Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting so close...

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. I've started some but erased them because they just weren't clicking.

I have 7 weeks of grad school to complete and then I’m done--hopefully forever—I hate homework.
In order to graduate, I have to write my thesis project. Our writing program is non-fiction based, so my thesis must be a non-fiction piece—it’s a story about my life.

I’ve spent weeks writing this thing and it is emotionally draining to say the least. I’ve been reading through old journals during the process in order to keep events fresh in my mind—that’s also emotionally draining.
It’s amazing what the brain chooses to forget. It’s also amazing to see how much I have changed in the past 4 years.

I guess I am most surprised by how easily I allowed myself to become a shell of who I really was. I wish I could turn back the clock and give my children the mother they deserved earlier in their lives and see how differently they would turn out—but there is no sense in putting those ideas in my head. I did the best I could at the time. I just had no idea that I had become that person.

I became a person who would fight battles for my children and my friends, but never fought for myself. I never made anyone treat me with respect. I’m sure a therapist would say it was because I didn't respect myself. But I don’t see it that way exactly.

Writing this thesis has opened my eyes to how broken I was before I even married to my exhusband. My life was a series of “getting so close to the prize” but always falling short because someone else put their needs ahead of mine—I put their needs ahead of mine.

As a mother, I feel like I should put my needs before my children. I think most mothers instinctively feel that way. But I put my happiness on the back burner for everyone else and it wasn't because they made me—it was because I felt comfortable with that arrangement.

I guess the biggest wish is to go back in time to find my child self and whisper in her ear—“You don’t have to feel guilty for being happy. It’s okay to get your way, too.” And while I know that I cannot do that either, I can just continue to whisper it to my adult self.

It’s not selfish to make yourself happy. As a mother, you should make your happiness the number one priority, because your children cannot be happy when you are sad—I know that first-hand.
I’ve also realized that I needed all of those bad experiences in my life to get to where I am today. I finally have my hands on the prize—there is no more “getting so close” anymore. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We are worthy of love

I’ve always been told that my children are a reflection of me. I like to think of that reflection in flattering terms. A few weeks ago, I was hit with the reality that my children are indeed a reflection of me—a reflection that embodies the good and the bad parts of me. And just like how I cannot change my appearance in the mirror by saying “I don’t have wrinkles on my forehead,” I cannot change my reflection in my children by saying “Don’t feel like you aren’t worthy of love.”

We are having a hard time with Veronica. Sure, it’s normal for an 11 year old girl to be emotional and dramatic, but she seems to carry more baggage than normal. She just started a new school and it’s an art school that can kick her out at any time if she can’t pull her weight with grades and her artwork. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid. She also has the added pressure of wearing leg braces and using a wheelchair. That’s tough for any middle school student trying to fit in.

But for the first time, I noticed something I had never noticed before—she has picked up on a habit that I have been trying to overcome for several years now. She feels she is not worthy of love. I think she probably doesn’t even love herself that much.

It’s frustrating because I have done everything I can to make sure she feels love. I am happy now and I have the love of a great man who adores the children. Being happy helps, but I cannot undo the damage that was done to her. Feeling like someone you love doesn’t love you back is one of the most painful experiences anyone can have. But when a parent makes you feel this way, it affects every relationship you have for the rest of your life. I experienced this as a child. I never felt lovable. My parents have apologized for making me feel this way and I am working on putting this behind me, but it’s obvious I have passed this onto my daughter.

But I realize how that feeling of being unworthy caused me to make the choices I made in the past. I continue to make mistakes and allow people to bully me and make me feel guilty in an effort to keep the peace and make the children happy.

I know I have to change these habits in order to reflect a different person on my children. I have to reflect exactly how I want them to be treated by other people and how I want them to treat other people, but more importantly, I have to reflect how I want them to treat themselves.

Veronica is lovable and I love her dearly. Every time I feel myself get weak and begin to give in to the bullying, I just picture her face. I tell myself, “We deserve better than this. We deserve to be loved wholeheartedly, not when it’s convenient.”

To hear my child say, “It’s okay, I’m used to it,” breaks my heart. No one should have to be used to being treated badly by someone they love. And yet, I have allowed it in order to keep the peace and to do what I think is best for everyone. But it’s not good enough and I was wrong. Perhaps if I stand up to the bullying, then one day she will too. Until then, I have to find a way to make her feel worthy of real love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The journey is almost over...

Two years ago today, I began a journey to make my life better. I enrolled in the writing program at Savannah College of Art andDesign. Although I have a BA in English, I chose to enroll as an undergraduate. The thought of trying to get in as a graduate student overwhelmed me. I had to have a portfolio to submit and I assumed they wouldn’t want me and everyone would be better than me.

After a few weeks of undergrad classes, I realized I made the wrong choice. I quickly submitted my application for the graduate program and I got in with no problems. The feeling that everyone in the program is a better writer than me or that they get published more than me or that I’m too old to start a new career is a lingering insecurity that will probably always haunt me. Perhaps it is the reason I continue to work as I hard as I do.

Today, I began the final leg of that journey as my final quarter at SCAD began this morning. I honestly don’t know have I managed to juggle my life and my studies, but I have done it and I am completely exhausted. I am excited to see the nearing end of homework, projects, and research papers, but I’m also worried.

I thought a master’s degree would ensure my job security and I would go to a few job fairs and submit a few applications and then bam! I would get hired and start paying my school loans off and begin saving for my future.

After my divorce, I was left with no health insurance, no retirement, and no savings. That has not changed and my job prospects are not looking so hot right now.

Since February, I applied for over 20 jobs and I have not received one interview. I’m not panicking yet, but my stomach gets a tad queasy when I look at my bank statement and wonder how I will manage with no job andno school loans to fill in the blanks.

But when I started graduate school, I promised myself 2 things:

1.     I will not accept work from a company that I do not respect

2.     I will look for work outside of Savannah before I will take a dead end job just to pay the bills.
I don’t know what is going to happen in these next 10 weeks of my final days as a student. But I just cannot allow myself to believe that I have done all of this work for nothing. I know there is a job out there for me that will give me what I need. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place