I Know This Much Is True

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I met him when I was sixteen and he was twenty-four.

I had no business falling in love with him at that age, but I did — I fell hard.

Oh, and he was my boss.

Despite the age difference and authority problems, we became good friends fast, perhaps if only for the fact that I practically demanded it of him.

For four years or so, we were inseparable as friends, and then one night, one David Bowie filled drunken night, we had sex for the first time, and then everything changed.

Of course, I fell harder and deeper in love.

He fell into the steady routine of keeping me satisfied even though I knew that somehow, someday it would all end.

Sometimes you just have that feeling, you know?

I always knew that it would end with him, even though I kept pushing harder and pushing forward with the most tumultuous, un-relationship I’d ever had.

Of course, he wouldn’t lower himself to being my boyfriend.

I don’t know what he thought of me back in those days.

Maybe I was his best friend that he slept with sometimes, maybe I was a foolish girl in love that he used for company when he wanted me.

I just know that this escalated, things with us kept pushing forward even though I was filled with fear the whole time, the fear that I would lose him because he wouldn’t commit to me.

I remember the first time he told me he loved me, I was the biggest I’d ever been.

We were in bed, wrapped in each other in the dark, and he talked about wanting to have a baby with me, and I said yes, yes, right now.

We started planning on moving in together. We started talking about moving away to California and starting a whole new life together.

But… but…

This is where the story changes.

I came home from work one day and we had to have a talk.

“You know I can’t be with just you forever, right? I love you, and I want you in my life forever, but I have to be with other people.”

Monogamy.

The one thing he wasn’t willing to give me.

Everyone has their own ideas about monogamy.

Everyone has their own ideas and feelings about sex and relationships, period.

But, I never saw this conversation coming, and all of my dreams of us spending the rest of our lives together and making little brown babies vanished from my mind and was replaced with a black wall of anger and hurt that I couldn’t break through.

I know I can’t share my lovers, let alone share the one I love the most.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation that we had, but I think it was short.

I can’t do this, I said.

I can’t agree to letting you fuck other people while we’re trying to have a relationship, and if you’re telling me this now, I have to just go.

So I went.

I walked out on him, ten years ago, and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.

I’ll never forget the moment I got in my car and saw him through my windshield, standing in the doorway with his phone to his ear.

Who was he calling in that moment I ran out?

It wasn’t me.

Who was he calling to tell about what had just happened?

I’ll never know.

I’ll never know how he felt, what he thought, or how it was that after ten years it was so easy for him to let me go.

He never came after me.

He never called.

He never reached out to see if I was okay.

He didn’t do a single thing to fight for me.

Ending a ten year relationship so abruptly, and without closure, has broken me in ways I haven’t even begun to be able to express, because I hadn’t told this story first.

This story of utter humiliation — me thinking that this person loved me when he clearly didn’t, because you fight for the people you love.

I know this much is true.

Ten years on, and I haven’t recovered.

I’ve had one two year relationship since him, and that was with a married man, so I don’t think it counts but to show how broken I still am, and feel I still will be until I find a way to deal with the feelings I’m still carrying.

Shame. Utterly useless. Unlovable. Trash.

Ten years it’s been over, and all I have to show from a relationship that began twenty years ago is a broken heart that hasn’t healed, and a heart full of stories I’m too afraid to tell, because they are his stories, too, and what if I get them wrong?

What if I shouldn’t even care?

I know this much is true:

He was the love of my life, and I am not holding out hope any longer that there will be more love for me.

I know I’m only 36, but I’m a broken woman.

I don’t know if anyone else will be able to take my trust and stitch me back together again.

I can only hold out hope that one day I will forget the picture of his face and the sound of his voice, and the way he said my name when the words ‘I love you’ were attached.

Ten years on, and that’s still a lot to hope for.


The Hardest Part

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I’ve been staring at this screen for almost two weeks.

I’m even sort of torturing myself over it, making sure that this is the screen that my laptop opens to every time I log in, not to mention the app I have on my phone reminding me every day to write my 2,000 words.

But the words haven’t come.

The ideas are there, as they always are.

Too many ideas, I think.

That’s what makes starting the hardest part.

There are infinite ways to begin a story, there are countless stories I have to tell, and deciding which one to tell and where to begin it have had me stumped for weeks while I flounder around without a project to work on, feeling like I’m contributing nothing to my life, to my body of work.

The hard part is believing that what I start writing will be worth it.

That I will finish it, first of all.

That I will start a draft and write it to completion, and that it will be “good enough” in my own mind to dedicate myself to trying to edit it, and then, hopefully, finally, someday… publish it.

To me, being between projects and having nothing new to work on is the worst feeling in the world, and it’s all my fault, and all up to me to fix it — by just writing.

But the blank page taunts me.

It asks me whether I am sure this is where I want to begin.

It asks me whether the idea I have will be worth the time I am spending on it or if there is something else I should be doing instead.

When the only thing I should be doing is writing anyway.

We’ve all been at this blank page.

We’ve all sat in front of the white screen or held in our hands an empty notebook waiting to be filled with our words, and a lot of the time they just won’t come.

The ideas are there, the words are there, but the trigger can’t be pulled, for some reason the writing pistol is jammed.

I’ve found myself here more often lately than I want to admit.

It’s not just fiction that I have been struggling with, but writing here, as well.

I feel like I have thousands of stories inside of me, more stories than I could tell in a lifetime because I have a whole lifetime of them behind me, but when the day starts to dwindle to night and I still haven’t written anything, the anxiety about not knowing which story to tell, or how to begin telling it, gets the better of me.

Lately, I’m a writer who hasn’t been writing, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.

The hardest part is getting started.

So, the only thing to do is jump off the proverbial cliff and write something.

I don’t feel like I have any other option, because I feel like this is the only thing I can do.

It’s undoubtably the only thing I want to do.

Write books and publish them.

Make a living writing.

One way or another.

One word, one story at a time.

The blank page doesn’t have to be this scary for me. It isn’t this scary for everyone, right?

Or maybe it is. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

Don't Tell Me What to Cherish

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“Oh, he’s just precious. You need to cherish these times while they last.”

That’s what I heard an old woman say to a struggling young mother yesterday when I went to bring my daughter to pick up her first pair of eyeglasses.

There was a woman who was also there with her daughter, who sat at the desk next to us and was getting fitted for new glasses, but the young mother also was dealing with a crying toddler, a little boy flailing around on the floor and crying because he didn’t want anything to do with anything.

He was done.

As cute as I noted he was, with blond hair and little dimples, those irresistible chunky toddler legs sticking out the bottom of his shorts — he was still, at the moment, just a screaming hellion on the floor.

And there was this old woman talking about cherishing it.

I saw the young mother roll her eyes.

We made eye contact for a minute and I gave her my best look of sympathy and camaraderie, and I rolled my eyes, too.

Clearly, it had been a few decades since the old woman had to deal with a screaming toddler on her own in public.

But what really got to me was her comment — cherish these times while they last.

Well, what if we don’t cherish these times, lady?

What if these times are total hell and we can’t wait to get out of them?

What if these times of tantrums and diapers and inability to reason have driven this young mother to the brink of her sanity?

What if she just can’t wait for her son to grow up and out of these behaviors?

And what if he never will?

My daughter is twelve and three quarters going on eight.

Perpetually.

Elise is autistic but also Intellectually Disabled, and for all the work we’ve done, therapy we’ve been to, interventions we have tried, she just doesn’t seem to be growing up.

We have plateaued at this juncture that feels impossible to overcome — that maybe, in her heart and mind, my daughter will behave and live with the mentality of an eight year old forever.

Now, I know that some camps don’t think it’s right to assign a mental age to people with disabilities, because plateaus can be overcome and things could eventually change, she might eventually, miraculously mature — but I stopped holding out any hope for that and I’ve started to live with the fact that she might not.

It’s easier for me to live this way, to let go and let her be.

But I can’t abide strangers telling me what I — or other people — should cherish, when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

What if that little boy had been autistic or disabled, too?

What if this wasn’t just a case of a cute little boy melting down for a few minutes, but if this was something that happened every time the boy was taken out in public, maybe because he’s sensory overloaded, maybe because he doesn’t understand what is going on, or maybe because he is scared.

For some parents, all we want is for our children to grow up.

For some of us we tread carefully through the years, celebrating every late milestone, hoping that the next one will be reached soon and with little trouble.

We don’t all cherish the behaviors of our little kids, not when we are afraid our kids will always be little.

We humans need to watch our mouths around each other.

I know that we are in a hyped up world of Trump America where it seems people feel like they can say whatever to whomever they want and forget about political correctness, but what has happened to simply thinking before we speak?

To the mother with the screaming child, I think the only appropriate thing to say would have been:

“Can I help you?”

But instead she got unsolicited comments and stares.

Cherish these times

When it could have been the worst day of that young mother’s life. When she could have just been dealt the hardest news a parent might have to hear.

When, clearly, she was struggling.

Cherish these times…

I will never tell you to cherish any particular time in your parenting journey. I have no idea what you’re going through. I will never know whether you are aching for your perfect child to stay little or yearning for your troubled child to grow up.

What’s more is, I will never speak up and offer unsolicited comments or advice to young mothers with screaming children.

This isn’t the time to cherish anything.

This is the time to help each other, to lift one another up and come together in solidarity with each other.

Cherish this:

“Can I help you?”

Something is Holding Me Back...It's Me

 Photo by  Noah Buscher  on  Unsplash

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

I love to feel like I am a part of something important, and I haven’t felt that way in a really long time.

I mean, I love having a group of friends, I would love to have a romantic relationship again in my life ever, and I love working on and dedicating myself to things that matter.

But for a long time, I haven’t had any of those things in my life… and it’s my own damn fault.

The only excuse I have for not having any of those things in my life right now is because I haven’t tried — and the reason I haven’t tried is because I’m scared.

I’m scared that I’m going to try to make friends and fail because making adult relationships work is much harder than I ever thought it would be.

I’m scared that I am going to start going back on those dating websites and get rejected by every man who I go out on a date with, again. Beyond that, I’m scared that I won’t even have the nerve to start online dating again because my thoughts are so turned toward failure I feel like I’m a physical manifestation of it.

And working on something important?

Ha.

My writing, my body of work, that is what I consider to be important, and I am the only one who agrees with me so far.

It’s not a good way to be.

But.

There is always a but.

Yesterday I wrote something that was a little scary:

Ten Things You Didn’t WANT to Know About Me

I wrote a post about the things you don’t want to know about me — the things that I am not proud of and generally won’t tell people.

It was more than a little scary, actually.

It felt a little bit like jumping off a cliff and admitting the things that I’ve always been afraid to say online all at once, like ripping off the writing about myself band-aid, and now I know that the only thing that is holding me back from telling my stories and adding to my work is me.

The sad thing is, I’ve written this post before, many times.

But I don’t think I’m the only one.

Just, this time, I’m going to do something about it.

I can’t keep coming to the end of every month with nothing to show for the days that have passed.

I have to, as they say in math class, show my work.

Lately, I have been studying Buddhism and how meditation along with a new outlook on life might help turn things around for me — not just my mental health, but my whole life and approach to living.

I’ve established that writing and being published are more important to me than doing anything else, so now I am going to take steps to really make that happen.

Maybe I’ll even go back on an online dating site and see what is out there for me these days, once I feel like I have something to offer someone.

But right now, in the state that I am in, this homeschooling and not having a job and living with my parents state that I am in, this has to change, and I have to grow.

I’ve known for a while that I am the only thing standing in my way and I haven’t been able to figure out what my problem is, and honestly, I still don’t know if I’ve figured out what my problem is.

I don’t think it has anything to do with motivation or laziness, I don’t know even know if I believe in those things anymore, but there is something I do believe in, and that’s determination.

I am determined to turn my life around and figure out how to make a living writing.

It’s all I want for my life right now, and if I can’t work every day to try to figure that out, then what the hell am I doing here at all?

Sometimes You'll Fail at Homeschooling

 Photo by  Bernard Hermant  on  Unsplash

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

As a single mom homeschooling a disabled tween, I do my best, which, for the record, probably isn’t as good as a lot of other homeschooling moms.

Most of my job as my daughter’s teacher is helping her stay on task and making sure her work gets completed.

We have an “unschooling” routine that involves some computer work on a homeschooling website, daily reading, supplementary projects, and blogging — free writing that has done wonders in getting my daughter to open up about her feelings and her life, not to mention it taught her how to type properly, which is more than I can say for a lot of typical adults these days.

Some of these things Elise likes. She doesn’t usually complain about blogging, which, as a writer, makes me incredibly happy, and it isn’t usually too hard to get her to do her reading without complaint, but that’s where the easy part ends.

Most of the time, honestly, she just doesn’t want to do anything at all.

In some ways, she is a typical kid.

She doesn’t want to go to school.

She doesn’t want to do everything her mom tells her to do.

She just wants to watch TV and play on her devices all day.

Sometimes we have days where she gets all her work done without too much complaint and we can move on, and sometimes…we don’t.

Sometimes there’s nothing I can do to keep her on task, because she’s melting down about how hard it is, or that she doesn’t want to do it.

Sometimes it’s a battle of wills and she will just sit there and refuse to do anything at all.

And sometimes there’s not much you can do to work with that.

That’s the kind of day we’re having today.

We all have our bad days.

As parents, as teachers, as human beings.

We all have days when we just don’t want to do what we are supposed to do.

We rail against the responsibilities and sometimes even sabotage our own well being to stop from having to do something we resist.

Even when there are consequences for avoiding our responsibilities, still, sometimes we choose to take the punishment instead of sucking up the work and getting to the reward.

I don’t imagine there are too many teachers out there who throw up their hands in the middle of the workday and say they’re “done” with trying to get kids to do what they’re supposed to do, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling.

Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and surrender.

White flag to the fact that things aren’t always going to get done.

It’s you against a classroom of one, your own child, the most brutal student a teacher could ever have because it’s up to you to cultivate their entire life.

It’s an almost impossible responsibility.

That’s why it’s okay to give in to it sometimes, give in and let it go.

Is it worth it to keep trying to get work done when there are tears and screaming involved?

I ask myself all the time, is it worth it to keep going today when we are already in such a bad headspace and negativity is floating through the air like smoke?

Sometimes it isn’t worth it.

Sometimes you’ll fail at homeschooling.

You won’t be able to keep your child on task.

You won’t be able to keep your child motivated to keep working.

You won’t be able to convince your child that they are smart enough to do the work, that they can do it, even if it’s hard.

You will give in to the tears and the pleading.

You will, once in a while, fail at homeschooling and give up for the day.

And that’s totally okay.

For one reason or another, you decided that the typical path of education wasn’t right for you or your child and you decided to take their education into your own hands.

Deciding to homeschool is one of the hardest — and bravest — choices a parent can ever make, and the doubt and second guessing that goes along with every choice you have to make can make you feel like you’re going to drown in the responsibility.

Give yourself a break.

You’re not always going to get everything done in a day.

Sometimes you’re going to fail at homeschooling, and you’re going to let your kid watch TV instead.

I’ve been there. I’m here to tell you it’s okay.


I Need to Get Zen

 Photo by  Melvin Thambi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Melvin Thambi on Unsplash

I don’t know the first thing about Buddhism, getting Zen, meditating, or anything that has to do with quietly finding inner peace.

But by God, or Buddha, or whoever because I have no clue — I need it.

I need some fucking peace in my life and haven’t found a way to get there yet, but every day I feel more wound up as my mood gets lower and darker, and I feel like I’m slowly spiraling down into something I might not be able to get myself out of.

I’ve had a short and impartial relationship with religion.

I didn’t grow up in one, so I was mostly afraid of organized religions after being exposed to so many Catholic funerals as a child and then some Baptist ministries with my best friend in high school.

So, by the time I was old enough to drive myself to my own church, there wasn’t one I wanted to go to.

Of course I ponder the mysteries of life and the universe, but I’ve never felt like a very spiritual person, and I definitely am not the type to subscribe to any kind of dogma.

I’m even wary of the history of religions. If I am going to believe in something, I want it to be true. I want the people spoken about to have actually existed. I want living proof that something true exists.

A few years ago I started going to a Unitarian Universalist church with my best friend and roommate.

I loved the atmosphere of the place — the friendliness of all of the people, the community aspect of it all — but I didn’t find peace in any of their rituals, even though so many of them were borrowed from all different religions, and the church celebrated everyone.

It is a church that is very rooted in social activism, which I also love, but it wasn’t giving me that spiritual oomph that I was going for, so last year I stopped, and since then have been sort of floating between self help books, trying to figure out how to find some peace in my life when I feel like there is little chance of any being found.

We aren’t living in very good times right now, and there isn’t too much to be happy about.

I am not in a good place in really any areas of my life. My finances are in shambles of debt and I barely make $1000 a month so the debt isn’t getting paid while I try to write my way out of this whole I’ve dug myself into.

I have lost all my close friends to moves and neglect and falling outs.

I haven’t dated in about six years, and the loneliness parts of my skin feel have written stories about the hands and people they miss.

I just need something good and peaceful in my life.

Something to get my mind off of the shit and maybe lift me up into a better place in my mind and my life.

Hence, enter Buddhism.

Learning something new, like a new religion, how to meditate, how to find peace — that is exactly what I need right now.

I feel the need to dive in head first in the only way I know how — by going to the library, which is where I’ve come today.

I’m checking out ‘Why Buddhism is True’ by Robert Wright, and ‘In My Own Words — An Introduction to My Teachings and Philosophy” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I am not sure if this is a good start for me or if there are other books that would be more beneficial to learning the way of … getting zen like, but I would welcome any suggestions or feedback if anyone has shared a similar journey.

Wish me luck, and I wish you all peace and love — I wish it for all of us.

Getting Struck By Lightning Kind of Ruined My Life

 Photo by  Zoltan Tasi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Here’s how it went down:

I was on my computer when the thunderstorm began, and like any smart girl would do, I shut the thing down because I didn’t want it to get fried in the event of a lightning strike.

Go figure.

We lived out in the woods, and often lost power during these storms, and I remembered that I had wet clothes in the wash that I needed to get into the dryer quickly, just in case this storm did knock out the power.

I went down to the basement as the thunder rumbled and transferred the wet clothes into the dryer.

Like I had done hundreds of times before, I reached out and pushed the start button — and that’s when it happened.

I remember a bright blue flash of light, a searing pain in my legs, and the image of a lightbulb winking out above my head, and then everything was black.

I am not sure how long I was unconscious, but when I sat up in the dark basement, legs throbbing, I was about five feet away from the dryer I had just been standing against.

I didn’t know it then, but the force of the flash of lightning lifted me up off the ground and threw me back. I had landed on my butt and then fell back and hit the back of my head, which knocked me out.

I was scared, in pain, and alone in the house.

I remember a long, slow scoot up the stairs on my butt, because both of my legs below the knee were on fire with pain, and I couldn’t feel my feet.

Just as I reached the top of the stairs and fell back into the hallway, my mom arrived home from work and asked me what was wrong.

“I think I got electrocuted,” I told her.

It was one week after my nineteenth birthday.

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We Are On a Different Path

 Photo by  Jack Anstey  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Homeschooling is hard enough.

Homeschooling a tween with disabilities is harder.

The hardest thing about homeschooling a disabled tween?

Teaching them why they need to learn things at all.

For all of my daughter’s life, school has been a struggle. Since she was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism in Kindergarten and then more so after the Intellectual Disability diagnosis in fourth grade, things are getting harder each year, not easier as I would have expected.

After all this time, my daughter still doesn’t understand why she needs to learn.

When I was growing up, I was always anxious about school.

I got okay grades, but not great grades, and that stressed me out. The stress didn’t cause me to work harder, though, it just made me more suspicious about what I was doing, what I was putting myself through for the sake of these grades that were supposedly so important.

Then, I remember, in eighth grade I had a little breakdown to my mom, crying about how scared I was to go to high school because the work was going to be even harder, and if I was having trouble now, how was I ever going to catch up and do well there?

See, school isn’t always that much fun even for typical kids, is it?

But I got through it because I knew there was a purpose behind it, a reason for all the madness.

I understood that there was this path that I was supposed to be on:

That if I got good grades in high school I would be able to get into a good college, which would then lead to a good job so I could sustain a good life.

Of course, I didn’t follow that path, but even when I was twelve I knew that was the path that I was supposed to take.

My daughter Elise doesn’t know that path.

I don’t talk to Elise about this path, because I know it’s not the path she is on.

I don’t think she will ever go to college, and at this point I am just working on getting through the next two years of junior high before (hopefully) getting her into a special needs high school in a nearby town.

Some people may stop reading here and think that I’m not setting standards high enough for her, that I am not challenging her enough.

Maybe they’re right.

Maybe raising a kid shouldn’t be like all other things in life: setting the standards low so as not to get disappointed.

But this is different.

My daughter is almost thirteen and we are struggling through fourth grade math for the second year in a row.

She has plateaued here, in this state of eight going on forever.

Not thirteen going on thirty.

Eight going on forever.

That is Intellectual Disability.

That is how our path is currently going.

Sometimes, homeschooling goes really well.

I have a schedule of things for her to do every day, because she needs to know what is happening at all times, and hates not having a schedule for the school day. Once established, things are rooted in stone.

Sometimes she gets everything done in a few hours, making it so I can convince her to do the next day’s work so she only has school three days a week instead of four.

Sometimes I have to remind her that I’m not doing this to punish her.

“Why are you doing this to me? Why are you making me do this?”

So that you can learn, baby girl.

So that you can know things on your own and not always have to ask.

So that you can do things for yourself and not have them all done for you.

So that your mind expands with new ideas, so that your mind can start making ideas of its own.

So that you can grow, and grow, and grow.

Even when she was still in public school, Elise would still ask why she went to school every day.

I was never willing to do what was done to me — lay that path out for her that everyone gets led down.

I was never willing to say:

“Because you need to get into a good college.”

For one thing, I never got into a good college, and when I did go, I didn’t finish.

For another, I was told when she was nine that it was time to start thinking about her options after high school — and her teachers weren’t talking about college — they were talking about group homes.

We are on a different path.

Every day I wonder whether today is going to be a day when she just gets her work done and we move on, or whether we have to talk again about why we’re doing this, and that no, I’m not mad at her because I am making her learn history.

I’m not sure where this path is leading, it’s a windy freaking road, but I know I’m not going to lead her deeper in the woods just to see whether she can get herself out.

Can you relate? I’d love to hear your thoughts, but remember:

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That Underlying Hum of Hopelessness

 Photo by  Erwan Hesry  on  Unsplash

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

I haven’t been doing well in the last couple of months.

I always think that summer is going to be a cure-all for everything, that the sun and warmth will lift me up and out of my depression, that somehow things will be better just because of the season and the sunshine.

Not so this summer.

This summer I have been fighting a battle with new medications and the discontinuation of others — my birth control to be specific — hormones that have done something to me in the last ten years of using them that to now be without them has me turning into a suicidal bundle of tears and anxiety every time I get my period, which has now been four times, as if anyone is counting.

The lowness lingers.

I can’t get up out of it.

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