Mommy Anxiety

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I believe every parent goes through a level of anxiety when their children start school, for the first time or even every year they go back.  It’s a natural instinct to be nervous for them, especially in todays day and age of atrocities that have happened at our schools. I know my fears and anxiety aren’t unique nor earth shattering, but if I ignore these feelings, then I’m doing a disservice to myself, my family and others. Here’s where I am right now and I have to acknowledge the truth.

When my oldest son who is 22, Spicoli, was 10 months old and I was married to his dad; my life at that moment changed drastically.  I had doctors appointments on a day in June, so I had taken the day off from work, but I took Spicoli to daycare to make the running around easier on me. After all of my appointments, I went home to grab a bite to eat and was getting ready to head over and pick him up from the daycare. I got a knock on my door, and there stood some man who asked me “Are you Katy Sheffer?”, as I responded with a yes he handed me a large envelope and walked away.  I opened the envelope and wasn’t grasping what I was reading.  It was a court order of divorce papers and a restraining order to stay away from my son. I still wasn’t grasping any of it, we had just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary 2 days earlier.  Went out to a lovely dinner, he sent me a huge bouquet of flowers, so what I was reading wasn’t making sense.

I called Dick right away, he answered and I asked “What are these papers that were just delivered? I don’t understand.” His response, “Just read them and you’ll figure it out.” I did respond “Okay I’ll read them after I pick up Spicoli and then I’ll call you.” He sternly responded “No you won’t pick him up. He’s not even at daycare, he’s with my mom, besides you now have a restraining order from seeing him. You are no longer welcome to go to the daycare and if you do, they have been ordered to call the police to have you arrested.” At this point I started yelling “I don’t understand! What are you doing? This is crazy!” Then he hung up on me.

I called a friend that is an attorney and asked her to please help me, that I couldn’t understand what was happening, so together on the phone we read the documents word for word. Bottom line, Dick went to the courts that morning and filed for divorce. In order to gain leverage to keep Spicoli all for himself, he told the judge I was unstable, suicidal, had severe postpartum depression that he was afraid I would pull a Susan Smith and kill our son. The TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) was issued based on a lie. From this point forward my life dramatically changed.

Spicoli was only 10 months old and it took three months to get in front of the judge to prove that Dick had lied, so basically my baby was kidnapped from me for 10 months, at least that’s how the judge put it once he was proven to be a liar. During these three months the prolonged trauma caused PTSD, I went from 155 lbs down to 98 lbs. I couldn’t eat, sleep nor stop the fear of wondering where my baby was.  What was he doing? Were they feeding him correctly? Are they cuddling him? Are they talking about me to him? Will he recognize me when I get him back, or if I get him back?

Yes I got him back, but the trauma still lingers. I’ve been in counseling for 22 years, I’ve gone through desensitization therapy, EMDR, PFT, trauma therapy; but the fear and trauma is still there.

Right now my 4 yr old, Calvin, is set to start pre-k tomorrow. I’m a fucking wreck. When I had him I experienced postpartum depression again, but this time it was way worse. A lifetime of trauma’s and having CPTSD made it ten times worse. It caused me to develop a ferocious level of protection over him, it was so bad I couldn’t go back to work. No way in hell would I have my child at a daycare, because in my mind, they aren’t safe. No my marriage now is nothing like it was with Dick, and I know this, but that doesn’t stop the mamma bear instinct to protect my young.

I wish I could wait until he was 5 and ready for kindergarten, but Calvin needs speech therapy support. He really has had a heck of a time with certain consonants and vowels, and in order for him to be ready for kindergarten we felt it best for him to start pre-k and obtain some special education with speech therapy. Yes I could clearly just take him to a speech therapist, but I believe peer support is an important part of his growth.

I am a mess. I’m irritable, tired, shaky, can’t sit still, can’t stop thinking. That trauma from 22 years ago has played in my memory over and over and IT WON’T STOP! To add to this, he’s scared too! We now live in a new state as of 3 months ago, so he has a new home, new room, new friends, new experiences…his life has changed. He was doing great about starting school, until we went for the meet and greet at school last night. This poor kid was so overwhelmed, there were people everywhere, he held my hand so tight he refused to let go, he didn’t want to explore the room on his own, I had to hold his hand and walk him through it. When we got home he had a complete meltdown. “I scared mommy, I scared!”

Meanwhile inside I’m thinking ‘DAMN IT! I’m scared too!’, how do I handle this? How do I convince my son it will be all okay, when inside I’m scared it’s not going to be? How do I nurture him and calm him, when I’m a bottle of nerves? We went to bed, read a book and I cuddled next to him and told him a story. A story about a brave little boy who was starting school for the first time, that he was scared too, and that it was okay to be scared. The little boy was going to have wonderful nice teachers full of love and comfort, he was going to meet and make new friends, he would have daily adventures and different toys to play with; but most of all his mommy would be there to pick him up at 1:30 on the dot and because he knew this…he felt safe. I reminded him that he has Jesus with him ALL of the time, protecting him and loving him, and because of this he’ll never feel alone. Calvin then kissed me and said “I love you  mommy” and rolled over and fell asleep. It was so very precious.

I don’t know if that story I told him was just for his benefit and comfort, but I think it helped. I hope I convinced him or helped him, especially because I can’t help myself right now. I can’t stop the intrusive scary thoughts, my body remembers that day, not just my mind. Sick to my stomach, can’t eat much, headaches, shakes and rapid heart rate….body memories are as bad as the mental memories.

I will continue to push forward, I will continue to ask God for strength and pray daily, I will do my best for as long as it takes for me to get comfortable….if I ever do. I will put lipstick on this pig and keep on keeping on.

Oh and one more thing: Fuck you Dick.

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How The Grief Stole Christmas

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Christmas has always been most special to me, because it was always celebrated near my birthday. Since I was two years old it’s been family tradition to put the tree up on my birthday and we’ve never faltered from that. Christmas ornaments have been collected by me since I was a little girl and I’ve made sure to never lose nor break the ones that mean so much to my heart.

Though after dad left and moved out, Christmas lost its wonderment and magic.  I looked so forward to putting up the tree and celebrating my birthday and the start of Christmas. Let’s face it, Christmas is what a child waits for all year round! When dad left, especially that first year, my mom went through a level of depression I’d never seen before nor knew existed. She lost an extreme amount of weight, lost her smile and her infectious laugh.

Yes my mom was a narcissist and I don’t have many good memories of her, but her smile was big and beautiful and her laugh could be heard miles away. These are a couple of things I’ll always cherish about her.

That first Christmas was rough..and every year after that. Before the divorce on my birthday I would come home from school and find all the Christmas boxes and tree pulled out from the crawl space and in the middle of the living room. Pure bliss would course through my veins! This first year without dad started a landslide for me. I came home from school fully anticipating to find the boxes in the living room, I walked inside with a smile ready to yell “yay”; instead I came home to an empty house and no boxes.

Befuddled, I sat down on the stairs and just stared. About an hour later mom came home with a store-bought cake and a card. Before she had always baked a cake for me and there were always presents to open, but not this year. I was 11 and I was beyond heart-broken. I asked if we were going to put up the tree and she told me that if I wanted to put it up I could have at it on my own, but she wasn’t in the mood.

Now as an adult who suffers with depression, I can completely understand where she was at the time, but as a little girl I felt completely rejected and lost. The divorce was the death of my childhood in so many ways. I couldn’t wrap my head around the rejection and at that moment didn’t realize it was the birth of grief that I have felt every year on my birthday.

I did do just what she said and I dragged those boxes up the stairs one by one. I read the directions for our fake tree and put it together. I wrapped those lights with such care, learned from years of carefully watching my dad. I hung the ornaments with design and meaning. I created a tree of beauty in my eyes and it was lit in brilliant colors.

I finished with decorative nuances around the house, displayed the nativity scene, hung lights in the window and just opened my creative mind. Then I turned all of the house lights off and laid under the tree. As I looked up and gazed at the ornaments I hung inside the tree and the twinkling lights, I day dreamed about being in the movie Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Like Rudolph, I felt rejected, but hoped in the end I would be seen as useful and I would be loved.

From that point forward in my life I made it my tradition and decorated alone every year after that. Each year I hoped she’d join in and want to be a part of “my day”, it never happened. I was a misfit and although I had hope, it didn’t fill the loss deep in my heart.

Friends would invite me over knowing Christmas Eve and Day were hard for me. Their parents knew my life, they knew my loneliness and they knew my grief. They all did their best to include me, I’m still friends with all of these people to this day.

A couple of years I got to spend my birthday with my dad and he made it all Who-ville for me. Singing, laughing, joking around and celebrating. Moments far and few between, but engraved in my memory.

Unlike the Grinch, Joan didn’t try to make it miserable for me, but she sure didn’t try to make it nice either. Her pain was deep and it wasn’t from having a tiny heart like the Grinch.

However, like the Grinch she didn’t want to appear “bad” to Little Cindy-Lou Whoo, so she tried to be kind and complement my decorating. Would brag to her friends about the beautiful job I did. Unlike the Grinch she didn’t steal anything of monetary value, just made me feel robbed of the happiness of family and love.

I never let her see me cry when I was sad, but I was in deep pain. I grieve for the 11-year-old little girl to this day and I still have moments of pure disgust for Joan at Christmas. This year I told 11 year old me that it’s okay now to have been so sad and I had every right to have expected love, excitement and celebration on Christmas tree day. This year my husband surprised me and jumped right in without me having to say anything. He brought all the boxes in, he helped decorate and he celebrated my birthday like we did when I was a little girl. This year is an extremely healing Christmas tree birthday.

Grief on the other hand is an asshole and I hope someday grief see’s how much more important unconditional love is,  and hopefully grief will learn to love and not be so mean.

No matter the gifts, wrapping nor ribbon…I am in awe of the magic of God’s love for me. 

Merry Christmas to you all, now go enjoy your roast beast.

Divorced Parents = Divorced Holidays

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I can look back and honestly say I don’t remember NOT ONE Christmas Eve or Day after my parents divorce. NOT ONE!  Well wait..maybe one. I’ll get to that Jerry Springer episode in a moment.

I don’t know how any child of divorce can remember these Christ filled holidays, probably because Christ was nowhere to be found nor mentioned.  Unless it was my father yelling “Jesus Christ!” then slamming down the phone after having to talk with my mother. The chaos and over stimulation of drama was so much…who would want to remember it?

If you’re a child of divorce you know exactly what I speak of.  If not, may I paint you my Norman Rockwell holiday tradition?

It’s the week before Christmas break and us “divorcelet’s” are sitting and eating lunch in the cafeteria asking each other what our holiday schedules look like. The answers were typically like this: I’m with my mom until Christmas Eve at 6pm, then my dad and his girlfriend are picking me up and we’re going to some swanky restaurant. I’ll stay at his apartment until Christmas day, I have to be back to my mom’s by noon. Then I’ll stay with her until New Years Day and dad will pick me up at 10am.

Then there are the “every other year” divorcelet’s: I spent Christmas with my dad last year (I think) so I’ll be at my mom’s until New Years Eve, my dad will pick me up at 5pm and we’re going to eat pizza and rent movies and watch the New York ball drop. 

Seems simple..right? WRONG! With all of this confusion stuffed into our stocking, you can’t forget the stocking fillers! Fillers are the extra fun that comes when you’re packing to go to your dad’s place and you bring your bag to the door, while anxiously dreading his honk and mom’s passive aggressive announcement of “YOU’RE father’s here”, but before this can happen she HAS to ask you THE QUESTIONS.  “What are you taking to your fathers? You better not take your new toy because it might get lost at his house. I certainly hope you don’t plan on taking those nice clothes I bought you I’ll never see them again.”  Everything you were just gifted have quickly turned into bargaining tools of her pathological conditional love.

When entering dad’s car you’re quickly whisked away with the same ol “Hi honey, Merry Christmas”. Then he gives you about 5 minutes to adjust to the atmospheric change to his world and then hits you with “So. What did you get from your mom?” He really isn’t interested for my sake, he’s actually measuring up his own gifts I’m about to shred open, to make sure he out witted her efforts.

Norman Fucking Rockwell! Merry Christmas…shitters full!

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Nope, not full yet! I almost forgot the Jerry Springer episode.

It’s me and Sis’s 2nd Christmas as divorcelets, we’re spending this year’s Christmas eve and morning with our dad. We’re all headed over to his sister’s house for a party with his entire side of the family and his girlfriend and her mother. Little history lesson, dad’s had 4 affairs on our mother by this point and #4 is why he left our mom. One of his sisters and 2 of her daughters love our mom very much and are really pissed about the whole scenario and are at this party. The worse part is my oldest cousin is THE SAME AGE as my dad’s girlfriend and my cousin is tough as nails. She drove a dump truck at age 16 (cue banjo).

Alcohol is a MUST HAVE at any of his family events, lots and lots of alcohol. Us kids are even allowed to drink…as long as you’re over the age of 12. Standards people!

One drink leads to another drink, then one death look from my cousin leads to the Jerry Springer SMACK DOWN! Drinks tossed at each other, bowl of peanuts took flight with Rudolph and the littler divorcelets take off for their rooms in fear.  Screaming, pointing, flailing arms (Italian style), mascara running, Aquanet in the eyes and my father in the middle like a black Friday giveaway gift. He’s being pulled at from all sides, pushed, hit and I believe his hairpiece got ripped off. (cue banjo)  It was live action!

Did it get resolved? Nope. Slamming of the front door, followed by car doors and screeching of tires were the ringside bells. Dad’s #4 became known as my stepmother and the cause of a unhealing fracture that’s been painful since that very night. His family has never healed from it and it’s been 34 years.

I now have my husband and 2 son’s and I no longer have to split my holidays, because we have our own traditions now. Our Christmas is centered on Jesus and our deep respect and love for one another.  Each year I pray for all the kiddos who have a divorced holiday, I pray for their heart, soul and strength. May they make it through unscathed.

If you’re one of the parents of a divorcelet, remember, your child didn’t ask for this divorce and they certainly DON’T enjoy splitting the holiday in half. Consider reading from the bible 1 Kings 3:16-28 A Wise Ruling, it’s a great metaphor for this exact moment.

Blessings and Merry Christmas my fellow divorcelets!

Katy…the Rough Draft (Part I)

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I believe all masterpieces were created through several rough drafts. A masterpiece comes in many different forms and mediums. Such as oil vs. watercolor, Broadway play vs. film, novel vs. television and food vs. food.

I believe both of my son’s are masterpieces, each unique and beautiful in their own way.

There are flaws in a masterpiece, but only the artist knows of them all. What we see as a possible flaw could have been meant to happen by the artist; therefore I feel critic’s are a waste of space and time. A masterpiece is in the eye of the beholder.

I also believe that God created us each unique and each a masterpiece per His great design.

I also believe that a masterpiece evolves and can continuously be altered, added to or adjusted. For example, Oscar-Claude Monet didn’t conduct just one painting titled Water Lilies. Monet painted over 30 variations, presumably to create each very distinctly, yet with just enough difference you can tell them apart. At least to the trained eye you can identify them.

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What I love about his work are the combinations of color, chaos, free-flowing brush strokes and depth. This is how I feel God created me. I have various colors I portray, I’m not typically just a sterile white, I have several colorful moods I vacillate through. I am not a super intense person about most things, I’m free-flowing and laid back.  There’s a depth to me most will never see on the surface. My mind is in such chaos at times I feel like a tornado sucking up everything in its path.

To know this piece of work, you need to take the time to get to know me. By this time in my life per the blog, I am about 22 years old. I have many appreciations and gifts for who I am and what I have.

Physically I no longer looked like I was 14. I actually started looking more like a woman with curves. Still slender, brown hair, big green eyes, classy dress for work and play.

For employment I was in a career by my own doing, starting off as a receptionist and working my way up in a financial analyst industry. Which is funny to me now, especially since I failed geometry and had to take math for dummies to make up the credit.  Watching my mother and father, who were both professionals, I watched them and absorbed their mannerisms.  I was excellent at customer service and making clients feel important. I cared for them like I’d know them for years. I was well-known for what I did and I loved it.

My domain was perfect and living on my own was liberating, in a little “matchbox” sized house I rented. I’d decorate it from garage sale finds. Heck at Christmas it was decked out, but I don’t think I ever invited anyone over to see it or visit. It was mine and I was “playing” house.

Financially I was able to buy my first new car on my own.  Little red semi sports car. I was so proud of it. I wasn’t a frivolous spender, I watched my money closely. Very responsible.

Relationships were few and far between. I had a couple that were very serious and would have gone somewhere. Yet one had cheated on me,  which ruined the trust factor and reminded me of my father. The other was emotionally destructive, couple bouts of violence and I was done.  I wasn’t sleeping around and just enjoyed life.

My family at this point was scattered. I tried to build a relationship with Joan, it was important to me, maybe hoping she would see how well I was doing on my own. Hoping she would be proud of me..looking for the nod of acceptance. Clint was still in California and we spoke every few weeks. Our closeness went away, his wife basically shamed him when talking to me. Sis moved to California to live with our Father and start over. I guess when I look back, Joan wanted me around more after Sis left.

Spiritually I believed in God and Jesus Christ as my savior. I was baptized non-denominational at age 5. Yet we never went to church, not even on Christmas Eve or Easter. I longed to understand more about the bible. I tried reading it, I didn’t understand it. I’d go to church with my paternal grandmother, it was a Baptist church, I felt like a big piece of sin when I left. I never went back. I’d have moments of feeling lost and unattached, I’d drive up the mountain and go to the beautiful church I was baptized at and just sit.  I felt so safe there. I’d cry. Pray and talk to God and then go home, never to return until that feeling of emptiness came back.

Deep down I was confident in what I knew and I portrayed that confidence in all that I did and how I looked. I was tender-hearted and clearly a caregiver at heart, I helped anyone I could with anything they needed. I was hungry for life and to learn more. I could analyze any situation rather quickly. I thought I wanted to be a career woman with a lot of options to go anywhere anytime. Yet I yearned to be married, to be with a man who would love me unconditionally and take care of me, have babies with. Make a life of longterm, one of which I never had as a child.

This is who I was as a young adult from the foundation laid out for me. Damn if I could go back to when I was 11 with the knowledge I had at this point, was a lot of the thoughts I had during this time.

Naive little piggy.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

 

A Simple-Minded Pig

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I graduated high school! It was basically a miracle according to Joan. Since I wasn’t smart enough nor pretty enough to find a “good man”…at least I had my high school diploma.

Joan was also dating my old high school principal, Leisure Suit Larry. He left the school my sophomore year and was placed in the Superintendents office which was a little “cottage” office right behind my house. He was transferred out of the school after he got a DUI and was plastered all over the newspapers.  Larry drove by our house twice a day to go to work and always would see Joan; who was beautiful, dressed well and drove a nice sports car.

One day while I was in class I was called to the Vice Principals office. He asked me about a friend of mine that was in a psych ward for attempting suicide.  Extremely random question and was weird. Before I left his office he asked me about my dad. He says “I pulled your emergency card to get your class schedule and saw that your dad lives in California and works for an oil company. Does he work on an oil rig and travel back and forth?”  Random right?  I explained he lives there full time as he and mom were divorced. It was so strange how he came to that conclusion or question, he was a weird dude anyway, so I chalked it up as that.

Little did I know Larry had asked the VP to find out my mom’s marital status so he could ask her out. The story of Leisure Suit Larry is a whole other topic and posting, but Joan told me it was most likely his influence that helped me graduate.

My teachers treated me like I was stupid and so did Joan, maybe they were right.  It was even more clear that I must be stupid when my college fund was no longer available.

When dad left he had set up 2 college funds for Sis and I, $10k each to start our schooling. When I graduated I didn’t get to start right away as I had to have an ovarian cyst removed 3 days after graduation and then Joan became very ill (another topic for down the road).

The following year I was ready, so I worked the previous year selling sports shoes. I went to mom and told her that I was checking out college courses and needed to know how I was to pay for it, with a check from her or a credit card. She smiled at me and giggled, “what makes you think I have the money to send you to college?” I explained that I thought dad had set money aside for us, and she told me he did but there wasn’t any left.

Joan further explained that life isn’t fair and sometimes we have to make sacrifices. My college fund was spent before I graduated on a new sports car for my sister. I remember the day like it was yesterday, I just didn’t know I was the one who actually bought her the car.

My sister drove a muscle car through high school that Joan bought her. After Sis graduated she had come home one day and called mom at work, telling her that she found a new car she wanted. I believe Joan said no based on price and that’s when Sis lost her mind. She cried and screamed like a toddlers temper tantrum, on the floor kicking and throwing a fit. Pleading “Please mommy please. At least I’ve never left you like Katy did. Maybe I’ll just move to dads too.” There you have it, a 19-year-old behaving like a toddler.

Basically Joan gave in at that point and she bought Sis the car..with my college fund.  Yes folks, Joan sacrificed my future to pacify the little monster she created.

Once I realized where the college fund went…I died. It felt like a knife in the gut with Joan shoving it in deeper while in my face saying “You stupid little girl, you’re not good enough, paybacks are a bitch”. I clearly wasn’t smart enough to send to college. She clearly had to have balanced what was more important right? I sucked in school, her boyfriend helped me graduate and my sister’s happiness was more important than my future.

I felt stupid, ashamed and embarrassed to even think I could manage college. What was I thinking? Oh and Dad..he didn’t want to be bothered by it.  Nothing he could do about it from there. It was done, and what’s done is done. Dad helped solidify my simple-minded self.

The Wild Pig & The Barfly

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High school was completely crazy!  I had no supervision once I moved back to Joan’s house.  I came and went as I pleased, no curfew and no restrictions.  A teenagers dream life! I was responsible though for cooking my own meals, cleaning the house weekly, my laundry, having a job and paying for my gas and car insurance.  I was handed a ridiculous amount of responsibility at 16.  My friends loved my mom because of all of this and I pretended it was amazing. Yet deep down I was frightened, insecure, sad and very angry. Little did my friends know I was envious of their required family dinners, doing homework at the kitchen table, having to call and check in after school and be on a curfew.

Let’s start with the free reign to do what I wanted.  If I was hanging out with friends my age, we were required to be to their home by a certain time.  Honestly I loved the freedom at first so I rarely hung out with friends my age. I was typically dating someone 18 and older so our nights consisted of drinking, sex and mischief. In the 80’s we could have parties that lasted all night without any cops being called, alcohol was easy to get and if a home wasn’t available for our soiree then a field somewhere was just as good.

Drinking and driving was normal. No other way to put it, we drank and we cruised, radio blaring Motley Crue or Van Halen. We drag raced, no seat belts and open containers in the car.

School wasn’t optional in my eyes, but I loathed it. I had ADD and didn’t know it, I don’t think it became a real diagnosis until the 90’s, so I was considered rebellious as a student. Teachers thought I didn’t care about my education, so they didn’t care about me. Very simply put, they never invested time in me. I couldn’t focus on reading as I couldn’t retain any of it. I couldn’t understand why I could read an entire page and not have any clue what I had just read. I truly thought I was just stupid and my grades reflected that. I had to take summer school classes after my sophomore year and a full schedule of classes my senior year to graduate with a 2.5 GPA.

I was wild and out of control. I had a mouth like a truck driver, my bark and my bite were both terrifying, but you couldn’t tell by looking at me. I was an underdeveloped skinny girl who had to prove herself as a badass, for fear that others might feel they could treat me the same way Joan did.

My mom, the barfly, despised me. She didn’t EVER want to be bothered by me. Thursday through Saturday nights you could find Joan at her favorite watering hole dancing and drinking the night away.  Typically dressed in a leather miniskirt, pumps, low-cut blouse, big earrings and even bigger hair.  Just picture Tina Turner in the 80’s and you have Joan.

It wasn’t odd that sometimes we strolled into the front door at the same time on the weekends, typically between 2 and 3am. Both drunk, looking like hammered shit and never saying one word to each other.

Joan made it clear that she didn’t care what I did or how my grades looked. She told me to marry into money because I wasn’t smart enough to have a career that paid well nor pretty enough to have my choice of men. No wonder I didn’t bother at trying to be a better student, mom didn’t believe in me so why should I believe in myself.

I have to say that writing that last paragraph made me nauseous! I couldn’t imagine telling my children this EVER! My two beautiful gifts from God are my life and I will walk through hell to make sure they know they are loved and wanted and worthy! I don’t expect them to be doctors or engineers, I just want them to be happy and to follow their dreams. To feel loved and be loved by me. To know they are worthy of God’s love no matter what happens in life. To be kind-hearted compassionate souls to everyone and everything they encounter. To know that love is not conditional from me nor God.

I deserved better from my mother, her mother didn’t treat her this way, there’s no excuse for her behavior. I was her pig.

The Mask of the Wolf and the Sheep

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A wolf in sheep’s clothing has been a parable used for centuries.  Except the poor wolf has been labeled as an angry beast and only out for blood, meanwhile the sheep is innocent and prey to the wolf. Both used to describe humans as either predator or prey, the emotionally angry beast could cover up his gnashing teeth with a mask of emotionally lacking sweet innocence.  Is this where we humans learned to cover up our emotions with the proverbial mask?

Did you know that both of these creatures from God represent all of our emotions? Take a look at this wheel of emotions, the center emotions are our core base emotions. Moving outward are the next phase emotions generating from one of the core emotions.

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Wolves have our similar core emotions as humans, they don’t show all of it on their faces, but they do with body language and vocally without words.

Sheep also have our similar core emotions, again based on their physical and vocal actions.

So why does the wolf have to be the bad guy in this? He’s the predator plain and simple. Raw end of the stick I’d say!

The “bad guy” is the expectation that we must cover our true identity with a mask.

  • “Never let them see you cry”
  • “You have no right to be angry”
  • “What are you so scared of you pussy”
  • “You know you look stupid”
  • “What are you so happy about”
  • “Don’t just stand there”
  • “Look how you made me feel”
  • “I don’t understand you or where you’re coming from”
  • “Wipe that look off your face”
  • “Keep your chin up”
  • “You have to stay strong”
  • “You’re being dramatic”
  • “Your feelings aren’t fair to me”

Each of these common statements inflict shame, embarrassment, condemnation and conditional love. None of us want to feel this way, so we “put on a happy face” our mask, disconnect from our feelings and become someone we’re not.

Maybe this is why I loved Halloween for so many years, I could dress up and be and act the part of my costume. Freedom for one night of the year.

I took my mask off 16 years ago when the Matriarch of our family died. I was no longer ruled over by her, I didn’t have to please her any longer. I got to confront her destruction head on and find the lost little girl who was never good enough. I cried for the first time in front of my psychologist of 6 years!  I found my angry voice and let people have it who’ve hurt me. I was like a shaken can of soda opened for the first time, I exploded in emotions.

Ironically at this time a homeless wolf hybrid showed up at my house.  While most were afraid of her, I saw her pain in needing love. I took her in, I loved her, fed her, bathed her, took her to the veterinarian and gave her a home. She in turn protected me, saved me, comforted me and loved me unconditionally.  This emotionally connected creature was a gift to me from God.

The sheep in all of these parables, is the mask. The mask of being stifled. Such an interesting word to describe “the sacrificial sheep”.

stifle [ stahy-fuhl ]

Definition: prevent, restrain

Synonyms: asphyxiate, black out, bring to screeching halt, burke, check, choke, choke back, clam up, clamp down, constipate, cork, cover up, crack down, curb, dry up, extinguish, gag, hold it down, hush, hush up, kill, muffle, muzzle, put the lid on, repress, shut up, silence, sit on, smother, spike, squash, squelch, stagnate, stop, strangle, stultify, suffocate, suppress, torpedo, trammel.

 

I will no longer be insignificant in regards to my feelings.  This doesn’t mean some of my feelings don’t scare me. I do know for many getting into touch with real feelings is beyond painful and more than they can handle. Doesn’t make them weak.  I’ve always liked the song Bridge Over Troubled Waters, because the bridge is much like the mask, protecting you from unforeseen trouble.  That water represents so much in our lives. Crossing that water without the bridge is going to be very difficult, scary, unforgiving, you’ll get pulled under, swallow water, have stinging pain from the cold, you’ll trip, question yourself and your sanity. Yet after you get to the shore and crawl to higher safe ground, you’ll be physically and emotionally wiped out. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief you made it through all of it.  Then after you practice crossing the troubled waters more and more, you’ll learn how to survive the trek across again and again. Make sure though before you take this adventure with another person, you know this person is safe and won’t attempt to stifle you. I believe you know what I mean.

The stifling pig in my life has been sacrificed and my emotions and feelings are my own..my very own and no one can take them away from me again.