Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We are in so much trouble

My nine year old, darling beauty that she is, has learned about teasing boys. Apparently there is one boy (S) that likes her, but that she doesn't like "in that way" but there is another boy (C) that she DOES like in "that way." There is no problem for her, though, because that just means there are TWO boys that she can coerce to do as she pleases.
"All I have to do is look like this at them, and then they give me what I want!"
"Wait, I thought S likes you, but you don't like him back?"
"So what, if he gives me what I want when I ask him?"
"Well, isn't nice."
"But it IS fun..."

Good lord, what have I created?

The worst part? The other two agreed with her. 

It appears my family curse has followed me to my children. This is no ordinary curse. I'm not sure where it came from or why it was bestowed on my sisters and I. All I know is that it spells trouble for the future of my household. What is this curse you ask? I would fear to name it but, at this point, I doubt I can avoid invoking it. It is the Cute Little Girl Power.

What? Don't laugh! This is serious business! Have YOU ever tried to say "no" to an adorably cute little girl with blond curls and adorably big, blue eyes? What's even worse, is when that little girls KNOWS the power she has. These little imps can wield their cuteness with alarming skill and devastation. Once a poor little boy is wrapped in their web of deception, they are helpless. It only gets worse as they get older. Once the Tit Fairy has made the first visit, those poor, pre-adolescent boys will never know what hit them.

Now, on the surface it might seem pretty innocent (they ALL want you to think that) but you need to have some serious cute-inoculation or antidote on hand because the world is about to get wrapped, quite snugly, around a very little pinky. Once these bombshells-in-training have learned what batting their eyes will get them, they won't quit. They will buy mascara and try to get even more. If you think a spoiled girl is trouble, a PRETTY spoiled girl is five times worse.

As if that wasn't bad enough, this stuff runs in families. When you have more than one sister in the same family, generally they will all have some version of the curse. At that point it is just a matter of time before a boy comes a calling. One foot in the door and the boy is as good as gone. If one sister doesn't grasp him in her claws, the next one will. Surprisingly, this causes much less grief in the family than you would think. The boy, as usual, will pay the larger price. Occasionally, like was the case in my own family, there are plenty of sisters and word will get around. Guys will come over to "hang out" and become a "family friend" so that they can have a chance with more than one sister. He THINKS he knows what he is doing, but the poor thing is playing with fire. He will enjoy getting burned nonetheless.

I have seen this curse take hold a lot since we moved to the country. The allure of the New Kid In Town helped things along a bit. Once these neighborhood boys stopped by to say hello, we haven't been able to get rid of them. One is about the age of the youngest and one is about the age of the oldest one. The middle one just bats them all around like a kitten playing with string. These boys are terribly smitten (Why else would they come to the one house in the neighborhood WITHOUT a Wii or a PS3?) They come over nearly ever afternoon with a hopeful look on their lost little faces. "Can the girls play?"

Hmmm, I don't really know about this. Yes, they want to play, but dare I LET them, knowing the consequences? Can you let a piranha loose in a tank of goldfish without feeling a bit of remorse for the goldfish? Should I try, somehow, to keep them under lock and key as much as I can? Try to protect the world from my Little Darlings for the world's own good? Maybe, I should go in the other direction. Encourage and teach my daughters as much about The Curse as I can? Maybe they will, as unlikely as it may be, learn to wield their powers for Good instead of Evil? Should I sit them down and have the Superman speech with them - with great power comes great responsibility.

Who am I kidding? In the world today, they can use any edge they can find. Sure I'll try to do my best to raise them the way good girls should be raised but in the end, what use is it to fight against something that has plagued my family for generations? Besides, I would be a hypocrite if I tried to say I never used the puppy dog eyes to get DH to go get me ice cream in the middle of the night.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Cook or not To Cook

I don't like admitting defeat. For as often as I have had to, especially recently, failure really doesn't make me happy. I also know that I can be stubborn by nature and I sometimes can cling and insist on following through with things even when it is clearly a mistake to continue. That said, when I DO have to throw in the towel, I would much rather do it quickly and cleanly and move on. Lesson learned. Let's get on with life now.

I have been considering my choice in future education and career path. I love cooking and serving and I still think owning a cafe in our little down town would be totally cool. However, the reality of cooking school (as valuable as I recognize the information to be) is quite different than I imagined. When I started class back in November, I was so full of passion and determination. I finally felt like I had found an outlet for my pent-up passion for food and service to others. Just three weeks in, though, I was exhausted, in a lot pf physical pain, and failing. As much as I tried to anticipate what I would need and what I would have to do, I just didn't anticipate the amount of energy I would need to put out compared to the amount I actually had each day.

Eventually, Fibromyalgia got the best of me and I started missing class. Then, my family experienced a perfect storm, if you will, of financial hardships. We were struggling to get my husband back and forth to work and keep our bills paid. I couldn't justify spending the gas money to attend school (which happens to be 55 miles away.) I missed a lot of days back to back and then my request for a temporary leave of absence was denied. Basically, I failed my classes and got kicked out.

Some of you already know all this, but it helps me put things into perspective to put all down at once. I was lying in bed earlier this week, relishing the relief of Vicodin, when I started wondering if maybe I had pushed a little too hard, too fast for this school "thing." I've been out of work on and off for six years. Last year, I worked three solid months and a handful of evenings. Why I thought I could just jump, feet first, into five-day-a-week school, I don't know. I'm pretty sure it was a combination of denial and misjudgment. Aside from that, the passion to actually get up and go and learn was gone. I felt like my flame had been extinguished. I started doing some self analyzing. Was it the act of going to school or the school itself that was becoming a stumbling block for me? Perhaps it was something deeper, some underlying desire to fail and self-sabotage that was working here?

I thought of having to stay up late to go to class and I felt drained and exhausted. Night classes weren't as good an idea as I thought. I imagined getting into my uniform and going to class and I felt claustrophobic. In my minds eye, I look like Humpty Dumpty all squished into my chef's coat with my hair tucked into the little cap. Looking at the stacks and stacks of books, unopened, and thinking about the uniforms hanging in the closet gave me a sense of dread. That kind of hatred can't be good for my chance of future success. It seemed like my psyche was trying to tell me something. Perhaps, if I have failed so spectacularly, it is time to cut to the chase, nip it in the bud, move on with my life, cut my losses.

I considered the amount of money I have been charged, via student loans, and that made me feel guilty. Instead of trying to find a way to make it work, though, it caused me to look for ways to recoup my losses. I considered taking all the books back and trying to get some sort of a refund. At the very least, I could take them to text book store and get some cash out of them. The books from the first few classes were very informative and I would probably move them into the kitchen with the rest of my favorite cook books. I love the knives in my tool kit way too much to consider giving them up, and I would be happy to move them out of the carrying case and into my knife block so I can use them every day. I'll bet my dad would love the half aprons I have, I could easily use the pants as "around the house" wear (who doesn't LOVE black and white checkered clown pants?) I know the scarves would be just as comfy if I wore them as bandannas to hold my hair back. I could throw the rags in the towel closet and all I would have hanging around would be the coats. I bet I could donate them or maybe even set up a burn pile?

Then, I looked over and spied "The Shoes" and I felt fear and loathing more than for any other aspect of school. These shoes are the ones that were assigned to me and I have not been able to wear them more than 15 minutes at a time without severe pain. They are too small and too clunky and stiff, as well as being hideously ugly. I tried to trade them in for a better size after the first few days, but the adviser told me they wouldn't take them back. They could issue me new ones but they would cost $65 or more and it would be better (and cheaper) to go and find a pair on my own. Since I haven't had enough money to do ANYTHING since then I never went to get another pair. Unfortunately, in order to attend school, I had to have steel toed, black leather, non-skid shoes. I don't own another pair that meets these requirement so I chose to just deal with the discomfort and wear them anyway. Anyone who knows me (or nearly any other Pisces) will understand this is NOT a good thing. Wearing uncomfortable shoes is possibly the worst form of torture I can put myself through. (For more insight, read my posting on shoes...)

It occurred to me that perhaps the vehemence I felt for these black leather torture devices had put a dark cloud over my entire school experience. When I thought long and hard about it, the biggest reason I didn't want to go back to school was because of how uncomfortable the uniforms were. Besides the shoes that don't fit, the books are heavy, the tool kit is unwieldy, and the jacket and scarves make me feel like I am being choked. Was I really letting something like a uniform to prevent me from continuing down the path that I had chosen? Actually, yes. I was. And I felt pretty silly about it.

I bounced some ideas of DH and he has some interesting viewpoints. It turns out he actually thinks I am capable of doing this whole chef thing and being successful. He didn't berate me for quitting, like I thought he would. He didn't tell me I had failed. Instead he asked me if there was a way to overcome the obstacles. Was there something I could do to overcome these hurdles? Duh! Sometimes I need that man's sanity and clarity so much it is embarrassing.

As for the schedule, I can take day classes, I can even take afternoon classes if I need to. Since I stopped attending class, I have managed to increase my energy level and decrease my pain level significantly. Pain and fatigue should be handle-able issues now. So it really just comes down to what I have to wear and bring to class. Yes, there are other shoes in the world that will be acceptable for school. As long as they meet the requirements, I can get any type shoe I want!  There are better back packs that are more comfortable and distribute the weight of books better than the hand-me-down ones I have been using. The tool kit is heavy, but I don't need every tool for every class. There are smaller knife cases that can be bought so I can carry only what I need for each class. I am able to tailor my uniforms to fit me better, if I need to, so that I don't feel like I am swimming in them OR being choked by them. Another way to make them more comfortable would be to change out the regular "Hanes" t-shirts for something a little more high tech - underarmor or another type cloth that keeps you cool and dry. You see? There are a lot of options that I wasn't considering.

What stopped me from making this epiphany sooner? Money. I didn't have enough to do the bare minimum and so I couldn't even consider things that would be for comfort instead of utility. I wanted to be brave, and work hard, and make do when I had to. By denying my own discomfort and negating the importance of it, though, I was making my pile of obstacles to overcome higher and higher. Sure, some people can deal with tight shoes and make it through the day just fine. I'm not that person, though. I have a million awesome things that are just me, and only me. I also have some weaknesses and faults. Some of these I can work on. Others, I have come to understand, are not negotiable. By acknowledging what I am and am not able to overcome, I am facing my own limitations head on. It is not weak to admit you are not a Superwoman. It is not pessimistic to realize there are things I simply can not handle. I CAN accomplish lots of things in life, I just need to make sure that certain needs are met before I can go forward.

So, what does this mean? It means I really DO want to go to school and I am not a complete failure. There are some things that need to be fixed before I can return and be successful, but those things are all possible. For starters, I have started looking for the next Perfect Pair of Shoes, and I have found many more options than I thought there were. Did you know that Converse makes steel toed skate-style sneakers? (I am in love.) I totally forgot that my favorite brand of shoes, Dr Martins, has a huge variety of shoes that will fit my need (as well as looking cool AND being comfy.)

Is any of this really an option, though? Actually, yes. Every year about this time, I have the joyous experience of filing my taxes. Some people enjoy this less than getting a tooth pulled without Novocaine. I however, have come to enjoy and even anticipate it. The reason for this? I have always gotten a sizable tax return. I know that financially it seems a little backwards, but I have reasons for what I do. There have been years when one of our employers have screwed up a little and have not taken out enough from our paycheck to cover the income taxes. Sometimes I end up working as a contractor or for commission and I don't always have the luxury of having taxes taken out. It just makes sense for us (because we have been historically horrible at saving and planning for the future) to have as much taken out of our paycheck as possible, so that if one of us has a deficit, the other one can cover it. (One of the many bonuses of filing jointly.)

In any case, there will be a tax return coming and it will be pretty significant. This gives me the opportunity to get caught up on a few bills as well as make certain purchases that I otherwise would not have been able to. Because of this annual windfall, I will actually be able to find some shoes that fit and feel as wonderful as I need them to. I can also look into getting the knife case, back pack, other things that will make my return to school much easier than my first attempt.

Today I have started looking at all the plans that need to be made in order to get back to school and be successful. My hope is that someone else out there will be inspired to sit down and take a look at the obstacles standing in THEIR way, too. I may not succeed at everything I want to. But, if I am going to fail, I will surely go down fighting.

The only thing I hate worse than failing is regretting that I could have worked harder.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day Fun

I's been almost two straight weeks in the house for my kids. Last week they were home with fevers and this week we have been iced in since Monday night. I'm halfway thankful for the timing of the winter storm because it means the girls have had an extra week to fully recover without missing school. LH and TD are just about past the worst of it, but EG was still running a bit of a fever this afternoon. LH was able to go to school Monday and got her make-up work from the week before so she's been able to take her time all week doing it a little at a time. I think this may be the first time - ever - that she will have actually completed and turned in her make-up work on time (at least without being up until midnight crying about her misfortune and the unfair attitudes of her teachers.)

In spite of just having had a two week break for Christmas and New Year, I have been enjoying the break, myself, at least until the last 24 hours or so. I have been fighting the last stages of being sick, too, and this morning the FM flared up. I'll probably be dealing with it for the next few days, but since I have the luxury to rest when I want, I'm fairly certain I can get past it quickly. DH gets to work from home and neither of us has to get up early to shuffle the kids out the door. Staying up late and acting like a grown-up is so much more fun when you don't have to pay the price for it the next morning.

Tomorrow will make the fourth day in a row that school is canceled and, since it is a Friday, we're looking at the next three days at home. The cabin fever is starting to take its toll, finally. Thankfully, we've gone past bored and grouchy and we're approaching goofy and nuts. It can be hard to tell, but I believe they are even crazier than usual. Let me state some evidence:

Today, EG and TD both declared that they like Justin Beiber. This is a complete 180 turn from last week when TD was offended by the very mention of his name and EG was dressing up her Ken doll in princess dresses and calling him "Justin." LH however, has insisted that Taylor Lautner is the hottest thing EVAR and there was a heated debate this afternoon about WHY Jacob was even cooler than Shark Boy. While this is probably pretty expected for most 13 year old girls, mine are just not that into Teen Idols and Pop Sensations. For them to resort to arguing over the specific merits of the Rich and Famous definitely shows the walls have started the crumble in their Houses of Sanity.

This evening at dinner, the girls got tired of picking on each other and instead decided to discuss the individual names they have chosen for each separate body part - Steve the Stomach, Dave the Digestive System, Ralph the Respiratory System, Felix and Fitzpatrick the Feet. Eliza the Eyelashes, Bob the Beauteous Maximus, Ed the Elbow, Collin the Colon, Nicole the Nose, GnaGna the goatee (named after a friend from school), Ned the Knee...the list goes on and on. Why most of the names they chose were MALE, I'm still not sure. EG combated this statement by declaring her freckles were surely Female. Yeah, ok....

Instead of a blankie or other toy from babyhood, EG has a decorative couch pillow that she named "Loaf of Bread" because of its shape.  It is a long, round pillow, shaped like a cylinder, and the cover has been gone for quite a while so it is just plain and white (at least it USED to be white.) She snuggles it the way "normal" kids would snuggle a doll or a teddy bear. Last night she wrapped a hairband with a sparkly purple flower around one end of Loaf of Bread and declared that this was actually "Loaf of French Bread" Loaf of Bread's French cousin who was visiting for the week. Croissant, Loaf of French Bread's brother would be arriving some time later - he had a flight delay due to weather. This evening, EG comes in to say Good Night as usual, but tonight Loaf of Bread had a scrunchee with flowers and ladybugs wrapped around the top. This is now "Banana Nut Bread", Loaf of Bread's country cousin. The sheer sincerity of EG as she was telling me this is more than I would expect from any patient in a funny farm.

Finally, I think the cabin fever has affected LH's memory. Tonight the younger sisters were picking on her about the mood swings that, frankly, have been affecting ALL of us (as she likes to share these emotions with EVERYONE around her) and the girl had the audacity to look me right in the eye and claim innocence. "Really, have they been that bad? When was the last time I did something like that?"
SERIOUSLY!??! THIS from the same girl that came home from school on Monday and spent three hours yelling, screaming, talking to herself, and declaring that she hated life, the world, and everyone in it because THREE of her (eight) teachers had given her make-up work from the WEEK she had been out. (Oh! The humanity!)

I am not sure who is going to break first, me or the kids. If the weather doesn't clear up enough for us to get out of the house on Saturday, I might just see how far I can make it out of town with a pair of running shoes and a case of Red Bull. 

The only one around here who hasn't been suffering from the weather imposed house arrest has been DH. He gets to shut the door and focus on work and no one gets to bother him unless HE decides he wants to be bothered. When he isn't taking customer calls (and demanding silence from the house hold) he has all of his arts, crafts, and hobbies at his fingertips. He has finished three different projects and learned a new craft since Monday evening. Whatever he is sneaking to create this pleasant, cozy, bubble of sanity, I wish he would share with the rest of class.

I hope the rest of you out there are staying warm, and busy, and enjoying the winter storms in whatever way you can.

Long lost...

For some reason, I have been thinking about my exes a lot. For the past few weeks every time I turn around something reminds me of the past and those significant people who shared it with me. Songs on the radio, movies, news articles, conversations with newer friends who never even knew my old SO's - everything, it seems, is tied to someone in my history somehow.

If it were some sort of special day, I might understand it a bit, but I can't think of any reason calendar-wise that old flames should be lighting up my brain this way. No anniversary, birthday, or special event is especially memorable around this time of year. None of my previous partners have contacted me again, and no mutual friends have mentioned them. I really don't know what set it off, but for the past month, my mind has been going over and over my high school days and the time shortly after that, before I met DH. Now, I don't want to imply, even for a minute, that I am less than 100% satisfied with the love of my life right now. I love him more today than I did yesterday, and yesterday I didn't even think that was possible. I have a funny feeling, I'll be even more in love tomorrow, and the day after that.

In spite of my intoxicating love for my husband, my mind has been straying back to Old Times and I'm starting to feel a bit odd about it. Because of the bad weather, DH and I have been in very close quarters all week. He has been working from home, and I spend most of my day in the office, with him, working on my crafts. I love having him close to chit chat all day long. Whenever he isn't taking a customers' call or engrossed in work, we talk to each other about whatever we are doing or whatever is on our minds throughout the day. We bounce ideas and opinions off each other about crafts or the kids or politics or the weather...whatever. Since I don't get much time around other adults other than family, I enjoy having a grown-up around to participate in intelligent conversation. I know he enjoys having distraction from work when he isn't dealing with customers.

Some couples get on each others nerves being that close all day every day, but DH and I have a special relationship in the fact that when we met, we worked together and shortly after that, we became room mates, AND worked together, and went to lunch together every day. Even after we were married, we managed to make daily lunch together a routine. Since we moved to The Country, we have actually spent less time together than we have ever in our relationship. I hate when he isn't home and I have enjoyed this past week tremendously. 

It has always been part of our relationship to talk like this all the time. We don't have any taboo subjects that we avoid, including exes. I am, and always have been, open with him and he has always been the same. We both feel that the past is history and history is important. Ignoring or denying a part of your past is denying a part of who you are. It is perfectly reasonable for anyone to remember their past loves (and disasters) occasionally, and if they come up in conversation, that's fine, too. I have begun feeling a bit awkward, though, when EVERY thought that seems to cross my mind has to do with someone who is an ex.

It started a few months ago.Out of the blue I had a dream about my first love, M. It was one of those very vivid and extremely memorable dreams that keeps popping back in your head for days afterward. The dream itself wasn't all that significant, but the fact that it was about M, was, considering I haven't spoken to or about him in a very long time. He was still a significant part of my life for quite a while though. We were together nearly four years starting in junior high and most of the way through high school. When we met, we went to the same school, but after a year I moved 40 miles further away. We still talked every day and spent nearly every weekend together but I never knew any of his friends and he never got along with any of mine. Most of my high school life revolved around him, to the exclusion of nearly everyone else. Part of me feels I wasted the best part of those years by being at his beck and call.

Eventually, I think he needed someone deeper and more tortured than I was. I needed someone who was actually faithful and didn't act ashamed to be seen with me in public. I found out he was secretly seeing someone else - someone who was actually living in my house for a short while - so, I caught him in the act and broke up with him. Thinking back, I can't believe I put up with as much as I did for as long as I did, but I was In Love and that makes things different. It wasn't all terrible. I did like him for a good reason and he was a very interesting person, as well as a stellar musician. The longer we were together, though, the less things were about us and the more they became about M. Part of me thinks that I was more afraid of living life without the constant that M had become, than I was offended by the crap he occasionally put me through. Really, he wasn't a horrible guy, just rather self-centered. I used to tend to morph into a different type of person depending whom I was with at the time. When I was with him, he loved himself and so did I. It just became the norm that I would give and he would take. I learned a lot from him, and to this day I still consider him one of the most important people from that time of my life. Thankfully, though, it didn't take me long to realized after her was gone, that I was a better person without him. I am sure we both have a much happier life now than we would have ever had together.

The strange part about M, is that the threads of our lives have intersected quite a few times since then. He has a son the same age as LH and when I bought our first house, it ended up being about six blocks away from the house he and his wife lived in. That is extremely odd because neither of us had ever lived in that town before. For the next several years I ran into him at the grocery store, pharmacy, even church and neighborhood events. Our kids actually have the same birthday, so whenever LH hits another milestone, I can't help but wonder, is his boy going through similar things? There are actually several coincidences between our kids that are just too bizarre to even get into. (I'm kind of afraid that if LH and his boy ever actually meet it will cause a rift in the time/space continuum.) Since we moved to The Country I haven't seen or heard of him, so that is why it was so odd to suddenly have this vivid dream about him. Did it mean something? Should I track him down and see if he and his family is ok? Is it just plain bizarre to have this fascination with some family that I've really never met?

I tried to put it out of my mind, but I can never think about M without remembering my second most important ex, so it makes for a weird sort of spiral of thought. A few weeks ago when I first started learning how to bead loom, I tuned into my favorite online music provider - - and the station I kept going back to, day after day, was the Erasure/INXS/Depeche Mode/Pet Shop Boys station. I had just managed to put M out of my mind, when The Cure came on and I remembered seeing them live with M. Then I remembered all the other live music I saw back then and  my mind turned to J. This music, specifically Depeche Mode and Erasure, always reminds me of the summer before my Senior year that I spent with my best-friend-turned-lover J. We spent nearly all day every day together working, going to PSAT prep summer school, and going to concerts as often as we could. Music was a part of life for us. Either Erasure or Sarah McLaughlan was almost always playing in the car. I can clearly remember sitting by dock at the park while the radio in J's car played and we stayed up to watch the sunrise.

I met J the first day of high school and J was the only friend who put up with the ridiculous nonsense that M put me through. No matter what happened, J was always there, by my side. I have a lot of regrets about how J and I broke up. Our relationship was kind of hush-hush by nature, and I was tired of living life feeling as if I had a reason to be ashamed. I was ready to move on, but I wasn't honest or straightforward about it. I left, but instead of just coming out and saying it, I tried the let-em-down-easy approach. All it did was cause broken hearts and hurt feelings. We had been together as a couple for about a year when I started seeing someone else and instead of just breaking up, I casually let J find out.

Yeah, I was a bitch. I did to J what M did to me. I don't believe J ever forgave me. Trust me though, I paid the price for it. Karma will get you in the end, every time. The person I left J for was just about as wrong as you can get. E was a much older manager at the burger joint I worked at. After five years of feeling like I was someones dirty little secret, I was dazzled by the person who wanted to show me off like a trophy. Roses, expensive dinners, parties with his friends, nice gifts - I felt like I was the star of a show. My mind was clouded by the whirlwind and I had no clue just what kind of a person E truly was. It was only a few months before he asked me to move in with him. I was ready to be a grown-up and get out of my parents' house, so I agreed. Shortly after that, he proposed and insisted on a very short engagement. Again, I was so amazed and flattered that someone more experienced thought I was worth all this, that I completely ignored all the warning signs.

When I say "experienced", I mean divorced with two kids and a crazy ex-wife. When I say "warning signs, of course, I mean every thing that anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship will tell you to look for - insane temper and crazy fights (followed by extravagant gifts to apologize and make-up); whirlwind relationship that takes off way too fast (with insistence that you settle down together even faster); history of hitting a spouse (although it was the other person's fault); communication with family and friends limited (or even denied); casual remarks that are personally degrading (but are phrased as compliments); disrespect and poor relationship with most other women (and especially their own mother.) I missed becoming a statistic of domestic abuse my a very thin margin.

I think we were together a total of four months when I had a moment of clarity during a fight over something so stupid I can't even recall. We were about six months away from the wedding date and he had been pushing me to move it up so we could get hitched faster. I think we were actually arguing about something the priest said when we went to schedule the pre-wedding classes. While the priest interviewed us separately he asked us questions about each other and I interpreted a question differently than E did. Suddenly I was being accused of lying and making him look bad and jeopardizing our chance to get married in the church. He was so enraged, I threatened to pack my stuff and leave. As I started to gather some things he backed me into the closet and blocked the door as he continued to yell at me. Suddenly, I saw everything very clearly - he was backing me into a wall (using my fear of small spaces against me), he was raising his hands over his head while he was yelling at me (making me feel even more threatened), everything was my fault (and it always was), I hadn't seen or talked to my family in two months. I realized E was a serial abuser and I was about to become his next victim. Thank God for giving me that moment of insight, because it gave me the ability to think clearly enough to diffuse the situation and get him to calm down. The next day I packed my stuff while he was at work and had my dad come to pick me up and I never went back.

E left such an mark on me that it was quite awhile before I was able to get emotionally close to anyone. I was pretty big wreck. I dated a few others after E, but I was careful to keep my distance in every way I could. It wasn't until I met DH that my heart truly opened up to anyone else. That is a whole different story for another day, but I will say that God brought DH into my life at just the right time. Things have not always been a bed of roses for us, but the trials and tribulations of our past has made the thorns of life much easier bear.

Maybe by getting all of this down and sent out to The Universe, I will be able to close these chapters of my life and move on. I have no desire to revisit or replay these phantoms from my past so hopefully this will serve as the final exit interview and these ghosts can be evicted for good. I know I will always remember these people as part of my life. It's only that I want to remember them in passing as a memory, instead of as something or someone that still affects emotions in my mind as strongly as they did 15 years ago.

Goodbye M, J, and E. May your children grow up to be strong and healthy and bring you joy. May your future love not be restrained by your past pain. May you learn love and respect instead of fear and intimidation. Will you all stop hanging around my brain now?