Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Not-So-Great Escape OR My Anniversary of FREEDOM

Today, February 24, 2009, is the four-year anniversary of the day I left (read: escaped) my abusive second husband. It was a day, not unlike today... sunny and seasonably warm for a Utah February.

Because I had chosen to stay with him as long as I did, I had lost two jobs, my two older children, a house and a cat; had TWO cars repossessed and another paid off car sold for scrap; been evicted from two apartments; had gained a criminal record; had sold or pawned nearly every piece of furniture, appliance, electronic equipment, video, dvd, cd, and piece of jewelry I had owned; had been reduced to rummaging in garbage cans and dumpsters for aluminum cans to recycle for cash; and worst of all had very nearly lost my SELF.

Because I'm not feeling up to re-hashing all this today, I've decided to post the first two parts to an autobiographical short story I began writing over three years ago. Note: The cards that are mentioned in the story are cards in the "Osho Zen Tarot" deck my ex was completely addicted to (meth-induced psychosis) during the months preceding my leaving him.

(Rebuilding a Life in One, Ironically Simple Step)
Part One - In the Taco Bell House

He’d lost his mind. No question about it. Megalomaniacal fantasies; paranoid delusions, the whole big, hideous ball of wax. She had plans to leave; spent most of her days packing. But there was always something! Something that kept her there just a few more days. The days had stretched out into weeks and then into months. The children were gone now (until she could secure a place to stay and move everything). Lucky them! She had brief reprieves from his psychosis. He would periodically leave her to go on his “adventures” – sometimes with other women. She was almost beyond jealousy now though. She almost wished he would find someone who could put up with the constant constant of him and save her from having to be the cold, heartless bitch that she was building up the strength to be.

She knew for weeks she must leave, lest the insanity obliterate her also. Sleep deprivation and hunger distorted her thinking. She was oh so tempted to fall into the “can’t beat them – join them” thinking error that was partially to blame for the situation she was in at this moment. She couldn’t afford to; not with the children hanging in the balance. She was perpetually responsible that way and she hated herself for it. No sense in bemoaning the pathological personality that simply was her cross to bear. It was part of her core – couldn’t be changed. She’d spent most of her life in a constant state of worry, as if she had the power to change the natural course of fate. It seemed to be both her pass-time and passion, the worry. She trusted no one now, including herself. There was a time, in what seemed to be her previous life, when decisions were easy for her. Never one to ask for advice, let alone take it, she simply made her own way. But now – now she couldn’t even decide in which box to pack the summer clothing. She was paralyzed with fear and worry. She kept going through the motions despite it all.

And throughout, he was there, like a mosquito buzzing in her ear. A huge, malaria-carrying parasite draining her of all she once was and all that she may have been. Everything was a battle with him. Everything took so much longer and was so much more difficult and unpleasant. His latest whim was that his deck was tainted. She let him rattle on; it was easier if one did. It seemed as if maggots were crawling behind her eyes and under her skin. Not a damn thing she could do about it. No car; no money for the bus; winter outside. She was trapped again. The cards needed to be cleansed. This was the priority now, and she would simply have to humor him if she wanted any small amount of peace today. He instructed her to draw a card; it would be her card; hers to keep. This roused her interest a little. She thought that she would love to draw one of the important ones - one of his favorites – and forever leave a void in his deck. She was good enough at this “game” she thought she just may. She almost hesitated, thinking that with her luck she would most likely draw Schizophrenia and be metaphorically hanging by her fingers and toes from those cliffs forever. She carefully turned the card over and saw that it was Trust. She thought that this had to be some kind of cruel, ironic joke at her expense. Of all the cards, she drew Trust! She reminded herself that the cards don’t lie. She was meant to draw it, as strange and inappropriate as it seemed. It most certainly wasn’t one of “her” cards by any stretch of the imagination. However, she was somewhat pleased with herself for drawing one of “his” cards. She wore a little self-satisfied smirk on the inside when he stated that he didn’t know how the deck was going to work without Trust. She personally didn’t give a flying fuck how the deck was going to work. She had grown to hate his obsession with it long ago.

Part Two – With Strangers and Family
After a frenzied and exhausting move of her possessions, she arrived at the shelter with her two youngest children, looking much like a survivor of some disaster. In many ways she was. Fearful of living among people she did not know; of not being independent; of leaving the warm comfort of the chaos and bedlam to which she had grown accustomed, she accepted an offer of help from one of the volunteers to help her take her things to the room she would share with her children. This in and of itself was a huge step for her. She almost never asked for help and rarely accepted it when offered. She prided herself on her fiercely independent nature. But now was not the time for pride. If she were to ever see the light at the end of this tunnel, she would have to force herself to impose on others just a little bit.

As she unpacked her belongings and those of her children, she came across her "Druid Animal Oracle" deck. She couldn’t think of the reasoning behind her bringing it instead of storing it along with most of her things, but she unwrapped the cards and there on top of them was Trust. It stood out as it was smaller and much more worn than her cards. She kept it out as she rewrapped her deck. She placed Trust on the top of the small dresser along with a blue stone he had given her. Just a fish tank stone really, but it held its sentimental value despite. There the card remained, as a daily reminder for her to “trust”. Some days it was almost laughable due to the fact that she was hiding so many secrets from so many people that she felt as if she could trust no one. But she made friends easily in this place, and she reached out to them a little. She began to divulge in her once favorite hobby (worry) a little less and began to smile a little more.

After a month, her time was up. She left her new-found friends and she moved into a motel; then another. The card had once again been wrapped up and packed with her deck and she did not bother to set it out as she knew these “homes” were extremely temporary. She had one weekend left in this motel and had hesitantly made arrangements to stay with her brother and his family for a few weeks. There was a knock at the door… papers served… "FAILURE TO PROTECT" they read... and the floor began to crumble under her feet.

She spent two days at her brother’s with the children before the court date. Another blow. Her babies were gone. Déjà vu, only not. The floor disappeared from beneath her; the walls fell around her and the roof caved in. Six years fell like water and she was here in the ruins of a life she did not even recognize. Homeless, childless, jobless, penniless and without a vehicle. She wanted to give up; give in; fuck up and forget everything. As always, that voice of responsibility in the back of her head began to nag at her and her will to fight returned almost as if it had never left her.

She reluctantly accepted her mother’s offer to clean her house although the very thought of spending time in that house with the woman who had taken her two oldest children made her nauseous. She told herself to suck it up; she needed the money. It seemed that she spent her days of April and May in the rain walking to and from and waiting at bus stops while attempting to accomplish all that “they” expected of her before her youngest two children were to be returned. Some days her pants would be soaked up to the knees and her toes numb through all three pairs of socks. She didn’t mind much; the physical discomfort was nothing compared to the emotional and mental anguish she cycled through daily.

She looked for work and would begin to have panic attacks as soon as she left the agency. However, each time the episodes would be shorter and less intense. She got into the habit of telling herself that when the time was right and the right job came along, she would be hired; that she could indeed make it to all the appointments and counseling and classes “they” expected of her; there was a way, and it would all work out. She reminded herself many times daily that as long as she kept moving forward in the right direction, she would be taken care of. Don’t think she didn’t cause herself many, many setbacks by continuing to have contact with him. Her addiction to him and his trauma and drama seemed to be her biggest weakness. Most times when she chose to spin her mental wheels and exhaust herself with worry, it was over him.

This is a scan of my Trust card. I still have it. My trust (or FAITH) in my Creator is the only thing that saw me through these dark times.

God, grant me the SERENITY
to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
and WISDOM to know the difference

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mother's Little Helper OR Thank God for The Rolling Stones

As some of you may know, I have four children. The older two are full-grown adults and the younger two are sugary sweet like cotton candy (at times) little girls.


There they are. How adorable! Don't let their sweet little faces fool you. There are times when I KNOW why some animals eat their young. Yesterday's terror ride home from Salt Lake City is a prime example of this.

Yesterday's trip to Salt Lake City for my step-daughter's (2nd ex-husband's daughter) birthday party was TYPICAL. Let me explain what a typical hour-long excursion in the family car actually means by describing our little "adventure".

First, neither of the girls wanted to leave the party when I said it was time to go. Of course they didn't. They were having too much fun playing pool and basketball with their sister and "cousins". I was grateful to Grandma Sindy, who managed to somehow talk both girls into the car and get them buckled into their car seats without too much of a commotion.

I turned the key in the ignition, and all hell broke loose. Maya started crying and screaming and whining and basically having a tantrum of two-year-old proportions (she's almost NINE mind you) because she didn't want to leave. Then Penelope started screaming at me to make Maya stop her tantrum. The little car was engulfed in noises that resembled two feral cats fighting in a small, steel culvert; the girls simultaneously screaming, "I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE!!!!!" and "MAKE HER STOP SCREAMING!!!!" I just gripped the steering wheel and kept driving, carefully ducking the small objects being thrown at me from the back seat, and keeping control of the car while it was being jostled around by Maya's kicking and hitting her door.

Penelope eventually gave up and got quiet. Maya, on the other hand, changed up her tactics and started screaming that she wanted her blanket... the blanket I had, of course, removed from the back seat earlier THAT DAY to throw in with the laundry. Her cries then cycled between "I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE!!!!" and "I WANT MY BLANKET!!!!" This continued for, oh, I don't know, about TWENTY MINUTES. I had driven in silence after my initial, "SHUT UP!" because I KNEW from past experience that NOTHING I said or did would make a lick of difference.

When I just couldn't take anymore, and I was on the verge of becoming my father, and just reaching back there with my free hand and swinging at anything that moved, I grabbed my little MP3 player that, thankfully, was in the console, and stuffed the earbuds in my ears. I cranked the volume as high as it would go. And what to my wondering ears did I hear?

What a drag it is getting old
"Kids are different today"
I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill
There's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper

I just had to laugh to myself. I couldn't help it. Of course, understanding the telepathy of my life, my MP3 player would be playing exactly what I needed to hear. I don't have any "little yellow pills" or even any bottles of murky firewater to calm me down, but what I do have is Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie. Thank God for The Rolling Stones! Sing it with me, brothahs and sistahs! Amen!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Timmy the Wonder Cat

We adopted a kitten back in September. He and his two brothers were found in a bale of hay when they were approximately two weeks old. They were bottle-fed and cared for by a local vet. He has definitely found his way into our hearts and made his own unique place in our family.


He's not skittish, doesn't hide when people come to the house. He LOVES to go for rides in the car, climbing from the back window to the dashboard, trying to find the best place to see everything. He's the alarm clock for Corbin and me. At 6:00 every morning (weekends included), he jumps on the bed, climbs under the covers and attacks my feet. If that doesn't wake you up, I don't know what will. Then, at 7:00, he climbs onto Corbin's chest, puts his face in Corbin's and squeaks out a little "good morning" meow. I still haven't figured out why I get the claw punctures on my feet and Corbin gets the slightly wet nose and tickly whiskers on his face.


He won't drink from his water dish, instead preferring to drink from the toilet,a dripping water faucet, or someone's glass (which inevitably gets tipped over and spilled, or worse yet, shattered on the floor). He will spend hours sitting on the girls' dresser right next to the hamster cage, just watching Flower, our one-earred dwarf hamster. He will sniff her when she climbs up on the side of the cage to say "hello" to him, but he has never tried to claw her.


He loves to play with the girls. He's been known to jump onto Penelope's back so he looks very much like a furry, orange-striped backpack. He lies on the floor on his back, paws up in the air and freezes that way. With Corbin's help lifting him up to the eaves of the house, he will use both his little paws and pick small icicles off and lick them. Although, his favorite game seems to be escaping from the house and having us chase him through the neighborhood while he hides under cars, in trees and in bushes.


I think I've traced my affinity for cats way back to the womb. When my birth mother was pregnant with me, her cat would sleep on her stomach and purr all night. No wonder I haven't found anything as calming as a purring cat. We love you, Timmy!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Embracing My Inner Strength

I am strong. Yep. Not the kind of strong that could kick anyone's ass; but the kind of strong that can take a licking and keep on ticking. I've taken some lickings. THAT is a huge understatement. I've had my heart torn to shreds... over and over and over again. Those who know me, know what I'm talking about. I've lost everything... and then lost everything again. I've had my name dragged through the mud by some who claimed to "love" me. I've been blackmailed, slandered, snitched out, held hostage, threatened, physically abused, sexually abused, spiritually abused, verbally abused, but I'd have to say that the worst abuse was the emotional. My mantra during this time was "Keep kicking 'til you're dead"... meaning never give up... never surrender. It was the single thought that saw me through a relationship with someone whose main goal in life, it seemed, was to systematically destroy me piece by piece and bit by bit.

I used to hate the fact that I was strong. When was it MY turn to have the luxury of completely falling apart and letting someone else pick up the pieces? There were days I didn't think I could go on; days when I felt as if I'd been hanging by the end of my rope for too long; days when I felt completely backed into a corner and trapped; days when I felt hopeless; that the obstacles in front of me were too great and my losses were already too many. I wanted to give up. I truly did. Here's the kicker... I COULDN'T. I don't mean that I could but didn't really want to. I mean, literally, that I COULD NOT give up. Something inside simply refused to allow me to. The thought that constantly ran through my head was, "You are possessed with a power bigger than the pain." I pushed and pushed and pushed and ended up amazing myself and others in the process.

"The will to survive" can also be considered to be "the refusal to give up." ~ U.S. Army Survival Manual


I made it through all that shit. To meet me now, you'd never know... For those readers who know me, you already know. For those readers just joining me, rest assured I'm planning on blogging (read: purging) at some point about the abusive relationship I survived... spill the beans... open up that whole can of worms... you'll know where I'm coming from if you just stick around long enough. I WON my freedom with my own blood, sweat and TEARS, and I take immense pride in that fact.

Not only do I no longer begrudge my strength... I EMBRACE it. It's one of my best qualities in my humble opinion. I AM tough as nails; hard as rocks; more leathery than Robert Redford's face... Call me a cold-hearted bitch (really... I dare you to), and I'll THANK you for the compliment. I relish the fact that the shit can hit the fan and I won't fall apart. I take COMFORT in the knowledge that I will be able to handle crises without hysterics and panic. Of course I get stressed and anxious and still worry about things. Of course I dislike that life, in and of itself, is unfair and difficult. Of course I would rather bad things NOT happen to good people. But I take comfort in the fact that ~I'm smart enough... I'm strong enough... and, gosh-darn-it, I don't give a rat's ass if people don't like me!~

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to "Funfetti" Your Clothes OR How to Ruin a Load of Laundry

Recently, while pulling a SUPER-SIZE load of colored laundry out of the dryer, I noticed that EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CLOTHING had small, red splotches all over it!!! WTF???!!! All my girls' good jeans, shirts, pajamas, undies... and FOUR out of my FIVE pairs of decent pants. I quickly checked the pockets of the girl's pants and found... NOTHING. I checked the inside of the dryer and could only find a few pink stripes. The worst part was, it was 10:30 on a Sunday night. I didn't have time to deal with this mess.

Monday morning, I asked the girls if they had been playing with lipstick and possibly left a piece of it in a pocket. Of course the answer was "NO". I told them what had happened to all the clothes. Maya told me she had put a red crayon in her pocket, then forgotten about it. ARGH! I am the Laundry Nazi! How could I have missed a CRAYON in my vigilant, pre-wash pocket search?

If this happens to you, don't despair! I found the cure for "funfetti" clothes on the web. God bless the internet! Hallelujah and Amen! Non-gel toothpaste will get out crayon AND lipstick from laundry. Granted, this takes a LOT of toothpaste and a LOT of time for a super-size load as mine was (I'm still not completely done with it all). You see, it requires scrubbing toothpaste (with a toothbrush) into each and every single splotch on each and every single piece of clothing, and then re-washing. The bright side is it works like a dream! We no longer have "funfetti" clothing, but I think I may have carpal tunnel syndrome from all the scrubbing.

Next time on "Laundry With Lyn" I'll explain how to turn all your white clothes into swiss cheese replicas by using too much chlorine bleach! I know you can't wait.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting a Little Sidetracked OR Queen of the Excuses

I was doing really well with the walking... cold weather, snow, rain and all... then I enrolled the girls in Itty Bitty Cheer Camp...

I get off work at 5:00. Their cheer camp lasted until 6:30. That left me with an hour and a half to drive home, change clothes, walk two miles and pick them up on time. The first day of camp (Monday, February 9), I walked the outdoor track at Mountain Veiw High School as that is where the camp was held. I had just enough time to walk two miles and get to the cheer room to pick up the girls. Tuesday, I was babysitting my niece and nephew at 6:30, and had to pick up Valentine's Day crap on my way home from work (note: I despise Valentine's Day altogether... but that's another story). This left me with no time to walk before picking up the girls and sitting the kids. And I was just NOT motivated enough to go walking after getting the girls to bed around 10:00 in the dark, in a park, in the cold and wind... so I bagged it for the night.

Wednesday, February 11, I did weigh myself and I had indeed lost the three pounds I was hoping for! Just think what I could have lost if I hadn't eaten a quart of ice cream Friday night/Saturday morning, and all those chocolate mint truffles my sweetheart keeps buying for me! Wednesday was also the itty bitty cheerleaders' performance. I had to take off work early, pick up the girls from daycare, change their clothes and shoes, do their hair, and get them to the high school by 6:30 to pick up their T-shirts and get them settled in with the real cheerleaders... then an hour of watching a high school basketball game (against the Springville Red Devils - MY alma mater - no less)... half-time performance, picking up fast food on the way home, getting the girls fed, in pajamas and to bed. I reiterate, I was NOT motivated enough to go out and walk that late at night.

Thursday night, I had to help the girls with the Valentine's Day boxes and cards for not only their school classes, but also their daycare classes. ARGGGG!!! I HATE VALENTINE'S DAY! *muttering under my breath "stupid, made-up, card, candy, jewelry and flower-company 'holiday'"* Once again, I bagged the walking.

I don't even remember much of Friday, except I was at work until well after 5:00 and I was EXHAUSTED and coming down with a sore throat. It's just a blur.

Saturday, I had the beginning feeling of strep throat and I didn't do much of anything all day.

Sunday, I started taking antibiotics, could barely talk, had an appointment with my local clergy that took way longer than I thought it would, and then got word from my sister and my dad that my mom had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. That's definitely another story altogether.

Monday (yesterday), I was stuck at work until 5:40, picked up my youngest at daycare, picked up flowers for my mom, then drove us all to see my mom at the hospital, picked up fast food on the way home again, and was completely exhausted by the time the girls were in bed.

I know what you're thinking... "excuses, excuses, excuses..." And you'd be right. I could have gotten up early and walked in the morning at 6:00, or at least cleaned up my living room floor and done some yoga. But, hey MAN, it's hard on me! :)

I'm sitting my niece and nephew again tonight, but maybe I'll have time to walk before they show up. I'm not promising anything though!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Walking... A LOT

Before I started this weight-loss thingy, I realized that the most I walk on any regular basis is around Wal-Mart when I'm shopping. That's scary. Most of my day is spent in an office chair, and then sitting in front of my beloved television. The companion who has stuck with me through thick and thin, good times and bad, in wealth and in poverty; it's never cheated on me and it's never abused me. It's my background noise when I'm alone; my "security blanket" that lulls me to sleep; and my escape from daily stresses. But I digress. This post isn't an ode to the great magic picture box that sits on my dresser... I'll write a haiku to it in another post maybe.

The hospital by my house has a lovely little asphalt track around its grounds. I don't know if it's a quarter-mile, half-mile or what, but it took me a half an hour to walk it at a good speed my first night walking (Thursday, February 5).

The next night, I walked around it twice in 40 minutes... and it HURT.

Let me state here that on weekdays I must walk after work and before picking up my girls from daycare. It's a small window of time, but I'm determined to do this.

On Saturday, I walked from my house with the girls and let them play on the adjacent playground while I walked two laps. They had fun even though it was cold and rainy. It hurt me again. Mainly my calves. I stole my youngest daughter's old MP3 player and loaded my own music on it to help me focus on something besides the pain and help me regulate my breathing and keep a steady pace. It worked.

Sunday morning I did another two laps in the windy cold, but it felt good. I remember this feeling! My heart actually getting a workout and my muscles aching, but feeling ALIVE!

I had planned on walking tonight at the high school track because my girls are at an itty bitty cheer camp there until 6:30, but it just started snowing like nobody's business! I may have to go to the rec center and spend $4 to use their indoor track. Or maybe it's not snowing this bad in my neighborhood.

I haven't weighed or measured myself yet. I think I'll do that once a week on Wednesdays since I started this on a Wednesday. I'm almost scared to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My "Little" Weight Loss Blog (Week One)

I could blame my recent weight gain on my pushing the big FOUR-OH and the drop in metabolism that occurs with that; I could blame it on the fact that I have carried and given birth to four children; I could blame it on my lack of time to exercise due to my full-time work schedule combined with being a mother; I could blame it on the "Super-Size-Me" conspiracy theories; I could blame it on a lot of factors, but what it all boils down to is my becoming a reclusive, complacent, couch potato.

I decided to start this blog to track my progress, or lack thereof, with regard to my attempt to lose weight and become more active and energetic. Let's see how this plays out...

Let me preface all of this by stating that, a) I have NEVER been on a diet in my life, and I'm not going to start one now (I don't believe in them); b) I have NEVER even owned a bathroom scale; c) I am heavier NOW (by 23 pounds!) than when I was nine months pregnant with my heaviest pregnancy; d) I have put a whopping 58 pounds on this poor body in just the last three and a half years. That's a size 5 to a size 16!; e) I have a bad hip, bad knees and bad ankles so I'm going to start off by speed walking and yoga and see where that gets me.

I broke down and bought maternity jeans a few months ago! MATERNITY JEANS!!! My gut has gotten so big it can no longer be teasingly called a "muffin top". Nope. It's more like the "spare tire" that overweight, middle-aged men carry around. I don't feel sexy or pretty or even cute. I feel like a slug. I REFUSE to wait until it's summertime only to break down and buy maternity shorts and capri pants!

As of February 4, 2009, these are my stats:

Height: 5'4"
Weight: 178 lbs.
Bust: 42"
Waist: 43"
Hips: 43"
L Thigh: 26"
R Thigh: 26"
(At least the thighs are symmetrical!)

EWWWW!!!! ONE of my thighs is the same measurement as my waist was 3 1/2 years ago!!!! WTF?????!!!!! That is just SAD, SAD, SAD.

My goal is an average weight loss of three pounds per week...