I’ve learned over the last year that there are two ways people generally deal with traumatic events similar to what happened to me.

The first is managing to make yourself so busy with so many other things, people, activities, and distractions that you simply don’t have time to think about anything else but running away from what happened. Hoping the pain will just fade or go away the busier you stay. I’ve seen a lot of people go on to do great and creative things while running away from terrible pasts, the problem is when they are alone or still for too long everything comes crashing down a hundred times worse.

The second is quite the opposite, and it is the one I have been stuck in for over a year.

I went into hiding.

If I didn’t leave the house or interact with anyone I couldn’t get hurt again. No one would be able to get close to me. I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable or feel scared or ever wonder if it will happen again. I once trusted people, a lot. I was kind and outgoing and was always the one championing the benefit of the doubt.

I used to go out in bright colors with my face towards the sun.

Now I go out fully covered with my eyes down so I don’t have triggers, flashbacks or worse — see him. Or someone that looks like him. Or someone who knows him. Or something that reminds me of him.

I stay quiet so I don’t draw attention to myself.

People have told me that by staying quiet and locked away I’m letting him win. That the best thing I could possibly do is pick myself up and become even stronger than before as a proverbial middle finger to him and what he did to me.

You will either understand this or you won’t — the idea of building myself back up gives me the same sense of dread as threatening to drop me in the middle of the ocean without so much as a life preserver.

My insides have been nothing but a knot of anxiety, fear, and sadness for over a year. I don’t remember the last time I was truly happy for any extended period of time.

I don’t say this because I want sympathy, and the truth is I am trying to get better.

In fact, I am fighting like hell and I’m fucking exhausted.

I say this because I never thought I would be here. That I would be so damaged from the actions of another that I would consider myself completely broken. A pile of pieces slugging through a life I once knew and only participate in out of habit.

It’s hard to go forward without really knowing what happened.

Last year I was sexually assaulted.

What has been worse for me than the physical trauma of the act has been the deep psychological damage. The best way I have been able to describe it to anyone is that an electric mixer was put to my brain and instead of a smooth, solid brain with wiggles and curves I have what resembles a pile of burnt scrambled eggs.

I didn’t tell Cody  about what happened until a few months ago. Together we began telling those closest to us and responses ranged from “You need to go back to church and pray harder” to complete apathy, like I should be over it already. For anyone who has ever been through rape or sexual assault, you’ll know victim shaming and blaming is a very real thing and the reason so many people stay quiet.

So now those of you who have been around for awhile know why I broke, and why I didn’t talk about it.

I don’t want to be an uplifting voice for violence against women. I don’t want to be some hero survivor inspiration story.

I just want my fucking life back.

 

 

It has been exactly two years since everyone in my life lost the version of me I had worked so hard to bring to life.

Many good people have stuck by me. New friends claim I’m perfect the way I am and that they are honored to know me now, as someone who has gone through shit and still standing.

The issue is while I am standing I have done nothing more than merely exist for a very long time.

It’s hard to explain what happened, as so many little things hurt me and imperceptibly molded me into a version of myself I don’t recognize — or have at least caused me to forget what I used to be like.

It’s as though I’ve collapsed around my heart, fiercely protecting it from everyone and everything because I simply do not trust anyone else with it.

If you’re here looking for the old me, know that I’m looking for her too. In the process I hope to take better care of who I am now, so I can nurture her back to being the optimistic, witty, laugh-hard, love-harder version of myself Cody fell in love with years ago.  And maybe I can learn to let people in again. And maybe help someone who has lost themselves as well.

It’s a terrible feeling, losing oneself and trying to start over before all the rubble has been cleared.

I know writing has always been a part of me, and hopefully by bringing it back it will serve as breadcrumbs for the rest of me to follow.

 

*clears cobwebs*

COUGH COUGH

Oh, hello. You’re still here? Bless you.

The past few months have been tricky. Not particularly hard but very hard to put into words.

Vivi will most likely grow up to become either a serial killer or the next Ke$sha, regardless, there is a freezer full of glittery dead hobos in her future.

Addie? Well. Addie had a really rough August. She has started to show signs of chemical depression and anxiety and it hurts me more than I can even comprehend to know this may be a struggle she faces for the rest of her life.

Cody is hunky as ever with his big strong man hands and fear of bugs.

Me? I’m okay. I really am.

I’d like to be back here. I want to be back here.

This is the first step to doing just that.

Racing stuffs.

A special thanks to Walgreens for sponsoring this post.

I’m pretty relaxed about the gross things kids do. Sure! Eat that tomato that fell on the floor! Five second rule! Playing at the playground and you just licked the monkey bars? Gross, but you’ll live. Hey! LEAVE THE POTTY STOOL IN THE BATHROOM (WHY is this one so hard for toddlers?)

It’s not until I’m sick that I realize every living breathing human around me is leaving behind DNA, mucous, air, and germs everywhere they go. I begin to wonder “How did I get sick? Was it that dollar bill I found on the ground? Was it from hugging my friend that had ‘allergies’? HOW DO I KEEP ALL THESE PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE FROM GETTING SICK TOO?” It’s terrible. I go from not caring to OCD-hand-washing-ninja in under a minute.

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This post is sponsored by Similac.  I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.

moosh and mozzi.

In the early haze of new motherhood I was overwhelmed with guilt over not being able to breastfeed. While the two mammary glands attached to my chest look promising, the truth is they are milk duds. For whatever reason mine simply don’t work despite every reasonable effort I made to become the sole food provider for both of my babies. I would plan feedings so I wouldn’t have to pull a bottle out in public. The shame I felt whenever I mixed formula in front of a breastfeeding mom was overwhelming. I always felt like I had to justify myself, tell everyone how hard I tried because I was absolutely sure everyone was judging me.

Turns out I’m the only one who really cared.

You want to know how often I worry about breastfeeding now?

Exactly never.

You want to know how much guilt I’ve felt over the last ten years for not being able to breastfeed?

Exactly none.

my baby and me.

The only time I even think about breastfeeding anymore is when Addie brings home a 100% on some test she didn’t even study for. Back in 2004 a few hard core lactivists made me believe that if I didn’t exclusively breastfeed Addie, her health and intelligence would be forever compromised. Yet every time Addie dazzles me yet again with her smarts and kindness I want to hold her up like Simba on Pride Rock and yell “LOOK! IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW I FED HER! SHE’S WONDERFUL!” to all the mothers struggling with their own decisions on how to best feed their babies.

Two weeks ago Vivi told me she hated me. Last week she found a tube of lipstick and finger-painted an entire wall bright pink. The last two mornings she has located a permanent marker and colored her entire body blue, as well as written her name on several walls. Someone needs to tell her if she’s going to commit such heinous acts she shouldn’t sign her name or leave evidence all over her own body. I have a hard time believing she’d be any less of a toad had her milk come from my body and not a can.

November 2014

Here’s what I’ve learned about kids — some days they will eat Brussels sprouts, quinoa, and kale without complaint. Other days the only nourishment you will be able to coerce into their little bodies consists of grape skins and a handful of marshmallows. Some days they will be obedient little angels and other days it’s as though hellfire is pouring forth from every pore of their being. Some days they will get along with their siblings from sunup to sundown while other days you will feel like a referee at a bare knuckled boxing match.

It’s not like you didn’t try.

You’re just working with what you’ve been given. We all are. As long as we’re all doing the best we can each day (and some days are better than others), nothing we deal with is a direct result of what we fed our babies on the day they were born or how we have loved them every day up until now.

Addie puts up with so much from this goon.

I accept you. Hopefully you can accept me and my wildly inappropriate toddler.

(P.S. Does anyone know how to get petroleum jelly out of a stuffed bunny?)


Growing up, I believed my mom was invincible. She always had the best clothes, the best hair, the best lipstick, an answer for everything, and was the prettiest mom anyone had ever had. As I grew into my teenage years however, I was convinced I had the most strict, most hands-off mom of every single one of my friends. While their moms would bring them forgotten lunches or pick them up from school if it was raining — my mom was working full time to support herself, my sister, and me. If I wanted to go to a friend’s house, I walked there and found my own way home. If I wanted to take dance lessons, I learned the bus route. If I forgot my lunch? I went hungry. If I didn’t do my homework? It was my own fault.

The Old Days

When I see all these reports of moms being arrested or charged with neglect for letting their kids go out into the world unattended, I think back to the way my mom raised me (she would have gone to jail FOR SURE.) But guess what? I’m fine. And you know what else? Public transit doesn’t scare me. I’m okay traveling by myself. If I don’t know how to do something I figure it out. Plop me down in the middle of nowhere with a map and I could find my way home. Even though my mom never had warm cookies waiting for me when I got home — she raised me to be self-reliant.

Now that I’m a mom with a school-aged child I realize that perhaps her end goal wasn’t to raise us to be self-reliant human beings (although I’m certain that factored into things.) I have to believe a lot of the parenting she did was simply single parent survival. She couldn’t risk her job to bring me a forgotten permission slip. She didn’t have several hours a day to drive my sister and me around to various houses, classes, and lessons. I don’t doubt that she could have run herself ragged trying to keep all of our loose ends in check as well as her own, but she didn’t. She knew her own sanity was just as important as her children’s happiness. That’s something many modern day mothers seem to have forgotten, to take care of themselves first.

I still go back and forth with a little anger, jealousy, and resentment that she wasn’t June Cleaver. But knowing myself the way I do now, I would have turned out terribly had she not thrown us from the nest with complete faith we could fly (or at least figure it out on the way down.) My relationship with my mom is not one of flowery and scripted sentiment, it is one of deep appreciation for what she did with what she was given. Just as I had no idea how to navigate being a teenager, she was never handed a manual on how to parent one. It was both our first and last time being in those roles and we crashed and burned, hard and often.

Eastern Caribbean Instagram Cruise, July 2013

I already have moments when I know the best thing to do for my girls is shove from the proverbial nest and let them fly. It’s hard, but I know it will be worth it. My sister and I are good. I do however try to work a plate of warm cookies in here and there, but when I look back at the way my mom raised me — it’s not a bad way to raise good humans.

rock on.

And that’s really all we can do as parents — take what our parents did, brush off the ugly parts and hopefully recycle them for the greater good in our own children.

Several years ago I realized my mom and I are in a place where we can be friends. I don’t rely on her for anything, while she is still young and spry enough to enjoy life on her own. Perhaps someday the roles will be reversed, and I will find myself in the caregiver role — but for now my mom can be my friend. Something we know as parents we cannot do through certain life stages (and I assure you, my mom never tried to be my friend. Protector, provider, parent? Yes. Friend? Absolutely not.) I am able to continually learn from her, and hopefully she is able to relish in her grandchildren and the knowledge that my sister and I are happy.

So mom? You are one of my longest relationships, but one of my newest friendships. The love I have for you is deep and inexplicable. Even on the days I want to scream and yell that I turned out just like you, I want to thank you for giving me something so real to model myself around as a mother. I only get one biological mom, and I’m pretty glad you’re mine.

Most of the time. ;)

xo

*******

A special thanks to Hallmark for sponsoring this post. This Mother’s day how will you put your heart to paper and tell the mothers in your life how you truly feel about them? Write it down, say it all, even if it’s not all poetry and roses — because you never know when they’ll be gone.

Hey! Remember memes? They used to be all the rage when I started blogging eight years ago.

This one was on Facebook, and today, I’m feeling slightly nostalgic.

A – Are you single?

Not in the least, very happily coupled, thank you.

B – Birthday?

April 28, 1982

C – Crush?

Currently John Stamos for this Instagram photo.

D – Drink you last had?

Tropical Red Bull. It isn’t the necessarily the concept of Red Bull that I love, it’s the flavor. And the little can. It’s quite possibly my most favorite indulgence.

E – Easiest person to talk to?

Cody. I was wearing a shirt with penguins on it last night and he commented “If  your boobs were smaller, your nipple would give that penguin a boner.” I broke it to him that if it were 10 years ago and my boobs were still where they used to be, I could have accomplished the same feat.

F – Favorite song?

When I was pregnant with Vivi I listened to ‘Human’ by The Killers constantly. I’ll always be a sucker for Frank Sinatra, especially ‘The Way You Look Tonight’. There’s this song called ‘Blue Skies’ by Noah And The Whale that is a really good reminder that sadness isn’t permanent.

G – Good at?

Taking pictures of people, baking chocolate chip cookies, making laundry smell good, being a wife, making my kids laugh.

H – Hair color?

red and purple hair

I – In love with?

Cats, warmth, sunshine, boatcation, beaches, fall leaves, spring flowers, fresh baked anything, naps, good books, making out with Cody, warm socks, freshly made beds, sniffing freshly washed children, laughing, nice people.

J – Jealous of?

Long mermaid hair. I knew I had to cut mine last year, and besides, after two pregnancies and hormone treatments I don’t have a whole lot left anyway. Cutting my hair was a hard reset for my hair and while I still have good hair days, I miss my longer hair. Also, when my hair was long people often guessed I was in my mid-twenties. Now that it is shorter I get mid-thirties and I have even had a few people say forty. I’m 32.

K – Known as?

Mom, Mommy, Momma, Red, Babycakes, Doodlebug, Sissy, Baby, HEY YOU.

L  – Longest relationship?

As of today, 14 years 4 months and 4 days.

M – Middle name?

Beth. As far as I know my name has no significant meaning to either of my parents. However my dad did say there was a nasty nurse named Beth that was stationed with him and my mom over in Germany. Or something like that.

N – Number?

If I have to pick single digit, 8. Double, 28. Triple, 428.

O – One wish?

For everyone living in my house to be perfectly healthy until we simply die of old age.

P – Person last texted?

The mom of Addie’s little friend who lives down the street. A playdate was negotiated after homework and chores are completed. (UPDATE: Addie’s little friend was grounded before she even left her house. Better luck tomorrow!)

Q – Question always asked?

What is a moosh? (Answer: It was Addie’s nickname until she was about 5. We live in Indianapolis. Moosh In Indy.)

T – Time you woke up?

8:20 am which was actually 7:20 am because no one actually enjoys springing forward.

U – Underwear color?

White.

V – Violent moment?

Playing one of those knock-down-the-clown games at an arcade, I found I was much more efficient at knocking them down when I pictured them as Internet trolls.

W – Worst fear?

Very deep water and trypophobia (go ahead and do a Google image search on that.)

X – Ex you never stopped loving?

I actually had a dream the other night that I was snorkeling with every single one of my ex-boyfriends and Cody. They were all proclaiming their love for me and apologizing for getting married. I still chose Cody. I also chose not to go snorkeling because it was in very deep water (see previous answer.)

Y – Your last hug?

Vivi. She hugs a lot. When she’s not screaming at me, or kicking things.

Z – Zodiac sign?

Taurus. So is Vivi. Bullheaded is an understatement for both of us.

Vivi is currently my cat and i am the old woman who takes care of her.  ???????????? This stop drop and selfie brought to you by @sherry_lane and I now pass it to Paris with @piperkay and @designhermomma. Because Paris.

Now! Answer one (or more!) of these about yourself below.

I really like the favorite song and worst fear questions if you need a little poke.