Monday, March 22, 2010

Retracing footprints...

It's been 11 months since the most profound loss I've ever known came into my life.

How to describe that realization is, at the moment, beyond even my verbose ability.

There isn't an adequate way to reconstruct the pain that is looking at a perfectly formed little baby that was once alive within your core of self. There isn't a way to describe the agony of pushing a baby into the world that should have been allowed to stay within you, safe, warm, protected...and mostly...yes...the most important part is that the little baby should be ALIVE.

There are no words to convey the ripping apart that occurs when you realize that your body has become a tomb...and that it had stayed a tomb for a MONTH even after you thought all had passed. Twins. Twins that I'd dreamed about since I was a child.


Ashes scattered in a once beautifully wooded gully that now is littered with remnants of trees, scattered all over the ground by careless heavy booted men.

I find myself rewinding my life in my mind, reaching back in to the depths of how I came to this very moment. I see the gut wrenching sobs of a 15 year old girl, sitting in a clinic...feeling there were no other options available to her. Someone I didn't know told me I had a choice....and I made that choice. I made the choice to be a mother. I walked forward with a tiny hand in mine, and strove to keep that little bundle safe. I protected him with the fierceness of a mother lion.

Today, 20 years later....he sneers at me with paranoid accusations. Displaced rage in his eyes....Manic...again.


and he is right.

I can't. I sit in my room, reaching for the breathe I so desperately need to cling to. Right now.

I look into the mirror and touch the strands of silver in my hair. My life is a little less than halfway over if statistics have anything to say about it. I have spent much of that half crying. Crying over being abused and neglected. Crying over being violated in more ways than one. Crying over parental mental illness. Crying over being pregnant much, much too early. Crying over being left alone to deal with it on my own. Crying because of desperation, and looming starvation. Crying because my child seemed....harder than was normal. Crying because I worried that the man that loved me would give up because of how hard my child was. Crying because of miscarriage. Crying because of more parental mental illness. Crying because I had to be stronger than I ever wanted to be. Crying because my sweet husband had to be stronger than I ever wanted him to have to be. Crying because of fear. Crying because the children that came from a loving marriage were being hurt and abused by my firstborn son. Crying because none of the "experts" could figure him out. Crying because my firstborn child lay near death with his beautiful face mangled from cruel pavement. Crying because of poverty. Crying because of being pregnant....and Crying because that pregnancy led me to holding a perfect dead baby, while another rotted within me. Crying because I couldn't do ANYTHING about it.

And crying....11 months later....because I've had the thought of "WHY?????"

And crying again...because there is NO answer.

My eldest son's upper lip curls as he belts out insulting accusations with no merit other than that he BELIEVES it to be true. That is enough for him.

He is unable to give me the benefit of the doubt even though he knows his memory is faulty.

His blue eyes turn gray when he looks at me as the oppressive force of chaos in his life, blaming me for his mental illness's clutching grasp.

He lashes out and voice of reason can permeate his faulty cognition's. Lost in the head injury and mental illness that has claimed the child that I chose to keep against the advice of statistics that pointed down a road of impending failure. A teenage mother is viewed as a poor excuse for a mother. No matter how hard she tries, it is never enough in this society. Marked with a scarlet letter for ALL time. More acceptable to have given him away, or ceased his very life spark. Even 20 years later, I see people's eyes shift as they do the math and realize how young I was...and how old he is. Even 20 years later, I see them change their opinion of me, even if for only a second. This isn't paranoia, it's fact. I've been seeing it for 20 years, I know what it looks like.


But I was a really loving mother. An attentive mother. A nurturing mother.

I gave my childhood away and became an adult overnight.

I gave my young beauty away to the enrichment of his life.

Everything was for HIM.

And in my darkest hour....a year of grieving and suffering more acute than I would have dreamed possible....

that little boy takes out the knife of his most volatile accusations of paranoia and
falseness and stabs me as hard as he can...walking away with a swing in his step.

and he whispers...."You would have been better off if I'd never been born...."

I pound the words out of my ears.

That CAN'T be true!!!!

I won't believe it.


I won't allow him to SAY that to me. I won't allow him to flush 20 years of my life down the toilet of wrong turns!

I want to scream that he is wrong...but his ears are closed to me.

I have no power.

My footprints have blown away, and there is no retracing to be had.

There is only now.

and the next step.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A pocket full of gold....

It's Saint Patrick's Day.

Last night, I caught my 4 younger children dressing thickly in green...they wanted to be sure that no one would pinch them in their bunks before they awoke in the morning. They looked very silly all bundled in various shades of grass, pine, kelly and forest, and I had to laugh about their devotion to St. Patrick's Day lore.

"Hey guys, St. Patrick's Day isn't a day to pinch and hurt each other just because they aren't wearing green. I don't want ANYONE pinching ANYONE tomorrow!"

My 13 year old son stood about a foot an a half above my hobbit frame and grinned from ear to ear as he said very confidently..."Actually mom, St. Patrick's Day IS all about that. Our noble St. Patrick, the man we are honoring,was Sainted for finding and killing non-Christians. In other words, people who didn't share his belief...people who didn't conform to the dogma he followed. St. Patrick's day is all about punishing those who don't conform to the rules. Therefore, ALL those who do not conform to the RULES of wearing GREEN tomorrow, SHALL be pinched by order of following dogma and conformity, in honor of Saint Patrick."

I should have known.

My children are home schooled. What this means is that they, by virtue of my encouragement to learn and seek knowledge in every corner of their lives, know far more than I do about almost everything. They absorb information. Ingest it at every turn. It has started to feel like every-time I think I'm going to introduce them to something new...they ALREADY know it in much more detailed versions than I would ever have attempted to offer. They love the macabre in life, and as such, know their history in all it's glory. History is full of gore and horror you know....

They delight in it.

Not to make them sound like little ghouls. They are the sweetest bunch of kids you could ever meet. Neighbors know they can count on them to watch their pets, rake their yards, bring in their mail. They are gentle and tender with each other, and helpful to me. They just happen to have raw, gory, and dark humor at the forefront of their educational delight. It's really no different than the grotesque songs people learn at camp. Their just better at it than I ever was. They don't just sing the songs, they make them up and play chords along with the words. They get the rhythm down and belt it out with gusto.

I mentioned this to my husband this morning. That I was sometimes concerned about their DARK humor, and it's sophistication. He smiled and reminded me that I came from "The Adams Family" and that he was surprised that I was at all shocked that that dark humor had passed into their veins. Then, we talked about how they are dealing with grief too. That humor IS a way some people process grief. That having been through what they have been through this year, it seems really healthy to him that they are finding ways to sing and laugh about the darkness in life, and still are the sweetest, most tender children he's ever met. They are processing their pain with each other, through laughter and song, through pouring through history and science to extract all the "ugly" truth of life and really find out more about what it IS to be alive.

I realized that I want to rewind something that can't be rewound; I want to take my kids back to the innocence of being happy singing the theme from Barney the purple dinosaur...

"I love you, You love me, we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you...won't you say you love me too!"

I want to take them back to making little animals with play dough, and planting daisies in the garden. I don't want them to know that their brothers can die. I don't want them to know that they almost lost their mother....twice. I don't want them to hear me crying into my pillow at night, or to see my eyes, once sparkling and cheerful, raw from wiping tears away. I don't want them to know about the horrible things people and nature do to each other. I don't want them to question Santa, the tooth fairy, or....God; Even though I am struggling with my own rapid fire doubts, questions, and furies.

And yet---I am so proud of them. Their voices are clear and true. They speak with confidence, honesty, and sincerity. They are kind to others, they are funny, witty, musical and intelligent. They are helpful, vivid explorers of life. They love each other...they love their parents...they love the world. In SPITE of it's ugliness.

They love the world. They love their lives.

And, it's not because they don't know the truth. They understand that life dishes out pain, disappointment....true horrors. But they still seek out rainbows.

They seem to have found the pot of gold that life has to offer.

Yes, they all went to sleep clad in green armor. They also set a trap for a is tradition. They kissed me goodnight, reminded me to wear green today.....and sang beautifully harmonious, dark, giggly songs as they drifted off to sleep.

So, today, as I sit in front of the computer preparing to write a few articles, and spending a little "me" time on my blog...I am, of course, wearing green, and the corned beef that I "corned" myself is simmering in the crock pot upstairs. The children woke up this morning to discover that their trap had been launched, and the cupcake within had been devoured with delightful remnants of crumbs left behind (burp!) along with 5 gold coins for their pockets. They know that life can be unkind. But they are still laughing. They know the history of this holiday, but they are still enjoying the fun that is to be found in the NOW of this holiday. They know that people they love can...and will...die. They also know that life moves forward, that butterflies still dance in the sky, that songs can still be sung, rainbows will still appear, and that love is eternal.

Love is eternal.

That is a treasure worth laughing about....worth smiling about.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Longing for Control...

The sun is shining, making the layers of recently fallen snow glitter and sparkle like a blanket of frozen teardrops. Last year at this time, I might have said they glittered and sparkled like are frozen teardrops.

It's the juxtaposition of that statement that invites me to state it in that fashion. The dialectic between a sunny sky filled with golden sun rays and gliding birds overlooking a frozen valley of tears. Because today...that is how I feel. I can see that sun's inviting warmth...but I am down here in the cold.

I suppose that is considered improvement because I can, at least, see the rays of sunshine around me.

But down here in the cold, frozen wrath of life, my beautiful 6 year old little Bear came in from the snow in gasping tears, for our beloved rolly poly sheepdog puppies were taking turns chewing on his most coveted little stuffed raccoon..."Eddie". He keeps it, usually, high and safe on his top bunk perch in his room, but it seems that little Eddie must have tumbled down from the arms of his sleeping friend, and fallen into the toothy grip of Felix, who, in a sense of brotherly companionship, shared him willingly with Ferdinand. My sweet little boy found them in a tug of war with Eddie's head in Felix's mouth, and his tail in Ferdinand's.

More loss. More devastation. To little Bear, my sweet brown eyed darling...Eddie is his dear friend. Not just a stuffed animal. His loss is painful...real. At this moment, I have a mangled Eddie sitting next to my computer as I try to grope in my mind for how I can "fix" him as requested. His nose is gone. chewed completely to smithereens. I can't imagine that a "new" Eddie would ever pass the bar. Eddie is Eddie. A new toy wouldn't be Eddie. How can I fix it? How can I make it right again?

Where is the magic that all moms are supposed to have to kiss the pain away?

I don't have it.

I can't fix it.

I can't make it better.

This truth is glaring at me from all corners of my life.

I can't bring what is lost back.

I can't fix anything to make it whole again.

I can't make it better.

I can't control loss from occurring again and again...

And...I can't stop the tears, or heal the hearts that are broken.

I can't rewind life to do it over differently.

Eddie has been mangled, irreparably...never to look as he looked before.

And Simon and Alexander are gone.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Just right for NOW!

I logged into my computer today--

and found myself bombarded with images of "fat" bodies morphing into a fraction of what they once were. "You can have all this!" the images scream..."2 tips to a flat sexy stomach" Pictures of what is supposedly "ugly: next to what is supposedly "sexy"....flashing...insisting....

insisting that we are NOT o.k. unless we look the way we are told we SHOULD look. Unless we are free from pores, marks, blemishes...and especially FAT.

I know it was just an ad. But I also know the in's and out's of psychology...and I understand what subliminal drenching looks like. And THIS is it.

I log on....I see the photos....I see the words that imply one body is better than another...

and I look at myself from the outside in and I see that my body.....ISN'T "o.k." and I'm "supposed" to feel shamed into action, least someone has to have their eyes burned out by the size of my arse.

and then, when I go to the grocery store, the stacks of magazines in the check out are placed "just so" so that I will be sure to see their vital messages...and I am "told" in no uncertain terms that my body "doesn't look right".

I remember being a young voluptuous teen with a swimmers body. I remember that I wasn't thin enough even when my body was simply curve and muscle. It was NEVER good enough...even when I vomited into a toilet to keep trim...even when I was starving myself...I was never thin enough for anyone else. Never thin enough for me.

The words "too fat" "fat ass" "thunder thighs"........have followed me in echos. But, distinctly I remember men being attracted to me "even though I was chubby". My eldest sons father went as far as to inform me with bewilderment in his voice that he found me to be really sexy...even though he knew he "shouldn't." And when I became pregnant in the poor judgment that is a teenage heart, he informed me at that time that though I WAS the kind of woman you'd want to marry...I wasn't beautiful enough to date...and he left. My husband, sweet a different brand of man. He openly adores my body. Isn't afraid of voluptuous critical of the media for their snide presentations of airbrushed and completely altered "beauty". He loves matter what his culture thinks about my body. Though my weight has increased under mountains of stress and grief and I can't fit into the wedding dress that stood before him 15 years ago... I know that my husband's affection has not waned, I know his desire is brilliantly present.

I was only moments ago looking at the photos flashing on my computer screen. Two women's, full, fact, very sexy. . is "BEFORE" if she was ugly at that time....I don't see the ugly part that is supposedly obvious to the advertisement. I just see a full, sexy body--much like my own in fact, but much more tan. Next to it is a scaled down version...pert breasts, slender waist....pretty....young looking little thing. That's the "AFTER"...but what if...

WHAT IF.....

What if the TRUTH is simply that the before and after are REVERSED normals and PERFECTLY o.k.???? What if the supposed AFTER was the BEFORE and the BEFORE was the AFTER. What if it was just FINE to be full bodied. What if no one acted like you were less than acceptable just because you carry a full body around? Studies DO in fact state that weight alone is NOT a precursor to ill health, is activity levels and types of diet that indicate ill health. In other words...a person who is active that eats a healthy diet may IN FACT be perfectly healthy even if "overweight". interesting. very interesting. So why the hatred for full bodies. Why the prejudice and the constant berating? It's easy to blame a negate them entirely...just because of their body. No questions asked...just blame and disgust. Just constant advertising to point fingers and make people feel bad about their bodies.

I am sitting here....wondering when human beings started deciding that their bodies were unacceptable unless thin?

I am sitting here wondering when it became acceptable to criticize the body we live in...and I'm wondering how to put an end to this madness.

I suppose it simply starts with me. Loving my own spite of the ads that flash and declare that my body right now is UGLY. I suppose it comes in the form of defiance that states that I am BEAUTIFUL no matter what. I guess it comes from slapping my own self around in a powerful shakedown that says "DAMN IT SARA! WAKE UP TO WHO YOU A R E !!!!! LIVE WHAT YOU PREACH! K N O W THE TRUTH!! Don't believe the LIES...not even a LITTLE bit! KNOW YOURSELF AS THE BEAUTIFUL, SEXY, POWERFUL WOMAN THAT YOU ARE!

Why do we let "them" do it? Why do I listen to the lies of our culture? Why do they have power over me even AFTER I understand that it's all LIES? We've forgotten something....something so important. We've forgotten that caring for our bodies isn't simply about being thin. It's about loving our bodies with healthy food, providing fresh's about embracing ourselves and feeling love for these bodies that protect us. You can be overweight and healthy. Studies KNOW this to be true, and yet....we see all fat as unhealthy. ALL fat is BAD....but that is the lie. It's not. And I'm not lazy, unhealthy, ugly or worthless just because I am ALSO full bodied. I have enough pain in my life. I don't need to pile on more sad feelings....I don't need to hate this body. I don't need to assault myself again and again just because I don't have the "perfect" beach body.

I say SCREW the marketers and psychologists and critics that would have me shamed into hiding forever. SCREW THEM!

I'm sick of being told that my breasts are too big and too saggy, I'm done with feeling that my hips are too wide, or that I'm too short, too this...too that! I'm sick of being told that my hair is too frizzy, my smile too open, my laugh too loud, eyes too brown or my feet too wide. I'm sick of not being "right" for the eyes of anyone else. Judgment from the eyes of others that burns into my gut... that attempts, and often succeeds at making me feel bad for just BEING what I AM.

I just AM who I AM. I am not TOO anything. I am just.....


And "me" simply......part of the whole. and that part.....that part that is me.....

is really perfectly beautiful right now. not AFTER. but...right NOW. And if it changes...that's just as fine as right NOW. Because it isn't my shell that's my spirit. It isn't this body that is's the culture we are in. On that isn't my tears that are's the people telling me to stop crying that are off base.

This love has to start with me. This acceptance has to start with me. This path of has to start with me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Under Attack

Most of you may know that my babies ashes are resting in a beautiful wooded gully near my home. It's a piece of wilderness surrounded by homes, protected and wild...full of foxes, deer, badgers, rabbits....even black bear. In the spring, purple and yellow flowers fill every crevice, and long wild grasses grow in abundance near the little stream that flows down the mountain.

Imagine my horror when as I approached it, I heard chain saws. I saw piles of trees, cut down. Big trees...beautiful ancient trees. Killed.

Imagine my devastation to see a team of dirty, ignorant men with chainsaws and spray paint turning my sacred place...into a disaster.


Why would they take this beautiful haven and trash it? How could that even be LEGAL?

and yet...

apparently, it IS legal.

They had been ordered by park and rec to do this, to "clean up" the forest.

More like...clean it OUT. What was once a place where I could cry in privacy now is in full view of the road, a bunch of condos, and the school up the hill. I begged them not to cut the little twin pines...I begged them to leave my babies spot untouched. A reluctant man with a chainsaw nodded. He'd leave em...or so he said.

But my gully has been altered. My babies sacred primary place to cry in privacy. Gone.

Littered with piles of dead trees and branches. The deer have fled...the foxes too. It now looks like a park in progress instead of a wilderness stand.

I never dreamed that my private place could be desecrated. We chose that spot thinking it would never was precious. How could anyone want to change it????

My babies ashes have been trampled by careless men in big iron toed boots, who spit rudely on their stone with their tobacco stained chew spit.

My eldest son has basically given me the finger as he walks away in his independence in full manic ecstasy, and my twin babies are dead, their resting place desecrated.

I am trying to breathe...but the breath is stuck in my chest. I am trying to remember the sea turtles. I am trying to avoid being hit by the bricks of life that keep flying at me. I am trying to understand the un-understandable.

and now....the sacred place that I find my breath ruined.

a matter of legality

My eldest informed me last night that he legally doesn't have to call me to let me know if he's alright. That is correct. He legally has no obligation to call his mother. So, I guess that's where he's at. And...I guess it is where I am at, simply by default. So much for attachment parenting efforts for the past 20 years. Thanks Mental Illness. Thanks for stealing my son. But, hey mental illness, just for the suck.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A thief in the night

This is the news from Glacial Lake Missoula....I was standing outside in my yard, looking down upon the valley that, at one time, was a massive lake. You can still see the water rings on the surrounding hills, and the idea that my home was once lake front property is a little odd to me considering that the only water I can see from my house is the know, the river that runs through "it". In any case, I was standing in the yard looking out over the valley that was once a lake, thinking.

For once, I wasn't thinking about the little twins that could have been. No...I was thinking about the boy that got to be. My eldest son. A darling bundle of energy that had this young mother hopping up and down just to keep him safe, because he was nonstop trouble. 20 years later, that little bundle is a tall, slender young man with beautiful blue green eyes and sandy blond hair. His beautiful face marked lightly on one side where cruel pavement hit him without mercy as he fell to the ground in a bike accident that would alter the pathways in his brain for all time.

My son, my beautiful baby of 20 years ago...the boy that I defended and adored...this ball of energy and vibrant spirit...not only struggles with a brain injury that complicated his ability to remember and process information, but...he is also Bipolar.

Mental Illness runs in tangible lines through my family on both sides. You can trace it. I was raised by it. And when I became a parent....I raised it.

Being Bipolar can look different in different people. For some, it turns into extreme mania for weeks on end, erratic behavior, agitation, depression, racing speech and thoughts, etc...etc....For my son, it has a rapid cycle. Almost like a lunar phase that changes him. When he was younger, trying to describe it to therapist we would call him "our werewolf child" because it seemed cyclical...monthly. It wasn't until after his brain injury that they were able to diagnose him properly. 17 years of asking questions...of dealing with behavior that most parents would run screaming into the night about. I once went to a NAMI meeting (National Alliance of Mental Illness) to get support, but was sitting next to an 80 year old woman, who was crying about the fact that her Bipolar son was manic again....and I left that meeting in tears, seeing myself sitting in her place, knowing that I would one day be that 80 year old woman...still worried about the mentally ill son that she loved, and still spent sleepless nights crying about. I knew at that moment, that mental illness wasn't something I could get away from. I knew at that moment, that my son would never "get better", no matter how much I love him. No matter how hard I try to help him.

My son is a young man with Bipolar disorder.

Even if he improves in his skills with his brain injury...he will always be a person with Bipolar disorder.

And this young man. . .This beautiful, creative person that I love...that I gave up my freedom and childhood for...this person that I defended, protected, and adored...has not returned my calls for two weeks.

I am trying not to worry. The last thing I said via text message to him was that I wondered if he was doing alright. I mentioned that he had seemed a little irritable lately, and I just wanted to know if he was o.k..

He never responded.

This tells me that he's manic. It tells me that his medications aren't working, or that he has stopped taking them.

He is 20 years old. Out of my hands. In his own life.

But still,

I worry.

Mental illness. It's something that steals away it's victims. It leaves loved ones in the dark, groping for answers that it will never provide. It passed through me, to my child, a person I would protect with my dying breath. But just like Simon and Alexander...I couldn't protect my eldest from the Bipolar disorder that he most likely inherited from his great grandfather on my fathers side, or his grandmother on my mothers side. I couldn't protect him.

I don't know where he is, or why he isn't calling.

I left a message this morning that asked him to please call me...


nothing. yet.

My wise husband tells me not to worry, he reminds me of all the times I worried in the past...even called the police to find him....and he was fine. Self absorbed and manic, but...completely fine. I'll try to stop worrying. I'll try to keep looking for me breath.

But,I wish I could understand why life is so hard.

I wish I could understand.