my ex

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Robert Foster

I have sole custody of the boys. I make sure they get to school, take care of all of their medical appointments, help with 99% of their homework and take time off work when they are sick. My ex on the other hand? He takes them two nights per month (maybe a few extra nights during Christmas holidays), pays absolutely no child support, will not take them if they are sick and judges every single thing I do for them.

We all make bad decisions in life. I am not immune to that fact. His bad decisions however, were to become a drug dealer/user when the boys were 4 and 1. Cocaine, like many other drugs, isn’t very nice. It turns a person you know into someone you’d rather forget.

Constant sniffling, talking nonsense, a sense of grandiose, sleeping all day and staying up all night were some of the first things I noticed. Then came the mood swings–one minute he was like the person I married and the next he was almost unrecognizable–and the paranoia. Eventually it felt like sex was no longer consensual. I later learned that cocaine sometimes leaves users with a feeling of being a “sex god” and that it is known as an aphrodisiac. It may also influence users to make decisions they would not make sober including over-emphasis on personal desires and can increase feelings of confidence.

I eventually got to the point where I felt I just couldn’t take anymore and I called him out on it. I asked him what was going on and why he would do this to our family. He wanted to know who I was talking to and who was spreading these false things about him (I found the evidence all on my own–nobody had to tell me). He was angry that I would ever think of accusing him of doing those things. Then once he realized I wouldn’t believe him, he reasoned that he was only dealing to make extra money to support us. He wouldn’t tell me the truth and I couldn’t deal with him and his lies. Even though I was terrified of being alone, I told him he had to leave.

In times like this, you realize who your real friends are. I was judged. I was criticized. I was called harsh and cruel. I was told I was unforgiving. Someone even had the nerve to say ‘it isn’t like he cheated on you or killed someone, so why are you acting this way?’ Rumors were spread about me. I was called a lesbian. People said I took all of his money and left him with nothing. At one point it was believed that I was even cheating on him.

I said nothing. I refused to respond to the rumors and the lies and the questions. I didn’t talk about the things that he did in front of the boys or when they could hear–I still don’t. I didn’t bad mouth him to our friends and family. I felt bad for him, that his life had gotten to the point where drugs were more important than those who loved him.

After we had separated, I found out that he had left the boys alone while I was at work, had cocaine and large quantities of money on him most of the time and invited those he was dealing to into our home and introduced some of them to our children.

Some decisions that other people choose to make I have a hard time forgiving. Those decisions, the ones involving our children, were in my mind completely unforgivable.

Today, I sometimes feel guilty. I sometimes wonder if I was too harsh and maybe should have stuck with him to help him get better. But I could not allow him to be around our children in his state and risk something happening to them. I constantly have to remind myself that he made the decisions that he made. He made the choices that he made without thinking of anyone else but himself. I must force myself to remember that it’s okay to be angry at him for what he did.

He is still part of our lives. Many days I wish he wasn’t. He isn’t the nicest person in the world and takes every opportunity to try to pick a fight with me. Even now, almost five years later he’ll tell whoever will believe him that I ruined his life. Sometimes they’ll believe him, but mostly not. I don’t even pay attention to it all.

I keep things simple, mainly texts and I find it easier to deal with him that way. But sometimes, he still gets under my skin. He is now remarried, has two more children and apparently has given up his life of drugs. I still don’t trust him. I do think he loves the boys, but I also feel that he loves himself and his image more than them.

One day, I hope it gets easier when it comes to him. I’m just not sure though. Some days I just want to punch him in the face.

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Inner Demons

This song hits me right in the feels……

The fight is real. The struggle is constant. Fighting until the fight is gone.

“Inner Demons” by Julia Brennan

They say don’t let them in
Close your eyes and clear your thoughts again
When I’m all alone, they show up on their own
Cause inner demons fight their battles with fire
Inner demons don’t play by the rules
They say “Just push them down, just fight them harder.
Why would you give up on it so soon?”

So angels, angels please just keep on fighting
Angels don’t give up on me today
The demons they are there; they just keep fighting
Cause inner demons just won’t go away

So angels please, hear my prayer
Life is pain, life’s not fair
So angels please; please stay here
Take the pain; take the fear

They say it won’t be hard; they can’t see the battles in my heart
But when I turn away
The demons seem to stay
Cause inner demons don’t play well with angels
They cheat and lie and steal and break and bruise
Angels, please protect me from these rebels
This is a battle I don’t want to lose

So angels, angels please just keep on fighting
Angels don’t give up on me today
Cause the demons they are there; they just keep fighting
Cause inner demons just won’t go away

Angels, angels please keep on fighting
Angels don’t give up on me today
Cause the demons; they are there
They just keep fighting
Cause inner demons just won’t go away

So angels please, hear my prayer
Life is pain; life’s not fair
So angels please; please stay here
Take the pain; take the fear

don’t make me feel unimportant

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Viola Sado

I am not one of those people who sees my GP regularly. I’ll usually wait until whatever is happening gets to a point where it’s absolutely unbearable. So, when it comes to making appointments I expect a certain level of care. Lately though, I’m starting to worry that I’m not getting what I need. I feel unimportant.

About two years ago, I started to develop a rash. I have extremely dry skin, especially in the winter, and really thought nothing of it but last July, after over a year and a bit of nothing working to clear it up, I decided to mention it to my doctor.

As soon as he looked at it his eyes got really big. He didn’t have that look of confidence that I expect from a doctor. One minute, we’re talking about something which I thought was fairly straightforward and needed something stronger than what I could purchase at the drug store when from out of left field he starts talking about the big C.

I hope it’s just excema or dermatitis but all of the symptoms are the same as Paget’s Disease (breast cancer). Don’t panic though, we’ll try this prescription. It if works, we’re laughing, but if it doesn’t come back.’

So, I spent the next couple of days and weeks trying not to panic. I was sure it was fine and it wasn’t cancer whatsoever. One day, I did the worst thing I could have–I Googled Paget’s Disease. I don’t like to offer words of advice often but if I was to do so, the only thing I would like to say is that you should never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever Google things. It will send you down a path where you are absolutely certain you should start planning your funeral.

Afterwards, I got angry. Part of me was thinking my doctor should have just tried the prescription without dropping that extra little bomb and then we could’ve worked from there. But he didn’t and I had to live with that potential diagnosis hanging over my head.

Fast forward almost three months to October. I figured enough time had passed to give it a go with the prescription but absolutely nothing about that stupid rash had changed. So I made another appointment. I don’t think he was very happy with the length of time I waited but in my defense he didn’t say how long to wait either. He checked it, got that horrible look on his face again and then decided to refer me to a specialist.

I have no idea what is going on so I’m going to refer you to someone else. Now don’t panic if you don’t hear from them for a while because the wait list is usually a couple of months. In the meantime, try this new prescription. If the rash goes away before you see the specialist come back and if not, well, just be patient.’

My internal dialogue then went into immediate overdrive, ‘Be patient? Are you fucking kidding me? Okay then. I’ll just sit here and be patient for the next little while waiting to see somebody who can tell me what in the hell is, or isn’t, going on. You can’t do that to people. You can’t sit there with a horrible look on your face, talking about cancer and tell someone to be patient about it all. Who fucking says that?’ 

I really must work on my internal dialogue becoming an external dialogue (minus a few swear words of course).

Now fast forward to three days ago–about two years since I first noticed the rash and 6 months since I first saw my doctor about it. I had made an appointment with him for a completely unrelated reason, but since I was there I thought I’d mention the rash again. I told him I still hadn’t heard from the specialist and that stupid prescription (which burns the living shit out of my skin) reduces the rash a little bit but then it just comes back again. I wanted him to do something or at least reassure me that nothing was wrong.

He gave me nothing. No reassurance. No timeline. Absolutely nothing except ‘keep using the prescription until you hear back from the specialist. If it gets worse, come back and I’ll do a biopsy.’

Okay, maybe I am being a little crazy about the whole thing but I would have thought he would have ordered the biopsy now instead of waiting another couple of months for everything to just go downhill. But that’s just me. He’s the doctor. He’s the one who should know what to do I would think. Somehow, I think he’s thinking more about his upcoming vacation than my immediate issue.

I don’t care about the possibility of losing a breast (or both) to cancer–that doesn’t bother me (at least right now it doesn’t). Truthfully, I’ve always found them to be a total pain in the ass especially when it comes to playing sports and they are absolutely the worst things on a hot summer day. So that part of it seems to be okay—being faced with it head-on may bring another reaction, but that’s where I am with it now–it’s just a boob, right?

It’s the unknown that bothers me. It’s the waiting. It’s him seeming to care one minute while I’m in his office and then just letting all of it slide the moment I leave. Him walking out the door while I’m still trying to talk about it.

The wait list to get a new doctor in Northern Ontario is usually a couple of years, so I try really hard to be understanding and I don’t abuse the system. In my entire life I’ve only been in the hospital four times (when I was born, twice to my kids and when I had surgery on my shoulder). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the emergency department.

I feel angry. I feel ignored and unimportant. I’m not a group of numbers and letters on a piece of plastic. I’m not some fucking green and white OHIP card.

I know he’s busy, probably close to retiring and has more patients than he wants to deal with but would giving one extra minute of his time while I’m trying to deal with a potential life or death diagnosis be too much to ask?

I wish it were a beach day

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Lake Superior

I need warmth and sunshine, flip flops and my toes in the sand.

I need my water and my beach.

It is the place where the waves will carry away my worries and the landscape will remain unspoiled by all the harshness in this world.  It will help release the unrest that has been building and restore my soul.

That is where I am carefree. That is where I can find my freedom. That is my happy place.

It must be somewhere under all of this cold and snow.

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Winter on Superior

 

My little family sometimes feels incomplete

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Jaime Best

I have two little boys that I would do absolutely anything for and love with all of my heart but sometimes it feels like something is missing.

I’m not big on statistics. I’ve always fought against being a statistic–from my sexual abuse and other unfortunate things I have faced–and this is no exception. I know statistics exist for certain reasons, but those reasons seem beyond little ole me.

Most people don’t even know about it. Like other life-changing events in my life, I chose to keep it mostly to myself. I try not to dwell on it or make a big deal out of it, but sometimes from seemingly out of nowhere it throws me on my ass. It happened this past weekend and I don’t really know why but it made me feel like it’s something I need to share with others.

It was summer 2011 and I, just like millions of other women, had a miscarriage. You always hear the stories of it happening to friends or friends of friends so you know it is a possibility. You try your best to prepare for the what ifs during pregnancy but I never really wanted to dwell on them. Even though I knew miscarriage was a possibility I really didn’t think it would happen to me. I assumed that all would go well considering my first was a total breeze–no morning sickness, no high blood pressure or other awful pregnancy side effects and labour that lasted only about an hour and a half.

Just as with my first son, when I found out I was expecting again I waited to tell anyone about it. With him the only person who knew for the first 4-5 months was my ex-husband. It felt like it was our little secret, something that we could share, just between the two of us. This time I wanted it to be the same–our little family without any influence from the outside world.

In many ways I was glad I waited to say anything because I was able to avoid the sad looks and the questions that I didn’t want to answer. But not telling anyone made things difficult because people couldn’t understand why I was so quiet and withdrawn. I didn’t want to drop bombs of bad news everywhere so I simply continued to keep it to myself and deal with it alone. It was so hard walking around with my secret sadness.

My ex didn’t seem to be that upset about it and I was angry at him for not feeling the same way that I felt. To him it was just a matter of trying again. He would say things like, I know you’re going to be able to get pregnant again. If we want a baby badly enough, we’re going to have another baby. He was ready to move forward, but I wasn’t. I was stuck in what it was.

I was thankful I had just started my summer holidays the morning that it happened and would not have to return to work for 2 weeks. The break made it easier to avoid people, avoid calling in sick and having someone know something was wrong. I spent the entire time at my favourite camping spot with just my son (my ex-husband had to work) and felt completely devastated inside.

Time becomes a blur afterwards. It’s hard to shake the feeling that other people think you did something to bring it on. That somehow something you did, or failed to do, resulted in this type of punishment. I found it difficult to think about wanting to try to have any more children and go through the possibility of it happening again. For me, it felt like I would be moving forward and forgetting what was lost.

I obviously did get pregnant again and now have my youngest son but the entire pregnancy was incredibly anxiety producing. My ex-husband thought it was all completely irrational and couldn’t understand how the fear sometimes took over my days and I was left lying in the dark begging for the baby to stay alive. I would go to my doctor appointments and hold my breath until I could hear the heartbeat, wanted to beg for extra ultrasound scans and waited until almost the end of January to tell most people I was expecting even though he was due at the beginning of May. I didn’t buy a lot of clothes or accessories because I didn’t want to build it up in case it was all torn down again. It was difficult to believe that he would ever actually be a part of our family. I don’t think I truly believed it until I held him for the first time.

It was weird but as soon as I had my son I knew I wanted another child. Regardless of the feelings that surfaced during my second pregnancy I felt that I was meant to be a mother of three. For months it was all I could think about. Unfortunately, it never happened because about a year and a half after my second son was born my ex-husband and I separated. He now has two more children with his new wife. Sometimes I feel angry about it, especially since he gave his second daughter the same name we had picked out for our child (if it had been a girl).

Some days my little family of 3 feels incomplete and I can feel that tiny person that is missing from our lives. I’ll think about what he or she would be like. Would they have the dark brown eyes and soft olive skin like their father and brothers, or blue eyes and freckles like me?

You don’t lose a person you know and love when you have a miscarriage, but gone are your hopes and fantasies for the future. You put one foot in front of the other, but I’m still not sure how you manage to make your way in the world without that missing piece of you.

Liebster Award Nomination

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I was nominated by my fellow blogger Heidi who writes on a blog titled Braving Mental Illness. She nominated me a little over a week ago and I’ve been thinking about how to go about posting on it.

I was extremely flattered but also feeling a bit sheepish when I found out that she nominated me. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to say anything about it. But after much thought, I’ve decided to put on my big girl panties, work through the somewhat awkward feeling of being acknowledge and appreciate the recognition.

I’ve been following her blog for awhile and she always seems to have great words of wisdom when I’m feeling a bit perplexed with life. The one thing I really appreciate is that no matter what she’s been through–and still going through–she is always working for the benefit of others. She wants to make others’ lives better, happier and more fulfilled. Thanks Heidi, for the vote of confidence and including me in your journey!

So, here I go (hopefully the links and everything work correctly):

The Rules:

  1. Create a new post thanking the person who nominated you.
  2. Provide a link to their blog.
  3. Include the award graphic.
  4. Answer the questions provided.
  5. Nominate 5-10 recently followed bloggers and share your post with them, so they can see it.
  6. Make a new set of 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

 

My Ten Answers to Heidi’s Questions:

Were you nervous about starting a blog?

I wasn’t really nervous about starting a blog. Writing for me was always easier than talking. I was more nervous that I wouldn’t be able to accurately describe my feelings. The best part though, I’ve found that everyone I’ve come across to date is extremely supportive and quick to offer a helping hand.

What do your friends, family, or peers think about your blog?

There are only 3 people I’ve told about my blog so far. Two of my close girlfriends and my therapist.

My one girlfriend isn’t ready to read what I’ve written yet and that’s okay with me. When she’s ready, I’ll answer any questions that she has. My other girlfriend follows me and is always there to lend an ear (although sometimes I feel like I bitch to her too often).

My therapist was really happy I started this blog. For awhile he had been telling me I should do something–writing has always been one of our most important means of communication in my therapy journey. The only comment he’s ever made is that I talk about him a lot (but I don’t think he meant that in a bad way). I’m not sure how often he checks it and I don’t really mind if he never checks it. Sometimes, we’ll go through some of my postings during our meetings. I don’t find it’s really affected how much I talk about him or how I feel about him so that’s good. I know, if I asked him not to follow me anymore, he would.

I think the harshest critic of my blog is myself.

Has your blog helped you work through some of your challenges?

I think so, yes. The best part of blogging is that you can share anytime of the day, no matter where you are. It’s easy to be open and honest. You can cry, scream or feel completely exhausted but still keep typing away.

I think, for the most part, blogging has helped me increase my ability to see how things are in the moment.

What is your favorite dessert?

Vanilla ice cream

Would you ever consider being a motivational speaker?

I don’t think so. Most of the time I barely speak above a whisper. I find being the centre of attention extremely anxiety-inducing. When I got married I told my then husband that the wedding day was all about him and that he could be the centre of attention for the entire day–it made things a lot easier for me.

Do you have a favorite color, if so what is it?

Blue. Definitely blue. It reminds me of the lake and the ocean and sky on a sunny day. All of the things that help me when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

If you are in Chapter one of this 2018 book, what would the title of your chapter be?

The Struggle is Real

Do you regret anything from the year 2017?

Not being able to be in a better place financially. Although I think therapy has a lot to do with it. Eventually, it’s going to get easier in that department (fingers crossed).

What are a few of your goals for 2018?

Communicate better–stop worrying about how everyone else feels and learn to better take care of myself. Look at things in small pieces–break things down so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed with the big picture. Maybe move away from my mother–and feel okay with it. Get to the point where it doesn’t feel like I constantly need my therapist–it drives me insane truthfully.

What was your most difficult challenge from the year 2017?

Coming to the realization that my parents were not really up for the job; it’s easier with my father because he is dead but it’s harder with my mother. She cannot be the person I have always wanted her to be (or that I thought she was), she has her own problems that she needs to deal with and it’s not my responsibility to take care of her–this hurts a lot and some days I still can’t grasp it very well.

I am nominating the following blogs for the “Liebster Award”:

The Narcissist’s Daughter

me ptsd and all the fucked up shit in between

this is (real) life

Her Patchwork Heart

Surviving Childhood Trauma

Who Are You Calling Sensitive?

The Doors to Wisdom

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

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Patricia J Grace

 

My Ten New Questions to Answer are:

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. Do you tell those closest to you that you are blogging (significant others, children, friends, therapist etc.)? Why or why not?
  3. Who is your favorite author and why?
  4. Cat or dog?
  5. What is your favourite tree?
  6. Describe yourself in three words.
  7. What advice would you give to new bloggers?
  8. If someone offered you a free ticket, which country would you visit and why?
  9. What is the best piece of information anyone has ever offered to you?
  10. What is your favourite (or most difficult post) that you have shared (please provide link)?

 

To my fellow bloggers. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive and helpful even when things feel dark and impossible. Thank you for never judging!

Thank you so much Heidi for nominating me and for those who choose to participate (no pressure from me whatsoever).  This is not mandatory and please don’t feel obligated.  I look forward to reading from those of you who choose to respond.

You can decide

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Ruth Batke

The hot tears of defeat rolled down my face. I don’t like the way any of this feels. Maybe it would be better if things went back to the way they were before. 

You mean when it was dark and you didn’t really understand why things were the way that they were? he asked.

I nodded my head yes.

It was a hard week. A week filled with questions that don’t have answers yet. Choices that I’m certain I must make. Self-harm and serious thoughts of suicide.

A lot of the time, because I still find it so incredibly difficult to use my actual voice, my therapy appointments involve me writing–either before we meet or in his office. We’ll then go through it together.

The letter I wrote on Friday was difficult. It was about an incident that happened with my mother earlier in the week, how I actually stood up to her (in a nutshell I told her I was trying my best and it isn’t helpful that she’s so critical about everything I do) and her response to me for doing so.

Standing up for myself has never felt acceptable. With my father it would have resulted in quick and swift punishment. With my mother she’ll say what she thinks, walk away and absolutely refuse to talk to me. This time it was no exception.

Her responses are hard for me. They tend to ignite those really bad feelings inside. The ones where I am a failure, I am less and undeserving of anything this life has to offer. I usually start to really think about things after these incidents. I’ll feel trapped and feel like I want to scratch my skin off. I’ll want out of the space and out of this life. I’ll start putting into motion the final steps of how exactly I am going to kill myself.

The other night after everything that happened I could only think about how much I hated her. I was wishing she would die, which is a truly awful way to feel about your mother. I realized that she’s never going to love me the way that I want her to. She’s never going to change her thoughts and beliefs (she admitted that much out loud). She’ll never give me the things that have been missing—she would have done it by now if she really wanted to.

I couldn’t escape (I had the boys and nobody to watch them), she wouldn’t talk to me and I didn’t know what else to do. So, I burned myself.

Afterwards I got to thinking that maybe the boys would be better off living with their dad. Maybe I’m not the best person for them. Their father is an idiot to the umpteenth degree, but he loves them. His new wife is good to them and would help take care of them. I have a good life insurance policy that would help them in the future. Their father has family—more than what I have. So maybe it would be better for everyone.

It’s not about me. It’s about them and what is best for them. It’s about what’s going to get them through this life as happy and as whole as possible. And maybe that means somewhere else.

I brought all of this to my appointment on Friday after holding onto the feelings for the week. I could feel myself spiraling downwards. The information was hard to share, uncomfortable and took a really long time to get through.

After we had made our way through it I asked him some very important questions. What would happen if I died? Would they grow up thinking it’s because of them? Would they grow up feeling unloved and abandoned? Do you think they would they be okay?

Some of his answers were not unexpected–It would be really hard for them. When someone kills themselves, it’s horrible for everyone they leave behind. It would be incredibly difficult for them to understand. They might not ever get over it.

But then he followed up with something else which was totally unexpected–Saying all of those things, I don’t want to block you. I believe that everyone has the right to choose what to do with their own lives and sometimes people just get to the point where they feel there is no other way out. You have to know that I want you to live, but I would understand if you couldn’t. You get to decide and nobody can take that choice from you.

It stuck with me, the things that he said. Especially the part where he said YOU GET TO DECIDE.

His words felt really freeing. So many things in this life have always felt out of my control. So many decisions have been made for me and my choices were taken away. But this life? This is mine. I get to choose what I do with it from this point forward.