The Mess

RECOVERY

Let The Good Times Roll

Things happen.

Things that are unfair happen, and you end up in places you never intended to go.

What do you do about it?

Well, you can try to reason it out and get back on track.

The problem is you don’t always know exactly where you veered off course.

Things looked all right! Actually, they looked pretty good, like your life was finally falling into place.

It goes down something like this:

Photo by Anastasia Vârlan on Unsplash

The road looks familiar to you at first, so you think everything’s okay. You’re passing landmarks that you swear you’ve seen before. You know just when to lean into the curve and when the road is straight for a while. You just ride along, letting the wind blow your hair and think, “I’ve got this!”

When you look from side to side, you swear you can see people lining the highway, cheering you on. That’s what people do isn’t it? So you keep on going, because you know this is right where you need to be.

Suddenly, you reach the end of the road and you don’t even know where you are. What was familiar just a few seconds before is stretching behind you like the big lie that it is. It wasn’t the right road. It wasn’t YOUR road.

It looked like your road and felt like your road, but it wasn’t your road, and it couldn’t be more obvious than it is now. You feel lost and defeated. You feel alone.

The thought crosses your mind that you’re too embarrassed to turn around. Everyone will see you. You can’t go back down the road you just traveled.

They’ll know you were going the wrong way! Maybe they already did.

All those people who were standing on the side of the road to cheer you on could have reached out to stop you at any time with a question or a warning.

Like, “Hey, do you think maybe there’s a better choice for you?” But they didn’t, and they’re still standing there, waiting for you to ride past them again.

You think about continuing to travel in the wrong direction. After all, who but you would know? It’s either that or face that crowd of people waiting to tell you how you failed. Again, you went the wrong way.

https://medium.com/@allisondivinebridges/6-useful-things-you-can-learn-from-road-construction-272e0a9c05b5?source=friends_link&sk=524499f5d3e5348dca8870e5a08b3512

“But I tried,” you think. “I tried. I did my best and gave it all I had to give! I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it would turn out okay in the end.”

Since you don’t know what else to do, you take a moment to reflect on your roots. You remember where you came from.

So, you go shopping.

Wearing the most outrageous outfit you could come up with, you paste a beautiful smile on your face.

Photo by Ugur Arpaci on Unsplash

Then you turn around, face the road you just came down, and march down that b**** like the queen you are, throwing out candy and beads, shouting, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

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HUMOR

The Rat Killin'

This is a true story.

Photo by Eternal Seconds on Unsplash

You can choose to believe it or not; that’s up to you. It was funny to me at the time, and God knows I needed some humor in my life. Things weren’t that great.

The first man I married—I have to number ‘em because there’s been so many—maybe wasn’t a great choice for me. I’m tryin’ to be nice here.

The rest of his family is pure gold. He just came out wrong. Wasn’t nothin’ you could do about it, and I didn’t know to try. I was as naïve as a girl could be back in those days. I’ve learned a lot since then, and not all of it’s good.

My education has come with a price I’d rather not have paid.

At first, I thought Bubba Jr. hung the moon. He could do no wrong in my eyes. It’s like God sent him to rescue me from a life of normalcy.

By the time we got a divorce, I realized he was the devil and could make you think anything he wanted you to. If anybody was a rescuer, it sure wasn’t him. He got me in more messes than I knew a person could get into.

That ain’t really part of my story though, at least not this one.

I can’t name too many good things that happened while I was married to Bubba Jr. Most of them were pretty dang bad. Of course, there ain’t no sense in bringin’ all of that up right now.

What I want to tell you about is the rat killin’.

That first husband of mine wasn’t very good at workin’. Well, that ain’t exactly true. He might’ve been good at workin’, but he sure wasn’t good at showin’ up to do it. I didn’t know that at first. I thought he was like all the other men I’d known in my life, strong and steady and a hard worker.

He wasn’t any of that. Lookin’ back on it now, I can’t see how I ever thought he could be. It was like I just fell off the turnip truck right into his arms. I didn’t know any better back then. I sure do now.

I was big and pregnant til the baby (I ain’t gonna say his name. He’s still my kid, even though he’s grown.) was born. I didn’t really know how to be a good wife, it being my first time and all.

I was determined to give it all I had.

That’s why I got up at four o’clock every morning to make Bubba Jr.’s lunch in those early days. I made his breakfast too. He just laid there, sleeping through my wifely duties.

Biscuits and gravy for breakfast; 2 big ole’ sandwiches for his lunch. Yes, I made my husband sandwiches. I know I oughta’ be ashamed. I haven’t done it since though, and I probably won’t ever. He ruined it for the other three.

I’m thinking now that the reason all my marriages went to hell may’ve had something to do with the way I got tricked in the beginnin’.

I had a hard time trustin’ anybody after him, and it wasn’t because of anything in this story. Well, maybe a little bit.

After I cooked, I’d go put his socks and pants on him while he was lyin’ there. He still wasn’t tryin’ to get up. Finally, with me naggin’ him ‘til I was blue in the face, he got out of bed and rolled on to work.

At least that’s what I thought he was doing. Why else would somebody get up that early in the mornin’ and let his wife cook and make sandwiches for him?

Well, two weeks later, I asked him where the paycheck was. We needed some more sandwich stuff, and I didn’t know how we were gonna get it.

That’s when I found out the truth.

I can’t remember if he told me or if the lightbulb finally came on in my brain. Either way, the gig was up.

Turns out he never went to work at all. I don’t know if he didn’t show up or if he just never had a job to start with. There wasn’t any paycheck coming in though. I figured that out pretty quick.  

We had to move out of his grandmother’s house.

When your own grandmother throws you out ‘cause you’re no ‘count, you do the only thing you can do.

You go live with your other grandmother ‘til she puts you out too. And that’s just what we did.

He didn’t even pretend to work after that. Oh, He might keep a job for a week or two to get the first paycheck, but then he’d quit. It was a hard life for me and the baby. I never knew how we were gonna eat. I didn’t, a lot of the time. I always managed to take care of my little boy though.

We ended up having to move every time the rent was due because we couldn’t pay it, being that Bubba Jr. chose his bed and a whole lot of other stuff over a job.

I don’t know how, but he could charm the skin off a rattlesnake. He was able to talk many unsuspecting people into letting us stay in places that needed work. He get a cheap deal by promising to fix everything good as new for ‘em, only he never made good on those promises.

He’d start out strong by tearing everything up pretty good. Hardly ever put it back together. I doubt if he even knew how.


That’s how the rat killin’ came to happen.

We were “renting” an old house in exchange for redoing it. The kitchen was the only room that showed any improvement when this all went down. It was painted a bright yellow color. It almost hurt my eyes walkin’ in the room, but I complimented Bubba Jr. just like a good wife should, even though by this time I was pretty much over bein’ his wife at all.

The old house was filled with rats.

They probably came through the holes in the floor, but I’m thinking they’d been there long enough that they thought we were intruding on their territory, and I wasn’t about to argue with ‘em.

These weren’t little mice, although those are scary enough. I ain’t ever seen anything move as fast as those, unless it’s me tryin’ to get away from one of ‘em!

These rats were huge, what we call wood rats.

We set out on a campaign to rid the place of the evil vermin, or at least he did. They were bigger than my sweet baby, who was about three months old at the time, if I remember right. I wanted no part of ‘em.

I kept telling that stubborn man there were rats living in our stove, but he didn’t believe me. Every time I cooked, I could hear somethin’ moving around in the space beside the oven. I was scared to death it was gonna jump out and get me!

That night, I was cookin’ with one arm and holding the baby in the other. I heard somethin’ movin’ again, so I called Bubba Jr. to come listen.

He said, “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove,” which started an argument, because I knew dang well somethin’ was in there makin’ noise. He always had to be right though, so he said it again.  “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove, see?” And he shook the stove to prove it to me.

Photo by Brendon Thompson on Unsplash

That was his first mistake.

He made countless others, but that right there was enough for divorce court.

The biggest rat I’d ever seen (and I still ain’t seen a bigger one to this day) was living in there after all, and that shakin’ stove made him MAD.

He decided to make a grand entrance into our obnoxious yellow kitchen, and not in a graceful way.

He came out of the back of the stove, ran up the curtain, and kind of hurled his body across the room. Straight at old Bubba Jr.’s stubborn ass head.

I ain’t ever heard a grown man sound so much like a girl, before or since!

He screamed, I screamed, and the baby screamed! I ain’t too sure the wood rat didn’t scream. Hell, he had a right too. We probably scared him just as bad as he scared us.

Well, I took off running with the baby and jumped up on the dining room table. My mentally deficient husband grabbed the broom and took off after that maniacal, jumpin’ rat.

He chased that stupid thing for an hour at a hard run. It might’ve even been longer than that. I was up there on the table, hollerin’, laughin’, and dodgin’ the slingin’ broom.

He was as determined to kill that rodent as it was to stay alive.

I ain’t ever laughed so hard and screamed so much in all my life.

Finally, Bubba Jr. caught a break. The rat ran up in a piece of rolled up carpet we had ready to use on the bedroom floor. Bubba Jr. was yellin’ like a Comanche. He hollered “I’ve got you now, you spineless devil!”

It was a foolproof plan.

I can’t say I found any fault with it. I sure thought it would work.

When the varmint ran into that rolled up piece of carpet, he stood it straight up on end, trappin’ what had to be a terrified and exhausted rat at the bottom.

Bubba Jr. motioned for me to grab the sledgehammer leanin’ against the wall by the door. I reluctantly got down, gave it to him, and dragged a chair over to him too. He stood on the chair and dropped the sledgehammer straight down toward the rat in the rolled-up carpet.

Like I said, it was a perfect plan. There wasn’t anywhere for the rat to go. No way he could miss.

Except he did.

Smilin’ like the demon he is, he laid the carpet down to look at the rat’s dead body.

That rat just screamed with glee and took off runnin’ again.

I darted back to the dinin’ room and leapt back up on the table. Bubba Jr. was madder than I’d ever seen him be. He grabbed the broom and started cussin’, runnin’, and swingin’.

About an hour more of solid runnin’, and the rat raised up on its back legs and fell over, dead as a doorknob.

I guess he was just worn out from tryin’ to save his own miserable hide.

I ain’t sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that’s still the most honest work Bubba Jr. has ever done in his life.

grief, RECOVERY

Side Effects of Tremendous Loss

Grief sucks.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

I’m going to go over a little bit of what happens when you have to say goodbye forever to someone you love. First, a bit of context.

Shock.

I lost my kid.

Well, I didn’t exactly lose him.

Horror.

I know where he is. I hardly ever go there. There’s something disturbing about standing on a bit of cold ground while your flesh and blood decomposes beneath your feet.

Unrelenting Pain.

Even more devastating is the crushing sensation in my chest when I drive up to the cemetery. It doesn’t just happen in that moment though. It comes unbidden in unsuspecting scenarios for the rest of your life.

I mean, you know the holidays will be hard. That’s expected. And birthdays. Dates of departure are devastating, but you know those days are coming and can kind of half-ass prepare for them.

It’s those other days, days when things are good. You’re happy and laughing and….

Guilt.

How the hell could you possibly laugh when your child is dead? What kind of monster are you, anyway? Thoughts like these come to your mind and even though you know they’re irrational, you think them anyway and you can’t help it.

And it hurts so bad. Worse, you know it always will. The lump that you keep choking back in your throat is always going to be there. You’re never not going to cry when you hear the song that YOU chose for the funeral because it was a favorite.

Hopelessness.

You can’t fix this. The very idea of that is overwhelming. You feel helpless because you ARE helpless. Looking down the road at life you wonder if you even want to go on at all. Several times you decide that you don’t.

Sometimes you can count on one hand the reasons to stay. I’ve been there.

A few years ago, a young man in the town next to mine committed suicide. It wasn’t long after that his mom laid across his grave and did the same.

Heartache.

I spent an entire day grieving for her, even though I didn’t know her. Or maybe I was grieving for me. I knew what drove her to it. I live it every day.

Isolation.

When it’s your kid who dies, you separate yourself from other mothers. The ones who have never lost a child. They don’t know. You don’t want them to ever know.

You can pick out your worst enemy on earth, and you won’t wish this on them.

This grief is something you hold close.

But you DO want to talk about your loss. You want to talk about WHO you lost.

It doesn’t take you long to realize that people are tired of hearing it. They’re also AFRAID to hear it.

It’s as if the whole world thinks that talking about death means it will come to call.

Maybe it does.

Cold Loneliness.

I always hear the gravel fly from under my truck tires on that final stretch to the stone. I remember walking that road a hundred times. I also remember always ending at the cemetery and not being able to walk back. Someone always had to come get me.

Numbness.

How can everything be so intense when I’m so numb?

It’s like standing under a tree hearing a leaf fall without being able to move to try to catch it.

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

Reality can’t be real when you bury your baby.

Insanity.

Looking back, I realize I’m lucky. I walked through the woods so many times with a gun in my hand. Utterly crazy. Hunters would come down from their stands and lead me out. They didn’t seem to mind that I interrupted their hunting. I don’t know for sure. We never talked. I only talked to Mikey.

One day I stumbled upon a skunk. I was carrying a .22 rifle that day. No matter how crazy a person gets, you always know you don’t want to smell like a skunk.

I realized it was either him or me. He fell over like a cartoon character. I walked around him, probably giving him more space than he needed.

It felt good to kill something.

Then I found the couch. It wasn’t hidden very well. I would have done a better job of it myself. Something like that, you don’t leave to chance.

We called those woods the “forty.” It was forty acres of good hunting land. Full of deer, squirrels, and mosquitoes. Apparently, it had the occasional skunk as well.

The first thing I saw when I came through the pine sapling thicket into the clearing was that couch.

 It had been in my living room just a month before when I found my son on it, face down and stiff. Already starting the rigor process.

Anger.

I unloaded my gun on the couch. Killed it dead, the way it killed my son. My thought process wasn’t lining up with reality. After I shot it, I laid on it and cried myself to sleep. That’s how they found me later.

The couch was burned and buried after that. I never saw it again. It’s a good thing. I would have killed it again.

Disbelief.

You should never have to find your child’s body. It should never be cold and stiff. Your child should not die. It’s a travesty. It’s an injustice. It’s the worst thing that can ever happen to a Mama.

I feel all of this again as I pull up to the cemetery.


Tinnitus.

My ears have been ringing since the day the keening started. The doctors call it tinnitus. I know it’s the echo of my own voice screaming for the life of my child.

Another side effect of a morphine overdose I didn’t take.

Flashbacks.

Call it PTSD or call it whatever. I have flashbacks. Who wouldn’t? Not as many as before, but they still come. Usually when I’m driving, which is inconvenient at best and life-altering at worst. I don’t drive to the cemetery much.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It triggers me.

Anxiety.

I doubt it will ever go away. Terror has a strong grip on me. I wake up at night with my heart pounding and all I can do is call out to Jesus. No one else can help.

I’m afraid when my kids are out of my sight and I’m afraid when they’re with me.

He died on my watch.

My watch is scarier now. I will never not check to see if my kids and grandkids are breathing. I always think about it.

All night long.

Insecurity.

As a Mom, you think there’s an instinctive way that you’ll know when your kids are in danger. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that instincts can fail you. I didn’t know. You don’t always know. I question my ability to be a parent and keep my children safe. I question my grandchildren’s safety when they’re with me.

Children can die. The headstone in front of me is proof of that.

Side Effects.

I’ve only gone over a few of them. I wish that life and death were an easier process, or maybe I don’t. What makes it so hard is also what makes it worth it.

Love comes with a potentially high price tag.

We don’t know how things are going to turn out. It would be less risky to never take a chance—refuse to love—but life wouldn’t be worth living.

It would be a simple choice to never have children or truly love another human being because of the chance you may have to bury them one day. To make that choice is to choose to live without the greatest gift of your life.

Even knowing what can happen, I will always choose to love. It’s hard to say it, and hard to know it, but it’s infinitely worth the pain.

RECOVERY

Hell In A Handbasket

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

That’s where the whole world is headed.

I was standing in my bathtub hanging curtains that didn’t quite match my newly painted walls when I realized I’m scared. Don’t try to reason that out. It is what it is.

I don’t know what’s wrong with people today, but I know for sure something is. It’s possible that we’ve all just gone crazy. Maybe we’ve always been crazy, or selfish. 

Whatever it is, it’s getting the best of humanity.

I’ve never seen so much bickering before over things that don’t matter at all. The things that do matter are just being ignored.

Meth is killing our country.

It’s for sure not the only drug that is, but from all that I’ve read, it’s doing a hell of a lot of damage right now and there’s very little chance that those addicted can even recover. Think about that for a minute.

Mothers are killing their babies all over America.

What the hell?

Everybody’s killing everybody. And no one cares.

Australia almost burned down recently. Earthquakes and volcanoes are happening across the globe. So are terrorists and missiles.

Our children are being stolen and sold into slavery.

In some places, parents are willingly pimping them out for drugs and money.

America is full of resources, but people are starving, both here and abroad.

Refuse litters our streets. Hatred abounds. Racism is back in full swing.

Hell has come calling.

It seems there’s barely a shred of humanity left on this earth.

You don’t even have to be a believer to know that a day of reckoning is near.

RECOVERY

How do you handle life when everything goes wrong?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth getting out of bed.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Two flat tires.

That’s how my day started. I was driving to work on these fantastic Louisiana roads, and the best I can tell, I went in a pothole.

I’m not sure why it took out two of my tires on the sidewalls, but there were a couple of huge holes looking back at me. This is certainly not how I meant for my morning to go. I had higher hopes than that when I crawled out of bed.

It seems like bad luck comes in waves. First, I caught the hubs cheating. Okay, that’s awful—maybe not even comparable to a flat tire or two. In the end, that one will cost me a whole lot more.

This tire thing was just like icing on the cake.

For a few minutes, I thought about hurling myself into traffic and taking my chances with one of the eighteen wheelers barreling down the road. Luckily, I gathered my wits together and called a tire store instead. $421 dollars later, I was fixed up. They even gave me a ride to the office while they worked on my vehicle!

So, what DO you do when life gets crazy and overwhelming?

One answer (and not a very good one) is to isolate.

Isolating means to withdraw from other people and try to get through everything on your own.
It can also mean to withdraw from other people and AVOID dealing with anything.

Often when we isolate, we use distractions or substances to keep us from acknowledging our mountains and doing the work it takes to overcome. This causes more problems to pile up until our lives become completely unmanageable. That’s 12-step talk, for anyone who hasn’t been through it. Recovery is an amazing thing.

Isolation is NOT the preferred solution but it’s something I’ve tried and made bigger messes with before.

Another choice that you could make (and I’m guilty of this one as well) is VENT.

Everyone knows what venting is, but here’s an explanation anyway.

Venting is when you seek validation, approval, or sympathy by telling your side of a story (often with dramatic emphasis) on social media or to another person or group of people. This is my own definition, just like the definition for isolating, but it’s basically what venting boils down to.

Here are some ways that venting can be damaging:

  • Feelings often change, but once the spoken or written word is out there, it’s out there. You can apologize, but you can’t unsay it. Someone can forgive you, but they’re unlikely to forget.
  • You can hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe you mean to rage about someone and at the time, it doesn’t make you feel bad (even though it should). Collateral damage happens. That person may have children, parents, grandkids, or other individuals in their life that you just victimized unintentionally with your words. It hurts to hear bad things about people you love, whether it’s true or not. It isn’t fair to throw shade on everyone even if a certain person is shady and you want it known. Please think twice before venting!
  • Venting often damages the venter more than the ventee. I don’t think that’s proper terminology, but you get my meaning. It makes you look bad. JUST DON’T DO IT.

It’s okay to cry.

It may be hard to go through a bad time without crying. So, don’t. There’s a lot to be said for the cleansing and healing effects of a good, blubbering, crying session!

Get it out of your system.

Just don’t make it a long-term event. Cry, then stand up, wash your face, and move on with life!

Community.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

I find it useful to plug into a community of like-minded people when going through the rough times of life. Ideally, you already have a group like that. If you don’t, seek one out. Look for people that you know or know about who believe like you do, worship like you do, and who will hold you accountable for getting your life back on track.

The truth is it’s YOUR LIFE!

How you live and whether you end well is ultimately up to you. You can hang your head in defeat and quit trying, or you can shake it off and get back behind the wheel.

For me, the most important thing I can do is lean on God.

He’s my constant whether things are going good or not so great. He’s my shelter in a storm and the rock I’m standing on. No wind will blow me away, and no waters will drown my soul if I cling tightly to His hand.

My faith isn’t what gets me through; it’s the One I’m faithful to.

This is why two flat tires and an impending divorce didn’t defeat me today.

There will always be potholes. And there will always be God.

RECOVERY

Cheating Often Leads to Drastic Decisions

At least I didn’t cut my bangs.

Photo by Cata on Unsplash

I also didn’t burn all his stuff in the front yard, although the thought did cross my mind.

Radical things happen when I’m upset, but so far, I’ve avoided any major destructive action.

I just got out the paint.

Breakups are hard. It doesn’t matter if they’re “what’s best in the long run” or not. They’re freaking hard.

So much to consider.

Who gets what? What to do about this and that. Hiring a lawyer when you just found out you’ll be broke for the rest of your life. Yep, they’re hard all right.

Especially when you get to the age where you think all that’s left is to ride out the status quo until you skate into glory.

I’ll even venture a little further out on this limb and go ahead and say breakups suck even when you have quite a few under your belt.

More than a couple decades of life ought to be enough to prepare you for the devastation divorce brings. Sadly, it isn’t—especially when it all kind of came out of the blue.

I’m not saying I’m not ready to move on. Truth is, I’ve already cut the ties, both in my mind and elsewhere.

One day I was married and losing my mind because I discovered he was cheating on me. I was mourning the loss of trust and love. 

The next day I woke up DONE.

It happened just like that.

I thought we would work it out. I was searching for answers, reading everything I could get my hands on about how to “get over” your spouse cheating on you. Angry and hurt, I felt helpless and lost, even asking myself what I did (or didn’t do) to make him cheat.

And I prayed. I prayed for myself mostly, but I also prayed for him and for us. I looked EVERYWHERE for answers and there weren’t any to find.

So, I quit.

Maybe because of the silent treatment he was attempting to use to manipulate me into doing what he wanted me to do.

It had always worked before.

I’d get enough of it and apologize to him for everything I could think of that I’d ever done wrong in my life. I’d be so relieved and grateful when he would suddenly act as if nothing was wrong.

This time, the silence was nothing but a welcome relief from all the lies. He tried using the same worn out technique to control me AFTER he CHEATED on me!

It’s possible that he genuinely didn’t realize that I had proof of his infidelity. The lies were the same. I just didn’t believe him anymore.

He thought it was “business as usual.” I wondered how he could still try to manipulate me after what he did.

How do you even dare?

For the first time, I could see his disrespect was intentional. Sounds moronic, I know. I was just so used to making excuses for him that I believed them myself.

It’s so obvious now.

What a delicious game he played with me for so long! But to what end? What did he hope to gain? Did he set out just to hurt me? What would be the point of rendering our entire marriage obsolete?

Instead of ending up with a devoted wife, he will likely end up alone. If not alone, he will surely settle for less than he had.

I loved him.

And I trusted him. I wanted the best for him.

Then, I caught him cheating and I LET HIM GO!

And painted my bathroom.

Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash

Looks good too.

RECOVERY

A Closet to Myself

I want to thank you for cheating on me.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

All that glorious room!

I especially want to thank you for doing it in such a crappy way. Now there’s absolutely no chance that we could ever get past it.

At least as a couple…

I’m planning how I’m going to reorganize my clothes.

Oh, and the fact that you did it so openly, in such a humiliating and public way, means that although I can and do forgive you, I will NEVER take you back.

Thank you for including all YOUR friends in your lies. It makes me feel great to know who can be trusted. I feel awesome when I think that everyone knew but me.

Shoes on that shelf, boots on the other.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Knowing how many of the ones I called my friends were lied to behind my back and fell in with the “let’s fix that poor girl” plan infuriates me. I may be broken, but not the way you said.

My brokenness comes from the sorrow of losing a child, not the pettiness of a twisted relationship.

But I kept my head held high and pretended I didn’t know about the lies you told and how my own friends believed and validated your truth.

You did me a favor.

I can hang my caps on the right, scarves on the left.

I never realized how much time I spent tending to your life instead of my own, until I didn’t have to do it anymore.

I made sure your clothes were picked up off the floor, washed and folded them, put them away. I gave you the top bar because you’re taller than me. I always used to joke and ask if you knew you were way too tall for me.

I already moved all my shirts to the top. Color coordinated.

I made sure all your bills got paid on time, fielded phone calls, and reminded you to pick your phone and debit card off the restaurant table.

The credit rating that you now enjoy was a gift from yours truly. You’re welcome.

I also set up all your accounts, including your online accounts, and kept track of all your passwords because you kept forgetting them and refused to write them down. That’s what you had me for, you said.

My jeans will hang nicely on the bottom bar.

I can only surmise that you took the plane down in flames on purpose, realizing that I have access to EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT, including all the social media accounts you own, SINCE I SET THEM UP!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

I like to color coordinate.

Sometimes I had to tell you when you didn’t quite match, but I always tried to do that in a respectful way. I knew you were colorblind. It wasn’t really your fault.

I also made excuses for your behavior to my friends and family.

“He was abused when he was a kid,” or “He didn’t really mean it,” and “His bark is way worse than his bite.”

When you started getting physically aggressive, I found ways to blame myself for that, just like you did.

After all, I’m not the perfect wife.

I could probably cook more or clean better. I’ll always lose the comparison game you play, because you never explained the rules.

My clothes aren’t always the latest style, but they’re always my style.

I don’t know how many times it’s been pointed out that I’m “not from here,” so I’ll “never really fit in.”

Photo by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash

It’s true. It’s not just my clothes that are different.

I don’t place value on status, possessions, or money, and I couldn’t understand your obsession with all three.

So, when you tried to control me with money, it wasn’t ever going to work.

I could see it for what it was—a last ditch effort to gain the upper hand in a relationship that should’ve been a loving and giving partnership, not the competition you always tried to make it.

I hate shopping, but my clothes will fill this space nicely.

I’ll never forget the day you waved your hand across our living room and said, “I love what you’ve done in here. It looks like something from a magazine.”

I was stunned.

Before I could stammer my thanks, you pointed to my desk in the corner and my art on the wall and said, “We just need to get rid of everything like that.”

Everything of me.

You wanted a perfect, storybook cookie-cutter kind of wife, and you ended up with me.

It seemed like it became your main goal in life to squash everything about me that you loved at first—my openness, my artistic nature, my free spirit. To kill all my dreams so I wouldn’t try to outshine you.

Or maybe that’s not why you didn’t want me to shine.

If the light was on me, it couldn’t help but also fall on you.

You didn’t want to be seen.

Maybe you’re content in the dark, with someone else fighting your battles and matching your socks for the rest of your life.

Perhaps you want to crowd out anyone who might make it seem as if you aren’t living up to all YOU can be.

I don’t know.

I just know I have all this space now.

I’m sure that your old (and now new) girlfriend has zero expectations of you. You can just go through life half-ass forever, never striving to do better, be better, learn better, or reach beyond what you can see.

That’s okay with me.

I’m glad you cheated. I didn’t even have a decent space in the closet.

Now I have the whole thing.

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL

Reasons for Writing

Even though I’m not getting paid

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I was about seven years old when I started writing. Poems were floating around in my head, and one day I realized that I could put them on paper.

For a long time, all I wrote was poetry and song lyrics. I have storage boxes level full of work I’ve done since I was a kid.

It was an emotional outlet. A way of purging when I needed relief and I needed more relief than most.

Kids who have great childhoods can still be depressed.

Believe me, I know it makes no sense.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič – @specialdaddy on Unsplash

It must’ve been a chemical thing or a wiring problem in my brain. It may’ve even been God’s way of preparing me for what my life would become. Whatever the reason, my writing became a way to pour out my pain.   

In high school, I used writing to impress other kids. Apparently, it never occurred to me to write for the school newspaper or be on the yearbook staff. Nope, I just did homework for other kids. Their grades improved, and they loved me. It was a win for us all!

College was a little different. I published a few of my poems in books printed by the school. Some were published under a pseudo because I found them too personal. I’ve changed quite a bit since then. All my business is out there now.

Tragedy stole my heart for poetry. The old dream of one day publishing my own book of poems is likely gone forever.  

After some encouragement, I started blogging. It didn’t take me long to realize this kind of writing is what I was born to do.  

Maybe it was the ministry of recovery that I was helping to lead. Maybe it was just time. Suddenly, I couldn’t think of anything but getting my words out of my head again!

Building a website is tough if you’re a newbie.

At first, my blog was mostly about things relating to business, but one day I made an abrupt pivot.

Photo by Alex Grodkiewicz on Unsplash

Pivoting is sometimes your saving grace.

It’s perfectly okay to change direction when you’re headed the wrong way.

My pivot involved writing about a subject close to my heart, social anxiety. That opened the door to a whole new world of writing for me.

I finally had something of substance to say, so I said it. I haven’t shut up since.

My writing tends to lean toward the recovery niche.

I write about grief, anxiety, depression, addiction, and other things that we need to recover from. I write from my own experiences and tell stories that are true. I pull the words from my heart. I say things that matter to me and hope they matter to other people.

Of course, I can’t help but notice that other people write to make money. I think that’d be a great idea if it would work for me. I have a couple of problems to overcome if I’m going to accomplish that:

  • The idea of profiting off my writing steals my inspiration.
  • No one seems to want to pay me.
  • I have no idea what to do to make money writing.
  • I don’t know how to get exposure or be taken seriously as a writer.

I’ve read several writers who are super good at making money off their words. I’ve benefited significantly from their knowledge!

One of the main takeaways is that you can’t expect to jump in and start making money immediately.

I’m cool with that. In fact, you could say I’ve already aced it! I’ve been writing all my life and haven’t made any money YET!

I learned you can’t hope to write about writing, or be an authority on it, if you’ve only been writing on this platform for a short time.

As I mentioned, I’ve been writing my entire life. I’m not trying to pretend I’m the best in the universe or even the country—maybe not even in my small town!

I do believe I have something to offer. After all, I did a lot of kids’ homework in high school, and they got good grades (that’s a joke, by the way)! But I do concede the point. I can’t write about getting paid for writing because I have no clue.

Tons of articles say the only way to get people to read your work is if you’re clearly solving a problem for them.

That makes sense to me. I thought about all the articles I intentionally read and what made me click on them rather than another.

I can only write with any authority about what I know.

I’m not in the business of trying to fix other people. I’m over here, tapping away at this keyboard because I’m writing about my own life.

But do I think that I can help other people with my words? Yes. Yes, I do!

It’s not my goal in life to FIX broken people, but if I can offer comfort or something relatable and it helps them through a difficult season, I want to do that!

Some of my life experiences have really sucked (no sense in sugarcoating it). I write about them to purge myself emotionally, as a written record, and because maybe someone else is walking through the same darkness. If I can throw a little light their way, why wouldn’t I want to do that?

My words are only words.

This isn’t therapy. I can’t heal anyone. However, I believe words do have POWER and can reach parts of you that would otherwise remain untouched.

Maybe I won’t ever make any significant money with my writing. Sure, I’d love to do that! I know it’s possible, but it’s more important to me that my words are read by someone who needs to read them.

I believe that God gives us good gifts so that we will use them for others.

So as long as I’m able, whether I ever make money or not—I WILL WRITE.

RECOVERY

I Don't Love Coffee

An Introduction of Sorts

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

I realize that I’m not in the majority here, but there it is.

Being different is not a character flaw, although I used to think it was. It’s hard when you don’t fit into the norm (or whatever they’re calling the norm these days).

I realized a long time ago that there was a possibility that I didn’t think like other people. My way of looking at things is not always the same. Even when it pertains to the physical aspects of things.

Take color for example.

Have you ever wondered about color? I mean, how could you not have wondered? Does the green that I see when I see green look the same as the green that you see when you see green?

That kind of thing.

I mean, HOW DO WE KNOW?

I can’t see out of your eyes, and you can’t see out of mine.

Photo by Liam Welch on Unsplash

I believe that a great deal of life centers around our own perceptions of it, and that we are limited by our own realities.

I also believe that to a point, we create our own realities or live in realities that we allow others to create for us.

When we’re children, we haven’t been talked out of all our abilities yet. There are things we can see and do that are unexplained but still true. The following illustration is an excerpt out of a kid’s book I’m writing, but also a true story from my childhood:

“I see things that other people don’t see sometimes. Like that time the tree fell down….

There was a whole bunch of us kids outside playing in the yard. I guess I should have told you that my name is Gypsy, so you don’t get me confused with anybody else while I’m tellin’ my story.

It ain’t my real name, it’s just what people call me ever since I wore my Halloween costume to school. I told everybody’s fortune and I guess I got some stuff right. Mama sure doesn’t call me that, especially when she’s mad at me or shocked by something I say. My whole name rings out through the neighborhood then, and I don’t know anybody’s future but my own, and it ain’t good, nor one you’d be wantin’ to share.

Our neighborhood is just plumb full of kids—at least 17 of us live right here all together. I don’t know what keeps us from drowning or getting hit by a car, because it seems like there’s so many of us that we could stand to lose a few, and the odds are stacked against us. I guess we’re pretty safe though, cause we ain’t died yet, even though some of the boys have broken a bone or two, and Sally almost choked me to death once when I walked to the store with Mindy.

Anyway, it was Mindy and me sittin’ on the lawn chair, one of those long fold-out kinds that leaves a crisscross pattern on your butt if you sit down too long, and Big Jack and Dale were just running around aggravating us.

Big Jack is what we call my big brother, because Mindy has a brother named Jack too, but he’s younger than most of us so we call him Little Jack. Everybody does—practically the whole town—and I don’t even know if they realize why they call him that. We just made it up one day so we would know which Jack we were talking about.

We were just lying on that lawn chair, being mad at the boys but laughing at them too, when I looked up and said, “Y’all, we gotta move because that tree is fixin’ to fall!”

I really don’t even know why they listened to me because they sure didn’t make a habit of it, but Mindy and I both jumped up and Dale and Big Jack grabbed the chair and we took off running. No sooner than we got out of the way, we heard a tearing sound, and that tree uprooted itself and came down with a swoosh and a thud right where we’d been sitting five seconds before!

If anybody would have seen us at that moment, they’d have sworn they were looking at a bunch of ghosts, because I know for sure three of the four of us turned the whitest I’ve ever seen a person look. Then we all started yelling and running in to tell Mama, who said, “God must have told you to tell everybody to move,” and I know it’s true, because I never would have thought of it in time myself. That was one time that being a frog would be less of an advantage than being a bird, because we all could’ve been squashed like one. Mindy and I still talk about it every chance we get, but the boys try to act like it never even happened. I guess that’s because God didn’t tell THEM to get everybody out of the way or if He did, they weren’t listening.

That ain’t the only time something like that has happened, but I’ve figured out that the older I get, the more I talk myself out of listening. At times like those, it’s only grace that saves me because it sure ain’t because I’m doing what I’ve been told to do. I don’t know if God punishes you for not listening, but I figure that He just stops talking to you if He sees you ain’t paying attention anyway.”


That’s just one example of seeing something that no one else can see. If it’s possible as a child, surely it’s possible once you’re an adult!

We all have gifts and abilities that we’re born with. Whether we keep them to adulthood largely depends on whether we have the opportunity and the guts to use them.

To me, it seems as if the world is put together in bits of color.

photo by A Bridges

If I could be a true artist, I’d grab those bits of color with my paint brush and put them to canvas. I do the best I can with the abilities that I have.

I wish everyone could see the way I see.

I’m also different than most in how I show my feelings.

I cry over sappy things and serious ones. I cry the hardest over happy endings because I know in my heart that those rarely happen.

For a long while, I let myself become hardened and wouldn’t show anyone who I really was. It shamed me to have real emotion. Catastrophe has turned my world upside down though. Instead of hiding my tears from others, I cry with them through their own pain. Not usually on purpose—it just happens.

People with heartbreak seem to gravitate to me. It’s like they know they’re safe to cry with me. I find that one of the biggest blessings of my life, and one of the hardest burdens to carry. Grief was never a ministry I wanted.

I’ve found that the most imperfect things on this planet are often the most beautiful. That goes for people too. What a man (or woman) is on the outside doesn’t always correspond with who they are on the inside. A pretty face doesn’t mean a pretty heart.

It’s okay to be you. I’m good with being me.

It’s taken me a lot of years to become who I am. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived at the place I need to be. It’s still a journey. I’m good with the path I’m on though.

And I have my own style—the way I talk and dress—those things are all me!

There’s nothing wrong with fashions and trends, I’m just not a crowd follower. I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like.

And I don’t like coffee.  Not even a little bit.

ENCOURAGEMENT

I Have it All Figured Out

Mama, by A Bridges

So I finally figured life out.

Well, I figured out a small part of life, and that feels pretty good to me and pretty bad at the same time. It goes something like this:

If people weren’t so dishonest, I wouldn’t be so confused.

It seems ridiculous to say it out loud, but go ahead and do it anyway.

Now, let me explain.

We will even set aside my day job for this.

Let’s just concentrate on my real life as a person who’s trying to be a mom, wife, grandmother, entrepreneur, writer, artist, home repair person, interior designer, builder, jewelry maker, plumber, electrician, housekeeper, cheerleader, motivational speaker, babysitter, dog-owner, and ministry leader.

Well, I realize that the last probably should have been first….

But look. All of those things require bouts with a computer!

Literally ALL of them.

Can you imagine how many user names and passwords that entails? I’m sure you can, because surely you wear a few different hats in your own hectic life.

Why do I have to remember so many things?

  • Because people are dishonest.
  • They will rob you blind.
  • They will sneak in to steal, kill, and destroy–where have I read that before?

Ohhhh…..that book that I don’t read enough because I’m just too busy doing all of that other stuff!


http://Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Okay, maybe not ALL people, but enough that you have to have multiple passwords and multiple user names with uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters (but only certain ones and you have to figure that out as you go along) and numbers, and they have to be this long but not that long, and I swear that by the time I finally figure most of them out, my stupid password is something I would NEVER say out loud! I try not to curse.

When I slow down long enough to wish, I think back to a simpler time, when I would stand with my Mama in the kitchen and she would stop what she was doing and just hug me for a really, really, long time.

There has been nothing in my life that has ever or could ever replace those moments for me!

The absolute purity of a mother’s love for her daughter, and the reciprocated love of a daughter for her mother!

In this age of cell phones and computers and user names and passwords and tinnitus and constant pressure and noise, that kind of beautiful moment seems somehow lost.

But it doesn’t have to be.

My Mama is literally 12 feet away from me, lying on my couch, probably wondering if I’m ever going to bed tonight.

When I started writing this, I thought I was talking about how complicated life has gotten, and what dishonest people have taken from me and caused me to have to do.

Now that I’ve gotten to the end, I realize all of that has given me a great appreciation for a few minutes of nothing but me and Mama and the best hugs ever.

In those days, I didn’t have to be anything but her little girl.

I guess to her, I still don’t.