Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.


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Being Bullied Made Me Awesome

Recently I had a conversation with a friend and fellow parent about classmates teasing. She relayed the advice she gave to her son who was teased about a bad haircut. She said, “I told him next time something like that happens, you tell him (or whoever it is) something like ‘my hair will grow back but you can’t fix your face.’” We laughed about the nice comeback. But then she went on to say something that triggered a funny feeling in my bones. She said, “see, I used to be a bully, so I know how to nip that in the bud. A good comeback is key to shutting a bully down.” My husband relates similar stories of him getting teased at times, but because he is quick and witty, his retorts always stopped a potential bully in his tracks.

A couple of weeks before this conversation, I ran into one of my bullies at my kids’ school. It just so happens that her son is in my daughter’s class. We had seen each other a few times last year and she hugged me and was very friendly. Shocked and surprised, I responded in kind. But this year at curriculum night, she said something that caught me off guard. We were laughing about how we keep running into each other when she said, “even though we didn’t get along when we were in school, somehow our kids insist on being together!” I chuckled in agreement, but in my mind, I was thinking, what did I ever do to you?

Yesterday, another friend posted one of those retro pictures of where we grew up on facebook. And it just so happened that the photo was of a department store that was on our way home from middle school. The parking lot of that department store is where seemingly everyone in my school would congregate to watch me get beat up.  There was a mean girls clique at school (some would say cool girls) and if I happened to do something to piss one of them off, the rumor mill would begin to swirl that they would be waiting to “jump” me in the May Company parking lot after school. The news bubble would swell with each passing period and culminate in the crowd waiting to see the fight. I was fortunate that my best friend’s mom would pick us up if we called and asked her to. On those days, I’d ask her to.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t notify teachers. My teachers said there was nothing they could do since it was just hearsay and because the fight was planned off school grounds. As you might imagine, it was pretty difficult to learn when you feared getting your ass kicked after school and had all day to think about it.  I was always looking for protection. My parents would tell me to ignore it and supplied me with dog spray if anything were to go down. (My dad was a mail carrier and kept the dog spray supply fully stocked.) It was then that I turned to religion. I learned to ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘seek God first’. So, I prayed a lot and hard, and while the bullying didn’t stop, I never was jumped in the May Company parking lot.

But getting back to my friend and what she said, it made me reflect on my time being bullied and caused me to wonder if I’ve gotten over it? There’s plenty of research that talks about the long-term effects of bullying from low self-esteem and depression to anxiety, panic attacks and even suicide in adulthood. When I was going through it, my grades definitely suffered. I was often angry and contemplated suicide. I also contemplated homicide. Years later when the Columbine massacre happened and it was reported that the killers had been bullied, I knew exactly how they felt. If I had access to guns at the time, I might not be sitting here writing this article. Instead, I threw myself into my religious studies and waited for God to take care of it. I believe that God gave me the strength to endure so that I could learn from it and use it to fulfill my purpose.

There’s a Frederick Nietzsche saying that goes, “what does not kill me makes me stronger”. Do I wish I was never bullied? Hell yes! But none of us can change our past, we can only create our future. Being the victim of bullying bothered me for most of my life. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But that turmoil made me approach the world from a place of compassion. It made me want to stand up for others. It’s probably what led me to work in social justice; to protect those not capable of protecting themselves. But I also know that going through that experience is what contributes to me being an awesome parent. It made me a fierce advocate for my kids and any other kid I come across who might be bullied.

Sometimes I think about looking my bullies up on google for a confrontation, telling them, “you know what you did, and I’m here to find out why.” I have wracked my brain trying to explain why I was picked on, why girls hated me, why people wrote “slut” on the bathroom wall next to my name when I was clearly a virgin, why people squirted ketchup all over my brand new pink jogging suit. The bottom line is at this point in my life, I don’t need to know. Because I love the person I am today and everything I went through, both wonderful and heartbreaking, contributed to who I became. Life is much too short to carry around heavy ass hate and hurt baggage and I have made my peace with it. So, to my former bullies who I may or may not run into, I say namaste and I hope you are happy with who you’ve become.


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Creative Blue Balls

blue-ballsHow do I know when it’s time for a blog post? I get restless and irritable. I feel pain on my insides. Like my soul hurts. It’s been 4 months since my last post and that is unacceptable. After being ignored for too long, my creative mind throws a temper tantrum and gives me the silent treatment. I torture myself further by reading everything I can about making time for your passion, choosing creativity over fear, living your best life, bla, bla, bla. Anything to avoid writing, which is in fact my passion. I have yet to understand how I can love something and hate it at the same time. When I don’t write, I experience creative blue balls. I feel tightly wound and the pressure of my creativity builds and builds, desperate to get out, to give birth to my thoughts, opinions and stories. I realize the process of writing requires foreplay. I must nurture myself, and feel loved. I have to feel safe and protected and cherished. I have to woo the words out of myself. And once I get myself to the place of a completed piece, I feel a release, a high, a sense of contentment, a creative orgasm.  Ahhhhh!

I’m such a cliché. When I went back to work, I told myself, “you have to keep writing! You have to make time!” And some small part of me believed I could. But what happened, is what always happens. I got caught up in my every day routines, monotony, minutia, leaving no time for myself or my passion. It’s almost as if subconsciously I created busy work in order to avoid that which scares me, which is, what would happen if I gave my writing the attention and devotion it requires and deserves? What if I actually found happiness there?

I recently discovered (with the help of my therapist and a really good friend) that I thrive in chaos. So I invent it, then manage it in order to feel successful. This is why I constantly struggle, between doing what I need to do and doing what I want to do. But perhaps I have to stop experiencing my writing as a want and instead as a need. Writing is not a luxury, something to do in my spare time, when the stars are aligned and the kids are safely asleep and there are no dishes in the sink. Writing is a necessity for me, as evidenced by this dull ache I have when I don’t honor my creative spirit. Just expressing it now, I feel better already.


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Today was a Good Day

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I got a call this morning around 8:30 saying my therapist had a cancellation and would I be interested in an appointment this afternoon? Last I saw my therapist, we talked about me losing my job and releasing my fear of following my passion to become a writer. At the end of our session, we both expressed excitement for this opportunity in front of me and were eager to start the work. Before I left, I tried to schedule my next appointment only to find that she would be booked for the next month. So I was ecstatic to get the news that I could see her today! I also had an appointment later with a friend who recently started blogging. We were going to talk writing.

Therapy was amazing as usual. The same way I wish everyone would do yoga, I wish everyone went to therapy! It literally is therapeutic. I was challenged to face all the excuses and obstacles I create to block my writing. (If I don’t try, I can’t fail, right?) Great session, but I’ve still got a lot work to do.

Then later in the evening, I met up with my friend to talk writing. And again, it was amazing! She had a laser sharp focus about what she wanted and did not want to write about that left me in awe. I already admired her for her passion in life and compassion for other human beings. But talking to her this evening was just what I needed to get serious about my ambitions. She shared with me valuable resources like books I should read and websites and blogs to visit. She gave me ideas about where my voice might fit in the landscape. We talked about different ways to make money from writing. (I fear I got more out of the meeting than she did, but luckily, we are implementing a writing process, so hopefully I can return the favor soon.) We agreed to meet regularly to bounce ideas off one another and challenge each other to write beyond our comfort level. I know she will make me a better writer. I hope I can do the same for her.

Years and years I’ve been lamenting about how I wanted to become a writer, but it wasn’t until I lost my job that I declared this is it! Now is the time! I can’t keep longing for it. I have to make this happen right now! And a funny thing happened. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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