"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Friday, June 17, 2016

To my kids

Listen you little the time you read this (if I let you)...there will be a few of you (if I have anything to say about it at least).

I read something today on Facebook about a dad that took pictures of his daughter using drugs and tried to get her arrested. There were SO many comments condemning him for what he did. Saying that he should have tried to help her, and talk to her, and blah blah blah. So much hatred for a father trying to save his daughter in the only way he knew how.

So here's the deal- I am not your friend. I'm not your pal, buddy, or girlfriend. I am your mother. I am going to piss you off more than you have any idea. And I'm going to do it because I love you, and believe it or not...I know better than you do. (Now don't'll realize that one day...probably around 25 years old). Just ask your grandmother...I thought I knew it all once too...and then my life imploded in my face.

If I have to do something like get you arrested because I think it's the only way to save you? I will do it. Because in this scary world it's likely you will be safer sitting in jail than on the streets making bad decisions. I hope we raise you better than that of course...but I'm no stranger to what addiction can do to a person.

I just want you to remember...even when you hate my guts...I love you. So does your dad. We would quite literally take any pain away from you if we could. We would jump in front of a car for you, wrestle a bear, take on anyone that tried to harm you.

But we aren't too naive to think that some demons will still get to you. Despite our best efforts, it's a terrible statistic that at least one of our beautiful babies will eventually get in over their heads. And when it happens, we will still be here trying to help you.

You aren't going to like it. You are going to hate us some days. You will do things intentionally to make us mad. But we will never stop loving you, or fighting for you to get back on the right road.

As I read that article about the father my heart broke a little bit. Emmalynne is 5 months old right now next to my desk asleep. The thought of losing her, or any of our beyond devastating. It's something I can't (and won't) try to wrap my mind around. So you can be damn sure that the day we think you are a danger to yourself...we will do what we have to to keep you safe. Because our lives are about you...and our lives are contingent on you being healthy and safe.

That man lost his daughter despite his best efforts. And although I'm sure it is no consolation to least he did all that he could. He made her mad...he refused to be her friend...and he tried his damndest to keep her safe.

This world is scary. I'm afraid to see what it will look like when you all grow up. But know that your safety will always be right at home with parents that would do anything to ensure your future success and happiness.

Especially when it translates to being strict and "mean." 
Tough love baby. You'll like us again one day. 
Probably when you have your own kids. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Piece by piece

Before you start reading...listen to this song:

Every single time I hear it I think of the last time I saw my father...when I met him in the airport in Tampa. I remember walking away from him that day to go to my flight and I refused to cry in front of him. He yelled "I love you" right as I approached a corner, and I fell to the ground the second I was out of his sight. I cried harder in that moment than I had in years.

I had no idea it would be the last time I ever saw him. I had no idea just how bad things were going to get. But I did know that he hadn't changed. I knew for sure that the love he preached was conditional. It had to be earned, not freely given as a parent's love is supposed to be. That day I realized he would never be the dad I wanted him to be...and that to heal myself I had to cut ties. I had to walk away for good.

Shortly after that visit, he really lost it. His drug use got worse. His actions turned more violent. His tendencies to stalk girlfriends escalated. His legal struggles took a turn for the more dangerous. He became a true monster, not the man that made swings for me in the backyard.

But something beautiful came from that visit. A new me was born that day. The "recovering" part of the skeptic came through. That day I stopped trying to be who he wanted me to be...and started being the person that I wanted to be.

I am so blessed that my daughter will never know that pain. She will never have to pick herself up from that kind of hurt. Because her daddy loves her...unconditionally. 

Oh and I should add...he loves me too. 

The recovering skeptic took a leap guys...we are officially one family that will never show our children anything but support and love. Because they deserve nothing less. 

Recovery never "ends" but piece by piece it gets a lot easier.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

My husband

I got married this weekend. It was perfect...and every second was more than I could have hoped for.

However I got a lot of questions about my dad. A lot of questions I wasn't prepared to answer.

And after all of the nonsense over 98% of his family not showing up...I lost patience.

So here are the answers:

Yes, it sucked to not have my father at my wedding.

No, I didn't think about him constantly.

Yes, there were a few moments that I got angry he wasn't there.

No, I don't regret that he wasn't there to walk me down the aisle or dance with me.

But here are the more important details of this weekend:

I got to honor the woman that took his place.

I got to celebrate with my sister, a beautiful girl that came from his existence.

And most importantly...I got to marry a man that is an amazing father to his daughters. A man that treats the mother of his children with respect. THE man that has my heart for life.

My husband.

So all of that is my focus. The positive of the amazing man I married...and my new life.

Not the life I have chosen to leave behind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Let's celebrate

So let's start with saying...I'm getting married in about 10 days. May 28th...I will be officially married to the man of my dreams. To Superman. Life is finally turning into everything that I wanted it to be. I have been extremely calm with it all so far. I haven't been crazy, I haven't been bridezilla...I've been remarkably removed from the whole situation. Maybe that's good maybe it's bad...I don't really know.

That being said...

A different set of challenges comes to someone that has the background that I do. A set of challenges I thought I was going to be able to avoid.

The father daughter dance is it's own animal...and I have already found a way to make that a beautiful part of the night instead of a sad part. I have overcome something that has deeply hurt me in the past.

I thought I had everything under control until this past weekend...when all of the calm attitude I had went to shit.

Going into this wedding I had asked my father's mother if she wanted to be included in the guest list for the wedding. Things have been so strained after everything my father did...I was torn as to whether or not I should include that part of my life in my new life. But I reached out because I felt it was the right thing to do.

Upon returning home from a trip...she responded to me and told me she couldn't travel anymore given her age. I tried to understand. I tried very hard...despite that she had just returned from my cousin's graduation in another state. She lived in Texas...I live in Ohio. I didn't give it another thought.

Until Saturday. On Saturday I saw pictures of her at a family home...just over 2 hours from where I live...with my cousins and their children. 2 weeks from my wedding. Two. Weeks. Two. Hours. 

I was instantly infuriated and called my mother spouting it is very difficult for me to understand how someone could not only be so conniving...but also so cruel.

What my grandmother did hurt me. There is no questioning that...I won't pretend to hide behind some smiling face of "it's ok, I'm stronger than that." Because I am's not okay...and despite me being stronger than her's still wrong. There is NOTHING "okay" about her choices right now.

On the same note...essentially my father's entire family has chosen to miss our wedding. Minus one aunt that has also made an effort to be in our lives as long as I can remember. And for the record...I use the word "chose" very intentionally. There have been excuses as to why they can't attend...but at a certain point those excuses stop becoming logical reasons...and start to be just what they are...excuses. This wedding has been planned for a year and a half. The date was known...if it truly mattered to anyone...they would have been here.

And quite frankly...many of them haven't shown any interest in our daughter up until this point. They haven't shown much of an interest in general when it comes to our life together. The only person from my father's family to see our new home is the aunt I previously mentioned. The same one who stood by my mother 24 years ago...and fought for my best interest.

Back to the point...

I was angry. I was hurt. I was straight pissed the hell off when I saw the pictures of my grandmother obviously caring a hell of a lot more about my cousins and their children...than me and my girls.

I called my mom furious. Angry that I was missing out on the unconditional love a family should have for everyone involved. I was upset that yet again that family had basically told me they don't give a damn about anything I do now that my father is officially gone. I was mad that my choices to cut a toxic person out of my life had not only affected my relationships with multiple people...but had also taken my childrens' chances away at knowing their grandparents. 

She helped me realize something though.

This is not my loss.

(Read that again.)

This is. NOT MY. Loss.

I didn't make this choice. They did.

If we don't mean enough for you to be around...we don't want you here. 

I have a BEAUTIFUL family on my mother's side. A family that I'm afraid I sometimes take for granted.

In a matter of days they will be gathering from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY to be with us for our special time. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, children (adopted, fostered, loved) will be here with us.

The definition of family will be displayed in less than two weeks. 

Family that loves regardless the situation. Family that will be embracing all of us. Me, Superman, Munchkin, and our tiniest addition.

In this family there is no "exception." There are no qualifications to be included. 

In this family...we are just 
We love regardless.
We are there no matter what.
We celebrate the best parts of "us."

In a few days I not only get to see the people that I love no matter what...

I also get to celebrate the family I am creating. The family that will officially be "one" in 10 days.

I'm not losing out here.
My children aren't losing out here.

Everyone that chose to separate themselves and not make FAMILY a priority...
they are losing out...
and that's not my problem.

Let's celebrate!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The good stuff

Just realized it was 1 am and I was up...for a happy reason.

Emma is sleeping in her crib (for the first time) and I am stuffing wedding invites.

I'm tired, I'm a bit stressed...

But I'm happy.

I want to make sure that these days I truly say that things are happy. So unbelievably happy...that sometimes I feel silly for feeling down. I have a hard time accepting "depression" because I'm so content and glad about where my life is now.

20 years ago I had no idea what was about to hit me. I had separate parents that loved me...I thought. I hadn't learned to say "no" yet.

15 years ago I was in a terrible situation. I lived every day with a drug dealer that couldn't care for himself...let alone me. I lived in fear...I lived in anger...I lived in a situation that no child should ever face.

10 years ago I had just gotten away from that man who destroyed me. I didn't know which way was up...because I had spent most of my existence listening to how terrible I was and how I didn't get to have my own voice.

5 years ago I was married to someone that didn't care about me, and someone that didn't value what "marriage" stood for. I still didn't understand what a "healthy" relationship was.

Today... my daughter is asleep upstairs. I am about to marry a man that I want our girls to look up to. A man that treats the mother of his children with not only respect...but love. A man that works his ass of to provide for his kids and family. A man that isn't perfect...but that believes in giving the best of himself to his family.

15 years ago my life was a disaster. I remember not wanting to live on this planet because I truly couldn't imagine a life without anger and pain. At 10-11 years old I had accepted that life was always going to be hard. One person had fought for me my entire life...but even she couldn't protect me from the hell that was in my father's home.

I understood suicide. It seemed safer in a way...he couldn't hurt me if I wasn't here. He couldn't get to me...and he couldn't scare me anymore.

But guys...I'm still standing.

Just over 3 years ago my father died. People wonder why I say that I was happy when it happened. It sounds completely neurotic right? My dad died and I am happy about it. But there's a lot you don't understand.

No longer do I have to question the black Mitsubishi Galant at the stoplight.

No longer do I have to wonder if the man staring at me at the grocery store is someone ready to hurt me or follow me.

No longer do I have to wonder if the local police officer is going to pull me over because of my last name.

No longer do I have to carry a copy of a restraining order in my car visor.

No longer do I have to keep pepper spray on me 24/7.

No longer do I have to ask the local PD to watch my house on certain nights.

The name Paul Bowers doesn't have to send a chill up my spine anymore.

For so many years I was scared that I would never have the life that I longed for. I worried that I was "damaged" and that my father had screwed me up mentally. I jumped at the first chance of "love" that I had. Yet all it did was leave me in even more of a "funk." I thought I would never be worthy of a good man to love me the way I should be. I assumed I would never have children of my own...and would never have a happy household.

And then when I least expected it (and quite frankly didn't want it...) God dropped this amazing man in front of my face. I fought it...and he fought back.

So there's something to be said for heartache. There's something to be said for living in hell. There's something to be said for being completely screwed up...and fighting your way back from it.

Call it abused, call it "damaged," call it whatever the hell you want. Going through shit makes you a better person, a better friend, and a better parent.

It just means you're a badass. And it means one day you will find something that makes you happier than you realized was possible.

Plus you'll appreciate it. More than those who haven't been through all you have.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

You just need to be okay

I think every parent can attest to the fact that there are lies we tell ourselves before we have our first child. We tell ourselves that we will keep the house clean...we tell ourselves that we will always put our little girls in cute outfits with matching bows...or our boys in matching shoes.

Personally I told myself that I would sleep when the baby slept...that I would take off work for at least two months...and that I would still be on time for things.

Yet three months in...I am awake for hours after the baby goes to bed...I was back to work two weeks after I had her...and no matter when I PLAN to leave my house...I end up anywhere from 5-15 minutes late for the majority of the things I do.

But that's all okay...because in the grand scheme of things...who the hell cares? We are doing what works for us. I am learning, we are adjusting as a family to everything changing completely.

There was one more lie I told myself though...and it's been the hardest by far for me to swallow.

I told myself I wouldn't get postpartum depression. 

I mean how could I? I have been through SO MUCH in my life...that having a baby couldn't possibly make me feel horrible. I was told I could never have a the fact that God gave me this miracle is huge all in itself. 

When Emmalynne was born...I couldn't have been happier. I held her and sobbed because I couldn't believe that I had been trusted to be this tiny little girl's mommy. I had never wanted anything as much as I wanted her. I was on a high then...and I still am. 

I didn't have the "baby blues." I am so bonded with that baby that sometimes I feel like we are the same person. She's with me 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. And on that 7th day she's only away from me for about 8 hours. I love every second with her...(okay maybe not EVERY second...).

I'm not sad. I've never been so happy with my beautiful life.
I couldn't POSSIBLY have depression. I didn't "fit the bill."

So when the anxiety started I figured it was just being a new mom. Of course I worry about everything she does, and everything people do around her. I'm her mom, and it's my job to keep her safe.

When it escalated into always wondering "what if" about everything around us...I blamed it on the new mom hormones. Until it got worse. But then I blamed it on sleeplessness. Until it got worse. When the full blown paranoia hit...I tried to stop it. I used all the tools from past times in my life and would sit alone at night saying "this is an irrational thought, everyone is fine" until it passed. I would find something around the house to do to keep myself from thinking at all.

Nights Nick was gone...I would clean until late in the night. I would go up and down the stairs to double check the locks on the doors. I would repack the diaper bag multiple times, or reorganize something that wasn't that important.

I would make lists at work about the things I needed to do that day, over the next week, over the next month, etc. I would make lists about what needed to be packed in the baby's bag, what I needed in my school bag vs. my work bag. I would recount the ounces of milk stored in the freezer, and then do the math to figure out how long it would last the baby if I wasn't there...just in case. I would meal plan for two to three weeks out...and then truly debate waking the baby in the middle of the night to go to the store and pick up everything I would need.

I had this side to me that couldn't rest. Despite the fact that I was completely sleep deprived...and dragging all night I couldn't stop and let myself sleep. I couldn't let myself think about anything that wasn't work related.

I mentioned calling my doctor. I thought about it.But nothing was really "wrong" that I could pinpoint. I kept stopping myself because it wasn't depression!

I wasn't overly tired, I had seemingly endless energy. 
I wasn't withdrawing, I was overly engaged. 
I wasn't in a fog, I was hyper aware. 

Until one night...Nick was at work...and I realized I had hit a wall. 

I put the baby to bed...and went around the house cleaning like a nutcase. I cleaned out the dining room, reorganized the bar, did two loads of dishes, laundry, painted my toes, made the bed (mind you it was like 2 am), and cleaned the baby's room. I reorganized wedding stuff, worked on the invites, made two new wedding lists about random crap...and finally decided to shower. As I got my stuff ready for the shower...I grabbed the baby monitor off the bed that I had been carrying around with me. I saw Emma sleeping soundly and sat down for a second. The thoughts started again...

"What if someone breaks in while I'm showering? She's maybe they won't notice her in there. If I move her they will hear us because she will stir and might cry. If I hide, I can see her in the baby monitor. But if they got to her, hurt her, and I couldn't do anything about it...I could never forgive myself."

I debated with myself for 15 minutes and by the time I finally showered...I was in tears. I had these horrible thoughts of something happening to the most important person in my life...and I was absolutely paranoid. I wanted to wake her and just hold her to reassure myself that she was fine.

These thoughts happen every day. They spiral all the time. I would be driving down the road and see a river. I would have some horrible thought about what if someone hit my car and I crashed into the river. What if I couldn't get the baby out fast enough?

It was exhausting. It was painful. And that night I had had enough.

I called my doctor first thing the next morning. She very calmly asked what was going on...and immediately referred me to the women's health psychologist she works with. She didn't judge, didn't sound surprised...she said it sounded like PPD and OCD.

I met with the psych the next morning and I kept telling her I didn't think it was depression...I was so happy. But she explained PPD in a way I had never heard before.

The "what if" syndrome.

Not normal what ifs that come with being a mom...but instead completely irrational what ifs that push you to a point of exhaustion. So basically my life the last 3 months. 

She reassured me that it was normal, and that I wasn't a complete basket case for thinking all of these terrible things. She told me that the anxiety was giving me OCD...rituals to help calm the nonstop thoughts I had going on.

I needed medication to slow it down. Short term help me fight the crazy that seemed to have taken over my brain.

I'll be honest...I didn't like the idea at first. I didn't like that it shattered this perfect mommy superhero cape I've been trying to wear the last few months. I didn't like that the thing I had fought hard against needing in the past was making its way back to me. I hated that something so happy...was making my body react in a similar way to how it did when life was going horribly.

The reality was that I have been killing myself...and for no reason. It's not a big deal if I forget something in the diaper bag. The wedding will happen...and I don't need to have every detail in my brain all the time. No one is going to die if a load of clean dishes sits in the washer for a day.

But most one is going to crash my car into a river. No one is going to break in my house and hurt my baby. Those are irrational thoughts.

I am finally allowing myself to admit it...

I have post-partum depression and anxiety. 
I'm taking medication.
And I'm still a damn good mom. 

It should NOT be so hard for moms to be able to admit those things.
It should NOT be something anyone feels ashamed for.
It should NOT be as unheard of as it is. 

The important thing is that you love your kid...and you would do anything to make sure they are safe. Whether that means walking away sometimes...sleeping when you should be cleaning...or taking medication to help you fight to get yourself back...

It's okay. 

You're human. I'm human.

It's okay to need help sometimes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

"You should be here"

This post is completely unrelated to the things that I usually post. Right now I should be sleeping but I can't because there is something on my mind...something that I haven't addressed on this blog.

This is something that gives me a lot of anxiety. Something that makes me question everything around me because it helps me realize how short life is.

New Year's Eve I got a call at 11:59 from our best friend Amy. I almost didn't answer because I was overly pregnant, and figured she was drunk dialing me.

That same day I had been at the hospital worried about the baby...and later that night for Nick's dad. We almost went to Amy and Adam's for a party...but had way too much going on stress wise. We wanted a "quiet" night to get some sleep with everything we had going on.

I thank God every single day that I answered that phone call. 

Amy called because she was falling apart...she had had the worst night of her life. 

Amy's husband was in a motorcycle accident that night that cost him his life. She had to make decisions that night that tore her to pieces...after being married for a very short 13-14 months. Adam meant everything to her...and meant everything to a lot of the people in his life.

Yesterday was his birthday. I didn't think it hurt as badly as it did...until Nick called me out on it. It's almost 1 in the morning, and I'm sure the little one will be up shortly...but I can't sleep.

I was just a friend. Granted...Adam made you feel like family no matter who you were. I felt like I had an extra "big brother" every time I talked to him. But in all reality I was the tiniest piece of the puzzle when it came to all the people he touched.

Adam loved. Adam would do anything for any time. When we moved into our new house...Adam was there. He showed up early, and stayed as late as he could. Despite being up all night at work...he worked his ass off to help us move. I was 9 months pregnant and miserable...and he put up with my crab-ass attitude without a second thought. He kept joking and telling me to move more boxes so I would go into labor. He wanted to meet Emmalynne, and quite frankly didn't care what it took to get here to join us here.

12/30- we expected the little one. I thought for sure she would be there by that date.
12/31- we lost our best friend. Adam...I'm still trying to find the reason that you were taken from us.
1/13- Emmalynne was born. And despite a hard pregnancy...I attribute the easy delivery to our best friend sending extra blessings.

Adam- Nick and I miss you a lot. The phone call I got that night is something that will be with me (and I'm sure Nick) forever. You were our best friend. You were my big brother...and Nick's sanity sometimes. We have bad days...and we have good days. I miss the hell out of you...but I'm mad that you left so early. It shouldn't be like this damn it. You should have had the chance to meet the little girl you were so excited to see.

And to your wife...who has showed an entirely new side of herself in the last few months...thank you. Amy you are kicking ass...meanwhile I don't know how you are even standing at the moment. You are such a beautiful person...and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say how proud we are of you for how you have handled all of this. Thank you for not only being a badass through what must be the hardest time in your life...but thank you for loving our little girl so much.

Excuse my french...but this fucking sucks. 

I don't talk like that on this page because I try to promote happiness and learning to love bad situations.

But in this case I'm just mad right now. This shouldn't have happened and we miss our friend more than we realize sometimes. There isn't "happiness" in this right now. It's just a really deep hurt of missing someone that meant a lot to us.

To the couple that shoved Nick and I into reality...

We love you both so much. 
Amy- thanks for tossing the flowers my way
Adam- thanks for forcing the garter on Nick (even if it wasn't "intentional")
Both of you- thanks for giving us something to fight for

Tonight so sucks. I don't have better words. It just sucks.

Adam we miss you jackass. 

I speak for myself and my future should be here.