Please Leave

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This week while I  spent a week away at the ocean I wrote a “Dear John” letter to my husband. It was five typed pages, single typed. That’s what you should expect when you marry a writer I suppose.

This was not a letter I wanted to write. Six kids, several grandkids, 30+ years, lots of great times and discovery as we traveled the world together. Until recently, my heart still skipped a beat when I saw him. He is still sexy and the most handsome man in the world to me.  Other women think so too. So this is scary. It is sad. It is heart wrenching. No, this is something I never in a million years envisioned. I mean we got married in an old castle so our love would be timeless like the stones that held those old walls together. The castle remains standing while our relationship crumbles, the dust rising up thickly through the rubble threatening to choke us both.

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In the letter I told B that I would like him to move out preliminarily for a month so we didn’t have to say anything to the kids and disrupt their lives until we were positive of the direction that our relationship was going to take.. We could tell the kids that he is in China. I asked that he try to figure out who he is and what he wants the rest of his life to look like. I asked him to increase his sessions with his therapist. I told him to date, get laid or something. It’s time to move on for both of us. If you don’t know by now if you want to be with me then they way we are living is not giving you the clarity that you need. We need to shake things up a bit. But also just because you might decide you want back into my life there is a very good chance I will not be there and that that door will be closed and locked to you forever. For I am tired of you holding the master key to all the rooms in my soul

I was waiting until I got home to give the letter to him when we had time to spend together. However, on Wednesday night he told me his therapist suggested that we go back into marriage therapy. That triggered me and I told him I was no longer interested in attending therapy with him. I told him I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with him anymore, my love for him was quickly diminishing and that it was time we separate. He was shocked. He told me he loved me. I rolled my eyes over the telephone. I began to cry. He wants to keep trying. I don’t want to continue to suffer. Eighteen months is a long time to keep someone on a string. Eighteen months of wondering if today was going to be the day B walked in the door and said he was done was, in my opinion, 17 months too long.

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“It is awfully hard to admit that our relationship has expired but we both have felt it draining us and I see that we are getting resentful, frustrated and are losing hope if we have not lost it already. Sometime it feels like I’m “the other woman” waiting for her lover to choose between her and his wife. Loving him fully but he cannot commit to her fully because he wants both worlds. You want the world of having me for the business side of things (taking care of the kids, house, doing the things that make your life easier) but you don’t want to give your heart to me. You want to keep me on a string until you decide what you want and whether or not you judge me capable of giving it to you. Frankly, I am tired of that game, having to prove myself over and over again to some weird sets of arbitrary conditions that you change at your whim. It is time for me to get off this merry-go-round.”

I still love the man but just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should be together. Most woman would love to be with the man I was with for the first 25 years of this 30+ year relationship. It is hard. This is not what I expected as a come close to turning the corner on 60. I want happiness for him. I seek peace for myself…happiness will come later and that is okay with me.

“I know that putting myself through the discomfort of losing you and the changes that go along with it will not be easy. Separating will be hard and there will be times when we both will feel insecure, needy and totally off balance. I am sure the first time I see you with a new love my heart will shatter in a million little pieces. But I am also trying to remember that change is empowering because it will allow new things to enter our hearts and our minds. Things that we are obviously lacking as a couple may become available as we become single or enter into new relationships. Endings just set the stage for something new and allows exactly what we are needing or seeking to make its entrance into our lives.”

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So there it is. New beginnings. Painful endings. But I am okay and I will be okay. I am strong. I am invincible.  I am ready to move on from what I have today. I am not sure what the future looks like and I am okay with that. I am just trying to wish the best for all me included. I do worry for my children. Kids with autism do not do well with change and he has been an awesome dad. But…what is…is. And so everyday I have started my day with a meditation to bless myself and everyone in my life. Even B.

“I wish you happiness and that you are free of pain and suffering.”

It makes it easier to face the day and it makes me feel better.

I think it is time for me to get that dignity & grace tattoo

Seek And You Shall Find

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In a couple of weeks we will be leaving for South Korea. This is a trip which will take our three children back to their homeland. Back to a place where they will “look” like they belong but will not understand the language nor the customs that an individual would who had lived there for their entire life. This will be a trip, unlike the last time, where they will be able to understand the ping-pong looks and stares that people will inevitably give us as they size us up as a family; most smiling but some frowning; as they label our children different from “them.” It’s a trip where they will be in the majority, while we, their caucasian parents, will be in the minority; a role reversal that they can see occur right in front of them with their own two eyes…one which may have epic implications.

I hope that my kids will see the beauty of their first country and begin to feel pride in themselves as Korean-Americans. I hope that the anxiety of autism will not overtake my sons as we walk through crowded markets and experience new ways of doing things. I hope that these amazing children will become stronger in their belief that we humans are essentially all the same and that we share many of the same hopes and dreams as everyone else on the planet so we must treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. And I hope that they find the things that they are looking for, both big and small, that will fill the holes in their hearts that adoption itself creates.

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My wish for them is that they realize that the circumstances of their birth are just that…circumstances… that have nothing to do with them and that these circumstances do not determine whether they are “good” or “bad”  people. That they are who they are… not just due to their early experiences but mostly because of what they have put into themselves to create the work of art that they hang on the wall to show the world.

Korean…American…Californian…Autistic…Thoughtful…Creative… Intelligent…Giving…Athletic…Charming…Inquisitive…Happy…Caring…Interesting… all despite being raised by lovingly flawed parents.

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I hope Korea gives them the chance they deserve and I hope they give the same back to their Motherland. I hope the rich culture, the old stories, the ancient temples, the colorful folk songs and the flavorful food etch themselves into our children’s psyche so that they can reach for them in the future when they need a bit of understanding about who they are and who they can become. Because finding a bit more of yourself and what you are made of is a gift no matter where and when it happens.

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So my hope is that they find those gifts that will be abundant and ever-present as we tour their homeland. May they recognize what it is they need to witness and take it away for themselves and their souls. And may they find these gifts as freely as one finds shells laying on a sandy beach, so that they may they gather them up in their pockets and examine them on another day as they are needed throughout their lives.

Find what you need my sweet children, be happy, and be free!

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Gone For Good

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep I had a wonderful idea for a blog piece. I knew I should kick the covers off of my feet, trot downstairs, and write the idea down. But I didn’t and, of course, this morning I can no longer remember what that most excellent idea was. Believe me when I say it was fabulous because it was…the fringes of my mind tell me so.

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This isn’t the first time this “mysterious” loss of memory has happened. I have had “million dollar” ideas that would change the world in profound ways that were lost somewhere in my dreams. I have had ideas for novels fly down the rabbit hole and other important thoughts vanish into thin air upon awakening. But the worst thing about all this is that my memory loss no longer occurs only when I lay my head on my pillow but throughout the day as well. It’s getting scary.

Just yesterday, I walked into a different room three times during the coarse of the day and could no longer remember what I had come into the room for in the first place. I also call my children the wrong names to the point that they now answer to “Hey, you!”  And I have five pairs of glasses from five different periods in my eyewear life floating around my house because I can never find the current prescription pair.  One minute I have 20/20 vision the next 30/70….no wonder my brain seems so scrambled…it’s constantly getting mixed signals!

I have tried various things in an effect to improve my memory. For a while kale became my “go to” snack. I ingested so much fish oil that I started to grow gills. I increased my sleep time but than only seemed to increase the fog. I even bought one of those free improve your memory apps but it expired before I remembered to use it. Yes, I think I have tried it all.

You would think with all the pharmaceutical “cures” for this disease or that affliction that they could come up with something that would help those of us who are “memory challenged.” I have even gotten so desperate that I have considered pilfering my neighbors viagra because:

a. I know his wife doesn’t want to have sex with him anymore and I owe her big time because she has kept her mouth shut after what could be considered a blackmailable event.

b. I figure if that if little blue pill can make a dick go up then it certainly can make my memory quotient and IQ increase as well.  I am fairly certain that if it mimics what happens “down there” way “up there,” it should make my mind stronger, straighter and last much longer. And we all know that men’s brains reside in the head of their penis.

Unfortunately, “Tom” keeps this “family jewel” of a prescription locked up tighter than Fort Knox so testing my hypothesis is proving to be more difficult than I had originally anticipated. And while I would like to think viagra would increase my ability to remember things, with all my luck it would just give me “iceberg” nipples for the rest of my life.

When my friends and neighbors begin to realize the extent of my problem they tried to be tolerant and  kind but after you have stood them up for coffee five times it grows old. Yet, they still continue to assure me (I think) that this is only menopause fog and that it will get better especially once all of my kids are out of the house. These same friends have also begun to share their deepest darkest secrets with me knowing that within two hours I will no longer remember what they have said and they swear my advice is good as gold.Yes, I’m now the confessional priest of my neighborhood to such an extent that I am sure church attendance is way down and that the “Vatican mob” will be coming after me soon.

Yet, even with all my memory loss issues I still believe I am way ahead of the game and that a possible presidential run is in my future. After all, Hillary is unable to remember where 30,000 emails disappeared to and The Donald has uttered the words “I don’t remember” probably close to a million times during the hundreds of depositions he has given in court proceedings against him.

In the meantime, in an attempt to keep myself safe, I am contemplating a reverse tattoo which when viewed in a mirror will list my address and phone number so that I can make it home. And I think it might work …. if I can just remember that it is there.

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Great-Grandma’s Door

When B’s grandmother died 10 years ago we went into the barn where we discovered a beautiful old wooden screen door. It used to belong on the farmhouse of B’s great grandmother who had died well into her 90’s. We picked up that old door and took it with us and it has accompanied us move after move where it has always been taken out to the shed.

Now I am not one of those artsy-fartsy kind of gals. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. (Well, actually I NEVER chew gum because it is one thing that is completely non-biodegradable) So most things around my house are usually made by someone else, usually in a far off land by a person who probably works for slave wages. Yes, I feel guilty. So to absolve me from some of it; I decided to create something and that is where the door came into play.

Several years ago our dog decided that the we didn’t need a gate between the house and side yard so he destroyed it in about 2.2 seconds. Today, I created a new gate out of great-grandma’s door.  I think she would be pleased.

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On a totally different topic, today I took a picture of our cabin off of Google Earth. It is not a great picture but is shows the old cooks cabin up front and a little bit of our two story addition. The fire is edging closer everyday but there has been enough time that the firefighters have been able to create many bulldozer paths in an effort to stop the blaze should it get closer than the 3 miles away that it is.

Sadly, in this morning’s fire report I noticed that six cabins were lost nearby. I grieve for those folks.

Our Cabin from Google Earth

Yesterday, in a last ditch effort,  I decided to call the sheriffs office. I knew that the road up to the cabin had been closed but I wondered if residents were allowed up. While I would be disappointed to lose the cabin, its the things that reside within it are much more important to me. There is a huge old tool box that I use as a coffee table. My great great grandfather brought it with him on the ship from Germany in 1854. There is the drop-leaf dining table on which my 80 yo father had his tonsils removed by the doctor who made house calls. There is the bookcase that B made in high school and the old chest that was in his grandmother’s attic.  And there is the old wooden ironing board that I use as a long table below the window that looks out onto the cedar trees. Those are the things that are meaningful to me. They are family things that are precious and are irreplaceable…like family itself.

And so I will keep my fingers crossed for the cabin, for family treasures, and for the firefighters who are battling tough conditions, unbearable heat and exhaustion. For in the end, a cabin is just a building, but to the families of these 1,000 firefighters who are  trying to save these mountains and villages, they are waiting for something far more important. They are waiting to know that their loved ones are finally headed home safe and sound once more and that is what is truly important.

Fire On The Mountains

This morning I went out for a walk and it looked like Christmas with the snowflakes flying silently by. But I knew things weren’t as they appeared because it is summertime and everyone is sweltering in the 100+ temperatures. So I looked up in the sky and this is what I saw:

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and ash as thick as snow flurries were turning my hair the color it would be if I just stopped buying those boxes of dye.

As someone who lives in California, all too often, we find our state on slow burn and because of this I know the website for Cal-Fire by heart. A quick glance showed me that this fire is a little too close for comfort for it is near to  our little cabin in the woods. With this information in hand, I did what any good Californian does…I raced to my insurance agent’s office to pay the annual bill that was due in 5 days.

As I explained to the insurance agent we bought this place 10 years ago and we have never owned a house for this length of time before this one. It is special to us in that way. It is a 100 year-old cooks cabin that once served meals for lumberjacks  who were falling the huge Redwood Trees that were as big around as small houses.It’s a place we added onto…a cabin which offers solitude and warm memories. It is a structure made of ancient Redwood trees whose knots fall out onto the floor from time to time and where one lone plastic grocery bag stuffs a now knotless and gapping hole. It’s a place of mystery. A place where we find bones and where an massive ancient oak stands next to the house where it slowly losing its branches. It needs to go but we don’t want to spend the $1000 to take it down quite yet…so we wait, and will wait, until we just cannot wait any longer.

When we added on to the original cabin six years ago, we ripped out the wall between the old and the new structure and when we did thousands of acorns fell on our head, placed there by the woodpeckers over many years. And in this small community residents refer to the local bears as “BIG RATS” This is a home where you will find webs designed by crafty and talented arichnoids and where deer hide in the middle of town during hunting season. Here you will find a mouse who emptied the mouse bait from the box in the kitchen and who placed each tiny pellet between the box springs and the mattress of our bed.I swear it looked as if he had crafted the poisoned pellets into a shape that looked just like a big *FU.*

I love it up at the cabin where there is no phone, no cable TV, and no internet. It is plain and simple like the era in which it was built during a time when folks danced jigs in old barns and people mended clothes instead of just throwing them away.

And now there is a swift moving fire that has charred over 12,000 acres in less than a day close by. A powerful fire that is only 5% contained. One that is moving closer by the minute. It is still probably 10-15 miles from our cabin but it is a fast moving fire whose voracious appetite is not easily satisfied. (Actually,  I just found out it is now just 5 miles away)

This evening I saw these amazing photos taken by Trey Spooner Photography which really captures what is going on as a thousand firefighters battle a blaze which is too close to my heart for comfort. And as the ash rains down upon me I just hope that the tears don’t soon follow.

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Trey Spooner Photography

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*A special thanks to Trey Spooner Photography whose amazing photographs help people understand what our brave firefighters are facing and who imposes a sense of beauty and majesty on such a devastating scene . I am sure that a few prayers for the firefighters and their families would be appreciated.*

JUST AFTER I POSTED THIS I WENT BACK TO THE CAL FIRE SITE AND SAW THAT THE  TINY TOWN MY CABIN IS IN IS UNDER MANDATORY EVACUATION. PLEASE SEND A FEW GOOD THOUGHTS OUR WAY. IT WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

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Today is the first day of school and it is about as good as a man getting down on one knee and slipping a diamond on your finger. For moms all over the world this day sparkles and shines like no other.

I remember each of my children’s first day of Kindergarten. Everyone was excited and a bundle of nerves, parents included. Now it’s old hat as I go through the list that is burned into my brain like a branded cow.

“Do you have your…lunch, notebooks, backpack, pencils, school schedule?”

“Where are your shoes? Did you change your underwear? (yes, this question MUST be asked in my household) Go put on your socks! Hurry! or you will be late!!!”

” You didn’t brush your teeth. Go do it. Andre…the hair…brush your hair! Wait….you didn’t shower, Andre. Don’t argue…DO IT! Paul, go wash your face and put on your medicine. Make your beds!!! What do you mean you don’t like chicken salad…since when?”

And so it goes until all questions have been answered to my satisfaction and off we go, kids slightly nervous and me, the calmest I has been in months with a smile plastered on my face that is wide as the Grand Canyon and remains with me all day. Yes, this feeling is better than any happy pill that has ever been invented!

“You sure sound chipper,” remarks my dad.

“You look great,” another mom comments.

“You have a glow about you!” says the grocery clerk.

And they are right. After a summer of sibling arguments and hearing “I’m Bored;” I have the eau de parfum Ode To School #5 floating about me, the fog has lifted from my brain, and I am glowing more than I ever did when I was pregnant. For today is the first day of school and I happily refer to it as… Mother’s Day!

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Childhood Memories

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Going to my Grandfather’s cottage on the lake holds fond memories for me. It was a long drive north with stops to see the bears who were caged next to gas stations in an attempt to bring in the tourist crowd.It was back in the 60’s before PITA and other such organizations existed and as a result bears who had lost their mothers became entertainment for bored little kids traveling the backroads in old station wagons. Kids like me.

I  still remember the blue Rambler pulling up to the cabin. The smell of the leaves and the fresh clean air. And mushrooms “Don’t touch those!!!! They may be poisonous!!!” poking their heads out from under rocks and growing alongside north facing tree trunks. I can still remember the loons calling out a greeting from the lake below while squirrels flew like acrobats from tree top to tree top. And I recall the sun filtering through the leaves making them light up like the colors found in a stained glass window. No doubt about it there was beauty and tranquility no matter which way you turned. All of it was amazing in the eyes of a six-year-old kid.

After being released from the confines of the car the first thing I would see in the cabin was the old refrigerator that stood guard in the service porch. It smelled musty and was in desperate need of air. My mother would clean up inside while my father would go after the spiders whose webs were proportional to the amount of months that had gone by since the last visit. Of course, there was no television, so my sister and I would go outside to chase leaves, find critters, and do the things six year olds do while in the woods. It was a time of discovery and a place where life slowed down to a crawl.

Memories fill my mind of this special time in my life. I remember the day my father laid his head down on the pillow to go to sleep and inside was a mouse nest filled with babies. I remember a green frosted cake. I remember Chippy the Chipmunk who would scurry over to take peanuts out of my hand as I sat barely breathing on the porch. This is the place I first learned how to swim in waters so cool it took your breath away. This is the place I learned that the sandy bottom of the lake felt silky like the fuzz on the ear of a puppy. This is the place I learned how to dive and this place was where I first got the sense of my own self. I loved this cottage in the woods.

Unfortunately, my grandfather died when I was six and the cottage was sold soon after. He had been the outdoorsman not my grandmother. The trees held little meaning for her as did the hunting. It was the water that captured her attention. Yes, the water was her thing and every day started in the same manner for her. She would arise early in the morning, make a cup of bitter black coffee, and head down to the lake. I can still picture the daily the ritual of my grandmother trying to pull a too tight rubber bathing cap down over her head while snapping off the  cheap rubber flowers that lined the outside in her hast to be the first one to  produce a ripple on the sheen of the sleepy and slowing awakening lake. Yet, my dreams about this place are short and often disappear in confusion … gone the way of bathing caps… which are now regarded as relics and left to rot in a box on a museum shelf somewhere.

Anyway, with these recollections comes a distortion of the truth which often occurs in a young girls mind. For instance I remember a yellow cottage…it was red. I remember it being HUGE. It was tiny. And I know all of this because for years I had told B about this special place, the place of my youth. But what  really stood out in my mind about the cabin were the million steps that it took to get from the cabin down to the lake. Yes, you could have hooked me up to a lie detector and I would have passed…there were a million steps top to bottom.That was the one thing in life that I was absolutely certain of.

Then one year we were visiting my grandmother. By then she was living in a nursing home and she had lost her only daughter, my mother. So B and I asked her how to get to the cottage. We both wanted to see this place that built so many happy memories for me.

“You’ll never find it,” she said. “I guess I will just have to go up there and show it to you myself!”

So my 84-year-old grandmother plunked herself into the front seat of the car and we took off. The roads were better than they once were and we made it there in record time. But by there I mean the lake not the cottage because as we stood in front of three of them which lined the lake she didn’t know which one it was and neither did I.

“Well, we’ll just have to go find the one-armed man who built the place for us. He’ll know. Never saw a man who could hammer faster and better than him,” my grandmother muttered.

And so we set out for his place. We were unsure where he was located or even if he would still be alive but as luck would have it there was an ancient one-armed man standing next to a bright red mail box alongside the road and my grandmother charmed the information right out of him. So back we went over slick rutted roads…this time to the right cottage sitting in the right place.

It was wintertime and it was bitterly cold, yet, we trampled the snow and the decaying leaves around the cabin trying to peek through the blinds which lined the windows. I was trying to see inside just enough to grab tight to the memories that were floating around somewhere in my head. And then it came to me. I could gather those memories by way of the steps  down to the lake…all one million of them.

So I raced around to the back of the cabin looking for a very long stairway leading down the hill to the lake. The one with the millions treads. The one that it used to take half-a-day to climb from top to bottom when I was a little kid. Yet, it was not to be found. Instead, I saw an old rickety set of stairs, hidden in the trees, twisted with age, descending down the hill towards the water. So I began to count the stairs…it didn’t take long. For there were only 14.

I have to confess that am not sure when 14 stairs became one million in my mind. Perhaps it was as my chubby three year old legs had to take so many steps between the steps leading up the hill. Or maybe it was when the horseflies were out and you couldn’t get up the hill fast enough. All I know is that there were once one million stairs and you cannot convince the six-year-old in me otherwise. Never. Ever.

Not surprisingly, I have found that when you venture back to the past you find it is never how you left it. For better or for worse it will have changed. Yet, our memories often remain the same, stuck in a place we want to remember rather than in one that actually existed. And I’m okay with that because childhood memories should be some of the best memories of our lives. They should be the memories that were created in a simple time that was free from expectations and fear. They should be the recollections made when hope was still alive and when our imaginations ran free. A time when conquering the world was doable and when our kryptonite could be found in a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. For childhood memories are precious, even though imprecise, and they are what motivates us to create a world the way we would like to see it rather than the way that it is. And even though one million steps may seem insurmountable when you are six, one  day you come to realize that a million steps isn’t as daunting as you once thought all thanks to the memories created during a simpler time in our lives.

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Control…Do We Ever Really Have It? Or Raw II

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You ask me why I have a need to control things. The short answer would be my sister’s severe illness when I was such a young child.  A young child whose parents thought she was too young to know all that our family was facing. I remember being snuck into the hospital (back then siblings were not allowed in) and seeing my sister, after many months of absence, now reduced to a human skeleton, not the happy normal-sized kid I was used to seeing. The guilt I felt was tremendous because I did not understand the situation. I was not told. I guessed a lot and interpreted things wrong. Guilt at wondering why bags of presents were being delivered to our home for her and not understanding why I was not thought of which in my young mind =not loved and not noticed. And how, I wondered even then, could I feel that sense of hurt and jealousy when she looked like death. There was also the guilt at hearing her scream when her shunt was cleaned daily and knowing I was okay. And even all these years later that guilt that rears its head in my professional life and makes me pass out on the floor when I hear a patient scream. I can look at anything but don’t let me hear the pain or I am a goner.  In my book guilt can sometimes=need for control= if I am in control less chance of guilt/suffering/pain. I know its wrong but sometimes my mind still takes me back to that little lost/confused and sad child.

I remember during this time of sickness and confusion, being moved from place to place while my parents sat a bedside vigil. That sense of unconnectedness does things to you. I understand the need to do that now…as a parent…but I didn’t as a child. Yes, my parents were sure I was in good hands. I knew most of the people I was with but some were strangers. It made me scared because back then I didn’t know for sure what was happening and no one thought to tell me. And being left and having no control in where you are going invoked feelings of jealousy that made me wonder why my sister was so special and I was not. Everyone knew where she was…did anyone know about me?

Being so aware of death/illness makes you acutely aware of the little control you actually have so I guess I have spent my years trying to control all aspects of my life which we all know is an exercise in futility.  Some people handle it by drinking. Others have sex with strangers trying to make a connection that somehow they feel they missed.  Others drive too fast, take too many pills or eat too much. Others show no obvious issues with it at all. Mine is control. And control, and the lack of it I feel in our relationship, makes me frightened to death and sometimes I push for a resolution because I feel like that little girl again. Her world chaotic. Her world upside dow. Her world with no forthcoming answers. Her world in control of others and now the master controller is B. And I feel like 1,000 little scattered pieces laying about, disorganized, without the glue of control to hold me together.

You wonder why I feel the need for control.

I watched my parents divorce. All the heartache and stress that went along with a cheating husband. My mother’s pain written in a note I have to this day. And then they divorced and within three years my mother was dead at 50, killed, I believe rightly, by all the stress which took her, a non-smoker, in the form of lung cancer. And I look like her. I have the same moles. I have the same body type. The same nose. And I don’t want to become a statistic like her. Illogical I know. But still dead after all this upheaval… after all the pain none of which was her doing…though that is not the case with me. I have caused some of my own pain. But this I know: stress kills and I am sure it is killing me. Maybe like it did her.

I have enough stress with two children who have significant challenges in their lives. Autism = stress. And now my marriage teetering on the edge of HWY 1 with no guardrail and a 1,000 ft drop to the ocean below. And sometimes I wonder if I will just drop dead of a heart attack or will it be a slower more painful way to contemplate the end of life as I know it because this much stress is like a IV drip of poison creeping into my veins. And so I want to take back control from B in a misguided attempt to avert what was my mother’s fate and not have it be my own. Because I want to live free of heartache, being responsible as much as humanly possible for my own pain, when I must endure it, and not have it foisted on me like a drunken sailor grabbing me from behind and taking what is not his to take.

The mind is a funny thing. We know that what we may be thinking is be wrong.Screwy thoughts  that we recognize as inaccurate.  But those feelings are what trip us up and make us believe things that we know in our heads don’t make sense but to our hearts don’t matter. Our hearts often have a mind of their own, too busy working to keep the blood flowing, rather than worry about correctness of how it is being done. Yet, my heart hears unsaid words. It sees hidden emotions on a persons face. My heart squeezes the truth that goes coarsing through my veins and it ignores the science of it all. My heart stings. It whispers with every whoosh. And for the past few days, I would bet my bottom dollar that it has cracked in two, blood leaking into my drowning sticky soul.

You ask me why I feel the need for control. It’s because I no longer trust you to take care of my heart and the love that it holds. You have held my heart in your hands and you have not been gentle with it. You have treated it as callously as a hooker treats her next trick.I no longer trust you to take care of me the way I felt I was not taken care of  when I was a child. I no longer trust that my pain is just pain and not leading to something more deadly as in the case of my mother. I no longer trust your words or your actions because you don’t love me and trust is the glue that holds love together.

You wonder why I feel the need for control? Because parts of that little girl remain behind and while I may be a very strong and capable woman sometimes that little girl is stronger when she faces what she perceives to be danger. And she tantrums and pushes for resolution while trying to gain control. Because she is unsure. Scared. Feels unloveable. And somehow she incorrectly believes that control will give it back to her and make her feel whole again. Strong again. Capable once more.

Someday I hope that someone somewhere will take that little girl her by the hand, thrust a mangy stuffed gray much loved puppy into her empty arms, and along with a great hug; tell her that it will all be okay. And maybe someday she will understand in her heart of hearts that control is an illusion and that the only thing she really ever controlled was herself and, finally, that will be enough and she can just let go and get on with living and playing hopscotch again.

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Cheating A Little…Adoption

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So today I am cheating a little by putting up something I wrote several years ago. Why am I cheating? Well, I am getting ready to leave for Chicago tomorrow because Gracie has a big diving meet there later in the week. So I am super busy getting everything done that needs to be before I go which means I am too busy to write something. Thought I would leave you with something to think about.

 

If you are an adoptive parent especially one who is parenting a child of a different race then you know how many times you are broadsided by some stranger coming up to you with the expectation that they are allowed to ask any one of a million stupid questions right in front of your kids. It never ceases to amaze me the words that come out of a complete strangers mouth. Lately, I have not had to deal with this quite as often as in my children’s younger days so imagine my surprise when in the course of 24 hours I had the following exchanges with some people I have never been formally introduced to and will most likely never meet again.

I have to admit that I was a little evil with the woman at the Mini Mart but gosh darn it I had just been in a video arcade with a bunch of screaming kids for two hours. That is my excuse for my encouraging ignorance rather than making the time to educate.

So yesterday the kids and I go into a Mini Mart and first thing out of the cashiers mouth as she looks at Gracie is… ” ahhhh she is so cute…”

(Okay, I can feel it coming on. Let me see if I can read your mind and finish the sentence for you sweetie)

“Are they your kids?”

(I knew it. If I only had a nickel. I always know when we start out with a she is so cute it will be followed by nosey questions. But today I was prepared)

“Yep they are all mine.”

Funny look crosses her face.

“They don’t look anything like you.”

“Yeah I know.”

“I think they look Asian”

“Well, my ancestors are English and German”

“Their dad must be Asian then”

“Nope. Here is his picture. ( I pull out my husband’s picture) See, He is German too. Oh, and here is a picture of my oldest daughter.” (Who is as pale skinned as they come)

She stares at it, looks down at the kids and back at me. Confusion is written all over her face.

“Yep, the doctors don’t understand it either. They think it has something to do with drinking too much of the water when we went to Asia. Bye now.”

Yep, I know, a little devious and mean of me but after the 100th or so conversation that goes this way sometimes you just crack. That is my excuse for my very rude behavior.

 

And then this afternoon it happened again.

I was in the Super WalMart. Up walks this 50ish man.

(Oh crap… here is comes I think to myself trying to turn my body away but can’t get turned fast enough.)

“I know you get this all the time”……

(“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Don’t you F’ing say whatever is about to come out of your mouth,” I am thinking to myself)

“…but are your kids adopted?”

(Hmmmm should I go with the I just broke my ankle tactic to try to get out of here?)

“Are they from the orient?”

(Oh God…not one of these I just can’t take it today!)

“They were born in South Korea”

“Is that the communist country?”

“No, that would be North Korea”

“The reason I ask is because I have adopted eight of my own”

(Okay, maybe I can put my guard down a little because as an adoptive parent surely they must “get it”.)

“We got them in all colors. We have two of our own and then we got a Mexican one, and a black one and this one here (pointing to a I would guess 16 yo) well we don’t know what she is”

(Oh God help me and get me away from this idiot and let me find the social worker who approved this moron and get her license taken away)

“And one we have now is 3 and her Mom is in prison and the man she named as the father well his DNA didn’t match so I think we are going to get her thank god.She doesn’t need to have a loser mother like that.”

(Nor a loser adoptive dad like you who tells her entire life story to strangers while she is listening and wilting inside. This poor kid will need lifetime therapy thanks to Daddy O here. UGH)

“Sounds like you have a lovely family. We have to keep shopping. It’s nice meeting you.”

And just when I thought I was done I ran into him two more times and each time he starts a conversation and once his daughter looks at me as I pass and says

“Do they all have the same mother?”

“Why, yes they do. It’s me!”

 

It is after these conversations and situations that I feel for my children and all adoptive children everywhere. Intrusiveness is what they know. Being on display through no fault of their own is how they live. Being questioned by strangers and not wanting to seem rude is the norm for them. Having their own personal stories questioned with strangers trying to take them out and put them on display to feed their own curiosity is hurtful, annoying and separates them from “everyone else.”

When we first adopted it was difficult to know how to respond. Just how far do you go to keep your child’s story personal and theirs alone until they decide what, if any, parts they want to share. Now I just respond with, “Why do you want to know?” Usually that makes people think but not always. Sometimes no matter what you do you cannot shut these amateur sleuths up and you just have to be rude and turn away for the sake of your family’s mental health.

So the next time you see an adoptive family like mine please, no questions. Just smile and say, “You have a beautiful family.” I guarantee I will know what you mean. Then, if the timing is right, I will be glad to stop and talk to you about joys and sorrows that are involved in adoption. And I will share because my life has been enriched by adoption … but I will no longer allow your curiosity to intrude on our lives unless it is on our terms.images.Please forgive me for my “rudeness” as I will forgive you for your “nosiness.”  Amen.

 

 

 

No Filter

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One of the things about Autism that is so endearing/maddening is the utter lack of a filter that Andre has.  Whatever he thinks…is what is said. We usually get comments from friends like, “Andre manages to say what most of us wish we could say but aren’t brave enough to do so.”

So yesterday the boys saw a picture of me from about 20 years ago and Andre told B that I looked sexy. It was one of those that they did your hair, makeup and dressed you in nice clothes. Glamour Shots. Now defunct. Like me.

So today I said to Andre “I hear you told Dad that I looked sexy in that picture in the garage.”

Andre: “Yeah I can tell that back then you WOULD have looked cute in a bathing suit.”

Me: “How can you tell that?”

Andre: “It’s a guy thing mom. Every guy can tell whether on not a girl will look good in a bathing suit. But what I really want to know is what happened to you?”

Me: (thinking I probably should not ask and just let things lie) “What do you mean?”

“So is it the fat part of you or the age part of you that got out of hand or is it both?”

“No, it’s the having kids part that did it to me.”

“But I hear people say having kids makes you stay young. It obviously didn’t work for you.”

“And it won’t work for you either!”

Andre: “Perhaps I will create a dinosaur instead of having kids! But… then I would have to worry if it would eat people!”

Pause…

“See mom you have it really easy. At least you don’t have to worry if I am going around biting people’s heads off!”