Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cleaning Out My Closet

In yesterday's post, I talked about how I am ready to let go of my past and accept that there are things in my life that I can't change, and I'm done with beating myself up over them. Today's subject is one of those things.

Other than my husband and my best friend, I've never told anyone about this. I never told my mom. I feel conflicted about that, too. I guess I shouldn't say I've never told *anyone*. I did write an article anonymously over at The Women's Colony, and received a tremendous amount of support. I could have left it at that, but it's time for me to stare this demon down and not let it rule my life anymore. I'm talking about it on my blog not because I want pity or even praise for being so open and honest, but because I have to exorcise this demon from my life once and for all. So here goes.

As a child, I was sexually abused. From the time I was five years old, until I was seven, by my baby sitter's husband. I'm not going to go in to the sordid details, but suffice to say, I knew way too much about things of a sexual nature sooner than any child should ever have to. I know that there were girls before me, because he told me so, and I'm sure there were girls after me. My heart breaks for them.

I never told my mom when it was happening, because he told me that she wouldn't believe me. Looking back, I don't know if I know that to be true, but I do know that I recall feeling like I couldn't tell her because I was afraid it would make her mad. As a parent now, I can't help but wonder, did she have any suspicions? Were there any red flags? I remember being terrified when I got to the sitters house every morning, praying that he would have already left for work. I remember the dread of going back there every day when I got out of school, knowing that there was a chance I would be left alone with him, as he would watch me after my sitter left for her job, until my mom picked me up after she got off of work.

I stopped going to that baby sitter at the end of my first grade school year. That summer, my mom and I moved with my Aunt Judy to Arizona. I tried every day to forget about what all he had done to me, but you never really forget. And those experiences shaped me and molded me in ways that to this day, I'm still trying to undo. I had a deep-seated mistrust and a lot of rage towards boys then boys in high school and then men, but at the same time, maybe because my own father was absent, a desperate desire for their attention. I was more promiscuous than I should have been, I made a lot of foolish choices based on my early experiences with men.

At some point in early adulthood, though, I had had enough. I finally realized and understood that what he did to me was NOT my fault. It didn't happen because I was bad, it happened because he was a sick person. Deep down, I think his wife knew, and I think she turned a blind eye to the whole situation, which is tragic for all the children she watched. I would love to have asked her, but she died when gas line in her home exploded back in 2004. As for her husband, I found out that he died of a massive heart attack in the mid-80s. Karma indeed.

As a parent myself now, it has made me very alert to who Chickenhead is around. I preached the evils of stranger danger and good touch/bad touch early and often. He probably thinks I'm a bit crazy, and he might be right, but he knows that I've got his back. He knows that he can tell either myself or the Husband anything, and we will support him and we are always there for him.

As a survivor (that sounds kind of silly, but I guess I did survive and now I have that diso song in my head!) of sexual abuse, all I can tell you is talk with your children. Let them know that they should never be afraid to discuss anything with you. I'm not saying to run a background check on every adult your child comes in contact with, but if they're spending a lot of time around other adults and you're not there with them, just keep an eye and an ear open. Make un-announced visits if you can. Look for changes in your child's behavior, sleep pattern, appetite. If they express dread or displeasure about going around someone, talk to them. I think the hardest thing for me was that because my abuser was an adult, I believed him when he said that my mom, another adult, wouldn't take my word over his. We teach our children to mind adults, and they're taught to learn that adults don't lie. It's an ugly trap that children end up in.

So. There. I've written it all down, I've said all I need to say about it. You are done here, demon, and you won't rule my life anymore. Thanks for listening, y'all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Move On, Shall We?

I can honestly say that I will be quite happy to see 2009 leave already. This has not been the best year of this decade. There was the summer of death, when everyone in Hollywood died (ok, almost everyone), and then my mom died, and people were losing their houses, their jobs, dogs and cats were living together....it hasn't been good.

But this decade, this decade has been rather remarkable for me. At the beginning of the New Millenium, I had Chickenhead, the best and brightest Y2K baby ever. From then on, my world has been forever changed, and for the better. No matter how crappy this past year has been, I wouldn't change the past decade for anything, no sir.

For me, part of moving on is letting go of the past. My mother's passing has allowed me to see that there are things that I can never change no matter what. There are things that have happened that I had no control over, that weren't my fault, and so it's time to stop beating myself up about it. It's a realization that some things can hold us back whether we realize it or not, and in order to move forward, I need to acknowledge them and let them go. So once in a while, you might see a more serious post here, but rest assured that I'm doing fine. I feel like the 'old' me (but I ain't old, got it?!), I feel like I am ready for new challenges, new adventures, more good times with my old, also not old friends, and much more time with my home team, The Husband and Chickenhead. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a VERY good year, and I'm looking forward to it!

May all of you have the best New Year ever!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

T.G.I.O- Thank God It's Over!!

First, I would like to say that I really hate having this attitude about the holidays; that looking forward to them ending is a bigger part of my life than looking forward to them arriving. Maybe next year, I'll get more excited about it. This year, Mother Nature and other mysterious forces were at work to not only make me crave an IV of Cuervo, but to also run screaming in to the night like a character from a Stephen King novel. Here's the quick run down...

My BIL, who's divorce was finalized in September, wanted everyone to come out to his new girlfriend's house for Christmas Eve dinner. The Husband and I have been hosting the dinner in our home since Chickenhead was just a little hatchling. I've always enjoyed hosting it, and having the house filled with the laughter of kids and adults alike. I told BIL that I knew that this year had brought a lot of changes to his life, and that he wanted to make new traditions with his kids. This year, having everyone come over for dinner also meant a lot more to me because of my mom's passing. She hated the holidays in general, but I really do think she kind of liked hanging out with my in-laws for a bit.

My MIL, who has a big heart and means well, offered to spend the night at our house the night before Christmas Eve so that she could cook during the day while I was at work. I was fine with that, even though my eyes got a little twitchy in the corners at the thought of someone else in my kitchen, going through cabinets and drawers, putting stuff away wrong, etc. I was trying to let it go, and just go with the flow. When I came home that night, there was a sign on the front door that said, 'Caution- the floor in the hallway is slick. REAL SLICK'. I went in and sure enough, the floor was slicker than snot, but luckily, I didn't fall. The Husband and my MIL, however, were not so lucky, as both of them fell on their butts. I asked what had caused all this slickery. Turns out she was trying to marinate some aspeargus in Italian dressing, and when she was bringing it in, it spilled. Even though they cleaned up and mopped, the floor was still a danger zone. Again, my eyes got twitchy, but I just pasted a smile on my face and whipped out my Swiffer Wet Jet and had a good scrubbing session.

Christmas Eve, at last! I got off of work early, and the Husband picked me up. By this time, weather here was turning nasty quickly, and we were getting the required layer of ice that preceeds all snow storms in the Kansas City area. We got home and went inside, still stepping carefully on the hallway floor. I went in to the kitchen and my eyes started twitching immediately, so I just turned around and went back out. My FIL and Grand-FIL came over for dinner and we actually had a nice time eating and talking. MIL forgot to serve the aspeargus, but nobody noticed. It was one of the many dishes she makes and never serves, or serves but nobody eats. FIL then announced that they had to hurry along the gift opening, so that they could head out in what was now a blizzard, to BIL's dinner over an hour away. There was a flurry of wrapping paper, and before I knew it, they were out the door. I spent two hours cleaning my kitchen, and just as I finished, MIL comes in and says, 'Oh I stayed away long enough to get out of cleaning!'. Yeah, ha-ha! You funny! Actually, I didn't mind cleaning because she had spent all day cooking/decimating my kitchen, so all's fair I suppose.

I had Chickenhead take his shower and get ready for bed so that Santa could come. Actually, Santa had taken a tylenol PM, and was ready for some serious sleep. But alas, sleep was not to be. Chickenhead was bunking down in the Manhole, the Husband's TV room down in the basement. They were going to watch a movie and then crash. Nope, didn't happen. Chickenhead woke me up from my medicated slumber at 1 AM sobbing hysterically. It took me a couple of seconds to figure out if it was a dream or for real. 'Santa didn't come, he doesn't love me!!', he sobbed. I spent a good 20 minutes both trying to wake myself up, and get Chickenhead calmed down. I finally told him that hey, Santa won't come as long as he knows that you're awake. I had Chickenhead get his pillow and crawl in to bed with me. The Husband had crashed down in the Manhole, so Chickenhead got in bed and finally, mercifully, went to sleep. I did, too, and woke in the pre-dawn hours to smuggle the presents from their hiding places out to under the tree.

Christmas moring came and we watched Chickenhead open his gifts. He proclaimed it the best Christmas ever. Yeah, that didn't last long. I took the cover off of our parakeet, (re)Pete (the first Pete died)'s cage, and he was all fat and puffy and weir looking. I remembered that was how Pete I looked right before he died. The Husband and I moved his cage to a warmer spot in the room and got a heater going on his cage to keep him warm. For the rest of the day, I was afraid to go in to the dining room, for fear that (re)Pete would be lying there in his cage. Luckily, he's alive!! He's just fine, thank God.

My MIL spent Christmas Day and the weekend crashed out on the sofa in the family room. She ate an entire pumpkin pie during that time, claiming that her blood sugar was too low. I know that pie does have some restorative powers, I sure feel better after some pie, but dang. I don't think pie is a cure for diabetes. Finally, FINALLY, the MIL went home on Sunday. By then we had six inches of snow and I had a raging case of cabin fever. But it was over! My long holiday nightmare was OVER!

Even though the entire holiday weekend made me slightly crazy, I cherish the good moments. Watching Chickenhead playing with his new toys, checking out his new clothes, fixing our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of pancakes and sausage, and just spending time together. These people may make me nuts, but there's a lot of love mixed in with all the insanity. That being said, I'm really glad I don't have to do all of this again until next year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lost and Found

Yes, it's me again. I found my way back here. I've been meaning to write for some time now, but you know, the holidays and all? And am I the only one that is kind of over the whole thing? Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, the 'magic' of it. I love the look in Chickenhead's eyes when he opens up presents. I love houses that are all lit up like the runway at the airport. I love cookies and hot cocoa, yadda, yadda, yadda. What I don't love is the insane race that we always seem to end up in starting after Thanksgiving. You've got one month to decorate, do cards, take pictures, attend school programs, bake (actually I like this part), buy presents, obsess over whether or not you got the 'right' present, on and on and on. It's no wonder everyone is on edge by now. The most common phrase I've heard this week? 'I am SO over this!' Yeah, me too. It's very easy to get so consumed by all the other nonsense that we forget the real reason for this holiday, and what our family means to us. I'm going to try this weekend to find my way back to the things I really enjoy about the holidays and forget the rest.

Last week, I found a cousin of mine on Facebook. We haven't seen each other in almost 30 years. How did that happen? His father was my uncle, my mom's brother. When my uncle died in 1981, my mom stopped talking to his wife, and so I haven't seen my cousins since then. I'm always kind of taken back when I see or talk to someone from my past. My cousin is almost 40, has a 19-yr old daughter, how can that be? His sisters are in their 30s now and have kids of their own. I feel bad that we've all missed so much of each others lives.

I started going through my mom's pictures. My cousin was only 10 when my uncle died, and he has a lot of questions about his dad. I told him I would do what I could to answer them. Going through mom's photos, I found a lot of pictures of my uncle as a little boy, in high school, then in the Navy. I've scanned them, and am giving the originals to my cousin. I even found a letter that my uncle wrote to my grandparents back in '68. I'll be giving that to my cousin as well, because he told me he didn't even know what his father's handwriting looked like. For some reason, that touched me deeply and filled me with sadness. I want him to have these things, and I think my mom would want him to have them, as well.

Going through the photos also somehow led me to spending a lot of time on ancestry.com. Boy, is that site addicting! Maybe it's kind of nerdy, but I get a real kick out of looking at old census records, and marriage records, and trying to figure out who's who in my family tree.

In a lot of ways, I'm starting to feel like myself again. I don't know who I was for a while, but I feel like the old me. Does that make sense? Probably not, but I feel like a fog has been lifted, and I can breathe again. I think I was a little lost for a while, but I've found my way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Thoughts on Vegetarianism

Lately I've been thinking more and more about cutting back on meat consumption. I don't know if I could ever commit to a vegetarian lifestyle, but several things are making me consider some serious dietary changes.

The first thing that made me seriously consider less meat was watching the documentary, 'Food, Inc.'. Even in you have zero interest in stopping your consumption of meat, I encourage you to see this film. Educate yourself about where the food you put in to your body comes from. The realization that the meat that we eat, either from the supermarket or the fast-food joint is essentially 'factory food', was a real eye-opener for me. Can I give up the tasty bacon? I don't know. I don't know if I can live a life without bacon or a burger or a bacon-cheeseburger. But I think I can live a life with lessbacon, or at least bacon that comes from a more ethical source.

Second was former Vice President Al Gore's appearance on Larry King Live in which he stated, "the impact of meat-intensive diet is a significant factor" in warming the planet, that "the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is bad for the planet," and that "the more meals I've substituted with more fruits and vegetables, the better I feel about it..." Reducing one's intake of meat is the single most significant thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint if you're in to that sort of thing.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the realization that heart disease is very prevalent on both sides of my family. My father died from heart disease in 2005, and my mother's sudden death last month was most certainly a result from heart disease and high blood pressure. Diets filled with lots of tasty meat are also filled with lots of saturated fat. I like to imagine that at 42, I am much too young to be thinking about hardened and clogged arteries, but that's not my reality.

So, what do I plan on doing? Well, like I said, I don't see myself joining PETA anytime soon. I can't get with any organization that wants to rename fish 'Sea Kittens' in an effort to get people to stop eating fish. The folks at PETA, while I'm sure are well-intentioned, are plainly put, freaks. They are what makes me hesitant to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle, because Lord knows I don't need to be any freakier than I already am. But I do plan on reducing the amount of meat that I eat. My goal is to have two or three meatless days a week, and when I do eat meat, to try to eat only meat that was raised and slaughtered ethically. It won't be easy, and I'm sure I'll fall off the meat wagon (HA!) more than once, but I feel like I owe it to myself and to my family to try.

What about you? Could you give up meat? Could your family go meatless for one or two days a week?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here

I'm still kind of waiting to see how Christmas will affect me this year. It was not my mom's favorite holiday, although I'm not sure why. I find myself with a lot of questions about her and her life that I may never get answers to. At any rate, I'm looking forward to the holiday, the decorations, and the cards.

I love getting Christmas cards! I like cards that come with photos or without. Especially in this era of emails, e-cards, IMs and texting, it's nice to get something tangible in the mail. Something with handwriting on it that someone took the time to address and mail to you. I like making cards, too. I've made my Christmas cards for the past few years, and it's something that I really enjoy.

This year, I mixed it up and made all different kinds of cards. Most of them are very non-traditional as far as colors go. I love red and green, but I also love different, unexpected color combinations.

For example, take a look at this-

(ok, I don't know why that picture is standing on it's side. It was oriented the right way when I went to upload it.) I love the combination of pink and black. It looks kind of funky and retro and maybe even a little elegant. I've wanted to do a black Christmas card for a while, just because I like the idea of being different. Here's another one-

Sweet!

Some of my other favorites this year feature blues, greens and purples-




And yeah, there's some red and green, too-

(Sorry about your necks! Looks like that one's all wonky, too)




No matter what the holidays mean to you, I hope that they bring you much happiness and peace! Happy Holidays!

OK, So I've Been A Little Busy...

We're still in a midst of a holiday hurricane here at the Casa. Things will calm down soon, I'm sure, but for now, I'm going in about 60 different directions.

The tree is half-way up, and may not get finished until tomorrow. I don't know about you, but when I put the tree up, I have to put the lights on a certain way. I wrap each branch in lights as I put it on the pole. Thanks to my OCD lighting issues, my new strand of 300 white lights did only the bottom three tiers of branches. And guess who doesn't have more white lights? Mmm-hmm... So tomorrow I will send the Husband out to pick up more lights and we can get that beast finished already.

I have got one thing accomplished- I got all of my Christmas cards made and all but five of them in the mail. I need to go get more stamps and I'm sure by then, I'll think of about ten more people I should send a card to. I'll post pictures of the cards later tonight.

Christmas shopping still needs to be done. I bought Chickenhead three things from Amazon.com. He loves a series of children's books called 'The 39 Clues', so I bought him the latest book, a card game and a calendar. If you ask him specifically what he wants this year, he'll rattle off a few video game titles and the always popular Nerf dart gun. Have you ever been attacked by a 9-year old with a round of 100 Nerf darts in his semi-automatic Nerf gun? I have, and it's not pretty.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. My girlfriends are coming over for the annual cookie exchange! We had so much fun last year, sitting around talking and nibbling on tasty treats! I've got two recipes up my sleeve and I'll share them with you this weekend, along with pictures. It should be a blast.

So, that's what's been going on around here. I'm looking forward to the new year, and the new possibilities that it brings. And the opportunity to take it easy!