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One girl, one life, one world shared.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Sound of Chronic Pain

Every once in awhile, I re-write songs in my head to match particular situations.

*sung to the tune of "Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel*

Hello pain, my old friend
You've come to talk with me again

Because a sensation softly creeping,
Left its marks while I was sleeping

And the throbbing that was planted in my brain
Still remains
And echoes through the nerves in my body

In restless sleep, I tossed and turned
Hoping one side would hurt less
'Neath the cover of my blanket
I broke a sweat and said "fuck it."

When my back was stabbed by the flash of a sharp pain
That split my soul
And touched the sound of chronic pain

And in the naked pain I saw
10,000 people, maybe more
People judging that I take pain meds
People judging if my pain is severe

People deciding for me
Whether I should hurt at all
And to what degree,
Missing the point of chronic pain

"Fools," said I, "You do not know,
Pain like a cancer grows:
It consumes all your energy,
Painkillers change your personality."

But my words, like silent raindrops fell,
On the ears of those who do not know severe chronic pain.

And I sat betrayed by my body
While my mind crumbled to nothing
I became less tolerable to be around
Angry and frustrated with myself

I just want to function normally,
Have my personality
And be done with mood swings...
I want the motivation stolen by chronic pain.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To the Child I Will Never Conceive

I have wanted you since I was 4 years old.

In my 20's, I wanted you so bad, I had vivid dreams of you in which we would have conversations about you, your life, my parenting, and my growth.

In my 30's, once I was single, every "oops" or delayed period became anticipation and dread.

Dread that I conceived you with the wrong man, done you an injustice, given you something less than perfect love in both of your parents.

Even when I had that moment with a good man who I was in love with, I still feared for you:

The circumstances weren't right and I feared you would grow up without adequate love, with pieces missing the way I had in my childhood and I didn't want that for you.

So I prayed my body would continue to malfunction and you would have no life.

But each time, I felt anticipation anyway.

I've wanted you since I was 4 years old.

Maybe this time my body will do as bodies do.

Maybe this time is the time I'll get to look into the eyes of the child I dreamt of.

Maybe this time...and I would dream of you still more and imagine our life together.

I would think of all I could do to keep you safe and happy. The ways in which I would rearrange my life in order to accommodate yours...seamlessly integrating you into my plans for myself; that's how much I wanted you, wished for, dreamed for you.

But not this time, dear child.

Not this time, not anytime.

My body does not function in such a way that will allow you to live and I've always known this, even before the first time I heard the words, "You will never conceive."

I am sorry, my unknown child:

You will always remain a person of my dreams.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding Purpose

Very recently, I hit rock bottom.

When I say rock bottom, I mean the lowest I've been in my life.

What got me there was a family member coming dangerously close to taking their own life. In response, I came ridiculously close to ending my own.

Let me explain what ridiculously means: For the first time in 35 years, I came to a conclusion as to how I would end my life.

I didn't know when I would do it, but in the moment, I felt it would be soon. I decided I would go ahead and update my will and start getting rid of any excess goods I had to lessen the burden on my survivors. Because I'm me, I suppose, I also came to the conclusion in the moment that I was not in a rational enough frame of mind to take action right then. I decided I would need to sleep on it and give myself a few days before I started the process.

You might think of me, what's happened in my life, what I've said about having a member of my family consider their own life and think, "Well, of course you hit rock bottom. Perfectly understandable." But as having had depression my entire life and having been through many other stressful situations, I myself was startled by finding the bottom. I was so startled that I struggled for a couple of weeks to get my head above water.

Fortunately, I already had a scheduled visit to a counselor because I've been feeling overwhelmed in general lately. Everything has felt immeasurably harder and I've been frustrated as to why. My conversation with my counselor involved a requirement to sign a contract that I wouldn't hurt myself.

Initially, I was angry:

"You can't take away my autonomy," I told her, "if I decide to take my life, that decision is mine and mine alone."

"Of course, it always is," she replied, "but the sum of it is that if you won't sign a contract, I have to call the police to take you to the hospital so you can be committed."

"Okay, let me think on that."

After a couple of minutes, she interrupted my thoughts with, "How would your children feel? There are still people that need you."

I became enraged, "But the whole point is that I don't have anything to live for. And I can't and won't live for anyone else anymore. I have to live for myself, but I have to find a reason why."

After I spoke it, I realized what I needed and was able to sign a contract, adding my own addendum that if I felt I was a threat to myself, I would take myself to the hospital. Over the next few days, I talked to those closest to me, letting them know what was there for me and telling them what I was searching for.

Finally, after a conversation with a friend I hadn't seen in almost a year, I realized what I was missing: My Purpose.

You see, when I was a child, as mentioned in A Promise to Myself, my sole purpose in life became turning 18. With all that was happening, I reasoned all I had to do was make it to age 18 and my life would be in my hands, to do with as I pleased. While I was still 18, I met my now ex-husband. On our first date, as he told me what his children had already been through in their very young lives, I discovered my next purpose: to ensure they reached adulthood feeling loved and cared for.

Well, guess what? My youngest turned 18 just over a month ago. This left me totally without purpose. Also, since he's a quite independent young man and has been for some time, I started feeling purposeless back in June or so. But it took this situation with the family member and then my own to realize that purpose was what I was missing.

I'm pleased to announce that I have already discovered my next purpose: To Love and Care for Myself. You've probably already noticed me working on this to some degree, but I feel it's time to own it. So I'm going to spend the next chunk of my life working on discovering what makes me happy individually and then obtaining it. I'm also working on falling in love with myself, loving myself the way I've always wished someone would love me.

I'm not sure how long it will take me to find this purpose fulfilled, but I do hope that I'm more aware next time, so I can find one soon after.

I can say this, at least: having the purpose of loving myself and making myself happy makes it so much easier to swim and not sink when major stress comes along.

Friday, September 19, 2014

From Unlovable to Loved

Confession Time:

I LOVE love songs, always have.

After getting divorced three years ago, though, I started to see how cheesy and unrealistic they are, promising your undying love to just one person. Promising to be someone's everything and have someone be your everything...wow, that's a lot to ask of one person.

A couple of weeks ago, I was curled up in bed with a partner listening to the song, "All of Me," by John Legend, as we both admired the song and the artist's talent. Laying there in bed, next to my partner, I found myself thinking the same thing I've always thought at love songs, "Man, I would really love to be loved by someone like that some day."

Just before last weekend, a tragedy befell my family, something so in depth that I'm as of yet unwilling to talk about it in a public forum. The fallout of this happening left me sitting on my couch alone for most of last weekend, crying. I questioned my worth as a human being, wondered if I had anything to offer myself or the world. As I sat there, mired in my own, not loathing, but definitely not admiration for myself, my mind drifted back to that song and it just hit me:


My entire life, all I've wanted is to be deeply and truly loved by one person. But at my core, while I never hated myself, I never believed myself to be lovable.

This same partner, when I relayed this to him months ago said, "I don't understand. You are so much more lovable than most people I've met. Really, you should walk around all day just basking in the love of everyone you know." And while I smiled and blushed at his words, I couldn't let them in.

And I realized that day last weekend that I've never felt loved because I never loved me. I've thought I'm a pretty great person, I can enumerate all of my positive features (the negative ones, as well), but I've always known, down to the bottom of my soul that I'm unlovable. These are the words that are whispered in my head every time someone tells me they love me.

But then the most amazing thing happened to me just this morning.

I was practicing the song, "All of Me," because it's just so perfect, beautiful and right within my natural vocal range, when suddenly, instead of having visions of some imaginary man singing to me, I imagined singing to myself. As I sang, tears of joy formed in the corners of my eyes and emotion over took my voice as I suddenly felt the powerful love that this song conveys.


I found myself singing this song to myself and was overwhelmed with how loved I felt.

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I radiate love for my fellow human being. I love deeply, powerfully and fiercely,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Turning 35

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." --Barack Obama

Wow, this year has been one heck of a wild ride.

The amount of personal growth I've experienced in the last twelve months has been so exponential, it's been mind-blowing.

This time last year, I wasn't working due to a back injury and I was mostly laying around feeling sorry for myself.

For my birthday last year, I did the same thing I have done every year for 35 years: I sat around and wished someone I loved would do something spectacular to demonstrate how much they loved me.

This year?

For the first time--ever--I took my own birthday in hand and decided how I would celebrate my own life.

Rather than wishing and hoping someone else would celebrate me, I decided to celebrate me. I thought about what would make me happy, what would be a pleasurable way to celebrate 35 years of life, and I planned it out.

So tomorrow, I leave for a 3 day road-trip with my best friend. We're going to Austin, where I most recently moved from and we're going to generally have fun and visit some of my old friends. People I miss, people I love.

Because that has been the theme to the last twelve months:

Identifying what I want and need and getting it for myself.

I took my first trip to Europe this year, spending half of the time travelling by myself, seeing or not seeing sights as it pleased me. And before I left for this trip, I had already started hatching plans for future trips, not just to Europe, but to other places I want to go as well.

I decided multiple times this year that if no one was available to do with me what I wanted to do this was perfectly okay. I spent lots of time by myself, doing things that made me happy.

I took myself out to many dinners, trying all the restaurants I wanted to try and seeing all the movies I wanted to see. Instead of buying people in to do things with me (which I still did if I thought they'd truly enjoy it and I wanted to see them enjoy it), I simply went and did them, reveling in the moments of self-joy.

I've spent the last twelve months getting to know myself. Identifying ways I was being that didn't work for me and changing them.

Truly, for the first time in awhile, I took my own life in hand and began sculpting it exactly as I wanted.

When I hit major depression, I recognized it for what it was and went through a medical inventory, soon discovering I was empty on an essential hormone.

When other's needs conflicted with my own, I sometimes said, "I'm sorry, I need to do me, you do you. Once I'm done with me, if you still need help, I'll be glad to help you, but I've got to get me first."

I showed my adult children how powerfully they could take their own lives and selves into their hands. I showed myself that despite my lifelong belief to the contrary, I am a lovable and worthy person.

It's as my now 18 year old son says, "You are what you think you are."

Most importantly, this year, I decided I am the most important person in my world.

My son told me the other night he's been watching me try to find myself for the last few years. The next day I realized,


And damn, I like who I am!

Here's to 35 and all the rest of the years, I'm excited to see what else I become. <3

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Man I've Raised

It's been sixteen years to the day since I met my son. It was his 2nd birthday party, he was coming back to live with his biological mother permanently (he'd been in foster care since he was a baby).

It seems somehow this kid knew from moment one I would be his mom some day.

I was sitting on his mother's couch, next to my then-boyfriend (now ex-husband), his biological father. When he came in the door, his father called out to him, excited to see him. He came running to the couch, we all expected him to leap into his father's arms. Instead, he leapt into mine: some 18-year-old girl he'd never met who happened to be sitting next to his father.

"Well, hi, sweetie!" I exclaimed, less surprised since I'd already had his sister leap into my arms and soon after call me, "Mom."

"Hi!" he responded and then climbed down and ran away.

I will confess, this kid won me over from the beginning.

Since his sister was already calling me "Mom" or "Mommy Drea," he never saw the point in the formality. He simply always called me "Mom," unless he was mad at me, then he would use my whole name: "An-dee-ya, 'top!" was an oft heard phrase when we were playing and he didn't like what I was doing. It always made me shake with silent laughter as I tried not to be rude and laugh at his upset. But he was just so darn cute!

We were parted when he was three years old and I saw him briefly, for about 30 minutes, when he was five. When he was seven, my husband and I swung by his house one day to see if we could visit the kids. He stood at the sliding glass door to his house, pointing in confusion at my husband and I. I saw his sister speak to him and then he threw the door open, "Hi Daddy, hi Drea, hi Drea!!!!" waving wildly, he was so excited. I was amazed he even remembered who I was.

It would be another two years before he and his sisters came to live with me permanently:

Two years before he came to me and said, "You know how my sister has a different name? She said it was a baby name you gave her, like what you would have named her had you been her mom from birth. I want you to be my mom, too. Can I have a new name?"

And I let him go through my baby name list and choose a new first and middle name for himself. The name that would become his in the adoption.

Now, here we are, over eight years later and my son is turning 18.


I was having a conversation with him just the other night and he asked, "Mom, why do you do that?"

We were discussing my relationships, the difficulties I've had in dating since getting divorced just over three years ago.

I answered, "Because I'm fucked up, son."

In my embarrassment and low feelings about myself, I got up and walked out of the room.

My son followed me to the kitchen.

"Mom, we're going to get one thing clear right now. You are not fucked up. Believe me, I've lived with fucked up people and you are not it. You are--Uh-MAY-zing. And not only are you amazing, but you are the single most authentic person I have ever met in my entire life.

Seriously, I want you to think about this. I'm going to talk about myself here for a minute, but the point of this story is you:

Ten years ago, I was living in a situation where every adult I was surrounded by was fucked up. It was disempowering. I had no idea of the power available to me. I had no idea that I could be the master of my own destiny. I was simply doomed to this really shitty life, to repeat the mistakes of those who came before me and to never have anything good for myself.

And then came you.

My mother, she was encumbered under the weight of her own life and she couldn't take it anymore. To the point where she literally said, 'I've got to go,' and off she went.

And who was there for me?


You came and you picked me up and you showed me this world.

You imparted on me all your values, all your wisdom, everything you've learned about life.

You became my anchor.

You are the anchor to my ship in what have been some really rough and stormy seas. But through it all, you have kept me anchored.

And look at me now, look at who I am:

My personal growth is exponential, I have a job where I'm respected, I have 800 subscribers on YouTube. One day, I will be famous and have everything I could ever dream to be possible for myself. That's all because of you.

And I know, that if something were to happen--some wrench in my works and I were to end up homeless--well, I have the power to turn myself around in an instant.

So look at me, see how amazing I am. And know that if I'm amazing, well the person who raised me to be this way--YOU--has to be amazing, too."

As he said these words, I had so much trouble letting them in. I heard him, but I could scarcely believe him. But he made a really good point at the end there:

He's an AMAZING person.

And I feel lucky and proud to have him call me Mom. <3

Happy 18th Birthday, son. Your life is now completely in your hands. You make my heart sing and move me to tears regularly with how amazing you are, I know you're going to make the best of it and change the world.

P.S. If you've never heard his music, I encourage you to check him out:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Celebrating Family

Last night my younger daughter and I discussed how amazing it was that everyone in the house had today off from work. This hasn't happened since November of last year, to give you an idea of how rare it is.

In a feat of sheer coincidence, I realized this morning that today is April 3rd.

Eight years ago today, my then husband, Sam, and I showed up at his ex-wife's house in Corbett, Oregon. As I walked through the door of her house, I shook so hard I thought I might pass out.

One week earlier Sam's ex-wife had called to ask if we could come pick up her kids. She was planning to move to California and she felt the children would be better off with my husband and I. I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Sam and I had been spending many nights a week on the phone with his younger daughter, listening to her troubles, listening to her cry, listening to her beg to live with us. We knew things were not well for the children and I was losing sleep, not eating, having difficulty focusing at work--I was so worried about those children. When we got the call, I went straight to my boss and said, "I need some time off work. My husband's ex-wife has finally asked us to come get the kids. She said she was scared and I know there's violence in the home, so I need to leave immediately."

But it wasn't fear of violence that had me shaking when I walked through that door. The last time my husband and I had custody of one of the kids, it had ended with my husband in jail for custodial interference. I was afraid for the disruption to my life, to their lives, to everyone's life. I was determined there would be no custodial malarkey this time. I had printed custody papers in advance and printed three copies of the front sheet, the one that said who had custody of whom. I offered all three to their mother and explained what each one was, "This one grants Sam full custody of all three, this one grants you both joint custody of all three, I left this last one blank since you said you might like joint custody of one but not the others." "Let's just do this one," she said, handing me the page with full custody. I folded the other two and stuck them in my purse, keeping the one she chose with the rest of the paperwork.

After lots of bumbling, gathering of the children's things, and being told the children believed they were only coming for the summer, we finally hit the road to head down the mountain into the nearest town to find a notary for the custody papers. When we arrived to the notary's office, their mother grabbed the paperwork and re-read it before carrying it inside with her ex-husband so they could both sign. I stayed outside with the two younger children, idly chatting. After the paperwork was signed, we went to the hospital where the eldest was staying to visit with her as we knew it would be at least a couple of weeks before she could join us in Texas.

And then our lives changed forever.

I could tell you stories: Stories of children who couldn't sleep because they had been led to believe I was a monster who would hurt them in their sleep. Children who thought a hug meant you were supposed to do your best to hurt the other person. Stories of children who, when I tried a power play of, "If you don't finish your dinner, you won't eat again until you finish the leftovers," said, "That's fine, I've been weeks without eating before." Then, true to their word, I was begging them to eat a few days later. I could tell you stories of children that to this day still thank me every time I feed them as if it's a personal gift.

Instead, let me tell you of March 2007 when my youngest daughter came to me and said, "Mom, guess what's coming up next month?" "What's that honey?" "Our familyversary! April 3rd is one year since the day you got custody of us. We should celebrate!"

And so we have. Since 2007, we have celebrated our Familyversary every year without fail. We take it as our one day a year to remember what family means to us, how we came together, and how much we truly appreciate having each other.

This year, we forgot. We didn't talk about it for weeks leading up as we usually do. I guess this is a sign we have become accustomed to our family unit, no longer finding it necessarily noteworthy.

When I woke up this morning, my eldest daughter came out of her room and I said, "Hey, guess what today is?"


"April third..." I replied.

Confusion, then understanding dawned on her face, "Happy Familyversary, Mommy!" she exclaimed, hugging me.

"And, everyone has today off!"

"Oh my goodness, that's amazing, we'll celebrate!!"

The same story was repeated twice more with my other two children.

Eight years ago today, our family was officially formed. It has grown and changed so much over the years, but one thing has remained the same: a fierce desire to love and be loved.

Today, once more, we will celebrate each other and what it means to be FAMILY.