Today was like…

…an emotional roller coaster. It’s Father’s Day, and I usually spend the whole day pretty sad missing, and thinking about, my dad and everything he’s missed out on, and everything I missed out on. But today was different. In fact, I didn’t get sad or teary until about an hour ago. I had other things on my mind. 

For the past few days I have been anxiously waiting for a childhood friend, Nicole, to make it to Vegas so I could drive down and see her. We met in 6th grade. We went to school together and were best friends, hanging out every chance we had. We bonded over the loss of our fathers, and our tough/harsh maternal figures, and NKOTB (what were we thinking?!?)…our lives were very similar back then, with some minor differences. The summer between 9th and 10th grade my family moved out of state. I hated my mom for making us move away (I had no concept of financial hardships at the time) and I vowed that I would make her so miserable that she would send me back “home”. Little did I know how devastating our move was to Nicole. We were inseparable, until our move separated us. We returned to our hometown for a visit the following summer. I don’t remember how long we were in town, but it wasn’t long enough. I was able to get in a visit with Nicole, and wanted to go back every year to visit her. Neither of us knew that we would not see each other again for 25 years. 

We lost contact after that visit. Many years passed and my mom contacted me to let me know that a letter had arrived at the family home for me from Nicole. I got the letter a few days later and responded. We wrote back and forth for a while, and talked on the phone occasionally…and then life happened. We lost contact again. I would occasionally look for her on Facebook, but didn’t have any luck. Just a few years ago she sent me a friend request. Life kept us both pretty busy, but we were better about keeping up with each other through Facebook. Our lives had taken parallel paths, both of us having many similar experiences, even our ex’s share the same first name (yes, I think all men that I have encountered with that first name have been asshats). We are both in a better place. 

I was so stressed out about seeing her today, the first time in 25 years, and I have changed a lot, I guessed that she did too. What if we don’t recognize each other? Which is kinda dumb because we see each other’s pictures on Facebook. What if she doesn’t like me anymore? What if I don’t like her anymore? What if we have nothing to talk about? J and I arrived at her hotel and she was coming down to meet us. As soon as we saw each other we smiled and hugged. It was so great to see her face light up, and I was put at ease. I couldn’t see myself, but I think I lit up too. We walked around trying to find a place to eat and talk. When we finally found a place we started talking like we were picking up where we left off. J said she heard Nicole say things and she thought to herself “That’s exactly what mom would say.”, and she’s right, it was what I would say. We talked about our kids and how both B and J were named after her. We talked about family and struggles and blessings and progress and church. An amazing visit, and the food was good too. We had to say goodbye too soon, but we both agreed to not go so long before seeing each other again. 

As J and I drove home I was replaying the visit and past things people have said to me about every friend I made after her. I have had some real doozies. I have picked some “real winners”. I suddenly came to the realization that I had never had a friend as true, loyal, reliable, understanding, compassionate…the list goes on…as she was to me. In every relationship there is some give and some take. For the majority of relationships I have had, there has always been more giving on my part and more taking on theirs, but not with Nicole. I think we both gave back as much, if not more, than we took. I cannot think of another friend who has been that way with me. 

Forward to an hour ago when I started texting my brothers to tell them happy Father’s Day, since I was traveling, catching up with Nicole, and having dinner with Jay and J, and by the time I got the chance to call the boys, it was too late. I got more emotional as I wrote each text. I made sure to let them know how much I look to up to each of them. I am sad that I don’t have the close relationships with them that I wish I had, and the ones I feel close to, I struggle with because of my emotional hurt. I have to find a healthy way to release grudges and hurts so I can move past the hurts. I miss my dad. I remember being a daddy’s girl. Maybe I remember right, and maybe I don’t, but I remember his love for me. I’m heartbroken, grateful and happy this Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to the many men in my life, present and past, who have had a positive impact on my life and the woman I’ve become. 

Life changes. Experiences change us. We change. Friends come and go from our lives. True friends may leave our lives, but reconnect as if no time has passed. True friends are selfless and love you for being you. I’m lucky enough to have one. 

Suddenly it’s a great idea to foster…

…because it’s his idea. I have been very vocal about my desire to have more kids, just as I have been very vocal about everything important in my life. When Jay came to me almost 2 months ago with the suggestion that we should become licensed foster parents my first thought was “Yes! Of course! Finally!” That night, I couldn’t sleep. The foster process is long and difficult, but in my mind totally worth it. I started to get angry. For years I have tried to have more kids, using donors, looking into adoption and fostering…but I felt so alone. Everything I tried, every step I took, I was alone. Growing our family was important to me, and it was painfully clear that it was important to only me. It was clearer with ever effort that he wasn’t a willing participant in any of my attempts. 

After my hysterectomy last November I worked hard to overcome the extreme depression I fell into almost immediately after surgery. It was so painful to accept that I will never again carry a baby inside me. It was even more difficult to accept that our family, as it is now, is only going to grow when our kids have kids of their own. We already have 2 grandbabies, and I love them so much, but I don’t think I feel the grandma connection to them that i probably should. They are his kids kids, and his kids don’t like me…I feel distance is better than yet another heartache…that is on me. I was finally finding happiness with our situation. Our youngest is 18, and will likely leave us soon, making us “empty nesters”. I was as ready for it as I could be. Then he suggests we retake the foster classes (we took them almost 6 years ago, and never finished the process) and get licensed.

I asked him the next day “Why now? Why not anytime over the last 13 years when I suggested it? Is this your way of keeping me from leaving?” He said that when he got the email from the regional guy with the class schedule for May, he felt like we should do it. And he said that if I still want to leave, he understands. But now I’m really mad. I have had dreams for years about a boy that is supposed to be my son, and I know his voice, his face, even his name. Wide awake and all alone I would hear him say “Mom”. I knew that he was helping me to remember that he is supposed to be with us. My personal revelation meant nothing to Jay for over 13 years! I was beginning to think I was going crazy. The dreams stopped months ago. I stopped hearing him call for me. Now when I am wide awake and all alone…I hear nothing but silence. 

I needed time to think. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly that yearning to have another child was back, but the anger and utter disbelief that he would bring this up like it was his idea all along, had me in an internal tug of war. I went back and forth on the idea for days. I didn’t know what I would decide, although I knew immediately what I wanted to choose. The realization that we successfully co-parented our nephews and we’re able to work together was so clear. I had finally made up my mind. 

Our marriage is broken, but the one thing that makes us communicate, work together, and support each other is taking care of kids for someone else. When we had T, and R, we were able to be happier around each other and work better together. Fostering a child will not fix our relationship, and I’m not saying it will make things better because in all actuality it will add more stress to our family. But that fire inside me was reignited and I want another child. 

We took the classes. 32 hours of uncomfortable chairs, lectures, suggestions, ideas, stories, making new friends, growing our support system, asking lots of questions and not always getting clear answers. J even went to all the classes with us, which helped her too why T and R behaved the way they did. Jay and I made a deal. I would find a way to pay for licensing costs, and he would handle all of the paperwork. We are in the process and waiting for the next step. The decisions about which placements to take will be on all 3 of us. Our hope is to adopt, but if we can’t, being a temporary stop to help children who need us will be enough. 

I can’t put into words how strongly I feel that doing this is what I need. More importantly…it’s what the children who will come into our home need. I am at peace (at least I think I am) with whatever happens. Is divorce still on the table? Yes, kind of. More put on the back burner for now. Not because I’m finally getting what I want, but because I know what the possibilities are. 

“Why Do You Have To Be…

…such a fucking bitch?” That’s what hear muttered from the other side of the bathroom door. This after I stated a problem, looking for some acknowledgement, but instead got arguments. So I state the problem again, hoping it will be heard this time. Only to hear that question muttered outside the bathroom door. The stated problem was minor, but the issue of him being checked out and missing the majority of what I say, has been a long time issue. I, of course, confronted him on the question he had just asked, and was met with nothing but denial. Yesterday, I sat on the couch where he usually sits. There were loose staples on the couch and I asked where they all came from (even with a big butt, sitting on staples hurts). His response….I don’t know. More denial. I used the car to go across town (which he usually drives) and found a bunch of loose staples. I know they didn’t come from me, or from our daughter who doesn’t drive, so why were they in the cubby in the handle of the drivers side door? Only he knows, but he’s not saying. I asked him why he didn’t tell me they came from him when I asked about the staples in the conversation the night before. He said “Did you ask me about that yesterday? I don’t remember.” A five minute conversation…erased from memory. And I’m the bitch? 

He’s checked out, and I want out. How can I make ends meet without him? Right now we are nothing more than roommates, attached to each other by a legal document that costs more than I can afford to pay to have it removed. He pays the big bills, and I only make enough to cover my bills, with a little left to put towards the main ones. I don’t make enough. As hard as I’m trying to change that, it doesn’t feel like it will change any time soon. I feel like I will forever be stuck in that catch 22 where I make too much money to get the help I need, and too little money to make it on my own. 

There is a daily struggle to not let my situation consume me. Every work day, I drag myself out of bed and paste on the best smile I can muster and leave my house wishing that I didn’t have to come back to the same shitty situation. It has been a tough 13 (soon to be 14) years. We started out so good. How did we end up here? Marriage isn’t easy, and for the majority of us, we’re lying if we say it is. Things that didn’t use to bother me absolutely annoy the hell out of me now. If anything is to change with this relationship, I am going to have to change it. Whether I choose to work it out, or walk out…something’s got to change!

Why do i feel like a loser? Oh yeah…

…because almost everyone in my life has treated me like one. My bonus kids, my birth child I placed for adoption, the only one of my kids I got to raise, my ex husband, past boyfriends, my current husband, my teachers in grade school, my brothers, my mom, my friends. Whether they have stopped talking to me without an explanation or they have come right out and told me I failed to live up to their expectations or they’ve treated me like an outcast. I’m tired of everyone else having the power over me to make me feel like shit about myself. So…I’m taking it back! All the power that I’ve given up…I’m taking it back!

I’m not perfect. I am seen as a disappointment to others, but only because of their expectations. I set my own expectations, and I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’ve done more than I thought I could: graduated with 2 degrees; raised a daughter practically by myself; found my strength and determination when I needed it most; cut ties with some people who were not good for me; protected children that weren’t mine. I accomplished all this and more because I set my own expectations for myself and I rose up to meet them. 

I am fat and I am beautiful. I am sarcastic and I am smart. I am a jerk and I am kind. I am selfish and I am giving. I hate and I love. You don’t get to set limits on me anymore. You don’t get to put me down and watch me hurt anymore. You don’t get to push your beliefs on me and you don’t get to put me down for my beliefs anymore. I am a survivor. I am resilient. And I am happy with who I am and the accomplishments I’ve made. So what if it took me longer than you thought it should to get to where I am? I got there. You didn’t put me there. 

I don’t have to be like you. I determine my happiness, and you have no say in it. I am strong enough to stand on my own. Walk away, or sit by and watch…what you do doesn’t matter to me anymore. It’s my right to be in control of me! I’m taking my power back!

Major Surgery A Week Ago…

…and I feel like the poster child for those who should “take the time to heal right, but can’t because life would fall apart if you did.” WARNING: This post is about women problems (menstruation). 

I’ve been pretty vocal about wanting more kids, and the steps I was willing to take to have them. After my cycle ran amuck and I thought I was dying from blood loss, and with no end in sight, I had an endometrial ablation. A minor-ish procedure. I was down for the next 2 days from cramping, but no more periods, right? I was told that by the 3 month post-op date, I would know if it worked or not. 6 days shy of the 3 month mark, with no warning at all, the flood gates opened! I was devastated. My period was back and just as heavy as before. Since it started I was running for the bathroom every hour, and then every time I stood up, sat down, or adjusted my position in any way. I couldn’t be more than a few steps from the bathroom at any time. By day 2 my head hurt so bad and I had already bled through a giant pad, underwear, and night shirt, and was actively bleeding on the bathroom floor. 

I wasn’t going back to the ER because I did that once before I had the ablation and all they did was put an IV below my thumb (which hurt like hell) that they took blood from but didn’t give me fluids, they gave me Benadryl to help me sleep (because clearly I would want to sleep knowing I would bleed all over), told me I was fine sand sent me home. And that was after 8 straight weeks of nonstop, heavy bleeding. I decided to call my obgyn and talk to a nurse, maybe she had suggestions or whatever. I talked to the nurse who told me I needed a CBC with differential and suggested I go to the ER or urgent care to get it. Screw that, I have connections (not many, but I have some). I called someone who ordered them without having to resort to a trip to the ER or urgent care. I made an appointment with the obgyn, and went to the lab to get the tests done. 

Fast forward 4 days and I’m sitting in the obgyn’s office. Still bleeding very heavy. He came in and asked what I wanted to do. I told him I just want it to stop, whatever it takes. I couldn’t work a full shift, and couldn’t do my job effectively while I was there, I couldn’t take care of my family, I was miserable. He said I could wait it out and see how it plays out or I could have a hysterectomy. Either way I’d be missing more work, and the only way I could stop it for sure was to pick the hysterectomy. So we scheduled it for 6 days later to give me a chance to get things in order because I wouldn’t be able to anything for the first week, and not much more for the second. I would need to plan on taking 4-6 weeks off work. 

Surgery was a week ago yesterday. I had a laparoscopic assisted partial hysterectomy. They took my uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes, which were sent to pathology to try to determine the cause of the excessive bleeding and to make sure there’s nothing hereditary that my girls need to worry about. (We’re still waiting on the results). They left my ovaries. So any chance I might get cervical or uterine cancer were completely wiped out, and my chance of getting ovarian cancer was cut in half and I wouldn’t have to take hormones. On strong pain meds and ibuprofen, I was in bed for 5 days only getting up to go the bathroom. I had alarms set every 4 hours to help me manage the pain. On day 6 I was going crazy and had to get out of the house. Thank goodness for the scooter carts at Walmart. I got shopping done and got out of the house for a couple hours. I got home and was sore and exhausted.

Day 7 my sister-in-law and 2 of my nephews were passing through town on their way home and stopped to visit. It was so great to see them. They brought me flowers and stayed for a little while. Day eight, R had therapy, so Jay came and picked us up and drove us to the therapist. We went to Del Taco for dinner afterwards, and by the time we got home I was tired and hurting. Today, I’m staying in the house and staying in bed as long as the kids will let me. I’m down to only taking half a pain killer a couple times a day, and using over the counter pain relievers to manage the pain. It hurts a lot, but the pain is keeping me from overdoing it too much. 

I hate not being able to do more, but I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life because I didn’t take the time to allow myself to heal. I think that Jay and J are both finally beginning to understand how much I do for our family. With them having to step in and step up to make sure everything doesn’t fall apart, I’d like to think they will continue to help even after I’m healed. I’d like to, but I don’t. I don’t think R really grasps everything that going on, so I think he’s largely unaffected by all of the changes. 

As much as I complain and vent about my family, they’ve really stepped up and I’m very proud of them. I have another 3-5 weeks before I can go back to work, and I’m going to try to make the best of it, and not over do it too much. I’m happy I had the surgery, and I’m happy I will never have another period. I’m a little sad that I will never be pregnant again, but I think I actually came to terms with that long before I had the ablation done. 

This Week…

…has been a tough one. Between struggles at work and home it’s been tougher than most, and is taking its toll on my body. I learned a very important lesson last year that has helped me through weeks like this: “Today was tough, but tomorrow will be better.” I continually have to look for the “better” in each day. It’s not always easy to find (this week especially), but it is there. 

I consider myself to be a strong person. I also know I have many weaknesses. In the span of 5 days, I have been cursed at, flipped off, slapped, punched, kicked, stepped on, and talked down to and ignored (and that’s just at work)! I have also been disrespected, talked down to, ignored and argued with at home. My body is sore and my mind is exhausted. I have stood firm and broken down. I have shown my strengths and stubbornness and been reminded of my weaknesses. 

Through it all, in the smallest hints of progress, I am able to see the “better” that today brings when yesterday was so difficult. I work with elementary school children who fit in the severe classification of special ed. They range from low to high functioning, and from physical and mental deficits to behavioral and emotional deficits. Some are non verbal, while others are verbal to the extreme. I find that some days it’s very difficult to get out of bed in the morning (like the mornings after a bad day), and others I wake up feeling like “Today, something good will happen.” 

It really is the small things that keep me going. 

We’ve been adjusting…

…to a new family dynamic over the past few weeks. T left for a “visit” with mom, and now lives with her parents, R is being homeschooled while we wait for the court date to arrive (where hopefully Jay will be granted shared custody). For a boy who probably never enjoyed school, homeschool is a big struggle. The classes don’t fit his needs and testing for an IEP takes time. We see the frustration building in him as he tries to complete his daily lessons. We try to reassure him that all we want is for him to try his best. If he does that, then we don’t care about grades. At this point it’s just about learning better study habits and work ethics. 

Work has become more difficult and stressful for me. I need my job. I love working with the kids (most of the time), and I’m learning so many great skills that are helping me at home. The drama at work brings back bad memories of high school though. I feel like I’m a pretty good employee. I work hard, am self motivated, I know what my bosses want from me, and I try to live up to their expectations. I’ve only worked for my boss around 2 months longer than the others I work with. My boss and I being the newcomers, I knew there would some issues, but I didn’t know how many. I’m requested by others, which I love, because that means I’m doing something right. My boss trusts me to do my job without wasting time or being on my phone. I see a need, and I do my part to fill it. It’s simply common sense in my mind. My coworkers all feel jealous and have made their jealousy known to myself, my boss, her boss, and others…many others. I don’t feel like I’m getting special treatment, but they see it differently. I’m given extra responsibilities based on my work ethics, and because I ask for them. My coworkers don’t see this. I feel like I’m always under a microscope with them. I’ve learned a lot of great techniques from my coworkers. I try to show appreciation to them for helping me when I need it. 

I have certain lines I won’t cross on the job. I will not be behind a partition alone with a child, and I won’t go into the boys bathroom, because in my line of work lies are often told by children as a means to control the situation. I’ve had children threaten to tell their parents that I hit them, called them names, said they stupid, etc. My response to these threats? “Please do!” I can safely respond this way because I have witnesses to attest to the untruthfulness of these claims. 

I had a recent incident that involved a young man going into the boys bathroom by himself. After he had been in there for quite some time, I knocked on the door, pulled the door open enough for my voice to be heard inside, and asked the boy if he needed help. He indicated he was on the toilet and didn’t need help. After another bit of time passed I asked a male employee to go check on the boy. He said the boy was on the toilet but completely undressed from the waist down. I thought to myself “Great! Now how am I supposed to handle this?”

With my boss waiting with me in the hallway we decided it was time to have another male employee clear the bathroom so I could go in and help the boy. When I finally got the all clear I got a look from the male employee that said “brace yourself!”, and I went in with the employee and found the boy had been waist and elbow deep in urinal and toilet water. His clothes were soaked and I was the one that would have to clean him up. Over an hour of him kicking and screaming through the cleanup process. I was exhausted, missed my lunch break by over an hour, and I felt like I couldn’t get myself clean enough. I told my boss that I was leaving the boy with her so I could take a timeout. The loudest thought in my head after that incident was “If they’re still jealous of me after this, then I’ll gladly go get one of them to handle any future situations that are similar to this one.” 

The environment I’m working in is becoming more and more unbearable as my coworkers hostility towards me grows, I’ve decided it’s time to put a stop to it. I’ve conferred with my boss, and am scheduling a meeting with her boss. None of my coworkers should be concerned about days that I have scheduled off, what my work schedule is, what my assignments are, or what I do during my lunch break; after all, I’m not concerned about theirs. I don’t clock in early, and I dont sit around on the clock. I have to stay late more often than not, and it’s not by my choice. I don’t always get to enjoy a full lunch break, and I go to work regardless of how big my migraine is, or how crappy I feel (unless I’m contagious). Not my coworkers though. 

I am doing my best to show up to work everyday with a smile on my face, leave worries of home outside of work, and be involved and engaged while I’m on the clock. It is difficult, but not impossible. 

Update: My patience at work is beginning to pay off. Staffing changes were made and it was made clear to everyone involved that it is only because of my boss and myself that we have the program available to help the kids, because of the 2 of us we have a strong foundation on which to build. Things are looking up, although we are still seriously understaffed. 

As we grow together and learn from each other…