Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Girl with the Broken Smile

I was the girl with the broken smile.  I am eighteen or nineteen in the above photo.  I was in an unhealthy relationship with the boy/man who would in the next year or so become my husband.  Turning 55 has catapulted me forward in terms of releasing my old stories and dumping some of the baggage I thought I needed to drag around most of my life.

 I felt very compelled to share this post today  because of a sense that someone "out there" needs to read my words.  I was conceived in violence. My mother,  the age I was in the above photo, was date raped by a man a bit older than her.  Her first plan of action was to attempt an abortion.  I don't know about you, however,  I could have gone my whole life not knowing.  The man I always called my father adopted me when I was almost two years old.  This story was withheld until I was fifteen.  I am certain my parents did what they thought best at the time.  It was shocking news for a teenager.  I needed my birth certificate to get my learner's permit.  My dad  reminded me of his unconditional love when he said,  "I am a lucky man, not everyone gets to pick such a wonderful  daughter."  My mother dealing with rage and hurt, dealt some pretty harsh blows, both verbally and physically.  My dad was the saving grace for both of us.  My mother and I have finally come to terms with our relationship. Her life experiences contributed to her behavior.  Forgiveness has been a wonderful gift.

Despite having a really kind, loving father, I still had bucket loads of low self esteem. I sought affection in less than ideal situations.  I embarked on a series of poor choices. I sampled my mother's valium on a regular basis, drank alcohol to the point of illness and explored a few other drugs.  Relationship choices were not  good.  I allowed the young man  I was involved with to make ALL my choices for me.  He loved me and was going to do all the right things, right!   He was an extremely jealous sort and would go into violent rages if someone even looked my way.  Of course I thought that was my fault.  We married. We stumbled through a few years, he started a business...we were broke all the time.  We eventually started a family.  The pregnancy progressed, I was in an automobile accident. Things moved along as they should until one night, still too early for birth, my water broke and blood gushed everywhere.  My obstetrician determined that it was imperative to deliver as the placenta was deteriorating.  I was losing too much blood and our baby was suffering.  I had an emergency c-section. We almost died.  Our daughter was small, had trouble feeding and required a feeding tube, incubator and some assistance breathing.  Miracles do happen...Michelle stayed in the NICU for two weeks and then was able to come home.  She had no delays whatsoever in growth and development.  We were feeling blessed. We were happy parents and soon another daughter was born. Being a mother gave my life purpose and meaning.

The honeymoon period of our lives ended.  I worked full time, cared for our girls and he worked really hard building a business.  Emotionally, we were both miserable.  He sought solace with other women.  I devoted all my time to "my" girls.  I developed an eating disorder and gained weight.  I swallowed my sadness, pain and anger in the form of food.  After, I would attempt to purge.  The long and short of this story is that my husband cheated one more time, finally left me and married the other woman. I was crushed and angry.  After wallowing in self pity for awhile I began the road to recovery and discovery. I wanted Michelle and Heather to experience the example of a strong and independent woman.

  My former husband was/is not a bad person.  We were mismatched and unhappy. Neither of us had the skills to fix the relationship.   That was over 20 years ago...some people will not let things go, last year his sister felt the need in a very public gathering to remind me that her brother and I were not meant to be together and EVERYONE knew that except me.   Sometimes, you just have to walk away from unkind or clueless people. I mention this because people are quirky.  It throws them for a loop when you change patterns and change your story.

We are all broken at one time or another.  Everyone has a story. No one is immune from loss and tragedy.  We all have lies we tell ourselves. We attempt to numb our pain with food, alcohol and other substances.  People who are broken can find redemption and repair their souls. Call on your higher power.  For me, my Heavenly Father answered prayers and carried me when I was weak, tired and devastated.

 I have been married to a wonderful man for the last 17 years.  He thinks I am a beautiful, smart and wonderful human being! He reminds me daily that he is getting the best I have to offer.  The second act of my life is amazing.  We have fun, we laugh and we road trip everywhere!  We disagree about a lot of things and we are as different as night and day...we work through the problems.  Sometimes, we agree to disagree.

Life is beautiful.  Find your tribe.  Walk away from drama.  Put that baggage down once and for all!
You are enough...your existence matters.  You are loved beyond measure.  Learn to love yourself.
Change your story...there is no easy button, things that matter the most are worth the difficulty.   Follow your own path....everyone has their own obstacles and victories along the journey.  Our trials can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones...ultimately you get to choose.