people who honestly know nothing about mammals in general, like the fact that humans are mammals or that giraffes are mammals or that mammals feed their babies milk. And the self-amusing trolls of the world have seized upon the ignorance and gullibility of them by creating the egg movement. If you've watched April, you are familiar with #teamegg already. I'll try to be brief in the description. It's basically a group of people who insist (in a completely joking and ridiculous way) that the giraffe is going to lay an egg, then the giraffe will hatch from the egg. They make up statistics and information about the egg, tell people what size and shape it is, how long it will be until it hatches or whether it will break upon landing on the ground. It's a whole thing. Intended to be ridiculous and amusing, a way to kill time while staring at giraffe vagina. There are three general groups of people who respond to #teamegg. 1) the people who get disproportionately angry, 2) the ones who actually believe that the giraffe is going to lay an egg (this is why we need more science in schools, you guys), and 3) those who just ignore them. I'm sure, as a blogger and personal troll magnet, you can all see how this amuses me deeply.

Among all these terribly interesting groups of people, though, there have been glimmers of hope in these rolling comment sections.

People sitting vigils over dying parents and grandparents, watching the giraffe to distract themselves from what is happening in real life for them.

Families in the process of welcoming their own new babies into the world, sharing their labor stories and worries and concerns.

People struggling with their own mental health issues, staying online to keep in contact with someone else out there in the world.

And all of those people have been supported and loved and surrounded by this community of complete strangers. It's beautiful to see, actually, and with everything else going on these days, we need these reminders.

We need to hang on to that hope, the hope that tells us that people can be strange and paranoid and selfish and ignorant, but that they can also be loving and supportive and committed and entirely invested in something that has nothing to do with them.

So, giraffe watchers of the world. I see you. And I think you're pretty fucking amazing. Keep it up.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Danger of False Allies

The internet is quite literally full of articles about the right way and the wrong way to be a feminist right now, especially after this weekend.

For the record, transgender women are women. Full stop.

Any argument people attempt to make about how they have/still benefit from male privilege ignores the anecdotal and statistical evidence that says otherwise.

Trans women are one of the most marginalized groups of people in this society, the most likely to be the victims of violence.

So, let's just not have that conversation, please.


~~~~~~throws things~~~~~~

What I'm here to write about, and what I will try to be as brief as humanly possible about in this discussion, is the reality that our society is full of false allies right now.

I can see some of you cringing at the mention of those two words together already.

We see it in white feminism all the time, where white women center the conversations around their needs, their concerns, their issues, far too often at the expense of women of color, at the expense of trans women, at the expense of anyone who doesn't feel at home wearing a pink pussy hat.

p.s. not all women have vaginas, not all vaginas are pink, and really can we not??? I mean, I get that whole wanting to reclaim the word thing and how the focus is on that simply because the guy we just elected to the highest office in the land is a proud grabber and bragger of grabbing them, but can we not?

Feminism that holds that up as the center ignores women, silences them, tells them that they aren't women, that their concerns are not at the forefront or even welcome at all.

I really don't want to talk about feminism, though, because this issue is so much larger than that (and feminism is a pretty fucking big deal, so what I'm talking about must be virtually constant and legitimately dangerous, right? Right.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seriously. I cannot focus today. This is my brain on ADHD and anxiety and I need to go teach a group of LGBTQ+ kids to meditate in an hour and I haven't showered so freaking focus, self.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The False Allies. Let's talk about them. White feminists are just one variety, but they come in all flavors, all races, all genders, all sexual orientations, all political affiliations. Basically, anyone can be a false ally. Me included. You included.

What is a false ally?: someone who claims outwardly to be, and probably really believes that they are, an advocate for someone else, in whatever way they are attempting to express that advocacy, but who messes up fundamental parts of that relationship, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and in the process makes things worse.

Holy run on sentence, Batman.

I swear, I am coming back to edit this later.

I just need to get it out right now...

So, these false allies....I was talking to someone about them recently, about how in my view they are often more dangerous than people who just oppose whatever the issue is, because they create the illusion that they are there to help. They want to believe they are helping. They think they are.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and they are super committed to paving that road.

These are the people who step into leadership positions, wanting to organize groups or events or marches or whatever, but who can't understand that their perspective is necessarily limited by their own experiences.

These are the people who think that because they had a friend go through a situation one time, and they were sort of around tangentially, that they're qualified to give people who are actually going through it now advice, but then they stumble over the words and sometimes say terrible things.

These are the people who really do mean well, and want to make a difference, until someone points out the fact that they aren't being inclusive, or that their platform ignores this entire group of people, or that their terminology is ableist or that they've made assumptions steeped in privilege that just aren't going to apply to others. And then it gets hard. And then, instead of acknowledging their own limitations or lack of information or experience, they get defensive. They shut down criticism. They refuse to do the work, instead claim they've already done it or that it isn't necessary at all.

They keep paving that road to hell with good intentions, hurting people along the way.

I wrote a piece last week or the week prior about how we are all problematic and we all are. We are all necessarily limited by our own experiences, by the stigmas and lies we've been raised to believe, by the set of tools we have currently at our disposal.

No one comes to advocacy a wholly inclusive person, no one comes to this with the ability to fully incorporate the needs and concerns of all those who deserve a seat at the table. No one does.

And no one should be excluded from being an advocate because they occasionally screw up.

But if you're going to sit at that table, and if you're going to hold yourself out as an ally and you're committed to really doing the work, then you've got to understand that we're all problematic and the only way we become less so is to learn.

Listen.

Grow.

When you fuck up, and you will, apologize. Not that "well, but I tried" or "but I meant ____" or "I'm sorry you're upset" kind of apology. A real apology. The kind that just says, "I am sorry and I will take this experience and learn from it and do my best to do better next time."

That's all.

Seriously.

Being a human is hard.

Being a human who hurts other people can be emotionally devastating, but we all do it.

What matters is what you take away from that experience.

Either you learn and grow, you listen and do better.....or you build a wall of defiance, certain that your intentions matter more than harming other people.

Do that, and you're a false ally.

And you know who false allies hurt more than anyone else?

The people who believe they are real.

Don't pave the road to hell with good intentions. Dismantle the machine that fucks up the road in the first place, then build a better one.

Have a good day.

Monday, March 6, 2017

foreshadowing the floor crying

The following is a post I wrote on Saturday morning. I was sitting in a college classroom on the other side of the state, there for Science Olympiad with my daughters. They participated together.

(I know that someday they are going to be so glad they did this together. I know that day won't be for a while and it certainly wasn't on Saturday.)

Anyhow, I wrote this roughly 24 hours before I hit the proverbial wall and ended up on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. I knew it was coming. I saw it from a mile away. I needed to do it. And since I have, I feel better.

So, fellow humans of the world, I implore you. Feel the feelings. All of the feelings. Even the ones you are suppressing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I really want to stop writing about this.

I really want to stop talking about this.

I really want to stop thinking about this.

The problem with me being me is that I know that until and unless I completely process all the shit that has happened in the past 8 days, I won’t be able to be done with it all. Maybe ever.

Hi.

Once you’ve been through the whole ptsd thing as a direct consequence of unprocessed trauma, you don’t willingly ever want to go back there.

Trust me on this.

The thing is that I was really only tangentially involved in the whole thing. I’m affected, sure, but this isn’t my story to tell. This isn’t my trauma. This isn’t about me, and I have zero delusions that it ever is or could be.

And still, it is affecting me.

It’s affecting me because I’ve been through trauma enough times to recognize the warning signs, some of which I feel like I should have seen earlier, most of which I’m already beating myself up for diligently.

Should I have done more? Should I have done less? Am I responsible for anything that happened? Could I have done anything to change it?

None of those questions really have answers. I know this.

And I know that I need to just accept that there are way too many things in this world that I cannot control, but that will inevitably affect me. And I need to sit with that truth, ugly as it is.

I’ve learned things about people through this experience. Good things. Bad things. Terrible things. Awful things.

I’ve been through enough horrible experiences in life that I can tell you there is one commonality that runs between them, as predictable and unsurprising as it is disappointing. It is this: people will always let you down. When the going gets rough, when situations become difficult, when the moment of truth arrives, there will always be people who reveal themselves to be someone you wished they weren’t.

And it sucks.

2017. The year of being disappointed in humans.

For as many terrible things we learn, though, there is the good. The hope. The optimism. The allies and partners and fighters revealed. You learn who your people are and you learn it in a hurry.

I’ve always joked that I’m the person you want on your side when the zombie apocalypse happens. There are reasons.

I mean, I totally will flake on you if we make plans a week from now, particularly if they involve going out in public, wearing pants, talking to people I don’t already know, or anything remotely scary.

I will. I’ll worry so much about whatever it is that we have planned that I will literally make myself ill over it, because that is the wonder of me.

But.

When shit goes down for real, all that overthinking and overanalyzing comes in handy.

And then, when the shit going down starts to wind down, I pay the price of running on adrenaline and caffeine and vodka. While it’s a terribly effective short term fuel source, there are consequences.

And right now I can feel those consequences in every cell in my body. My back and my neck and my shoulder ache. My head has been hurting for days. The kind of headache where even your hair hurts. I’m drained. I’m exhausted. I’m worn down.

And I know that for as awful as I am feeling right now, I’m on the periphery.

This wasn’t about me. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.

So whatever I am feeling right now is just a fraction of what others are possibly feeling, probably feeling, almost certainly feeling.

That’s what we do, though, us humans. We feel.

So feel whatever you are feeling right now. Ask yourself the hard questions. Demand better from others, from insitutions, from yourself. Drink water. Sleep.

Get up.

Get some more coffee.

Kick ass.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Where Do We Go From Here?

The past week has been a difficult one for me and for so many of the people I love. I won't go rehashing what happened, mostly because it isn't my story to tell.

My involvement with an organization that will soon disappear was short lived, relative to my life and my work in postpartum mental health, and relative to the involvement that others had with this group.

This is a tremendous loss in our collective lives and has left many people wondering what we do now. Where do we go from here?

I want to assure anyone who has ever come to me with their questions or concerns, with their set of symptoms wondering what might be going on, with questions about resources or providers...you can still do all of that. My work didn't begin with this organization and it isn't going to end. In fact, I'm shifting my focus to one that is more local in nature and have launched a Colorado advocacy group.

The hardest part about all of this for me is that we're all problematic. Every single one of us. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over and over again. That doesn't mean that we can't also do good things. It doesn't mean that we can't also do good work. As human beings, we are complex and deeply, deeply flawed.

At the end of the day, though, it's my opinion that the mission of an organization is meaningless if that mission isn't one that is extended to all those served equally. The mission is meaningless if people within it are not treated properly.

Change is not easy, but it is necessary. Change has to be forced. Equality in any form in this society has never been extended without those who are marginalized demanding it.

There are so many people who will claim that intentions matter, and sure...they matter a little. What matters far more than intentions ever will or could or should, though, is impact. We don't get to decide if what we say or do hurts other people. We don't get to tell someone else whether they should be harmed at all. We don't get to insist that our lack of awareness of the fact that we've hurt them is an excuse or an explanation. We don't.

We certainly don't get a free pass to perpetrate the same harms repeatedly.

The road to hell truly is paved with good intentions.

Good intentions are particularly damaging if they can blind someone to the damage they're doing along the way.

So, this morning, sitting here, organizing and planning and starting fresh, I know that even if it doesn't make sense, things will be okay. Eventually.

They might be hard for a long time. We all might have questions that never get answered. We aren't all going to have the same questions or the same feelings.

We need to grieve the loss of this thing we were a part of. The grief demands that we acknowledge it, that we stand in its truth and confront it head on.

And we, all of us survivors of mental health issues in the past, know that we need to let the grief in. We need to give it the time and the space, we need to work through it. It's going to look and feel a little different for everyone, and that is okay.

We need to also come to terms with our own disappointment: our disappointment with individuals and with institutions.

Perhaps even our disappointment with ourselves.

That's always the hardest to confront anyway, isn't it? And it's one of the reasons we're here in the first place.

I hope that all who are out there reading this today and understanding why I am writing it know five things.


  1. Self care is essential right now. Take care of you. If that means you need to step away, do it. 
  2. This movement isn't contained to one person or one organization. It is all of us. And we are all going to keep doing this work. 
  3. This community is not going away, and we are here to support one another.
  4. Believe those who tell you they are harmed, and work to undo the harm. 
  5. I love you.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

To The One Who Will Change The World

Oh, Freckles.

It's that time of the year again. You know the one...when you get a year older, when you start asking me if I've written your birthday letter yet, when you prepare elaborate slideshows (never with stock photos) detailing the things you'd like as gifts.

That time.

The slideshow was sitting in my inbox last weekend.

As I'm writing this, I'm staring at your eternal pile of stuff, the one that is ever present on the couch in the living room. The place you've just staked out as yours in the house.

In that pile, the one that frustrates me every time I walk past it, is you. So much of you.

Little pieces of who you are, not just the physical representations. You leave a trail behind you, wherever you go. Always have.

There is the rainbow flag, the one that you had to have. The one that magically appeared on our doorstep one day. The one that usually resides in your backpack. The one that you've used as a cape during protests. The one that hangs in the classroom during the meetings for the gay/straight alliance. The GSA that exists because of you.



You know that you have a supportive family, that you have a great circle of friends. You know that there are other kids out there who don't have that support in their lives. You created this so that they would have a safe place, so that they'd have a room full of friendly faces who loved and accepted them.

You did this.

There's the sweatshirt you acquired from my closet. As you do.

There's the t-shirt that just came in the mail from your godmother last night. The one that she knew you needed to have. The one that would just make sense.


There's the bowl of cereal left behind...because there is always a bowl of cereal left behind. It's the gluten free chocolate one, of course.

The kitty cat headphones you couldn't live without and squealed over on Christmas morning, the ones that are the constant accompaniment to the ipad full of youtube videos. All the videos.

The envelope holding the receipts from all the boxes that arrived in the last month for that project you've been working on. I have to say...it takes a lot to make me say WOW and you did it a while back when you told me what you wanted to do for your NJHS service project. And you did it. You did it big. You managed to collect enough feminine hygiene items to fill up the van, all to benefit homeless and at-risk youth.


I know you hate talking to people. I do. I know that you get nervous about asking people for help. I know that you loathe giving speeches and meeting new humans. I know. You come by that honestly, by the way.

But you do it. You've already learned to force yourself to do the things that scare you.

And it's awesome.

You have piles of music on the couch. Piles and piles. You basically taught yourself to play piano just to spite your brother, which amuses me tremendously. The folder from district honor band, perpetually on the couch or table, as if it's on display or something. You'll be joining him in marching band, in steel drum band, in concert band. Maybe even drumline.

ALL THE BANDS ALL THE TIME.

It is totally a lifestyle choice.



You'll be in the Medical and Bioscience Academy too, finally taking all the honors level classes you should have been in all along. I'm totally serious about making you a paper chain to count down the number of days left in middle school. I'm doing it.

91 days

I spent all morning signing you up for leadership summits and technology programs and we still have to figure out which one of us is taking you and your sister to the science olympiad next week.

Nerd.

You're a nerd. A science nerd. The best kind of nerd.

But, unlike your mother, you don't care at all what anyone says or thinks about it. When I was your age, the sun rose and set on other people's opinions of me. You just don't care. You love what you love, you're good at the things you are good at, you spend time on what you like and you don't care what people say. And it's amazing.

Looking through the pictures of you in the past year, I'm a little teary. And a little humbled. And a lot in awe.

You're a badass.

An occasionally terrifying badass.


For real.

You are smart.
You are compassionate.
You are driven.
You are stubborn.
You are caring.
You are funny.
You are self-deprecating.
You are weird as hell.

To be all those things as an adult would be remarkable. To be those things at 14?

Amazing.

I mean, yeah....you're already disappointed in most of the people in the world. You spend time every day being pissed off about things. You see things most people are content to ignore. You care about so many things, whether they affect you or not. You can comprehend privilege in this society. You understand inequality and injustice already. You want the world to be fair and equal, and not in the superficial ways, but in the ways that matter. You understand the nuances and complexity of why things are the way they are and you want to get in there and fight and demand that they be better.

You want people to be better.

You demand that people be better.

I'll deal with the trail of cereal bowls as long as you keep leaving a trail of change behind you as well.

Stay angry.
Stay passionate.
Stay weird.


And always, always, always wear the tiny glittery cowboy hats.

I can't wait to see what you do with this next year.

And holy crap, kid. I'm proud of you. I'm so proud of you that I could practically burst.

Happy birthday, baby.

I love you.

Mom

Friday, February 10, 2017

Six Years

Six years ago this morning, my father died.

I used to try and find more delicate language about his death, say things like "passed away" or that we'd "lost him". I stopped doing that a while back because I think part of our society's twisted way of dealing with death stems from our general inability to talk about it in real terms.

We focus on youth and health because the alternatives scare us.

We talk about how brave people are when they fight cancer, as if that really has anything at all to do with whether they live or die, and we do it because it creates this illusion of ownership - like we're somehow in control of whether cells metastasize or not simply based on effort.

It gives us a false sense of security, but does no favors to those who've been through the hell on Earth that a cancer diagnosis truly is.

My dad died of cancer, and nothing about it could possibly be romanticized. It was ugly and painful and heartbreaking and then one morning it was over.

And none of it is fair.

He should still be here. I should still have him around. His grandchildren should have a chance to get to know him, instead of only ever really being exposed to him though the stories we tell.

I wrote a long-ish post on Instagram last night after I left work. I'd spent the night playing songs that remind me of him, telling the people I was subjecting to the music that it was all in honor of my birthday.

It was for him.

Me, trying to finish my blog for work,
but finding myself entirely distracted today.
They were the songs he sang, the ones I remember watching him dance to, the ones he'd whistle in the car. My love of music comes from him, and it is one of the things that I'm deliberately and consciously passing down to my kids with intention.

In that rambling Instagram post, I was trying to say something about how the past few months have been very difficult for me personally. I hit yet another bottom of sorts, this time stemming mostly from years of my perceived inadequacies and failures. Depression and anxiety don't play well together, and they're terribly convincing liars.

Among the many personality traits he refined in me as I was growing up, strength. Strength in the face of adversity, strength of such a stubborn variety that it can (and does) cross the threshold into a denial of sorts.

I am so independent that I don't want to need other people.

I am so strong that I convince myself that I can take care of things by myself.

I'm that way in large part because I am his daughter, and he made me this way. Partly deliberately. Partly through his own examples. Partly through the conflicts that ran between us for the first twenty years of my life or so.

But it isn't always a good thing, this resolute strength and independence, because when I'm sinking down down down to the bottom of the pit, I can't always pull myself out alone.

I need help sometimes.

And I'm completely terrible about asking for it.

I don't want to need it.

I want to be okay without anyone else's involvement being required.

And I can't always do that.

At this point in my life, I'm not just still learning the lessons he taught me, but I'm learning to unlearn them too. To tease out the nuances.

To save myself, I have to do the thing that scares me the most in the world - rely on someone else.

When I am at my most vulnerable, I have to be willing to ask someone else to help me.

And it sucks.

If he were still here, I know that he'd be worried about me. I know.

The number of times he whispered into the phone that I could just come home whenever I needed to, I couldn't even tell you.

Halfway down the aisle on the day of my wedding, he was still giving me an out.

And until he died, I had one.

Once he was gone, I was left here floating in the universe without that safety net.

So I had to learn to build one for myself.

And that net, it's messy. It has a few holes. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it needs to be cast a few times before it catches anything. It doesn't look like a net should, it's woven together in part by people I've never even met but who reside in my computer.

To create this net, I have to do this here. I have to write.

I have to because it is what has saved my life more than once, and it is what has built this network of people willing to grab me and hang on.

He'd worry.

He'd think I was sharing too much.

He'd worry that I was being too vulnerable.

He'd call and make sure I was really okay.

I'd give anything for just one more phone call, but I've lived here on this side now for six years in a world where that phone doesn't ring anymore.

I'm a realist. Sometimes painfully so.

I'm so different than I was when he was here. I wonder sometimes if he'd even recognize me.

I know he'd have some questions about the tattoos. Heh.

But, I think he'd get it...I think he'd get me, and I think he'd understand because he was always the one person who seemed to know me better than I know myself. My brother has sort-of stepped into that role these days.

My dad was the first one to refer to me as a writer, even before I called myself that. He followed me, read everything I published while he was here. He knew that I needed to do this for whatever reasons I needed to do this, and he never focused on the end results. He knew it was about the process, the journey. And he knew that it made me better. Safer. Healthier.

Even if sometimes I have to exorcise my personal demons to get there.

I think he'd be proud of me. I hope he'd be proud of me.

I'm proud of me.

Sometimes being strong isn't about being independent at all. In fact, sometimes it is exactly the opposite.

It just took me this long to learn that lesson.

Thanks, Dad. I miss you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

At least I did this.

I was standing in the hallway tonight, urging my toddler to fall asleep in his bed, awaiting his recurrent footsteps towards doorway when something hit me.

I didn't completely fuck it all up.

At least I remembered to do this.

Next to me on the wall, five ceramic wall hangings in various shapes, sizes and colors. Two with imprints, the others just painted whimsically. Each one with the name and a date on them, each one containing the footprints of a different child of mine.

Each one was created on their first birthday.

The actual day of their first birthdays.

Not three months late or whenever I managed to remember. The actual day.

I have a similar group on display downstairs. Pictures of them all playing with their feet on the day they turned six months old. Again, on the actual day.

I finally got the last two sets footprints hung up in the hallway today.

The baby is almost two and a half. I've had his plate, the last of the bunch, for well over a year now. His older brother is eight. Eight.

(I know, I know...timeliness isn't one of my strong suits. I'm aware.)

Anyway.

I was standing there, begging this child to finally lay down long enough to realize just how tired he was, when it hit me.

I didn't fuck it all up.

And I have proof.

You see, earlier tonight, in the car, I confessed to another of my children that I had postpartum depression. I told the oldest last year.

I told this one tonight in the way I told this one because I was trying to communicate the fact that none of us are immune to these mental health struggles and just because it usually appears that I have my shit together, I absolutely do not always have my shit together.

So, here kid.

Here's a figurative picture of the shit sandwich I was served all those years ago.

The kid...was...quiet. Surprised I think.

And then I admitted that I don't remember the entire first year of their younger sibling's life. And by extension, part of their childhood.

And let me tell you.....that's not a fun thing to admit to anyone, let alone your own kid.

Shit sandwich, coming right up.

I wondered tonight, just as I wondered last year when I opened up that particular closet for the oldest, whether I was doing the right thing by telling this kid. Maybe they'll see me as more human. Maybe they'll understand that I understand them more than they realized up until that moment. Maybe they'll appreciate the fact that I trust them with this stuff. Maybe they'll think I am an abysmal failure as a parent.

That nagging self doubt.

That part of it never really goes away.

Just like I still haven't really forgiven myself for not only having had PPD as badly as I did, but more so for KNOWING that there was something very wrong with me and having done nothing for as long as I did until I spiraled and spiraled and spiraled and forgot an entire year.

Blocked it.

Whatever.

So, there I was. On this evening of vulnerability, trying to get my last, and yet another PPD baby to bed.

Staring at this wall of baby feet.

I realized in that moment that I'd made these things, these keepsake things that will someday either sit in a box in their basements or collect dust on a wall in their hallways, I'd made them in some of the absolute darkest days of my life.

When I couldn't even see the tiny light at the end of the tunnel, when I hated myself with every ounce of my being and doubted whether I should have ever even had children, when I was convinced that I was failing my husband and myself and them, I'd proven to myself that I wasn't a complete failure.

Even then.

I could still do what I needed to do to protect these little legacies. I still was fostering traditions and adhering to the illusions of what motherhood was supposed to be like in my head. I was still doing it.

And I was doing it as much for them as I was doing it for me.

At least I did this.

I could still manage to keep those dates in the back of my mind and force myself to do these things that I wanted to make sure I did for each one of them.

Not only could I still do it...I did.

I did.

At least I did this.

I didn't fuck everything up.

I wasn't a failure, at least not entirely.

The tiny feet in the hallway told me so.

And you know, on a day like today, I really really really needed to hear that.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Note to self.....

I've been writing birthday letters to other people for a while now. I write them to the kids every year, I've written them to my parents and my husband.

I haven't exactly written one to myself yet.

I think it's time.

You only turn 40 once, right?

Here goes nothing...

(Oh, and for the record, I struggled with the form of this letter endlessly. Do you write a letter to yourself in the first person, the third person? Why is this so weird? Why do I over think everything?)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Self,

Forty, huh?

That number once seemed like it was so far away, distant and strange. Over there somewhere, associated with people who were so much older than I was.

Than I am now.

Age has never really been something that bothered me, at least not once I was past the part of life where we wanted to be older, not younger. I was always one of the youngest people in my class, in my grade, in my group of friends. I was generally the last one legally able to do all the things tied to minimum ages.

That phase of my life, the wanting to be older part, has been over for a while now though. These days, I actually enjoy being the youngest one because no matter what else I might have in common with my former classmates and most of my friends, I'm almost always the youngest one.

It has its advantages.

It's funny to me that this past year was the one where I started working in an industry where I'm almost always the oldest one around. I feel like I'm a good decade older than most of the people I work with. The fellow employees who were tasked with auditioning me and training me were almost all wee babes. Which is a strange dynamic, you know? Being taught how to do all the things by people who were still losing teeth when you got married. It's weird.

Last week, I actually got into a bit of an argument with some people at work, because they were insisting that I wasn't actually going to be 40. I had to be like 32 or something. Nope. I have a kid going on college tours. Just because I also have a 2 year old and work in a bar and spend inordinate amounts of time on my playlists doesn't mean that I'm not actually deep into middle age.

And I'm fine with it.

When I look back on my life up until this point, there are a few enormous disappointments, sure. That career I was supposed to pursue. The life I was supposed to live. The person I was supposed to be. I've mostly gotten over all that, made my peace with the way things are as opposed to the way I thought they'd be. As much as planning is a useful tool in life, it's not a guarantee, and there's something to be said for the character building that comes from failing completely.

Let's just say I have abundant character. Heaps of it.

This last year has been a transitional one for me. Not just because of the whole impending mortality thing, but because I've really started to find that peace within myself. Acceptance can be a real asshole sometimes, but once you get there, things work themselves out much easier.

I've become more honest with myself, and consequently with everyone around me, of late. I'd say it's for the better, even though I know that there are people who don't like this less polished and refined version of me.

I'm more raw. I'm more likely to put myself out there. I'm more determined to kick ass at the things I commit to. I'm more vulnerable. I'm more passionate.

That's all resulted in me losing a lot of friends. And that's fine.

I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and if you don't want to sit with me, I'm not about to try and convince you why you should.

I'm perfectly content hanging out by myself anyway. Always was.

I just used to try and convince myself that I needed to do the things other people wanted me to do because I was supposed to, and I don't do that anymore.

I'm too old for that shit.

And I'm way too fucking busy.

For real.

(And before anyone starts in on me with links to some think piece about the glorification of busy, it is not that at all. I'm just a mother of five who works and teaches and runs support groups and plans fundraisers and does advocacy work and juggles most of it most of the time and there isn't a whole lot left at the end of the day. And this isn't me complaining, either. I'm lucky to have the life I do. I'm just explaining things. Also when did the internet become such a hole that it requires me to write these stupid disclaimers every time I write about myself anymore? Never mind do not answer that.)

I'm more comfortable in the skin I wear these days.

I'm not out to prove anything to anyone.

In the last year, I did a few things that scared the crap out of me. One of them was taking this weird job in the first place. I mean, honestly. Why would a person with off the charts anxiety deliberately want to stand up in front of strangers all the time with a microphone? I know, I know. It seems counter-intuitive. I know. It makes sense though, for me. As introverted as I am, I know that the only way I'll deal with other people out there in the universe is to force myself to do it...and I'm actually really good at it once I kick my own ass to get started.

I know my issues.

I know how to force myself to deal with them.

That's part of the wisdom of being my age, I suppose.

I went to a conference to meet a bunch of other warrior moms last year. Some of them "knew" me from this, the blog. My writing. I've been doing this over eight years now and I don't think it will ever not be weird for me, this knowing that other people out there in the world read my words. I mean, I know they do and I want them to and I invite them to and I thank them for doing it...but there's nothing like meeting a person I've never actually met and having them feel like they sort-of know me. It's. Well. Weird.

Good weird. But still weird.

The conference, though. I still haven't written about it, primarily because I'm still processing it myself. I had a long, awful time with postpartum depression. Years. Really, over a decade now. There are things that I'm still not really comprehending about my experience with it, things I haven't entirely forgiven myself for, things I wish that I could go back and do over. Things that I wish I could tell a younger version of myself.

But then I wouldn't be me now. I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have gone there.

And this is part of who I am now.

I am the mom who lived in her own personal hell alone for over a year before she told anyone. Who still can't really go back to that time because it's blocked from her memories.

And I'm the woman now who knows that the only thing that saved my life then, and the only thing that has saved it several times since then is speaking about the struggles aloud.

I have to tell people.

I have to stand in my truth and shout it to the world. I have to for my sanity, and I have to so that whoever else is out here in the darkness with me knows that they aren't alone.

While we're on the subject of truth...

I almost checked myself into the hospital last month.  

Happy birthday to me.

I narrowly avoided doing so because I reached out to the people I trust and I let them in, and that little crack in the doorway let in a sliver of light and I fumbled in the darkness and found a hand.

And so I open the door for others and I reach out a hand to them.

And I'll keep doing it.

I know that I wouldn't be here, I know that I wouldn't be this version of myself had it not been for all of the things I've been though, all the things I still deal with now.

I wouldn't say I am thankful for my struggles per se, but I know that if I wear them all on my sleeve, they will interlock with one another and form a suit of armor.

That suit of armor does two things.

It protects me.
I urges me back into battle for others.

So, self...keep on doing what you're doing.

Save yourself.
Help save others.

Be the person that superhero tattoo on your arm says you are.



Maybe give yourself a break occasionally...

Happy birthday,

Me


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