Category: Abuse

Bad News Does People No Good

The news makes me so sad. The state of the world, the way people see it and think about it and react to it – it’s hard. Perhaps it’s no different than any other time in history, we have learned about the chaos humans create…and endure. Chaotic times go back as far back as history remembers.

But it’s hard to fight for the calmness we humans so desperately seek when we’re surrounded by a deep unhappiness that spreads like a contagious virus.

I woke up to the news of United Airlines hurting a Chinese doctor because he would not give up his seat due to airline overbooking. He is an old man who just wanted to go home, but instead was sorely mistreated by airline employees. Ugh, horrible.

Or the story about children in several states being publicly shamed in school because they could not afford to buy lunch. Worse – denied lunch when the visible stamps on their hands say “I need lunch money.” And these children walk not just through a lunch line, but throughout their day in school, every day, stigmatized, humiliated and hungry.

So incredibly sad. And as we know, that’s not the half of it nor the worst stories “out there.” Some are too terrible to even absorb.

These are humans. People. Living, breathing, loving, and losing – people. The human race is losing. But haven’t we always? History seems to think so.

It’s easy to blame. We have a crippled democracy now, governed by a few who think it’s ok to hurt people and seemingly by no accident instill that mindset to ignite their cause. But it’s more than that. It’s the whole planet, all the way down to my street.

We live in an urban setting but ironically surrounded by nature that we see every day. Not just the usual squirrels or birds, but deer, coyote and wild turkeys. Recently traffic was stopped on my street because a large flock of turkeys was crossing the road – big, beautiful, slow turkeys.

One man continued to try to swerve his car around the long line of stopped traffic, honking, yelling out his window, flailing his arms and cursing at those of us who tried to point out that we were stopped for what looked and seemed so beautiful, so peaceful – creatures simply living their lives without concern about the turbulent world around them – but with great concern for each other.

You could see the bigger ones rallying the smaller ones, helping them cross the street. It was a Make Way for Ducklings moment right before our eyes. But the enraged man certainly couldn’t appreciate it. I think he would have run them over if he could. Sad.

I’m not sure what causes people to be so hateful. Whether we are optimistic or pessimistic, kind or cruel, observation over time shows we are who we are and that’s who we put out into the world.

There is beauty out there, sometimes it’s just really hard to see.

 

 

Trump’s Crazy World Is A Lot To Bear

I wrote a post recently about living in the gap – repercussions from my pseudo-nomadic life in search of peace, health and well-being. Humans are constantly searching for ways to relieve stress. “Seeking Relief” was tattoo’d on my forehead forever.

I never published the post – about the gap of solitude after losing a lot of friends I really cared about along my life’s complicated road – because that gap has suddenly shifted. It’s not personal anymore, and it’s massive.

Now I’m part of a growing gap caused by the insane situation of our country. The very foundation that I counted on to sustain me once I stepped outside of my own life’s extreme craziness behind closed doors, is now completely gone. The outside world appears to have gone mad.

Every morning and all day long it’s impossible to escape the latest disastrous news about our country falling into what feels like a growing dictatorship not only weakening, but removing the once-stable land I knew.

Sure, stability is perceived, but only the most asleep or stupidly stubborn people can truly deny the reality of our present moment.

I have tried to sidebar the politics in choice of focusing on my own life. I have tried to soften the external voices, neutralize my emotional reactions, and believe that truth and justice will prevail. But it’s not fast enough, because we are all quickly being engulfed in a dangerous sinkhole of “alternative” reality brought on by people who ironically imitate the very people I tried to escape most of my life.

What the hell with this life lesson?

For decades I lived disillusioned in a Twilight Zone, sane amidst insanity, only recently finally finding “relief.” It is possible – happiness, unconditional love, freedom from abuse, I have it. But that feeling of safety, the one all humans need to survive, it’s slowly slipping away.

I cried this morning when I heard the words of the president – not a president or a person I would ever choose to be affiliated – declare that he would make Mexico pay for a wall no matter what he had to do to enforce that – and I have been in this kind of situation before. A situation where a giant bully makes an insane declaration giving zero care, concern or consideration to the people who they are hurting – even destroying – at their own love of manipulation and extreme power. It’s a sociopath at their finest.

Yes it was on a small scale when it was personal compared to our now national and global crisis. But it drastically impacted my life, so much so the damage may never be fully healed for me or those closest to me. You just learn to live with it.

But I don’t know how to live with this. The “tools” aren’t working. I’m not sure the majority of humans know how to live with this. People are visibly frantic, terrified, upset, sickened, outraged and sad. It’s like a fast-moving virus blanketing our daily existence, rocking our lives and tilting our world.

I have a dear friend whose health is failing her – to the point she is not sure she even wants to live. When we talked about the impact of this new government on masses of people all the way to the nucleus of individual families, she said, “Well, when he takes away healthcare I probably won’t be around to have to worry about it.”

But the rest of us will.

So where do we turn? What do we cling to? How do we endure? How do we live in the gap?

Today I’ll simply take a cue from some classic Winnie The Pooh wisdom. Something that feels good. The sweet, silly old bear sits on a rock, sings a song and eats some honey while waiting for a friend to walk by.

“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them.”  (Benjamin Huff, The Tao of Pooh.)

 

 

This Lost And Found Experience Revealed More Than I Thought

dentistNot many people clap and gasp with glee when they are walking by their dentist’s office. But I did. Why? Because I had completely forgotten who my dentist was after leaving town 14 years ago. For the last five months since moving home I have wracked my brain trying to remember and had all but given up. Then there it was. The office door with her name on a big sign, right next to the little neighborhood pub where Sir Husband and I stopped in for a glass of wine last Saturday afternoon.

Stress-induced amnesia will do that – leave gaps in your memory that feel like lost pages in a storybook. My kids say, “Don’t you remember  fill in the blank  Mom?” all the time. <sigh> No. I wish. Clinicians have called it a gift – my lack of memory. Maybe. Finding my dentist did feel like a little miracle. I’ve had a lot of miracle moments since moving home actually – sometimes the Universe does provide, especially when we aren’t looking.

I called the dentist as soon as they opened on Monday morning and lo and behold – they had a cancellation for the next day. It was meant to be. Most days there are so many reasons to be grateful, to see-hear-feel the good, but oddly we usually don’t. How does that happen? It’s there – gratitude – it’s everywhere. Even unexpectedly at the dentist.

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“So what happened?” my dentist said to me after giving me a hug and welcoming me back as I got comfortable in the reclining chair.

“Oh,..well…a lot…” I said. “It’s a long story.”

“No really, what happened?” She wheeled her rolling chair back a few inches, put down her arms and looked me square in the eye.

I was trapped. I had to tell her.

My past “story” the one that created the amnesia to begin with is not one I tell anymore. It’s over, and I have spent every, single day trying to heal. Repeating it just makes it come alive again – emotionally and physically – so why tell it? But I had to, she wouldn’t hear otherwise, and she seemed to genuinely care.

see-goodA few sentences in her face and eyes softened into compassion and concern. “I’m so sorry,” she said, wheeling herself back toward my head. “So sorry.”

Never in my life had I been so grateful to be lying there with my mouth open unable to say any more. And while she probed around my teeth, I felt something huge. Relief. At that moment – after I recounted the last horrific several years of my life – I realized I had healed. Okay yea, newly healed, freshly healed, like a delicate pink scar – but I recognized it. It was another miracle.

I had fought so hard for so long that I didn’t even realize that I was fighting my way through something. Truth Bomb guru Danielle LaPorte said this, “….When we’re hauling our psyche up to the next peak of clarity—isn’t healing always really f***ing messy? Do we not become unrecognizable while we are reassembling our identities?” It’s definitely a power moment when we realize chaos has morphed into comfort. “This is what healing looks like.”

That and my teeth apparently are“perfect.”  All in all, not a bad day at the dentist.

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PS ~ All new blog coming early next year! Change is good! 

Spare Me Your Toxicity, I’ll Take Insight and Kindness Instead

This is the little story that caught my eye on social media the morning after Thanksgiving.

Thinking of the young woman walking in a dress and high heels on the cold Thanksgiving day; the young man that had the nerve to leave her at the gas station when she was in the bathroom; all of the people who passed her by; and my brother and niece who picked her up and went way out of their way to take her home.

Wow. Hmmm.

Until the heartfelt kindness shown by someone’s brother, it’s safe to assume there was no Thanksgiving spirit going on for that woman in the dress and high heels. No feasting on good food, family togetherness or reasons to feel gratitude, seems more like pain and cruelty. There are a good amount of people who don’t enjoy a Normal Rockwell family portrait no matter how much they want it or how hard they wish for it, or even pretend they have it.

shoesThere’s always one, or maybe a few, sitting or standing next to you who make you stop and wonder. You are just trying to live your life happily, peacefully, you know – the way you are entitled to by the simple fact you are alive. But like the noxious smell of gasoline, there are some who make you feel sick.

You ask yourself if it’s you. You look in the mirror again and again, maybe even for years, you have tried to understand why some people don’t see how they come across – or more like won’t see. Because to them it’s you, it’s always you not them. You are the problem no matter what.

But you know deep down in your heart of hearts that just isn’t the case. You’ve worked hard, learned, evolved, grown, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will likely keep living from their own little closed-up space that prevents them from valuable soul-inspired insight.

It takes work – insight – it’s hard and uncomfortable, it’s so much easier to blame instead of waking up and really seeing who we are and what we are putting out there into the world. It becomes a right-wrong thing. You were wrong so I left you at the gas station. No you were wrong to leave me there.

A few minutes after I saw that little story, I heard a news report that statistics show more and more young people are having heart attacks and strokes. They didn’t say it was due to one particular thing because there are so many thingspeople…situations… that create stress. These physical repercussions, including illnesses like cancer, are sometimes referred to as “wake up calls” to living better – more healthily, more clean, less stress, less toxic whatever it is.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the wake up call came before our life was threatened? How do we feel better in spite of things or people who make us feel sick, who have no interest in addressing their own poison?

We’ll never really know what happened with the woman in the dress and high heels. But when you really think about it, truthfully it’s our journey and ours alone. Thank goodness for kind strangers who stop to lend a hand along the way.

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Society’s Concept of Custody Leaves Dads Without A Chance

branjelinaBranjelina is hitting a little close to home for Sir Husband and me. First let me say we are not movie star gazers or Hollywood followers,  but we do perk up when we hear something that resonates with our plight.

Accusations from a mother against a father that perpetuate a societal perception that 1. the accusations are unalterably true, and 2. the mother is the victim and thus the better parent, leave us quite perturbed.

Sir Husband is himself a victim – of this ongoing perception. We learned quickly that lawyers usually stand with mothers in defense of a father regardless of what is truly happening in the parents’ private world. In other words – the mother is supported as always right no matter how wrong she may be.

I’m not saying Angelina Jolie is wrong because I do not know. And that’s the point – no one can know no matter what is brought to the public’s eye. The only people who know the truth are the parents and usually the children. But that doesn’t always stop the inaccurate version from permeating the external world. The question is, who is right? Against our perceived accepted norm, it’s not always the mom.

let-go-copyWhen Sir Husband and I reconnected after more than twenty years, we knew our reunion was meant to be and it totally changed our lives. But our happiness at finally being together – this time as more than friends like we were in our teens and 20s – was naturally not well-received by our spouses at the time. Although our marriages were exceedingly miserable, Sir Husband’s Mrs. refused to accept the parting of their ways.

So we found ourselves on the receiving end of her distorted perception about Sir Husband’s rights and ability to be their children’s father. She decided because she was hurt, she would do whatever she could to try to  destroy us – and said so – proceeding on her mission to take away the kids.

fullsizerender-4With zero regard to their children or mine, let alone the participating adults – our extended families too,  she publicly and violently twisted the truth about both Sir Husband and me so vehemently that it was impossible to fight. Her unyielding insistence that her story was completely accurate when it could not be more wrong, was simply accepted because she so whole-heartedly embraced her self-serving victim-role.

I’m not saying Angelina Jolie is a victim or self-serving, our case may be extreme. But when The Mother has spoken, and affirms her version by trying to take away the kids, why do we always just assume the mother is indefensibly right?

I find it interesting that seemingly by nature, divorcing mothers automatically want to remove fathers from their children’s lives. To me that stems from some deep internal hurt in a mother’s own personal vault. She cannot or will not separate from her misery enough to see by doing that it’s the children who are paying for her hurt. Tragically, the children become the weapons in her personal battle.

Sometimes it’s warranted, such as in cases of abuse. Abuse is a big word. What about when mothers claim something that isn’t true? And worse, why do a mother’s destructive actions against a father go unrecognized as her abuse?

Branjelina’s case is spotlighted now and will either justify or alter the trend. In the meantime, “regular” exceptional dads like Sir Husband are left in the vaporous dust.

 

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Toxic People Feel A Lot Like Getting A Nasty Flu

flu-seasonHere we are at flu season again, when all of those toxic germs decide to invade. It comes on strong some years, jumping in before we’ve even gotten our flu shot. This happened to both a friend and my son – the flu virus before fall rolls around sounds pretty toxic to me.

I am quite familiar with toxicity. Not just from years of my own health’s invasions, but from being around emotional toxicity too. That’s the worst form because it can latch on and never quit. Not like a sickness that eventually goes away, emotionally toxicity when it’s in our airspace can cause some serious harm.

toxic

Nobody can really identify what causes a toxic personality – whether it’s short lived from some temporary circumstance or if it’s truly inborn – but it’s identifiable and real because it’s something when we’re around it we feel. It’s as draining and debilitating as a virus or the flu. And like that, everybody encounters it at some point in their lives.

its-about-themSir Husband and I were recently exposed to an invasion of emotional toxicity from someone, and for years during each interaction with her we got sucked into a dark place.

That feeling of being pulled into a pit that makes us feel sick, that’s what is referred to as toxic. We don’t need a Merriam-Webster definition, what defines toxic is strictly personal. We know it when we feel it, like getting an unwelcome shot.

It doesn’t matter the reasons or the rationale, realistically dealing with a toxic personality is hard, ugly, it’s stressful and it hurts. But how do we get away from it when an unhealthy entanglement runs deep? It’s not so easy to do. Or is it?

drive-us-crazy

We go through life with our belief system of what is or isn’t right, what should or shouldn’t be, we feel good or bad based on our situations, we work to balance our external world with our internal one – it’s a ongoing process at best. But when someone tries to manipulate or force their beliefs on us, or tries to make us be someone we’re not, demand we comply with them, judge us for being ourselves, and our lives conflict to the point we feel sick, something has to change.

When they won’t shift their perception – and usually they won’t – we have to. I might add that to them it’s us who won’t shift ours, and that’s perfectly fine. So how do we deal with people who feel toxic? We change the way we think.

We can’t reverse time or the relationships we’ve had, but we can change the story that reels through our head about whatever doesn’t feel right. We don’t have to keep reading old pages and chapters that don’t feel good, instead we can close the book. They may keep the old story going, but we don’t have to engage.

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When it comes to people in our lives, it’s up to us how we proceed, and when necessary, even opt out. There is no antidote, no shot, no medicine that will remove someone who feels emotionally toxic to us, we have to do it ourselves. We always choose to fight the flu, but toxic people? That’s up to you.

 

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Don’t Take Everything Personally, It’s Not Always Ours To Take

I try with all my heart to be the best human I can be, but every time I turn around somebody’s nose is out of joint about something.

rise above itFor a while I thought it was me – a kindergartner in human interaction so beat up by my extended family’s personal issues, addictions, perceptions, entitlements, needs and self-gratifications – that basically I never moved myself out of a wounded child frame of mind, and therefore could never be me. The now grown up, knowledgeable, adept and internally powerful me.

A big part of the problem is that for years, maybe forever, I tried to meet other people’s needs, not hurt their psyches or try to fix whatever calamity was at my feet because of their own actions and subsequent reactions. That was a skill learned in childhood. But along the way I somehow also learned to take other people’s personal issues personally.

Why? Because for whatever reason, I inadvertently said or did something that caused people to feel triggered about whatever was going on inside of them – conscious or even unconscious, and they got bent out of shape. It took me a while to realize this, but it’s starting to finally make sense.

difficult people

For example, my ex-husband’s nose seems frequently out of joint when we don’t agree about money or support related to our kids. His former gambling addiction really gets in the way. This is about our personal inner landscapes – he only sees from his frame of reference. So whenever things come up around money, he gets quite upset. He denies it but the kids and I see it – from our frame of reference.

There are several in my orbit who make me feel like something is my fault when it’s totally not. Key words: make me feel. I internalize other people’s problems, and oftentimes just by default because we are personally connected.

A mentor and one of my greatest teachers recently pointed this out to me. It was after a social media post she wrote about her own latest life lessons. Besides the fact it’s helpful to watch someone who is exceptionally wise successfully navigate through her own personal challenges, I somehow felt partially responsible for her struggle.

She assured me I’m not, and explained that internalizing means we take things on that aren’t even about us, and apply them to ourselves as if we participated, or are somehow part of that story. We inadvertently make it about us, even when it’s not. I must have learned to internalize somewhere along the way.

I’ll note that in some instances, it’s hard to not do that when we live surrounded by people who blame. That’s a whole other issue. Some people simply refuse – and I’ll go a step farther even to say don’t recognize – their own role and responsibility in relationships. So when they incessantly blame us it becomes easy to internalize unless we have developed the skill of discerning what’s their part and and what’s ours. I’m still learning.

But it doesn’t feel good to internalize or take responsibility for other people’s stuff, really they can have it. When their nose gets out of joint, I’m sorry, but my internal door is now closed. I’m finally taking care of me…that’s the best that I can be.

dysfunction bridge

 

Whether Typical or Tragic, Embrace Your Status Quo

I must live under a rock because I didn’t know that Mrs. Johnny Depp came out of the closet on her alleged marital abuse. The story caught my ear when I was rushing around with the Today Show on in the background, but I stopped what I was doing and stood at the TV.

Abuse and I have a long history, and not one I prefer to recount. But the future ex-Mrs. Depp used all the right words. And while her bruised-face pictures are worth a thousand words, the authorities will question and distort everything. Although they think they can know the truth, nobody ever truly knows what goes on behind other people’s closed doors.

family pictureWhether we’re curious or get an emotional sting, we feel triggered if we can relate. And not just with celebrities, but even with social media posts. At the top of my feed the other day I saw a family picture from someone I know who never posts.

For many years prior to my divorce, our two families were very close. Then I got divorced, moved away, lost touch with them, and feel sad. The kids are almost grown up now, and the beautiful photo of their family brought a tear to my eye, which headed me down the path. family tree

It got me thinking about normal families, people who get married because they are in love, have children, live textbook lives, in a typical happily-ever-after scenario. No abuse, no trauma, no drama.

I guess we could wonder if anyone lives a normal life, and what that really means anyway. Is what people show to the world always what’s real? Is there even such a thing as happily-ever-after? Everybody has skeletons in their closet, right? Sure. But some families are more stable and enjoy that status quo.

My family is not normal. Or typical. Or textbook status quo. But neither am I, I never have been.

I realized that when I decided to follow a month’s worth of daily blog prompts with a well-known blogging platform. As much as I tried to adhere to their assignments word for word, my words just wouldn’t come. Instead, I just wrote what felt right, even if it was technically wrong. I have a hard time following, or adhering to the norm.

The good news is that the norm is sort of in the eyes of the beholder in any given situation. People, our culture, society, the world makes up the definition of normal and then we can decide to subscribe…or not.

It’s not normal to abandon a writing assignment and still participate. But there aren’t really any rules when it comes to blogging, or for that matter even with life. We get to choose how we proceed. Sometimes our choices prove profitable, sometimes they land us in mud. It’s when we start thinking that our choices are mistakes, we’ll never get very far. It’s not easy to think of things that seem odd as normal and fine, even good, but I’m choosing that perspective now.

So my triggered revelation about my family not being like my friend’s perfect Facebook photo was big. I love my crazy family just as it is. Its not typical, it follows no standard trajectory, it subscribes to no norms. In fact, our family tree is more like a jungle, our family scrapbook is more like recycle bin. It’s been messy, difficult, often exhausting and even heart-wrenching. But instead of being sad, I’m celebrating our incredible uniqueness.

Who says unconventional is bad?

Mrs. Depp has a long road ahead of her, but she gave herself permission to reveal her own truth, and in the big picture, that’s what really matters.

 

 

Marriage of My Dreams, In-Laws of My Nightmares

Should a mother-in-law be allowed in the delivery room? A roundtable discussion on the Today Show prickled up some spines. The answer is strictly personal, I had a couple of friends eating McDonald’s next to me when I delivered one of my boys. But my mother-in-law? No way. I’ve had two, neither of whom I adored. And the feeling is quite mutual, although the first one has since passed away.

All families have issues, sometimes personality mismatch is status quo. But occasionally it’s so extreme, defying all understanding, that we are left to assume there is some Divine lesson to be learned. Sir Husband and I pay attention to that. A few in our lives do not.

peas in a podEverybody’s got an in-law story, and they usually resonate the same: troublesome tale of two women and a poor man in the middle. But not in our case. We have three peas in a pod – Sir Husband’s mother, his ex and his sister united on a warpath of hatred and anger, against both him and me.

Many wives since the beginning of time use the old cliche, my mother-in-law is a piece of work. But can they say she disowned her son and his family because she loves her ex-daughter-in-law more and admits it? Ours is a wicked story of some unhappy fems who live from deep misery.

It goes something like this. A long time ago, a kind man with a good heart and sensible head lost his senses one day and on the rebound, married a woman he did not love. Shortly after they were married she revealed herself to be a broken soul, and manipulated him to the death to get anything she wanted.

He tried hard to stay with her, but his unhappiness grew. And his mother knew it too. She insisted he work even harder, so that is what he did. He never meandered out of their marriage, but longed for relief from his loveless misery so much that when he looked in the mirror every morning he hoped for cancer to die and get away. That’s pretty sad. Eventually he left. And his mother never forgave him.

That’s my mother-in-law. A not-so-lovely woman who decided that her son was not worth his own happiness. What kind of mother is that?

edgar allen poeBut that is only the beginning. I’ll leave out all the ugly gore – from hurt and harassment to helping alienate Sir Husband’s children from our lives – we now understand the meaning of “shunned.” No matter how hard we’ve tried to both communicate and understand, we are blatantly ignored and years later are still left shaking our heads.

So we’re done. At some point emotional toxicity just becomes too great, even when it’s family. We’ve worked hard to come to peace with it – nobody deserves this kind of treatment, especially from their own mother and in-law. It’s clear she’s got her own issues, that stem from something deep.

There are two great things that rule us. Love and fear. And we will do anything when under their spells. When people are triggered by their deepest fears they lash out, and project those fears onto the people who triggered them. It doesn’t excuse hurtful, hostile, abusive, violent actions, but it helps explain it. The problem is that living from fear comes with a terribly high price. Sir Husband’s father died of cancer at age 62.

I only knew my deceased father-in-law as the father of my high school best boy-friend a long time ago. Sir Husband and I go way back to years of really good times. In fact, we believe in angels, and think his father helped us reunite. We’re sure if he was still alive, he would welcome me now, and have some strong words with his wife.

It’s a shame my mother-in-law is so unhappy. And while we feel like we’ve lost some family, Sir Husband and I choose to live from love and not fear, which is infinitely a better spell.

 

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The Impact of Life’s Explosions Leaves Some Questions In the Dust

                     What is the best thing that happened to you last year?  What is the worst thing?                                What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year? 

3 questions

Those were big questions that came on my birthday a couple weeks ago from a dear friend. Every year in her family they sit around the table and ask the birthday person those questions, and everyone can join in with their own answers. There are a lot of things that complicated this task for me – but it shouldn’t be complicated.

questionsWhen I thought about it, first I drew a blank because I truly could not remember what is the best or worst thing that happened last year. One of the hardest things I face on a daily basis – beyond chronic fibromyalgia pain and fatigue which I acknowledge with both compassion and disdain – is memory loss. I’ve talked about it before – my spotty memory from childhood, some images vivid but fleeting, some stories clear but disconnected, my ability to be a stenographer in certain situations and have complete amnesia in others – it’s frustrating.

I’ve tried hypnosis, psychics, doctors, therapists, even past life regression for my current life. Maybe I don’t want to remember my past – they say longterm trauma from an early age hides much of what we store in our memory. My recollection is mostly around the bad stuff, something my son faces too.

The youngest of three boys, he’s nearly-sweet 16 and not too sweet at all. After a long discussion about his bad attitude, snarky tone and teenage independent lifestyle, he broke down sobbing about the last few years. You hope your parenting work to fix “all that ails” pays off, but I learned that too much strain has him quite upset.

He told me a lot, and as hard as it was, it helped me understand. I don’t have all the answers, although I’ve tried hard to help life be fine in spite of some terrible times. What do you do when your children are exposed to abuse? When their biological dad was a compulsive gambler whose secret life destroyed us all? When their mother was so desperate for relief she ran away from home? And then what happens when you’re where you’re supposed to be safe, and a crazy woman you didn’t even know comes unhinged and unleashes on your life, so badly you need protection?

Although that’s all in the past, the ordeals still lives on, haunting him to this day. I get it, life hasn’t been easy. He just wants everything to be “normal,” and of course he does, who doesn’t. But it put a dark cloud on his soul, like the one that used to hover on mine. It leaves us wondering what is good or bad, or what may lie ahead.

So back to the questions of best, worst and future, when I told my friend I couldn’t answer her  because of my fuzzy memory, and I would do better with a glass of wine at a table with people I love, she said, “No, you just need yourself. You are stronger than you think.”

I think that’s the message here, and one I’ll share with my son. We just need ourselves to know the answers, and all that’s worth remembering.

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