“you’re stronger than me”

I’ve had this said to me so many times by a man, I’ve lost count.

At first, it sounds like a compliment. No, at first it is a compliment. They admire it. It’s intriguing. They even take pride in it when they talk about how strong I am to others.

But let me tell you what happens. They stop admiring it. It becomes a bar set too high when they would rather go numb. They “shh” me because they can’t find their own words. They call me “crazy” because to examine their own feelings looks a lot like work they can’t get credit for in a paycheck.

Then it turns to: “I’m just not strong enough for you. You deserve better” and they jump ship.

Here’s the thing: you get stronger when the only option you have is to be strong. If the opt out/greener grass option remains available to you, you’re never going to get strong enough. Unless, you WANT to do the work. Guys, a lot of you are still praying for things that you could have long since accomplished, had you not turned your nose up when the opportunity was given to you because it looked more like work, than a blessing bestowed upon you.

May it be of benefit to someone because it just hurts my heart a whole lot tonight.

Since Mom was in the hospital, we’ve been spending a much greater amount and quality of time together. We’ve both been talking about all these very vivid memories and dreams that keep coming to mind. We have been trying to piece together memories and timelines. This is also coinciding with me decluttering … well, my whole life. Below is an example of one of many astounding connections we have come across. This joint time and effort has provided the greatest insight into who my Mom is and how she arrived at herself in the present, as I’m doing the same work myself. It’s beautiful and I am so grateful for it.

On a good note

Perhaps it is the steroids treating my pneumonia talking, but as awful as I feel physically, my heart is hella happy.

First night of summer and my baby girl finally spread her wings and socialized. Met knew people. Genuinely laughed. Bounced up the stairs at 10pm just making it home for curfew and the thing she’s been missing for so long….that happiness, that genuine lust for life as she relayed the events and conversation of her night.

It bound up everything in me that had been emotionally destroyed.

I can’t explain it beyond that. I’ll take it.

It’s still a man’s world

I missed a call from the police department today. With a son with special needs living on his own, a newly licensed teenage son and a teenage daughter with mental health concerns, getting a voicemail with an officer/contact information but nothing else, that’s not cool!

I did what any mother would do and switched back and forth between attempting to reach the officer and my kids. Murphy’s Law: Once I got the kids checked off, I got through to the officer. He’s following up on a telecommunications harassment complaint.

To make a very long story short: I had to reprimand my daughter about something she posted on social media about the boy who randomly slid his hand up her shirt. Yes, HE harasses her, HE is dating her best friend since 1st grade and friend takes his side, HE bullies my daughter at school to intimidate her from talking, her mental health took a huge hit, I had to pull her out of the school, but she was reprimanded and had charges dangling over her head because of talking about it, yet this little fucker receives no consequences. His mother said, “My son wouldn’t do that”.

PARENTS: LISTEN! We’re all human and flawed. Yes, even your child. Believing that your child just simply isn’t capable of doing something is a poison like no other. If we do not have uncomfortable discussions with our children, we will only create monsters of privilege with no accountability. (See:Trump)

This whole situation is bringing up unpleasant memories. PTSD in full effect. I just don’t understand how this is still happening 20 years later?! That’s fucked up.

The conversation I had with her was to the point and unremarkable. The disgust and despair I feel for having to have had it at all … I don’t even have words to describe.

A side order of awkward

A girlfriend of mine asked if she could take me out.

I replied, “Hell yeh. Let’s do that! I’m so excited.”

This is someone I used to work with. It’s been awhile since we’ve had hangouts.

Then she says that she was glad she asked me. She said, “I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m feeling quite ballsy. I’m going to ask her out.'”

I swear to God, I am figuring out that this was a date I had just agreed to go on while she was simultaneously telling me about how depressed she had been, anxious and about intrusive self harm and suicidal thoughts.

(sidenote:this is not as alarming to me. this is something people often reach out to me about due to my volunteering as a crisis counselor and that i’m an open book when it comes to my personal experiences with mental health issues)

So, while I would have liked to have just explained the misunderstanding, timing was real bad.

I asked my teenage daughter what she would do in both situations. Tell her was the obvious go-to, but when she heard me talk about the depression, she look up at me, shook her head and said, “I guess cut your nails, Mom” *i am dead 😂*

Look, I’ve experimented, but mostly with a partner. It’s more for them than me. If I was in a relationship, I might even pitch the idea. Is that wrong?

Then, I started to review how many things I have done in my life that I was uncomfortable with, but didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so, I just went along? The answer is a lot. THEN, I thought: exactly how far does consideration go? Jesus Christ! Is it possible to be too empathetic? Because I think I’m doomed ya’ll.

*clips nails*

Therapy

She asked me when the wheels came off and I couldn’t pinpoint it. In summary, months was the answer to the timetable. Something had happened, but what? We started retracing my steps. Tears welled up in my eyes when I talked about losing both my dogs within the same calendar year, but I broke down, shaking….sobbing, when I recounted the month of October and that was when she stopped and set the paper and pen down.

“Stephanie, trauma is not linear. It never goes away. Some days you’re in acceptance, others you’re going to find yourself right back in the grief. You were exposed to your trauma. You faced your abuser down in Court and then you isolated yourself away where it was safe.”

I told her what I thought I did wrong or should have done better, or at least different. I talked about all the digestive issues, my hair falling out, the fatigue —oh my god THE FATIGUE, the brain fog… the break up.

“Be gentle with yourself.”, she says.

I thought it was a prudent reminder that I could work into my DBT/CBT skills. I must confess that since putting this into practice, I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to use it and it hasn’t even been 12 hours.

I also kept my promise to journal.

Recovery underway…

THE Note to Self, an epiphany.

Sometimes, when I’m recovering medically, being alone let’s my mind wonder to dark corners. I get really hard on myself. 

My Dad called tonight and he wasn’t having any of it. 

As I cried to him about all the things that keep a middle-aged, single mother up at night, all the things I put away from everyone else, but Dad, he stopped me in my tracks. He told me that HE. ADMIRED. ME. That I was was one of the strongest women he knew because I have survived multiple wounds and sufferings beyond what most people would be crushed beneath singularly. 

I said, “Dad, I just feel like I’m always trying to do the right thing and I keep on coming up short.”

He replied, “You have an adopted special-needs son who would likely be dead if not for you and who you treat just like your own biological children, because he is to you and anyone else who knows you. You advocated for him through everything. You might not have much but you always get what your kids need. You raised some incredibly resilient kiddos. You have life long friends because you’re a wonderful friend. That’s incredibly rare, Stephie. C’mon, give yourself some credit.”

Just as I was going to bed, I started thinking that I had not accomplished as many things as I had wanted to today, when my dog, Zeke, walked into my room. I just looked down at him and smiled, realizing that even on my worst days, I’ve rescued five animals. Things may not be the way we want, but yet, still we have what we need; and no matter what ANYONE else may think or say…my kids still say “I love you, Mommy” and that’s all the things. 

The smallest act of kindness outweighs the grandest intentions.