Sunday, May 21, 2017

Girls Getaway to NYC 5: Goodbye NYC

Girls Getaway to NYC 5: Goodbye NYC #girlsweekend #travel #nyc #newyorkcity #travelvlog #timessquare #mommyandme #mommyanddaughter #travelwithfriends #mac #hersheysstore #familyfun #girltime #Tweensinnyc #momlife #tweenlife

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Girls Getaway to NYC 4

Girls Getaway to NYC 4 #girlsweekend #travel #nyc #newyorkcity #travelvlog #timessquare #mommyandme #mommyanddaughter #travelwithfriends #mac #hersheysstore #familyfun #girltime #Tweensinnyc #momlife #tweenlife

Girls Getaway to NYC

Girls Getaway to NYC #nyc #newyorkcity #travel #travelvlog #mommyandme #magnoliabakery

Girls Getaway to NYC 3


Girls Getaway to NYC 2

Girls Getaway to NYC 2 #nyc #newyorkcity #travel #girltime #girlsgetaway

Girls Getaway to NYC 2


Girls Getaway Weekend to NYC


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hidden Secrets: Surviving a Dysfunctional Childhood, The Early Years Part 2

dysfunctional childhood

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this post, which continues my story from last week, I really wanted to take a moment and say thank you.  Thank you to all of my readers for continuing to click on my links and spend some of life's precious time reading my words.  Thank you to my subscribers!  I am grateful to have you joining me on this journey.  And, especially, thank you to the readers who sent me comments and messages last week.  It was a difficult decision to put myself out there like that, one that I have struggled with for the several years I have been blogging.  But it was something I knew I needed to do...for me, and for others.  Having such supportive feedback actually made me cry a little bit.  Not much...I'm a tough cookie! 😜😜 But it was truly moving to hear from you about such a sensitive topic for me.  Thank you.  Much love to you all!

Sharing Hidden Family Secrets
Sharing about a dysfunctional family is tricky.  While it can be liberating and healing for you, it can be hurtful to other people.  My intention for writing about this is NOT to hurt anyone.  Inevitably, though, I am sure someone will end up hurt, and for that I am truly sorry. 😒 It can even be painful for my readers that I do not personally know who have experienced situations similar to mine--because it can make fresh again the old wounds; wounds that probably have not healed.  So, please know that if this is causing you undo stress or grief to read my blog post, I am sorry.  And I hope that if you think this post could possibly trigger harmful effects for you, that you will go ahead and sit this one out.  But it is my hope, too, that if this post (and the one before it) can help, in any way, to make you feel "more normal," then you will continue reading and possibly even join in on the conversation--when you are ready.

All week long, I have thought about how my sharing could also be painful for my family, too.  It might remind them of the past, a past that they are hurt, ashamed, or embarrassed by (and possibly do not want what is part of their history to be shared with the general public).  They may wish I could just keep my mouth shut and sweep it all under the rug like we've been taught.

They say that the truth, though, can set you free.  I really believe that.  And I really believe that there needs to be more dialogue about these hidden secrets that affect so many families.  Too, for me, this is what I need to do to come to terms with the pain of my past so that I can continue to move forward...for myself and for my family.

I have always purposely left out the names of my friends and family so that they could remain anonymous, and I will continue to do so.  I will also work very hard at being as sensitive as I can be with what I share.  I hope to accomplish what I need to...without doing any significant damage.  That is probably going to be very difficult, but I will do the absolute best that I can.

With all of these caveats in mind, buckle up everyone! You're in for a bumpy ride on the roadmap of my life.  Here we go...

A New Daddy in My Dysfunctional Childhood
To be completely honest, I don't really remember everything from my childhood.  I have blocked out a lot of it--probably as a coping mechanism.  But there are significant moments that do stand out for me.  In my last post, I ended the synopsis of the beginning of my childhood right after my kindergarten year.  This week, I will focus on the years where I was in first through fourth grades. 

I am not one hundred percent on the exact timeline, but somewhere between kindergarten and second grade, my mother met someone...we'll call him George. We moved out of my grandparents' home and into a house we rented in town, with George.  He was going to be our  "new daddy".  The house we lived in was very temporary.  It was old and needed a lot of work, which my mother and George started working on.  They soon realized that it was too much and they were in over their heads, so we moved again, this time into a double-wide trailer that had an addition built onto it. And my mother married George. 

I don't remember much about him at all.  I do remember, though, that he laid around on the couch a lot.  I also remember that he would beat on my brother.  Gosh.  Writing that is so much harder than remembering it, even.  This full-grown man would give my brother a "whaling,"  as he called it, when my brother was less than 11 years old, for doing things that were ridiculously small or uncontrollable.  For example, if my brother wet the bed at night...on accident, he would get a whaling.  I can still hear the sounds of my brother screeching and crying in pain.  I HATED George.  I remember thinking about wanting to go into my brother's room and help him...scream at George, hit him...do something!  But I was such a young girl.  And I was afraid.  I was afraid of this man who was hurting my brother.  I was fearful that he would hurt me, too.  Of course, realistically, there wasn't anything I could've done.  Still, there has always been this lingering guilt for not having done anything to help my brother. 

That marriage did not last very long, thankfully, but during the time George and my mother were married, he legally adopted us.  My biological father signed-off all of his rights to my sister, brother, and I, which made it legal for George to adopt us...complete with our "new last name".  Naturally, as a young student in school, having my last name changed had been confusing, but I had been happy enough that we had a "new daddy" because this was before I knew what a jerk he was.

Feeling Abandoned 
With regards to the fact that my biological father signed-off all of his rights to my siblings and I, now that I am a mother of my own precious little loves, I cannot imagine, for the life of me, how someone could possibly just walk away from their children...and not even just physically, but to legally give up all of your rights to your children...for life.  I cannot fathom it.  Of course, when you are a kid, knowing that your father doesn't want to ever see you again is painful...even if you are afraid of him
But I think it becomes much more than simple heartache over time.  I have a fear of abandonment, for example, and an innate distrust in men.  (Sorry guys!)  Knowing this about myself, I have to work extra-hard to not allow that distrust to color my interactions with other people...friends, family, and men in general.  But no matter how successful my life has become, this has always followed me...this complete abandonment.  It's not something you just forget, forgive, and move on from like you might from a soured friendship...this is your own flesh and blood rejecting you in the most basic form.  You are not worthy enough to be loved, cared for, or even thought about from your own parent.  And don't even get me started on Father's Day!  As a kid, Father's Day was always awkward and heartbreaking. 

At this point in my life (somewhere before 4th grade), I had had two different last names and lived in at least 7 different homes, and about 4 or 5 different towns.  In this town, though, where my grandparents live(d), I began to feel safer to some extent.  The trailer we now lived in was right down the road from my grandparents' house.  We spent a lot of time with them.  They helped us out when we needed it, and even when my mother and George split, we were still close to them. 

Public Assistance
We stayed in the double-wide for a few years while my mother went back to school.  And we went on public assistance.  I know that we received food stamps several different times in our lives, but I am not sure what, if anything, else there was.  These days, there is so much controversy over public assistance.  Well, as a product of the welfare system, I can tell you first-hand, that it helped my family out immensely.  My mother was a single-mother at this point, raising us three kids by herself, and trying to change our path in life by earning her college degree.  Without food stamps, we wouldn't have had food to eat.  It's just that simple.

I know that being a single-mom is extremely difficult.  I give all the credit in the world to single-moms.  But I want to say that being the child of a single-mother is not easy, either.  Her having gone back to school to change our lives for the better--it must've been wicked hard on her.  It was hard on us kids, too.  We didn't understand all of the ways in which that affected us at the time.  It's only in retrospect that you can see how and why things were the way they were.  We were a family under great duress.  We often arrived to school late and unkempt.  I even had a truant officer speak with me at school at one point, which had left me feeling guilty, like I was a bad kid. 

This, to me, is an example of where our society fails.  A single-mom, trying to make something of herself, needs more support from the community.  The overload of stress on her is too much to bear and can lead to negative outcomes for the whole family...emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Is it fair that other people should have to support a woman "who went and got herself knocked-up"?  Honestly, if she is trying to make a better life for herself and her children, all of whom will become stronger and smarter citizens of our communities, then, YES!  It is fair.  And it is right.  And it is just.  But I could go on forever about that topic...

In any case, although it probably wasn't quite enough help, I'm sure that having my grandparents nearby was very helpful to her.  It was incredibly important to us kids, too.  We loved our grandparents so very much.  They were there for us when she couldn't be there (for the most part).  We did have many different babysitters over the years, too, and for a while we were latch-key kids, as well.  But we still spent a lot of time with our grandparents.  They were a major part of our lives.

Another New Daddy
During this time when my mother was attending college classes, she somehow met a new man.  I don't remember much about him or the situation.  What I DO remember, though, was driving by his home...late at night...on several different occasions.  At the time, I had no idea what was happening, but as an adult, I've realized that we were stalking him. I do not know what transpired between them, only that he was supposed to be our "new daddy" and we were going to move away, build a house, and we could each have our own bedrooms.  We used to sit at the dinner table and fantasize together about what our new house would look like.  As an outsider, that may seem just like harmless creative imagining.  But to a young child who desperately wanted a "new daddy," the promise of him, plus a dream home was thrilling!  Reality, of course, crushed all of those dreams. 

Life-Altering Move
Once my mother graduated from college, she decided to continue her education and work toward a Master's Degree at another college...in another part of the state.  We moved away from my grandparents.  We moved away from our town.  Away from our friends, teachers, community.  And, as luck would have it, the threat of my biological father was still looming.  Because of this, we were not allowed to tell ANYONE where we were moving to.  We were also going to be changing our names again, and we were not allowed to share that with anyone, either.  We were adopting an assumed alias and going off-grid (sort of...not really).  We took my grandparents' last name and moved so far away from them that we rarely ever saw them much again.  We completely severed ties from everyone else and I never saw or spoke with any of my elementary school friends again (until the advent of Facebook, that is!😜).  It was, as a child...and to this day, still is, heart-wrenching. New county, new town, new school, new home, new job for my mother...and another potential "new daddy" promise...

All in my next blog post...where I will focus on the "middle years".  (Sorry for the cliff-hanger...I'm plain old exhausted!  Just another Fibro moment!) Until then, thank you for reading.  And may your coming days be filled with the love of your family and friends!  It's what makes this crazy-life-thing worth it!

Dysfunctionally yours,
Marathon Momma


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hidden Secrets: Surviving a Dysfunctional Childhood The Early YearsPart 1

Dysfunctional Childhood

Life is Not Perfect
Life doesn't always wrap up in one neat little package.  We all know this.  Yet we strive for the perfect experience.  We want our marriages and friendships to be full of love, compassion, honesty...and fun.  We want our children to be wonderful little angels with a desire to please everyone (well, at least their parents, anyway), and a willingness to engage with and explore the world around them. We want our homes to be clean and neat, nothing out of order.  We want our cars shiny and new, running consistently and efficiently.  Heck!  We even want our dogs to play fetch or lay around and snuggle with us on our own time frame, no barking included.

But all of this perfection is not possible.  And if it were, our world would actually be quite boring.  Life is all about struggles that help make us stronger; challenges that teach us new things. 

As a young girl and eventually young lady, I had fully believed that when I became an adult, I could MAKE my life perfect like this.  Of course, having experienced many events in my adult life that I did not have control over, either, I have realized that this is an illusion; being able to MAKE life perfect. But it was an illusion I needed to believe in order to survive my childhood--a childhood marred with emotional and mental abuse, violence, fear, and uncertainty/insecurity.

I used to be embarrassed about my past.  I used to hide it from others because I was ashamed.  But I didn't have control over what happened when I was a child.  It was out of my hands. It was none of my doing.  I am a product of the choices other people made.  But I have always strongly believed that, no matter your early life circumstances, you have a choice in what you become.  You can choose to overcome your past.  Or you can choose to wallow in self-pity, head down a self-destructive path and do nothing with your life. It's up to you!

Over the next several posts, I will be sharing with you some of my imperfect past, with the hope that other people will learn that it's okay to talk about your childhood, regardless of how messed up or embarrassing it might seem.  You did not have control over how you were raised. And you are definitely not alone. There are so many other people that have lived experiences like yours, too.  And the power that comes from sharing those experiences is immense...Self-Empowerment Overload!  Without any further ado, here's what it was like to grow up...as me.

Violence in My Early Years
While I was growing up, my family faced challenges that most families never face.  Before I was five years old, I had already lived in several different homes and towns.  My biological father and my mother had separated and I clearly remember some scary moments from those early years. 

I can remember at one point, as a 3 or 4 year old, hearing my mother shrieking while I was upstairs.  My brother and I had raced down the stairs, crept into the kitchen and saw my father looming over my mother with her arm behind her back.  It was violent.  And it was frightening.  My mother has claimed that my father had been trying to break her arm.  My brother seems to remember my mother had a knife and my father was trying to get it away from her.  To this day I still do not know or understand the truth behind that event, only that it haunts the darkest recesses of my memory. 

At one point, probably after or somewhere around that time, my parents split up and my father had visitation rights.  One of the times I was supposed to go with him, I can remember that I was crying and afraid.  I did not want to go.  I'm not sure what my reasoning was at the time, but I did NOT want to go with him.  Was I scared of him?  Did I just want to stay home with my mother?  I don't remember what actually ended up happening that particular day...if I went or not.  But I do remember going on one visitation to his apartment.  I even remember the TV being on, and at one point, listening to Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl" on the radio.  It's funny because with what had transpired next, you might think that I would associate that song with negative emotions, but I still freaking LOVE that song!  I mean, who doesn't?!

Anyway, an adult's memory of an event that occurred under the age of 5 can be blurry.  But I will tell you, I clearly remember that we were supposed to go home.  He was supposed to take us.  But he didn't.  He told us that if my mother really wanted us back, she could come get us herself.  Well, she did just that. But she had to call upon the police to make sure she could get us back.  When they came to the apartment to get us out, it was terrifying.  My brother, sister, and I were ducking down, hiding behind the one side of the bed and I remember being afraid of getting shot by the police (I must've been some kind of big, bad criminal in those days of barely being able to reach the counter!). Of course, nothing like that happened.  But it DOES happen to other children in other families. Luckily, just not to mine. 

Moving to a New Town
We moved across the state and into my grandparents' vacation home after that.  This town is where we spent the next 5 or so years...one of the longest stretches we ever lived in one town.  So, this would also be where I began my illustrious education at the local elementary school, as a timid kindergartener afraid of the BIG, Scary World. 

On my first day of kindergarten, I climbed up the big yellow bus that would empty out into this new, ominous building with complete strangers.  When I walked through the doors and didn't know where to go, I stood in the hallway and began to cry.  My teacher, Mrs. Schuler, found me and put a loving arm around my trembling shoulders, guiding me into her classroom.  I loved her.  She was warm, welcoming, and always sang songs with us.  She had a piano in the classroom that she played "Suzie Snowflake" on, and she was simply glorious!

During that first year, I met many new friends...and even had a boyfriend!  Yup, that was me...the five-year-old floozy! πŸ˜†  His name was Jason.  And we played together on the playground a lot.  During nap time, we sometimes had our carpets (remember those?!) next to each other, too. 

This first year in my new town (my grandparents' weekend and summer town), we were always looking over our shoulders.  We were afraid of my biological father coming to kidnap us.  My brother, sister, and I overheard adult conversations, and were also taught all of the safety rules...don't go outside alone, don't tell anyone anything personal, and do NOT go with your father if he shows up to take you.  Also...he could try to take you at school, so the school knows that you are not to leave with him. But always be on the lookout for your crazy-ass father.

For the longest time, I never understood why my sister had a kindergarten graduation when she was finally in school, yet I hadn't had one.  And we had had the same teacher!  How unfair!  Yeah, well a few years back it finally, FINALLY dawned on me.  The reason why I hadn't had a kindergarten graduation was not because there wasn't one...it was because we were pulled out of school early that year to basically go into hiding.  After being picked up from school that day, us kids had to hide on the floor of the backseat of our light blue station wagon while my mother ran errands so that my father wouldn't see us, kidnap us, or shoot us.  (He was a sharp-shooter, you know.)

We lived in a world of fear. Which is why, one afternoon during my kindergarten nap, when a tall, strange man entered our classroom, went into the cubbies to grab a few things, and proceeded to remove my boyfriend, Jason, from the room, I thought he was coming for me.  It turns out that he was Jason's father, and yes, as the non-custodial parent, he actually did kidnap my friend.  He picked Jason up off of his napping carpet and carried him right out the door of the classroom, bookbag, coat, and shoes in hand. 

My teacher was clearly upset and worried, running out to the principal's office.  We didn't see Jason again for a very long time.  The local newspaper had run at least one story (that I remember) on Jason's disappearance.  Eventually, he was found and he returned to school.  But it was weeks or months later.  I cannot even imagine what his mother must've went through during this time.  To this day, I still think about how strange and coincidental it was that something like that happened to another child in my world, especially considering that it was a fear I lived every day.

In a nutshell, that's how my year of kindergarten shaped-up...fear of kidnapping, witnessing a kidnapping, missing out on my kindergarten graduation.  Were there good times/happy times?  Yes, of course there were!  Not having unlimited time to explore every single aspect of my childhood, though, I am focusing on the point of this series of posts.  Which, again, is to help other people realize that 1) childhood is a crap shoot...and you have absolutely NO say in how it turns out; 2) you have a choice in what happens AFTER childhood...what you become is all up to YOU; and 3) you are NOT alone...other people have grown up in messed-up families and have survived or THRIVED, so you can, too!  I am a prime example of that!

In my next post, I will continue sharing my early years with you.  I know that not everyone has experienced this type of childhood, but I hope some of you have connected with this post in some way.  Want to add to this conversation?  Feel free to write in the comments below!

No longer embarrassed,
Marathon Momma

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hair Dye

Hair Dye Watch our silly video of my daughter and I preparing to dye my hair! Please like and subscribe!

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