5 and 1

Forgive me. This is going to be long, personal, and full of pain.

It’s been five years. Anyone that knows me probably knows exactly what happened five years ago today. Anyone that’s read this blog has seen me allude to the events of that time in my life.

April 6, 2011. I came home after picking up my then-husband from work, to be greeted shortly thereafter by a police officer and representative from DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services in Illinois). We were only told there was an investigation, and that he had to leave the house. I was to take both children to the child advocacy center the next day for questioning. At the time, my son had just turned 14, and my daughter just 11.

We were given no information. Don’t ask questions, they said.

In the events of the following 48 hours, I found out my daughter had disclosed abuse at the hands of her father. I was in a fog. I was in denial. I was hurt. But nothing prepared me for the pain to follow.

Two days later, they came and took my children and placed them into a foster home. So much I won’t go into now. I could write a book. Yes, I made some mistakes. I panicked. And for those that don’t know, you aren’t allowed to make choices, or God forbid mistakes, when DCFS is involved. (So how, then, do children die at the hands of abusive parents, even when DCFS has been called to investigate? Don’t even get me started on THAT!)

DISCLOSURE: To avoid any accusations, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have to state that he still claims his innocence, and was acquitted of all charges by a jury.

This is one of my character flaws at times. No matter what I have been through or what it has caused me, I will always give somebody the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it. I will always treat people with kindness. I will always do the right thing as best as I can. I will say, whole-heartedly, I believe everything my daughter said. I have seen too much pain, been through too much with her, to feel any other way.

When all hell broke loose, there was a time I clung to whatever I could. Whatever was left. The only thing I knew. That which I was comfortable with. I quickly realized though that I had to leave that comfort zone. I knew I was going to face challenges. But it was time to do what needed done.

For the past 5 years, I have struggled. Trying to figure out how or where I went wrong. Feelings of intense pain. Guilt. Feelings of acceptance. Forgiveness. Finding joy and happiness where there seems to be nothing but hurt and sadness.

Only during the past year have I really felt like I’ve moved past it. I realized over the course of the year that I never truly processed the pain. The divorce. I did what I had to do. I pushed through and accomplished what I needed to do for my daughter. I went from a stay-at-home mom, to a full-time working mom, supporting myself. And right back into Mom mode, having to work through everything with my daughter.

Let me tell you, as a parent, there is no greater pain than seeing the intense pain of your child. I didn’t have time for myself. I spent two solid years worrying and hurting for her.

But this past year was different. She is doing fantastic, all things considered. And I’ve been able to take care of myself. And find what truly makes me happy.

In running, I have found an outlet. A stress relief. A time for myself. A few months ago, it occurred to me that I started running almost to the day of the events of 2011. My first run this time around was on April 5, 2015. Maybe I knew. I needed to revisit that outlet.

You see, I started running back in 2012 also. Before my daughter moved back home. And even after, she was in school during the week, and I worked weekend nights, so I had a lot of time on my hands during the weekdays. After I changed jobs, however, things were more difficult. Scheduling was more complicated. I was working a regular day job, and adjusting to a new schedule.

But this time, it was different. I was focused more on improving myself. Taking care of myself. And through that process, I learned about myself. I learned to love and accept myself, first and foremost. Faults and all. I learned to care less what other people think. To stay true to myself. I know the right people will love and accept me for who I am, regardless of my faults and failures.

I know we are all unique and different in our own way. I found running to be a great outlet for me, as I know several other people have. But I also know it’s not for everyone. What’s important, is that you find something. Especially when you are going through a stressful, painful time. Whether it’s swimming, running, biking. Or even non-fitness related, like art. Painting, photography (which also helped me immensely), drawing. Something. I don’t expect everyone to follow the same path, make the same choices as I have. I only ask for support for my choices. And I, likewise, will support anyone in the choices they feel best for themselves.

Running also helped me to cope with being alone, when I had no one to turn to, no one to lean on. Before all my friends and family get on me about that statement, I know I had people, to an extent. But it’s different. When the one person you had to talk to every day, about everything, is suddenly out of your life, there is no other person you feel you can talk to. Not every day. At least not for me. I had to find a way to cope. To fill that void. For a long time, even though I seemingly had all the time in the world, I still had none. So much driving to visits. Working. Court. Counseling. It seemed to be never ending. But there always came a time, when I needed something to fill my time.

For a while I focused on scrapbooking. I can’t do it anymore. It was good at first, when I didn’t have my kids, it gave me something to focus on them. But now, I can’t go back. That’s part of my moving on. I still have all the photos, all the memories, when I’m ready to relive those moments. But for now, that part of me is gone. So the focus became fitness. And running. The one thing that has always been there for me in some way.

Part of me can’t believe I’ve actually stuck with it for an entire year. But that’s part of my growth. It’s become a part of who I am. And I can’t imagine it any other way.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned so much. Not only loving myself, but I’ve learned to be alone and love that too. I always said I’d like to find someone else, but I was perfectly ok and happy doing things on my own. But now, 5 years later, I feel like I can finally accept the fact that I don’t have to. I never thought I could be this happy. But I’ve found a place. A sweet spot. And I love every bit and piece of my life. I’m happier than I ever thought possible.

So here’s to several more years. Of running and racing. Living and loving. Healthy. Happy.

Love, Life, and Karma

It’s so easy to find ourselves pushing & achieving & hustling for love. But those things don’t bring us love. Loving brings us love. ~Shauna Niequist

Over the past several years, well all my life really, but more apparent recently, I’ve always believed that things always work out the way they’re supposed to.

Everything happens for a reason. Yes, I know sometimes we make stupid mistakes, but I still believe there’s something calling us to make those seemingly silly choices. They serve a purpose. We have to live and learn from them, it’s how we grow. I know I’ve made my share of stupid mistakes, a few big ones actually. But I also believe I needed to travel that path. I needed to make the mistakes I did, I needed to lose it all, to be able to grow into myself as a human being. To be given the task of proving to myself that I’m a strong person. That I could be independent. That I don’t need anyone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have a longing to have someone special in my life, if you know what I mean, but I don’t need that. I can survive just fine.

I believe in karma. What goes around, comes around. I believe you get out what you put in.

Which brings me to love. I was talking with a friend over coffee, and she told me I needed to read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. So I did (well mostly, haven’t finished it yet). The line that hit home with me, “learning to love others is the fastest way to receive love”. And it all starts with you. I firmly believe we can’t love others fully until we love ourselves. And once we start sharing that love with others, only then will we truly be able to receive the same. (And I’m talking all others, family, friends, coworkers, not just significant others.)

I’m not perfect. No one is. There are things I wish were different about my body. But it’s mine. And I love it. And I want to keep it as healthy as I can, for as long as I can.

I love my heart. Does it cause me pain sometimes? Absolutely. It’s part of growing, and it’s ok. I know I have to put it out there, to feel the pain, to ultimately experience the greatest love there is.

I love my soul. I have a lot of fantastic qualities. I know that. And someday someone will see that the way I do.

It was a big eye opener for me. It wasn’t until this year, that I truly started loving myself. Doing things for myself. Accepting myself and all my faults and flaws. And finding happiness. And I really believe that sentiment to hold so much truth. It was shortly after reading the book that I saw Shauna’s post on Facebook, which is why I chose that to quote above.

The best way to receive love, is to give it. And give freely. Show love every day, in every thing you do. Live with positivity. Gratitude. Appreciation. And love. And you’ll get out what you put in.

  

Me

The best gift I can give myself, is loving me for all that I am.

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy Birthday to me! Yes, today is my birthday, and it’s a great day! But then every day is a great day, as long as we make it that way.

A little more than a week ago, a friend posted something on Facebook that really got me thinking. About me and where I am, where I’ve been, and how I feel about myself.

For years, I’ve always compared myself to everyone else. I’m not sure why. I never really thought of myself as someone with low self esteem, but looking back I sure was! I was never as pretty as the other girls. Never as athletic. Never the popular one. And the biggie, never as thin as they were. I always saw something in the mirror that, looking back, was completely false. I was never overweight in high school, although I thought I was.

So it’s been a lot of years of fighting with myself. Trying to be something better. Always feeling like I could never be good enough. That no matter how hard I tried, I always failed. And this goes back to my post from last week, I would just shut down and do nothing because I was so overwhelmed with trying to accomplish the impossible. And I hated myself.

Since my divorce, I’ve been trying to focus on finding myself. Figuring out exactly who it is I am, and who I want to be. And learning to be ok with whoever that person is. And doing it on my own and being ok with that too.

Which brings me to today. And the best gift I can give myself, is loving me for all that I am. I’m caring and compassionate. I’m friendly and loving. I’m intelligent, loyal, and honest. Strong and independent. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m flawed. I’m scarred. I make mistakes. I’m not perfect. But I’m me. And that’s ok. Raw and vulnerable. Perfectly imperfect. A constant work in progress.

I avoided the camera for so long. Always choosing to take the pictures rather than be in them. And looking back, I’m sorry I wasn’t there more. That there are so few pictures of me with my own children. I’ve only recently started getting in pictures, and taking pictures of myself. And I love what I see. So here I am. This is me. With makeup and without. Sweaty and not. But always beautiful, just the same.


And because it’s my birthday, I’m just throwing this out there again. Please check out my fundraising website, and help me make a difference for children, no matter how small. That is my only wish today.