Day 24

Describe your family dynamic of your childhood verses your family dynamic now.

Hmmm….well now this is interesting. The four of us have always been very close, but I feel that we are closer now that my brother and I are adults, out of the house, and have children of our own. We can look back now, as parents ourselves, and see “oh yeah that’s why Mom & Dad did/said that.” A lot of things that irritated me or didn’t make sense as a child now absolutely make sense as a parent. I have told my parents many times in the past 6 years, I understand everything now. I get it. 

I think on the opposite side of that, my parents can now look at us as adults (and for the most part fairly successful adults) and realize that the hard work is done, they can step back and allow us to make our own decisions. Obviously, they are always there for guidance and advice if needed, but it’s usually us coming to them, instead of them telling us what should be done. They recognize us for our own people, who do things in vastly different ways. While that sometimes irritates the shit out of them, or confuses them, my parents have perfected the art of sitting back and watching us figure out life for ourselves.

I like the dynamic my family has now. I feel comfortable in being my true self around them, instead of like I have to be squeezed into a mold of what a daughter should be. I swear ( a lot), I have tattoos (8), and piercings and I drink a touch. While I know my father wishes I wouldn’t do or have any of that, he has accepted that I am a grown ass woman (most of the time) with a life & family of my own. I own who I am, and the values instilled in me from my family during childhood. My brother and I will always respect, admire and love our parents, but their role is now more of the backseat driver rather than the chauffeur of our lives. The don’t drive us where they want us to go, but rather gently suggest our next turn while we act as the chauffeurs to our children. I’m not sure I’m explaining that in a way that makes sense to anyone other than me. But basically….I think my brother and I have more common ground with our parents now, therefore a more peaceful and understanding relationship. They know that we had to do some dumb  shit to get to the successful places we are now, and we know that they had to be hard on us at times to prevent us from being delinquents. The view of your childhood changes drastically when you become a parent. Things make so much more sense to you, and the respect for your parents increases a hundredfold (if you are lucky enough to have great parents like I am….I imagine a bad childhood would invoke different feelings upon reaching parenthood).

The thing is: I love my family. Then and now. I will always strive to make my daddy proud, and Mama will always know whats on my mind before I even have to say it. My brother and I will pick and poke and tease each other until someone gets pissed. And then we’ll hug and make up. Somethings time can never change. And I’m okay with that.

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A grainy, blurry image of a grainy, blurry time. Graduation night May 4, 2012
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Day 23

Day 23

List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

Does sleeping count as a hobby???

1.) Knitting. I usually only do this in the chilly months, but I love feeling the soft yarn through my fingers and watching the colors blend together in the pattern of my choosing. It’s exciting to watch the piece grow and form into something cozy. I love making stuff for people, because nothing is cozier than wearing a handmade scarf or snuggling under a blanket made with love.

2.) Writing. This is the way I keep my creative juices flowing and my mind somewhat clear. It’s fun to manipulate the words to make the story come to life, and watching other people relate to my words and experiences. I am a horrible verbal communicator, but everything becomes more precise and powerful and organized when I write (or type) it out.

3.) Yoga. Although my practice has definitely fallen to the wayside these past few months, I still consider yoga vital to my survival. Yoga improves not only my physical well-being, but my mental and spiritual well-being too. I have worked through a lot of shit on the mat, and have had some pretty significant epiphanies during a powerful sequence. When I slack off on my practice, my body is the first thing to feel the negative effects, then my soul. My anxiety starts to creep back up, my thoughts are unfocused and my sleep not restful. Yoga is my medicine. (I need to get better at taking it)

4.) Beach combing. I can literally spend all day walking up and down the coast line, searching for offerings from the sea. I always come home from the coast with pockets full of seashell bits, smooth rocks or sea glass. I love the pretty fragments, only pieces of a larger object, but still gorgeous in it’s brokenness. I wonder over the journey this inanimate object has taken, the stories it could tell, and the eons it has been tumbled by the waves. The ocean is a sacred mystery to me, and I love being lost in her stories.

5.) Napping. Hey, being a sleepy girl with a busy life is really hard. So I nap whenever possible and I’m done feeling guilty about it. Adrenal fatigue is no joke. And also I’m part sloth, remember?

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*featured image from kararosenlund.com

Day 22

Day 22

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10? 15?

Oh boy. I hate questions like these because nobody can really plan their life out, right? You think you’re going one way and then life bitch slaps you so hard you spin around and go the complete opposite way. I guarantee you my answers to this question 10 years ago would have NEVER included living in Oregon, having a child, or being a preschool teacher. But that’s where I am now and I wouldn’t change it. I find it really hard to plan anything much less my life. All too often, I get the perfect image or idea in my head of what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and how it’s going to look and then that all comes crashing down and I’m left wondering what went wrong. I have learned to set a few loose long term goals, and do whatever I need to get there, and just *try* to go with the flow of getting there. Holding on to an image, or and idea, of what life is supposed to be can be really damaging to your soul and mental clarity. Life is about the journey and what you learn along the way.

So. In 5 years I see myself married to C, with a little one of our own, and living in our first house with a big ol’ dog. And some chickens. I also want a huge ass garden that will feed us all year long. I will have my master’s degree and be working a job that pays the bills and feeds my soul. Something super nerdy and fun like a museum, historical site, or library. I start school in January (eek) to make that one come to fruition. I will be juggling Little Bee’s football games/practices with my work and family duties, but will spend every Saturday of the fall sitting in freezing cold bleachers watching my dude play football.

Looking 10-15 years into the future gives me anxiety because that’s too big of a picture. And I can’t think about how much older Little Bee will be by then! I need to focus on more short-term goals. I’m well on my way to where I want to be, so I’m just gonna keep my head down and keep on working and ticking those boxes off my list.

Day 21

If you could have one superpower what would it be and what would you do with it first?

I would want the ability to breathe underwater as a superpower. Without being deformed into some half shark/half girl creature. A little webbing of the hands and feet would be okay, but for the most part I’d love to just jump in the water, duck my head underwater and just be.

There’s no particular reason I want this power, other than I love being in the water. It is so soothing to just float and let the water take control of your body. I love feeling weightless and the hush that falls on your years when your head goes under. Everything is so peaceful and quiet under water….I’d love to be able to live in that state for as long as I wanted. Without dying.

I haven’t put a lot of thought into what I’d do with the ability to breathe under water, except escape from this crazy world every now and then. And proudly proclaim that I’m a real life mermaid. I guess I’m selfish and would just use my superhuman powers for myself. Maybe I could prowl around and help aquatic animals in distress. But I’d mostly just hang out in the quiet and observe life under the water until I was ready to go back to the surface.

Most selfish superhero ever.

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duongquocdinh.deviantart.com

Day 20

Day 20

Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.

1.) The first one that comes to mind is the last time I saw my Grammy alive…summer of 1997. I was freshly 9 and just the weirdest, most sensitive little thing you’ve ever seen. We were sitting in her darkened bedroom, a room so cozy and familiar to me I can still remember how it smelled. She had a small shoebox full of little trinkets and knick-knacks and mementos that she wanted me to take home, to remember her. I don’t remember all that was said, but I do know she told me to not be afraid because she was going to a better place where she wasn’t sick anymore. Even though she was sad and knew I was too, I didn’t really have to be sad because she would never leave me. She told me every time I felt a gentle breeze brushing my cheek, that was her saying hello. I still believe it, and I still feel her presence. Even on her deathbed, my saintly grandma made a big, scary concept like death seem not so scary and more manageable. What courage and foresight that must have taken her. And she pulled every one in my family into her room one-by-one. She must have been exhausted by the end of the day.

2.) September 11, 2001. I was 13, standing outside staring up at the sky. I had just been picked up from school early, to sit huddled around the TV with my brother, mom, and best friend Bekah. We had no idea where my dad was, or when he was coming home. Both the WTC towers had collapsed at this point. All air traffic was grounded. I stepped outside to catch my breath, and realized how eerily silent it was outside. The normally busy skies above us where silent….no commercial flights from the Colorado Springs airport, no training drills from the Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB or Ft. Carson. Nothing. Suddenly a fighter jet tore across the sky, startling me. My common sense kicked in before panic could, and I realized it was probably just patrolling NORAD which was literally in our back yard. Finally the magnitude of what was happening in my world hit me. We would most certainly be in a war. My father was active duty Special Forces. He would most certainly be apart of that war. My happy little life that I knew up until now would be drastically changed. And boy was I right.

3.) Not all of my childhood memories are heavy and morbid. But even as a young child, I felt things more deeply than most kids my age

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Artwork by Kelly Tan

did. I was very intuitive, perceptive, and emotional. I caught on to things that weren’t even in my brother’s realm at the time. But I do remember happy times too. I remember being wild little woodland creatures, just running barefoot through our woods, lost in our own games, just….free. Children. Sometimes my brother and I played harmoniously together. More often than not though, we played separately, though close by to each other. Sometimes we had friends over who were equally as weird and wild, and we spent hours screaming, running, and laughing until we (okay, just me) peed our pants. We had schoolwork and chores and familial responsibilities but my parents were fantastic about letting us be children. As odd, and nonsensical, and wild as we wanted to be.

Day 19

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

I don’t really have a specific place that I’m dying to move to. Being an Army Brat and a gypsy soul, I could happily move pretty much anywhere if the opportunity presented itself (except cold places like Alaska or Minnesota). I have been wanting to move to Arizona, mostly because it’s ALWAYS sunny and because my parents are there too. But recently I have re-fallen in love with the Carolinas. I visited North Carolina last week for a childhood friend’s wedding, and was smitten right away. The other night I had a dream about this adorable townhouse

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that we were moving in to in Columbia, South Carolina. I don’t know WHY Columbia, but it was very specifically where we were. The townhouse was brand new, open and bright with big bay windows and little fruit trees out front. It was within walking distance to a coffee/wine shop and bookstore. I woke up so excited for that new place only to realize it was just a dream. Now I can’t shake the idea of moving to the Carolinas.

I’m happy here in the Pacific Northwest, though the winters do get tough for me. If we do end up moving out of state, I’d prefer somewhere warmer and sunnier. I don’t do well in the cold…it makes me very cranky and depressed. I could easily adapt to the hot, dry weather of the desert although I would desperately miss my ocean. I’d totally be okay with island life too, if I could find a job to support that life!

Basically anywhere with the sun and ocean. If it was summer year round here, there would be no need for me to lust after other places! We have everything…the ocean, trees, mountains, gorgeous farmland and vineyards…but from about October-June it can get pretty dismal with all the rain, drizzle and grayness.

Day 18

Day 18

What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

I haven’t written in nearly a week, due to this post. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to write it out. I balked, got writer’s block, had an anxiety attack then went on a quick trip across the country for a wedding. I had very little time to sleep, much less write. And about this topic no less. So I’m taking a big breath and letting it out. Better late then never right?

I don’t think I have actually forgiven him. And I think everyone knows who I mean without having to say a name. I was gaslighted, lied to, and mentally abused almost every day for 6 years. When I found out I was pregnant, I was told everything I had ever hoped to hear. And like the brainwashed weakling I was, I believed it. Things absolutely fell apart when Little Bee was 2 months old. While I am not claiming to be completely innocent in this whole ordeal, I was treated worse than I ever could have imagined when I decided to take the baby and leave. I was stalked and harassed. My family and friends were harassed. I was threatened with every means of police or legal force you could imagine. Little Bee was threatened. I was called an incompetent mother suffering from a postpartum psychotic break. My name was slandered all over our small town, and I was drug to court no less than 5 times in a 6 month period. After the courts granted my move across the country the mental torture and mind games continued in earnest. I was forced to hand over an infant to man that I had zero trust for. I left the airport in tears listening to my child shriek and scream for me, thinking I had abandoned him with a stranger. The harassment never stopped. The accusations never stopped. The blame was always laid on me, and always will be. After seven years things have calmed, but not ceased. There is always a threat hurled my way when I refuse to believe the newest lie and don’t bow to his every want. It has been over a decade of mental, emotional, financial and spiritual torture. But still I stand, my voice roars louder than ever and my spine is unbreakable.

I don’t think I ever will forgive. How do forgive someone who torments your child every chance he gets, and uses a sweet, brilliant, innocent child as a pawn in his fucked up game??? But I have learned to no longer let it consume me and eat me alive from the inside. Which might be the same thing as forgiveness. I have accepted that I will never get an apology, and I can live with that. Sitting waiting for someone who has no faults to apologize for something that was all my fault* is like waiting to sink in the Dead Sea. It will literally NEVER happen. That was a huge life lesson for me. And then I realized that I didn’t need him to validate my pain and betrayal by apologizing. I knew what I felt, what I suffered, and what I said. I knew when I was in the wrong, and when I wasn’t. I was aware that I was mentally and emotionally abandoned at a time I needed him the most. I could never forget the burn of realizing everything I had ever been told or lead to believe was a big, fat, stinky fucking lie. I knew without a doubt that he threatened my son and that I unflinchingly did the right thing for us by fleeing in the middle of the night. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that he has caused, and is causing, trauma to my child’s emotional development. I will not lie down and accept that. I will not, however, let him have anymore control over me, and by nursing the bitter resentment and burning rage I felt, I was giving him control. He caused ulcers and insomnia and weight loss and an unmanageable anxiety disorder by being the chip on my shoulder. Once I could feel that weight of the righteous injustice I felt, I knew it had to go. It took work, but I consciously tried to release Hatred’s grip from my throat. I recognized that as a narcissist, he could not see his errs, nor would he ever confess to them. You cannot apologize for what you didn’t do, right? I stopped waiting for the apology that would do nothing for me but validate my strife. I didn’t need that from him. I didn’t need anything from him except peace. So I turned my back on that Hatred and Rage, and almost immediately found C. He took me in his arms and helped me walk the rest of the way down that path of Acceptance/Forgiveness. I feel they go hand-in-hand.

I do not necessarily forgive him for what he did to me or (especially) my child. But I accept that it happened, that I survived and did the right thing. When he uses scary words like “attorney” “court” or “parenting plan” and I refuse to bat an eye at him, he backs off and changes his story. That tells me that he KNOWS I am in the right, and no longer quaking in fear of him. Which means, he KNOWS he fucked up. And that’s the closest thing to an apology I’ll get.

 

“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got.”
~R. Brault