Yes, I have an “ABOUT ME” quippy little page on this blog, however that is a blurb that really is more about where I am and where I wish to head on this movement. But how did I get to this place? This will be the basics of what life has taught me on learning how to fall upward when you are as far down as you have ever known.
Therapy. Recovery. Forgiveness. Love. Repeat. Well, kind of.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO by my mother, who divorced my father when I was 2. I grew up an only child, even though my father re-married when I was 6 and had 3 additional children, however, I never had a relationship with my father, step-mother or step-siblings until I entered my 30’s. Enter ABANDONMENT ISSUES.
My mother’s parents died within 5 years of each other when I was 8 and 13. Since she was an only child, I was her only remaining family. It was scary to know that burden fell on me but it never felt like one. Enter GRIEF & LOSS. I guess that’s why I didn’t blame her when she married a complete ass. My mother’s 2nd husband managed to destroy all of my teen years (age 12-18)by introducing me to almost all facets of abuse; all but sexual THANK GOD! He was really good at beating me bloody and berating me to dust every moment possible. Enter MAJOR ABUSE TRAUMA and first true asshole boyfriend #1 that was an abuser as well. His presence in my life introduced me to what a protective order would do for someone. Nothing. Shocker. There were 2 more boyfriends just like him that followed.
Through years of therapy in my 20’s, I grew to forgive all the bastards and take back my personal power and forgive my mother for not stopping it all. She was, after all, the one who loved me unconditionally through all my bullshit of running away, bringing home loser dudes, drinking and smoking, sneaking out, etc. Therapy gave me a launch pad to feeling more powerful but I still lacked self-respect and confidence. RE-ENTER ABANDONMENT ISSUES. Shortly after 2 quite large, but failed suicide attempts and a 7-day stay in the nut ward, I landed in Iowa. Hey, if you can’t beat it, run from it, right!!!?? I called it my Mulligan Move…….the do-over that would save me from myself. Yah, sure.
I bounced all over the place for the first year, trying to figure out where I fit in. The hardest adjustment was not seeing my mom every day. It was unsettling. Along the way, I met my husband (now ex) and married him after 2 great years of love derived from friendship. We had a baby within the first year and were divorced within 4 years. There was no abuse. There was no shouting, fighting, arguing, etc. There wasn’t much of anything really, hence the divorce, but how about that for irony?? After years of abuse, I end up in Pleasantville. All I knew then was I didn’t want my beautiful daughter to grow up settling for anything less than amazing.
My mother had moved to Iowa a week before my daughter was born, so I still felt grounded. I took my career to higher levels, becoming 1 of only 5 top-level execs in a nationwide company, traveling weekly and running my ass into the ground. 2 years later, I’d lost 28 pounds, my sanity, friends and all sense of who I really was. Blood thirsty career monger did not suit me. I was reckless, out of control and pregnant with my 2nd child. It was my first real relationship since my divorce. It’s too bad he couldn’t handle it all, however I was certain it must be me with the broken and damaged radar. This was my first official step of falling down.
My 2nd daughter arrived 8 weeks early via C-section at 4 lbs, and I had no baby daddy and was losing my job. After 4 weeks in the NICU, baby came home and although she had some medical complications through her first year, she was and is perfect! Every moment I spent hovering over her incubator, every moment holding her tiny hand through a stupid hole, feeding her through same stupid hole…….all behind us. It was in those moments I knew I had to be the most and best I could be for her because I was all she had. I got a new, much less demanding job in 6 months, but baby daddy didn’t show up for a few years.
My father and I had mended relationships when I got married. He, his wife and their kids had become a vital part of our lives. Having grandparents, aunties and uncles for my girls helped me to not feel so alone in raising them. I was beginning to feel more connected and accepted into their family as if I’d been there all along. Gratefulness fell short that day I experienced my first out-of-body moment when my sister called to tell me dad was gone. I had just seen him one week prior at my Aunt’s funeral in St. Louis…..and now, after only 8 years of building a relationship with him, he’s gone? Brain aneurism they said. He was mowing the grass. 62 years old. The way I inhaled air was different on that day. The was I swallowed spit was different. The level of grief and despair that entered my soul was an elephant on my chest. This was my second giant step of falling down.
The baby was 3 when I received court papers for custody and visitation. This was my third step of falling down. It’s a level of seething hate I’m ashamed to admit I felt. It was quite primal actually. Visions of ripping eyeballs out. Smashing his balls in a vice maybe would have helped, but that was frowned upon. Attorneys were hired. Mediation’s were done. All the while, my mother’s health was deteriorating. She had been diagnosed with COPD several years prior, but had only experienced a few small incidents that were not life threatening. 6 months into the court drama, she came down with double pneumonia and was hospitalized for a month. After lengthy discussions, it was agreed she would live with me until she was strong enough to return to her apartment. She never returned to her apartment again and she moved into my home permanently. It only took me 3 months to clear out her apartment. She had not only become a hoarder, but her health had prevented her from even performing basic life functions like trash removal, cleaning, proper bathing, etc. I cannot speak in detail about what I saw of her living conditions, so all I can say is after crying from shock and awe, I vomited. This was my fourth step of falling down….way down. How did I not know? She was NOT that person! She was goodness. She was gentleness. She was pure love. She was Mimi to my children. She was Mimi to everyone!!! And she was my mother and the only person who had stayed in my heart my whole life. The doctors assured me we could have 5-7 good years with her so I set my sights on ridding her life of all the negative shit, dirt, funk and crap that she was living in and surrounded her new room, home and life with the things that made her happy – a few of her special belongings, Alice the cat and us! And then she left us 4 months later. Overnight she went from not feeling so great, to ICU. Within 5 days of ICU, we moved to Hospice and she died 2 days later. Falling up, falling down, falling sideways, falling…just falling so very far down. My best beautiful girl friends spent nights with me at Hospice taking turns watching her breathe through the giant, noisy mask helping to carry her breath in and out so I could nap. My beautiful step-mother and sister came to run my life so I could be there every moment of every day and night. My beautiful neighbors mowed my lawn. The beautiful Hospice ladies who brought her a root beer float and peaches for dinner. The nurse angels that made sure her morphine was on time every 4 hours without fail. Most of all, my amazingly brave and strong mother who brightened her eyes through the pain to spend one more hour with my children, who told the nurses 3 times she was holding on for my birthday party and who opened her eyes to greet anyone, everyone that came to see her. She never complained. Never demanded one thing. Never wanted to trouble a single person and remained completely lucid throughout. I left her only once through that week, to go home for my birthday party given by my little girls. All the gifts were ordered by Mimi with everything planned ahead of time by her and the kids. Even the kind of cake they decided on was there! I returned to the Hospice facility full of excitement and her eyes were dewy with pride and love. She had waited for this moment. She slowly reached her arm up to pull me close to her and told me clearly “I love you so much” through the noisy mask. Then she sat straight up with crazy unknown strength, yanked off the mask and made her choice to go. As the nurse and I fought to put the mask back on her, she pushed us with enough force to let us know this was what she wanted. I watched her body heave for breath as she groped into empty air as if to reach for the spirits that had come to take her home. She took her last breath in my arms. I felt her heart take its last beat. I watched her face change, her eyes “go out” as her soul left right before my eyes. Fall down straight to hell, lonely dark and orphaned.
I remained directly in hell for 2+ years from that moment on. I lost my job. Gained 30 pounds. Strained friendships due to my ongoing unreliability and stayed in bed a lot more than getting out of it. I would have been fully content to never leave the house if I could, convinced that my heart and soul were bleeding on the outside of my body and everyone could see how broken I was. I might as well have had burn scars from head toe because that is what I thought people saw when they looked at me; sorry for me, poor little girl all alone. I found a gentle ebb and flow to “functional depression” getting the kids where they needed to go each day and faking the stupid smiles every time I needed to. There is a level of being LOST that just cannot be described in words. Grief has a power all its own and I let it bury me.
And then, my best friend slapped me in the face one day. Well not physically, but she let me know how much it hurt other people when I let them down and although she understood my grief and struggle, my choice to stay suffering was taking her and her family too and that wasn’t fair. Holy shit was she right!!! With the support of my chosen family of friends and my step family, all which have become a real and genuine family, I am learning through their love how to love myself again and give myself permission to seek happiness. My parents would want me to do that. I have yet to get a “real” job again, but the search is strong and I have not given up finding the company that I can plant roots within. I have yet to find my perfect balance with fitness and health, but refuse to turn back. The road ahead is long in achieving the level of health I need and want, but the desire to travel it is there. My porcelain heart is still mending and I know it will probably always be a little crooked, but the character of experience my life has given me will undoubtedly provide for the strength I need along the way. I trust that time will help it heal enough to even date again! (Holy What is THAT like??!) My movement toward everything healthy is physical, mental, spiritual and layer by layer, no matter how hard or the setbacks that arise, I am determined to continue FALLING UPWARD now. There are still days when I just have to go back to bed, but…..only with a good book or a little cat nap. *Hugs* M