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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Through Who's Looking Glass?

We just rolled back into Augusta after a whirlwind trip to Atlanta....fangirls, concert, exhaustion.  In that order.  The hotel we stayed in was one of those swanky deals with valet parking, bellhops and $6 bottles of water via room service.  Also, mirrored elevators where you stood there, feeling queasy not just at the upward movement of the people moving, but the reflection staring back at you.  OMG, I look like that?!?!  To avoid my own hideous reflection, I looked at my daughters, who I know are adorable and perfect and they looked all weirdo too, which was somewhat of a relief.  You really expect mirrors to be honest you know?  They should be....they are supposed to be a reflection of what you actually look like and in this case, at least in the case of my gorgeous girls, that mirror had it all wrong.  Me? If I really do look like that, I need some help because it was scary.  Very scary.

But I was still me.  I still laughed at the same weird things (Like looking like an Oompa Loompa.  All vanity aside, that shiz was funny)  I was still Mom to those three girls standing there with me....still carrying my 31 overnight bag I absolutely love, with knitting tucked inside. No matter what the mirror was reflecting back at me...it was still me...


I've never been to a carnival, but I am familiar with the house of mirrors.  The walk through every kind of reflection possible.  The stretched out, tall and skinny...short and fat, warped faces, bodies, perceptions...and you know what?  It may just be the most honest place on earth...that hall of mirrors. Because we really do see ourselves like that.  All of it.  We see ourselves as less than, as more than, as beautiful, hideous...and we look...constantly at ourselves.  Constantly.  Always concerned with not only what reflection WE see, but how others see us.  Depending on the person you can be any version of yourself.  

Have you ever been around someone you feel beautiful around no matter what you actually look like?  They SEE you.  Beyond the hair, the perfect eyeliner, the cute dress.  They look at you in ratty yoga pants, hair up in a messy bun with part of your sandwich still on your face and just SEE you.  Hear you.  Feel you.  Conversely, have you ever been in a room.....dressed to the nines..and felt like the ugliest, stupidest, least valuable person in the room?  You could have checked the mirror a million times before you left, completely satisfied with your appearance only to see something devastating in the women's room mirror when you arrive.  Your hair is all wrong, your dress not fancy enough....you should have known....you aren't good enough to be there...But you're still you.  

You are still you.


Flip it around now. You know...you know when you look in the mirror that some changes need made.  Everything looks just perfect, but it's only the surface of who you are that's reflecting back at you .  You....are still you.  You are still struggling with every heartbreak you've ever buried being unearthed.  Every hurt you convinced yourself you didn't feel ripping open and bleeding  You are still you when everyone around you tries to convince you that because the surface is fine, the rest is too....and even when they don't want to see you for who you really are....you are still you.

You are still you.

You are still the person who doesn't understand why anyone can see what you see...your heart, your emotion, your life...no one knows what you do....so they can't possibly convince you of what...of who...you actually are.

But they try.

They try....

"Well at least..." 

"Well if it were me..."

"Well if I had that...I'd...."

And you want to scream STOP.  This is my life.  This is my story and my pen, my paper, my choice and unless you were part of writing any of the previous chapters you can't possibly know what made the cut when editing the bookstore copy.   

So you decide. Done. No more.  No more opinions about what the mirror is actually reflecting back. No more.  Because it never mattered.  Ever.  Keeping up appearances for anyone else, anyone...ever..is a waste of time, energy and life.  There's nothing beautiful about masks....


Not only do you stop comparing yourself to others, you start refusing theirs to you. No, my life is not perfect.  Yes, I have something you want....you have about 17 things I want....and about 100 I don't.  That's the raw, ugly truth.  You no longer allow anyone to compete with you on anything.  Ever.  If someone needs to, let them win because they aren't there yet...in that place where they realize no two human beings should ever compete, compare, contrast who they are with who you are and decide one's the winner.  It's a distraction.  A massive eye off the ball because wanting to be someone else will forever keep you from wanting to be yourself.  

And you are enough.  Every human is a self-contained work of art, a masterpiece, a wonder of biology and spirituality and magic....in every mirror, in every reflection....every glance, thought, breath...you compete only with you....

Only with you....

And at being you?  You always win.  






Monday, July 13, 2015

Battle Scars

Just to the left of my right knee cap is an ugly scar.  Though it's faded over the years, I see it every time I smooth my legs with the razor or apply lotion.  It was a deep cut received from a youthful couch jumping episode while at a friends house....some kind of wire sticking out.  It gashed my leg brilliantly and the evidence remains.

Scars are funny things, really.  They are an outward proof of something we've endured and healed from.  They tell a story, our story and are a visible reminder that some choices have consequences that cannot be erased.

The biggest hurt I have ever endured left no lasting physical reminder.  My abdomen already bore the scars of having sacrificed vanity for motherhood.  Those scars that tell how much I had to stretch both physically and emotionally are worn with pride (and under clothes, thank you very much!!)  So nothing about my body changed when I lost Matthew.  This is probably why, so many  years later, I'm ready for his initial to be placed on my body permanently.  I need that scar, that reminder, that visible thing to say "hey, he was here...."

Scar tissue is only formed when an injury occurs deeper than the first layer of skin.  Surface hurts don't have any lingering reminders.  It's the ones that cut deep, very deep, that remain.  But sometimes the ones that cut the deepest aren't physical.  Instead of blood, tears.  Instead of stitches, grief.  Instead of seeing a change from injury to recovery, we get stuck in the cycle of brokenness that leaves us more comfortable being shattered than finding the pieces will no longer fit if we try to put them back together.

I was off duty one evening when my then only child woke from his slumber and wanted a drink.  I had been quilting and had my rotary cutter out.  It took two seconds. I was filling his sippy cup as he was grabbing the cutter and in a split second, with both our hands on it, it brushed the bridge of his nose.  The tears, both his and mine, were plentiful and to this day, a scar remains.  Every time I look at it, I feel remorse.  Oh, the things I would have done differently to take that scar away.  But I can't,  I certainly did learn from it.  No child has ever repeated that injury because I replaced the cheap cutter with a locking one, that I keep up 6 feet, out of reach and when in use, the door is locked (Yeah, I tend to go overboard. It's my MO)

Of all the scars, the absolute worst isn't the deep gashes that require a million stitches and dressing changes or even surgery.  The worst are the memory banks of those who saw us at our worst and won't let us forget it.  Even after we've healed, moved on and learned from the injury, those that remain to remind us of those scars, happy to rip them open time and time again as we are healing.  They hold us accountable (sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not) for our actions, but not their failure to keep us from injury in the first place.  They saw us holding the cutter and just stood back and watched to see what we'd do....

Healing is a funny thing.  It has to come from within, not from without.  Even though it's the outward appearance we find so concerning, the real damage from any injury is more than merely cosmetic.  Infection, improper healing and a constant abrasion of that hurt can guarantee it never heals.  That we never heal.  And so often its those who should be promoting healing that just don't want to....can't stand to...see it happen.  Because healing happens alone.  The injuries cannot be experienced by another, so neither can the healing.  It's one situation where help doesn't help, but harm really harms and so you walk that line trying to make people think they have some part of you getting better....but really.....it's all you.  It has to be.  No one can heal for you.

But...they can show you its possible. They can flash an ugly scar on the left side of their right knee cap and say 'Hey, this sucks and holy hell did it hurt. But it doesn't hurt anymore.  I survived it and it healed just fine.  You will too."  They can also take one look at that scar, that's been present for  years and say "Hey, how'd you get that you moron.  You should have known better.  I bet you have more all over your body with the kind of stupid you are..."  And even though that scar was fine seconds before, you will feel it all over again....

Life is too short to keep ripping scars open, or allowing anyone else to.  Love is leaving healed hurts alone, respecting the work it took to get through the pain and the process and letting what happened in the past keep it's address on the timeline and not asking it to come visit for a week or two.  Love is lightly brushing over those scars during a backrub and standing in awe the person made it through the injury with a story to tell and a lesson learned, not a prompt to chastise the person for having gotten it in the first place.

Battle scars...we all have 'em.  Some more, some less, but not one of us escapes this thing called life without a few of them.  The trick is to wear them with grace, to allow them to be a part of your story.....but not your whole story.  A page, or two...even a whole chapter, but not the cover to cover reality of the person you are and the person you've become because of them.  We learn, we grow, we change and evolve and it's largely because of those injuires and our ability to heal from them that we even have a story to tell at all....

So what's yours?



Monday, July 6, 2015

In care, concern and in the name of healing,.....

I've sat down to write this blog no less than 7 times.  The words came but they were ugly, harsh and not representative of what is really going on here, but even still....a month later I'm at a loss.  I'll begin with a few snippets of previous attempts to get this all out.....

The papers are signed and on their way.  Formalities, dealt with and so I drive home, business taken care of.

It is finished.

But now it begins.  Now we get down to the heart of the matter.  We get down to what this has meant. To me, to all of us.

First, let's clear something up. Our loyalties were never to you.  Ever.  Our loyalties were first and foremost to....

Matthew, Ronald Kent, Ellie, Ceilidh, Alexus, Courtney, Owen, Carly, Zoey,  Kaitlyn and Teagan, Holden, Karina........

Do you even know who they are?  These are our children who lived and died before we could even meet them and we pledged, in those moments where we were grasping that we'd have to live our entire lives without them to make their existence matter; to make them known and no matter how quickly you dismissed their lives with your disgusting pride and ego, we have no regrets.

Unlike you we can still walk with our heads held high.  Unlike you, we didn't need to have our names plastered across our "care and concern."  We gave it because we actually cared.  It wasn't a currency for us. We needed nothing in return but the knowledge that what we were doing was good and would help heal the hearts of parents getting ready to walk a path we knew. We didn't want to sell a tour, we wanted to give the map freely.  You charged for admission, we paid it in full, of our own volition,

Our babies died once and we did what we did to honor their memory and you stole that from us.  You took our babies and used them for money.  How could you? You fucking asshole. Seriously?  Who does that?


Once the f bomb was dropped I felt a *little* better....but, then I erased the rest because that particular word took over....and that's not who I am.....And here's another.... 


In care, concern and the name of healing....

Really?  Who's?  Who do you care about?

You.

Who are you concerned about?

You.

Who's healing are you promoting?  Your own. 

See, the thing is, you were never the guardian of anyone's healing.  You appointed that title to yourself. No one voted you in. You just pushed your way in. You created a monopoly on grief and have sat firmly on your throne for years. After all, without any accountability, is easy to maintain a reputation as being pious and benevolent isn't it?  If anyone says any differently, just give 'em the boot and in your sickeningly sweet passive-aggressive way, bullshit the masses into believing you are protecting them.  Right? 

You know what that is?  It's sick.  It's abusive.  It's disgusting and my God, it's wrong. You lie behind closed doors, you lie behind the people who are so convinced of your goodness, they won't ask questions.  We all know what happens when someone disagrees with you.  That's simply not allowed.

I want you to really let this sink into that sick, twisted brain of yours. You have lied to every single person you have come into contact with.  What does that say about you?  It can only be one of two things.


One, you justify that lying in the name of "healing."  You keep facts back from people who need them because you view yourself as further along in the process and thus, have the authority to make those decisions for the people who trust you.  You know what?  We don't need another lie to take up space in our lives.  We've told ourselves one too many already by the time we found you.  That we'd be okay, that it was no big deal, that the world would understand what it means to parent a child from the grave.

I was stuck, quite literally.....in every way imaginable and I wasn't alone.  Multiple other people were stuck in the quicksand of grief, unable to eat, sleep, function, while you posted your happy little vacation pictures and pretended we didn't exist.  Something you're really, really good at.

And then it hit me.  Denial is your MO.  You are stuck in it.  In the first stage of grief.  Should we then pity you?  Maybe, but I can't find it anywhere.  Not for you. Not even a little.

Here's the thing, lady.  You are hurting grieving parents.  You have created an atmosphere where you encourage dependency on YOU.  Everything about your little empire says "You need ME." But you know what?  We don't.  We need each other.  We found each other.  You are wholly, completely unequivocally unnecessary and you can't stand that, but you know it's true.  

You have lied to the people who gave their all.  You have lied about everyone and everything you have touched.  And you have to live with that.  

A dear friend told me I can't change your mind.  I can't make you do the right thing.  I can't.  You have to live with yourself day in and day out and the level of dishonesty you must carry around with you is burden enough.

As for us.  All of us....we are moving forward with the one lesson we can take from this disgusting situation.  To never, ever, ever, ever be anything like you.  Ever.  

May you find the love, care and concern somewhere along the way.....but for now we'll call it like we see it....

Bullshit.