What defines me?

Cancer , A Dozen Kids , Life, Struggle

While in Alabama staying in that magnificent cabin I noticed a bird. I kept calling it a crane but truth be told I am really not sure what it was. When I perked up seeing us wind back into the woods where we would be staying. The “crane” like bird was right out my window sitting at the waters edge. I managed to see it between the tears and gasped in excitement. Marc missed this first viewing and it pretty much made me determined to see it again so he could identify it for me.

As we got closer I seen it again. Of course Marc still driving he did not. Unloading at the cabin and settling in left the crane far from mind. We were so tired that first evening wasn’t time for exploring. However the next morning as soon as I thought of the bird it would appear.

Across the way were a line of homes and docks. From my cabin porch through my binoculars was the perfect view of the crane. I would just watch and watch. Problem was it was always just far enough away that you couldn’t identify. Just be aware that the appearance was like a crane. Those huge wings span out each time it would notice me watching and off it would go.

If we left the cabin for a trip to the store or to dinner. I would ask to stop and see if my bird was at the water and of course that would certainly be the case. Each and every time as though he was waiting for me to get a glimpse of him.

Marc would pull over and I would tip toe my way to the water hoping to get a closer look. Camera up and snapping away each step I got closer. However I never got close enough to know. Videos and pictures just not quite close enough. Something would startle the large beautiful creature every time I was close. Lucky was I to see if soar away though.

Is it crazy to feel a bond with a animal you’ve never made it within 100 foot of? I thought this bird and I were one each time I went to see him just waiting there for me. Certainly he wasn’t flying from me just other noises that startled it.

Let’s talk about the outdoor part of my most fabulous vacation. This spectacular cabin I found and had booked for us had deeded lake access. About 100 feet from the cabin itself. Surrounding the cabin was thick woods it was the perfect spot for exploration.

We took off up what I called a mountain side but the locals were adamant was simply a hill. The incline was enough to quickly take my breath and leaving me with the need for a walking stick. Of course I was completely in winter attire in 77 degree weather. Trying to use my winter gear as a protective layer from the bugs of course.

I put in a plea to Marc for a walking stick to assist me with the climb into the woods. The perfect stick was in my hand in a mere seconds. It really did make the hike much easier from there.

On this woods exploration we were pleased to see a little box turtle. He was hiding under some leaves and I am not sure how Marc spot him but he has a great eye. The turtle was chowing on this big puffy mushroom. So much so that he has a white mustache when we find him. I never realized that they eat mushrooms so I was quite intrigued.

The next up was the spiders. They were some of the most gnarly spiders I have ever seen in my life. White and covered in this black spikes that look like that could easily take me out. I found myself often surrounded by more spiders than I cared to have in my vicinity. Really was quite brave of me to explore as much as I did.

There were so many different mushrooms. I couldn’t seem to get enough pictures of them and their colors. Even if it meant getting thorns all into my pants and legs. It was such fun to just be in such a new spot. Somewhere that Marc and I hadn’t shared with each other previously. Googling as we found things we new nothing about. Learning together seemed to be the best part of our vacation.

By the third morning I woke feeling refreshed. Whatever had hit me the night before be it the lime or just the Ruby Tuesday’s I had eaten it had now passed and I was feeling far better. That morning while deciding what I wanted to cook I thought of the things I hold onto in memory. The positives I’ve taken from relationships that may not necessarily been positive in the grand scheme.

Those memories for me tend to have to do with food. They are all I pass on to the kids as no one wants to share the negative they hold with the ones they love, right? When it comes to Grandma Dee it’s her omelet’s I found comfort in. She would blend her whites until they just fluffed folding in the yellows. It saved her a great deal of money and something she had learned to do from her grandma.

It’s literally how I make omelets on every occasion. For the kids and I it’s become a absolute favorite. At the cabin there was in blender to make Grandma Dee style omelets and it felt so sad. Instead I went from the Pebble Wood style.

Pebble Wood is the country club my parents had their wedding reception. I was only 13 at the time and it was the moment I realized I wouldn’t worry about my Mom anymore. As Rik had the means to take care of her. I thought the place was so “rich and fancy” it was surely where I had to have my wedding reception too. I was convinced back then I would. Since I was very poor. Getting a job there would give me an in and I thought certainly if the owner loved me she would one day let me work my reception off or something of that nature. So I became the omelet station girl there for awhile.

That’s the style I would make at the cabin that third am. Thinking back to my Mom and Step Dad’s big day. Most of those memories that day being positive for me. It was quite nice to look at the sunrise thinking back and making those tasty omelet treats.

I have memories with my dad of these meatballs. He taught me to make them and I swear I could have had them every day. Now paytyn is the same with them. He doesn’t eat spaghetti at all but will surely pick out all of papa’s meatballs and scarf a whole plate down in mere minutes.

My mom and I well I don’t have tons of memories that I recall of us cooking together. But those garlic cheddar biscuits. Those were all her forte. Seems so simple but she taught me to put that cheese in with the dry ingredients before adding the wet and it’s far easier to stir. All the holidays those were present.

My grandma Betty who flat out just plain can’t cook. She taught me that those little holiday sugar cookies. You know the ones that have the different things like a snow man or a Christmas tree. Pumpkin or a witches hat at Halloween time but just plain circles you pop in the oven nothing fancy. She taught me that those were best when cooked two mins less then the box instructed and then left on the hot pan for the last two mins on top the stove. She had to work really hard to learn this sand not burn them black I swear. Grandma Betty’s sugar cookies are by far Aaden and Clare’s favorite to eat.

For grandma Jim of course it’s the gravy. I can make his sausage gravy with my eyes closed. In fact that is what I made for us this morning. Except I made scratch made buttermilk biscuits and he always let grandma make canned biscuits that she burned the bottoms black to and we would always just eat the tops. Food for me is the positive I can find in all the relationships that may cause me pain.

Night one at the cabin came and went so quickly as we didn’t really get in till after dinner time. The second day was spent enjoying that big fabulous hot tub. Exploring in that thick woods that was engulfing us in our little secluded mountain side. Honestly everything was blissful.

We spent the entirety of the day just relaxing. The morning to myself smoking on the deck my fat doobie while staring out at the perfect sunrise. The afternoons watching and movie and napping. Marc in the large recliner and myself on the log style couch. It was shaping up to be the vacation we had dreamed it to be.

That’s usually when that hiccup comes along to keep us on our toes though. Right when we have forgotten anything but the solitude our southern adventure. Marc found a tick in my butt! He was clever to not let me know that was the case until after the fact. Telling me he was just checking out a mole I had.

Recently I have had some self esteem issues really creep in horribly. Removing the moles or skin tags from my skin became a must and I bought a machine on amazon to do such. So it was rather believable he was about to rip it off.

After removing the tick the truth was revealed to me. I of courses teased with my normal negative banter. You know… like oh shit now I’ve surely got the lime. Going to have to take care of me now. No bacon for us anymore. Legit, I was annoyingly funny whinnying about my butt. Except… then that shit started to feel true. My butt swelled a huge welt where the tick had been previously embedded.

By the time we went out to dinner I was really thinking I was sick. Ruby Tuesday was not a wise dinner plan. I got sick right after leaving. We had to stop at walmart that night. I barely made it through the store before projectile vomiting’s all over the parking lot next to the car. The poor car besides me watching as i launched that Ruby Tuesday ten feet!!!

Laying my head briefly back in the car for some ” I knew I was going to get the lime” Pushing a smile on my face while my stomach just felt miserable. Marc tried to reassure me things were fine it was okay that I was dripping vomit from my chin in my brand new car.

The 7 mile trip back to the cabin took three more times of pulling over before we made it home. By then I thought my stomach was surely empty. Again proven wrong as I continued to get sick inside. Finally I shut off the bathroom lights and curled myself into the bottom of a hot shower on the cool floor tile. About an hour later I was just fine like nothing had happened at all.

In fact I was eating some donuts in bed and snuggling to some Aretha and RESPECT. The next morning I woke feeling as though I was in perfect shape again. Cooking breakfast to myself and throwing down grub for that better half of mine. While cooking I would lean against the cabinet and just stare out at the horizon. Feeling so blessed this was the life I had. Not even being sick could rain on my parade.

I have so much to share from my Alabama vacation. I mean seriously it was just so much fun. There were definitely some very tough moments. Emotionally it was my biggest test since beginning the journey to better mental health. Faced with a huge trigger….

But for now lets talk FOOD! Cooking is my love. It’s my love language too. Cooking for those I love and seeing them enjoy really brings such joy. Having a new kitchen to explore and throw done some fantastic grub in. It really does excite me.

When I walked into the cabin in Alabama I soaked it all in. The excitement was brewing the second I opened the door. I had brought with me a huge cooler of food and a couple of tubs packed full as well. I was prepared to cook some home made goodness.

That first morning in the moments. when I was prepping the food in this brand new fancy kitchen I was just on cloud nine. Opening each cabinet to see what I had to work with. Grabbing out the pans and spices I brought myself. It was fun to explore every inch of the kitchen. Taking my time and carefully deciding the perfect meal each morning.

I’m always the first up. So this time in the morning. is all to myself. I enjoy that most. Having the kitchen to just create. Then waking those I love with a plate of this meal I made with them in mind. It’s peaceful to me in front of that stove.

This Alabama kitchen was even more peaceful. The view from the stove was just the most impressive I had ever laid my eyes on. I took three hours each morning to myself sitting in the deck smoking my cannabis and then heading into that kitchen to pour my love into the meal. Putting on a movie to watch in the background was even more perfect.

The kitchen and living room being an open concept made the morning even more enjoyable. It wasn’t like home with my Alexa blaring. Instead I played “Respect” on the big screen and sung right along to the movie. We ate breakfast at the table that sat right in front of the big glass doors that opened to the mountain view. It was literally the most perfect morning each day!

Clare's flowers

Ever just wish you had the power to control the thoughts that race about in your brain? That’s my feeling this am. Badly longing for vacation to begin but allowing worry into my racing brain for all the what ifs. This trip could sincerely trigger me. I’ve had two weeks without therapy. Something I haven’t not had now every single week in years. So I wasn’t able to go in and lay out all those worries. Didn’t get that help to process them. Now I sit in them.

There is so much to look forward to. The drive alone is going to be so memorable. However the tent. Camping in the same state as we ended up so homeless and desperate my first pregnancy as a child still myself. Can I just let all that go and sit in the new happy memories I will create? I sure hope so. I’ve truly been working so hard at that let go part.

It’s my time to replace the negative with the positive. I’m going to enjoy this vacation in it’s entirety. This will be my new Alabama memory. Wiping away the old and freeing myself of that pain.

I’ve spent the week making sure I have all the details in place. Like making sure we had a shower for the tent portion of vacation. Or meal prepping for the week we are gone. Thinking if you keep yourself busy making sure things are perfect your brain won’t have time to worry.

It worked until the second something was off. Marc is selling his old car as I have given him mine now. Well there was a guy stopping to buy yesterday. Never in all the times Marc told me that was happening did I remember I am the wife. Finding the title is my duty…. I can’t ever find anything. Truly, I am pretty organized but this car was a pre house together buy. No idea where that would even be.

Panicked instantly and every single worry about the trip is now flooded my mind. On my anniversary and Marc’s bday I’m totally falling apart. This one little hiccup is all it takes for me to be hiding in tears beside my bed thinking I had ruined and done everything wrong. That’s just how it works. Fixated on the positive praying the negative vibes stay away and one small thing crashes me completely.

Not like I meant to just fall apart over a lost title. There was no reason it’s just well I did. So I’ve already by this time gotten Marc into the dmv for Monday morning and I’ve done all I can to find out if I can get sooner. It’s impossible. The man leaves the sale is dead in the water without title. In Marc’s face I see his disappointment. Not once has he really put it on me. In fact the man uses “we” each time in reference to this missing title.

I can’t hear the “we” it’s the one word each time he speaks of the title that falls on deaf ears. I’m sinking in this sad depressed it’s all my fault I ruin everything feeling. It’s literally engulfing me. However there is hope. Since I know now how to cue Marc in to help me. I start to rub circles into my palm. It calms me a bit and centers me to focus on making circles. Kind of helps to stop and slow the thinking. Marc will see it almost instantly every time. He stops everything and sits with me in the chair. He is my mind reader and already knows I’m taking the blame for this missing title and it’s the end of the world. More so because my mind is telling me Marc blames me.

Remember… the “we” I could not ever hear. Even though I knew he said it. I even told him when he said we it really meant me. Because that’s how my brain works. I know that I’m the one who checks mail. I do the bills, the finances, and I would have organized the title. When he sat with me I explained it being my fault. He reassured me that a lost title was not an issue. There was no fault to be had.

Quickly he settled me to a clam state. His love surrounded me and made me feel secure again. In an instant I can believe that I’m not worthy of love. During those moments I need the most love and patience. Luckily it’s exactly what I get from Marc. Once he had settled me down I think about 7 mins it took to find the missing title. Exactly where it should have been.

Really, I’m just pretty happy with life. My new car came in just in time for our big vacation for our anniversary. We hopefully already got our first Fall cold out of the way and things will just be grand for the trip.

My excitement has just been building immensely for this trip. I realize most of the trip is actually like a man trip. Where Marc and his buddies will spend their time goofy off and flying planes. However, how exciting that Marc wants me to tag along? To be honest he wouldn’t go if I wasn’t.

His attitude will be extraordinarily pleasant because he will be on the field doing what he truly loves. This is a win for me. I can take time to myself and enjoy time with him both while at the field. It’s actually the perfect mix of both for me and rather relaxing.

On the way to the field two days at the cabin that literally looks heavenly. That’s for us to spoil each other. With Marc having in the back of his mind that I let planes me the center of our anniversary you know a girl is going to be spoiled rotten.

I’ve spent weeks couponing things to make our trip less and less primitive. A shower, stove, cabin like tent. I really enjoy planning but boy do I get myself stressed. No reason for it but it happens just the same.

My new car is heavenly. Feeling like a spoiled princess everywhere I drive the thing. It’s also really making my mind ease with backing out of places as my sight is really just already in the granny stage of life I swear.

My kids are all soaring with great grades and positive attitudes. I’m truly blessed with the whole bunch. Hailey is home less and less but so am I. I see her just in passing a couple times a week. That can be a bit daunting as I miss her so. Malachi has been doing impressively well with all his own new found responsibilities.

I’m still sending those text to my mother…… I can’t really give much of a reason other than when I forgave Marc for this powerful stuff that came into play…… I had an enormous amount of guilt for how easy it was to forgive him and not her. I chose to love him no matter what… My mindset was I should do the same for her.

Marc and I are continuing to really grow. Things with us have always been pretty good. We don’t do any fighting really at all. Never hardly even raise our tone with each other. It’s been quite a privilege to spend my days and time getting to know him and how he needs to be loved. Showing him what he is capable of. He really just has no idea how amazing he is. I love showing him that.

Life is just very busy and feels like it’s in overdrive. I wish I could slow it all down and soak in more time with those I love. The moments just breeze by into a memory so easily.

It’s almost the four year mark. Four years since the beginning of what lead to be a entire new life for me. Of course I excitedly planned a fancy junior suit at a local hotel. Thinking that we didn’t really have the finances for a big trip this year but a small get away would be the perfect fit.

One evening with yearning in his eyes Marc peered over to me to start the Alabama talk. Anyone who knows Marc knows his passion for flying. Rc planes, real planes, helicopters, drones, you name it. It’s his calming place on that runway. To be honest it’s like his self care. To be at the field flying his planes horizon in the distant.

So Anyway, the buddies he fly’s with are going to Alabama. To a huge Rc flying event. A camping sleepover weekend to be exact. It’s a big deal to all the fellas in his circle. I can count at least a dozen times I’ve heard them rave about anticipating this trip. Now it falls the week after our anniversary. The one I just booked the fancy suit at.

You could tell by Marc’s expression he was anticipating my reaction. The request to move my suit and him work our anniversary was a huge feat I am sure just to murmur the words. As Marc always wants to please me and I make such a big deal of our day together.

Excitedly, I had no hesitation saying yes of course we can go there. Cancelling the room I booked right there in bed that evening. Immediately I had decided we would leave for Alabama early and find a nice cabin on the way instead of my junior suit idea. To clarify I was absolutely beaming at the idea of his adventure over mine!

Then and Now

The excitement wears quickly when Marc asked if I had been to Alabama before. It opens a floodgate of extreme emotions for me. Almost as though the dam holding those deep dark memories was crumbled in one blow. Can you imagine such a simple question hitting you like such a powerful blow? He had no idea what he had even done.

My face I am certain changed in that instant. Giving him very little facts I just said yes. The real story is at just 17 years old I was homeless in Alabama. Pregnant with my first child. Starving, a feeling I so often felt during pregnancy.

When I meet Keith I was nothing more than a lost child looking for love. I had no idea his situation or life before me. When I was pregnant bipolar and unable to understand my emotions. Keith’s mother made it clear I was a whore trying to trap her adult child. As a mother now I can somewhat understand. Fearing your son making a ignorant mistake with a child… Exactly what Keith had done.

His mother owned his home. Therefore having control and power over all he did. A step further he was entirely financially dependent on her regardless of his employment status. I had everything for Allen in that house. My aunt giving me a changing table that had been built and made for me as a baby. Thinking that was my forever home to raise my family.

My memory can be a little grey so I’m not sure if Keith sugar coated the hate his mother had for me and my unborn baby or if I was just to blinded to care. Either way it erupted and she told us we had to be out. Myself and her growing grandson in my belly. She threw out in the road all of my personal possessions. Even worse she threw out all of the nursey items.

I hid in the home for awhile. Keith would literally tuck me under a mattress in the back bedroom when his mom would come inspect the home or bring him money. When that was caught, Keith told me this big dream. To become a gold miner. At some point he acquired a membership that gained him access to camping and gold panning. Now that I couldn’t stay at the home his mother owned we could just go camp till he found enough gold to build a house.

Can you imagine I bought that? Hook, line, and sinker I truly believed I could pack up in this tiny car. Seventeen years old and 5 months pregnant and head on the road south. Gold mining would be our way of life and I would be a Mother soon with my own home no one could take.

Off We Went

We packed up very little because honestly we had very little. Maybe there was two pairs of clothing tops for myself. No food and just less then $200 in our names. Somehow I was still certain we would make it. Hopelessly I wanted to be loved and anything Keith said that lead to the idea of family I trusted entirely.

It wasn’t long before we were starving and no where to sleep. Alabama was the first place we found one of the places covered by this membership. We pulled into what looked like a huge field. A stream running down the center of it. My memory recalls just a couple of old men at the place. They had tents and tables and little sections that they made home.

One of the elderly man showed Keith the smallest nugget of gold in a jar and before I knew it he was even more hooked on that life. Problem was we didn’t even have a tent. No camping supplies. Literally nothing of use was in that car.

Spent that day there with Keith frustrated his get rich quick scheme wasn’t quick. He had no idea how to gold mine. His membership came with a how to dvd and that was the extent of his knowledge. Yet I was still almost just as much a believer as him.

To be honest. I really sincerely hope that I have taught my own girls better than this. That they can find what they need within themselves and not be so willing to hang on every word a man tells them. Each time Keith said I will never let harm come to you. I will protect you. Feed you. I will provide for my family. Believing him was natural because I needed it to be true.

Alabama was hot and the loneliness was just unlike anything you can imagine. Keith could be six inches away and want nothing to do with me. The money was gone so quick that there was now no gas station snacks to be bought. I feared dying of hunger at one point.

Can’t really remember how we left from Alabama to Georgia but that was the breaking point. Had to break down and call home for help. My mother having no part in helping me at all. My step dad would finally be convinced to send enough money for gas to get back and pizza hut. To this day it’s the one time he truly saved my life. No doubt in my mind that had we not got help that very day. Terrible things would have happened to me that night.

Keith called home too. Gaining money as well and paying for what I would later describe as the dingiest hotel I had ever laid eyes on. I couldn’t even clothes my eyes I was in fear the entire night. Hearing gun fire and loud yelling and banging well into the morning.

Changing The Mindset

To barely touch the tip of how truly awful that trip was as one day my children may read and that’s not a memory I’d like to leave them with. Now I must just change my mindset on how I look at this cross country. Letting go of what I survived and implanting new positive memories.

I worry some of the car ride down to our fabulous cabin adventure. For me I still get flashbacks of my time being homeless and raped in Decatur at every drive. In fact it’s so bad driving thru that Marc noticed and became concerned. He will now drive 20 mins out of the way to avoid driving through a town that gives me such anguish. Will driving to Alabama be the same?

Have I truly grown enough to change my mindset? Can I enjoy my trip and not be taken back? Looking through the cabin pictures I think I am being silly. How can I even dream of thinking anything but positive thoughts in such an amazing place? The battle is always in my mind and only I decide the victor right?

ME and My MINI

Sometimes it’s hard to see the growth that I have personally achieved. There tend to be these blinders on my eyes and I can’t see what I over come and achieve. Facebook gives a space to shout out my accomplishments and others holler back their pride in me. Seeing that for myself is still so difficult.

Until the past finds a way to show itself. Like a phone call from an old friend. One who tells you about all those you left behind. Maybe even some you had children with. That call just really made me see my growth. I’m not anywhere near the person I was. Fitting into the circle of friends I had just a few short years ago would be just impossible.

I’m such a different person. One I find so much more pride in. Emotionally, I have so much more control over myself than I had throughout all of life. Clear is the path I want. The goals I have are laid out before me with each and every step I need to achieve them seeming so obtainable. Honestly, I believe there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Never could I have said that even a year ago. Looking at the kids and knowing I really did that myself gives me a strength deep within. My kids are soaring and the sky is literally the limit with them.

The life I have is the one I strived for. Personally I feel like I’ve made it. This is the path I want to be on. It’s only moving in the positive direction I want for myself and my family. Texting my mother and giving her look ma I made it moments happens all the time. Pride in myself and the mother I’ve become is here.

That call let me remember again where I came from. How I built this life and path on my own. Deciding that what I was doing and how I was living wasn’t enough for me and mine. Not just financially either but how I speak to people. The way I carry myself as a person and mother. My social life, I use to really need to have people need me to have fulfillment. Finding fulfillment in yourself, now that is growth.

Today in the mail came the order form for my Malachi’s cap and gown. I literally screamed for joy so loud I am certain the neighbors must have heard it. My son is going to finish his high school education after all the hard work and obstacles it’s finally over.

It was uncertain if this day would come just two short years ago. Malachi without the drive to get through the day to day of the daunting task that is high school. Lacking in the ambition but never the brains. He just didn’t have it in him to apply himself.

For me as a mother I felt so helpless trying and trying to get him on the path I thought best. Spending time changing his education plan over and over hoping one change would stick and he would fall in love with learning.

Finally, the drivers license hooked him in. Mom only pays for driver’s ed to kids passing at her level. Which meant Malachi pulling off c average in every class. I stayed on him at every turn but eventually he had found his drive.

Watching last year and he got into his grove and found pride in himself was such a relief. My heart was so full of joy watching him soar like I always knew he could. Moving any mountain in his way I set his path for him and he put one foot in front of the other everyday.

Now the time is here. Beginning to plan his graduation is the most exciting thing. It will not be a thing like Hailey’s. With strict rules no family party and no big celebration. A nice dinner and maybe a bon fire after. Very much still look forward to making his day fabulous. Seeing him off to the Marines will definitely be a hard day!