Tomorrow begins the 14 days of love challenge. For the next 14 days I will leave a note (we’ll now I create images and text them!) for each of my kids with “I love you because…” with a different reason each day. It gets more difficult as the days progress as I try to find reasons I love them that they don’t think I see. Try it with the people you love. Challenge yourself.
All I have ever wanted in life is to be a mom. I played with baby dolls as a toddler and, as I grew, I moved to Barbies. I played out scenarios in which the main character was always a mom. I babysat, was a camp counselor, taught swim lessons, and took care of kids as my primary source of income for the bulk of my teen years. In my 20’s, I was known as the mom in my group of friends, always taking care of others. I could not wait to have my own children and be a mom for ‘real’! I was married less than a year before I was pregnant. I celebrated my first wedding anniversary with my infant daughter on my lap at the same restaurant where I was engaged. I was happier than ever because I was finally a mom. Years passed and I gave birth to 3 more children. I was also gifted with a bonus daughter, making me the mom of 5 children! Heaven right?! Not really. Being a mom is hard work. I gave my kids all parts of me. I was no longer me. I was someone’s mom. I lost myself in being a mom. Each one of my kids will tell you that as their mom, I have made mistakes and had some colossal failures. I always did what I thought was best but some of those choices were made from poor advice and trauma. I never really trusted myself as a mom….because no one else trusted or supported me as a mom. I was flying blind. The years following my divorce lead to some disasters as a mom but also led me to trust myself more than ever. It took almost losing my kids for me to learn how to trust myself and my choices as a mother. My decisions are not always popular with my kids and they let me know it! However, my job is to be their parent first. They have plenty of friends. As my kids and I have gotten older, I think I have gotten a little better at the mom thing. I listen more and talk less. I support more and direct less. I love more and smother less. From the beginning of my divorce process, my children were assigned a CA (Court Advocate) by the judge (but that is another story for another day!). The first time I met the CA was on the sidewalk in front of my home. I stood there and told her, “No matter what happens to my children or what the court decides, I want my kids to remain together and get counseling. I want them mentally healthy….” I had prepared myself for the worst….my kids being taken from me. And because of that I made mistakes. I fought to PROVE I was a good mom and in doing so, did not listen to my heart. I lived from a place a fear and listened to others. It took plenty of my own therapy to realize I needed to trust myself …. no matter how unsure I felt or how hard it was. Being a mom is not easy….no matter how old your kids are. What makes it better? Admitting my faults and making changes. Having boundaries and communicating those boundaries to my kids. Loving my kids for exactly who they are and not who I want them to be. Fast forward to our most recent family event. I stood for a long time on the fringes, close enough to where I could hear my kids but far enough away so that I was unnoticed. What I witnessed was my dreams come true. All I have ever wanted is for my kids to be friends, to rely on each other. Someday I will no longer be here and I want to be remembered as someone who made mistakes, made apologies, learned from those mistakes, grew as a person, and left a legacy of love. Knowing that my kids not only love each other but they LIKE each other and like being together….that is the greatest legacy. That is a legacy of love. Peace #tutulady #forwardisapace
D Day…a day that will live in infamy…. Our D Day came on a Monday afternoon. I had come home from work, gotten ready to go for a run and a friend called. As I listened to her….I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I got off the phone and went upstairs. I entered our bedroom and closed the door. My wasband was napping prior to going to work. I thought the house was empty and we were alone but I closed the door anyway. I confronted him about what I knew. I told him that he could not sleep with another woman and remain married to me. Well…that sounds pretty, doesn’t it? The truth is I said, “Seriously? You think you can Fuck someone else and get away with it? You think you can fuck someone else and still sleep in the same bed with me?” The wasband rolled over and calmly said, “I will Fuck whoever I want and there is nothing you can do about it….now get the fuck out of the room. I have to get ready for work soon.” and he rolled back over. I went down to the kitchen….stunned. About 45 minutes later, one of my teen daughters came into the room, put her arms on me and said, ” I know everything, mom.” “How? What are you talking about?” as I played dumb. “My sister was outside the door and heard everything……she messaged all us girls.” I have 4 daughters. The oldest was a gift. She is my step daughter but neither one of us like that term that term and so she is my bonus daughter. All 4 girls are so different but sisters in every sense. I also have a son. He is my baby. My “happy accident” and he knows it. I have said from the day he was conceived that he had a special purpose….every day I am reminded of how special he is to me. But I digress….. So now my girls knew…..oh no…..my goal now was to keep this from my son….he was too young to understand. I tried to steer clear of the wasband the rest of the afternoon and let him leave for work. The rest of the night was a blur….. I remember sitting on the couch waiting for him to come home. When he arrived home in the early morning hours of the next day, I tried to talk to him. Actually I didn’t talk…I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I debased myself to the point of embarrassment. He was stoic and seemed even more angry. He “shushed’ me more than once as I cried but it was not the sweet, caring “There, There, sweetie….” kind of shush. It was “Shut the fuck up. The kids will hear you. Just shut up….” He pushed past me into the guest room where I had moved his things….phone charger, sleep machine, etc. At that point, his rage came to the surface….and I cowered. He looked at the bed and realized I had not put fresh sheets on the bed nor had I swept up around and under the bed……He called me lazy and snarled “You should have taken care of this crap….what the fuck were you thinking…” I was scared and cowered as he slammed the door. He…yes…the man in charge….had decided the conversation was over for the night. I retreated to my room and locked the door. I didn’t sleep that night (or many other nights) but that is another story for another day. Thinking back on it now….It was like an out of body experience….the days and weeks that followed were all like that. I asked him to tell me it was not true….I asked him to tell me he loved me and it was just a mistake. I wanted it to be like the movies….I wanted him to come home begging for forgiveness and for me to take him back. Boy, nothing could have been further from the truth. Looking back on it now? I am so glad I finally took a stand. It’s not easy or fun now but it is so worth it. I am worth better. Here’s to soaring again…..
In the June of 2015 I filed for divorce. That was the beginning of what would become a long, drawn out, high conflict divorce from an abusive narcissist. The divorce was final 2 years later on August 9, 2017. That was not the and and there are battles being fought but those battles are few and far between now. I digress. Prior to the divorce I was seeing a therapist. I continued to see her throughout the divorce and long afterwards. Those visits were, and still are, a sanity saver for me. She encouraged me to write it all down to hep me process my feelings. I kept a paper journal and still do. In 2016, about year into the process, she suggested a blog. Her suggestion was to keep it as a private blog until I was ready and strong enough to share my story. I needed to heal a lot more before I could open up to others. I recently got a notification that the blog was going to be archived. So I went back and read some of the entries. I was triggered all over….but in a different way. I no longer was overcome with fear and anxiety. I didn’t start to hyperventilate. I smiled. I realized that that woman no longer exists. I have come so far in my healing process that the trigger is pride. That is not an emotion I am used to or comfortable with in my life. But I am getting used to it! So, I decided that it is time to publish those blog entries and some of my journal entries. Why? I didn’t know what I know now and didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was experiencing. I thought that what I was experiencing was ‘normal’. I thought I was alone. What I have come to realize is that my experience was not normal and I was not alone. It was just that no one wanted to talk about it. If even one person is inspired by my story and chooses a life of freedom, then it will have been worth it. The next few entries will be dated and posted exactly as I wrote them in 2016 Peace. #tutulady #forwardisapace
I am a Capricorn. Capricorns are an Earth sign. I need to feel grounded in the earth which I think is why I love my plants and gardening so much. I also think that is why I like running. My feet hitting the pavement with each footfall is my connection to the Earth. There are also places on the Earth that ground me. One of those places in the Chicago Lakefront Trail. During the height of my “high conflict” divorce (the PC way of saying super nasty, craptastic divorce from an abusive narcissist), I found solace and comfort in my long bike rides along the Lakefront. I would head out in the morning with my bike, some water and a book. I would ride for 10 miles, take a break to read and people watch, then ride the 10 miles back to my car. It was an escape from the pressures of life where no one could find me for a while. Once we got Lucky, I started taking him down there to run with me. We would run 5-7 miles together along the Lake and take a rest in the shade before coming home. He was living his best life and I could take a break! Last year, when Covid took over, our trips to the lakefront ended. We stuck close to home and found new paths around the neighborhood but it was not the same. I felt out of sorts. Last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about the lakefront. I thought about heading back there for a run. I planned it in my head as I drifted off. When I got up this morning, I almost talked myself out of it. I dilly dallied and found things to do rather than getting dressed and going for a run. Then I took a look outside and the sun was coming up. I could see the skyline and feel the pull of the trail. So I leashed up the dog and got in the car. We drove down to our “spot” and parked. I tried to pay but the box was broken and the app said it was “free” today. Score! With my water bottle on my waist, I turned on my “lakefront playlist” and we headed off for our run. It. Was. Glorious! I took in everything….every sight, sound and smell! I noticed all that had changed since our last visit. I took pictures both in my head and with my phone! I am not going to lie and say that this was a perfect run….it was not. I have not run a lot since I broke my arm (nerves!) so there was some walking, some crying and some cursing….but I loved every minute of it! The small signs along the way were not lost on me….. no traffic, making the greenlights in Irving, the open parking spot, “free” parking, the sailboat named “Namaste”, the phonecall from my kids as I ran, the homeless woman who asked me to stop so she could pet Lucky (she lost her dog “a while back” and missed him), the little girl who shouted, “Hey! I love Girls on the Run” (I was wearing my GOTR shirt….and forgot I had it on until she shouted at me!)…..the list goes on and on. I am a firm believer in signs and angels….and today they were out in full force, letting me know that this was exactly where I needed to be as well as what my heart and soul needed. Over a year ago, I took that last run for granted and today vowed never to let that happen again. I will not take the glorious views of the city and lake for granted ever again. Today was a reminder to trust my instincts and take chances. Today was a reminder what grounds me. Today was a reminder of how far I have come, the moments and things I cherish as well as how much I have left to accomplish in this world. My motto is #forwardisapace and I will always move forward. I move forward with my feet firmly grounded on the Earth, my heart full of love, and my soul full of peace. Peace #tutulady #forwardisapace