“Thoughts of the day”

Man, this little endeavor has really got me thinking. I woke up kind of emotional today. I am recuperating from a pretty invasive spinal surgery. You know, as opposed to those really easy non-invasive spinal surgeries.

Things are ok but I am getting a little down on myself. I need to be productive. I need to clean. I need to work. Then I roll over and the pain shoots through me like a harpoon and I am reminded that I am indeed, not Wonder Woman.

Who does that bitch think she is anyway? All shiny and cool with her parkour and metal arm bands. Sheesh.

I laughed as I had that thought. Then a friend texted and asked if I was ok. Then I cried.

Why can’t I just cry? Why does that make me weak? I think we are becoming a society where to be productive you have to just do, and never feel. I forget sometimes that sometimes I have to break to be fixed.

I think there is a catharsis in screaming into your pillow as the day starts.

“I am going to feel this, then I am going to do the day.”

Does that make me ill, or less equipped? Or does this put me ahead of the curve? If I purge in the morning and address the inadequacy, doesn’t that give me a clean slate?

I don’t know where the line between self-awareness and self-indulgence is. As an addict I think it goes without saying that this has been blurry for me for years.

I do know this though. I cried, I emotionally purged and then walked downstairs to make a cup of coffee. That coffee pot looked like the finishing line of a race. As I pushed through my often crippling emotions and put the water in the machine I laughed to myself.

“You did it girl. You made it downstairs. You deserve this cup of coffee.”

I think we need to remember to celebrate the little victories guys. We need to congratulate ourselves on whatever it is that we accomplish. For me is was acknowledging that I was not ok and allowing myself to not be ok for a moment.

I shake hands with my past and current mental illness everyday. I feel giving it that acknowledgment saves me. Yes I am a mother of four +1 angel baby. Yes I am an addict (ex addict in my mind). Yes I have mental illnesses that I struggle with. And as large as all of those things are in my life, I am so much more.

I believe I am so much more because I am real about who I am, not just with others but with myself. I look into the mirror somedays and all I can see is the roadmap that my face has become. The lines that remind me I am getting older and not at the level of success my 15 year old self knew I would be at by now.

But if I look a little longer the lines change and I remember that that line in between my eyes is from my sarcastic dry wit. I love that about myself.

I remember that the line on the left corner of my mouth is from laughing my ass of during the times that are amazing.

I remember that every grey hair was earned. Each one a story I lived through. And hey man, I am still here to count them. If that isn’t a damn victory I don’t know what is.

So I guess the lesson I needed to remember today was this: It’s ok to be whatever you need to be as long as you remember you are not only one thing. You are not your mental illness. You are not your wrinkled face. You are not your grey hair.

You are the godamn warrior that is here to tell the tales behind all of those things. I gotta go now. My coffee is ready.

“The last time”

Man thirty hit me like a Mac Truck. I could feel all 18 tires leaving their mark. I was turning thirty and my life was about to be over.

You see when a woman turns thirty she becomes “vintage”. We can no longer look at someone and say “Yeah I’m in my twenties, I’m still relevant and sexy!! Hee hee.”

At least this is how I felt coming up the peak of that very large hill that was my very last day of my very last year in my twenties. So here it was. My thirtieth birthday.

I was a wreck. I forbade all party paraphernalia.

No balloons

No cards

No candles

No cakes

Nothing.

On threat of life there was to be zero festivities on this day. My family staying true to form held a party promptly at 12:01 a.m. May 9th. As it was no longer my birthday I couldn’t say a word.

Sooo the party ensued.

Now I feel the need for a little back story here. At this point in my life I was a pretty dedicated drug addict. Meth was my DOC (drug of choice) and we knew each other well. We had danced together for years and I loved the numbing whispers that would run down my spine every time I got high.

Until those whispers took on a scream of their own.

I had struggled with my decision to enter this world for years. The first time I got high I was sure that I was going to just have some fun. I would never end up like Psycho Mom and Dear Old Dad. I would do drugs, and do them better than they did! Cause… yeah… that’s how that works.

So here I am on the day after my birthday. I partied the right way for awhile and then decided to party the wrong way. I received a call. The call that would resound within me for the rest of my life.

The call came from my “god father”. A man I had come to respect and hold in the highest regard up until right before this call.

He was half of a power duo in my mind. He was a god to me. He and my “god mother” had been together longer than I had been alive damn near and they had just ended their relationship because the monster got him.

They had doped together and gotten clean together. I wanted to be them. I held my hopes in my hands because of them. If they could do it, then so could I. Then they didn’t. He didn’t. He relapsed, and then, he cheated.

He called me and wished me a happy birthday. He asked if I was up for company and I said sure. I was mad as hell at him but I still loved this man and needed a father figure to fill the gaping hole left by my real father. That black hole of a man left quite a space so I thought, what the hell. He’s all I got.

I remember him sitting across from me and pulling out the glass pipe. I watched as he filled it and felt something inside me turn away from me and weep. I knew I was going to get high with this man and I knew it was going to kill me to do so.

He passed the pipe and as I rolled it and inhaled I questioned everything inside me. We chatted and he apologized. I told him it wasn’t a big deal because I couldn’t form the words to tell him how I really felt.

He left shortly after. I began to feel the sick. It covered my skin like the worst oil spill you could ever imagine. My skin was slick with the bad decision I had just made. My stomach churned inside me and I heard the familiar voices start to spew the hate from within.

The sun was peaking through my closed blinders threatening to reveal the lines in my face and I began to panic. I turned my back to the front door and slid onto the floor. I put my face into my hands and screamed animalistic and raw.

I cried and tried to keep the bile from crawling up my throat and spilling out onto the floor.

I knew that was the last time I would ever get high. I knew with my last inhale I kissed that part of my life goodbye. I never got the desired high and took that as confirmation. I spent the next 72 hours trying to maintain and regain my sanity.

I spent the next year trying to find out how to deal with my emotions. I was no longer allowed to run from myself and was forced to feel the hurt I had numbed for years.

Getting clean was not easy. I went to groups and laughed at the stories, cried with the pain, and was mentally taking note of all of the places these people were getting their dope. Ya know, just in case this whole, getting clean thing didn’t work out.

I proceeded to get kicked out of every group. I realized the formality was not for me. I couldn’t accept that I had no power. I couldn’t look outside of myself to heal myself. Now disclaimer time.

I am not saying organized religion based addiction groups don’t work. I am saying they don’t work for me.

I remember a particularly tortured soul that would come into group every week. This poor woman wore the same “Trailor Trash Sheek” ensemble every time.

She would go through the motions and await her condemnation from the sanctimonious tribunal that were the panel of sponsors. I finally had enough.

“Hun, you like to party and fuck. You are never going to stop because of slut shaming and ideals you don’t identify with. You aren’t hurting anyone and you are using protection. Go. Go party and fuck until you don’t really want that for yourself anymore.”

Needless to say I wasn’t chosen for “Addict Of The Week.” The leader of the groups politely asked me to leave while looking at me like I had a severed puppy head hanging out of my mouth.

I remember that meeting as my last. I said that to her to say it to myself. I had a journey to walk. Obviously this wasn’t part of it.

I learned a lot about myself in my addiction. I have learned a lot about myself since. I think the most important lesson was this.

You can’t do anything because someone is telling you you aren’t good enough unless you do said thing. You can’t be shamed, hated, or pressured into facing your addiction. I hold myself to a pretty high level of accountability. I got clean because I didn’t want to get high anymore and I was ready to face my demons.

We all have our reasons why we do and why we don’t. This is just mine.

“When all else fails, just act batshit.”

There is a long history of insane in my family, and I’m not just talking your run of the mill garden variety loonies. Nope, we do it up right in my family. My Mom is the queen of the insane.

I remember one time seeing her walk through the kitchen all hunched over. My Aunt told me to be careful, that wasn’t my Mom, it was Tom. I would learn later what that meant.

My whole family from roots to tippy tippy top seemed to be chock full of, what shall we call them, eclectic souls. I myself, am in no way a stranger to this world of mental illness. However my Dad always seemed to set himself aside as the sane one. So it struck me as odd when he was running through his usual tutelage one night and said,

“If you’re ever in a fight and you are sure you can’t win just act like you’re batshit.”

I figured this was totally appropriate home schooling. I mean I was 8, it was about time I picked up my rightful claim to the family business of bar fights and alleyway brawls.

I watched my Dad over the years and realized he must have always been ready for that fight he couldn’t win. The dude was a contender for the worlds biggest nut. However my Mom was pretty passionate about her crown so he let her have it, I think. Such a sweetie.

(You don’t know me very well yet so I’ll let you know know I am a dry witted and sarcastic bitch, incase you missed it.)

I took a lot of what my family said and let it roll over me like water off a ducks ass. Yup, you guessed it. That was another family favorite. Water off a ducks ass. Hell of a thought when you are a visual kind of kid. Anyway I digress.

You ever have a moment when those little nuggets of strange family “wisdom” bubble up to the surface and you totally get it? Well this particular night was one of those moments.

I was pregnant with my eldest son and alone. It was three in the morning and the little virus decided we needed one of those really disgusting corner store hot dogs with the works.

I tossed and I turned but I couldn’t stop salivating at the thought of a big, juicy, cheesy, chunky mess of a hot dog. It danced around my apartment taunting me. I swear I could smell the chili.

“Damnit. Kids not even here yet and already running shit.”

So I proceed out into the night in search of the damn hot dog. Let me paint the picture for you. I lived in Vegas. Now, when I say Vegas I can see the picture in your head. The glitz and the glamour. Shiny black cars whipping by with tinted windows and showgirls hanging out of the moon roofs.

Yeah. Uh uh. That image is one street in the town my friend. Go a block either way of the “commercial strip” and you better be wearing your Kevlar sweetie. Hell even Tupac died there. And I am no Tupac. I mean I can handle my own but dude had body guards and still took all the bullets…

Ok I may have gotten off topic. You get what I’m saying though. Vegas is rough. Especially where I lived. Off strip. Three o’clock in the morning. 27 months pregnant. But, alas, baby needed a hot dog. Out I went.

I locked my door and proceeded out through the sketchy gate of the complex I lived in.

“Here we go. I hope you know what you mean to me. I am going to die tonight and probably not even get the damn hot dog. If they are out of chili again I am going to burn the place right to the ground.”

Deep breath and here we go. I was crossing the street. You know that tingle you get when your every cell tells you to not do whatever it is you are about to do? Yeah. That was happening. The town was quiet. It’s never quiet. Always a bad sign.

Vegas has a pulse. Every once in awhile you will hear it. It’s always the calm before the storm.

I turned the last corner.

“Hello storm.”

I was living downtown at the time. I worked at a casino called The Four Queens. A blast during pride! It had afforded me certain knowledge of the particular kind of nasty that lived on the street in that area. I was armed security before I got pregnant so I dealt with them very personally for years.

The worst ones were “The Tribe”. We knew them well. They were a group of homeless people that stuck together and hated outsiders. Especially ones that were responsible for having them arrested. And the biggest of the tribe was standing between me and my hotdog.

There are unspoken rules in Vegas. They are very similar to the rules of the forest. You know. You have heard them. If you run into a gang banger play dead. Don’t run they will just throw their forties at you and chase you down. They always run in packs so don’t get distracted by the one you see, there are more behind you.

That last one may have been Jurassic Park but whatever, still applies. It’s a jungle however you slice it.

So there I was, face to face with the two biggest people I have ever seen in my life. They were fighting. I could make out the tone of the argument and it wasn’t looking good for me.

“I know what you want! You want a fucking white girl! You never liked my brown skin! You want a white girl.”

She looked right at me.

“A white girl like her!! Yeah? That’s what you want?!”

Shit.

I knew I didn’t have long before this escalated. Then, there he was, my father.

“When all else fails, act batshit.”

So, I did. I took off at a full run towards the female and got nose to nose with her. She was obviously not used to someone beating her to the punch. I nudged in close to her and put my finger to my lips. We were so close that had my finger not been between us, we probably would have been kissing.

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

I blinked and shook my head slowly as the air left my mouth and hissed between my smiling lips and bared teeth. Her boyfriend snapped to as if out of a deep sleep. He grabbed her and led her slowly away.

“No baby, not this one.”

As they walked away faster and faster, I did a mental check. I had not urinated myself. I was still firmly upright, so I had not passed out and yup, still wanted that damn hot dog. I walked about ten feet into the convenience store, then ten more to the hot dogs and put my hands on the counter.

I was shaking and absofuckinglutely terrified. But I had accomplished something that night. I had reached through the ether of decades of hatred and grabbed my fathers hand. He helped me through that situation. I know you may be reading this like,

“But… ummmm…”

Trust me. If you knew me you would know how big this is. I went back home and decimated that hot dog. It was a trophy of sorts. While I chewed I laughed and thought about all of the crazy shit my family tried to instill in me over the years.

As I wiped my cheek, chin, and boobs, I thought, ya know maybe it’s about the connection I make, not the one they tried to sever. My family is a lot of things. Many of them horrific. But this, this moment was one I made. This was a moment that my Dad gave me in spite of himself.

I started remembering more and more about the little gems passed on over the years and realized that I am who I am because of how I processed that information.

We don’t have to be what our family tells us. We are not only our DNA and experience. We are our perspective as well. Take the good and the bad. Put all of it through your prism of understanding and growth and be you. The best damn you, you can be.

I wouldn’t be who I am if I wasn’t molded by the hands of my past. I love who I am. So with all of the compassion in the world, I say thank you Mom and Dad. Thank you for being the fire I was forged in. I am Damascus, Diamond, and Heart.

She was tiny, and she was terrifying…

I stood in the kitchen with the canned peas and carrots and decided to involve the tiny human living with me in the dinner decisions. I called her to the kitchen. She turned the corner with her usual flare for drama and I smiled at the intensity this little one had.

“So baby girl, I have carrots and peas. Which would you like for dinner?”

She extended her overly tense right index finger and used it to tap the corner of her mouth. Internally I giggled at her process and awaited her decision.

You see I am a mother of 312 children. Well, 4 actually. Five if you count my angel baby but that is another story for another time. As a mother of multiple children I have completely lost my ability to math. Or English. Or science. Or, well, anything with the efficiency I once had as a teenager that knew it all.

I like to think that my involvement of my tiny offspring in the decision making was to empower them. I wanted to make them see that actual thought went into the every day Magic that was our life.

I got older. I sunk deeper into “mommy brain” and realized, I’m fucking tired and just want to not make every decision all the time.

So, there I stood, my daughter, her eyes darting from can to can. (Yes, only the finest for my family. It was DelMonte, shut up!)

She pursed her little lips and I knew what was coming. This was her, “Ima bout to start some shit” face. She rolled her eyes and the words

“Actually, I don’t like either”

slithered out of her mouth hit the floor, crawled up my leg all the way to my ear and wrapped tightly around my brain.

I felt the belly of that sentence hit my ear and my eye twitched a little. I prepared my rebuttal.

“ACTUALLY, you had both last week and didn’t complain at all about either one. Now choose please.”

She knows she has the upper hand. She knows she’s three and I can’t punch her in the face, ya know, cause that’s a felony.

Here my friend is the difference between my male and female children. It was amazingly different, the way these lil bastards fought. The boys were by far, more physically aggressive. The small balled up fists and the breaking things.

My daughter from birth was a master. She could reach through my chest and stop my heart between beats. She was always lethal with her words. It wasn’t until she was in her twenties that she learned to use her power for good.

So here I stand in my kitchen. It’s the Alamo, I can hear the tumbleweeds scraping across my fine linoleum floor. We are toe to toe. It’s high noon and I am waiting for her to draw. The sweat rolls down my brow, she grabs her pistol and,

“Actually in a year I am going to be a woman and none of this will even matter.”

Dafuq?! Did I mention she is fucking three!? As in… years old. She was obviously disgusted with me and my lack of ability to deal with this situation. I could see however, that she was enjoying her triumph.

What did I do you ask? How did I handle this? I contorted my face, stomped my foot, and through my teeth spat out,

“Go to your room!!”

“Why Mommy?”

“Because I don’t know how to parent this!!”

Where were Spock an Ferber when you really needed them?

A simple smile crept slowly across her little smug face. She knew she had broken me and she was wallowing in that knowledge like a pig in shit. She acquiesced and sashayed to her room. She was only three so it presented more like a really confident penguin waddle, but I know she was sashaying in her head like a 6’5 drag queen.

I slammed both cans on the counter and sighed.

“Fuck dinner.”

I wandered aimlessly to the couch and grabbed the remote. I clicked on the looky box and rethought the past 30 minutes of my life.

I knew as I flipped mindlessly through bff’s having coffee and C.O.P.S. that I loved this little ball of infuriating condescension. I knew my life was better because of her. But what I didn’t know was how I was going to parent someone who seemed to outsmart me on a regular basis at the ripe old age of three.

I proceeded to panic and run through the numerous doomsday possibilities in my head. There she was, my daughter, a 17 year old stripper hopelessly addicted to heroine and bouncing from one horrible, loveless encounter to another all because I was a terrible mess of a mother.

She would blame me and end up buried under a tombstone inscribed with the words, “Here I lie, because my mom sucked.” Midway through me shopping for the appropriate black dress to wear to the funeral in my head I giggled.

I wondered if other mothers felt this way. I wondered if other parents panicked and hated every decision they made. Did we all play back every word of every sentence wondering if a misplaced consonant would be the ruin of our offspring?

I didn’t know then that the answer is a resounding, “Fuck Yes!” But I had my suspicions.

I calmed down and went to my daughters room. I peeked around the corner and my heart melted as I saw her with her toys. She was so put together. I swear, I have admired her since that moment. And in that moment I realized none of my doomsday silliness mattered.

I have always been full of anxiety and unsure of myself to the point of paralytic episodes. I would sit and beat the hell out of myself for hours, sometimes days that melded into weeks just knowing I was the worst person in the world.

But get this. Something happened when this little strange and amazing shit looked up at me. All of the bullshit melted away. Everything became perfect. A perfect set of eyes looking at me almost as if to say, “It’s ok Mommy, I got you too.”

And ya know what? She did. Still does til this day. She’s amazing, and get this. She says a big part of that is me. Me and my fucked up stumbling, terrified but always real and honest parenting. I made mistakes. Man, like, a lot. We’ll get there. But at some point I had to do things the only way I knew how. From the heart.

So I guess the moral of the story is this: If you are scared that you are going to fuck up, well, hun, the reality is, you’re going to fuck up. If you are scared that your kid is going to hate you, well they are going to hate you. But guess what. They are going to know all that stuff you think they don’t know.

They are going to know you would die for them. They are going to know that you are where the real kisses on real hurts come from. They are going to know that you are the shelter from the storms.

And yes they are going to know that they treated you like shit when they were teenagers. If you’re really lucky, they will apologize when they are in their early twenties. Like, really, really, lucky.

So here’s my goal everyone. I want you to come here and be yourself and know everyone is just as fucked up and scared as you are. Some are just to chicken shit to admit it. Let’s see what we can do when we all get together and just tell honest stories about all the crazy shit in our heads.

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