Saturday, August 31, 2013

Always Remember, Never Forget

Years ago, in one of his snarkier moments my ex smiled and said this.. Always Remember, Never Forget.. Now the reason he said this was not to offer enlightenment, or remember a poignant moment, nope it was to make a funny. A mean spirited funny that made you feel stupid.. That was the way he was.. He had a brilliant wit but if you didn't get it, he made sure you felt rather stupid.

I think one of the things he really hated about me, is I got it. Every single time. I knew when he was trying to be funny and I knew when he was being serious. I got his humor.. the good and the bad.. and yes sometimes he was just pee your pants funny. Sometimes his intellectual humor was so funny I couldn't help but role my eyes and start giggling. But it was his mean humor that destroyed me. The times he would say something awful and tack a joke to it. It was belittling, demeaning, demoralizing and soul destroying. It would flay me open and remove parts of my light. 

Over time, I started pulling my light ever inward. Protecting it.. until one day all of my light was hidden and I was in shadow. Constant shadow. Now the shadows are an interesting place. Not the darkness, but a place where you get glimpses of light. Where you understand that the light is there but you really can't touch it. It is diminished not destroyed. Enough time in the shadows and you slip into the darkness. 

Another thing about the shadows is you don't always realize the negative aspects of it. You live in it for so long and you begin to accept the grey areas.. that it's normal to live in semi darkness. That in itself can be soul destroying.. Constant vigilance.. 

This is the life of an abused spouse.. You know the light is there, you can see it. You figure if you do just the right thing you will get it back. You never do, because the right thing is walking away... 

Abuse is not what people think it is. You have to be an abuse victim to really understand it. Strong individuals can succumb to abuse.. and then pride takes over. You spend so much time pretending that life is ok, you lose not only yourself but your friends. There is no dignity when you are an abuse victim. There is constant despair. And it doesn't have to be physical abuse it can be the constant bombardment of verbal excuse.. 

The things I heard when I was married were insidious. I didn't start out an abuse victim. I didn't find this guy who abused me and said hey let's get married. Nope, I met this guy.. a handsome, charming, charismatic guy. A guy with strong family values, who believed in me *snort*. I also met a man who said he was a recovering alcoholic, he wasn't he was a dry drunk.. HUGE difference! Anyway, over time the constant, and I mean constant, constructive criticisms turned to just plain criticisms. An onslaught of digs, and verbal slaps. 

Then came the total control, I used to handle the money and I had a rather unorthodox way of doing it, sort of like the envelope system but I had separate bank accounts for everything.. Mortgage acct, utilities acct, grocery acct, fun acct, kids acct.. and each week each check would get divided and a certain amount would be put into the correct account. But that was too annoying for him so we put it all in one acct. Which he would then use that money whenever he needed, adding to my confusion, which then caused us to be short or bouncing checks.. which then made him sure it was me who couldn't handle money.. which them had him take control of the money.. which then had him remove me from all accounts.. which then left me in the dark, sometimes literally when he wouldn't pay the electric bill. By the time he left, I was not on anything financial and he had cleaned out all of our accts, hadn't paid rent in three months and the utilities.. yeah, that was a joke. 

How did I get there? Well, I just showed you.. and because I was in shadows, an abused wife, I never let anyone know just how dark it was getting. 

When Ron left (hallelujah) with some urging from me, I said something on the lines of "I would be better off on public aide than I am with you", I didn't have time to face the darkness. I was too busy living. Creating a world where my children were safe, happy and healthy. Oh sure, I made tons of mistakes. And financially, total loss. The state would keep my child support checks for up to 8 weeks at a time. I couldn't make ends meet without it.. I lost apartments.. at one point we were actually homeless.. Things just kept getting darker and darker.. 

Of course this led my kids to think I couldn't handle money.. what with their father constantly reinforcing that opinion (ok, constantly meaning whenever he deigned to show up and see them). No one can handle money if there isn't any there. But I worked hard at giving my kids a good life. Sometimes I think, I made being poor too easy on them. They had no idea what I sacrificed just so they could be "normal" or as normal as possible. 

And so, even with him gone, the shadows persisted. I was a constant failure. My family (mom) helped with school supplies, shoes, individual trips to California for the kids, occasionally (and I do mean occasionally) the rent. I was grateful.. and believe me everyone, the entire family knows how much my mom had to "help" me.. how do they know? She told them, over and over and over again... Yep, that whole Shauni is a loser thing just wouldn't go away. 

No matter how hard I struggled to survive, I didn't have what it took to get out of the shadows. I was a victim of abuse and along with the abuse comes the damage you do to yourself. I closed myself off.. Sure there was always that place where hope lived.. Hey, maybe if I call my mom she will want to talk.. put me first.. Hey, maybe when the family comes in for my kids graduation it won't be about my nieces and what they want. Hey maybe... yeah.. hope is not always a good thing. At least not  when it's false hope. I can never make myself important to those around me. Wanting to is what allowed me to become a victim in the first place. I can only be strong in who I am, to become me.. 

And because I need to remind myself of this daily, I often find myself murmuring.. 

Always Remember, Never Forget.. 


Friday, August 30, 2013


There are many times in life when you take a wrong turn, pay attention to the wrong advice, make a bad choice and you end up lost. The smart thing to do is to turn around and go back to the beginning. In fact in many ways it's the only thing to do.  Oh sure there are times when the path you are on turns out really interesting and you decide to stay on it and see where it ends up. And it is a grand adventure. Those are awesome times aren't they? 

But I am not speaking of those times, I am speaking of the times when you wonder off your path and end up so mired in muck you have absolutely no concept of how you got there and how the heck to you get out. That's when you need to turn around and walk away. Each step away from that mess is a chance of finding yourself again.

That is where I am right now.. I am lost in the quagmire but have turned around and am working on getting unstuck. One of the things I am doing is looking around me and really noticing things.. Sure I am lost but is the place I am totally unredeemable? Am I here for a reason? Or am I just lost? 

I do not want to be someone's hard lesson, I want to learn this lesson and move on. I want a chance to be a person that I admire and respect. With that the respect and admiration of others won't matter. It's a really humbling moment when you realize that you are not a person that you respect. 

The thing is I have done some wonderful things in this dark place I am in. I was a great mother (I believe I may have said so before) but a lousy person. Now how is that even possible? Well, I gave up on me. Ever do that? Give up on one project to focus on another? That is what I did. I gave up on me, my dreams, my desires, my joys.. I focused on the fact that I was a failure at me.. so I should start another project. 

Isn't that horrid? I had accepted the flawed logic of others around me. I heard that I was a failure, loser, joke for so long I believed it and acted on it. It had become part of my inner self. Wow!! 

That is so going to stop! God has gifted me with many talents and I am going to figure out how to use them. How to stop pushing me down and stop raising others up. I am going to take a long look around and find the right path! Find the place where I can be whole and healthy and part of a community! And occasionally look over my shoulder to make sure I didn't drag anything yucky with me when leaving the quagmire.

I know it won't be easy. I am not remotely where I want to be, even physically.. I dream of being in Wyoming or Oregon.. Either by the Ocean or near the mountains. I know what dreams I hold and somehow I am going to figure out how to get there! 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Better Day

Yesterday's post really helped. It just let me clear the air. Sure there are going to be more, just like it. There will be posts that share my dark moments and my fears. 

I realize that as an adult you have to accept that much of your life is because of your choices. BUT some of those choices are made because of what you think of yourself.. and what you think of yourself often comes from what others think of you or from your childhood. You know a building block concept.. example:
  • I have weight issues.. always have, except as a kid I was pudgy but by my teens I wasn't.. only everyone kept telling me to loose weight, I was too fat. Looking back, I was way thinner than some of the cute peers. Now as a 51 year old, my weight is all me.. except.. I have this forever image of me as the fat girl. That has to be broken down and moved on... That was an example folks.. 

I am trying to do that with all of my dark issues.. I am shining light into the dark spaces and gradually extinguishing them. I need to do this daily, for me. 

Why? because I can't go on this way.. I may make an awful choice based on flawed information.. It's a case of addressing the facts so that I won't repeat myself over and over and over again. A way to avoid misery. 

Anyway, today's blog is more about the freedom that comes with getting started. It's scary sure, I keep expecting to get a phone call from some family member or other complaining about me doing this. And in the past, I would have listened and stopped. But this time, I am not. 

  1. First of all the chances of an actual family member reading my blog is slim and none. They are not that interested in my life... and that can be taken any number of ways, most of them true.. 
  2. Second, well I have to stop letting those I care about manipulate me. The basic fact is, if they love me and most of them do in their rather unique way.. they are going to continue loving me. They already consider me a at best a lovable screw up (again who cares that I have raised FOUR amazing kids ON. MY. OWN..) or at worst a helpless loser. 

Either way that's flawed information and if I use it, my choices will remain flawed. 

I am not a lovable screw up.. I did raise four amazing kids.. now you might not consider that a major accomplishment but when I had Hair Boy.. I CHOSE to make raising children my career. I stayed home with them as long as possible, until the divorce. And once I had to go to work, I chose jobs that would put me close to home and allow me to get to them within minutes if need be. I also was home usually by 4 in the afternoon so when they made it home from after school activities, there I was. Sure, they didn't pay as well as some of the other jobs.. but they were means to an end.. my career choice remained raising my kids. When you look at it like that, shoot I aced my career and now need a new career path. So, no screw up there.. and honestly, no loser either. 

That sort of strikes the theory that I am terrible with career choices. I mean my career choice for 25 years was raising kids.. I did that, I was pretty darn awesome at it and my kids prove it. Accepting this takes the power out of the hurt caused by people who mock me job wise.. and they are working with flawed information, their bad, get your facts straight people. 

I have to wonder at the insecurities of others to maintain a whipping girl all these years... It isn't love, seriously, how can you call it love when you spend all of your time focusing on every mistake that person ever made? Worrying about the next big "mistake". Why don't you spend a 10th of that time and emotion recognizing the wonderful things accomplished by that person? You exert less energy and you get the powerful feed back of joy.. win/win. Of course it's not as much fun to go around gossiping about how happy a person is... It's much more fun to make them miserable, then talk about it.. FOREVER.. 

Ok, that's it for today's purge.. *grins* who knows what I am going to think of to drag out and air tomorrow.. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


These next few blogs are going to be dark, they are going to be harsh and they are going to share some truths. Some truths about me that might or might not make you, the reader, think I am whining, I am holding on to the past, I am complaining... I am not. And even if I am, these blogs are about me.. if you think you are mentioned, unless I specifically say your name or designation, ie.. my son, daughter, etc.. it isn't about you. Get over yourself. Why do I say this? Well because everytime I try and express what is going on inside of me, someone accuses me of one of those things.. I and stop.. I have come to a point in my life where I can no longer stop because what I am saying makes someone else uncomfortable. I have to get this out. 

That being said, I don't need validation or encouragement either. For once that is not what this is about. This is about me getting it out.. 

Not too long ago, I realized that I didn't feel anything. Literally nothing.. No deep emotions, no feeling of great love for my kids, no passion, no joy, nothing. I couldn't even really cry. What the heck? I have always been "too" emotional. To wake up and realized that I have none bothered me. I even asked myself was I a sociopath (not the murder and/or abuse because I don't know right from wrong type of sociopath, but the gee I am empty of all emotions type of sociopath). I honestly don't know if you can be a sociopath and not be evil but that's not the point. Sociopaths have no emotion and I had none.. I was like this empty husk going about the motions.. and that bothered me, sort of.. 

Then I really looked and realized that yes the emotions were there but I had just pushed them down so deep that nothing was escaping. Ok, that made me feel a little better. Sort of.. 

I realized that I had spent so many years trying to be what I was "supposed" to be that I had completely and totally shut out myself. I wanted to be loved, accepted, believed in so desperately that I refused myself. I refused to accept myself.  I woke up and realized a few things.. I was afraid.. very afraid.. what would I do to myself? I mean I had already denied me.. I had already done so much damage to me.. At this point in my life I am actually unable to function in society. I can't make myself even function. Wow!! I really am the deadbeat loser that some judge me to be. 

This hurts.. why am I fat? Because I believe I am supposed to be.. Why am I alone? Because I honestly believe that I am unworthy of friends and family. What have I done to myself? I no longer laugh.. you know that belly laugh that cleanses the soul and makes everyone around you join in? I used to laugh like that. I used to sing.. songs of joy, of friends, of God, shoot of big blue phrogs.. but I stopped doing that long ago. 

Who is this person I have become? Why have I let those that will never believe in me turn me into this lost and lonely person? Why do I need their approval so desperately? I am never ever going to get it.. 

So the real question is, how do I let that go? One of the ways is to speak of it. To voice it, acknowledge it and set it free. For years I kept my silence because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.. well too bad.. you hurt mine. You shattered my soul.. and I am putting it back together and this time you don't have the power to take it.. I am taking that stand.. I am also pretty safe in making it, as the people that I so desperately want to approve of, have never and will never read this blog. I mean it's important to me, so I am pretty sure they could care less. yeah, yeah I know tough talk from a wuss like me.. 

This is going to be a purge.. Me taking the hurts out one by one and letting them go. And when I am done, I hope it will help me fell clean. Lighter, freer  I hope I will rejoice. Part of me worries about the fall out.. but I am going to make myself go forward. I am tired of being lost. I am tired of the darkness that constantly surrounds me. I am declaring myself.. and I am scared to death! 


Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Natasha Lynn

There are moments in our lives where we remember exactly where we were when it happened. I am sure most of us remember, 911.. 

I remember when Mark Spitz won his 7th gold medal, I remember where I was when Elvis Died and John Wayne.. But one of my favorite memories was when my sister Natasha was born. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I was told of her birth.

I was 8 years old and away at summer camp for the first time. I was so excited because finally no more day camp. Honestly, I don't really remember my mother being pregnant.. I mean she just was, I wasn't all that excited.. I already had two brothers. One older and one younger so what's one more kid? 

There we all were, in the mess hall enjoying dinner when one of the camp big wigs came and got me... totally scared me to death.. Seriously, what did I do? And why was I in trouble.. yeah, I know, Paranoid much? but hey, I was eight.. Anyway they pull me into a back room (who knew they had a back room with a phone in it) and handed me the phone. It was my mom, letting me know I had a baby sister.. Natasha Lynn.. I know I said all the right responses and refrained from saying seriously, you pulled me from dinner for this.. but we all know I was thinking it. 

Tasha has been a joy my entire life. I am honestly grateful for the eight years between us because she was truly a beautiful child.. and had she been just behind me my envy might have erupted.. instead I could enjoy her. Over the years I learned just how deep her beauty went. 

She was the person who would have custody of my children should anything happen to either myself or my ex.. yep I was placing my babies in her hands.. and I wrote this will when she was barely 21. I knew even then that she would always put my kids first.. As a matter of fact my only fear was that she would love my children so much that they would forget about me. I know weird thought.. and yet what a great comfort for a mother.. Knowing your children would always be loved. 

She has made every graduation both Middle School and HS (pretty impressive since she lives in FL and we lived in IL).. always remembered birthdays and holidays (way better aunt than I am) and has made trips to Disney World to see them when they performed there. There my sister was, with a double stroller, a video camera and a phone (calling me so I wouldn't miss it).. 

A Generous heart, a great friend and an even better sister..

Yep, I got lucky that long ago day when they pulled me from my dinner..


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Flight 93 memorial

So I went to the flight 93 memorial site today and let me tell you it is a powerful place. An open field slowly being turned into a place of power. A place dedicated to average Americans who refused to surrender. Who accepted that yes, they were probably going to die but they were not going to die for nothing. They were going to take a stand against evil. 

This memorial is still a monument in the making and I am sure if I return in years to come that it will seem more each and every time I am there but for now.. We drove in along a long and winding drive that is soothing and picturesque. It shows the signs of recent planting.. 40 groves of 40 trees. Each representing one of the individuals who died that day. Once you arrive and are able to park your car, there are displays explaining exactly what happened. BUT for us there was also a National Park Ranger who described just what happened that day. Things I hadn't heard. 

Yes, we all know that the people on flight 93 chose to fight back. We all know that they died in the process.. what I didn't know was that they voted on whether or not to attack.. they made a united stand. I also didn't know that they waited.. They had made their decision to act but they waited until they were over open land, away from the cities to protect those on the ground. We know this because they were able to phone their relatives and tell them. I also didn't know that this act of heroism totally surprised the terrorists.. It seems that they were stunned that Americans (and yes one young man from Japan) were willing to fight back. That they succeeded was a testament to the human spirit. Not the American Spirit but the human spirit.. that inner something that is willing to stand up and shout.. I BELIEVE.. and these 40 individuals did just that.. 

Sure there were probably those who didn't want to attack, sure there were probably those who said to just let things happen as they did.. but when the chips were down they all stood together against tyranny, against terror. 

Once the ranger was finished we made our way down to the wall of names. This wall was not right next to the parking lot.. no, it was down a long path, about a mile long. As we walked upon what is now hallow ground we walked beside the ground where the plane's debris had flown... the final resting place itself on the other side of the wall.. encased in a field of flowers. You don't need to bring flowers to this memorial.. God Himself has presented them. Awash in a sea of yellow, you can't help but feel the power of this place.. You are allowed this time to reflect because the memorial was designed this way. There were children there, but they were not running and screaming.. no they too were walking that long path, somehow knowing that it meant something.. That ordinary individuals achieved greatness on this land. 

It is not hard to visualize that plane flying inverted barely making it over the hills before it crashed into the ground, tearing up grass and making a trench.. before stopping in front of a group of Hemlock Trees.. You can almost hear the cries.. smell the burning fuel... feel the heat on your face.. and when you stand there you don't see a field of flowers, a stand of trees or rolling hills no you see a miracle.. You see greatness..


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Surviving Life

It has been a hard couple of months for me. I knew it was time to move on, time to live life for a different purpose but I had no clue how to do it. I was lost in the doldrums and no Tock (Phantom Tollbooth reference) 
to help me out. I dreamed these huge dreams but couldn't get my feet to start on the path. I know that dreams do not come true because you make a wish in a fountain, but because you work hard every day to make them so. Unfortunately, I didn't have the energy to work to make my dreams come true.. I had spent too many years just surviving and making sure that my kids dreams stood a chance. 

So now, there I was, 50 and on the precipice. I needed to move forward but for a solid year I stagnated... did nothing..worse I slipped back into despair. Fortunately I had friends who helped me. But that was a stop gap measure at best. I needed more.. A kick in the pants, maybe.. but that was ever available to me. No what I needed was a chance to allow the dream. A Chance to become me, not the person I had spent a lifetime being. 

I have no regrets on the choices I made.. sure better choices would have made for an easier life but mine made for fabulous kids. Strong, independent, unique individuals who fight their own battles and slay their own dragons.. So those choices were right for then.. for now, not so much. Now I need to find my own dragons.. and for me, it's not to slay them but to enjoy them. 

Once a long time ago my mom commented on how non of her children dreamed of anything.. She had spent a lifetime of dreaming of going somewhere, wait everywhere.. of seeing the world. Those were her dreams. What she never understood was that just because we didn't have her dreams didn't mean we didn't have dreams. My dreams were different. Sure I want to go everywhere see everything.. but me on a plane, train or automobile and I am a happy camper.. But my dreams my true dreams are different. I dream of places others don't see. I dream of dragons and warriors, of mysterious worlds and secret gardens.. I dream of rolling hills of grass that can only be accessed by climbing down a secret ladder at the base of my Grandma's avocado tree.. 

Those dreams need to be discovered.. and shared. So I will be spending some times sharing them. Yes, I am going to attempt to tell the stories that have been living in my head for decades. To share my world with those around me. To explain my dreams.. Scary thought but it's so going to happen!!

Fortunately, my cousin and his wife have opened their home to me and offered me a chance to get my dreams under control.. what a gift I never thought I would have. 

So for a while you will be hearing about some interesting combinations.. I might be talking about site seeing around Pittsburgh OR.. I might be talking about flying Dragons.. who knows which will seem more real..