Friday, August 28, 2015

I Was Once...

How does one discover who they are? How do you find yourself when all your identities have been stripped from you? I have found myself struggling with who I am, knowing the core of my soul. Who am I? This is what I know about me....

I am a care taker. Loving and caring more for those I love deeply than I care and love myself. I would literally die for those I love and be ok with that as long as they are safe and alive. I would suffer just so someone else doesn’t have to suffer. I would go with out to give to another. My heart hurts for animals, children, elderly, those who are hurting. I want to help, I want to fix, I want to be there. All of these things sounds like I am a beautiful soul with so much to give this world and yet I feel like I have no purpose in this world, that I am not good enough, smart enough to be what I need to be for others.

I am a people pleaser. I am so afraid of hurting others that I would do anything to not hurt them so I often don’t say anything at all. I get hurt easily. I have too high expectations so I am disappointed a lot. I say I’m sorry for anything and everything I do, I cry when I receive constructive criticism for something I have written or said to someone, I feel stupid when I don’t  write well which makes me cry.

I am sensitive.

Highly intuitive.

And extremely observant

I was once a daughter. I lost my dad the day before my 14th birthday. I never got to know him like my siblings did. I have few memories but the ones I do have are some of my most fond memories. He loved me deeply and I knew how much he loved me. I had regrets after his death. I didn’t see him enough and when I did I couldn’t be around him because it was too painful. The man I knew was wasting away right before my eyes. So I sat in the other room and played video games. I was a young girl who didn’t know how to be with her dying father. Though those regrets do not linger anymore. I was 14 struggling to figure out how to deal with my dad’s death while dealing with my mom’s drinking. I lost my mom when I was 29. Her death shook me to the core. Still does. The night I found her I didn’t care about the drinking because I just wanted my mom back. Though in reality that life was challenging. Dealing with an alcoholic is almost impossible. Since her death all I can think about are all the ways I didn’t help her. How I could have done more. I have to be reminded of the ways I did that I did all I could do with what I had. I feel like I failed her on so many levels.  I was the child but I was more of a mom to my mom. A role I shouldn’t have had to take on. I loved her fiercely, I loved her with all of my being and in the end that wasn’t enough, she still died. I couldn’t save her. I yearn for her. I ache for her. I miss the mom I knew behind the alcohol. Yes your parents are supposed to die before you, but I just wish it didn’t have to happen when I was 14 and 29.

I was once a wife. I thought I was a good wife. I would have gone to the ends of the earth for my ex husband only to be treated like I didn’t matter. He never stood up for me. He often made me feel like I wasn’t as loved as I loved him. I felt like I was the last thing on his priority list. Yes this was not my fault but it was what I felt deep down I deserved back then. I didn’t deserve to be treated with respect so I just took what he did give and loved him with all of my heart and soul. Being a wife was so important to me, I took my vows seriously. I gave my all and in the end I lost everything. My love could not save it.

I was once a mom. I LOVED being a mom. Waking up to the beautiful sounds of Mckenna made life all worth it. It didn’t matter what I was going through as long as I had her I knew I was going to be ok. We were buddies. I loved watching her explore her world. Making new sounds, learning new things every day, taking the world in (she was observant like me). I loved her beyond this world. She trusted me completely, did not know fear and knew I would be there. Knowing how much she trusted me breaks my heart because all she wanted to do was be next to me and I drop a television on her. Yes unintentionally, but it happened because my hands moved the TV and I wasn’t paying attention. My love ultimately killed Mckenna.

I was once a different person though I don’t know who that person was. How do I try to be the person I think I am if I don’t know who that person is? I don’t have anyone to take care of anymore. I have not been a daughter of a father for 17 years, a daughter of a mother for 2 years, a wife for 7 years and a mother for 7 years. I know these roles should not define me as who I am. I just want to be content with the person I am and know me to my core. As my friend said…the struggle is real.

I want I was once to be I am. I am fearless, I am lovable, I am funny, I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am smart, I am, I am, I am....All the things I feel I am not need to be I am. 

It has been a struggle for a few weeks to try and figure out who I am. I love deeply, I hurt deeply and I wish I knew where life was taking me because I feel a bit lost in the world. I guess we all feel a little lost sometimes.  

I am blessed with some beautiful friends who walk with me along the way. I may be sharing some of my pain publicly but I share my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings with a select few. They help remind me of the person they see, what I did for my mother, how my ex husband is an asshole, and that I really was a good mom. I need to hear those things from time to time. They sit with me in the space and understand how it feels. They aren't afraid of my pain and thoughts, they listen, they love and they honor my journey. I love you and thank you for loving me. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Love, Compassion and Vegetarianism

You know, we all oppose animal cruelty. But sometimes we forget that animals on farms suffer and feel pain like all other animals. They, too, deserve to be protected from harm and cruelty. 
-- Charlotte Ross

When I was a little girl I always felt pain when I saw an animal hurting or even felt bad if I accidentally stepped on an ant hill. I would feel terrible. I didn't use my voice back then to stand up for the animals. For example my Nana had a pig. She warned me what was going to happen to the pig and to not get too attached. Well I ended up naming her Daisy and gave her bathes, loved on her and took care of her. I actually don't remember the moment she was taken to be slaughtered but my family did not help. We would be eating and they would say you know we are eating Daisy then proceed to say things like, "Ashley why did you let them kill me." I'm surprised I didn't become a vegetarian right then and there. I didn't even know what that was and I didn't know how to stand up to my family who made fun of me for loving a pig, a hunting family, a meat eating family.

 I have been a vegetarian now for 3 years. I cannot even imagine going back to eating animals. It all started after I watched the documentary Vegucated. It took me 3 days to watch this film because I couldn't get passed what they were doing to these animals. Those videos changed my heart and I stopped eating meat right then and there. I threw everything out and just couldn't stomach eating them. Ever since then my heart has broken open even more for animals, ALL animals. On a trip to Colorado there were cows roaming and I got so excited, they were beautiful and had calves with them. I squealed like a little kid with excitement. How could anyone eat this beautiful animal?

I recently got into a FB fight with a family member about this very thing. It made me realize just how passionate I am now for animals. I am starting to wonder how people can watch those videos and not feel compassion and love for them. Is it out of sight out of mind? Would you be able to eat a horse, a dog or a cat as easily as you can a cow, pig or chicken? Do you not feel pain as you see the fear in their eyes? They know know pain, they feel deeply just like we do. They cry when their babies are taken from them, they cry when they are hurt. Factory farming is disgusting and no animal should have to live in those conditions and treated the way they are.

I will never go back to eating meat because I love them too much and I care about how they are treated and in my opinion so should everyone else! A friend recently became a vegetarian and it makes my heart happy. "I looked at my burrito meat chopped up and for the first time saw what I was eating. Dying, crying, slaughtered soul. Ugh." When your heart is broken open to see these precious animals as more than "meat" it changes you, it changes your soul. My family doesn't understand, some of my friends don't understand but I will no longer silence my voice.

Open your eyes people....

Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
-- Albert Schweitzer 

Monday, August 3, 2015

I Should/Would Have a Second Grader....

Mckenna's "school" picture (possibly, who knows, I don't know, maybe)

The first day of school pictures have started to fill my FB feed. I have been mostly avoiding FB and I was doing it naturally without even thinking about it. I know what I will see and I know how it will make me feel so I avoid looking when I can. I can feel her absence as she should be starting 2nd grade this year. No school shopping, no clothes shopping, no getting school supplies, no excitement to start a new year with her friends, I will  never do these things with Mckenna.

 I don't even know what it would be like to have a 7 year old let alone a child going to school. How is it that she would be starting second grade? How in the world is it possible that I would have a 7 1/2 year old little girl?? Seriously blows my mind. I am sure I would feel this way if she were here, but it's different when you've never got to experience each milestone.

When Mckenna was going to start kindergarten it was at the tail end of the summer my brother died, my mom died, I failed my internship, friendships changed, it was just a shitty summer. It didn't hit me as hard since I was going through hell. I must have put it out of my thoughts because I could not add anymore pain to my already shattered heart. Last year, 1st grade, I was getting ready to start a new chapter, move, start grad school that it didn't seem to bother me as much and frankly I have a hard time remembering that time in my life. Must have still been in a fog. Second grade seems to be hitting my heart. I ache to be 7 year old, second grader Mckenna's mom. I ached to be her 1 year old mom, 2,3,4,5,6 year old Mckenna's mom (wow so many years I missed already...sigh) and I am sure that will never change.

Several of my beautiful bereaved mama friends who are like me, no living children, have posted about this. Some may not even think about this as it is their "normal" for first days of school. Our "normal" is far from "normal". Please cherish this time with your children. Back to school is stressful I know and it's hard to see past the normal everyday life. Just give them an extra hug and kiss, always say you love them and listen to their days as we would give anything to have these moments with our children. Stress and all.

Not all children get to start school this year and their parents miss them.... It may seem silly to some, but it is our reality and some years it's just painful.