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

Monday, September 29, 2014

You can let go now

I'm a bad blogger. Seriously...I go on posting binges and then don't post anything for months.

Anyways, big things have happened since I last posted...as per usual. The biggest thing was the anniversary of my father's death about a week ago. On its own, it's already a difficult day...but this year I finally got the courage for it to be something more.

I have been holding onto my father's ashes for a long time. Over a year actually. And I haven't been able to strike up the courage to do anything about it. There has been a box sitting in my house that contained my father...and it brought mixed emotions. Sometimes on a bad day I would see it and be angry. A few times I contemplated just "getting rid" of it (and therefore him). Other days I couldn't imagine ever finally letting him go. Anyone else sensing a bit of unresolved anger/ separation anxiety?

A few times I planned a specific time that I would do it. I went out of my way to set aside time, and take the box to a special place. And then I would chicken out like nobody's business. Back in the car the box would go, and I would take him back home and put him on a shelf. A day later I would feel ashamed at my inability to confront the situation.

On the two year anniversary of his death...I planned to do it again. I was going to go to a waterfall he showed me as a kid, and finally let him go. Sure enough the day came, my girlfriend came over to go with me...and I contently sat on the couch avoiding the topic. It wasn't until she got up, said "get ready we're going"...that I actually realized it was something I had to do.

We drove out there, hiked to the falls, and I sat down on the rocks and just started thinking. I expected tears. I expected anxiety. But yet there really wasn't any. I was calm...in almost an eerie way.  I got up, took the box, and waded into the water. I tossed his ashes into the water and watched them disappear into the air and down the river.

I didn't cry. I didn't panic. I just let it go.

I'm thankful for a friend who pushed me knowing I needed it. And I'm grateful God came through to give me the courage.

My father isn't gone, he's still around me. But he's not in my face anymore...and neither is that guilt I put on myself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From gremlins and strip clubs to serenity and wisdom

Today is a big day...for multiple reasons. I had this whole post planned because this is officially the 100th post for the blog! I had thoughts for dramatic stories, and life experiences. At least until I realized what else today is.

Today is the day my little sister starts (well started already) high school. My baby sister...started high school. That sounds so strange to say. To me she is still stuck permanently at 5. Drawing on my face and trying to kiss my old boyfriends.

I worry a lot about her, and get stressed because I never get to see her. The reality of it is we are a decade apart...and in two very different stages in life. I am raising a family, going to school myself, working full time...and she is a normal teenager. She's in marching band, baton, and a very busy kid. Things never seem to line up and it's frustrating. Makes me feel terrible.

But the fact is I worry. I worry about so many things...from that she will be me at that age...or that she won't. That probably didn't make sense. Part of me wants her to be me...the stubborn-school-oriented girl that took college classes still in high school. I want her to succeed and be able to stand up for herself. At the same time, I want her to have more confidence and more social awareness than I did. I want her to have friends, but not fall into the wrong crowd.

The biggest thing...is I want her to be smart about the issues that come along with your father being an idiot. When there is no dad, or there was a bad one...young girls tend to lose it. They fight for male attention...from anyone that will give it to them. And when you're in a high school like the one she is in (that I also went to)...that attention is readily available.

Anyways...it's a big day. My little sister is starting high school. The beginning of a new era for her. Meanwhile this blog hits 100 posts, after being up for almost 3 years already (whoa).

Other big things are on the horizon too. I'm coming close to graduation, the second anniversary of my father's death is next month...it's crazy how quickly time passes.

So no huge post for today. Just the realization that my baby sister isn't a baby anymore...and that I've come a very long way since she was.

Here's a little recap of my favorite (and your favorite) posts from the last 3 years.

1. I have a Percocet problem- where I discuss my massive issues with Percocet. You'll understand more if you read it. "They are DYING left and right...dropping like flies..." 

2. RIP Daddy- gut wrenching to reread...even to this day. "All I could see was him handcuffed to a hospital bed...with no one there but a prison guard..."

3. The four hardest words I've ever had to say- coming to the realization that it was a matter of hours until my father died...and being halfway across the country and unable to stop it. "I'm sad I haven't gotten a chance to say goodbye..."

4. A restraining order is just a piece of paper- because no one will ever make me feel unsafe in my own home again. "My only defense was my ability to move faster and think smarter..."

5. Drugs and strip clubs- I use the shock factor to my advantage...you won't be disappointed. "I instantly called him and screamed..."

6. You hit rock bottom and all they give you is a jackhammer- so lots of song lyrics in this one which you can kind of scroll through...but the title is funny...and it has some good points. "Most times there's only so much you can do to change your situation...it all lies in the cards you were dealt. You have options...face it or avoid it..."

7. Eyewitness to a miracle- this day and experience came right when I was hitting my breaking point...and it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. "He hugged me again because at this point my eyes were filling with tears right along with his..."

8. I'm Kat...and I'm a recovering addict- it's not what you think it is. That's all. "Just as they are responsible for their own lives and their own actions, only you are responsible for yours.."

9. The last time- the irony in this post is what makes it so good. When I wrote it I had no idea my father was in the hospital. He died a few days later, and little did I know while typing that it really would be the last time. "I've learned that one of the hardest things in life is watching someone you love self destruct and not being able to do anything about it. But maybe the harder part comes in realizing that you can't do anything to help."

10. Gremlins, knives, and government spies- because you have to end on a title like that. "Tiny little beings that would hide in the vents and watch him..."

And one other kind of recap. Then and now...it's amazing how far life has come.

Same beach. Three years apart. But such a different life...and a beautiful journey to go along with it.

One of my favorite pictures...because the few good things that came from my father...were the 3 littles that call me big sister.

My father...who gave me my blue eyes and love for all things musical. Not to mention the overwhelming inner drive to change lives...starting with my own.

Just for fun...it seems my shooting has improved. And because "I'm too busy badass to be a victim."

Learn to harness bad energy, use it for good. Take bad experiences and teach yourself that you can overcome anything...because you can...unless you give up. Prove negative people wrong every day. Prove your inner confidence right.

And always remember...you are the only person who can give up on yourself. Don't ever let it happen.

100 posts, 3 years, a marriage, a divorce, miscarriages, a restraining order, an arrest, prison, and a death. Yet somewhere while almost 25,000 people watched (read)...I made mistakes and learned lessons. I found a much better life. So here's to another 3 years, and another 100 posts...thanks for hanging in there with me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the hardest part

I need to stay off Facebook. If for no other reason that to avoid telling people just how ignorant, ridiculous, and downright obnoxious they are.

So because this is my safe space, please feel free to ignore this rant:

1- Girls...STOP IT with the half naked shots. Or the "hugs" from behind with your butts hanging out of your bathing suits. Half of you are mothers, and the other half might be years down the line. If you want to take a picture of you and your "girls" half naked...go for it. But don't put it all over the internet for your kids to see years later. Would you want to see your daughters with bathing suits all the way up their butts in a few years? Would you want your sons to bring that girl in the picture home? Have some class. Because any attention you muster by posting those pictures...is attention that is going to lead to more heartbreak. Not to mention you complaining in a few months that the guy you were talking to turned out to be an ass. Are we seeing a connection yet?!

2- If you don't know what you're talking about, or like to use propaganda to state an argument...please for the love of hell stop talking. I see enough of the "we're so oppressed" news ads...I don't need to see it from you too. You are a privileged, middle-class, white person. Quit complaining about every little thing and acting like the world is out to get you. It's not anymore about you than it is about me...and the world certainly doesn't care about ruining my life.

3- This one will piss people off. Guns...aren't causing what's going on in Ferguson...or Detroit...or Chicago. I know crazy right? CRIMINALS are causing these things. People doing things that are illegal or threatening or dangerous are causing these catastrophes. NOT law abiding citizens who have just as many rights to a gun as you do to run your mouth.

4- Here's another crazy idea. If you post a status on Facebook, or make a comment that is offensive to other people...but then get mad when they respond rudely...you're kind of missing the whole idea of logic. Have your opinions...if I don't like them (as seen above) I will block you from my newsfeed so I don't have to read it again (which I did). But don't go on like an ignorant jerk about how conservatives (or liberals) are horrible, and then use offensive words to do so! If you expect respect...start giving it.

Okay I feel better. I've been fighting some massive comment explosions that surely would have lead to the ending of friendships...not to mention my attempts at being polite.

Monday, August 18, 2014

MY life isn't supposed to fulfill YOUR expectations

As many of you know, my schooling is coming to a close in the next year (at least for this degree). Because of that...I've been looking at grad schools and programs that I can try and complete quickly.

Here's the thing...I had a bit of a breakdown on Saturday night (it may have been slightly wine induced to be honest). Nick and I went for a long walk after the wedding we went to, and we talked...a LOT. I was kind of losing it...the stress I've been putting on myself to be perfect was overwhelming...and I realized that a lot of what I'm doing is for OTHER people...not for myself.

Old habits die hard I suppose.

So while I'm sitting there freaking out, I finally said it out loud and caught Nick a bit off guard. I don't WANT to go to grad school. I want to jump into a career that I actually care about and get my hands dirty. If that means I don't make a lot of money, or if I decide to go back to school later...that's all fine. But right now...I've been kicking my own butt to get an education for 7 years. Yes there have been breaks, but it's been hanging over my head for a very long time. No part of me actually wants to go back right now.

Now Nick is always the one pushing me to go for it...and to knock out my schooling. When I don't want to do another semester, he talks about how he won't marry me until I finish. When schoolwork is making me nuts, he reminds me how we will both have awesome degrees soon. He is one of my biggest cheerleaders, as well as the swift kick in the ass when I need it.

But he asked me flat out, if I don't want to go...then why am I?

Well...to please other people.

I have this complex that if I don't "make up" for all the mistakes I made years ago...that people will never be proud. Now I'm more than fully aware that my mother is always proud of me, even when I'm messing things up. I know that my family supports and loves me. But there is just this doubting voice in the back of my head that no matter what I do...it's not going to be good enough.

Worst part? There is still one person in my family that makes me feel like crap about myself. On a regular basis. And although I'm not sure it's intentional...it's hurtful and it brings out every insecurity I have.

I already worry a lot. I worry about proving my father wrong, and proving my mom right. I worry that in the wake of a mom who is unbelievably successful...I may not go far enough. My lowly job helping addicts find employment, or seek treatment...or whatever it is I end up doing...might not be enough.

I'm not going to make much money doing what I want to do. It will be a high stress job with little to no thanks, and a massive failure rate. It will be frustrating...and it will have long strange hours. But it's all I want to do. I can't imagine sitting in an office the rest of my life just hoping I'm able to help someone from a distance. I want...I NEED to get face to face with people and do all I can to support them overcoming their addictions.

So as I'm standing there in the courtyard with Nick...crying and rambling on about how I don't want to go to grad school in the near future...he looks at me simply and just said "Then don't."

How simple those words sound when they're coming from someone else. And what a weight off knowing that the person (other than myself) that the decision will affect most directly...is okay with it. It won't disappoint him or upset him if I don't go. He wants to see me happy...and shocking...is still proud of me for the other things I want to do.

Maybe I'll go back some day. Maybe I won't. The fact is that by the time this degree is finished...I have already done more than a lot of people said I would. I've surpassed some expectations and fallen short of some others.

But newsflash...the only expectations that count for anything are the ones I set for myself.

I have another horrible habit of waiting for my life to start. Oh it'll start when: we get our new house, we have kids, we finish school, we get normal jobs, etc.

And what the hell am I waiting for? My life has not only started...it's gotten amazing. So I need to stop waiting for anything, and enjoy the time I have now.

My expectations at this point are simple:
-finish this degree
-love on my other half, all the time...make sure he always knows he's appreciated and loved
-be the best step mom I can be
-keep my work options open, and always be ready to switch career paths
-write, all the time

As Nick said...if I'm happy and proud of myself...the people that matter will be too.

I've got a lot to learn when it comes to doing what makes me happy instead of what I think will make other people happy. I have the guts to...but sometimes I convince myself that what I want...is what they want.

When in all reality...it rarely is.

There was a time that I did whatever I thought would make me happy...regardless of the consequences...and I can say as a divorcee by 21, it didn't always work out that well. Things are different now, and there's a lot more riding on the decisions that I'm making.

I'm still the same girl though.

If I'm going back to school, it needs to be for me...not because I'm trying to prove something to someone else. Those that love and care, will still be there without grad school.

Right now there's no rush...on anything. Things are happy, busy, and a little crazy. Just the way we like them.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Did my father commit suicide?

I read an article today that I SWEAR had to have been about my father. Manic depressive older male with a family. Bipolar disorder, self medicated with drugs and alcohol. The article talked about how this man used humor to deal with his dark side. It talked about "needing" those dark feelings to be able to see the light in other situations.

It's funny though...they weren't talking about my dad. They were talking about Robin Williams.

My father was talented just like Robin. He was a people pleaser, he was a funny guy, he had more personality in his big toe than most people have in their entire bodies. He was outgoing and spontaneous. To the outside world he looked like an ideal father and friend...worked hard and played harder...loved his family more than the world.

But there was a much deeper disaster brewing under the surface. There was a very mentally ill man who harnessed his inner demons by using substances...anything to calm the voices and manic episodes.

And you know what...for that I can't blame him.

I blame him for not getting help...I blame him for not caring enough about his children to stop using...but do I really have the right to?

It occurred to me today after my blog yesterday (which went viral...thank you ALL)...that I preach understanding for those with mental illness. I encourage support and love and outreach to those that need help. I discourage shame, blame, and any other negative projections. I tell people to stop judging those things that they know nothing about.

But what am I doing? I don't have a drug addiction...and I don't have the severe mental illnesses that he did. Who am I to judge how he chose to fight them? I have no frame of reference, I have no right.

Maybe it's time for me to reevaluate a little bit. The abuse, of course I have a right to be mad about (as long as it isn't consuming me). The hell I went through, I could be mad...but I'd rather use it to better someone else's life...and hopefully reach out to those in need. Maybe I need to think a little harder about how I see my father, and how I judge his actions.

The reality is...Robin Williams killed himself outright. It was an intentional suicide.

But did my father?

For those that don't know...my father died in prison. After multiple suicide attempts, and always crying wolf to the guards...they started to ignore him in solitary. While he was there, his appendix burst, and his complaints were disregarded as just another attention attempt. He died of sepsis in the hospital a few days later.

But was it suicide? Most would say no...he died of a natural cause, and neglect from the prison staff. I'm not so sure I agree with that.

The definition of suicide is the action of killing oneself intentionally. Some use a gun, some use pills, some use another way. I would argue that my father's lifestyle was suicide. He intentionally wore his body out over the years, and behaved in ways that would lead to his demise.

He knew that, and he still did it...which could be argued as an intentional act. It may not have been instant as other suicides we usually see. But he still did things intentionally that lead to his death.

Robin Williams was 63...my father was only 56.

Between them...at least 7 children lost a father.

But this society refuses to talk about mental illness because it's something we should all just sweep under the rug right?

I mean hell...it's not cancer. It's not deadly or anything...


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mental illness isn't an illness

As usual...I had good intentions. I was going to take a little break from writing, and I was going to stay out of the whole Robin Williams news. But also as usual...I couldn't. I hit a breaking point and can't keep my mouth shut anymore.

I have heard some of the most ignorant statements in the last two days. Suicide is selfish. Suicide is the fault of loved ones. And my favorite mental illness isn't an illness. 

I've come to learn over my 23 years of life that ignorance must TRULY be bliss...considering so many choose to live there their entire lives. Mental illness isn't an illness. I keep repeating it because the statement itself is so distastefully obnoxious that I don't quite know how to wrap my mind around it. Mental ILLNESS isn't an ILLNESS. Um...

I've read articles, blog posts, and Facebook comments in the last two days that make me truly sad and even more so disappointed in this society. 

Let me be clear here. The shoes I decided to wear today...were a choice. Having chicken noodle soup instead of cooking last night...was a choice. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction...are NOT.

I have diagnosed depression and anxiety. It's scary as hell sometimes, and it can be truly miserable...why would I CHOOSE to feel like that? Why would anyone?

The answer is simple...they wouldn't. Because it's not a choice. It is an illness, and something that many times can't be controlled on your own. Personally, I recommend treatment for anyone struggling with mental illness. Sometimes it may be minor, and it may feel like you have everything under control...

Until you don't. 

Depression is terrifying, and something that can't be described to the outside world in any way that actually does it justice. It is mind numbing, it is frustrating, and it is exhausting. Occasionally it doesn't affect you. Things are butterflies and rainbows...until all of a sudden this dark storm comes rolling in and there's nothing you can do about it. It hinders your ability to feel anything, but at the same time it's a kind of numb that is haunting. Everything feels wrong, and you don't know why. 

People that don't understand tell you to just "get over it," "take a pill." Or my favorite "count your blessings." 

I can't just "get over it." I didn't CHOOSE to feel this way...I can't CHOOSE not to. I can try to fight it, but I can't always beat it on my own. It may just have to pass on its own. In a few hours, a few days, or maybe a few months. 

Why should I depend on a pill just to get through the day? Why should I take a medication just to make you less uncomfortable? Maybe you're right...maybe I do need medication. For all you know...maybe I'm already on it. Maybe I take a pill every night so I can sleep, every morning so I can function...and I go to a psychologist twice a week. You don't know. So you have no right to judge, or tell me how to deal with my disorder. 

Count my blessings. It's funny. What you also don't know about me...is counting my blessings is how I haven't ended up completely losing my mind. I count them daily...and when negative thoughts overwhelm me...I focus on those blessings as hard as I can so I can push the hurt out. It doesn't always work...and it doesn't make me a bad person if I feel upset and don't know why. It also doesn't make me a bad person if the demons overwhelm me on occasion. 

I have been on medications, and I have chosen to take myself off of them. I know the major difference in day to day life when you go to treatment...when you seek help. It may seem like no one understands...but in reality there are so many people out there to help.

To the outside world...all of the people shaming those fighting a mental ILLNESS...


What do you gain by making those fighting feel like less of a person? Do you truly think that helps anything...other than your ego? If you don't understand it...don't judge it. And certainly don't put someone down because of your ignorance. 

The next time you feel the need to be negative...Google ways to help. If that's too much work, just keep your mouth shut...smile if you think you can manage. But don't be cruel. 

Suicide is a choice...and that I won't argue. But for some...it is the only choice they think they have left. The need to escape, and the exhaustion of fighting for so long gets to be too much. 

To be clear...it is not the only choice. There is always another option...and the chance for a much better life out of the shadows. 

Suicide is many things...a tragedy, heartbreaking, and something that must be fought against. But it isn't selfish. Someone fighting so hard to keep themselves going every day doesn't have the capability of being selfish. If they can't fight for themselves anymore...how can you expect them to fight for someone else?

What's selfish...is you judging them and putting them down instead of finding ways to fight with the survivors. 

And remember:

If you're not part of the solution...you're part of the problem.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy almost wedding day to my best friend of almost a decade

There is a post out right now "To My Ex-Best Friend On Her Wedding Day" that is really hitting home for me at the moment. I recently "broke up" (because I don't know what else to call it) with someone I'd been friends with for close to 10 years. We went through everything together. The death of both of our fathers, my marriage and divorce, multiple boyfriends, we even lived together for awhile.

She's getting married in two weeks...and I was supposed to be there. I was supposed to be part of the wedding. But again for lack of a better term, we "broke up". We've fought before. Many times actually. And many really ugly fights later...we worked it out. We put aside differences, or one of us would need the other and all would be essentially forgotten.

But not this time. This time there is no fixing the problem, there is no turning it around...it's just done. We have very different lives, very different views on people and the world. We've grown apart...and it got really ugly in the end. Horrible things have been said, and there's no going back. I lost not only a friend, but pretty much a sister.

It isn't something that you get over. Even when your spouting nasty words, and saying that you don't care...it's not true. Even when I had to break both of our hearts by dropping out of her wedding...it wasn't easy. It wasn't a decision that was taken lightly, or a decision that I was even sure of. I knew it had to be done, but it took gut wrenching messages and a lot of tears to follow through with it. Honestly, it's no one's business what happened but ours...and in ways we're both at fault...but it doesn't change how hard it is. I have doubted it many times since we stopped speaking...and as the day gets closer it seems to weigh heavier on my mind.

So here's my version...and it's a bit different than the original blogger. I won't be at my best friend's wedding, and I have to learn to be okay with that.

To my ex-best friend on her wedding day-

You hate me right now, and that's okay. I'm not a big fan of you either. We've fought like cats and dogs throughout the years...but only because we were more siblings than friends. We weren't supposed to get along all the time...and we sure as hell had some doozies. But we always fixed it.

We both know this time it can't be fixed. Nothing can take away the things that have been said, and nothing will change that I won't be there for your big day. But I'll be thinking about you. I'll be praying that you see all of the beautiful positives of the day, and not think about those who won't be there with you.

Days after when all the pictures start surfacing and when everyone's talking about how gorgeous you were...I'll be really sad. I'll think about how I wasn't there to fix your veil, or slip you a sip of wine in the back room when you got super nervous.

I imagine the sadness will get easier, and years from now when we see pictures of the last 9 years we will just smile and tell stories of the goofy friend we had in high school. On Father's Day I'll always miss my partner in misery. But it'll get easier...and won't actually ache when we think about the friend we had who became family.

I want the best for you, and for your future husband. I look forward to years from now seeing you at a reunion and seeing pictures of your beautiful family. I hope you two accomplish everything you've set out to accomplish...and I hope you always have a support system to back you up.

For all the things that have been going wrong in the last few months...I hope it all gets better. Clearly I'm not going to talk about it all...but you know what I mean. I'm sure things will calm down, and you will find a family balance that works for all of you.

I hope your day is beautiful. In every way. I hope the same for the rest of your life.

But lastly...please know that I'm sorry. I stand by my choices, as you stand by yours...but I'm sorry we couldn't find middle ground. I'm sorry if I hurt you, and I'm sorry if I said things that I shouldn't have.

Happy almost wedding day to my best friend of almost a decade.

PS- that almost word...sucks.