the goodies.

To the mother of my daughter.

Although I’ve never met you, you hold a place very close within my heart. It’s taken me months to realize that it’s okay to be angry with you, but also to cherish you at the same time.

Sixteen years ago you gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; that by the amazing grace of this universe, ended up in my life, home, and arms. I always wonder what kind of woman you were, what you were like, if you loved animals the way my daughter does, if she got her amazing chocolate drop eyes from you, and if you were strong like she is.

It’s been hard sitting by her, when she cries and misses you, it’s hard to see her hurting. However, it’s amazing to see the love my daughter still has for you.. and I’m truly thankful and happy she does. You are apart of her life line. You supported her with oxygen and the nutrients she needed to grow within you for nine months. You felt the kicks and movements she created in your tummy, you felt the pain of labor and delivery. You felt the joy when my daughter took her first breath in this crazy world, and I admire you for that.

When I first met my daughter, I didn’t know she would be the biggest inspiration in my life and the only thing my world would end up revolving around. She was snappy, afraid, angry, and probably many more things… so needless to say… we didn’t exactly mesh well. The first day she called me Mom we were in a room at the group home I worked at. My eyes filled up with tears and I instantly wanted to just save her from every single thing she was feeling. Time passed, and I left the group home for a different job and my daughter met a family. We parted ways, but were brought back together by god himself I believe. The second time she called me Momma was about 3 months after moving in with me.

I don’t know every detail. I don’t know every word that was said. I know bits and pieces of past memories and emotions. It’s hard to know those little things, but I’m thankful that I’m able to do so. I know life is hard, and that sooner or later you will look back on these recent years and feel hurt or sadness on missing out on my daughters life… one thing I can promise you though, is she will always have a home. She will always be fed. She will never have to go without or wonder where she will be moving to next. She will remained loved and wanted by her mom and I. We will push her to succeed and thrive in this world. If you ever question if she will go down dark paths… please know, she won’t. She’s moving mountains already. She’s made this earth her canvas and she won’t stop painting until she’s left her mark.

Watercolors and oil paints can tend to be a little messy sometimes… such as life. I hope you always know though… that no matter what challenges may arise or what darkness may fall, we are thankful and beyond honored to be the parents of our daughter.

To the mother our our daughter, thank you.

The real world.

Since the shooting in Florida, there have been threats upon threats of mass shootings at my daughters school. I didn’t want to bring up the topic, I didn’t want to ask her if she had thought of a safety plan…. but I knew it was something that needed be brought up, and I knew I needed to prepare her.

“Kiddo, we need to talk. I need to bring to something to your attention no matter how scary it might be. The ugly reality is that there are people out there targeting schools across the United States. Have you thought about this? What are you feeling? Have you made a safety plan..” I never thought I would have to explain a safety procedure to my sixteen year old on how to keep safe at school if there were to be a mass shooting. During the entire conversation, during the entire time of hearing her thoughts, and explaining to her that she will be safe… I carried a feeling so heavy in my chest I thought my heart may stop… “what if she doesn’t come home at the end of the day”.

“I’ll just call you and Mom… even if I can’t respond. I know your voices will get me through it.” My heart is still sinking by this response, my eyes are still getting watery by this response, and I’m still angry over this response. My daughter feels as though my wife and I can keep her safe no matter what the situation is, and although I’m happy to know our daughter trusts us and feels safe with us, I’m angry at the world for making me realize the ugly truth that we can’t always protect her, I’m even angrier that this is now the reality our children face.

They no longer come to us for make up advice or boy troubles. They no longer come to us for hugs when they’ve had bad days. They no longer call us from school just to say “hi, I miss you.” They come to us, with fear in their hearts and terrifying nightmares that they will be next. They come to us terrified to go to the one place they are supposed to be safe. They come to us asking what they can do in a situation to buy back 5 more minutes of their lives. They come to us asking how to barricade a door from an active shooter. They come to us asking that if this happens… do they run past their class mates leaving them alone on the ground, or stay put to save them. They come to us asking if we think they will be safe tomorrow.

How…. how did our world get to this. How do I explain to my daughter that she will be scared for a long time… possibly forever after this tragedy. How do I get her to understand that she needs to keep herself safe and hide in the event of another tragedy. How do I let my child go to school tomorrow…?

We teach our children to be fearless in a world where mass shootings are killing other children their ages…. how do I prepare myself as a parent…. to prepare my child for this?

I’m just the “care giver”.

My job sometimes can be extremely demanding, stressful, exhausting, and heart breaking…… and at the end of every day, I’m just the care giver.

1. All you do is wipe a**. You’re on some type of CNA power trip.

A: well my fellow human. You’re right… I do wipe a** quite a bit. But did you know, that as people get older they are more likely to get infection…. everywhere….. including the places I wipe. Also, do you know what skin breakdown is? Thank god I try my best to wipe a**, to reduce infections and skin irritation. Because some of the wounds I’ve seen, would probably make you collapse.

2. All you do is deal with people that are loosing their mind. It can’t be that hard.

A: you’re right. It can’t be… all the time. Some days it’s really fun and we dance around and laugh and tell jokes. Some days though, are dark. Have you ever seen someone suffer from the inside out and not be able to communicate it? Someone crying for help, but they don’t know what’s wrong? What about someone who lays in bed 24/7 because their brain has betrayed them and has been taken over by a violent disease? Some days, it’s not that hard. Some days, I come home crying because I wish there was a cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Some days I come home and ice the bruises from being punched, smacked, kicked, scratched and so on. But some days it really isn’t “that hard”.

3. Wow, so you’ve seen a dead body?

A: this is the only thing I HATE about my job. I’ve seen dead bodies. I’ve seen people take their last breath. I’ve seen people hang on in so much pain that they are excepting their fate and want to be on the other side. Is seeing a dead body cool? No. It’s not. Seeing a lifeless shell of someone that use to sparkle and live…. is not cool. I’ve comforted family members who would try their best to prepare for the loss of a loved one…. but not realize that no amount of planning or preparing can take away the void in their heart.

4. So like, do you only work there to wear scrubs?

A: oh brother. Well although scrubs can be considered super cute and comfy…. the things that have been on mine would probably terrify you. I’ve had BM, urine, vomit, blood from someone busting open their head, a catheter bag explode on me, spit up from someone that was dying, snot, spit…. basically anything you can think of. Do I think my scrubs are the best thing since sliced bread? Sure. When they’re brand new. Do I only do my job to wear them? No…. I don’t.

5. You can’t even argue, you’re just a care giver.

A: ugh.. fine you’re right. I’m just the care giver that takes care of your loved one. I’m just the girl that wipes a** to make sure they don’t get infections that could really harm them. I just hold their hand and hug them when they’ve lost of recollection of who they are. I sit with them as they are dying and pray with them for their passing to be easy. I hold their wounds together while 911 is on the way. I feed them when they no longer have the strength to hold a spoon. I stand up for them when their rights have been taken away. I shower them. I give them medication and try my best to find what can take the pain away. I’m just a care giver. I love them as if they are my own family, and take care of them as if they were my own child.

I guess being just the “care giver” isn’t half bad if you think about it. I’m changing someone’s day, while they’re teaching me lessons that change my entire life

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Oh, mother.

Help.

I need somebody.

……. but for real…. send in someone who specializes in being a mom. Because right now, I can’t tell if I’m making my daughter stronger, or in fact, making her hate me. I know, I know… that sounds a bit dramatic and over board. But seriously how scary is it knowing that you have a human being…. that you’re responsible for… and that means making them mad sometimes. It’s terrifying.

(Momma needs a cocktail made out of chamomile tea with honey! STAT.)

Okay now that I’m done having my mental break down of emotions, this is where sh*t gets real. I have a sixteen year old that is full of life. She’s intelligent, sarcastic, stubborn, and so many more things. All of these qualities are amazing ones to have…..however, sweet child of mine….. I need to teach her how to use them in the right way.

Current situation. My daughter is a straight A+ student… yes… you read that correctly… A+. How she understands the things they teach in public school nowadays…..I have no freaking clue, but here she is killing it. Totally “slaying” high school…… until today…. when Momma checked the grade book. My little Einstein went from straight A+’s all year so far… to c’s….b’s…. and a couple A’s……. and a D. Wait what? You mean her grades dropped just randomly and that fast? Yes. Yes. And again… YES! Holy sh*t, my mind was blown…. and partially still is. Uh, flash back….. I said this at sixteen. No, dear lord. There I am. I’m currently hiding in my bathroom typing my little heart out over this situation. Although my daughter is not bio….. she has so many of the same qualities I did, and still do have.

“I get it mom. Whatever you want me to have good grades. Okay. Yeah”. Translation *** I’m never going to use half of this sh*t in life, and I really just want to go to my room. News flash mi amigo. You use half of that sh*t every single day. Literally. Your good grades in high school, reflect the work ethic you put out at your future job. I use math…. every single day. I use grammar…. every single day. I use common sense…… 24/7. Oh how I wish I would have listened to the teachers drilling it into my brain about adult hood. How I wish, I could drill into my daughters brain.

Sweet girl if you some day read this.

I know you can do whatever you set your mind to… I know you can be whoever you want. You are smart, driven, strong and so many more things. I love you. Please get good grades.

Stacy.

It’s taken me forever to understand the fact that my biological mother had mental problems, drug addictions and other issues that were not my fault. It took me forever to understand that she was an adult, she made her own decisions, and those decisions were not my fault. Neither were the consequences that she faced. Setting aside all the wrong she did, and how much she put my brother and my self through… I never had the chance to say “I forgive you”, without her screaming at me.

So Stacy, this ones for you.
I remember the countless times you weren’t there. I remember growing up completely aware that everything was my fault, and that I was unloveable. I remember the screaming and yelling, but regardless of all of that… I forgive you.

I remember not having food in the house to fill up my empty tummy, and I remember the times James would send you money to get groceries only for you to spend it on drugs. I remember the times you did cook, and I remember how much my body and heart would ache for those meals… but pills became your priority and pills became what you fed us. I forgive you.

I remember the countless times I watched officers put you in handcuffs. I remember hearing you scream out that you “didn’t do anything” and the charges were all lies. I remember the cops searching our house for you and them coming through our back door to find you hiding behind a couch… you used me as an excuse that day. You said I was sick, and that everything you were doing was for me. I was never sick, it was a Saturday morning and I was sleeping. I forgive you.

I remember the time I was at home alone. I remember cops knocking on the front door and asking where you were. I remember telling them I didn’t know, I remember saying you had left a while before they had arrived. I remember them sitting out front of our house until you got back. I remember them telling you to get me and Tyson out, and that we were being evicted.
I remember you taking me and Tyson to my brothers baseball coaches house, and I remember trying to deny that you were having an affair with him. I remember being homeless for a few months after that. I forgive you.

I remember when I was 13. I was really sick with strep and had an extremely high fever. I woke up in the middle of the night to find that you and my brother were gone. I remember calling you and asking where you were. I remember you answering your phone laughing, and saying you were drunk. I remember hearing you say that brandan was “shit faced”, he was 16. I remember you coming to get me, I remember you sneaking me out of the house so that James wouldn’t wake up. I remember telling you that “I wanted my dad”. I remember you saying shut up. I remember getting in the car with a bunch of drunk teenage boys. I remember you and the coach making me drive because you guys couldn’t. I remember getting to the coaches house and finding my brother passed out, and being turned onto his side because he was puking. I remember hiding under a bed that night in a strangers house, and I remember keeping an eye on my brother. I forgive you.

I remember both the physical and emotional abuse you enflicted on me. I remember growing up after you finally went to prison. I remember acting out and damn near throwing my life away. I remember every day looking in the mirror and hating the face looking back at me. You created me, your eyes were the same as mine, and so were many other charateristics. I remember every day telling my self what you had repeated to me for years. I remember answering phone calls from you only for you to be crying and only thinking of yourself, and not how you absent parenting affected your two children. I forgive you.

Here I am today, 24 with a family of my own. I have a 16 year old that my fiancé and I are adopting. I have dogs. I have my own home. I have a really good job that I love, and I’m getting ready to go back to school to excel even more into the medical field. I have friends that have become my family. I’ve decided to learn from everything you did or didn’t do, rather than being bitter and cold. I’m being the best mom I can be, the best fiancé I can be, the best human I can be, and the friend that I can be.

I made it…. only because I found forgiveness in myself that I could share with you.

So remember three words, I forgive you.

The day depression became my B**ch.

I’ve always suffered from a small amount of depression. It started back when I was a freshman in high school that I noticed “hey Kels, you’re brain is being a little funky and you look like your soul is eating you from the inside out, get help”. I ignored all of the signs, because I didn’t want to help me, help myself. I denied that I was depressed because it wasn’t accepted.

The countless times of watching Stacy be put in hand cuffs while she was laying on the ground, and then visiting her through a television screen while she guilt tripped me (a fourteen year old) for HER mistakes, started to really get to me. I remember answering the phone after she finally went to prison and hearing, “if you guys don’t talk to me I’m going to kill my self, how can you just shut out your own mother?” Each time I heard these words… I felt guilty. I felt depressed. I felt like screaming until there was nothing left in me to scream with, and I started question what I was doing wrong for Stacy to be in prison. What was I doing to make her do drugs? Years later, I now know it’s not my fault, but that didn’t stop the self destructive behavior I put myself through.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer my sophomore year of high school, between cheer, school, relationships, taking care of my dad and my brother and who ever else… I lost my self. I went to bed everyday feeling exhausted, and woke up the next saying feeling worse than the day before. I remember walking out of class and going to the parking lot of my high school and taking shots of vodka before I would return the reality of “hey kels, your brains being a little funky again… you should get help.” But again, I refused to help my self because I was A. Embarrassed, and B. It was my role to help the other people in my life.

College rolls around. I ditched every single day, to be back in grand junction to day drink, night drink, and self medicate myself with hangovers, because I couldn’t cope with the fact that I moved to steamboat to start my college degree… only to be put down by the ones I loved most, and to figure out how the hell my step mom took my place in my dads life. It ate me from the inside out for years, and once again… I found my self saying “get help.” But once again, I refused.

I got married when I was 19. It was a decision that wasn’t thought through. It was an unhealthy depressing marriage after the first six months. I was home alone 24/7, my spouse had other partners, and after a while, I got tired of holding on. He got tired of me trying to hold on, and he got tired of holding on as well. We both got tired of me crying, and asking why I couldn’t be the only woman in his life, because neither of us could find the answer to that question. Neither of us knew why everything was happening. We fought and fought to change it… but nothing ever changed. I came home, and went back to the self destructive behavior that had become home for me. But I never asked for help.

My ex husband passed away in 2015, and I almost lost myself. From the marriage that was toxic and unhealthy… we formed a really great friendship like what we had in high school. It was devastating to me, I never realized that while I was suffering with coping how our marriage went, he was suffering as well. The grieving process of both the person who had broke me and now the person that was gone… was to much for me. I had so many questions I wanted to ask, I wanted to say that I forgave that person so he wouldn’t carry around the guilt anymore… but I was to late. I found myself laying in bed one night and pleading with the universe to take me. But finally, I got just a pinch of help for myself…

In august of 2016, I had breast surgery. There was a lump in my right breast that was causing it to hurt, and become swollen. Right before this surgery, I went to my doctor and said “hey, I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed for years, I need help. I need someone to talk with. I need to get myself back, and I need to get my brain back to fully functioning”. I was balling because although I felt weak for asking for help, I finally did it. I went through surgery, came out, had one hell of a recovery, had a mental break down, and drove to my parents house for a break to finally breathe. It had been three weeks since I started my antidepressants, I was standing in front of a mirror at my parents house looking in the mirror and the bruises and incisions from my surgery, and instead of crying, I started laughing.

My doctor told me that after about three weeks of medication for depression, I would have a break through moment. I would seriously wake up, and be like “holy shit, I’m alive. I got help. Here I am. I’m breathing, and laughing. Wow, I can smile again”. All of this happened randomly, while I was standing naked in front of a mirror. September 1st, 2016…. I made depression my B**ch! I took my life back. I woke up feeling thankful for another day alive. I woke up for once, not hiding from myself or my thoughts. I woke up wanting to breathe, and live, and handle shit. I started therapy not long after, I started to gain back my appetite for LIFE. I wanted to LIVE. I wanted to leave my house. I wanted to work. But most of all, I didn’t want to self medicate with alcohol. I didn’t want to be negative anymore. I didn’t want to spend three days hiding in my house, in the dark and not eating.

Everyday, I live with depression. Everyday, it tries to take back just a small piece of my being. Depression, is not who I am. It won’t define me anymore.
Have faith, you’re not alone. Those dark stormy clouds that manage to occupy your life wherever you are…. they are temporary. I went face to face with my depression, and although I still have to fight with it some days… I won.

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September 1st, 2016.

🌻

The first day of the rest of my life.

Everything I ever needed.

Let’s face it.

I’ve been there. I’ve been lying on my bathroom floor after heartbreaks that seem to take all of my being. I’ve been gasping for what felt like my last breath through the tears that couldn’t stop falling. Each time after I would continuously take back toxic relationships that were clearly not what I needed, I asked myself what the hell I was doing wrong? Why did I deserve to be treated like this? Why did I have it in my head that I needed the toxicity that a human being was giving me? Why was I settling? I’m no love guru. I’ve been hurt countless times, I’ve hurt people countless times…. but here I am… living my “fairy tale love story”, with the woman of my dreams.

I like to think that when we are young, and desperate for exceptance and love and whatever else…. we take what we can get. Sometimes taking what you can get, means taking someone cheating on you, and using you as a doormat to dust of their muddy boots. I think it also means settling, because we think that “this is the best I’m going to get”.

I realize now though, I was only looking for what I wanted… not what I needed. I wanted attention, I wanted someone to kiss and stay the night with. I wanted someone that would beg for me to come back, after they had done something wrong to me. I never had standards, and I never had enough self respect to stop and say “this sure as hell not what I deserve”, even though this is what I did and didn’t do… I’m beyond thankful it happened.

I set standards for myself, and my life. Before I met my fiancé, I sat down with myself and took an oath that I would never fall in love again, unless it awoke my soul, I’m totally aware of how distorted that sounds because it’s cliche… but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t. I finally had enough of settling and wasting my time when I had bigger things in my life to think about. So instead of paying attention to things I “wanted”, I started thinking about what I Needed.

I needed, an honest soul.
I needed the same amount of patience, and care I was giving out.
I needed to be respected.
I needed to be respectful.
I needed healthy.
I needed conversations.
I needed team work.
And I needed soul food.
I needed to laugh, and yell, and love, and live.
I needed to be adventurous.

I NEEDED to LOVE and RESPECT MYSELF, before anyone else could, and as soon as I learned to do these things…. I fell in love….. with me, and then when the timing was right…. I showed up in a sandwich shop to eat lunch with my best friend pam, and little did I know that the woman behind the counter, would be the woman I’m marrying.

Spending my life with Marisa, has been the hardest, most rewarding, most beautiful, most meaningful thing I’ve ever done…. and it all started with me loving MYSELF first.

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My dear Marisa,
You are the light. You are the sun. You are the moon and the stars. What started out in a sandwich shop, and Netflix dates, and waiting four weeks to ask for my number, and three weeks to kiss me, is by far becoming the best part of me. Our adventure is so amazing.