Pushing Through 

Violent. Sexual. Predators. 
The interview offer came yesterday and the interview was today. I reluctantly accepted after misinterpreting my own boundaries. I was nervous all day yesterday, had nightmares last night, and was terrified today.

I went anyway.

The interview was out on McNeil Island where there used to be a prison. Technically, the prison is still there but it isn’t being used but if you go on the north side of the island you’ll find their compound that houses violent and non violent sexual offenders that have completed their prison time and are being further screened to be sure they are ready to return to civilized society.

Having been a sexual assault victim, I believe I had every right to feel terror about going. Nobody knows what I live with on a day to day basis and I sure as hell wouldn’t want them to. So why go? Trust me, the idea rolled around in the pit of my stomach since the original interview offer came through. Some said I should strongly consider not going, some couldn’t understand why I was scared to go. And then there was my opinion. The only opinion that mattered.

I went because if I let myself cower down then the men that did (or tried) to take advantage of my body still win. I went because I have a degree in Criminal Justice with a specialized focus in Violent Offenders that I spent years of late nights busting my ass to graduate with honors from. I went because it was my way of winning; my way of saying, “Fuck you for the anguish you have brought upon my body, mind, and spirit.” I went because it was my chance to have a say in things. I went because I owed myself the privilege of getting to tour an intriguing and secluded location that many wonder about but few understand.

I was a bit of a mess as I got to the dock to ride the boat. I fumbled through getting my visitors pass. My mouth was dry and my eyes bulged. I smoothed my hair about 10 trillion times. Finally, we set sail and it was a beautiful ride across the Puget Sound. I think it calmed me as I have always been drawn to the water. The more time I spent on the island, the more at ease I was. I needed to see what it was like in order to make an educated decision as to whether or not this was somewhere I would want to work every day. I needed to go for me.

xo,

a

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Messy

I’m feeling exceptionally emotional about the girls today. I think this is probably because we got some information yesterday that leads us to believe they will be gone very soon. In fact, the wording was specifically “very soon.” I don’t have to tell you how extremely sad this is. I’m selfishly thinking of how this makes me feel right now instead of how exciting this must feel for their mom. Just let me get this out. I promise not to stay here but if I don’t say this here then it’ll stay inside, and I can’t let this fester.

I guess I’m worrying and it’s highly likely that it’s unnecessary. One of the hardest parts about being a foster parent for me has been the emotional triggers it brings from my childhood and young adulthood. These triggers are the reasons I have chronic PTSD in the first place. When I think of them going home, I’m scared for them to wonder why they don’t see us anymore. I’m afraid and physically cannot bear the idea of them wondering where we went and I couldn’t possibly pray any harder that they won’t wonder if they did something wrong and that’s why they don’t see us anymore. That very idea feels like it’s literally slowly killing me.

And why would such a thought be so triggering? Well, maybe it’s because I know what it feels like to be left behind by a parent. I know how it feels for a parent to be there one day and gone the next. I have felt the ache of wondering what I did wrong, why I wasn’t good enough to stick around for, and what I could have done differently to make them stay. These are all feelings I cannot even begin to imagine my girls knowing because I know that if they stayed here they’d never know what that is like, and now I worry if I will make them feel that way when they don’t live here anymore. I don’t want to be the person that fades in and out of their life, like my dad has done to me. It’s far too much of an emotional mountain to climb.

I thought, “Maybe if I show him I love him enough he will change and things will be okay.” No matter how much we love these girls, the fact is that they are not ours, they do not belong to us, they are not staying here. So the correlation between trying to love my dad enough to get him to stay and trying to love the girls enough to get them to stay is the same stabbing feeling of getting nowhere and treacherous sadness, and I have to constantly remind myself that neither of those situations were ones I had control of. Maybe that’s the hard part, knowing that I have no control, but only that I can control how to respond rather than how I react.

Watching a parent be an addict is hard, to say the least. Playing second fiddle to an addiction is not a feeling I would want anyone to know, but sadly, many can identify with. I am the first person to acknowledge that addiction is an illness. What may seem like a choice is actually a cry for help, a way to escape, a way to stay alive for people who have been through trauma but have no resources to properly heal. I get so outraged by the stigma of mental health in our world today. If we addressed it and made it accessible then maybe there would be less addiction, less loss, less trauma, and the cycle could break. We are not there yet, and frankly, we are so so late.

Even though it might not be true, I feel like my dad chose his addictions over me. It can sometimes feel like it’s easier to love the high than it is to love me. When you’re made to feel that way for so long it’s easy to start believing it and when you believe something so tragic, you start to push anyone away that loves you, compliments you, celebrates you. It feels like people are just saying nice things to be nice, not because they truly feel that way. Surely they can’t possibly love me, especially if they knew that I’m really not the person they think I am. Then one day someone asks you why you think so poorly of yourself and you can’t even figure out why because this is all you’ve known, because the way you were treated made you feel as if you weren’t good enough or important enough to love. It’s because the actions of one of the most influential people in your life that are supposed to love, support, care for, celebrate, and protect you is prioritizing their addiction or has disappeared without a trace instead of choosing you.

All of this all leads to not feeling like enough. Had I been a good enough daughter, maybe my dad would have stuck around. Had I been worth loving, maybe my 13 – 19 year old self wouldn’t have had to fight tooth and nail scouring the internet for 7 years to find him. Maybe if I love the girls enough they can stay. Maybe if I fight tooth and nail to advocate for their best interest they’ll get to stay. These two subjects are very closely connected and painfully triggering.

As hard as this all is, it’s good for me. I knew I needed to start going to counseling and I aligned it with the same timing as becoming a foster mom. I knew both would be hard, I knew both would be a lot of work, I knew that through these experiences I would be able to heal. I wanted to be able to love others in the ways I wished to be loved. I wanted to love myself the way some people in my life love me. I knew I couldn’t do that if I didn’t do both of these things. While some may see this as me breaking, this is me healing. I am erupting from a pile of disappointment, shame, uselessness, heartbreak, and trauma. Everything is flying around in the air but it is no longer holding me underneath its heavy pile. It’s progress, not perfection, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.

xo,

a

Whole Again

“I would never let myself get to that weight.”

Then you look in the mirror and see a stranger. Someone who has neglected themselves and not just overnight, but for years, no, decades. Someone that says, “I love myself” but is actually trying to convince herself of that each time she says it because deep down, she feels completely inadequate. Feelings of inadequacy are like an old friend, swimming around in her mind for as long as she can remember. Someone who completes everything else she sets her mind to except that one thing that she can’t seem to get a grip on. She wants to love others but does not feel like she is deserving of the love that others reciprocate.

You already know I’m talking about myself, and if you didn’t, well, surprise! 

I’m writing this the night before I make a big lifestyle change. If you know me, you know that I am morbidly overweight. My weight is such a touchy subject for me. Some of you know about my struggles with PCOS, but it goes much deeper than that. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and I typically don’t think of it that often to tell you the truth. I think that has been a deliberate action. I’d rather not face what has hurt me. Of course, sometimes those aches come back after something triggered it to refresh itself in my overpopulated, overstimulated brain, but I’m just as happy to tuck most of that stuff way down deep, below the sweets, the chips, and the fried foods.

For several months now, I’ve been giving myself the opportunity to explore my brain and analyze who I am. This part of me is nothing new, but the part I have been analyzing is. I think it began when I spent the weekend in Philadelphia walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, sixty-mile walk for breast cancer.  When you have that many miles ahead of you there’s lots of time to think, except it didn’t stop when I got home. My brain is always racing about 10,000 miles a minute, but who I am as an overweight person and WHY has been on mind since mid-October.

Admittedly, I have a lot of secrets. As a Scorpio, I’m fantastic about keeping my mouth shut about my secrets and secrets I’ve been told. None of my secrets are anything cool like I’m a spy or a billionaire. These secrets are painful and rather than going to a counselor about them, I’m just trying to get through my life in hopes that the more years I put between the initial hurt and the present day, the less it’ll hurt. I’m also not too keen on the idea of rehashing most of the memories of my life prior to the age of 25. Things have become a lot better in my life since then, but the years before that, my body aches from the bumps, twists, turns, and jerks (literally and metaphorically.)

Sometimes there’s not much you can do to control situations. It may be because you’re financially or mentally incapable, it could be that the conflict is between you and a family member and confronting a family member would be far too difficult, or it could be because you’re a scared little girl. Or it could be all of those things. When you go through things that cause you pain from people that should love and protect you, I think it’s easy to not make yourself a priority, especially if you’re not being treated like one by the people around you. Eventually, you learn to take what you can get and be happy with it, not realizing that this will only lead you to mistreatment of yourself in the future.

Food has always been a comfort to me. It has never lied to me. It has never broken my heart. It has never made fun of my appearance. It has never made me feel inadequate. It has never judged or misunderstood me. It has never cheated on me. It has never done things to my body without my permission. It has never made me cry myself to sleep. It has never left welts or bruises on me. It has never made me think that maybe God made a mistake by bringing me here. It has always been the hug I needed but never wanted to ask for. 

Tomorrow morning, this imprisonment is ending and to tell you the truth, I think it has already started coming to an end. I think it began back on that walk through Philadelphia when I was pushed to limits I didn’t know I could exceed. I think it started even further back when I quit drinking soda nine months ago. I’ve decided to take on a fitness program and I couldn’t possibly explain how ready I am. I think I deserve this. The weight that I carry isn’t just on my body but deeply embedded within the layers of my soul. A place that only I can go and a place only I can fix.

I have been careful to keep my mouth shut and not tell many people about this lifestyle change until, at least, the end of March when I see how my first month goes. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll find it extremely annoying to have people ask me every single day how it’s going. I know this sounds rude and I’m being ungrateful for what they view as support. For me, I think it just breaks my concentration. It’s really hard to explain why I feel that way. I don’t mind a few people asking, so if you’re reading this blog at the end of February/beginning of March, consider it okay to check with me on this at any time. You’re reading this because I trust you – deeply. And for those that know me well, trust is not easy for me to give away. I chalk that up to years of emotional damage by people close to me. The older I get, the better I am at choosing my circle. Thank you for being a part of it.

I will take pictures and save them under lock and key on my phone so I can look back and get a visual for the length of road I’ve traveled. Don’t be offended if I don’t share some of the  really bad ones with you. For as bad as I feel on the inside, I feel like I look like that on the outside. I think that’s probably why I don’t feel worthy of the love that people willingly give me. I know how negative I sound right now, and I don’t like it. Plus, I know that there are people in this world that have it way worse than I could ever imagine. I try to remind myself of that when I start to feel sorry for myself about the above-mentioned topics.

I am so positive about being “Brave Enough” to fight through the demons to lift both kinds of weight off of my body.

Nothing worth having comes easily. Nothing worth having comes easily. Nothing worth having comes easily.

It won’t always be hard but it will always be worth it. 

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

Much love and many thanks,

A