Sunday, January 6, 2019

At a crossroad


Definition of crossroad
1: a road that crosses a main road or runs cross-country between main roads
2: usually crossroads\ˈkrȯs-​ˌrōdz also -​ˈrōdz
a: the place of intersection of two or more roads
b: a small community located at such a crossroads : a central meeting place
c : a crucial point especially where a decision must be made 
***
A long time ago—back when I only had one child and I was married to someone else, I came to a place in my life most people would call a crossroad. It was about 16 years ago. I was moving from Columbus, Ga. to Savannah, Ga. My daughter was about 2 years old and I’d been married about 6 years. I was an Army wife living that Army life--that’s the reason we were moving again.

I didn’t really know anything about Savannah but apparently that was a good career move for the Army at the time so that’s where we went. While he was busy doing career stuff, it seemed the best for me to drive out to the new house and get there a few days before the movers were supposed to show up while he finished tying up loose ends at work.

The night before I left Columbus, I looked over the map to make sure I knew the best way to get across the state. Columbus is on west side of the state—just touching the Alabama border. Savannah is almost touching the Atlantic Ocean. I would need to make my way through some rural areas and small towns to get to I-16 which would lead me all the way to Savannah.

I would know I was close to where I needed to go when I hit I-95. I traced my fingers along the route and hovered over I-95 for a while. I-95 goes north to south—if I took it north, I could take it all the way to Boston. That would be a little more than 1,000 miles away from where I supposed to go. The idea of going somewhere else, somewhere secret, was the first time I was a little excited about the move.
What if I just got on I-95 and went north and kept driving until I couldn’t drive any farther? It would be days before anyone would realize I didn’t make it Savannah and who would ever guess I would leave like that—of course I would tell my sister about the plan once I made it but no one else would know. No one in Boston would know me and I could just blend in and start a new life.

At the time, I’m not really sure if I knew how miserable and lonely I was. Thinking back, I know I wasn’t very social at the time despite living in a housing area on Ft. Benning that was a cluster of row houses linked together in a circle with a large playground in the middle of that circle. You could walk out your back door everyday and see just about everyone you were supposed to know and hang out with. It was an instant play date just about any hour of the day and for stay-at-home moms, that may sound like the perfect place to live.

But I felt watched and judged and I mostly stayed to myself. My daughter had major surgery to reconstruct her hips and legs and spent most of her time there in a body cast. Going outside in the circle meant I had to endure the sad looks and the constant, “let me know if I can do anything…” I had a few friends who “got it” but it was hard to really be consistent in my social time especially with all the doctor’s appointments and therapy and the feeling that I just really didn’t belong anywhere.

But Boston, that could be the answer. That could be the change I needed. A new start.


I went to bed that night envisioning driving to Boston. Thinking about how much money I could pull out in cash to live off until I could find another way to make money. How long would it be before anyone knew? How long until my husband realized I was gone? He’d probably be a little relieved in the end to finally just be done with it all so he could go on to the do the things that seemed to make him happier than being stuck at home with us.

He had already gone to work that morning by the time I loaded everything in my Jeep and pulled out of the circle for the final time. I drove out the front gates of Ft. Benning with the plan to head to Savannah. I looked in the rearview mirror to see my daughter in her car seat. Her baby doll wrapped in her arms and a smile on her face.

Looking back on that year in Ft. Benning, it’s no surprise I was unhappy. My husband had decided that he would spend every day working on his boxing in hopes he could join the Army boxing team or somehow go pro. It meant going to the boxing gym downtown every night, no matter what. I needed help at home but on the nights I insisted he stay home and help, he made everything so miserable I would eventually just say, “you know, I’m fine. Really, go ahead and go to the gym.” Even after my daughter’s major surgery in Atlanta, he had his mind set on getting back to Columbus that day so he would work out—despite my gut instinct and the nurses’ advice, we packed up my daughter and took her back home even though her oxygen levels were very low.

Leaving to drive north on I-95 seemed to be the best way out. If I told him I was unhappy, it would have been a fight. If I said I didn’t want to move to a small city with no children’s hospital, it would have been a fight. I could make it work, I always had. And besides, you don’t just walk away.

Between the stops for diaper changes and food, I hit I-95 almost 6 hours after I left Columbus. The signs started popping up about nine miles away from the turn. My heart was beating faster and faster as I got closer to the exit. I kept looking at the rearview mirror wondering what my daughter would think of me one day knowing I had taken her away on my own to live in some unknown place. I almost laughed at the absurdity of the plan. The only thing that kept me wanting to make that exit was the thought that somehow leaving might make him realize I didn’t want to be married to him any longer. I hated our life. I was beginning to hate him. I hated it when he was home and I hated that I depended on him for almost everything.

Before I knew it, I took the exit for I-95, but I stayed in the right lane and went south toward my hotel. I would not be going on an adventure to gain attention from a husband who seemed to not love me anymore. I would do what I was supposed to do and show up at the new house and welcome another group of movers into my new home and start a new life again with strangers in a town I had no connection to.

That crossroad on I-95 would continue to haunt me for next several months as I drove around town going to appointments and trying to discover this new place that was my home, wondering if I had made a mistake. I kept the secret from everyone, even my sister. Until about four months after the move when my husband and I got into a fight. He told me how miserable he was, and I did the same.

“You know, when I was moving out here, I saw the exit for I-95 north and I thought about getting on it and just driving as far away from you as I could get and starting a new life.”

The shock on his face was unexpected. He was hurt. I think he was so consumed with his unhappiness in our marriage that it had never occurred to him that I was planning to leave him. It changed something in our marriage, and we started trying to work on our relationship. I got pregnant with our son and he eventually quit going to the boxing gym every night. Obviously, it didn’t last long, but we tried and for a while I think we were probably really happy, and I didn’t think about driving 1,000 miles to get away from my life until many years later.

But I take those crossroad moments in my life a lot more seriously now and right now I think I am once again at one of those moments--only this time I’m not trying to leave an unhappy marriage. I’m trying to take that leap to the next stage in the career I’ve been trying to build since the divorce. That leap that takes me a thousand miles away from where I am now even though I have no roadmap and no idea of where that next destination is—all I know is that this place right now is not where I am supposed to be and I can keep driving in the same direction or I can take the next exit and drive until the road ends somewhere totally new.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What's the headline of your life right now?


What a week… nothing like a 50-hour work week covering a storm that may or may not impact your life to make you feel grateful to have a day off to be with your family. I had a laugh earlier in the week with a new co-worker who mentioned that she had hoped the hurricane would affect our area, so she could experience what it’s like when we have to stay at the station until the storm passes—the idea of spending the night at work with her co-workers seemed exciting. We quickly explained that two of the worst words to hear at work—after ‘you’re fired’--are “slumber party,” but some people must to see things for themselves to understand.

And then there are some people who have all the evidence right in front of them and still don’t see the full picture. Take the recent Time Magazine covers for example—you know, the ones with the photo of a teacher with the caption that reads, “I have a master’s degree, 16 years of work experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I am a teacher in America.”  Or “I have 20 years of experience, but I can’t afford to fix my car, see a doctor for headaches, or save for my child’s future. I am a teacher in America.”

The article goes into the reality of being a teacher in America from working long hours, losing benefits, paying for your own supplies, losing control of the curriculum and no help in classroom management.  As the wife and the sister of public-school teachers, I see this up close every day so it’s no big surprise. But I guess there are people out there who just don’t see the truth of our education system or feel the need to blame it on others rather than work to fix the problems. So, you have to put it on the front of a major magazine to try to get some people’s attentions; but even then, will it make a difference?

I’ve never understood how some people can have all the facts right in front of them and still not see the bigger picture; not see that they are not treating people the way they should. But, I know I can be guilty of not seeing the truth sometimes.

What if we all got to write our own Time Magazine covers? Would anyone be surprised to read them? Sure, most of us could probably write something about how we are overworked, underpaid, and forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet—I know I am.

But what would people write about us? What would your kids write about you? What would your husband write? Your friends? Maybe it would go something like this: “I work hard all week and my wife only points out the fact that I didn’t make the bed, or I was too hard on the kids.”


Or, “I work hard, I’m honest, I do my homework and my mother is still never happy with my grades or my friends.”

But these are just what we could guess—sometimes the reality of what others think about you is so far removed from your own reality you can’t imagine they would have something negative to say about you.

But even though we know the truth about how we are treated, we are mostly afraid to write those headlines and be honest about how we are treated—whether we are mistreated at work or in our personal lives by people who are supposed to love and accept us.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit you’ve allowed someone to treat you so poorly and sometimes we don’t know how to get out of that toxic relationship. Sometimes it’s hard to write those headlines, but it’s probably even harder to read those headlines and know in your heart that it’s about you--and it’s true.

You don’t always need to experience something to know it’s true—you don’t have to be a teacher to know they are mistreated, and you don’t have to hear someone tell you that a slumber party at work is a really bad idea.

But sometimes you need to write that headline and let certain people in your life know they are mistreating you. Or write that headline to claim your shame or write that headline to own the circumstances in your life and know you are not alone. Maybe if we all spent a little more time reading those headlines instead of writing stories we feel are true, we’d be a little closer to reality and little more accepting of others. But in the end, it doesn't really matter unless you're willing to accept the truth that's be put in front of you. 




Sunday, September 9, 2018

Broken plates, missing pieces and revisting old feelings


Ok, so far so  good keeping with my new writing schedule for the second week.

It’s funny because I’ve been going through some writing I did about 4 or 5 years ago that I felt was really good, and now I’m thinking it’s crap. I guess that’s normal. I think we all do that in some ways.

Like when I look back on old photos of myself and I remember feeling so fat or unattractive when the photo was taken and now I think, hey, I looked pretty good—sometimes vice versa. Or when I think about getting really mad at someone--then I try to remember what I was even mad about. But at the time it seemed like a big deal. I guess we all have those stories.

Hindsight is 20/20? Maybe? Or maybe hindsight on top of more hindsight is what gets us closer to 20/20.


I’ve looked over some of my old blog posts and realize some of them were very rant-like. I had so much anger in those days—and rightfully so. I look back on those days and wonder how I kept everything together, but I also look back and remember how I thought I had moved past my anger and was healing. Sometimes I wonder if I did lose a piece of me? Something small or maybe even lots of pieces?

I look at my daughter now—she’s so fierce and seems to have the world at her feet. She’s much fiercer than I was at her age. But looking back, I know I had that sort of confidence, I just lost it many years ago and have never really gotten it back. I had glimpses of it from time to time but never the real thing. Never that sense of “I know without a doubt that I am 100 percent right about…”

It’s like as if I was this perfectly intricate beautiful plate when I was a little girl and slowly, over the years that plate was chipped and bumped and eventually dropped and shattered and then put back together over the years with some rough edges and uneven patterns but never the same plate. But over time, some of that smoothness and delicate features have returned and some spots look completely different but somehow healed and strangely unique and beautiful. And now I can look back and wonder what I can do to make some more of those rough edges smooth again—and not so angry or hurt or insecure.

So maybe some of those small pieces are missing now, but it doesn’t really matter if the plate is back together--and I know those pieces had to go away in order to rebuild and get to where I am today.

Today I look at my daughter as she plans to head out to cover a story for her journalism class; camera in hand and press pass tucked into her back pocket and wonder what she will have to go through in life and what small pieces she will be missing when she’s my age. But I hope she can find a way to make peace with the hand she has been dealt and stay close to that confidence of knowing where she is heading and why.


Because in the end, it doesn’t matter that those small pieces are gone or that at some point all the pieces ended up on the floor in a scattered mess. What matters is how we chose to piece ourselves back to together again and what pieces we decided to keep or throw away or maybe even make better.

I know on some level, I had to be shattered into pieces. And on another level, I’ve had to be constantly bumped and chipped again in order to rearrange those pieces to let go of the anger and the hurt and find my confidence again—and push myself to do the things I know I need to do in order to not only fix my pieces but to heal the relationships around me—even the ones that I wish I never had.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

What am I waiting for?


It’s been way too long since my last blog. I’ve got to get back on track with my writing. Part of the problem is my “new” schedule. But it’s actually not that new. It started more than a year ago, but it has changed my personal life more than I like. But actually, that’s another excuse too.

I have to be at work at 4 a.m. so that means I have to go to bed about the same time my family is just starting to wind down from the day. I don’t feel like I get to spend enough quality time with them so I usually spend my weekend hours with them as much as possible.

But that’s just another excuse too.

I liked starting my job because at the time I was already awake at 4 a.m. tossing and turning and trying to figure out how to pay my bills. So, you’d think a new job and schedule would solve my problems and I’d really be able to give more of my time to my writing.


But it didn’t.
I came up with more excuses and got further away from my own writing. And now I can see a big part of me slipping away—actually, it’s probably a lot further way than I want to believe.

I’m talking about the part of me that is creative—the part of me that uses my talents so I can feel like I am a writer and that I am doing what I was intended to do. Focusing on those weekly blogs that brought me closer to others who could relate to the truth about myself that was slowly starting to unfold as I found the courage to write more and be honest with others.

I think making excuses and allowing our true potential to slip away happens to a lot of us. And I don’t think you have to have kids or a spouse to have that happen. I think it’s hard for anyone to really stay focused on the prize and keep moving in the right direction without finding distractions with life.

But this week, I looked around and realized I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be in life. And I’m not talking about my personal life—I’m talking about the whole reason I decided to become a writer.

I don’t necessarily want another daily job to pay the bills, I just don’t want to do “this” for the rest of my life. And by this, I mean what I’ve been doing every week for the past year and I half. I punch the clock and walk out and then I usually meet someone for an interview for my freelance work—that’s something I actually still enjoy doing and it makes me feel like I’m still a writer of sorts.

But on days when I don’t have freelance work, I usually go to the gym before picking up the children from school and then it’s either home to make dinner and help with homework or take someone to an  appointment and drive and pick them up and then to bed and then the next day it’s the same thing… over and over and over. It’s not bad—it’s just not where I want to be in life.

About a year ago, I had coffee with a friend who was doing something similar to me in his career. And he said he realized as he was driving to another assignment for work, that he absolutely was not living the “career” life he wanted to live. And right there at that moment, he decided to change the course of his career and just go for it.

Things like that don’t happen overnight, obviously. But things like that never happen if you don’t do something to change.

I’ve looked around at other job options, but I realized this week, it doesn’t matter what job I have and my schedule—what matters is the only job I really want to have is to be a writer and to know that’s what I do for a living and right now, that’s not what I’m doing. And if I continue to ignore my blog and my work on my book, I’m never, ever going to live that life—ever. And that’s not OK with me.

Why go through everything I’ve been through only to come out and say, yeah, I’m working on my book…I just haven’t finished it yet. But I’m going to…

I’m going to.

Am I?

I had the chance to meet Stephen King several years ago and hear him talk about writing. And he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever been given—if you want to be a writer, then just fucking write. Don’t overthink it. Don’t waste time worrying about it—just fucking write.

It seems simple enough, so why am I putting it off? What am I waiting for? Seriously, what am I waiting for?

A lot of people have bucket lists. I don’t have one. Sure, there are places I wouldn’t mind traveling to or adventures I could take, but I’m very satisfied with the life I’ve already lived and the places I’ve been. 
But there will always be something nagging at me if I don’t get back to writing on a serious level. I’ll have to live the rest of my life always saying, I’m going to… I’m going to…I’m going to… and well, that just isn’t good enough for me anymore. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sometimes you have no other choice than to move foward


There are somethings I forget people don’t know about me until we start talking. Like how I met my husband Robby online—something that usually draws a few laughs because the online dating world has changed a bit since the days I referred to my new boyfriend as Mr. EHarmony.

It’s been 7 years since I met my husband online. And while taking a second stab at marriage has turned out to be one of the best things I decided to do, each relationship always seems to provide its own set of issues.

We all know that no marriage or family is perfect, but we make other people think our lives are really better than they are, with staged pics on social media or the way we clean the hell out of the house before company arrives. I’m guilty of it even though I try to act like being human doesn’t bother me.

Being human sometimes can take its toll on the best of us. I’ve had many moments of being human from raising a special needs child who can’t go to the birthday parties with the bouncy houses and having to act like it’s fine because we “already had other really cool plans.” Or acting like I liked being alone on holidays or Valentines after I was divorced because I was “so much happier alone.” The time I had to go on government assistance so I could take care of my children after my divorce or trying to keep up with my richer friends in my old neighborhood and acting like I had other plans when I had to turn them down for vacation offers or weekends on the beach.

I hate for people to feel sorry for me. I hate that "pity" look you get or the way people try to “help you” by bringing over free food and clothes or offering to do something cheaper so you can join along. Over time, things like that usually mean less to you—if you’re lucky enough to learn that life is so much bigger than you and those little things don’t really matter.

And it’s the fact that I’ve always tried to avoid the pity that makes what I’m about to talk about so hard. But if I’ve learned anything through this blog, it’s that when I’m honest, I’m better and I always connect to someone else who understands how I feel. So hopefully I can do that with this.

When I met Robby 7 years ago, I learned—right before our first date—that he has end stage kidney failure and does dialysis every night at home. We joke now about how difficult it is to bring up kidney disease in a conversation, but damn it’s hard.  There are few conversations in life that can seamlessly lead to “I have end stage kidney failure.”

But, during one of our many phone calls when we first connected online,  I told him about having a daughter who has a rare disease called Arthrogryposis and how she has bilateral clubfeet and joint contractures and it makes it hard for her to walk. He said, “I understand that. I also have a hard time walking.” And I stopped talking. I was not expecting that. See, when you do the online dating thing, you do that thing where you put your best face forward. It’s part of what make the stories of online dating so funny because we’ve all had that person we met who looked nothing like the photos that were posted or who really didn’t enjoy all the activities they listed on their profile. 

So, I asked Robby what he meant, and he explained his kidney disease and the type of dialysis he did. After we got off the phone, I looked it up. I had never known anyone on dialysis. As far as I knew, it was a death sentence. I read for hours about what causes kidney disease—is it curable? Can you do dialysis forever? Does it get worse? Will you die soon?

And the big question I had to continue to ask myself as I got to know Robby better—is this something I want to take on in my life? After everything I had already been through in my life, did I really want to make a life with a person who was already on dialysis?

But as I got to know Robby and we began to fall in love, I made the decision that it was something I could take on. He takes care of himself and his medical needs and wouldn’t need to depend on me for that.  And he never has.

I had already learned that life was a gamble. There was so much about my ex that I didn’t know when I married him that came out later and ruined our relationship. With Robby, I knew right up front what to expect. There were no hidden surprises—and there are no guarantees in life. Life can change at the snap of a finger. You can avoid having a really loving relationship with a wonderful person because you’re scared his kidney disease is going to end his life super early or become this constant issue that makes your life really hard. Or you can do your research, learn the facts and move forward.

I had to make my decision before I let Robby meet the kids. I had to be really OK with the kidney disease. I knew that. I told a few people and their reactions were what I expected—Are you sure you want to bring that into your life? And I was surprised how OK I was with saying, “Yes. I am OK.”

Along the way, Robby’s kidney disease has really not been the big dramatic factor in our lives that I think most people think it would be. He has his dialysis handled and we live like a pretty normal, boring family. It does make it hard when we want to travel, and Robby can’t travel overnight on his own. But we don’t have many opportunities to travel any way.

There are days when he has no energy and just sleeps and there are times when he gets really frustrated with the whole thing. And sometimes it wears on me as well. Some days he cries. Some days I cry.  

Which is why Robby has decided to make the move to get a kidney transplant. Here is his announcement: https://theafternoontide.blogspot.com/2018/03/help-robby-richardson-catch-kidney.html?spref=fb

Right now, he is hoping for a live transplant but he’s keeping his option open and just seeing where this whole process takes us.

And while many people keep saying, “Oh that’s great. Congratulations!” It’s not really a “great” thing and it’s hard to explain that to people. It reminds me of when Veronica would have surgery and people would say, “That’s great—so now her foot will be normal?” It’s like some people believe surgery can fix everything and make you “normal.” There are some diseases that will just keep you from ever being "normal" or living a pain free life. 

And Robby has had a hard time dealing with the whole thing because it means he has to depend on another person to have surgery and give up one of their organs to help him. That can really mess with your mind. I know there are times when he feels like maybe it’s just too much to ask and he should just keep with the dialysis and see how long he can live.

We are trying to figure out how in the world we are going to pay for all of these trips to and from the hospital. How much work can we afford to miss? What happens when our insurance quits paying for the anti-rejection meds after 5 years? Who is going to help us with the kids? What happens if the transplant is rejected?

But, we are reasonable people and we know that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out and hopefully this time next year, all of these questions will be past memories and new chapter of our lives will be in full swing.

Sometimes when I’m having trouble figuring out things, I try to imagine that I am someone else and I try to think about the advice I would give that person. If we were someone else, I would say, “You have to go for it. All of those other things will fall into place. But you can’t live forever on dialysis and if you wait too long, you won’t even be eligible for a transplant.”

So, here’s to taking risks, moving forward and letting people help us. And if you end up feeling sorry for us, that’s OK.  Being human can make you do that, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A letter to my former counselor and present day coward


This has been a challenging week for many of us--especially those with kids in schools or with friends/family who work in schools as teachers, administrators, police officers, janitors or other jobs in and around schools. Another school shooting. I'm not going to discuss the gun debate or my feelings on the issue but I am going to say this has been an inspiring week of watching teens stand up and be vocal. And no matter what isle of the debate you stand on, there is no denying it takes a serious amount of guts to stand in front of legislators and speak from the heart. These teens have earned the right to be angry and I think we need to search for ways to make them feel safe again. 
This week also brought about the thought of someone I used to think about a lot but haven't really thought about much lately--our former family counselor. Back in 2015, I had a big court hearing over custody. I won't go into details except to say that when you go into court, as a parent you are not allowed to speak for your children. They have to have some sort of advocate--it can be a teacher or another attorney--or your trusted family counselor who has been treating your children for the 3 past  years. 
That family counselor had told me in the past that she doesn't go to court because she had a bad court experience before. She didn't tell me this of course, until I needed her to go to court with me. She was such an important person in my daughter's care, that when I went to court that time, I did so without her--against the advice of my lawyer--because I didn't want to lose her in our lives and felt the court system would listen and protect my kids. 
If you have been to court before, you also know it doesn't play out like it does on television. You don't get to have 'your day' in court and sometimes the judge makes a ruling before he's even seen all the evidence or listened to what you have to say. 
But this time around at court, I needed the counselor to help. I asked if she would just write a letter. She refused and got an attorney and went out of town so we couldn't find her. The judge ruled that the children should go back to normal visitation and that was that. I called her office and asked her to please contact the judge and help us, she ignored me and then a few days later a certified letter arrived at my house informing me she could no longer treat me or my children. 
I was so angry. After everything that had just happened with the courts and what was going on with my children, to have someone I trust so much turn her back on my children was devastating. I could understand if she didn't want to help me, but to know what was going on with my children and then turn her back on them was maddening. 
Yesterday, I finally decided to write a letter back to her. I have pasted it below but I have removed her name and the details of the court hearing for privacy reasons. I guess it just sums up how a tragedy unrelated to you can still hit home and make you realize we all have to look out for each other because you never know when that person that you thought was going to protect your children, chickens out and stands outside watching like a helpless coward...

Dear ....,
Normally I start a letter off with, ‘hi, how are you?’ or ‘I hope this letter finds you well,’ but this isn’t that kind of letter. It’s also not a letter to rant or call you names. I honestly haven’t thought of you in a very long time. Every once in a while, I end up in ... and a thought of you pops up but that’s about it. Sometimes Roni will ask me what ever happened to you or what she should do if she runs into you somewhere, but that’s about it.

So, why write to you now? To be honest, this letter has rolled around in my head several times, but I knew I was too angry to write it. I also didn’t know if I would be pulled back into court for another custody hearing and the last thing I needed was for you to angrily come after me. You’re probably thinking, ‘but I’d never do that.’ Yes, but I never thought you’d turn your back on my children either.

...
Now that we’re caught up, let’s address why on earth I would decide to spend my Saturday morning writing a letter to you? Because I thought about you again these past few days and I realize I’m not too angry to write this letter to you. I thought of you when I saw the report of the armed guard at the school in Florida who got scared and stayed outside the school rather than go inside and help—even though that was his job to protect those children and it’s what he is trained and licensed to do.

Many people have asked, why did he do that? We all know he was scared. No one can blame him for having fear--But to allow that fear to make you sit back and watch children hurt is something that separates people on this planet. It’s the kind of fear that makes someone hide in her office and take the time to buy and mail a certified letter to a former patient that reads, “Mr. Wade. I will not be able to provide any services or treatment for you or your children.”

My best guess is that something happened to you in your past that wounded you in some way. That’s probably why you became a social worker. You probably in some way try to convince yourself that you became a social worker to help people—but I bet if you really get down to it, you wanted to help yourself. Just like how you wanted to help and protect yourself rather than two helpless children that needed you.  Maybe you don’t even see it that way? We never really see ourselves for who we really are, do we?

But unlike the officer who hid outside the school, you chose to continue on as a social worker. You continue to operate a business in ... and you most likely continue to treat and help families-- so long as they never need you to be an advocate for them in public. I find that very dangerous. I find it irresponsible and I find it reprehensible that you choose to carry that responsibility.

It’s none of my business why you chose to not show for court or help out and then turn your back on my children. And to be honest, I really don’t care what your reason is. You can continue to tell yourself, ‘I told her from the start that I wouldn’t go to court.’ And maybe that’s what helps you sleep at night. It doesn’t really matter the reason, the only thing that matters is that you sat back and allowed children to be hurt—psychologically hurt. The kind of damage that takes years of therapy to unravel and heal.

When something like this happens, I always try to sit back and meditate on what purpose this hurt served in our lives. Why did this need to happen? Maybe if you had shown up in court, it would have just further prolonged the inevitable and made this whole ordeal stretch out even longer, possibly causing more damage. Who knows? We’ll never know and that’s OK.

And much like my ex-husband, you got us to a point in our lives where we needed to get to. You did help us and I will be forever grateful ... for how you offered to treat her for free when I wasn’t sure if I could continue to make payments.

I’m not going to wish you well—I’m going to ask you to consider to either start advocating for children you treat or retire and leave the real therapy to people who have the guts to walk into court and not hide outside the door while children are being hurt.

Kim

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sometimes I just get really, really mad


Another week down, another week of life lessons. Sometime those lessons make you learn something about yourself, but sometimes, they make you learn more about someone else.  

It’s a little funny to me when people say, I can’t imagine you ever getting mad—you seem so quiet.

And I am quiet a lot of the times. I don’t like to be that person at work who is always running their mouth about something or the person at a dinner party who is ruling the conversation. I like to sit back and listen and choose my words carefully. So, it takes a while for some people to get to know me.
But I can assure, I do get mad. Most everyone does at some point. Some are quick to anger—some people even find it acceptable to bang on their desks or hit the walls when they are angry. Some people let it simmer until it boils over. I’m more like the latter—the slow burn, the slow to react.



I try not to hold it all in, because when the anger boils over, it typically catches people off guard and then I get the whole—why didn’t you say something sooner? Or, “I had no idea you felt that way. You seemed fine when we talked.” 

Most the time, the my response is, I didn’t want to make a big deal about it or it just didn’t seem like the right time to bring it up. Or, I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. And quite honestly, sometimes it’s just not worth it. I’ve done so much fighting for so long that I’m much slower to battle these days because I’d rather put my energy somewhere else—unless it’s worthy of a battle.

Like one of the things that happened this past week--Veronica falling at school and hurting herself. I do feel that it was the school’s fault on some level because I feel it’s their job to provide a safe environment for her. They are aware of her disability and the fact that when she falls, she can really hurt herself badly. So, if the floor in a certain area is super slippery and people are falling down, then you need to---as Negan would say—shut that shit down.


But they didn’t, and she fell. Several days after her fall, I decided I had enough time to think about what to say to them, so I requested a meeting with school officials. They explained they did everything they could and it was just an accident….but to me it wasn’t that simple. It was careless. You can’t tell me in one breath that the floor was so bad you had extra staff mopping all day and then say, it was just a random accident.

Also, I slipped on the floor when I showed up to get her—there was something wrong with the floor surface and it felt like butter. Which I pointed out after they said there was really nothing they could have done to make the floor safer for her. But, they spent most of the time showing ME what I could have done to prevent the accident like providing a wheelchair to prevent trips and falls and then the quick mention that they noticed in the video of her fall she looked at her cell phone screen—“she needs to pay attention when the floor is wet…” And so on.

I sat quietly, listening. Waiting. Nodding. But it never came. The words I wanted to hear—We’re sorry. What can we do to fix this? How can we make this right?

Right? Isn’t that what you say when you know you messed up. Isn’t that the human thing to say? To offer an apology and a way to make things better?

But so many people can’t say that. They spend so much time explaining why they did something or said something or acted a certain way. They defend themselves by pointing out what YOU should have done better or what YOU didn’t do even if it has nothing to do with the situation.

I get it. No one wants to be wrong. No one wants to admit they screwed up. Most people don’t like to say “I’m sorry.” And some people refuse to.

My ex used to say to me, “I didn’t hurt your feelings, you allowed your feelings to get hurt,” or my favorite—“I didn’t make you mad, you allowed yourself to get mad.” That’s worse than telling me to calm down.

But, I think on some level that is true. We can ignore people and not let our feelings get hurt--or not allow someone to make us mad.

But that’s not easy when it comes to someone you are supposed to trust, and it’s even harder when it someone who is supposed to love you back.

And what’s wrong with getting mad every once in a while? What’s wrong with blowing your top and saying, “I’ve had enough!” Especially if you know your feelings are true—because they are your feelings and your feelings are just as important as everyone else’s feelings. Right?

I don’t know if I’m mad at the school for not apologizing or I’m just mad at the entire situation. It’s hard to separate the two. I have a lot of anxiety about Veronica falling and hurting herself—I find myself laying in bed and thinking about her going off to college and falling in the showers at the dorm and I’m not there to make sure the floors are safe. I guess it’s silly in some ways to worry so much about something that might not even happen, but it is something that pops in my mind.

And, I can’t always turn that off. I can’t always turn off my worries. I can’t always turn off my thoughts. And I know, I can’t always turn off my feelings, especially when it comes to people I’m supposed to trust.