Thirty Two Rollercoasters

Today is Sunday.  Thank God.  I probably couldn’t tolerate another. single. day.of this past wretched week.  I feel like I have been on 32 rollercoasters with only an hour of sleep in between rides.  My melancholy moon still hangs in the hollow sky but thank God it’s Sunday.  Because on this very Sunday I have heaved a sigh of relief.  I feel optimistic for the first time in days.  And it got pretty dark last week.

I woke up Wednesday morning, fired up the good ole Dell, intending to do a Wordless Wednesday post.  But I never got around to it.  My Aunt Shelly called me and asked if I could take my sister.  My sister is a young lady with a TON of adult responsibility thrust at her, albeit 75% of this is due to her own carelessness.  (Read: she is a young mother.) 

My sister has had very adult struggles that I haven’t even had; she’s also a recovering addict.  While I don’t excuse her poor choices, I feel that our hometown (Marshalltown, Iowa) is largely at fault for her drug abuse.  Marshalltown is like a big, dangerous, Black Hole to me.  Racism,  drugs, immigrants, crime.  These are prominent words I’d use to describe that shit hole. 

Well, my sister decided to move back to that wasteland in the early summer.  I vividly remember looking at Jay and saying “Well, she’s moving back to Marshalltown… We’ll see how long this lasts.”  I am not surprised that she began to fall into old habits.  I mean, it’s pretty illogical to believe she would entirely succeed in that town. 

SO, of course I would go get my sister.  At this point I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to help my brother but in that very same conversation with my aunt, she expressed to me her willingness to help with Cody.  So, it just made sense that I’d bring my sister with me to Iowa City and help her start becoming a true, responsible adult. 

Wednesday was filled with driving, loading and unloading a truck, confronting my mother, my mother calling the police, my brother finally escaping with my aunt and Chelsea and I trying to settle in to new-roommate-hood. 

That’s right.  My mother got the police involved.  She spewed a vat full of boiling bullshit to me, my aunt, my sister and my brother that night.  Accusations and excuses.  Cold, dead words and eyes.  A threat to hit me.  I simply stared into her eyes, daring her.  Her anorexic and alcoholic body wouldn’t hold a candle to mine.  Not 5 years ago and not now.  There was a moment when I burst into tears… The police asked my brother to go back inside (alone) so they could speak with my mother and Cody simultaneously.  
“Please don’t make him stay, please don’t make him stay…”  Tears streamed my face and I choked on those repeated words.  It would be hell for him if he had to stay.  I know what slurs of insults my mother is capable of and I know how long it takes those wounds to heal.  In fact, I’m still working on healing my own.

Thursday was an entirely different story.  I woke many times during my slumber and the morning was rough on me.  I get a really upset stomach any time I’m nervous.  My gut was rolling.  I made it through the workday and finally got a moment to call my aunt.  I was nervous about how Cody was and was interested in an update.  I got her voicemail, so I left one.  A couple of hours later she returned my call.  But the tone she took with me and the bullshit she accused me of still makes my heart pound with anger and astonishment.  I knew then and there that my mother had pumped her full of lies and for the life of me I cannot figure out why the fuck my aunt, my nearest and dearest AUNT SHELLY would choose to believe such trash. 

It’s been three days and I still don’t have a rationale for her behavior.  Just some puzzle pieces strewn about on a card table.  It seems to me that my aunt is projecting her dissatisfaction with her relationship with my cousin onto me.  (I might also add that she has had three failed marriages, countless boyfriends who were complete losers, and never did she achieve her dream of going to art school.  It’s sad, yes, but none of that shit is my fault.)  Her words cut me like a knife and then she suffocated my feelings by not even allowing me to defend myself. 

“I can’t talk right now, I’m busy.” Click.  She fucking called me to hang up on me?  Grow. the. fuck. up.

The icing on the cake:  My aunt took my little brother right back to my mother.  Cody suffers.  Had I known that she was going to play a godforsaken mind game with him in the middle, I’d have taken him TO MY HOUSE in the fucking first place. 

So the texts and pleas for help continue.  I phoned my dad yesterday to kick his ass into action.  Who answered his cell phone?  My aunt.  That’s ok.  I was cordial.  She, however, was chipper.  Smooth as silk, as if nothing were wrong at all.  What a simmering crock of shit.  Her end salutation was “I love you, bye-bye.”  And I responded with a feined cheery “Bye!”  Two seconds later she called me from her phone– “You know what, how about you call me when you can tell me you love me.”

You know what?  How about you call me when you can say “I’m sorry” and apologize for verbally abusing me, treating me like a child, and hanging up on me. 
Newsflash: I’m an adult and I demand respect in order to give respect.  Savor on “them apples” for a couple of weeks.  My phone number will remain the same.

My Dearest Dede

DeAnnaLynn Marie

Eyes as blue as the sea

A smile so wide, laughter so sweet

Don’t you know? You mean the world to me!

From a baby I have watched you grow

Into the “Dede” we all know.

God has blessed us with you

This we know, is true.

I do believe that with your birth

The Lord subtracted years of hurt.

You see, my Dear One

Your existence brings our family home–

We all long to see you and smile with delight

So much that your Aunt will drive  into the night

Just to see you for a few hours or so…

You are a piece of my heart, don’t you know?

I’ve loved you since before we even met!

Always,

Aunt Bre

A Follow-up to “Farewell”

It was brought to my attention that I held back on my post bidding Jazz farewell

I’ll tell you all how I really feel about her departure.  I’ll let my feelings flow onto the screen like bright red blood flows from a fresh cut on your leg after shaving. 

I’m sad.  I’m at a loss for words.  I cannot believe she’s actually doing it.  She’s really going.  To Oregon.  And then what? 

During her last marriage, I found myself wishing for her sake that she’d just get on with it already and leave the guy.  He was a jerk.  A smartass, arrogant bastard that expected to mold Jazz into a housewife and a mother to two children not her own.  What selfish motives.  What a horrible repayment– keeping her on a leash and telling her it was “a little weird for a woman of almost 30 to be hanging out with a 21 year old.”  Says who?  Especially when that woman of almost 30 and that 21 year old have known each other for all of the 21 year old’s life.  Is it so weird to bond with somebody so closely?  Is it so weird to love someone and want to spend time with them?  And since when did God die and crown you Ruler?  So sit the hell down, jerk, and let us girls have some fun! 

Of course, we had to sneak around behind his back because if he found out that we were going out for cocktails or going out dancing, he’d be pissed.  He wasn’t above showing his distaste for our carefree nights.  He even fed Jazz full of bullshit about how all of her friends were married and settled and that these women wouldn’t have time for her if he left her so she might as well sit at home and behave.  I cringed while typing that.  We all know how I hate bullshitBut it’s true.  This guy disguised himself as a down-home hardworking guy who could fit so nicely into our family that at first I didn’t see that he wasn’t a good person.  But my grandma did. 

Grandma has a really good sense of character.  And she’s met the new Cowboy; the prince who is stealing Jazz away from us all.  And Grandma approves.  So I take solace in that, I am relieved that at least Grandma believes this guy will be good to her and take care of her and love her.  I’m afraid that if she is faced with one more heartbreak, she won’t bounce back.  She won’t recover and continue to be the smart, sophisticated, eloquent, carefree woman that we all know and love.  I honestly believe that.

You see, she lost not only two marriages but one very special and important little girl:  Lauryn Grace.  Jasmine’s daughter.  Losing Lauryn was part of the downward spiral of her last marriage.  Jazz was devastated.  She had wanted so badly to have a daughter.  She had played Life by all of the rules– get an education, check; get a career, check; get married, check; have a family.  She wanted to move to the next step of her life, to check off “family”, to delight in the life she had worked so hard to obtain.  She was running her own business, had a husband and was raising his two sons.  But she wanted a daughter.  Her daughter. 

I remember finding out that Lauryn had birth defects.  I bawled.  I could not fathom how badly this was hurting Jazz.  I wanted so badly for her to be happy.  I felt she deserved to be happy.  It broke my heart when I learned that God took Lauryn from Jazz.  It broke my heart to hear her cry.  And it broke my heart when her own husband, the father of Lauryn, told Jazz it was “time to get over it”.  TIME TO GET OVER IT??  As Jazz says, “Who the fuck are you? The GRIEF POLICE?”  And I agree.  The time when a wife needs her husband’s support the most, I would venture to say, would be a time like that.  And I believe Jazz’s ex-husband tore a couple of bricks out of their marital wall the day he told her to move on.

So yes, I do have some reserve about Jazz leaving us and moving all the way across the US to live in Oregon with a cowboy who just swept her away.  I love her.  I want her to be happy.  But I also know that when we invest ourselves in something and it doesn’t work out, it’s a hard tumble from the top of that euphoric mountain.  I don’t want her to fall.  I want this man to live up to his word.  He’ll be the first man in her life to do it.  And it’s what she deserves. 

“I’ll grab the wheel and point it west, pack the good and leave the rest. I’ll drive until I find the missing piece.  You said I wouldn’t get too far on a tank of gas and an empty heart but I got everything I’ll ever need…”  Miranda Lambert sings it so well. “…Now I worry about life and if it’s ridin’ right on time, I guess if you don’t jump you’ll never know if you can fly…”

Jump Jazz.  Jump!  I hope with all of my heart you can fly.  I’ll miss you very, very much.  But I just want you to be happy and if your happiness lies in Oregon, on a ranch, with a handsome, chivalrous cowboy, then so be it!  I’ll be anxious to hear of all the new and wonderful things in your life. 

I know Lauryn wants you to be happy.  And so does the rest of your family.  Je t’aime!

Farewell my friend

On Thursday I got a text message.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  “I’m moving to OR and I want you to go out w/ me and I’ll fly you home.”  WHOA.  Add to this mix the fact that I was at work, having one of the hardest days of my career (thus far), and you have identified Bre’s brain meltdown

This message came from my cousin, Jasmine.  Jazz has been my favorite (paternal) cousin since I was like 6.  I can remember making mud pies in her playhouse, foraging for special nuts and pinecones to garnish them.  I can remember when she first got her license and drove my sister and I to the pool.  I thought we were the coolest things ever.  Then Jasmine got married when I was 12 or 13.  She married a military man and moved all the way to Georgia.  I was sad.  When we met this new husband of hers, there was something about him I didn’t like.  I couldn’t put my finger on it (being 12 could have had something to do with it) but I just knew that he wasn’t the fairy tale he was leading Jazz to believe. 

Jazz is a cowgirl.  She knows how to ride with the best of them, she’s smart and logical in the way of farm life, and she aspires to be a veterinary technician.  I love to ride with her, and when she compliments my form or my patience, my heart swells with pride.  We often joke about being Annie Oakley:  “If an idiot pisses us off, we could just shoot ’em and ride away…”  But there’s something about Jazz you have to know.  She’s stubborn.  Within minutes of meeting her, anybody will know it.  That is why I’m not shocked that she’s packing up her life and moving out west.  But it doesn’t mean that I’m not sad. 

We became more sister-like when I was in high school.  She had since divorced Military Jerk and moved back to Iowa.  She was remarried to a man I’d like to call I’m The Victim.  When I moved out of my mother’s house at 16 years old, Jazz was there for me.  When I discovered that living with my aunt wasn’t working so well, Jazz was there for me.  I lived with Jazz for about 4 months of my senior year.  Jazz didn’t try to impose all kinds of chores, curfews, or studying rules on me.  She knew how mature and responsible I was and just told me, cut and dried, ‘You go to school.  You go to work.  You do what you can to help  here, and we’ll be fine.  I just want the courtesy of knowing where you are, or if you’re not coming home.’  She understood me and my need and capability to take care of myself.  I think it’s because she has that same need and capability.

The husbands from Jasmine’s past leave a lot to be desired.  The first was a chauvinist and the second was an oversized 12 year old with an anger problem.  To her credit, she gave them a fair chance and gave them the opportunity to grow and become better people.  But they did not follow suit and in order to preserve herself, she cut ties.

Now, she is embarking on one of the biggest events of her life.  She’s moving to Oregon because she’s fallen in love.  Most of the people in our society and in this day and age are so jaded that they will scoff at this notion.  “Fallen in love?” they’ll say.  But she knows her heart and if it belongs in Oregon and belongs to this cowboy, then so be it.  Like I said before, she IS stubborn

I am going to miss my stubborn, cowgirl cousin who, really, is like an older sister I never had. 

At least I have a love for travel!

The eyes are the windows of the soul. And the eyebrows are the curtains. Part deux.

I refuse to listen to bullshit. In the previous post I broke a barrier of silence that I used to wear like a badge.  I didn’t want anyone to know that I had a less-than-favorable childhood.  Now, I want everyone to know that I am not the victim.  I am the survivor.  I wouldn’t have changed my childhood because I know the benefits I’ve reaped from it.
And that breakup I described yesterday shed a light on my life.  While I was picking up pieces of emotional aftermath after Philosopher and I had parted ways, my life was brought full circle.  I received one of the most important calls of my life.
“Hey kiddo. It’s your dad.”  I hadn’t spoken to my dad in months, close to a year.  Up until then, the last memory I had of him was him coming down from a high in his apartment.  He could barely speak, let alone look at me.  He was hitting rock bottom.  I left that apartment pissed off.  I didn’t need that bullshit in my life, not when I was trying to figure out who I was as an adult.
“I’m getting clean.”  Emotions and ideas and things I had waited for years to say flooded to my head.  And from my eyes.  I couldn’t think of what to say so I just bawled. “Really?? Is it for real this time?”  My dad had had stints in rehab and I had already forgiven him for being an addict a couple of times already.  My guard was up this time.  I wanted proof.  I wanted somebody else in a relationship to earn my trust.  Prove to me that my self-preservation won’t be sacrificed because I love you.
My dad did prove it.  He actually became my dad in the fall of 2007.   He called me almost daily to talk about anything and everything.  His sobriety.  My classes.  My breakup.  My dad gave me advice about what to do with myself post-boyfriend.  My dad became my best friend.  I’m 95% sure I was his.
When my dad told me he wanted to voluntarily go to rehab to ensure his path ahead, I was supportive.  It was only when he told me he might go to Des Moines that I was sad.  I was living in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the time and Des Moines was a solid 2 hour drive south of me.  There wouldn’t be much contact with this new dad I had become so fond of if he went that far away.  About a week after he mentioned Des Moines, he decided to move to Waterloo (a 10-15 minute drive from Cedar Falls; comparable to St. Paul and Minnesota-type cities, distance-wise).  I was ecstatic!  Now we could continue to be each other’s rock.
Dad completed his rehab program, transitioned into a community-based house for recovering addicts and enrolled in college classes.  We actually both went to the community college together for a semester and would meet each other in the parking lot after class in order to eat lunch at A&W together. (It’s my dad’s favorite restaurant in Waterloo. He’s so weird!) I kept my dad posted on a daily basis.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, 2008: My family had gathered at my Grandma Deb’s house, my dad’s mom.  In his sobriety, my dad had a fear about being around his family sober.  I think he felt that they would be judging him instead of enjoying him.  In sum, Dad didn’t come to Grandma’s. Instead, he ended up consuming 40+ tablets Ativan.  That shook my world.  I was so filled with rage, hurt, disgust, worry, WHY? Why, why, why? Why did you do this?  This was not what Thanksgiving Day was supposed to be about!  I was not thankful that my dad was, in my mind, back at square one.  But really?  It was necessary. 

I was trying so hard to keep my dad clean that I didn’t realize I was enabling him.  I would drive him anywhere he needed to go, I would do next to anything for him.  But I realized that I was keeping him in his comfort zone.  There are taxis.  There’s a bus system in Waterloo.  I didn’t have to mother him, but I wanted to.  I wanted him to succeed because he’s my dad.  At that point, I was so invested in his sobriety that it was bordering on unhealthy for me.  Because this was his sobriety, his quest and on Thanksgiving 2008 I let him take the driver’s seat.

He’s still sober.  No meth since summer 2007.  He does have a couple of beers now and again but never have I seen him drunk since 2007. (And the first time I saw him have a beer since that summer? Another “letting go” moment.)  I have grown to understand that my dad loves me, but he doesn’t depend on me for his sobriety.  It is his choice.  Every day he wakes up and chooses to remain clean.  I consider myself fortunate to be involved in his success. It’s much the same for me: what my dad thinks means a lot to me, but ultimately I’m going to make my own decisions.

Fast forward to Fall, 2009: I’ve begun my career as a nurse, I’m involved with a great guy (a guy who is equally as good to me as I am to him), and I have a great relationship with my family.  I feel very satisfied yet I feel a sliver of guilt when I know I’m longing for something more.  The next step.  I’m having growing pains because I’m ready for the next chapter.  I’m ready to get married and start a family.  Above and before all of that, I’m ready to enrich my career and become a Registered Nurse.  I’m ready to fill out the last couple inches of these big-girl shoes I picked out when I was young.  Various people will say “But you’re still so young!”  I know, in numeric years.  But in life experience years, I feel older.  I feel ready for the next accomplishment. 

And pictures of me these days?  My eyes are happy.  My eyes even have a smile.  And?  My eyebrows rock!

The eyes are the windows to the soul… And the eyebrows are the curtains.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul.  Though I don’t know who they are, I agree.  Have you ever seen a picture of yourself and catch a glimpse of your eyes?  Have you ever thought ‘Damn. I look unhappy.’? I have pictures like that from the fall of 2007.  I was going through a terrible breakup, another in the line of ex-boyfriends I had tried, in some way, to change because I saw their potential but I also knew they had to do better with themselves in order for us to work. Not in a bitchy way, just because I had a naiive perspective and thought I could make them want to be better. For themselves.  This breakup was especially hard because the guy had a 4 year degree in Philosophy. Philosophy. What the fuck? He was intelligent. But that right there should have said it all. I think it says “I got a bachelor’s degree because that’s what was expected of me but I got one in Philosophy because I’m still babied by my mother and I know she’ll take care of me no matter what.” Too harsh? Oh, well. I would work 40+ hours a week and he didn’t have a job. He thought an accomplishment was taking a shower and meeting with his probation officer. He acted as though being a self-named hippie would grant him dignity to be living in a trailer at his mom’s expense. Let’s just say that I am over him but still angry and confused by him. And then I scoff at myself because I’m thinking, “Really? Did I really let that guy treat me like shit? I opened the door and invited him in so he could take advantage of me?” For a long time I was really worried that I would keep dating guys and finding the duds. I was worried that my standards were too high, or that I was being unrealistic. I was afraid to be alone. And it showed. In my eyes. In my actions. Only looking at prior snapshots do I realize it now.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t swear off dating or become a hermit. But I reacted to break-ups angrily because I was afraid. I was afraid that I didn’t have a good judgment of character or that I wasn’t just getting the point that “Hey. I’m only good enough for these types of guys.” I was feeding myself emotional poison by even listening to this bullshit when all I really had to do was listen to what people who actually love me had to say. So I started listening. I mean, none of my own advice to myself seemed to work, right?

I have always felt like my life is a personal journey. Everyone has their own mantra, their own theme for their life, if you will. Mine has been growth. Even the name of this blog is “achievingmyself”. I believe that every step is a step in the direction of filling up this body with a person. (Is this clear as mud??) Nonetheless, I took that opportunity, that heartache that I was feeling and turned it into something that would propel me forward. I thought about the kind of person I want to be and starting moving forward.

“You’re smart.” “You’re so compassionate.” “You’re strong.” These are some of my favorite things people I love have told me. Of course, they love me so they’re going to say nice things but each of these statements mean so much when I hear it. Because, statistically, I have defied the odds.

I’m a child of divorce. I’m a child of alcoholic parents (and extended family). I’m a child of meth-addicted parents. I am a child of domestic violence. I was homeless for almost two years.* Statistically speaking, I should not have graduated high school. I should not have gone to college. And graduated. I should have at least one child.

But I refuse to listen to bullshit.  That is a standard I had set for myself even before I knew it. 

To be continued…

*These are all real events in my life. My parents have changed tremendously in the past 15 years and are not the horrible people portrayed by these statements.