Friday, June 22, 2018

You're the Ship that Kept Me Afloat

It's been awhile since I last visited you, dear friends.  Why?  Life, yo. 

I met someone.  A really important someone.  You guys, I met my person.  My person.  And in less than a year we went from meeting to dating to buying a house together.  I'm gonna marry him.  And - get this - take his last name. *Gasp*

But, falling in love is not the subject of this post.  You see, this is my final post.  I started this blog as a way to pass time and hold adult conversation (even if one-sided) while raising my 3 children.  I gave you a glimpse into the frightening, but funny, mind of a survival mom.  I was just trying to get by and, for years, you helped me.  But, I am no longer a survival mom.  I am thriving and this blog has come to close. 

I left my ex-husband over 3 years ago and moved to a tiny apartment in a neighboring town.  I was so scared.  I had never been on my own.  I went from my father's house to a dorm room to Jack's house.  But, Jack was drunk 24/7.  Things were so bad we couldn't stay at Jack's house any longer.  I couldn't allow our children to live like that. 

It wasn't  a palace, but it was home. I finally grew up here.  
The closet over the stairs was the dragons' favorite hangout.  

The kids and I were sad and broken when we moved to the tiny apartment.  It didn't take long for my little dragons to bounce back and have a new normal.  But I was mess for quite some time.  I was very much a child when I moved to the apartment. 

And you know what happened?  I grew up there.  I learned to live on my own.  I learned to rely on only me.  I learned that I had the stuff to raise 3 kids, pay all the bills, provide experiences, and even find happiness.  And that's where I am today.  A fully capable, intelligent, passionate, (dare I say sexy?) fully-grown woman. 

So, this is goodbye to Mind of A Survival Mom.  I'm moving on to other projects.  Bigger, better things.  I'm no longer missing what this blog helped provide. 

I have everything.  And I'm Not Broken Anymore

***psst....New Blog Coming soon***

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Feel For You

Yesterday was my birthday.  Wow!  I can't get over all the wonderful wishes I received.  Social media greetings, text messages, phone calls, cards in the mail, even emails.  My sister, badly broken and in a hospital bed, found the energy to wish me a happy birthday.  My niece, still recovering, sang "Happy Birthday to You" from her hospital room.  My dad sent a text AND a card.  My pastor mentioned it during announcements in church.  Heck, even my car insurance company and dentist sent me greetings.  Wanna know who didn't wish me a Happy Birthday?  My mother.

While I am not surprised, and I certainly didn't expect acknowledgment from her, I admit it hurt.  I spent nearly an hour with her yesterday.  On my birthday, I drove her to the grocery store, pushed the cart around the store and carried her groceries into her home.  No mention of my birthday.  She sent me two text messages.  NOTHING.  She couldn't be burdened to remember that it was an important day for me.  My birthday means nothing to her.

The worst thing I ever did to my mother was be born.  I know that now.  I was very angry with her for lying to my dad and me for 37 years.  But, you know what?  Knowing her secret explains so much of the pain she put me through as a child.  When she had my sister, Cecil Roberts "played house" with her.  He visited Amanda.  Mother would hand him Baby Amanda and she would refer to him as "Daddy."  She thought she had a family and some security.

Within a couple months, she was pregnant again.  With me.  And Cecil split.  I was born a constant reminder of another person who left her.  Luckily, she found some other sucker to take care of Cecil's responsibilities and she put him through 20+ years of complete Hell.  (And honestly, it's the best thing that could ever have happened for my sister and me.)

When I was a child, I knew my mother was different from everyone else's mom.  She was so mean.  I hated her for the things she did to me.  My grandmother would give excuses.  "Your mother is sick.  She isn't well.  She can't help it."  As true as that may have been, it did nothing to ease the hurt I felt.  I never received a single apology from her for anything she ever did to me... And I never will.

Now that I'm older, I understand her illness.  I get it.  She's fucking crazy.  Certifiable wack-a-doo.  In a sick way, I have peace knowing there was absolutely nothing I did to make her treat me the way she did and nothing I could have done to have made her better.  But it also gives me great sadness.

I am a mother, too.  I felt those wonderful babies growing inside me.  I counted kicks.  I held them and smelled their new baby smells.  I gave the best care I could to completely helpless, tiny people.  I suffered through twins with colic.  And I loved them with every ounce of my being.

I am sad for my mother.  She did those care-taking essentials for me.  She had similar experiences.  And yet she was not capable of giving one bit of herself in the process.  She cannot love another person.  She calls it love, but it's really "NEED."  She needs everything and has nothing to give.  I am sad for her;  sad that she is unable to know the unreciprocated love that a mother gives a baby, the boundless devotion a mother feels for a child, or the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter.  What breaks my heart the most for her is she doesn't want to get better.  She seems to find comfort in being ill.

I can't control her.  I can't change her.  I can't fix her.  But, I can control how I react to her.  I am done feeling hurt by someone who cannot help the things she does and is unwilling to do what it takes to get better.  I choose to feel nothing.

So, Mother, if you read this, just know I understand you're not made the way I am.  I don't need you to love me.  I love me.  I don't need you to remember I'm important.  I'm fucking important.  I don't need a mother to validate me.  I clawed myself out of the hole you left me in and made a pretty good life for my family.  I'm doing really well.  Things are the way they should be.  It is what it is.  Whatever.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


I don't even know where to begin.  Perhaps with this morning.

I got out of bed at 6:30am to take Jacob to the ER.  He was with his grandma yesterday.  She noticed he had to use the bathroom more often than normal.  She suspected a UTI and told me to bring him into the doctor office she works at on Tuesday (her next shift.)  I have had a UTI and couldn't let Jake suffer until Tuesday.  It was bedtime when Grandma brought the kids home, so I decided to wait until morning to take him.

We had to get up early because the choir I direct at our church was scheduled to sing today.  All three of my kids are in that choir.  I needed to be at the church by 10am.  It's only a couple miles from the ER, so I felt confident we would make it in time.

We were the only people in the ER at 7am and were taken to an exam room very quickly.  Vitals were assessed and Jake peed in a cup.  A doctor came in to check his abdomen and other areas.  And then we sat.  And sat.  And sat.  And SAT. At 9:30am, we were told Jacob had a UTI and antibiotics would be available for pickup at our pharmacy later.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. 

We headed to church with about 10 minutes to spare.  The pianist and I warmed up the choirs and practiced our song.  It was a double choir antiphonal piece. I directed both choirs.  Rehearsal went very well.  I was super excited for my little guys to sing in church.

My twins were very squirrely in their seats this morning as they waited to sing.  Sometimes, they become unsettled.  It is tough for them to make it through the sermon and I usually provide a small snack for them to eat during it.  We usually sing at the beginning of church.  Today, the choirs sang after the sermon.  No snack.  No area to spread out and be away from each other.  I should have expected something to go wrong.  But, I didn't.  And the shit hit the fan.

During the middle of our song, my beautiful sons engaged in a fight with one another.  Shoving, Hitting.  Possibly even strangling.  In front of God and the entire congregation.  I have never been so angry, disappointed, and humiliated in my life.  I was so focused on directing both choirs that I have no idea how or when it began.  I heard chuckles from the congregation and looked at my boys.  There they were, locked in battle.  I looked directly at them and said, "stop it now" as I continued to direct the choirs.  The older choir in the balcony continued to sing without paying attention to them.  The rest of my choir continued to sing as well, but was noticeably distracted.  I was on fire.

After the song was over, my sons refused to leave the chancel.  They knew they were in a lot of trouble.  I took them directly from the chancel and out of the church.  I cut off all of their, "Mommy, I'm sooooo sooooorrrrry" pleas.  And then I let them have it.  Punishment.

1.  No screen time of any kind for 7 days. They are permitted to read, write, and draw.
2.  No toys.  No playing.  They are permitted to go to school and soccer practice.
3. They had to write apology letters to the church.
4.  They had to mop the entire kitchen floor.  I wanted them to do it with sponges, on their hands and knees.  However, Jack allowed them to use a mop.  He had them do it while I was locked in my room to keep myself from killing them.
5.  No talking. This is torture for them.
6.  No sitting on the couch.  If they choose to act like animals, they can sit on the floor like animals.
7. No trip to the zoo on Friday. We had planned to go with my friend, TJ.  They love TJ and were looking forward to seeing him.  Too bad, boys.  I'm sorry, Teej.  I know you wanted to go.
8. No Easter Breakfast or Easter Egg Hunt at the church.  They will be at the service, but none of the extra fun stuff.

Writing apologies to the church. 

It's been very quiet here today.  A silent ride home from church.  A noiseless afternoon.  Mom is furious and the boys are scared.  And they better never act like that again.  They are very upset that we will not be going to the zoo.  Heartbroken.  I'm sad too.  We love the zoo.  I hate that their bad deeds effect others.  Mason didn't do a thing wrong today, but she is suffering along with them.  But, punishment doesn't mean a thing without the follow through.*

*Obviously, this song has nothing to do with the events of today.  However, I can't pass up a chance to work Blue October lyrics into my blog.  Love them.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Well Look at Me, I'm Coming Back Again

Happiness is a tricky thing.  You think you have it.  Joy is right in front of you.  It's yours.  And then, POOF, it's gone.  Maybe, it was never there.  Maybe, it was a mirage.  Maybe, it was invented deep inside your hopeful mind.  

2016, I looked forward to you.  2015 was full of changes.  I left my home.  I left my marriage.  I started a new relationship.  I thought I was happy and I was sure 2016 would be the best year of my life.  Wrong

The year started so well.  I had control of my life.  I was managing all my responsibilities as a single parent and working two jobs.  I found a groove and I enjoyed it.  By April, I managed to confront Jack about his alcoholism and forced myself to no longer be his enabler.  I thought it would be the hardest conversation I'd ever have.  Wrong.  

Jack stopped drinking and found himself again.  He became a true partner in parenting.  My responsibilities lessened and I thought it was the beginning of easier times for me.  Wrong.  

Jack was clean, but not sober.  By the end of summer, he was throwing away companionship time with our children to sit on a bar stool and feed booze to a new "friend."  He started a sexual relationship with an alcoholic crack addict, 16 years older than him.  He tore me to pieces when he showed me their conversations.  He talked to her.  For 20 fucking years, I begged him to talk to me.  I thought nothing could hurt worse than knowing I was never good enough, but an old, used, piece of town trash was.  I thought it wasn't possible to hold more anger inside me.  Wrong.

Jack found the light.  In an epiphany, he came to terms with alcoholism as a disease.  He saw how utterly disgusting his choices were.  He chose to seek help through counseling and AA.  He was, and continues to be, completely open.  He is humble.  I chose to focus on nurturing a friendship with him.  After all, we are on the same team.  We still need each other if we have any hope of raising well-adjusted adults.  I thought the final months of the year would be simple.  Wrong.  

In September, I started receiving Facebook messages from Cecil Roberts.  "Ask your mother who Cecil Roberts is."  "Have you asked your mother who Cecil Roberts is?"  "Ask your mother who sang" some stupid song I'd never heard of.  I ignored those messages.  I thought they were from someone who was trying to sell me something.  You know, like if I had replied he would have told me about some golden money making opportunity.  It was just insignificant spam.  Dead Wrong

In October, I got a message from a woman named Shannon.  "Hello, April.  My name is Shannon.  I live in Indiana and I believe you are my sister."  WTF????  And then my gears started to turn.  Who is Cecil Roberts?  I replied to Shannon.   I thought it was possible that she could actually be looking for my sister.  I have never known who my sister's biological father was and our mother has given several stories over the years.  I suggested to Shannon that she may be looking for my sister and offered to forward the message to her.  Shannon's reply, "Cecil Roberts is my father and he says that he is both Amanda and your biological father."  

You guys, I started to wonder if my father was my biological father when I was pregnant with my first child.  I moved in with my dad when I was 15 years old.  My relationship with my mother was horrible.  She was my monster.  My father is one of the nicest, most generous people I know.  I once asked him how he had gotten stuck with someone as crazy as my mother.  He told me their first date was on New Year's Eve, 1978.  My sister was almost 3 months old.  He told me he fell in love with Baby Amanda and he knew he wanted to be her dad.  I thought that was pretty amazing.  

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I truly didn't quite understand how long the gestational process was.  I also wasn't sure when I became pregnant.  The doctor estimated a due date based on the size of my baby at my first ultrasound and told me that an average pregnancy is 280 days.  

My brain loves numbers.  I cling to them.  I was born on the 239th day of 1979.  My parents had their first date on New Year's Eve.  My mother had always told me I was born early.  I was a 6-pound-13-ounce, healthy, baby girl.  I may have been early, but I wasn't 40 days early.  In that moment, in 2006, I recalled that conversation with my dad and I started to wonder if it was even possible for him to be my biological father.  Jack and I had many, many, many conversations about it.  I even told my best friend, Michael, about my doubts.  But, I let it go.  

Then Shannon contacted me.  Amanda and I had many conversations about this new information.  I called my mother.  She said "Hello" and I immediately replied, "Who is Cecil Roberts?"  You could hear a pin drop.  For what felt like eternity, she said nothing.  And then the lies started.  "He's no one.  He's a trouble maker.  Do not talk to him.  Block him right now."  She refused to talk about it, even though there was some evidence to support his claim.  Instead of admitting her lies, she created a distraction.  She stabbed herself with a pair of scissors.  Rather than get help for her obvious psychological problems, she signed herself out of a treatment center because, "she didn't like the music the other women listened to."  

Through Shannon, Amanda and I pieced together some very disturbing details.  I am always honest with you in this blog, but I just can't tell you how my mother knew Cecil Roberts.  It is disgusting.  It is horrific.  And, today, it would be criminal.  She was a victim and he was the piece of shit who used her and left her.  

The hardest conversation of my life was talking to my dad about this.  He likely raised 2 kids he owed nothing to.  He put up with years of Hell and torment from my insane mother.  And when I apologized to him for basically ruining his life -and he could have had a much easier life without us in it- he said he wouldn't change a thing.  He said Amanda and I are his daughters.  He said he loves us no matter what.  (My dad is AMAZING.) 

I cannot give words to the anger I have for Cecil Roberts.  At this time, I have no idea whether he is my actual biological father.  I only know it is a possibility.  He continues to claim he is Amanda's and my father.  He claims he tried to stay around for years, but his life was threatened and he left us for his own safety.  He claims he was too young to know better.  He claims he met my dad and respected him so much that he "got out of the way." And, when asked why he chose now to attempt to re-enter our lives, he claims it's because he thought his daughter should know her sisters. 

Cecil Roberts, I hope this makes it's way to you.  FUCK YOU.  If you believed you had 2 daughters, you should have stuck around and fought for us.  You were too young?  Bullshit.  My dad is the same age as you and he raised us with more love than I hope you've ever known.  You used my mother.  You took advantage of her.  And when you couldn't hack it, you moved on. Quickly, as Shannon is only 13 months younger than me. You didn't stick around for months, let alone years.  You hurt my mother.  She was already volatile.  She had been abused.  She had daddy issues.  She was mentally fragile.  You knew it and you hurt her anyway.  And here you are, trying to hurt me.  Motherfucker, you have no idea how strong I am.  When others are weak, when others stumble, when others fall... I'm still standing

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Raisin' Cain, I Spit in Your Eye

The painful truth about making my life public is the mixture of response I receive.  Most readers are very supportive.  Thank you.  I love you.  I am so very touched by the prayers and well-wishes.

But every now and then, someone feels the need to kick me when I'm down.  This message is for that "anonymous" someone. (Psst... never leave an anonymous comment when you're logged into a social media account.  I know who you are.  *kisses*)

Keep kicking.  Your hate makes me stronger.

You may think you know something about me.  You don't.  You know nothing.  You are so wrapped up in your own mess, you fail to notice me.

My posts this week are not malicious.  They are simply a therapeutic way to voice my pain.  And it's MY PAIN.  I can be as public as I want these days.  I have nothing to hide.  I have no reason to remain quiet.  I was foolish to be embarrassed by Jack's drinking and stupid to think hiding his problem protected him.  I should have shouted it from the mountain tops years ago.

There is something very unsettling in a comment made anonymously.  And while I don't owe anyone an explanation, I find I have something to say.  Jack does not have a new woman.  I have not lost my mind over the fact that he began a brief, sexual relationship with someone else.  I couldn't care less about that.  It is his choice in partner that worries me to my bones.

Jack is an addict.  He chose to bring another addict into his life.  Perhaps you don't see the danger in this.  Perhaps you are ignorant.  I can accept that.  But I know all too well the danger of it.

Example: Jack is a smoker.  Awhile ago, we both quit for an entire year.  On his birthday, we stupidly decided to buy a pack of cigarettes to split while out with friends.  I was able to continue to be a social smoker every now and then.  (And I have since quit... 4/1/2015) Jack was immediately back to a pack or more a day.  Jack is an addict.

If Jack sits on a bar stool every day or hangs out with drinkers in his free time, he will eventually take a drink.  Ask him.  He admits this.  His brain will tell him one beer won't hurt.  And then the next time, he will have a few beers.  And then the next time, maybe some vodka.  And then he will die.  The father of my children will die if he drinks again.  Let me repeat that in case you fail to recognize the seriousness of his disease: THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN WILL DIE IF HE DRINKS AGAIN. 

So, dear Anonymous Reader, do you think I am fighting over some woman?  No.  I am fighting for my children.  You know them, Anonymous.  I thought you cared about them. But in case you have forgotten, they are amazing and they deserve to know their father.  A sober father.

I love them more than life.  I will do what it takes to make sure they have everything they need.  For a long time, I did it alone.  Jack is clean and he is working on sobriety.  If I have to upset his life, meet his lies with truth, or hit him in the face (that happened) to help him see the danger in his decisions, that is what I will do.  Over and over and over again.  My conscience is clean.

Thank you for bringing up things that were resolved years ago.  It reminds me how far the rest of us have come.  You paint an unjustified and ugly picture of me to readers who have no idea what you are writing about.  You help me remember me: a revival of my former, glorious self.  Thank you.  The Bitch is Back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Learned to Live Half Alive

An open letter to my husband's mistress.


In the beginning, we both liked you.  You were a fun flirtation to bring into our lives.  You came around for parties.  We carelessly passed you around.  You were such a good time. But you weren't a daily presence in our home then.

Jack took to life on the road.  You comforted him when I couldn't be there.  You kept the lonely away.  You helped him feel comfortable talking to others and making new friends.  I still liked you then. I didn't realize how dangerous you were.

When he came home, he occasionally visited you in bars.   Every now and then, he brought you home with him.  It didn't concern me.  We had a new baby and you weren't needed to ease loneliness he no longer felt.  I would give just about anything to go back to the days when our little girl was the light of his life and you were unimportant.

The twins arrived and the stress quadrupled.  Jack was laid off a lot.  He was a proud man and I think the inability to provide for the needs of his family took a toll on him.  I was also out of my mind with postpartum depression and terribly hard to live with.  He left our home for 6 months and took you with him.  I wanted to die.

But I pulled myself up from the trenches.  I found me again.  I guess I assumed Jack had found himself too.  He came home... Not because he wanted to, but because he had to.  We made the most of it.  For a little while, we got along well.  And then you returned.

For 6 long years, I fought you.  I threw you out.  He brought you back.  You were more powerful than me.  You evicted me from my own home.  You took my place in his life.  I only had children and love to offer. My gifts created duty and required reciprocity.  You promised an altered sense of reality and the ability to forget one's pain.  And you gave freely.

But you cost so much.  You destroy trust.  You destroy happiness.  You destroy families.  You destroy lives.

You are not my disease, but I am sick.  There is so much of me missing.  I'm tired of fighting for someone I no longer believe in.  I am tired of fighting for my children to have a relationship with their father.  I am tired of fighting you.  Add mine to your Jar of Hearts.  I can't fight you any longer.

I hate you, Vodka.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Things End Up a Bit Too Heavy.

Grief is like the ocean.  The ebb and flow of a tide.  Coming closer and closer until the wave crashes on the shore and then backs away.  Receding into the blackness.  Seeming to disappear.  And then back again, as if it never left.

But what am I grieving?  I don't know.  The breaking of a promise?  The loss of trust?  Am I still grieving for feeling forced from my home?

Me, sans make-up and no sleep for nearly 3 days.  Sadness makes one look old.  It isn't pretty, folks.

I have taken so much criticism in the last 20 months for moving out.  I hope friends and loved ones now understand why I did.  It wasn't that I didn't love my husband.  I did.  So much.  I always will.  I had to leave our home.  There was no other choice.  Our daughter could not be raised in a home where a man treated a woman that way.  Our sons could never be allowed to believe that type of behavior was common and acceptable.

It was not a decision made lightly.  We had several conversations about the possibility that I would move out.  I cried.  He cried.  But he never stopped drinking.  So the children and I had to go.

He helped us move, assembled beds for the children and even accompanied me when I purchased appliances. We have spent much time forging a friendship and many overnights talking until nearly morning.  He is still thoughtful enough to call his home, "our home."

I stopped trusting him long before I moved out.  While he was still drinking, I hated leaving the children alone with him.  My overnight visits started as a way to make sure they were safe.  But they continued long after he stopped drinking.  And we seemed to find a deeper level of intimacy than we had even in the prime of our marriage.  I was truly trusting him again.

So imagine my surprise, my shock, my extreme disappointment when he violated my trust.  He put his sobriety at risk by spending night after night in bars.  He went to parties where getting drunk was the entertainment.  He became sexually involved with a 52-year old crack addict.  These cannot be the decisions of a sober man.

Neither one of us have slept the last 2 nights.  He has spent both nights in my apartment.  Maybe because he is trying to salvage our friendship and somehow convince me to trust him with our children.  Or maybe because he doesn't trust himself to stay sober alone.

We have cried.  I have yelled.  We have held each other.  We have pushed each other away.

I'm not sure what I am grieving.  But I know I am.  Even I am aware of the presence of the emotional stages of grief.

Disbelief:  I cannot believe he did this.
Anger:  I hate him for doing this.
Denial:  There is no way he screwed a crack head, is there?  No way he would bring that mess into our lives.  She isn't really a crack head, right?  (He did. She is.) 
Bargaining:  Lord, if you just keep him sober, I'll do anything.  My kids need their dad.  Please.
Guilt:  If I hadn't left, he would have found sobriety and stuck with it.
Depression:  How do we move forward?  What's the point?

It's all there.  These feelings.  Everything but Acceptance.  I don't know if I can ever accept that he is alcoholic and makes addict decisions.  I don't know if I can ever accept the level to which he has put his own health and the lives of our children at risk.

Grief is like the ocean.  If you're not careful, the tide will pull you under.  I'm hurting, but I'm a fighter.  And even though I find myself far from the shore, somehow I'll Float On.