I don’t have the words

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I’ve been thinking of this blog post for days and I don’t have it. I’m a jumble of thoughts and emotions, good, bad, angry, grateful, and everything in-between. I can’t untangle it all. 

I’ve had my heart yanked out of my chest and then it was danced upon by multiple people. Then someone stuck a knife in my back, twisted, and pushed it in further. Then I got kicked in the gut. 

I lost so much this year. People I loved. I learned that I can love people but they aren’t necessarily going to love me. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t always chase those that I love. Sometimes I should just let them walk away. 

I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’m trying to emphasize a depth of pain – a deep pain that I haven’t previously ever experienced. Like on a pain chart, except it was about a 45 on a scale of 1-10.

I’ve learned that the people I thought would be there for me when I needed them weren’t, but support came from a few unexpected places too.

I’m working on forgiveness. For my own sake more than others. It hurts. 

I’ve learned hard truths: I’m vulnerable; I’m wrong sometimes; I’m a better mom than I am a wife or girlfriend; I’m demanding; I have high expectations. These aren’t good things but knowing them is half the battle. (As they say).

I’ve learned that I’m strong – even stronger than I thought. 

I’ve learned some good things too. I’ve learned I can love harder, deeper & more than I thought possible. I’ve learned that loving is worth it – even if I’m not loved back. 

I feel like I’m searching for a missing piece. That I still have a gaping wound in my side and I’m trying to patch it up. It makes me hurt, weak, emotional. 

Sometimes I say or do the wrong thing based on an emotional response. If I have done that to you then I apologize. I’m trying to figure out how to be strong 95% of the time but I think I’m only at about 60% these days. 

I’m stronger when I feel loved. I have tried to love so much this year. I’ve tried to make love my tonic – thinking if I give love I’ll get love in return. Doesn’t always work that way, does it? 

So, you see, I don’t have the magic words. This year doesn’t fit in a box. It was full of extremes. Death, heartache, pain. It was full of new adventures – new job, new travels. 

I’m just going to keep trying. I’m going to be the best person I know how to be. I’m going to love my boys fiercely. I’m going to do my job as well as I know how. I’m going to try to be the badass I’ve been told I am. 

And I’ll hold out hope that maybe, if I’m lucky, someone will eventually love me fiercely too. 

Thank God for the new year, my sweet lovelies. You keep doing you, I’ll keep doing me. Be kind to each and every one of us. Spread kindness like glitter. 

Happy New Year! Bring on 2016, for heaven’s sake!

Xoxo,

Stef 

It’s what we do

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On Facebook the other day I was told by a complete stranger that I am responsible for the “dumming  down” [sic] of America. I thanked her for her comment, felt obliged to clarify the spelling of “dumbing,” and moved on with my life. 

Except it’s staying with me. Not that she called me dumb; she doesn’t know me, my job, my education, my background. She made a snap decision based on my political leanings; I’m dumb because she thinks people who believe as I do are all dumb.

What’s sticking with me is the assumption and accusation of stupidity that was railed at me though my statement was not provoking in the slightest – except for my political leanings. My statement was a plea for compassion. Is it irony that my plea for compassion is answered in the least compassionate way? I don’t know, because I’m an idiot. My English Lit degree taught me nothing, apparently. 

Except it taught me so much. I read books from different times, places & cultures. I visited a few different countries in my history as well, and I learned a little of how the Irish, the English & the Spaniards live.  

Are we Americans so egotistical that we assume we are so much better than any other population of people? We are all just clustered at different spots on the globe; because we were born there, in most cases. We usually are raised with certain cultural or societal mores & tenets, and as a adults hopefully we learn to question those. We either solidify those beliefs or we learn where the flaws are and we choose our own path. This is the American, Catholic, Muslim, black, white, redneck, English, Swahili way; it’s called growing up. We learn, we think, and then we decide what settles best within our souls. 

We Americans have never had our cities, our homes & our neighborhoods destroyed by war. We’ve never had to flee a terrorist regime. We sit in our comfy houses, with central heat to keep us warm, with multiple electronic devices telling what to think or do, or what we should believe. We very casually say, “no, don’t let the Syrian refugees in HERE! They might be bad and kill us.” What if it were the other way around? What if we were fleeing because our city was in tatters, our loved ones gone or dead, no job, no money …… what if it were us? Do you think it’s appropriate for another country to judge our admittance base on the Planned Parenthood shooter? Or the kid who shot up the church? Or the movie theater? Or Columbine? What if Canada closed their borders to Americans because we have too many radicalized, angry young white men with guns? 

When we let fear overcome compassion then they have won. 

When we refuse humanitarian aid because one of the refugees may become radicalized then they have won. 

When we refuse to share our bounty, our abundance of blessings, then they have won. 

When we refuse to save lives … well, you know. 

America was founded on the tenet of religious freedom. America was founded by refugees  who were fleeing an oppressive religious regime. (Yes, I’m speaking of the Europeans and not the native Indians who already had this land – that’s a whole different topic). Have we become so cold, so calculating, that we can’t recall our roots? Why are we here today? Because our ancestors were refugees! 

It takes a village to raise a village. When I see a kid get hurt I’m going to comfort him until is momma can. If my neighbor is out of flour I’m going to give him some. If there is no heat for some then we provide them warmth. It’s what we do – as humans first, Americans second. 

It’s what we do. Without compassion we are nothing. 

Peace, love & every ounce of good cheer,

Stef

P.S. My statement that provoked the dumbing down comment: 

I never said I was unconcerned about the terrorist incidents. I just don’t think preventing aid to refugees is the answer. The vast majority of them are families. I think compassion should dictate we help. The refugee process isn’t quick. There is a significant vetting process before people are allowed to come here. I’m concerned with any stereotyping that all Muslims are bad and I think we need to be careful about that. In my job I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many Muslims over the last 10 years. They are honest, loving Americans. Some born here, some not. One went to MIT & is now the CEO of a startup. Another is a neurologist. Another was in our Navy. They are all raising their families & loving America. These are just examples, but I think it’s important to humanize them so we don’t lump them all into one category. Every religion produces zealots, like Westboro Baptist, but the radicalization like the San Bernardino shooters, is going to happen regardless of the refugees. Yes, I would feel the same if a loved one of mine was there. I think saving thousands of refugee lives is just as important as fighting extreme radical terrorists. Without compassion we only have fear and that means the terrorists have already won a major victory.

The thing is …

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It’s tough love time. 

You have to make your life work for you. Things aren’t just going to fall in line and you *have* to accept what happens. You are in charge of your life. YOU. Not your husband, your kids, your parents, but YOU. 

Is life hard right now? Why? Figure it out and change it!

Yeah, I know it’s not that simple. It never is. But I also know it won’t change unless YOU change it.

Also … be realistic. You are one person and nobody (but yourself) expects perfection. You go be you. Be a badass. But be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure because that’s being a jackass instead of a badass. 

Also, and I’m guilty of this sometimes, keep in mind that people have their own sob stories and have very little time & energy to rescue you from yours. Then you just become somebody who needs rescuing and, I don’t know about you, but damsel in distress doesn’t suit me. I can take care of myself, thankyouverymuch. (I want love, caring, & hugs, but not pity!)

I would have loved, loved, loved to be a stay at home mom for a portion of my kids’ childhoods but that wasn’t the hand I was dealt. So I chose to be realistic, accept it, and guess what? They are thriving anyway. They go to, gasp, public school and they are smart, funny, well-behaved, good-hearted boys. It was okay. It was better than okay because they get life lessons in school that I wouldn’t be able to give them sheltered at home. Kids are resilient. They don’t break easily. Give yourself a break.

Life is hard, dude. I totally get it. But be you, be realistic, and just do it. Conquer the shit out of it. None of us are getting out of here alive and I want to always look back and know I made good, strong, thoughtful & decisive decisions with the time I had in this one life I’ve been given. 

Love hard, play hard, work hard. 

I’m proud of how hard I work and the ethic that drives me to succeed. I’m proud of these two amazing boys of mine that, honestly, only need steering & a little guidance and they do pretty well. I’m proud of the strong, capable woman I am. 

Stop being such a woe-is-me and be an of-course-I-can kind of gal, okay? Nobody will love you less, but they may admire you more. 

Xoxo, 

Momma Stef

Literary comparison: a sad story

Once upon a time there were two people who fell in love. They met, they kissed, and they knew the other was “the one.” Bride & groom walked down the aisle, had babies, and their life rolled on with good times, and a few bad times … but then more bad times. And more after that. Pain, hurt, and resentment grew. Then came separation and, 2 years later, divorce. 16 years, beginning to end; 15 years married and two wonderful children to show for it. 

The bride … she often misses the good. She misses her best friend. She misses the man who made her laugh. The man who held her perfectly when she needed to be held, and often held her when she didn’t know she needed it. She misses his silliness, his kisses, and their shared history. She misses the man she still sees in pictures holding their babies. She misses that man with an ache that rattles her soul and makes her shake with pain, sadness & regret. 

But then there’s the bad. The yin to the yang. The flip side.

You know the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story? Dr. Jekyll was good, kind, benevolent. Mr. Hyde … well, he wasn’t. Mr. Hyde prioritized his hobbies & friends over his family. He willfully chose to live separately, and to live with minimal responsibility. Mr. Hyde shrugged off financial concerns, to be handled solely by his wife; he saw the burden this caused, the pain & stress, and increased it rather than trying to ease her burden. He ignored repeated pleas for engagement, involvement, for partnering. Mr. Hyde stayed up until all hours, raged with drunken belligerence, and terrified his kids & wife. Mr. Hyde was not a family man. 

Nobody would ever guess that the public Dr. Jekyll was so often controlled by the narcissistic Mr. Hyde. Preening & posturing for his audience, selfishly focused on his appeal to others rather than any recognition of his loving needs at home. 

Poor Dr. Jekyll, he missed out on so much; Mr. Hyde guaranteed that. 

A sad story, isn’t it? The bride is sad, disappointed, angry & resentful … but she still often misses her Dr. Jekyll. The man he was before he allowed Mr. Hyde to guide his life. 

Lesson learned, time to move on. A new chapter is dawning for Mrs. Jekyll, a blushing bride no more. 

Xoxo,

A former Mrs. 

5 things about me, today 

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Short & to the point, my lovelies. 

1. I don’t make friends easily & I never have. That’s why I tend to hold onto and treasure the friends I do make, going back to them time and again, even after they’ve broken my heart a little. Breaking with someone completely and willfully is probably the hardest thing for me to ever do. 

2. Can I be blunt? I never cheated on my husband. In my marriage, I never had a boyfriend. I never met up with some dude for a weekend romp. To be even more explicit, there was no sex outside of my marriage. For anybody who thinks or has heard otherwise I’d advise you to open your mind to other possibilities. 

3. This year, to date, has been the worst year of my life. I’ve lost 3 people I deeply cared about, my dream of marital bliss has seen the final nail in that coffin, and my work has been pretty damn brutal this year with no relief in sight. I’m exhausted from the constant loss.

4. I have nightmares now and I never used to. Most of the time they are nightmares of betrayal; seeing people who I thought loved me yelling, screaming, and humiliating me. Hurting me until I wake with my heart racing. 

5. And yet … 

I have hope, still. 

I believe in love, still. 

I believe I have a purpose. 

I believe there will be light. 

Plus this, this is real: 

I’ll take equal parts of awe, some for me & some for him.

He’ll love me not for my svelte figure (because I don’t have anything svelte, except maybe my hair), and not for my money (duh) but maybe for the liveliness of my mind instead. (As Jane Austen says). 

HOPE. 

  
Xoxo,

Stef 

Sissy

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I used to call her sissy. I barely remember that, and it seems so improbable now, but I did. 

This one thought keeps circling in my head: How do you mourn a sister? 

I can’t imagine it. I can’t fathom it. But I’m doing it. 

Last Sunday, June 15, my sister’s cancer journey came to an end. She was 53. 

Charlotte was about 14 when my mom married her dad, he adopted me and he became our dad. I was just a baby. I didn’t have a childhood without her in it. 

 As a teenager she had to share a room with a toddler. I’m sure that totally sucked for her, and was maybe why she moved out when she was 19. But for 5 years she was stuck with me. 

I remember her high school girlfriends all treated me like I was their little sis too. I’m even Facebook friends with one of them to this day. 

I remember when I was 6 or 7  I thought of her with such awe. She was amazing. She was beautiful. She danced, performed, with big hair and gorgeous leotards, with a dance group and I wanted to be her. My mom tried to put me in dance but I was painfully shy. I quit immediately, except in my own living room … where one time I did a flip and fractured my wrist. I didn’t have her grace.

I was the flower girl in her wedding when I was 7. She was such a grown-up to me. She was only 20, but I was still in such awe of the beautiful, dynamic creature going through this incredible ritual. That’s MY sister? 

When I was 10 years old I became an aunt to this goofball: 

And then these two:  Years ago, when I was barely done being a kid myself, I’d babysit, pick them up from school when she couldn’t, and sometimes take them to gymnastics. I loved being their young aunt.  

It was when I was a late teen and even more after I finished high school, thereabouts, when my sister and I became the adult (ish) version of being sisters. This is when her inappropriate jokes started to make sense. When I understood her “titty twister” threats. When I realized how she could say shocking things and get away with it because she did it with a laugh and a smile.  

 

For awhile we did a lot of things together. Her family plus me & my boyfriend (at the time) went to Disneyland together, Las Vegas for dad’s wedding (where all 7 of us shared 1 cozy room!), and to the lake or camping together. We had the best time. 

 

She lived her life fearlessly. She advocated for her children fiercely. In a lot of ways, she was a role model mother as much as my own mom has been. A younger, more modern mom role model (sorry mom) that I could compare my mom against – and I’d like to think I’ve healthily incorporated both of them into my mothering.

 
She was determined to live her life according to her desires. I really admired that in her. Whenever she wanted something she figured out how to get it. She managed, somehow,  and she gave her kids a wonderful life with myriad experiences. They always knew how much they were loved.  

  

 

Later – after our parents split, and when I moved to Idaho to live with dad & go to college, and then met my husband and got married – my sis and I had some conflicts. I’m not going to go into that, I’d rather forget it to be honest, but I really wish that time had been different. I wish my kids had known their aunt more. I wish she had known & loved my kids. 

But I know I loved her. I loved her light, her positivity, and her bright soul. 

My sissy.

 Tell me – how do you mourn a sister? 

Xoxo, 
Stef