Image

Image
"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."

Friday, December 23, 2016

We're ready for 2017

I'm not going to give some apology because I never write...because the reality is that I have two kids now...a house to take care of...a husband who is home twice a week (on a good week)...work full time...and grad school. Momma's a little frazzled.



I can barely take care of myself, let alone get around to posting what I think need to be posted.

On that note...here is our Christmas letter. The real stuff, not the sugar coated crap you typically get in the mail.

This year has been one of the best and the worst all at the same time. This year has changed EVERYTHING.

First thing this year we lost our best friend. A freak accident that took the life of someone we cared about deeply. Meanwhile, his wife faced a life she wasn't at all ready for...this year started as a year we all had to learn from. It was a start that threw us all for a massive detour. Mortality is a scary thing to face at our ages...and we will remember him forever. The first year of #adamshine...and it will continue to grow.







I thank God we had a big thing to look forward to. It helped us through some of the hardest days we have had. Two weeks later (almost to the day)...our daughter was born. Emmalynne. The absolute love of my life. The most beautiful newborn baby I have ever seen. She's quite literally a miracle I didn't think could ever happen.






4 days after she was born I turned 25. One of the most exciting, and forgotten birthdays I've ever had. Not forgotten in a bad way...but forgotten on my end...as I was too distracted by trying to sleep longer than 5 minute stretches. It was my best birthday by far.

The next 4 months flashed by faster than I could have ever imagined. I finished my first semester of my MBA (still not sure how given Emma was born 3 days AFTER the semester started), and Nick finished his 2nd year of nursing school. He did amazingly well...and I passed. All of my full time classes...and to be honest I couldn't be happier. I went from a person obsessed with GPA and honors...to someone that realized family and my home is more important than some letter on a transcript.

In those 4 months, we had our bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties, and Emma's baptism. It was a whirlwind few weekends (yes we packed that all together for the out of towners). Emma has THREE amazing godparents...and we have beautiful friends and family that joined us for those days. We really *stocked the bar* at the shower...and we had a blast at the bachelorette party.








May 28th was one of the best days of my life. We became one family. The party of 4...officially. It was an amazing day...one that I can't word the way I want to. And I won't make your eyes bleed by hearing all the mushy gushy crap. We spent our one *mini honeymoon* night in the ER...because we really like to keep things interesting...












We went to Cape Cod this summer. Munchkin's first time on an airplane (that she remembers). She was so nervous...but opened up as we hit the clouds. She couldn't stop taking pictures...and we had an AMAZING vacation. One that I can't wait to repeat every year with our girls. Being with such amazing family friends...watching munchkin open up to people she had never really met...it was better than I can say.






Then summer ended WAY too fast and we ended up all back at school and the adults working. It has been a rough 5 months. Emma missed her daddy a lot and we spent a lot of time apart. As in...short visits twice a week when he wasn't at work or school. School semesters seem to slip by this household faster than we plan (all while feeling like they are dragging).

Here Christmas has arrived...and it's hard to believe so much has happened in one year. We were just moving into our house a year ago...and here we are settled. Granted my garage still looks like a bomb has gone off...but in all disclosure give a mom a break. It's been a BIG year.






Buying a house. Baby. Nursing school. Grad school. Marriage. 
Trying to somehow stay afloat.

We have lost...AND gained family members.

It hasn't been easy.

And while it has been anything but "perfect" in the normal term...it has been perfect for us.

Welcome to 2017 y'all...things are about to get even more interesting.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

3 words

A few years ago I posted about the three words that shook me to the core: my dad died.

I posted about that over and over again because I was so struck by how large of an impact those words had on my life.

But today there are three new words that have impacted my life more than I knew was possible.

"Love you too."

Words that I heard from my bonus daughter for the first time on Thanksgiving this year. I have told her for years that I love her, with no expectation of a response or an "I love you too."

But after four years it has finally happened. "Love you too." Every time we have put her to bed or dropped her off...I've gotten "love you too."

And until you are a bonus parent...until you spend time, tears, and endless love on a child you didn't help create...you don't understand how much those three little words mean.

They mean the world. The absolute world.

Guys...it really doesn't get better than this.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Count us out

I have been holding back for weeks. Call it me trying to be positive...call it being way too busy..call it avoiding the things I know need to be said. I'm sick of waiting. The biggest hurdle I face with this blog is saying the things I'm afraid will hurt someone. But my current struggle...is why I care who it hurts. If I'm posting it...it's typically because people have made very distinct choices to hurt me...so why do I care if my response bothers them?

Lets start with my wedding. It was 6 months ago. 6 months of very silly conversation, more than amazing progress with my step daughter, and 6 months of a marriage that I couldn't be prouder to be a part of.

Here's the thing. I have family that hates their spouse. I have family that disguises their hate in some disgusting veil of happiness and money. Everything is fine because they are rich...and financially stable. They live in this life that isn't real...it's all fabricated with cash and happy smiles.

I don't work in that world. I love my marriage. That involves chasing a teenager to bed...because she has a swim meet in the morning. My marriage involves a screaming toddler that my husband happily puts to bed after a week of pushing himself too far...because he knows I need a 60 second break. My marriage is real. It isn't always fun. It's Friday and I haven't really had a quality time with my husband for over a week...and to be perfectly honest, that only happened because of the holiday. Our life is stressful. No part of it is perfect...and I refuse to pretend that it is.

I see these stupid Christmas cards we get every year about how "all is great." I see kids that made honor roll, and parents that have these perfect jobs that make everything easy for their lifestyle. But as these cards come up...just remember...they are bullshit.

That's right. Bullshit.

If you can't admit that your family is ass backwards, weird, and never perfect...you are lying. You need to level yourself.

I spent a lot of time trying to "keep up" with that side of my family...and I refuse to continue.

When confronted, I was told that they "felt sorry" for me. I wasn't quite sure how to respond...sorry for what? I mean other than my father being a quite literal waste of space...life is really good!

They couldn't be bothered with either of my children...or my wedding. While the wedding was the least of my worries and just a stupid party...my kids aren't. If you can't be bothered to speak to them...want pictures of them...or care AT ALL about their lives...you don't need to be around us. Ever. And please note that when I talk about children...I'm not just talking about Emma. I have two children now...and if you only acknowledge one...please feel free to leave your bags at the door. You aren't welcome here.

I keep getting pulled back to this election as I write this. Stick with me here.

I read online (as I'm not welcome on Facebook anymore), that one of my cousins was "inconsolable" after this election. Another one was "in tears" because he couldn't handle the results. And as much as I want to nicely pat their back and say "there there" my only response is that they need to a- grow a pair, and b- try serving this country.

I get that I haven't served. I don't for a second pretend that I have or that I understand what those that did went through. But what I do understand is that things in life aren't handed to you...and that sometimes you have to look beyond your hurt feelings to understand that there is bigger in this world.

While my cousins at 20+ years old need safe spaces because of election results...I begged for a safe space at 12 when my heroin high father threatened to kill me. As my 20 some cousins protest against police officers that save lives...I begged them for help at 13 as I hid in a basement next to my father's cocaine stash.

I'm done with the privilege. I'm done with the negative light that my father's entire family casts on my life. I'm done with lies. Constant and hurtful lies. Lies about how my grandmother couldn't travel to my wedding...yet she flew to see my cousins hours away just a week beforehand. Lies about how family gives a flying crap about my life...but can only be bothered to send a gift certificate every few years. Certificates that I have piling up in a drawer near my bed...the last two years of which I donated to a charity because I couldn't stand spending money from someone who honestly couldn't care less about our lives.

I am a wife now. A mother. To two beautiful children. A biological and a bonus.

If you don't want a life with them...you don't want a life with me.

And on that same note...if you want to accuse me of being a terrible person based on political affiliation...count me out. I have voiced my opinions...quite loudly. You can dislike/hate them all you want...but the day you judge me is the day that I step out.

I won't do that nonsense. I come from my mother's family. A family that loves unconditionally...and knows better than to make hurtful comments towards anyone. They embrace differences, and also understand a commitment to God and country. They love no matter what. They have loved me, my husband, and both of my children to a level that I admire. It doesn't matter who you are or what you think...they just love you.

But yet...there has been so much hate, especially involving this election cycle. Words have been said that can't be taken back...and honestly it's pathetic. Personally attacking someone doesn't make you right...it makes you cruel. End of story.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

So at this point I have a choice. I have a choice to choose love. I have a choice to choose people around my children that love them regardless. I have a choice to keep the friends that care and truly love my husband and family. I have a choice to ignore the hateful and truly ignorant comments and emails coming from those I previously considered "family."

I have a choice to "let go and let God."

So I'm letting go. Too busy for my wedding? Too busy to care about BOTH of my children? Too spoiled to realize there are different points of view? Too stubborn to care that you may be wrong and forcing hateful comments on the wrong person?

Doesn't matter...I'm out.

I have an absolutely beautiful family. A husband that I could have never imagined. Two children that amaze me daily. And an amazing amount of people that love them just as much as I do.

I will never again fight for someone to be in my life. I will never let my children feel like I did...and they too will never fight that fight.

If you don't want to be here...please excuse yourself now. There is no room in all this love for your negativity. I have a family that is beautiful and happy...any nasty energy needs to get far away from us. If you have that negative energy...if you are anyone I have mentioned above...count us out. It's time for you to leave...and stop following this page.

I'm done. I don't want you here, or in our lives. I don't trust you around our children.

I want very few things for our kids: unconditional love, unconditional support, and unconditional safety.

Those are three things I only got from one parent. Things that I would give my life to make sure my children have.

So if you're reading this I want you to remember...if it's love...support...or safety...there are NO conditions. NONE. EVER.

If you have conditions...you can find the door yourself. We don't do that here. Children here grow up knowing they are safe and loved. Regardless of what they choose to do/believe/say.

I have ranted a lot tonight and I know that. Probably hard to swap back and forth...but this is about six months worth of thoughts bubbling up when I finally had half a second to sit down and clear it all.

I need to come back...because people suck, and I'm not afraid to say that. If you don't like it...leave.

Because to be real...we are stupid happy...and if you don't want to be a part of it...at this point it's your loss.



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Before you mourn...evaluate

Here's the deal. 

People I know are dropping like flies. 

People I went to school with...
there's a new obituary every damn day.

This is a disease we need to address.

This is something we can't keep ignoring or writing off.

But here is what is going to really get people pissed off (or at least the ones that it pertains to).


If you are on Facebook mourning the loss of someone that overdosed...

STOP USING.

Reach out, even to me. I will help you find the assistance and support you...whatever you need.

But don't you dare mourn over someone and then be the obituary the next day.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Two years ago

My post two years ago included "Just found this quote from one of my old blogs...and it came at a really good time...things to always have:

"Patience for the grieving process,
loyalty to those who are there for me,
hope for the future,
faith in the bigger picture,
trust in myself to make the right decisions,
and most importantly…
love for myself regardless of the outcome."

I felt I needed to follow up.

I had patience...and I found peace.
I was loyal to those there for me at the time...and now I have a network there for me when I need it.
I had hope...and life is so much better than I imagined it could be.
I had faith...and I provided with my own family.
I trusted in myself...and ended up with a degree and a career.

But the loving myself? Still working on it.

Guess what...you don't have to be perfect. I'm still accepting that fact.

I love my life...but it takes some time to accept that loving life can stop equal working on yourself.

It doesn't mean you have it all together <3

Friday, July 29, 2016

Concrete Angel

Had Pandora running today and heard the song "Concrete Angel." For anyone that hasn't heard it...don't listen to it in public. I've heard it many times...but every time it brings tears to my eyes. Truly makes my heart hurt.

But today it was quiet and I was focused on something else and I really HEARD the lyrics. It hurt me even more.

The song talks about a little girl hiding her bruises when she goes to school. Being quiet and pulling away but despite questioning the situation...no one says anything. It talks about a child crying in the middle of the night...but the neighbors ignoring the noise and going to bed.

I want to say this once. Very clearly and loudly. 

Don't be that person. 

A lot of you are reading that and going "oh of course I would say something," "no one would ignore that," "that's what teachers/doctors/etc are for."

STOP IT. 
You are the problem.

If you see something, hear something, realize something is off...it is YOUR JOB to do something.

I was that child. I went to school praying to God someone would notice that things weren't quite right. Every time my father screamed at me in front of my friends' parents, or his friends...I would PRAY that one of them would do something. Silently I would beg them to call the police, step in...do SOMETHING. 

My mother fought for me for years. Countless custody battles, lawyers, court dates. But it was her word against his. The court doesn't listen to children...and I sure as hell wasn't going to keep fighting a losing battle. It would have made life so much more dangerous behind closed doors.

I wasn't stupid...and I was terrified. 
I was in survival mode.

So let me say this again...

Fucking say something. If you're offended by that language please know I don't give a damn.

I am SO sick of people leaving these kids to fend for themselves. I glared at a man and made a small scene in Walmart just two weeks ago because I watched him smack his small child in the back of the head. Earlier this week we were at the fair, and watched parents pull their little girl out of the car as pot smoke billowed out of the doors. I took their license plate number and reported them to that county's CPS.

Teachers- if a kid pulls away, seems scared, gets into trouble for strange reasons, seems overly attached to you, etc...PAY ATTENTION. The child might not have marks...doesn't mean they aren't living in hell at home.

Parents- watch your children's friends. Watch their interactions with their parents. Look for strange fears, or children that have strange reactions.

And if you see something...DO something. 
There is no excuse.

You are an adult. You are capable of helping that child. 

And no excuse that you make up in your own mind makes you any less responsible. It won't make you feel any better when something bad happens to that child.

I still remember days in school that I wish someone had questioned me
I wanted to tell.
I wanted someone to trust
But I was too afraid to do it myself. 

I remember specific incidents...looking at adults with wide eyes while my father stood there...PRAYING that one of them would see the terror in my eyes and would pull me aside.

They never did. But you can be damn sure I remember every moment.

I also remember the one teacher that did ask questions. She was willing to report what she saw...and she was willing to put her own comfort on the line for my safety.

Be that teacher. 
Be that parent. 
Be that PERSON.

You have choices. That sweet child doesn't.

Friday, June 17, 2016

To my kids

Listen you little buggers...by 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 worry...you'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 kids...is 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 him...at 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 profanities...as 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 hurt...it's not okay...and despite me being stronger than her actions...it'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 that...family. 
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!
5*28*2016

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 baby...so 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 day...at 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 sleeping...so 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 medication...to 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 importantly...no 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 anyone...at 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 husband...you should be here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Being a mom is hard

So anyone that pays any attention to my constant psycho-babble (which by the way it amazes me that anyone does) knows that I just took almost a year off as I was busy having my little rainbow baby. Side note- if you don't know what a rainbow baby is...you should look it up!

Emmalynne was born January 13th, 2016...exactly 5 years (to the day) that her older brothers became angels. In 2011 I was in a bad place. I had lost a pregnancy that meant the world to me. I was in an unhappy marriage. I was quite frankly an absolute mess in many ways.

Today...I am living a beautiful life. I am blessed in ways I never thought would be possible. Superman and I bought a house. I went back to the insurance business so that I can actually be around to watch our daughter grow up. I graduated with a psych degree and then went back for my MBA. He is in nursing school, and working in the ER of a local hospital. In all reality...we are kicking ass at this whole "life" thing. Life is WAY too busy...but it is good. It is happy.

But hey y'all...I have a secret for you. (Well I suppose it isn't a secret to anyone that's "been there done that." But either way...)

Ready for it?

Being a mom is hard. 
Really hard. 
Make you completely insane, wore two different shoes to work, haven't slept a solid night in 3 months kind of hard. 

I have forgotten who I am as a person. Our wedding (that I had essentially finished planning a year ago...) is suddenly this massive blur that is barreling at me in a 2 month countdown.

Confession: sometimes I put the baby in the swing and I walk away. I let it rock her to sleep for the night while I try to make some sense of what I need for the next day. I shower alone. Hell...sometimes I just sit on the couch in the dark for a minute because there's so much running through my brain I can't even being to comprehend any of it.

I have never felt so out of control, or terrified in my life. Our little girl is perfect. She is healthy, happy, and honestly probably the cutest thing I've ever laid my eyes on. But there is a whole new fear in being a mom. The question of "what if" suddenly has 30 thousand new endings that scare the ever living shit out of me. Right after she was born I posted something on Facebook about how my brain worked in the middle of the night. Sleep deprived and all the only thing my brain could think was:
 "She should have mittens on while she sleeps so she doesn't scratch herself, but what if she pulls the mitten off, shoves it in her face, and suffocates??? I should take them off. Oh well if I take them off her hands will be so cold. Ok I will leave them on. Well...if I leave them on and she stuffs one in her mouth, she could swallow it. But if I take them off she will definitely scratch her cornea out."

This is what new moms do. Seriously. All day. All night. 
And people wonder why new moms are so exhausted...

I've heard that it lasts forever, but I'm happy to report that the total insanity slowly starts to calm down around week 3 or 4. The irrational "what if she crawls out of her bassinet and falls to her death on the carpet" thoughts end. No worries though...they are replaced with bedtime "please sleep through the night tonight"...(wakes at 1 am to realize baby is still sleeping) "OH MY GOD IS SHE STILL BREATHING?!" kind of thoughts.

Now there is good news in all this...I promise. Actually I'm not sure women would continue to reproduce if there wasn't. 

Having a baby is the best thing I have ever done.

My daughter is a miracle.

She is proof to me that God exists...and that no medical diagnosis can stifle what He can accomplish.

(No worries now...this blog will never go all "turn to God for all of your problems, He can heal all.")

But for me...I got my rainbow baby. I got a miracle. I got something that I was told would NEVER happen. I got my Emmalynne.

And she is perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

My cousin read me that Bible verse almost 10 years ago...and it has stuck with me ever since.
Suddenly...I can see those plans. Things make sense.

I know this post has been long. I won't judge you if you stop reading now. 

But as it is the first official post "back"...you may want to stick around. I have no idea how much I'll be able to post between now and the wedding...but I have some things to say before I disappear again. It's time for some real talk. 

Post partum depression and anxiety. 

My life is essentially perfect right now. And I deeply mean that. My "stress" is all good stress. I don't have to worry about providing for either of our girls. I don't have to worry about a job. We have a beautiful home. I have a kickass partner in life that loves me and the girls. He's my best friend and my superhero.

Life. Is. Perfect.

Guess what doesn't care about that perfection though? PPD and PPA.

I'm lucky, and I think I am avoiding the actual depression for now. I'm still on the high of being a mom and I have been able to bond with her more than I realized was possible.

But some women aren't that lucky.

Those who have depression or anxiety issues prior to birth are much more likely to deal with PPD or PPA. And it shouldn't be embarrassing. It's something that deserves attention and love.

I am getting hit pretty hard right now with the anxiety. Between massive hormone swings, and all of the stress we have in our lives...I am starting to crack a little bit. I still have it under control...and luckily I know when to wave the white flag...but I won't deny that it is there.

I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes when Nick leaves for work...I fall apart. I cry a lot...and for no reason. I make lists about making lists...because it helps calm me down. I clean mindlessly for hours instead of sleeping because somehow it makes me feel more in control.

And sometimes I don't handle it quite so constructively. Sometimes I panic at work because I think of the fact that my garage is unorganized. It goes from something that is essentially irrelevant to life...to something that I need to fix IMMEDIATELY. I hear myself talking and I know it's stupid...but it doesn't change the stress level. It doesn't quell the extreme panic I feel knowing that it isn't done.

It's important to realize your "normal" and to recognize your threshold of "not okay anymore." And it's important to call yourself out when you feel the situation get out of control.

You don't have to be perfect. 
You don't have to be supermom. 

You just need to be okay. 









Thank you to everyone who waited patiently for me to come back.

Introducing Emmalynne



...clearly this world's newest skeptic. Just like her momma.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

“We are, as parents, the biggest drug dealers in the United States of America.”

First post back...

At some point I will talk about the new baby.

At some point I will post about all the things I have been thinking up the last few months.

But for now I will just leave this here:

http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/father-to-parents-about-heroin-addiction-it-s-not-your-kid-until-it-is-1.662860

It's not your kid, your sibling, your parent...

Until it is.