adoption, chronic illness, depression, family, journey, marriage, writing

The ugliest of secrets…

There are so many things… layered things deeply woven within my journey as a wife, as a woman and as a mother. We are subconsciously trained, here in this culture we call home, to look at the beautiful, well put together women and wonder What’s her secret? While also bristling internally about the knowledge of what our secrets are.

I may not know what hers is, but mine- Mine is ugly. It does not lead to put together, it does not lead to beauty.

My secret is the shame attached to every single element of my real, genuine life. My motherhood, daughterhood, marriage, sisterhood… On and on. You tell me a story about your father and then ask me about my own dad. I smile and relay the information, while the secret part beneath the surface that remains unsaid screams the truth- I don’t really know my father. My dad isn’t actually even my dad. He’s someone else’s dad. He loves me, I love him, but our lives are different circles of things now and though we exchange and annual something-or-other, we are pretty separate and that is ok. What ownership do I have of him? None. Fatherless and unvalued, there in lies my secret shame.

Your sister is your best friend, and now you’re asking if I am close with mine? I have several sisters but am close with two of mine. Sisters are the best! Except, gurgling just beneath my horizon there’s more. There is a defect within me, there must be, and the reality is that they aren’t really my sisters. Not beyond the word anyway. I have no one real, that is mine. Shame.

My marriage of twenty-five years, what’s our secret? It hasn’t been perfect. There hasn’t been faithfulness. There hasn’t always been stability, honor, honesty, love… Ease. If you only knew…

Shame… Shame eats away at the fact that my children are not from my womb, shame lives in the many words and perspectives who’ve challenged my motherhood and questioned its validity. Oh, Hallmark of consumer driven holidays, do I deserve a Mother’s Day nod, a celebration, am i even a real mom at all? World, which reiterates over and over a woman’s purpose is to bear children- and Very beginning of the Bible which explains a woman’s curse will be painful childbirth- who am I? What am I? 

My secret is shame. My truths, the REAL truths, they silence the shame. For awhile anyway- but it always comes back. Today- today I see it for what it is.

Shhh, between you and me, tomorrow I may forget again…

(this post is in participation of the FMF prompt on Secret. to see more, visit the link.)

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adoption, entertainment, family, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

When two young, married kids learned the hard way that starting a family wasn’t an automatic given, life turned harder than either of them had imagined possible. Through miscarriage, bouts of infertility and a traumatically failed foster care adoption, hope became this certain thing they each believed did not belong to them…

Anyone who knows me, or us, knows that this is our story. This is also the story of so many other couples. Maybe a few details would be different but the key elements- the vital heartbreak and hopelessness- that is the same… It was that journey, the one which felt the length of centuries, but was really only the length of seven years, which set the stage for our actual parenthood. When the foster babies we’d believed were the answer to so many Please, God, give us a family prayers were taken, my husband emphatically and protectively decided that enough was enough. He was done, we were done. No more hopes mutilated, no more trying to have faith that my achingly empty arms would soon be full… No more.

And so, fast forward about five years. We had very hesitantly signed with an adoption agency. It was all an awkward and cautious dance, really… Within ourselves, with those around us, with dreams and ideas, prayers, and especially with each other. It is often talked about how the loss of a child is seldom something a marriage survives and I am here to say that infertility treats a marriage the very same way. There are just genetic ways that women tend to process, cope and grieve which often seem foreign to a man. This is also true from men to women.Those times when a couple need to draw together, often leads to them pulling far apart. Immersing ourselves back into the family journey, no matter how delicately we tiptoed, was a terrifying attempt. We were each so jaded and scarred from the time before. Just as we were both settling in to that same-page way of things, and trying to move towards whatever path this adoptive journey led us- a call comes asking us to consider taking a four-year old little girl. She’s unsafe for other young children to be around. She’s been hurt. She’s aggressive and reactive. She’s coming from every imaginable trauma. Please, please take her. Now.

The past bites us viciously when we least expect it. Carnal instincts are there, within us, no matter how hard we suppress them. When you unite a mother with a child who is a viciously shattered, wounded little bird- something happens. I never knew how protective I could be. Would be…

Our adoption of that little girl took far too long. With every investment of thousands of dollars, the path would only lead to an unscalable brick wall, closed-door and the urgings of another avenue followed by double the dollar signs. She was four when she came home to us, and thirteen when a judge finally made us a legal family. For nine years we were bled dry, gave birth to debt and lived in a constant state of fear. Hope sometimes speckled our lifelines, but mostly we waited for the big-bad-whatever to ruin everything we were fighting for. With each closed-door, we would have the talk…

What if it doesn’t work out. What if someone takes her. What if we never get to adopt her. What if? What if? What if? The seeds which had been planted when those twin foster babies were taken, as I lay a mangled mess of salty tears and agony on the floor bloomed, and they bloomed vibrantly. We’d flee. We’d run. We would protect her at all cost, no matter what came her way. We’d face prison. We’d find the money and hire someone to make sure no one from those who had hurt her would ever have the chance again.

There were a lot of frustrations. There were season upon season of sleepless nights. There were a lot of Oh gosh, it’s happening- this is it, type scares. I grew far too familiar with the feeling of blood running cold. I grew far too comfortable with the idea of doing what I “had to”, even if what I had to might be wrong. My ethical compass, typically solid, grew blurred when it came to our little girl.

Thankfully, I never actually had to make the decision. Even now, years later, when I look back I realize I have absolutely no idea if I really could have gone to such extents… What I am certain of is that I gave up everything and devoted my life to give her love and keep her safe. I also know that there is no way I could have made it through even a month of that journey, much less nearly a decade, without a solid faith. God has never promised me that he’d hand over anything and everything I asked for, but what He has given me is a peace when peace seems impossible, and a quiet security and strength when the world around me raged in uncontrollable stormy chaos.

I shared this story as an experience about a relevant time, in my life, when I struggled with my moral boundaries and what I knew was right or wrong, for me. This post is in partnership with the film Wraith from writer-director Michael O. Sajbel (One Night With the King).

Wraith (rāth) noun: a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen
after, or shortly before, their death
Something’s very wrong in the Lukens’ house. After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have
somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won’t leave their 14 year-old daughter, Lucy, alone? Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant
again. Expecting in your 40’s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens
decide all options are on the table – including termination – the unexpected starts to
happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie,
wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them…or help them?
Wraith is available on all VOD platforms and Blu-ray/DVD May 8
adoption, books, chronic illness, family, friendship, gratitude

This is forty-two…

Yesterday my youngest daughter turned nineteen. At nineteen she represents herself, to us anyway, as the authority of all things, and that’s pretty normal. At nineteen, lifetimes ago, I am sure I did the same thing. Adulthood is still new, the real complexities and woes of it are yet to really hit home. In most cases, the biggest “grown up” problems you’ve had to face are pretty nominal in comparison. At nineteen we know more than we’ve ever known so naturally we feel pretty wise…

Forty-two is completely different. I woke up this new age, and yet don’t feel very different. While nineteen seems so long ago, (and in a galaxy far, far away) with it is that feeling of knowing or understanding anything at all. I literally have nothing figured out.

Nothing…

One year ago yesterday felt like a car accident. One that I should have seen coming, but didn’t. While an adoptively rocky relationship with my daughter had always been so much, it wasn’t until that day, last year, when it really hit me- we will likely never have a real relationship. It was devastating to finally acknowledge that this child whom I had given up so much for, and invested so much of myself in, wasn’t genuinely invested in me at all. I know there are so many friends saying Misty, come on… You should have known. But I didn’t. I feared it. I worried about it. I honestly believed that if I loved her enough, forgave enough, did enough that one day it would be enough. And then I had to realize- that day wasn’t going to come.

This is forty-two… waking up, one year later, having seen the fruition of that. Having to come to terms with it, grieving the loss of what I spent my motherhood lifetime hoping would be the family I ached to have. Pushing aside the this is not fair feelings that bombard me when holidays, milestones (and yes, even this birthday), come around… It is no coincidence that Let Go chose to be my mantra for this year of my life. I am brutally learning to let go.

Letting go of the dreams of my home filled with my children and my grandkids. Letting go of that next phase it seems like everyone else experiences, of whole-healthy families coming together for the important moments… One year ago today I still dreamed this fantasy (for me) possible, today I know it is not. This is forty-two.

I do not know a single person who fought as hard to be a mother. I have three amazing kids whom I love INCREDIBLY, and not one of those relationships came easily. In each situation it was like I had to push against the world, just to make it so. Somewhere in the back of my (human and needy) mind I knew that I was fighting to bring together the family that I had spent my own youth begging for. And I tried. I did do my best, despite the vile stories floating around that someone wants people to believe about my motherhood- I do know I did my best… But it wasn’t enough. Not enough to have that family I thought I was making. Not in the way I so deeply wanted anyway.

And there in lies the miracle of it all. I wanted… I didn’t need it, even though it felt like I did, (and still honestly feels like I do). I deeply, desperately, cravingly ached for it- but it was never vital. Letting go… This is forty-two.

Looking back at the opportunities I set aside and sacrificed and feeling like now I am so far behind, but not too far behind. It may be harder now, but still possible. This is forty-two.

The journey from forty-one to forty-two has been perhaps the most brutal of them all. I am tired, weary and emotionally feel done. This added challenge of letting go is trimming my heart in ways which I was both  unprepared and are long over due. With the good-bye to forty-one, I send with it the tiny fragments of innocence which had remained.

Just because we desire something, that does not mean it will happen.

Just because we love sacrificially, with everything we have- does not mean they will love us back.

I could fill this list with a thousand lessons learned throughout this year, but the most important one (for me) is that I am ok. I do not need the things I thought I needed. I will also no longer accept the things I might have then. Someone is either all in, and willing to make effort or they aren’t. These things are not my responsibility and there is nothing I can do to motivate them for more. I do not need to prove myself to motivate anyone to find me of value, and those people I value have had me demonstrate such in infinite volumes.

Having feelings for someone does not equate to love. love requires selfless action, intent, honesty and vulnerability.

Apologies are nothing without the actions of love.

The age limit on achieving anything is societal and not reality based at all.

Those dreams and desires our hearts are built on, aren’t real either. Gravitating towards them will not make them so. Sometimes things are just really impossible, and being real about that isn’t pessimistic. Lying to ourselves (or anyone else) “optimistically” is still lying. It isn’t encouraging. It isn’t comforting. Well, maybe it is comforting in that way that you feel super sad so you eat an entire pan of brownies and a pint of ice cream. As the sugar-drug soothes, you might feel balmed… Not too long later though, you’ll either be crouched over a toiled puking your brains out, or wish you were. Not better at all. False hope, the little lies we tell ourselves because the truth is to bleak- this is the very same thing. The outcome of such dishonesty only makes us all worse off.

I am done dreaming about my future. I am done imagining a full life, of a house filled with love and laughter and the people I care about. Dreaming up the vacations, holidays and the dinner parties and all of the things I was so certain this stage of my life would be filled to the brim with. These things belong to so many other mothers and grandmothers, but not this one. Not this time. Thousands of tears have been shed over such things, but nothing ever assured me that was the place in which my motherhood journey was headed, and it’s time I let go of the emotional energy holding on to that and just move on. Whether I was not enough, did not do enough, or whatever the reasoning- it does not matter… This is forty-two.

I walk through life in a near constant headache, with a chronic illness on my back. I love some of the songs and films I have loved before, and many I do not. I enjoy doing a lot of things that I seem to never do. I live a daily life that resembles nothing I ever thought it would- and that’s ok too. This is forty-two.

I have to admit I am closer to the end, than the beginning, and there are days when I question if the end is significantly closer than I’d like it to be. That is grim, and maybe where the thoughts of this age tend to drift. I don’t know, I’m new here…

I am drawing closer those good things & people who reciprocate my time and effort, and releasing my grasp on those which don’t. It seems cold to the ones released, but I just don’t have enough strength to be the majority any more. This is forty-two.

It is honest, it is different. It is ugly and motivational. It is lonely and self-assured. It is lessons learned and ignorance with a whole lot in-between.

To celebrate this birthday I will run a few errands, drink another cup of coffee, turn my phone to silent and keep my eyes looking forward. At what, I do not know. Where I will be at forth-three I have no clue. I have hopes, but they are like clouds which change shape and drift away. I won’t pretend to have it all figured out, and I will finally admit that I have no guarantees. I spent forty-one years of my life crippled by the fear of isolation and a solo journey, and now I see that I’ve been riding this horse alone and I am ok after all. This is forty-two.

None of my favorite bands have songs named for this age, unlike 41. None of the books I am drawn to offer solace for this stage. This stage, for me, isn’t the same as it is for others. We each have our own stories and I can no longer hide my eyes from my shaping tale, simply because I had hoped and prayed for something different…

This is forty-two, and that is ok. I am ok. All false (destructive) optimism aside, I am moving forward and each lesson is a stepping stone for something real, and real is far better than an imaginary bliss any day.

I am ok.

I am not sure any birthday before had me sitting deep in the saddle of that knowledge.

adoption, chronic illness, depression, entertainment, family, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, list, marriage, self care, travel

Think Casey Kasum, in tens…

2017 was a year, I will give it that! A full year in every sense of all the ways… Growing up in the 80’s I grew up with January 1st being the big Casey Kasum rehashing of the year we were still freshly saying goodbye to. There are some things I still, after all of this time, really miss. That would be one of them… So, in trying to reconnect with a few old traditions, these are a few of my favorite things in 2017:

Lost myself listening to…

  • Paramore (All, but specifically their newest album- After Laughter)
  • Dreamcar
  • Portugal, the Man
  • 21 Pilots- Blurry Face album
  • Matt Maeson
  • Phoenix- (newest album- Ti Amo)
  • Weezer- Pacific Daydream album. BRILLIANT!
  • Silversun Pickups acoustic sessions
  • K-pop (Exo, Monsta X, Crush, Dynamic Duo, T-Max, Kae Sun, BlackPink, etc.)
  • Dear Evan Hansen Broadway recording

I was moved by…

  • All of the devastation this year, through storms, fires and ill-intended human beings, and yet the quiet resiliency which would rise up among the bravest, in love.
  • My husband’s rescue of a stranger, and the way he and the other Hero worked side by side, seamless and instinctually.
  • Dylan Farrow’s article, and the reality it subtly insinuates.
  • The continuing search and hope for Danielle Stislicki
  • my husband reaching a goal and completing a half marathon
  • seeing my son as a father, with his daughter
  • This Lifetime commercial.
  • The Glorious video, by Macklemore
  • The adoption journey and completion of my beautiful friend Tia and her son
  • My friend’s motherhood journey, and her beautiful little, perfect family.

I Saw…

  • Goblin (Korean Drama)
  • The Book of Henry (film)
  • Fun Mom Dinner (film)
  • Wonder Woman (film)
  • Hero (video) by Monsta X
  • The Big Sick (film)
  • Lego Batman (awesome)
  • Twin Peaks: The Return (tv)
  • Only The Brave (film)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

The hardest/darkest parts…

  • Knightley. Loving him, knowing him, losing him…
  • When my kids struggle/hurt.
  • watching my mom go through dementia and deteriorate more and more, each day.
  • potty training puppies, on little to no sleep
  • when my husband was in Australia
  • Saying goodbye to my son and his family, multiple times.
  • When my grandmother’s vintage bowl broke
  • Having friends walk through really dark chapters, in their journeys, while I was helpless and too far away to really help.
  • My own chronic illness issues increasing so rapidly.

Adventures & Moments…

  • Meeting, and getting to know, my grand-daughter Victoria.
  • Celebrating my daughter Gennica’s high school graduation.
  • meeting my (first) great-nephew.
  • My sweet grand baby Ethan’s first birthday!
  • Celebrating my mom’s 70th birthday.
  • Traveling to Washington state and Idaho to absorb love and moments with beautiful people.
  • forty-four Mask Mondays
  • celebrating my sister Jennie, and two beautiful friends, in creative ways throughout the year.
  • Switching over from a paper calendar/planner to a digital one
  • The Dear Stranger letter challenge.

Tasted…

  • Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped Dates) at the Silver Pig
  • Bourgeois fries at Boise Fry Company
  • homemade pop-tarts, with my mixed berry jam. (best tasting summer berry hodgepodge of luck, ever.)
  • Chipotle getting queso. (!!!!)
  • raspberry chocolate torte from Cantoro
  • sweet mini-pepper tacos
  • Burger Fi herb & Aoli fries
  • Korean Tacos at the Yard House
  • Harney & Sons PARIS tea
  • Chocorite, sugar free (and AMAZING) “candy”.

Creative:

  • Chalkboard doodling
  • Making an interactive trivia game, as a gift
  • essential oil sugar scrubs, sprays and creams.
  • Total Gallery wall
  • Made a photo/journey book, for my family
  • My Twin Peaks 41st birthday
  • the Twelve Days of Christmas for my husband
  • Traveler’s Notebook
  • Bible Illustration & creative journaling
  • Painting a palette sign with other, beautifully creative women

I learned…

  • how to love so deeply, and lose (Knightley), and then make myself ready to love again. (Elenor)
  • how to accept my limits, with grace and self love.
  • as silly as it sounds, I learned a ton about gum/oral health, and WHY certain practices are necessary.
  • that unknowingly, I matured beyond the Oscars and a passion about/for them.
  • How terrible/hard/ugly/difficult that distance between loved ones really is.
  • Tai Chi practice is life changing.
  • that I definitely need regular chiropractic care.
  • that I am an advocate of the legalization of medical marijuana, and why it’s important.

I discovered, and then I obsessed…

  • the ATTN: videos with Nev & Laura. I love them!
  • Blue Babies Pink podcast
  • S*Town podcast
  • Harvest Moon IOS
  • Flow magazine and periodicals
  • Brothers and Sisters reruns, on Hulu
  • Disney Emoji Blitz (because, apparently I am 12…)
  • Puppy collar bow-ties and flowers.
  • the love story between Paul Betany & Jennifer Connolly

The best money I spent…

  • airline tickets
  • FabFitFun
  • Elenor
  • Blowouts
  • Vinyl Record Albums
  • LuLaRoe Madison Skirts
  • yellow box flip flops
  • New suitcase
  • Storyville coffee
  • essential oils and a few EO products
adoption, family, gifts, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

17/14 vision…

Seventeen years ago, three very fragile and amazingly resilient children asked me to be their mother. Being a lover of birthdays, I remember this clearly, in that mildew scented cafeteria, because it was my grandmother’s birthday. I am also, I’ll admit, a sucker for symbolism. After seven miscarriages and a failed adoption, wasn’t the very fact that it was ON my grandmother’s birthday exact proof that this was a good sign?

I know, I know. At 24, I should have been much wiser than that. The thing was, however, I loved those kids incredibly. I had not taken the job in that group home in an effort to shop for children. (A phrase my older daughter, at least, will find bitter twinged amusement in.) I had accepted the position because I needed to stand on my own and because I loved kids and was really great at my job.

I had developed various sorts of close relationships with various kids who were growing up there. Some souls simply click, but with these three it was different. The first confirmation, of the miraculous element, for me had been when I developed special relationships and felt drawn to each of them before I was really aware that they were actual siblings. The three were not particularly close to each other, and in settings like that you often have kids refer to other kids as siblings, when they aren’t. When I learned, a couple of weeks in to my tenure, that they were biological siblings I realized that pull had made divine sense.

I had not been expecting the request, when they came together to ask it of me. I was, at 24, far too immature to understand the gravity of how difficult that must have been for them, considering their journey thus far, in life. My co-worker was sitting with me and she squealed a little and remarked “this is perfect! You and those three are a beautiful combination and seeing you all together makes life make sense!”

That journey towards them was not an easy one. There was much standing in the way and honestly, at 24, if I had known exactly what the heart fight would look like, I might have run away screaming. Thank God, I didn’t. I was witness to very abusive manipulations, over the years, and a control battle over those precious spirits, that still (in recollection) makes my skin crawl. Though our journey as a family has not been at all how I would have designed it, the outcome is a familial connection that I would not trade for the world. The journey was long, and eventually one of the three found parents who were closer and a better fit. I always understood, and grieved, and in the end came to peace with the fact that I love her just the same, no matter what…

~~~

Fourteen years ago, I was approached to be the mother of a broken little four-year old girl. It was a decision that we made within a few hours, even though I found myself weather worn from my other mother-journal-struggle. (which at this point, was still going strong) My fear was that we would grow to love this tender little child and then lose her, down the road. The once-again-symbolism of my grandmother’s birthday being near, and what the journey with those three beautiful kids had been like, were not lost on me.

You see, the feared possibility was not completely unfounded. We had been the soon-to-be adoptive parents of twin girls, once upon a time. Our ten months with them were that sort of chapter where every day felt a little like this is what my soul has been waiting for, finally I am complete. Then, due to a technicality regarding a gun, an arrest method and a court loophole, they were returned to the stranger that was their mother, leaving my arms empty and my heart officially shattered…

Two days after being asked, we drove out to pick up our daughter. It was a sunny September Sunday afternoon, and I had made sure to call my grandmother, on the way over, to wish her a happy birthday. The sunshine easily acted like a promise that this time, this time motherhood might not hurt as bad, and may not end with empty arms. This little girl was a gift, but she was also a daily reminder that there were no guarantees. For a very long time I walked the tightrope of guarding my heart and that same heart diving headfirst into the sea of her child-spirit. Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars later, (and sadly a nine-year court battle which always seemed to play out more uphill than down, until we one day found it over) she was legally ours. Throughout this time, there were sadly moments when this growing girl would be used, as a pawn, to hurt our older kids. It was a sick and a meant-for-tragedy thing, and miraculously it never worked. Seeds meant to sow resentment, simply sowed love.

~~~

My beautiful, (now in heaven) grandmother’s birthday has born to me, motherhood. She was such a strong woman who held a family together in ways which I could never replicate, all the while her birthday knit together another branch of her own. My motherhood journey has been anything but traditional. Just the same, I am the mom to some of the most extraordinary humans I have ever known.

For the first time since that timid little seventeen year old request for my motherhood was asked, I am spending this day alone. In the past I have either been with my husband, visiting my kids, becoming a mom again, just with one kid, two kids, or the best of times- all three. One year we were recovering from the wedding, the day before, of my older daughter. One year we went to the Lion King on Broadway, on other we sat around eating chocolate fondue and making silly home movies for my husband because he couldn’t be with us. Somehow the day has always been special, playing out as its own sort of character within our family and lives. (fun bonus fact, my son married a beautiful girl, whom I adore, whose birthday is the day AFTER this little anniversary of ours. Attraction truly is a spiritual thing.)

This year my husband is 8,000 miles and 16 hours away. My son is in the far corners of the country doing his part to keep our nation safe. My older daughter on her own motherhood journey, waking from ringing in her own anniversary- marriage. My younger daughter, the sweet little four-year old of fourteen years ago, is on a dark and prodigal journey that this mmama heart of mine hopes will not last forever, but worries about the consequential scarring that may happen along the way. My family is a lesson to me that fighting for those whom your soul loves, is primal at best and always vital. The journey will never be scripted the way that your heart hopes, but the outcome of love will always be worth it- even when things don’t go your way.

Happy birthday, Grandma…