Overgrown Insecurities

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Never did I imagine as a young teen that I would still be dealing with my insecurities well into my thirties still. Bright-eyed about the future with all my youthful naivety, adulthood seemed like a magical place where all my issues would disappear with instant maturity.  

When I thought about what it would be like to be a mother back then, I imagined myself being a responsible and level-headed, calm and collected photocopy of any late eighties and early nineties family sitcom mom. Never did I consider the possibility that emotional growth wouldn’t just happen the same way my body grew and changed overnight with puberty.

Here I am, over fifteen years later, and I am still struggling to get a grip, fed up with the insecurities consuming my mind.

Growing up, I had the stereotypical child of an alcoholic thing going on. My father was a police officer and my stepmother his wannabe Barbie doll barely over the legal age. Both were seasoned drinkers with no time for raising children. It’s easy to conclude that my self-esteem never quite developed and my ideas, views, and values were a little skewed after growing up in their care. There was no one available for nurturing or guidance, after all. I was left to raise my brother and keep the house the best I could for a young girl because when my parents weren’t working they were at the bar and when the bar closed they brought the party home until it was time to go to work again.

Approaching the only mother figure I had when puberty began turned out to be the biggest mistake for my already fragile core. My stepmother fits the mold of womanly perfection, as her trophy wife status disclaimed. She was everything I wanted to look and be like. Naturally curvy, carrying an extra five or ten pounds around my middle, it was obvious to me early on that my body type was never going to be like hers. I still can’t say for sure, all this time later, if anything she said to me about accepting my differences was genuinely sincere or a calculated manipulation to keep me from coming under my father’s spotlight. She never took the time to show me how to care for myself or do any of the womanly things a girl learns from her mother. Never showed me how to feel pretty or how to love myself.

All I walked away with was more self-doubt and shame than I had ever felt before.

Uncomfortable in my own skin doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. From that point on, I lived in constant fear of my flaws, seeking fault in everything I could find to validate the growing insecurities I gathered like friends- my looks, my personality, my intelligence, my worth. Nothing was free from scrutiny. My confidence and self-respect had been blown to smithereens.

Deep down, I really believed my daydreams of feeling whole and valuable would become a reality once I left home as an adult. That I would be able to fix all the broken pieces of myself just because I wanted to. I hadn’t the wisdom to know any better, yet. I lived in a bubble of fairytale hopes and aspirations too unrealistic to ever become a reality until the truth hit me in the face. The damage had grown rooted in the core of my being, becoming part of who I thought I was. It would be necessary to unthread parts of my identity in order to begin the re-stitching process needed to mend the insecurities which plagued my soul.

I fought against the truth for far too long, hoping, wishing, and praying I would wake up and be well. The idea of trying to find my true self under the false beliefs and self-loathing was daunting and overwhelming. Enough to make me contemplate suicide to end my miserable existence at one point along the way. Underneath my negative self-imagery, though, I was a fighter and always up for a challenge. Living was not going to beat me at living. No way, no how.

Here I am, a decade and a half later, finally ready to take action. No more ugly business. No more picking and poking at every little glitch on my skin. No more resentment and jealousy over the traits I do not have. No more comparing myself to The Mold I became so obsessed with – and for what? To live in fear of being disliked… rejected… tormented… because I didn’t fit within it? Fuck that.

Excuse my language, but I have had enough of some ridiculous stereotype defining my sense of worth and leaving me trapped in a void by my overpowering insecurities.

Looking back, I can now see what I never could see clearly when I was younger- those I knew who fit The Mold, had very little else to offer this world. Certainly not compassion. Something I know without a doubt I excel at. I may not be the prettiest, the skinniest, or the most breath-taking of female specimens to grace the planet with their presence, however, I am the most kind-hearted, caring, and selfless giver of them all. For me, those are much more valuable traits to possess and be known for than all the beauty in humanity.

Those positive traits are the key to unraveling the roots wrapped around my core, squeezing the ability to love myself right out of me. Focusing on what I have to offer instead of what I lack, I can find myself all over again. I can learn to live with who I am.

With enough hard work and dedication, I will lay these overgrown insecurities to rest once and for all. The challenge has finally been accepted, as terrified of taking on myself that I am, and I will not let life win this time, either. I can’t. It’s already taken away too many years of my life making me hate myself. I will not let another fifteen years go by living in fear of loving myself.

 

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Hot Lunch or Starve

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Say all you want about me, but I don’t give my children a choice –  they have to buy school lunch every day. The new government-instituted nutritional requirements have eliminated the mystery meats and bad carbs, so I’m not concerned about the quality of the food being served in the least. My kids can either get school lunch or starve. I received the old school hot lunches as a kid and survived, so I know mine will, too. In fact, the invaluable knowledge I gained from my experience has helped me transition into adulthood easier than my friends who were spoiled with craft-style lunches made by their moms.

Everything I needed to know about life was on that plastic tray laden with eraser bit macaroni salad and boiled gray hot dogs.

Nothing is fair in this world. Nothing at all. Life gives what it gives and you have very little control over how much or how little you get if you don’t try speaking up. You’re not always successful at getting what you ask for, though. Sometimes you are forced to watch your mortal enemy get the coveted piece of pizza with two pieces of pepperoni while you get the all-crust corner piece, even though you hate the crust. It’s about learning to accept life on life’s terms – appreciate what you have, always work hard, and keep striving to reach your goals, making your dreams a reality.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Sometimes every option sucks. There are three categories on the menu every day to choose from. Despite an array of choices, there are going to be days not a single thing sounds appetizing and you are going to have to settle for the least offensive to your taste buds. Life is good for that. There will be many times when you’ll find the only choices you have been given are nothing like what you had hoped for. Like the first apartment you have imagined moving into in contrast with the options, you will actually be able to afford when it comes time. Or, how you will expect to find work right out of college in the position you always dreamed of, just to discover your choices are nothing comparable for a multitude of practical reasons you’ll one day understand. You just have to pick the suckiest one and hope for a better circumstance the next go-round. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, so hang in there.

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Someone else will always have it better. And someone else will always have it worse. Just because someone has a fancy looking lunch does not mean they have a happy home. If other kids get free hot lunch due to low-income status, it doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them or work hard to provide. Appearances can be deceiving- the piece of pizza with two pepperonis may be lacking cheese underneath. Life gives you what it wants to for a purpose greater than you could ever begin understanding. You can’t let your story give you room to judge others.

That lunch may not measure up to those handcrafted, creative masterpieces, but the option is still better than having no food at all. Enjoy what you have.

Step out of your comfort zone. Waiting in line, making a choice, placing the order, carrying the tray through the crowd, and finding your seat in the cafeteria is a daunting task for some. Whether they are shy, soft-spoken, easily distracted, or indecisive, the daily routine is helping them break out of their shells, one platter of rigatoni with meat sauce at a time. Without a trusted adult, like Mom, Nana, the principal, or a favorite teacher walking you through the process, you’re coerced into gaining independence. From speaking up to classmates who try to cut in line to making yourself heard over wanting a larger portion as you order to excusing your way through the chaos to your assigned seat, you are paving your own course in life. The opportunity often arises to try new foods, as well. Even if you find the food leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can still taste the personal growth. The school lunch experience is almost as valuable as the education, itself. Outside the box of comfort is where all the good stuff happens in life and your true potential lurks in wait.

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Premium costs extra. Just like the real world, all the top-quality, highly coveted items from the snack cart are going to cost a little extra. ‘Tis price you pay for wanting the good things in life. You’ll have to work for what you want because nothing is ever truly free- even if it costs nothing monetarily. Your time, your dedication, your strength, your talents, your joy, your health…the list goes on and on. Only you can determine if the cost is worth the price to be paid and the work that will need to be done to achieve the prize you desire. I can promise you, though, hard work will always be worth it. Then, you can afford all the bags of chips, granola bars, popcorn, cotton candy, and novelty ice-cream your little heart desires. If not, you have no room to envy the kids who do.

My oldest is in sixth grade and has never expressed a desire to have a bag lunch. He’s responsible, outspoken, and driven to excel at anything he sets his mind to. I can’t help but attribute some of this to the lessons he has learned from getting school lunch; especially since his younger siblings are heading in the same direction. If you had any doubts that I’m the meanest mom in the world, I am sure I only reaffirmed you were wrong by now. School lunches are the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll be your Bento box problem one day when Junior grows up expecting his life to be balanced on a silver tray held by someone else while he dictates from his high horse.

I Am Angrivated

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Motherhood was waging war against my soul, marriage was suffocating me, and I had lost all touch with the woman I had once known myself to be. I knew I needed to find my way back to happy again and old habits die hard for a reason. It was a struggle for me to make the decision to not only go back to writing as therapy, but take it to the next level and publicize it with a blog. I was in a dark place in my life and wasn’t sure of anything, not even myself.  The only way I had ever gotten through the pits of Hell before was by bleeding on paper and the familiar ache in the bottom of my stomach told me it was way past time to let myself at it once more.

It was in this dark place where I was angry with my life and aggravated with the circumstances that made it what it was, The Angrivated Mom was born.

My husband thought the name was silly and a little stupid at first. We looked it up on Google and nothing came up, which was a relief, because everyone knows a blogger is defined not by their author name, but by their brand. Coming into the blogging world late to the game, by about six years, made it difficult to find a name I would love for the duration of my writing journey; one which hadn’t been used in someway before me. I was terrified of encroaching on anyone else’s territory. We popped into the Urban Dictionary to see if it was a widely used word we didn’t know about and only found one listing for it which had been collecting dust until we came across it. I thought it was safe to say that word was available to use as my branding ticket in the blogging world.

Since becoming The Angrivated Mom, Google finally began to show that there was another site with my newly coined word in existence, but since it was a man’s site and he didn’t have any intention on banking off his site as a writer, I thought I was in the clear. I thought I would be the only mom blogger who was known as Angrivated and that it would stay that way.

Along the way, my little blog has picked up some momentum and reaching the goals I laid out for it. My following grew from just a handful of friends and family to a cozy couple thousand people. I met others in the industry and befriended a close knit circle of writers and page owners. It took me awhile to shake the newbie status, but I actually did. Quite recently at that, in all honesty. It was then that I realized how much good had come to me because I taken that first leap of courage by starting my blog.  I had found a new perspective on life as I found myself again in The Angrivated Mom and it felt great.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it all came crashing down around me.

While laying in bed at 1a.m., someone I believed was a friend- even after they began distancing themselves after a major life event for the better- and a fellow page owner who only dabbles with writing , sent me a private message on Facebook. In it she told me that she had already taken the word Angrivated and used it to change her Facebook page name. Not asked, but declared.  Looking back, I am relieved she did not have a blog to change name as well, because this whole shebang could have been worse for me. Being someone close enough to consider a friend, this person should have had the decency to come to me with her intentions – at a time she knows I will be awake, with certainty, and not the middle of the night when there’s a chance I wouldn’t be coherent enough to comprehend what was being said or awake to discuss the message any farther. But she didn’t.

This so-called friend has broken the sacred bloggers code of ethics.

You do not copy another writer in any way, shape, or form without permission. It isn’t even about stealing the word in itself, because I would love to see it become the next catchy slang term to take off, but the fact that she used it to RE-brand her Facebook page – something that is not on the same career-level seriousness as a blog website and would confuse people searching for the corresponding page to my blog. You don’t see other companies coming up with names like Tides, Targeting, or MacDonald’s to bank on the momentum of a more widely-known brand. It just wouldn’t be good for either company, big or small.

For someone to take the word of a supposed friend in the social media business, though, that really is stooping low. They have only proven how much of a friend they never were in the first place by doing this; especially when that person ran to play the victim the moment I stood up for myself and my blog name, acting like I’m purposely attacking her- bringing our issue to the public in a way which did not allow me to defend myself or my intentions without creating a keyboard war.  Besides all that, a real friend would have made contact during waking hours long before they considered putting the change into action. They would know and understand the importance of my personal writing journey and how critical to success the whole original blog name issue is. They certainly would know me well enough to know my heart and the nothing but good intentions I have for everyone I hold dear. Even when I am upset with them.

I never saw this coming. Not in a million years would I have thought I would ever have to worry about someone encroaching on my brand name. Someone I called “friend” nonetheless! Whether I’ve trademarked, copyrighted, or simply just branded Angrivated to myself, it has become the symbol of who I am on social media and it defines me as a writer. People know they are going to get me – raw, emotional, soulful, and vindictive of life me, because I am The Angrivated Mom.  My journey to insanity and beyond, and I, will go on. That’s just what I do.

Midnight Heartbreak

Needing. It’s never enough. 

Wanting. Comes a little too late. 

Desperation. Alone at night. 

Failing.  Left up to fate. 
Counting. Stars supernova death. 

Burning. Desires succumbing. 

Crying. No one is listening.

Wounded. The pain is numbing.
Naked. Cold and withdrawn. 

Tormented. Truths do so lie. 

Accused. Stake no claim. 

Shamed. Wishing just to die.
Weighted. Drowning patiently. 

Cheated. Never meant to be. 

Leaving. All there is to do. 

Breaking. Nothing left of me. 

Raising Kids Between The Margins

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There is a wall between my children and I. A barrier built just to keep their father and I out. None of us intentionally created it- it just sorta happened slowly over time. Years worth of empty promises, broken hearts, and false hope have led the very children we gave life to to mistrust us in a great way. They detest our word being given on anything, knowing good and well that we rarely follow through.

It tears me up to see that this curse of failure I live with has affected the foundation of our familial relationships. If there was a way to take it all back and do differently by them, I would. They haven’t done anything to deserve the hand life has dealt them. Not at all. They are all great kids, but the fact of the matter is that they are suffering for their parents’ mistakes. They feel the trickle down for all of the consequences we have to face for what we have done over the course of our own lives. It is beyond the point of not fair for them.

Seeing the looks on their faces every time we have to break the bad news that this, that, or the other thing cannot go on as planned, is like being stabbed in the back with the sharpest knife known to man. It brings me to my knees.    

                                                    These kids are supposed to be able to count on, rely on, their parents. Not be disappointed by them, continuously.

It’s one of those cases where I wish I had known what my future would hold way back when my husband and I were young, stupid, and reckless. Now I’m helpless to change the direction my life took all those years ago; and my kids are helpless to change the state of misery living like this has caused for them just yet. Struggling on the fine line between low and middle classes, our family gets the short end of each stick. We get no assistance because we make just a few hundred too much, but we cannot afford anything outside the basic bills. All because we were too selfish and self-centered to plan for the rest of our lives before and after marriage; before and after making a family.

Not a day goes by that some need or necessity is asked for that we have to put off until it cannot be put off any longer. Shoes are worn until toes come through the tips, bikes are left to rot because they simply need a new inner tube. We use bath towels for everything because paper towel and sponges cost too much. We have piles of dirty laundry because we can only budget in 5 loads a week, which ain’t much considering we are a family of 6 who use towels for everything. There is no eating out, not even for fast food. No family vacations, no trips to bounce zones, Chuck E. Cheese, or movie theatres. There are no sports teams with weekly practices and saturday morning games. No dance lessons. Every answer is a “maybe later” or a flat out “no”.

The kids hold it against us. Coming from families way more well-to-do on both sides plus the influence of YouTube, our kids have inside looks into the lives of other families across the globe who live above our means. There is no hiding what they are missing out on in this family. These kids have to listened to the “never enough” talk so much that they hesitate to even tell us when they need things and rarely make mention of wants. Walking on eggshells so young, in order to keep the peace and stress in our family to a minimum; it shouldn’t be this way at all. They deserve a real childhood full of freedom and innocence from the struggles of the adult world.

My kids deserve to enjoy all the luxuries childhood brings.

We don’t even have a reliable vehicle if we actually found a little wiggle room in our budget every now and again. Right now, in fact, it’s sitting in our driveway waiting until we can save enough to pay for the new wire harness and ti-rod that it needs first and foremost. There’s another dozen or so issues, but those won’t affect the way the minivan runs just yet, so they have to wait. Wait until the day they do cause serious problems and leave us stranded once more, that is.

Living between the income margins is tough living. It isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Love overcomes all is such bullshit. If it were enough, my kids wouldn’t feel so ashamed to be part of this family. They certainly would find it in their hearts to be more comfortable being themselves around us. The kids wouldn’t feel the financial stress radiating from us. The love would be worth more to everyone than our outward appearances and material belongings. In this day and age of bigger is better and disposable materialism, it is impossible to convince my babies that less is more.

Disappointment will forever be all they know until the day they are old enough to take control of their own lives – responsibly. If there is one hope from this seemingly purgatory I  knowingly have to raise them in, it is that my children take the disdain they’re  harboring and rise above in ways their father and I never could. The future holds for them everything we, as parents, have failed miserably to overcome themselves. I cannot wait to see them make life everything they always wanted and own it proudly. Then I’ll be able to rest assuredly, that this agonizing struggle to live was not all for naught. Until then, between the margins we remain.

 

Lonely Girl Waiting

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Waiting. It is all I ever do anymore. Everything inside of me is at a stand still, wanting for something no longer in my reach. Life has left me far behind and now I am so lost, I can’t find my way by myself. My parents always told me to stand still when I am lost, back when I was a much braver, more courageous young girl full of the beauty that is innocence. Someone will come find me and return me to where I belong. So here I stand. Very still. Wondering if anyone even realizes I am gone at all?

Everything around me keeps swirling on past. Like the plastic shopping bag dancing in and out of lanes of the highway, floating high above each hood and tumbling below the undercarriages of these cars whizzing by furiously. If I dare move a muscle, I am afraid I will be mowed down, splattered, as if I was my favorite childhood game, Frogger, come to life for but a purposeful moment as this. So I wait. Watching as they bustle on without a care given to the girl standing here all alone in the misty morning fog, thickening the air until it makes it hard to breathe. Do they even see me?

It was so hard to keep pace with them. I didn’t mean to drop so far back from the herd. The stampede was deafening and my head was going to explode with agony at any second. I had to close my eyes as they were beginning to bulge from my head like an overripe banana fisted by a two year-old. The fluorescent lights buzzed as they shone blindly into my pupils like the flashlight of a nervously armed security guard. The skin on my neck began to get icy and the hair on my arms began to raise with the goosebumps as lightning bolts of electricity struck my heart. Blood was rushing to every far off crevice in my body, a bursting dam crashing through the floodgates, stirring up the murky waters of my soul. Consumed by the fiery energy in the air, I crumpled to a heap on the dirt, screaming silently for my words have been swallowed whole. How did they not notice?

With the weight of my sins sitting heavily on me, I mustered the strength to stand time and time again. But each time it got harder. My shoes were filling with cement, my clothes were dripping wet, and the ground was just the same as quicksand. I kept stumbling and tripping. Collapsing under the pressure. I reached out my hand, over and over and over, but no one ever grabbed it. It fell with me each and every time, flopping like a pancake dropped on the floor. Desperate to follow in his footsteps, I sacrificed myself. Every time my knees hit the ground, I took out a piece of myself to leave behind, so that my load would get lighter. So I could manage to stand on my own and continue struggling along in their shadows. Dragging my weary body behind them unnoticed; the distance between us growing quickly as the midday sun gigantisized their shadows. My trembling legs give out once more and they were gone out of sight before I even raised my head off the ground. Why would anyone stop to bother with someone like me?

So now I sit here. And I wait. I hold tight. It doesn’t surprise me that they left me behind. He just kept on, racing against the clock to reach the final destination. Unaware… or, just, maybe, fully aware- and grateful for the lessened burden. No amount of ostentatiousness from me would catch his eye. Would signal his heart to open wide and let me in. Would captivate his soul and turn his attention away from the road before him. Though he would be too fascinated by his following still to take heed of my anguished distress over the love I was promised with my head held between his brutal hands. Yet, here I wait. When they couldn’t even wait for me, as the tide waits for the moon to rise across the night sky. Like a cicada waits for mother nature to signal the time has come to rise from its resting place deep within the earth. Patiently, dotingly, assuredly, I wait for my rescue. Will it ever come?

For as long as it takes. Until the world stops turning. Through the changing seasons and hands of time. Here I will stay. I will remain. Watching as life continues passing me by at the speed of light. Wanting him to need me. Needing them to remember me. Remembering them as they have forgotten me. Forgetting who I am as I sit tight and wait. They say good things come to those who wait, after all, and he is the greatest love I have ever known. So here I am. – a lonely girl life left behind in the hustle and bustle, waiting for the love he promised to come and save me. Will the day ever come?

The Family He Never Wanted And The Man I Always Knew He Was

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My husband never wanted the family he ended up with. He was in his mid-twenties, rebelling against The System, self-medicating, and a very experienced player when I first met him. He was trying to break away from that lifestyle, but he had no idea how or what to do even if he did manage to do so. He knew no other way in life. No other way to be.

It was the same kind of fast and furious- with a dash of faith for good measure- way of life he grew up around that kept him trapped.

Unfortunately for him, the kind of girls he preferred were not the loyal, take-home-to-mother type. When I met him, I was just the kind of girl he needed to support him through his most recent bad boy expenditures and provide the foundation necessary for a change in outward appearances – I was a young, naive, gullible, unwed, single mother of two toddler boys.

So he settled for settling down with me.

I was only supposed to be a pawn ticket he could cash in later on and retrieve the freedom he sold out for a stereotype when he found his way.

He knew he was way above my league and could charm me into anything he wanted. I would do anything to feel like one of the enviable girls that came before me – gorgeous, sexy, tiny with all the right curves. The bad boy in him could live on undetected under the guise of his instant ready-made family. I never saw it coming and was too desperate not to be the shamefully single, young mom I was to stand up for myself once I saw his true colors. While his party hard debauchery never led him unfaithfully astray, he valued his ability to live on the edge more than he valued life itself. In the back of my mind, I was waiting for the day he decided to redeem his pawn slip, shattering my dreams of happily ever after.

Ten years later, I am in complete awe of the man standing before me today.

He has come full circle and embraced the life he never wanted for anything more than appearances sake. This man went from drinking and popping pills until he figuratively was the walking dead to sober and clean for the past 7 years. He busts his ass and bloodies his knuckles, even suffers the occasional second degree burn, in a cold-drawn steel factory anywhere from 60 to 78 hours a week. A WEEK! Some humans barely stay awake that long in a week. The level of exhaustion this man has reached must be previously unheard of before – and this is coming from the mouth of a stay-at-home mom of 4 kids. Yup, we have even added to the family he never wanted. Two little girls to match the two boys of mine. His time at home is wrapped around all their fingers as they get attacked by Tickle Monsters and cuddled during campfire story nights in the living room. He plays endless games of catch and gets up to look at every, “Daddy watch me!”

My husband is now the kind of father I used to dream of having as a young girl watching her own father get lost in the bottom of a liquor bottle every night.

Even the dynamic of our marriage has turned around. No longer do I feel as if I will never measure up to all those damn notches in his old headboard; as if I am not the kind of woman he wanted to stand by his side without being embarrassed. We have a genuine friendship stronger than any I have ever had. More so than even my longest of childhood friends. My husband has learned to be selfless where he once was very selfish. He is incredibly humble and tender, with a fierce need to protect all five pieces of his heart. Somehow, the barrier around his soul has been shattered, allowing our love to penetrate his once icy, egotistical heart…and that cold heart has warmed over, radiating love back into our lives tenfold.

It is the most amazing thing.

A man who lived each day like it was his dying last, who was the only human left on this planet worthy of greed, has left behind the only life he ever knew. And for what? His wife and children.

There is no greater man… father… husband… than that.

I am the luckiest woman on this Earth. This man who never wanted the family which landed in his lap is now the family man I always knew he had it in him to be. By some unknown kismetted grace of fate, he chose me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I cannot think of anything better life could have ever had to offer me than my husband – the father of my four children.

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