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Another year older. It’s time to be wiser.

Another year older. It’s time to be wiser.

This year’s birthday hit differently. So much has happened in the last year and a half and I am flat out tired. I finally came to that breaking point where, to paraphrase a quote by Maya Angelo, I belong everywhere and no where. I’m not looking for belonging in everyone else anymore. Even though I so often feel like I’m standing alone, I know it’s something I have to do. Someone, somewhere will say something to remind me that I’m strong and loving and I’m not alone but I no longer need them to confirm that. I can be surrounded by people I love who love me and yet I’m learning I don’t feel the need to seek validation from them to know that I’m worthy.

This next year I have goals for myself. Things I need to do to live life with a wild open heart.

I’m going to love with no expectations.

I’m going to be fierce but I’ll be kind.

I’m going to be tougher yet I’ll still be tender with everyone I come across.

I’m going to be open to people who come into my life. I will soften my heart and be better to those who choose to stay in my life. I will throw my arms open wide and love wholeheartedly those who return to my life. And I shall guard my heart with cautious optimism but never shutting it off to the love and possibilities of good friends, new experiences, and the hope of second chances.

This is the year I’m going to live as I should’ve been living for a long time now. I’ve lost so much in the past few years. Friends. Opportunities. My sister was obviously the worst to knock me off my feet. I’ve faced loss before. The “they’ve left your life by choice but are still around” loss but I’ve had forever loses too. I know the loss of losing a baby. I know the loss of losing my Mom. And now I know the loss of losing my sister. I’ve always leaned on friends for each of those.

I think the loss of my sister is what opened my eyes to how truly alone I am and threw me into the deepest of depressions. I wasn’t surrounded by friends when she died. I’ve lost most of them. Some because my depression kept me from being better at keeping in touch. Some chose to move on. Some I guess just “weren’t that into me” as they say. I’ve never needed a tight-knit group of friends like I did then. And I didn’t have it anymore. And I broke. I shut down. A year and a half later and my therapist and I are just now beginning to deal with the loss of my sister. I am just that good at shoving trauma down deep enough to not consciously feel it. I’ve never known how to do it alone. I still don’t know how to do it alone but I’m learning how when I have to and also (and this is the hardest) trying to learn how to ask for help. That last one is a bitch when you don’t know who to ask. But it’s time. Picking myself up sucks. It hurts. I will learn how to do this while I keep an open heart. But, damn, pulling yourself out of quicksand without a rope isn’t easy.

But this is my birthday gift to myself. I’m taking this year by the [fill in your word of choice] and remembering not only who I am but what I can and should do to make myself happy. This year I will do what I can to be a better me. Part of that has to do with you.

If I ever told you you’re my friend, you still have a place in my heart. Say hi. Kick me and remind me not to disappear.

If I’ve ever told you I love you, I still love you. I may be afraid that too much time and life has passed to reconnect but know you’re still in my heart and I’d be overjoyed if we did reconnect.

If I’ve ever sat with you and laughed or cried or both, I miss that. Can we do it again?

I suppose in this new year of being older and becoming wiser what I’m trying to say is… I need you. I really do.

And that’s not as scary to say as it used to be but it’s also terrifying.

Here’s what I am going to do. It’s my new project for myself for the year. I’m going to snail mail everyone I hear from at the very least a letter. If you want to reconnect, connect, or just see if I’ll follow through, drop me a comment. Either here or on Instagram. Who knows what else. If only a few reply, I might learn to crochet and make you a whole blanket. (But I really hope more than a few of you do! I am not very good at crocheting.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to do this damn thing.

I hope you’ll join me!

And kids, that’s why you shouldn’t be an asshole like I was

And kids, that’s why you shouldn’t be an asshole like I was

In case this isn’t permanently written on all of your calendars, this is my birthday  month. More specifically, on Saturday, the 7th. You still have time to shop. But it’s okay to be late because you have all month.

Actually, this birthday is kind of  a big deal to me. No, it isn’t a big number birthday or one that anyone else would evenn give a second thought. In truth, I’ve only told one person about why this birthday not only has me on edge but why I want to make it special. Because of all of that, she and I made plans to celebrate it together. We started these plans many months ago.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. Not just because I was going to spend my birthday with one of my closest friends but because she understood me and didn’t laugh when I told her why this birthday meant something to me. Just a couple of weeks out, I was finalizing flight plans etc. and texting back and forth to make sure it would all work out. (We were waiting on word from work.) Well, you know how they say “Make plans and God laughs”? Well, he was down right rolling in tears with this one. (I mean, hell, we’ve been trying this for  years.)  While I was about to book my ticket,  she texted me and said it would just be better for me to not come at all.

My heart shattered right there on the spot. I spent two days crying. I felt at the moment like I became the expendible friend.  So easily tossed aside rather than one you want around when you need someone.  It just hurt on many levels. I felt like I lost my best friend. (Other factors contributed, too. But, this felt like the final demotion.) And  you know what it actually made me? A totally and complete asshole.

Yes, I was the absolute and total asshole here. You see, she has been living in crisis mode for…well… months. Trying to take care of everyone. Pulled in so many directions, I don’t even know how she is still standing.  I’ve never met someone stonger with so much compassion in my life. She’s the friend every one wishes they had. And what did I do? I spent two days crying thinking of only myself and how I might be effected. See? Total asshole.  That’s not what  you do to the people  you love. You just don’t treat  your people that way. I am sorry. So sorry. There are times I can hardly breathe it hurts so much that I  hurt a relationship so  much. But you just can’t take some things back. We have barely spoken since then. Life is busy. Plans change. Health and work and family and life take over and before you know it, it has been weeks since you’ve talked.


So, in short (Ha! Nothing is short with my writing.) I let down a friend by being an asshole when she needed me because I was thinking of myself. And now? Now I have to pick up the pieces and hope we’ll be okay. It’s going to take time.  And that sucks.

The moral of the story, take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at both sides of what is going on before you act like an asshole or you may hurt one of the most precious relationships you have. Don’t be me, kiddos!

Hiding from the world but I can’t hide from myself

Hiding from the world but I can’t hide from myself

The past few months have been kind of crazy around here. A lot of changes. For me and for my son. Let’s just say it might have been easier and cheaper to just get a double room in a hospital than it has been to pay co-pay after co-pay and gas and prescriptions etc all to get a big fat “We don’t know.” My son, he whose name shall not be typed, is going through his own situation that I will write about (because we could use some advice in one area) but not until he reads it and gives me the okay to tell his story.

For years I have suffered with migraines. It was one of the factors that led me down the path to my addiction issues. The last few months I have been suffering worse than I ever have. But I’ve had other complications thrown in to confuse things. So I have see a few specialists. With each new doctor comes new tests, new theories and new medications.

You see, having a mom who had MS, a cousin with Lupus, and  a grandmother with Parkinson’s, it can tend to freak a girl out when “autoimmune” is tossed around in casual medical conversations with my doctors. Especially when I already have been diagnosed with an autoimmune issue when I was pregnant. I’ll admit it. It scares me. I’ve never seen myself as strong as the people I know who fight with these autoimmune issues. I don’t know how I would handle it if something showed up.

And of course while we are figuring out what is wrong, the doctors want to manage my symptoms and try to eliminate them.

I hate seeing so many pill bottles on my counter. I hate the rattle of pill bottles in my purse. It makes me feel like I am failing. I’m not even on any narcotics or anything that is considered “addictive.” But? It still looks and sounds like “addict Jenn” and I don’t want to ever be her again.

Don’t get me wrong, I am careful. And my doctors are very aware of  my situation. But being on as many meds as I am for any reason is discouraging. Especially the Prednisone.

Let me just say here, I hate with the passion a thousand suns the steroids and what the effects they have on me.  When the doctor prescribed them a while back she warned me that I was on a very high dose. She even added in, “On this dosage it is not totally uncommon to hallucinate so be sure to let me know immediately if you do.” Wait. What??

I haven’t hallucinated. Though I wish the way my body was so fat and puffy was a hallucination. Even before the medications that are packing on the puff like someone is inflating me or like a giant puffer fish, I had been putting on weight and been fighting it with everything to keep it from taking over. I took a spin class. (It was a fail but I tried.) I work out at home. I walk. I have tried to watch what I eat. But the weight is hanging on to me like I’m about to hibernate for a decade or so. It hurts to hide from the world in shame.

And that was before I started on Prednisone and watched my body puff up in strange ways and plummet my self esteem even lower. I realized how much I am truly hiding from people. Friends. Family. Acquaintances. I don’t want to be the fattest woman in the room. I don’t want to be ashamed to meet my kids’ friends and their parents. I don’t like being ashamed to meet anyone my husband works with because he deserves the woman he married not the ginormous, puffy and medically screwed up woman he is now stuck with. I’ve avoided trips because I don’t want people to see me. Hell, I’ve even avoided video chatting with people I love but don’t get to see very often because of the shame of how I look right now.

I am hoping with the neurologist we have now- together with a specialist she is working with- we will figure out what is so out of whack with my body and I can come off of the medications. I can feel like myself again. So I can look like myself again. Sometimes I forget that I look like I do and when I see a picture or a video, I burst into tears. And that pisses me off because how damn vain am I that I care so much about that when one of  the reasons I look like I do is because of the medication I am on to try to make me feel better. Right now, I am blessed that they have not found something scary causing my headaches, dizziness, fatigue, high blood pressure etc etc. They are managing these things.

So until we know what I am facing (and Lord willing it is something easy to deal with and minor), I will not be discouraged by the counter full of pill bottles.  I will not beat myself up at the rattle of a pill bottle in my purse. And most of all, I will try to remember that the outside is just a shell and people who love me care about the inside. I’m not there yet. And I am still hiding. But I can tell you I am trying. I’ve been through tougher times and come out on top. Here’s to hoping I do it again…

Forgiving me

Forgiving me

I can practically hear the intake of  breath that I may be about to expose some deep dark secret. Forget about it. I’m not that interesting. Really.

What did she do that she needs to forgive herself for?  I hope it’s juicy!

And that is one of the reasons I sat on this one.  I could write an entire blog on forgiving myself if I so choose seeing as I carry a lot on my shoulders whether I need to or not. I could write something regarding my addiction but that is in my book so I am keeping that one back. I could write about letting toxic people into my world when I was warned by so many people not to do so, but I have moved on and realize I have indeed already forgiven myself for that, too.

So what does she have to say? Tell me it isn’t about her bad 80’s perm!

There is something I have been holding on to. Something I have lost sleep over. Something I have shed tears over. Something I have turned to friends about in hopes they have the miracle words that would bring me my own forgiveness. But it still gnaws at me.

I have to forgive myself for stepping out of the blogging ring when I was at the top of my game and the top of the heap.

Seriously?! Lame!

You have to understand, I was blogging long before there was a flood of mommy bloggers. (Hell, I founded the site!) I was blogging before PR and marketing even glanced in the direction of bloggers– especially mom bloggers.  I was in on the ground floor of an amazing organization that has become a huge, worldwide site. I worked for them. I wrote for them. I helped launch an ad network with them.  I was courted by more than one organization to be a founding member of their community and networks.  People came to me and asked me to blog for them professionally for good money when that was really rather rare. I had television news crews come to my house to interview me about blogging and what it meant. I was asked to speak at conferences. I was a mom blogger before Dooce (our  media labeled “queen of the mom bloggers”) was even pregnant. I was at the top of my game and had ideas that had never been done before. Ideas that could have taken off and become huge. (I know this because I’ve seen others do it on a model I helped create.) I was approached to submit essays for anthologies. I was published and republished several times in parenting magazines both nationally and internationally. I had a few columns appear in the paper. I was a top mom blogger. I was good. I had it all in the palm of my hand.

And I stepped away from it.

And my heart shatters a bit every time I think about it.

I’ve tried to jump back in other ways. I worked with amazing women who started a new **community and it was great. I loved working with them. I helped with some amazing projects.  But again, I wasn’t ready to be back in the world of corporate loyalties  that were replacing community co-operation at that time and life hit me like a 2×4. And I stepped back. Again. I didn’t want to dig in and play the cut-throat game of corporation bottom lines. Not when I knew how “it used to be.”

Silently stepping back sounded like a thousand hoof beats in my heart. Felt like hot iron searing my soul.

One of the reasons I stepped back this last time was because I was getting my ass handed to me on a silver platter and I wasn’t able to deal with it. It was the year of being broken. I was ashamed to admit I was dealing with depression of a multitude of things and I couldn’t come online and write the fun, the funny or the every day when I was broken.

So I stepped away.

I have a book to finish. And I am so close. I want to shout, “The blog hasn’t been doing great, but HEY, look at the book I have been working on! Look at the skeleton of the second one I’m writing! I AM doing something! Doesn’t that count?”

It doesn’t. Not in the blogging world.

Twitter can overwhelm me. Goodness, with ADD you’d think I could keep up but the truth is, it makes me feel like I am so far out of the loop or out of the conversation because HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO 1500 PEOPLE AT ONE TIME?! (And that’s just people I follow.)

Facebook can be a good outlet, but even there I have to be “careful” and that is not who I am when it comes to writing.

So I stepped back.

And it broke my heart.

Broke it into a million little pieces.

Because I love to blog.

Because I loved being one of the bloggers on the cutting edge.

Because I loved being asked to go on junkets or work with amazing people.

Because I love to blog for the love of the blog.

And I stepped away.

Now? I don’t know if I can ever get back to close to where I was. I don’t know if I can get another chance with the first blogging company I worked with or if I can ever get a second chance with the amazing women who are really doing amazing things with their community. I don’t know how to go from top to gone to a blogger that can get back in the game.

Because? The game has changed. I have changed.

What do I have to forgive myself for?

I have to find a way to forgive myself for stepping back when I was at the top. I have to forgive myself.

Because it hurts so damn bad to think of the “what if”s…” the “should’ve been’s…” and  the “I could have…”

I have to forgive myself because it tears me up inside when I think about it.

I had legitimate reasons. I had real life that had to have me totally present. I didn’t step back because I was flaky but because I had to for my life.

And I really hope that one day…. some day…. I will forgive myself for stepping back.

Because it hurts too much not to forgive myself.

Haters gonna hate. Trolls gonna troll. So…this writer’s gonna write. No matter what they say or do.

Haters gonna hate. Trolls gonna troll. So…this writer’s gonna write. No matter what they say or do.

This year I broke my own rule that I established almost 9 years ago when I first started blogging: I would never let haters keep me from blogging.

But I did.

I didn’t consciously plan to stop blogging. I just didn’t want to write about things that were going on in my life. And? That’s what I do here. I have blogged through the good and the bad. I have blogged through the happiest times in my life and the most heartbreaking. But this? This was something that I chose not to talk about both here and in real life.

This is the first time I have discussed it. It is the first time even many close to me will be finding out how bad things became.

When things started to go wrong, they went really wrong very quickly. People I truly cared about and considered friends were overnight enemies. People I trusted were suddenly tearing me down in a way I have not seen outside a bad Lifetime movie or sitcom making fun of Mean Moms. But it wasn’t funny. What these people did to me almost destroyed me. And I don’t mean that figuratively. It almost cost me everything.  (Yes, my sobriety, my life and my family.) And at the time they did it with joy, pride and smugness. From Facebook posts to unfounded rumors,  there was no where I could go where I was not faced with the fallout from these people. (Now let me say right now, I made mistakes. I was not perfect. I know that. But no matter what mistakes I made, no one deserves the public and private crap that was thrown my way.)

You are free to choose but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.

I was lost as to how to handle such cruelness. After speaking with trusted friends and mentors who knew first hand what was happening, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.

There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough.

I was not going to fight back. I was not going to stand there and defend something that surely people who knew me knew was crap. Maybe that was the right choice. Maybe it wasn’t. In the end I lost way more than I bargained for. Not just friends. (Were they really friends to begin with?) I lost my ability to trust. You see I have always lived by the motto “Everyone is good until or unless they show you otherwise.” I have always trusted so easily. Clint and I would argue over this as time and time again I would get my heart broken. Still. I could not imagine keeping people at arms length all the time. I love people. Even when they hurt me, everyone deserves a second chance.  It’s how I live my life. Or at least it was how I had up to that point.

But they showed me that was a naive and ridiculous way to think.

So, I built a wall so tall and so strong around me no one can get in. I pushed away everyone. I isolated. I retreated. My health suffered. My family suffered. My friends suffered. My very outlook on life suffered. May they never know the feeling of being bullied to the edge of that cliff between life and death. (It is important to note that this situation did not cause this reaction alone. It just helped pushed me over the edge. There were really rough things going on in my life that were pushing me to my limit.)

There were days I spent the entire day in bed gripping the covers with all of my strength so as to have something physical to keep me grounded. As I cried and begged to find something within me to get up to be the mom and wife I knew I needed to be. I was drowning in a despair that I wanted to swallow me up.  At the time I thought maybe I was the horrible person they said I was. Maybe I didn’t deserve to live. I sank so low into that dark place, I almost couldn’t crawl out of it. I almost didn’t want to.

When you love people and love being with people, isolating yourself from everyone goes against your very soul. But it is what I did to survive. Not to live. To survive. And it was the worst thing I could have done for myself.

I guess by isolating me from all that I loved in my community in that sense they won.

I blessed that at the end of this past summer I was able to meet up with women I consider closer than friends and more like sisters. They love me as I am. They can take the dark and the light. They know how to show me the good. When I met with them they literally and figuratively wrapped their loving arms around me and I found healing with them. I truly laughed from the heart again. I cried with one of them one night and it was okay to do that because she sat and cried with me. She reminded me that everyone has stuff and it can’t define us negatively but should make us better. But what she did that night that will forever make me love her like a sister? She cried with me. She listened. Her heart hurt with mine. She loved me without any conditions. And she cried with me. I will forever be thankful for that moment she gave me. It meant more to me than she will ever know. Not for nothing but it made all the difference in the world to me.

Even when it came to blogging. I just couldn’t do it. I knew some of these people who wanted to destroy me, who hated me with every thing they had, who would gleefully watch me disappear into nothingness, they were reading it. It started to feel like my blog was being violated. Like they were coming into my home to find things to mock. I hated the idea. I mean, it made me my heart break and my skin crawl thinking of it.

So I stopped.

And they won.

You see, I never dealt with bullies as a kid. I had no patience for them. Not as a victim and not as someone seeing it happen. I have no tolerance. As an adult to know that there are grown women who truly wish the worst for me and would probably rejoice at any harm coming my way is a very surreal experience.  Now, since all of this happened, I have found a truce in my heart.

I wish them peace. I hope whatever pain they have within them finds healing. I wish them the kind of inner contentment that every person deserves.

Now, if you are still with me and read this far, thank you. The whole point of this is to let it out and let it go. I will not talk about it again. I will start 2012 with a new attitude, a new heart and a new outlook.  And? I will blog. Just do me a favor. If you don’t like me, don’t come here. If you wish me ill, please don’t come here. If you want to hurt me, please just go away. This is my home and I am reclaiming it.


Right now…

Right now…

First, I apologize for the last piece being a review.  From now on all reviews will be on my review blog only. I made commitments and I will finish them up but after that I can’t say where things will go. I am not quitting. I can’t imagine that. I just don’t have it in me. It’s not depression. It’s not a hissy-fit.  It’s not anger or frustration with blogging. I guess I just wanted to share with someone. It’s just life taking me by the throat and squeezing tight. I can’t breathe. And I really need to breathe.

Right now...

Right now, life is kicking my ass.

Right now, medical issues are beating down my son. (And the school is beating down on us.)

Right now, I cannot remember the last time I didn’t have a headache or a day without pain.

Right now, I don’t want to be around anyone and yet I can’t stand the loneliness.

Right now, I miss being me and feeling like me.

Right now, I don’t want to write. Anything. Anywhere. At all.

Right now, it takes everything in me to get up everyday with the pain & fatigue.

Right now, I have one foot on ice and the other on a banana peel heading for a slip.

Right now, I’m too tired to care.

Right now, I don’t want you to worry.

Right now, I do know I’ll be okay and this is just temporary.

Right now, I just really can’t deal with…

Right now.