About nine months ago I stopped eating mammals of the four legged variety. I did it without any announcements, or vows, very quietly I came to a decision for myself and left it at that.
I still eat poultry and fish…at some point I’m planning to give up the poultry, not sure yet about the fish.
The only people really affected by my decision are Moose and the boys because if I don’t eat it I don’t buy it (same for onions and green bell peppers) and therefore don’t cook it.
I don’t stop them from their choices, Moose can buy and eat steak if he wants to cook it, they all eat beef or pork of some kind when we go out.
Thing is, I don’t make faces or lecture them as to why they shouldn’t. I don’t guilt them for their choices and I refuse to impose my choices on them.
They know why I stopped, they support my decision, but they don’t share it.
…and I’m not gonna lie, occasionally I really want a corned beef reuben slathered in dressing, sauerkraut and cheese or a lamb gyro…
The thing is, people need to come to their own decisions.
And they will through their own life experiences and interactions.
If someone asks me about my decision I’ll tell them why and leave it at that.
If I plant a seed, cool.
If not…well, that’s fine too. We aren’t walking the same path and we have different life purposes.
I’m a firm believer in choice.
I don’t walk in your shoes, I can’t make your decisions for you.
If you want my opinion I’ll give it to you, but that’s exactly what it is…my opinion.
I don’t pay your bills, I’m not the one who has to live with your decisions.
To thine own self be true, if it offends your soul, don’t do it.
Every now and then I see the photo posts on FB “I was born on such-n-such date, in blah blah town. Looking for my birth mother. Please help.”
Or “I gave birth to a boy/girl on such-n-such date in blah blah town, looking for child. Please help.”
Most recently, here in SoCal there was a case of a boy who had been abducted by his father and taken to Mexico. Just recently, (30+ years later) was reunited with his mother.
It makes me wonder about E.
I always made sure that my address was printed clearly on the envelope of every birthday card, Christmas gift, and then included again along with my phone number on the inside.
She never had to wonder where I was.
But I never heard from her until one drunken phone call over a year ago.
I could tell she didn’t get/didn’t read quite a few of my letters, because all her questions had been answered in my letters.
I wonder if any of the people on FB find their child/birth parent.
I wonder if it fills a missing piece within them, if they’re happy.
Or if the person they discover is no one they would ever want to associate with.
I know of a few instances particularly in the case of the birth father-that he wants nothing to do with the child.
Sometimes they didn’t even know the mother was pregnant.
Sometimes they knew and didn’t care.
Sometimes they have money and a reputation to “protect”.
I imagine, I sincerely hope, that no matter what the outcome, that the person looking at least finds the answers they’re looking for.
The boy who was abducted was told that his mother abandoned him for America.
E was told I abandoned her for California.
I promised her that I wouldn’t bother her any further.
Boo and Keylime want to send her a Christmas Card with their school pictures in it.
I told them that was fine…
They’re going into this knowing full well that they won’t get a response.
They’ve never gotten a response from her…
and personally I find that incredibly rude, that kind of behavior would never fly in this house.
Which almost makes me wonder if she’s anyone I would want to associate with.
My mother died one month and nine days short of her 44th birthday, so my mom was 43 when she died.
Today she would’ve been 67.
Once upon a time…I think I was 20 I started reading that book “Motherless Daughters: the Legacy of Loss”…I didn’t get very far.
What I do remember was that it talked about the lack of Mother in Disney movies, (and I daresay in most fairy tales for that matter.)
(though inspired by Motherless Daughters, the following are my own thoughts and do not come from the book)
Mother=A mentor into adulthood
With Mother there, the hero can’t undergo trial by fire because Mother would take the hit for her child.
Like the Goddess Demeter, the Mother would face Hades for her child.
She would beg Zeus himself for her child.
Even looking at Lion King, where Surabi lives, Simba has to be away from her before he can truly come into his own.
I can see that just looking at my own life.
If my mother had lived I would’ve never gotten pregnant at 18.
I would’ve never dated my daughter’s father to begin with.
I would’ve never moved to California to escape said daughter’s father.
In essence, my life would’ve been completely different.
After she died, I found my self searching for the Mother.
I found a replacement briefly in my horrible boyfriend’s mother.
My father’s wife wanted nothing to do with my brother and I, and K filled the void for me. I adored her.
The only reason I stayed with him for so long was because I loved his mother.
Once I decided that for the sake of my daughter I HAD to leave him, I lost another Mother.
I lived with an abusive aunt, I was depressed, I was still grieving the loss of my mom (3 years out at that point), and quite frankly, California is a completely different world from South Carolina…I was trying to find my footing. I needed a Mother.
Having lived in such a humid environment I’d never had to use lotion. When I came out to Cali my hands started cracking, peeling and bleeding from doing the dishes.
At the time I had no idea why, and because I worked with food I had to wear gloves.
A lady I worked with saw my hands and invited me to come over to her house.
She mixed some aloe with some lotion and took my hands in hers and rubbed the lotion into them.
At that point Mother kindness wasn’t a part of my life and I sobbed.
Rose hugged me and let me cry.
Around that time it was decided that I would take my daughter back to SC to live with my father and his wife.
I didn’t want to, but having been told daily that I was a piece of shit, that she deserved better than me, that I was useless as a mother…I believed those things about myself and did as I was told.
My father briefly offered to let me stay with them too, but his wife was anxious to have a daughter and made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t welcome in her home.
So I came back out to California. I was sick to my stomach the whole flight back.
No Mother, no Daughter…
I became completely self destructive.
If it weren’t for the fact that I still held onto the Christian belief that suicides go to hell I wouldn’t be here today.
But there was a part of me that didn’t want to disgrace my mother’s memory, so after a time I got sober and started working at getting my life back together.
In my early 20′s there were two book that were life changing for me.
Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen PhD, and Reclaiming Woman’s Voice: Becoming Whole by Lesley Irene Shore.
I knew I was without a Mother and therefore wasn’t necessarily a Daughter anymore.
I knew I was a woman, but didn’t know what that meant.
Those books, along with some positive women from my 12 step group helped shape me.
Who I am today is through the combined efforts of several women as well as myself.
I saw Rose again after I sobered up.
She told me to keep doing whatever it was that I was doing and that she was proud of me.
Her words of Mother praise meant more to me than anything anyone else had said about my sobriety.
When I was getting married, my 12 step sponsor and I had a huge argument.
She had become my Mother in many ways, and that wasn’t healthy for me.
When she dropped out of my life I was devastated.
Luckily I had other women who were willing and able to step in and help me.
They let me cry while making arrangements, they let me rage, they hugged me and put me in my place when necessary.
I couldn’t have done it without them, and I think the fact that I didn’t go crawling back to her begging pissed my sponsor off.
But that was also the beginning of my strength.
It was a big step toward healing my grief.
I had found the Mother in myself…the part of me that wouldn’t allow someone else to hurt me to the point where I wished I could die.
I had found the Mother in others…women friends who wouldn’t let another ruin what was supposed to be the best day of my life.
It was also an opportunity for me to Mother.
I was five months pregnant with Boo when Moose and I married, and I was determined to protect him.
My wedding was nothing that I had ever dreamed of as a little girl, but it established me as the Mother in my own family.
I miss my Mother.
Not as badly as I used to, and my memories are nowhere near as painful.
But I think that has more to do with the fact that I came through my own trial by fire and became a Mother in my own right.
Would I have preferred to have her guiding hand when I was going through the thick of it?
But I believe in an afterlife and I believe in ancestors who can intercede.
Because every time I truly needed a Mother, one appeared.
So given all the hullabaloo from my daughter’s last message, I felt it was time to finally write my father the letter that’s been festering for years.
I understand why people cut other people out of photos even if I don’t do it…happy memories can be particularly painful in the face of tremendous betrayal.
Nonetheless, I said my peace.
He can read it, rip it up, make copies of it and spread it around the family, use it to make my daughter hate me more than she already does.
Here’s the thing…
Nothing I said was a lie.
Everything I said was the truth. Not my “version” of the truth, but the actual, paper-proof truth.
And once I put it in the mailbox I dropped the rock.
I feel about a million pounds lighter.
I don’t feel mired in the whys and wherefors…
Life is good.
When it comes to music, for me there are no more powerful lyrics than these from Lightning Crashes by Live:
“Lightning crashes, an old mother dies
Her intentions fall to the floor…”
My mother was by no means old when she died, she was exactly one month and nine days short of turning 44.
Nowadays there are women having their first child at 44.
I had just turned 16 less than a month before, my brother was 12.
We have no idea what her intentions were for us, for our lives.
We’ll never know what she wanted for her own life…
For all sakes and purposes, her intentions fell to the floor.
I don’t think she intended for my father to blow through her life insurance policy,
I certainly don’t think she intended for him to neglect us in his quest for “companionship”,
And there’s no way in hell I believe she intended for him to abandon my brother and I once he knocked a woman up and started a “new” family.
It’s because of all that that I parent the way I do.
To be perfectly honest, there are a lot of decisions I make simply based on “well, if I follow my mom, how many years do I have left to get ______ done?”
There is a part of me that is holding it’s breath until I turn 44.
There is a part of me that is making sure all i’s are dotted and all t’s are crossed just in case.
I’ve already talked to Moose about if he remarries should anything happen to me, and what I expect under pain of severe haunting.
We’ve discussed the way my life insurance is to be divided up…there will be no “if you don’t go to college your college fund is mine” bullshit like my dad pulled…
I know that just because someone is unable to go to college right after high school doesn’t mean they won’t, or that they couldn’t use that money for a car or living expenses, or a trade school like I tried to do but my dad had already spent my money….
I’ve calculated the boys ages and determined where they should be in life, and what I need to make sure they know ahead of time so that their lives are rocked as little as possible.
If I follow my mom, my intentions might start to fall, but there is no reason that they should hit the floor.
In the meantime…there is a sense of urgency when it comes to E and I’ve started writing down everything I want her to know about me in the event that she hates me past my expiration date.
Now keep in mind that all this is in it’s own compartment of my brain.
The rest of the time I’m eating healthier than my mother did, I exercise, I don’t hold my feelings inside…I have no trouble letting things fly-as most people who know me know.
If there’s a toxic person in my life I get rid of them.
I live my life like there’s lots of tomorrows, and I fully plan on being an absolutely obnoxious grandma.
And there’s a part of me that knows deep down that cancer will not be my undoing.
With my luck it’ll be something completely obnoxious like a hawk dropping a rattlesnake on my head or something crazy like that.
Yesterday we went to an AA party celebrating a friend’s 25th year of sobriety. Because of schedules, children and animals I haven’t been able to get to the meetings I used to, and in truth, my focus is making sure Moose gets to meetings regularly.
He’s the one who relapsed, and frankly there are too many people I don’t like who would suddenly have more time than me if I relapsed and there’d be the “haha” from them that I can’t allow, so some part of me stays sober purely from resentment. (you’re supposed to laugh there)
So anyway, it was nice seeing people I haven’t seen for a long time and talking to folks.
But there was one gal there who left me feeling a bit “wtf?”
I got sober the day after my 21st birthday.
Was I scared? No.
I was hopeful. Anything had to be better than praying to die every night because the only reason you don’t commit suicide is because you’re terrified of burning in hell.
(I will give complete credit to Fundie religion for that. Had I not been so scared I would’ve succeeded the first time I attempted suicide at 9.)
I knew somewhere deep inside that my life was not going the way it was supposed to, that I was “better” than what was happening if you will.
But I had no self-esteem and my self worth had long since been flushed down the toilet except for the tiniest smidgeon of arrogance that told me “You were NOT raised to live this life.”
So when a friend took me to my first meeting, yes I was nervous…isn’t everyone when they’re making a life changing decision?
But the smiles on the faces of the people around me…I wanted that.
I got early on that their lives weren’t suddenly perfect, and that they still got mad, they still had shitty days, things still went wrong.
In short, Life Still Happened.
The difference was that they approached their problems with a clear head and at least a touch of serenity.
So that was me…
Anyway, this gal-who came in when she was in her 40′s-was talking to me yesterday about how she was so scared and nervous when she first came in and she remembered me sharing at meetings.
She remembered how I would just “lay it all out”.
If I was mad I shared about being mad. If I was sad, the same thing, grateful, etc.
In short, everyone knew how I was feeling.
(Which is something one of my sponsor’s had told me to do.
She said “people can’t read your mind, unless it’s something you think should stay between us, share it at group level because newcomers need to know that we get mad, sad, happy, furious…they need to know that life happens, you just don’t drink.”)
I wasn’t sure how to take that…she wasn’t saying “good job”, if anything it felt like she was wondering if I’d learned to control my emotions yet.
I always tried to mention that if it wasn’t for my sobriety I wouldn’t have the ability to express my feelings realistically, and I tried really, really hard to make sure I wasn’t coming off as “victim” which I’d done when I was drinking…
(I was a terrific drama queen when I was drinking, I was confused, depressed, terrified and really I just wanted to die.)
Anyway, I still feel odd about the conversation yesterday.
She told me how she’d talk about me to her sponsor-one of the mellowest women I know and who I love dearly-and she would be shocked at how I shared raw emotion.
She told me her sponsor would respond with “imagine what she was like drinking”…
That really, really hurt me. Largely because her sponsor DID see me come in.
No, I wasn’t a girly, scared little mouse who needed protecting from the “big, bad, world”.
But I was a complete mess at 21 who couldn’t find her voice.
I knew no one could protect me, and by that time I realized no one would.
I knew that I needed to protect myself, and with time I learned that you can’t trust everyone just because they’re sober.
But I was never afraid to share at meetings because I was told to do so by my sponsor.
There are different paths to sobriety.
I was never a quiet, mellow person.
In my household I was already on precarious ground as the daughter.
Even more precarious because I was an unattractive daughter.
Then when my brother got sick it was harder.
Quiet and mellow would’ve gotten me forgotten.
I used my voice out of fear.
One I was forgotten there was nothing more to fear, and once I got sober I was reborn without that fear.
Will I still share my feelings at meetings? Absolutely.
It is important that newcomers understand that getting sober doesn’t suddenly make everything okay, but it allows you to deal with life much more constructively.
The heat is taking it’s toll on Keylime and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Our house doesn’t have air-we put in a window unit upstairs, and my car doesn’t have air…it’s 23 years old.
I’m doing everything I can to keep him cool, the ceiling fans are on 24/7, and there are frozen washcloths in the freezer but he’s still quick to tantrum in this kind of weather.
His raccoon shadows are back too, regardless of whether or not he’s had gluten.
I’m excited for him to start back his classes on the 9th, even if it’s only 2 days a week, it’s 2 days spent in air conditioning.
(and two days I don’t have to fight with him)
I worry about him as he gets older and will definitely encourage him to maybe live in Northern California where it’s cooler, or in a house with air conditioning.
I know that no one does well in the heat, but folks who run hot to begin with have it worse I think.
And I’ll admit, I haven’t been my most patient when he gets like this…
what’s the line?
“These are the times that try men’s souls…”
Yeah, my soul is being tried…
And then there’s the whole thing with Syria…
There’s only so much I can devote my time and opinions to.
I will help the refugees through Mercy Corps as much as I can, but otherwise I will stay out of it as much as possible.
I can’t function when I’m angry all the time, and there have been occasions lately where I wonder if I should get fitted for my tinfoil hat.
And I read all these posts on FB about how the government can’t be trusted, and I want to trust.
I want to trust that Obama who spoke out against Iraq isn’t George Bush II.
I want to believe when he says “no boots on the ground”.
I have enough going on in my day-to-day that anymore chaos makes me want to grip my skull and hide under my bed.
I have Keylime who I have to teach how to navigate people, places, and things.
Then I have Boo who is starting his sophomore year and I have to help loosen the apron strings so that he doesn’t fall on his face when he gets his first taste of independence.
Do I worry about the state of the world?
Yes…but there’s only so much time in the day and I spent a good part of my childhood suffering from anxiety attacks because I thought Russia was going to nuke us in my sleep.
I’m not going to surrender my adulthood to it as well.
It’s like the serenity prayer.
Can I change the fact that the Koch brothers buy our representatives?
Can I volunteer to help someone running against and vote out mine if he allows himself to be bought?
Can I send help to the Syrian refugees?
Can I make sure I raise well-informed, empathetic, good people to go out into the world and help make it better?
Once they’re grown can I throw myself full-tilt into whatever causes I believe in?
Then so be it…
Some things have to be put on the shelf until tomorrow.