Furious Tears

3:50pm- “Can you meet a little early to get the kids? I have stuff to do.”

Never a request I would turn down. I finished up my haircut and headed to our meeting spot.

As the kids opened the door, I could feel the difference in their demeanor. So quiet. Not the normal “hey mom” or hugs from behind.

Just sitting there.

Confused, I turned around to say hello… and saw my son crying.

I waited until their dad pulled out of the parking lot and I reached back to touch his leg. “What’s wrong, Jaybird?”

Then the tears really started pouring. My heart was already breaking as I saw in his eyes what I already knew.

“They fought all weekend mom. My stomach keeps doing flips and it made me throw up. I should have had a phone. If I could have called you, we could have come home yesterday. I didn’t like seeing that. I’ve already seen it before.”

I knew what he was referencing. At almost 4 years old, he watched his dad beat his mom… almost to death. I could see that this one wasn’t going to be something simple to deal with.

Jaylah interjected with some information about how their dad was going to be homeless and unable to care for them because of me… and a few other manipulative phrases that I remembered all too well from my time with him.

“I’m so sorry you had a hard weekend. Come here and give me a hug. I’m glad you’re home and you’re safe now.”

They both came up between the seats and we all embraced in an awkward hug.

My blood was boiling. Angry with him. Angry with myself for letting them go without a proper escape plan. Angry with the court that said he deserved to spend time with them. I still don’t understand why the state does not regard domestic violence as child abuse because it impacts their tiny beings to the core. It changes them. It isn’t okay to send your kids into that situation ever. But if you don’t, you are held in contempt of court. You become the criminal when you try to protect your children. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair and I dream of a day that it will be different. But right now, that is reality.

And right now, I’m angry.

But I know that all damage control needs to come from me. I know that explosive anger will only make the situation worse. I know that I have to be the example of healthy emotions.

I told them I was angry and sorry and that I hoped it would never happen again. I told them that hard things will happen in life sometimes and that the best thing we can do for ourselves is be prepared. And I told them that I will always fight for them, I will forever be in their corner. I told them they were so loved and that what they saw this weekend was NOT love. People love each other by treating each other with respect and kindness, and even when you disagree on something, it is NEVER okay to behave like that. I made a plan with them. And I spent time holding them and attempting to hold back the tears.

Yes, I will leave a new legacy for my children. Yes, I hope and pray that they will see good things from my life. But today I realized that the darkness that had seemed so far away is actually much closer than I realize. I realized that protecting them still means being vigilant and doing everything in my power to be involved in every aspect of their world. It means earning their trust. It means making safety plans. It means figuring out where consequence and necessity meet. It means reevaluating things to give them the tools they need.

I never wanted this for them. But it is their reality and I must face that. The only way to conquer fear is to face it head on. And that is what we will do. For as long as it takes.

My legacy will not only be passion, it will be strength and resilience and a backbone of steel. They will know what healthy looks like and they will know what it takes.

The tears haven’t stopped flowing much tonight… But I promise this heart isn’t weak. No, it is strong. And I will teach my children to be strong. And when the opportunity arises, I have no doubt they will find the right path.

Please pray for my kiddos. And all the other children that have to go through the same thing due to the “system.”

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2018

When we go into a new year, we tend to have expectations or resolutions or just some hope for what the new year might bring. 2018 was no different for me. I wrote my “Little Big Year” post and determined to do what I could to change my world one small step at a time.

At this time last year, I didn’t know what the future held. I didn’t know how long I’d survive if I did and I wasn’t sure if I could handle much more of my body failing me. All I knew was that I had to try. I had to keep fighting. I had to do whatever it took.

I had no idea how much my life would change. But I am so grateful for 2018. It was the year I learned to live myself.

I’ve been trying for years… Hoping that someday I would be enough to be okay with me. I kept hearing “its just a decision”, but I had no idea what that meant.

It wasn’t one decision though. It was so many little ones.

It was the decision to see a naturopathic doctor when western medicine provided no hope.

It was the decision to make sure my finances and life insurance and we’ll were in order so I could rest easy that my kids are cared for no matter what.

It was the decision to start saying no to people who drained my energy.

It was the decision to let go of perfection and look for excellence.

It was the decision to take charge of my life and stop allowing wishy washy answers and hunt ferociously for the truth.

It was the decision to pursue adventures.

It was the decision to eliminate everything that was suffocating me and learn to breathe again.

It was the decision that I will NEVER settle again. Not in the work I do, the relationships I keep, or the way I live my life.

It was the decision to take a leap of faith (or a few of them) and just see what happened.

It was the decision to heal, no matter what kind of hard that meant I had to relive.

It was the decision to forgive. Anyone and everyone because I’ve made enough mistakes of my own and they don’t deserve to take that much energy from me still.

It was the decision to embrace confrontation and learn how to grow from it.

It was the decision to say no, over and over again.

It was the decision to say yes to the important things, the things I really wanted in my life.

It was the decision to value my family and make the effort to see all of them.

It was the decision to stop talking and start walking. Taking action on so many things that I had only thought or talked about in the past.

It was the decision to allow other people to love me. And that, just that decision alone, changed my world.

I am so grateful for 2018. Although it was not an easy year, it was a year of tremendous growth and that is everything I hoped for last January.

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I’m Sorry Self

“Mom! Jaylah is disrespecting property!”

It was seemingly the twentieth fight of the morning, but this one sounded like something real since it directly violated Rule #2: Respect People and Property.

He continued on, detailing her destruction as I stood up from working on the headboard that I desperately wanted to finish today.

I walked inside and saw her sitting beside the scene of the crime, “Hey Boog, what’s going on?”

She rolled her eyes and looked away, crossing her arms and sticking her chin out as far as she could.

“Jaylah, we should talk about this. If you’re not ready, you need to go to your bed until you are.”

One thing she learned well from her favorite movie is an icy glare. It was more frozen than, well, the movie itself.

“You can walk or I can carry you, babe. You choose.”

She walked to her bed and crawled under the covers, completely hidden from view.

“I’ll come talk to you in a few minutes.”

I took a mom time-out. The property she had destroyed was custom made for her. It had taken a tremendous amount of time and effort. I had to remind myself that it was just stuff and the lesson was going to be the important thing here.

I walked back to her room. “Are you ready to talk?”

She peered out from under the covers with one watery eye and I discerned a almost invisible nod.

I sat on the end of the bed, scooting her onto my lap. She was still doing her best to look away, so I slipped one hand under both of hers and stroked her hair with the other while I waited for eye contact.

Finally, after what felt like an hour, she looked up.

“You realize you broke Rule #2, right?”

Faint nod.

“Why did you do that? I made that special, just for you. Why would you want to destroy it? I just don’t understand.” I tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible.

I wanted to tell her it hurt my feelings. I wanted her to know that I had plans for it, plans where she gave it to her daughter, detailing how her mom had made it for her. I wanted it all to be about me. My hurt. My pain. My loss.

But it wasn’t about me. It was about this precious little girl who will someday have to face the big, bad world on her own. It was about preparing her for that.

Big, fat, crocodile tears now. Her voice shook as she gripped my hand a little tighter. “I didn’t think it would matter mom. It’s mine.”

My heart broke a little as I started to explain. “Baby, you have to respect yourself and your property. You have to know how to take care of things. You are just as important as anyone else and you have to treat yourself with as much, if not more, respect than you treat others. You matter. You are valuable. And so are the things you care about. But you have to set that standard and know that first. Do you understand that?”

I lifted her chin up so I could see her whole face. She nodded again. “I’m so sorry mommy.”

“Baby, tell yourself sorry. You hurt you by ruining your stuff, right?”

She nodded again, a bit stronger now. “I’m sorry self.”

Oh my heart. If only I had heard those words a few weeks or years ago. How easy it is to forget…

I’m sorry self.

How many times have I forgotten that very thing? How many times have I settled for second, or worse, destroyed something valuable to me, compromised my values, been untrue to myself because it was “just me”?

How many times have I hidden the hurt or acted out of my insecurities and spent days, weeks, months, regretting the very thing that I thought would make me feel better in the moment?

I’m sorry self.

I’m sorry for treating you as less than. I’m sorry for not showing you the respect you deserve and desire. I’m sorry that I’ve given you the impression that you are unworthy. I’m sorry for settling.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone has a memory or two that they would rather forget. And that’s okay.

You’re still worth it. You’re still valuable. You are made for more. So take the time to remind yourself of your worth. Take pride in your accomplishments. And don’t ever, ever let anyone treat you badly. Especially yourself.

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Published!

I had an article published for a non-profit recently.

https://www.7billionones.org/shannon-legacy/

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Watch “Tears and Rain by James Blunt with lyrics.” on YouTube

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Leaving Home

I’m sorry, but I must leave you now. We’ve been through so much together, seen so much. I’ve come to know you intimately as you’ve repeatedly come into my life coupled with the words “I love you”.

Hurt has become home somewhere along the way and I don’t know what it might be like to live without you. Yes, it hurts to hurt, but it also hurts not to. You are a familiar comfort, even as you attempt to prod my soul to seek better things.

So I must say goodbye. Because even as your pain reminds me I’m alive, I realize that leaving you is a wild adventure, full of the unknown. And I don’t care. I’m finally letting go.

I must say goodbye. Because the years in your shade are over and I’m ready to turn my face to the sun. As I wander into this wilderness, I trust that I will find respite from your constant chill.

I must say goodbye. I’m falling in love with a life free from you, a life without you in it. I’m giving up on you. For so long, you’ve been my security, walking in each time another walked out. But I can no longer live with you whispering that it is better to break my own heart than to risk the idea of possibly falling apart.

I’m saying goodbye because I deserve to love myself better, to understand myself more. It’s time for me to fight my demons, to choose myself and create a new, brave heart. I will lead me into battle against the army of my insecurities and I will fight until the walls of self-doubt crumble.

Farewell my beautiful home of hurt. You have served me well for a time, but I am choosing to start anew, with more of me… and far less of you.

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The Ocean at Dawn

The Ocean at dawn. The autumn leaves on a winding road. A majestic sunset. The end of an incredible book. Moments that take our breath away and bring tears to our eyes.

The yearning for it to last forever and the desire to linger, to wait, to soak in as much as we possibly can. It is so powerful, so sharp, so deep that it peirces every fiber of our body with longing. We want more. It reminds us that there has to be more. Maybe somewhere is life, exactly as it should be. It makes us ponder a paradise that we have never known, but somehow our hearts were created for.

And then it is gone, with only the longing left behind. And we pour contempt on our fragile hearts for wanting more, for wanting something transcendent and unexplainable. We deny ourselves the grand adventure, deny the dreams that were birthed with us.

We settle.

We convince ourselves that the desires so deep in our hearts were meant for the people who have their shit together. Not someone like us, with all our failings. Fear comes in like a wet blanket and smothers the fiery passion that forms the very nature of who we are.

And then, beauty draws us back, reminding us that it is worth pursuing, worth fighting for. Beauty is the core of our humanity. That is why we see it, we feel it, we bask in it, we NEED it.

And slowly it sinks in, little by little as our souls awaken. So often, it is harder to fight for ourselves than for anyone else. But it is imperative that we do so. We have become so accustomed to evaluating everyone and everything on their usefulness, on what they can DO…

But we repeatedly fail to realize that beauty is in the being. And that beauty, in and of itself, is a great and glorious good. We desperately need beauty in large, daily doses to bring us back to the reality that anything is possible, and that there is always something more, something bigger.

We need it to awaken our dreams and desires – not the shallow dreams of getting or attaining things- the dreams of wholly and fully embracing who we are. We can’t love with a whole heart if our heart is asleep. And beauty allows us to feel, to risk waking up, to risk wanting and desiring. It can make us whole if we allow it.

So, my dear friend, if you’re reading this, take a moment to embrace the beauty surrounding you, the beauty that is you, and accept that you were made for a great and glorious purpose and YOU are so loved.

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