happiness

My Heart Unlocked: The Key

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Love can teach you many lessons.

I have suffered with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues for many years. These issues date back to around spring of 1998. I have been through several major relationships – one of which ended in a broken marriage. Following divorce depression can become especially overwhelming. I had already been suffering for a year and a half prior to our separation due to postpartum depression stemming from the birth of my daughter in May 2009. The darkness I exuded brought so much despair that eventually – my ex husband decided to leave.

My life seemed to begin over again. Here I was living alone with racing thoughts and questions: how did this fail? I wondered had I ever really been in love – why had this gone so awry  … it was at that point that I said to myself, and believed, true love really did not exist.

In April 2012, on a chance encounter, I met my now husband, Joe. My heart was dead bolted. Locked. My soul was marked with a “No Trespassing” sign. I was still struggling with my esteem. I felt rotten, ugly, like I had completely been doomed to never feel the essence of true love. I was faced with a man that I instantly recognized had the type of strength I had always dreamed of. Here before me stood a Veteran, divorced himself, who had also survived cancer and had three children himself. His intelligence immediately sparked my interest. I consider myself a very smart and talented lady in a lot of respects – but his intelligence was not condescending. I was used to the type of man who would patronize me by making me feel as if my quotient of wisdom was stupidity, not knowledge.

Joe and I talked for hours each day. This man understood and got to the bottom of the deepest pits of my inner demons so quickly. I believe it was his kindness, his warm smile, his gentle voice that spoke to me with such caring generosity – that truly unlocked my ability to open up so immediately. It came out of nowhere. All of this time I had wondered if there was a man who was patient, kind, forgiving, understanding, hopeful, and loving – that would actually believe in me despite my emotional baggage.

Joe has never once left my side since. He has seen me through some of the most difficult times. We have braved my depression, anxiety, addiction, and health issues TOGETHER. He has taught me the meaning of true love. The value of his confidence in me goes hand in hand with his undying affection for each and every part of me. He never questions me. Every day I wake up and I’m told I’m beautiful. Little notes written on the steam of the mirror after I take a shower – “I love you, baby.” These are things I have never experienced before. In looking back on the past I realize that I never once failed anybody or anything when it came to love – I just had not yet found what it was truly supposed to be.

In my Prince Charming I have learned how to open my heart again. The key was in someone’s ability to grasp onto my inner imperfections and show me the light in each flaw – and that knowing that despite any days where I may cry for no reason, be moody, yell obscenities, need time alone – he still guides me and holds my hand through each moment. The key was finding somebody strong enough to not let go when the darkest hours present themselves in such perilous light – and instead, that someone would hold me through it and turn that into time together that just makes us both stronger.

He is my best friend. He is closest to me. He knows me better in 2 years than anyone has ever known me in all 34 years alive. He has brought me into that place of happiness and peace – he has taught me that the emotional catalyst to renewing my faith was simply in believing in myself – and to to trust someone else to do the same. I love him more than I could ever imagine loving another human soul – and in this lesson, I have become whole again. After being torn to pieces – his hands, his face, his smile, his heart, his hope, his soul, his genuine belief in my genuine self – has put me back together with a soulful thread and that missing needle in the haystack:

Undying, true, selfless, faithful:  love.

It does exist. We are proof.

 

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Stop that Wrecking Train

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It takes a lot to bring me out of my hole of sickness. When get sick – I get sick BAD. It’s been one year since I had my last case of any sort of flu or cold (I was pregnant with pneumonia – fun). January 2014 is no different. I am still on the mend and actually at the height of it – I’m feeling terrible. I’m on a lot of medication for the strep throat and for the ears to get them to drain. I am very tired.

Yet still, I felt compelled to come and write my thoughts with regards to an incident two days ago that touched me a little bit too close.

At the beginning of my blog I wrote an open letter to the Famous.

If you have yet to read this lovely masterpiece of my mind’s rantings – it embraces that famous people make mistakes and that I often thank them for what they do and being in the spotlight. Without a person who has overcome difficulties and pursued their dreams – we would not have our much loved entertainers, leaders, writers…. the list goes on. I mentioned in the article that I understood not all famous people were famous for a positive reason … thus the purpose of me coming out of my sick hiding hole to write today.

Dear Justin Bieber:

Here I see a 19 year kid. You are just that – a kid. You may consider yourself an invincible teenager because you are in the limelight. I know you have a plethora of money that goes as far as the ends of the earth. You can buy yourself whatever you want and prance around with your head in the clouds: nothing can stop you. Justin – something CAN stop you. Your money and fame cannot save you from hurting yourself or others by being swallowed by actions of stupidity. I know you will not read this. Odds are this will become lost in a host of tweets and fan mail that you will overlook all the same. I just have a few thoughts for you – wishes perhaps.

You have 7 years until you are 26. Today’s prompt is about the number 26. I want to see you live until the age of 26. You have such a bright future. You are a talented guy – your music often echoes in my head when I’m playing with my own children. My daughter, in her 4 year old high pitched off key yet cute voice, sings “baby … baby … baby …oh” – and it makes me smile. Yet, in this pattern of deadly activity you are showing – I cannot allow my children to idolize, or even listen to, a voice that perpetuates stupidity.

I myself fell into a pattern of addiction and acknowledged what I was going through. I sought the help of family and professionals to guide me through. The first step for you is not to be taking pictures of yourself and posting to Instagram that you are “The King” like Michael Jackson. It is not to tell your fans on Twitter that you appreciate their support and to never change for anybody. You need to let your fans, and the world, know you are learning a lesson. You must let everyone know you understand the fault of your actions and recent patterns and that you are seeking guidance to correct these inner notions that lead you to such abusive tendencies. Your music touches the lives of younger folks – those who claim you have “saved” them. These young minds embed the way you reflect yourself on society into their own brains – has it ever occurred to you that they are watching and learning from the impressions you make each day?

I am a mother, Justin. I am a wife and a friend. I am a daughter. I could never have gotten my pathway to freedom without reaching out to others and admitting I was going down the wrong road. I could not fulfill those roles knowing I was in too deep with the decisions I had made. Please, for everyone, set an example. Become a leader and a voice for those afraid to speak up that they may be falling into the same problems you are clearly showing you have. Your recent dealings that are spotlighted in the headlines show a person lost in the spotlight of famous freedom – unable to see the negative consequences of their actions. It is not too late, Justin. Do not let others who are in the same position, yet not famous, believe those types of actions are okay.

I can see you at 26 – happy. I can see you meeting your fans after a show and speaking with them about how far you’ve come – and signing their CD’s for the new songs you’ve just released that have given them more hope than they had before. Please step up to the plate. You can do this. You can grow and extend from these recent turbulent days. Instead of acting like you cannot fall into the trap of car accidents, overdoses, and addiction – remind the world and your fans that you are a regular human being too. The world is watching you – as a mother, I am watching you. I am praying you will find your own pathway to freedom out of the spotlight and you will seek the assistance of others that can help you through what appears to me as a difficult time for you.

You can reflect to the world that your career and copious amounts of cash make you happy and you are not the troubled young man I see. But I doubt this is true. I see a tortured soul who is afraid to speak up for fear others will lose respect – or stop buying your music. You are more likely to gain respect by being a voice. You will stop making music eventually if these patterns continue. You will be lost forever with the other souls in the arms of the angels that never sought help. In the face of the eyes of the world you could lose your battle that could have been won – and those who have always followed you and considered you their “savior” – will only find devastation and questions that could never be answered because you could not simply grow up and show yourself as an actual human.

Everybody makes mistakes. No one is immune from the consequences.

I’m praying for you, Justin.

The Significance of the Sock Monkey Cap

Here at The Overcoming we not only serve pie – but I often come up with the wildest ideas for musings, or rantings, that may not make sense by the title. I hope you giggle snorted a bit. This is not really about a sock monkey cap.

No I’m kidding – it actually is.

What is thee speaking of in such a weird title? Is this a metaphor? Am I perhaps describing one of my children’s toys that scares the bejesus out of me and I’m wondering why we ever bought it?

I mean, have you seen a sock monkey (AHHHH)!!

Alas, I am truly speaking of my own sock monkey cap.

Picture this: on Sunday, while gripping my iPad in my lap with two screaming children in the back, watching the Patriots lose the playoffs, we began a road trip to take my two oldest children home to their father up north after their visit. The weather people kept talking about a possible snow storm for Tuesday (yes, that’s today, yay, I got my days straight). Upon dropping them off and a trip to a local Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the final moments wither away from my beloved Patriots – we went to the gas station.

All of the cool kids were there wearing these cute caps. They were laid over their apparently hyperactive from ice cream heads – these cute knitted caps. Some of them were just in American colors. I noticed one that I think may have been the Grinch. I found my husband at the cash register – and in his hand, a sock monkey cap. He handed it to me – he actually bought it for me – “because you like sock monkeys” he said “and it’s cute.”

I held on to the precious cap until today – awaiting this supposed snow storm.

I am a SNOW LOVER – I absolutely adore it. It reminds me of peace. Have you ever walked outside mid storm? The flakes are falling – and it’s eerily dead silent. The sounds of the outside are filtered through the snowflakes, embedding them in their icy flesh – it takes that sound and makes it just that – nothing. When I was younger I would get on my boots and my cap – go outside, run, play, throw my hands in the air, make snow angels. Whenever it snows now – it takes my breath away. Time seems to stop for me. With each flake far and wide, or a blizzard, or even a simple flurry, my mind returns to those days of youth when I would hold my daddy’s hand while sledding down the hill.

I forgive you daddy for the time you dropped me on the concrete in the ski resort parking lot after I slipped off your shoulders.

Today I sat by the window like a little child. The word “bust” came up. If you have ever lived in or know the Central Virginia area – we often bust. Being so far from the mountains and so close to the water, we usually get the dry air sockets in which we get into a bubble of flake deficiency.

I knew it – it wasn’t coming, I thought. I ran for the sock monkey cap. I had a sock monkey as a child – maybe, if I took myself back – MAYBE I could behold my inner abilities to channel mother nature – and get it to actually close in on us – BRING THE MOISTURE!

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Behold – the power of the sock monkey cap.

Complaints flew in to the weathermen all day. Poor dudes. I understand their job isn’t easy. We wanted the snow. My heart wanted the snow. My childhood still locked inside of my often sad soul (missing those days) – really wanted that snow. My Facebook feed blew up with parents wondering why school was closed for NO SNOW.

I watched the radar. I kept touching my cap. I closed my eyes – and I said “Mother Nature, believe me, I understand it’s hard to answer everyone’s prayers – but for pete’s sake, you always give it to New York – please, for me, just let me see the flakes…”

I noticed the gaps closing in on the radar and I felt that sock monkey cap’s ego growing. It was coming. The low pressure was late in forming off the coast. So close …. so close….

1535407_10153752153910531_1609216405_nI could feel my inner baby girl with her eyes wide open and hands on the windows – breath showing (and I used to blow on it on purpose so I could mark my words like “yay” or “snow” or “mama” on the windows and doors… I could see that tiny lady with her sled grasped in her hands just waiting.

The snow began to fall at 3:45 PM. Right on time – I had said earlier based on the radar I felt it would close in about that time, and it did.

I’m no weather woman. I just watch – but I grasped onto that power of the child in me that just simply wanted to run out in a few flakes and touch them – let them fall on my nose – write on the windows – and I kept on believing.

As I watch the snow fall now and I point it out to my little 10 month old boy – I imagine the times I’ll have with him. It’s just the simple things. It’s the little things on days like this where I just smile, my heart opens, and I beam.

Even if the weather people were off by oh say 4 inches – my little tiny prayer for that moment of childhood bliss still was answered. Whether it was the power of the sock monkey cap (which by the way, I love, because it also reminds me of childhood) – or the inner belief that I could just for once run again like a kid on Christmas in those white fluffy pieces that fall from Heaven … or if it was simply that Mother Nature already had this set up – because we all know that I truly have no power to control the weather.

My heart is happy. Snow is good for my soul.

I am off to fetch a beer and sit by the fire and watch TV with my husband and baby – a cozy night.

But before I go … one last thought….

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Suffering and Honesty: Blogging for Mental Health in 2014

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From Canvas of the Mind:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

The note above is brought to you by the Blog for Mental Health 2014 project by Canvas of The Mind (linked above).

For all of my dedicated readers, those who come and go, and for all of my wonderful Twitter followers and Facebook friends (I do NOT have a public Facebook group, my Facebook is private) – you all know my blog was started at the beginning of January 2014 to chronicle my journey and dealings with my own mental health. I chose to speak up about life with Panic Disorder, Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Addiction.

My blog continues today to show you my experiences. I speak with transparency. I hold nothing back. Those who know me or come to know me often wander here to get a heads up on how I’m doing or to read my inspirational words and quotes. Some appreciate my sarcastic humor when it comes to living with Panic Disorder while having three children. Others have been overcome with appreciation for my sharing of my recent pathway to freedom from addiction.

I pledge to the above and will be highly active in this project this year and every year. The intentions of my blog will not change – although you may see some different types of postings depending upon how I’m feeling or what I’m inspired by, it will always be related to helping others understand how mental health works and I will always be open to giving a shoulder or support for others in need. While I am not a doctor and do not provide medical advice – I am always an open ear, and sometimes people find that slightly more useful.

No I’m kidding. I was just giving myself props.

Welcome to my blog and again, to this project that I plan on being very passionate about. If you have already seen my previous posts you will see I already was in the first place – and I am very excited to take part in this.

Peace, love, and welcome to my crazy world.

5 Tidbits of Wisdom for Every Teenager

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Everyone repeat after me ….

“all I really need to know I learned in …”

Okay, no. One of my least favorite quotes. I did not learn everything at one point in time – I did not learn the “most important” “wisest” things at any particular place in my lifetime  – and it especially wasn’t in Kindergarten. I say that now at age 34.

I learn as I go, we’ve established that. I am not going to continue to teach the brave readers of my blog about what it takes to learn a new life lesson and how to incorporate it into your lives (okay, I’m completely bluffing here, there will be many posts in the future, I suppose, as I continue to investigate myself and the ideas flow – that’s why I love writing – there’s no limitation on subject).

I would like to, however, take this moment to flash back in time – my daily prompt wants a current event. I get my news from The Huffington Post. Fortunately yesterday – even one of my tweets was featured in their article on Divorce (go me, I got into an article on The Huffington Post: WINNING! See #12 – that is my tweet!)

It asked me to take the third article down and make a blog about it entitled “Current Event”.

For all intense and purposes, I would rather not speak about the Pope and Abortion.

I bring in honesty here – we all know I pride myself on this quality – but I am not going to talk about this particular current event, nor do I really feel like writing about current events today. I admit total writer’s block there (smack, how could you?)

Instead – I’m twisting this idea – instead of the currency of thought provocation – I would like to jump into the time machine of memory and go back to my teenage self. I have been thinking of this on a constant basis because I know how much I learned back then that I continue to instill in myself. I have a message for teenagers today and it is simple.

Tidbits of Wisdom (take it or leave it, but I am intelligent and wise, and I promise you – these are heartfelt, genuine, and educational):

a) Don’t cheat. It’s not worth it. You will not learn anything from it – and odds are, if you do cheat, you will continue to cheat on something in your adult years as you continue to learn what a huge responsibility adulthood is. Exhibit A: I’m cheating on this post. It’s supposed to be about a current event. Clearly it’s not – unless I say I’m talking to current teenagers today (that counts right? See I made the effort)!

b) Sleep more: stop worrying about how you look less. I used to get up at 4 AM to shower, do my hair, get my make up on right – maybe I could have impressed my crush that day if my foundation wasn’t so cracked or my mascara was not running or the eye liner was a STRAIGHT line. (Lay off the morning caffeine, it causes the shakes).  I found that the harder I tried to look great, the worse I felt during the day when all that effort after the timed mile run, or sitting in the hot lunch room, made it all worthless anyway.

c) You are beautiful: repeat this to yourself daily. I used to wake up scared out of my wits to go to school because I was so worried about how I looked (see part B above) – I would walk in and creep to my locker, pack in my books, and find myself hiding behind the hood of my jacket or the back of my Algebra book – I kept comparing myself. School is about learning, educating, becoming: it is not a beauty pageant and if others make you feel like it is: scoff it off. I never learned to do this and still suffer with my outer image after I allowed my young, budding mind, to truly believe that my looks mattered more than everything else. I know that part C is extremely difficult. We live in a world of mass media, supermodels, air brushed magazine covers. Trust me, I understand. I used to hide them under my bed and look at those supermodels and do my best attempts to come out looking like one of them –  Instead of having other goals like, oh say getting up my grade point average. I was too busy concentrating on trying to turn heads like the Cindy Crawford, or say the people I had contact with everyday: cheerleaders, the prom queen (I was neither): mistakes, my friends, mistakes.

d) Stop wishing you were an adult: please, please stop wishing you were older. I could write an entire manifesto on this. Enjoy your life. Enjoy the things around you that make being a teenager fun – go out with your friends (to the bowling alley or something, I am not referring to making fake ID’s and going to the local bar – consider this option DISCOURAGED) – nowadays, with shows like 16 and Pregnant or My Teen is Pregnant and So Am I –and  True Life  I know things happen that propel you straight to adulthood from that age of innocence. I am in no way putting any blinders on or attempting to insult any in that situation. Everyone is different – there’s such a diversity of personalities this day and age and with social media and your ability to see pretty much ANYTHING – I get it, adulthood is fascinating. Just please stay young at heart, live it to the fullest – because I am one adult who can tell you that being an adult – it makes you want to go back to those days of being younger. As difficult as my teenage years were, it’s because of those hard times that I wish I could go back an speak all of these things to myself and do it over – so I could have enjoyed it a bit more.

e) As quoted above by the wonderful Robert Frost Life Goes On: Keep this in the back of your mind daily. If you are like I was and sat in the back of the lunch room, feared being bullied again by the “really hot guy who thought he was all that and a Big Mac”, cried many a nights over being rejected, insulted, unaccepted, or that I got a C on a test when I SWEAR on the Bible I studied my patoot off for – Life really does go on. You will learn from it – you will take those lessons with you into the adulthood you’re wishing for and you will look back on it and wonder why you spent so much of your delicate, youthful time really caring all that much about it.

I learned from being bullied. I took many life lessons from being a teenager – dealing with things like acne, bad grades, fear of not being accepted into college, wanting to be asked to prom, needing a date to Homecoming, looking up to the people who were nominated for Prom Queen and Class President.  The only way I was able to get myself to truly understand life’s messages was to accept that I needed to move forward. The really hot guy who bullied me is a nothing now – and I hardly even remember his name. The C I got a test on, ultimately still got me into Virginia Tech.

The biggest tidbit I failed on was part C. Still now, I have yet to truly find my strength to really believe I’m beautiful. I started this blog a week and a day ago. I go back and read my own posts and go – wow – maybe I am. I learn from my own lessons that I preach to others – and I encourage you to do the same because (insert LIGHT BULB DING) beauty is also an inside quality. Become a leader, know yourself, let others judge you if they please. In the end, take those judgements as a compliment that someone was even thinking about you at all (see my mention of the term scoff it off). It is not easy. I know this and that’s why I wrote this. I just wanted, for this particular writing piece, to come back to you, as if I were you, and speak to you directly: I wish somebody had spoken to me before.

No wait – they did. I distinctly remember this conversation with my parents, aunts, friends of the family, neighbors, bus drivers, teachers…

The problem was: I never listened because I had that lovely teenage flair about me that I was never wrong. I couldn’t be wrong. I knew what I was doing at my ripe ol’ age of 15, right?

Take it all in, put it into your memory box, use your knowledge and your wisdom you know now and apply it to yourself in this moment.  Your adulthood will thank you as you are sitting at your table, reading a newspaper, drinking a coffee, watching the morning news and packing up to leave for your job or drop your kids off to the babysitter, whatever it is your adult self will become. You will remember that you enjoyed being a teenager just a tad bit more than others did (I didn’t – that’s why I’m writing this to you) – and you will smile and cherish the memories as you walk off to your car and scoff off the coffee you just spilt on the sidewalk…. because as you will know then, and you should know now …

Life goes on.