Allowing Myself to be Honest

When Demi Lovato sang, “I want to be a role model, but I’m only human,” in her song Sober, I felt that to my core. It had already been a really long month. Just earlier that day I confided in one of my best friends that I was triggered. I walked up to her, my hands shaking, and broke down. I was too close to thoughts of using again and it scared the living hell out of me.

I don’t have these thoughts anymore. I have been clean for 6 years. I don’t fantasize about using and how good it will be. Instead I think of everything I would lose, and how miserable and worthless my life would be if I did use. I am strong in my recovery. I feel good about my life and the fruits of my labor. But this month had shown to be a test of that.

Addiction is brutal. Once an addict, always an addict. I know myself. I know my weaknesses. I know me. I don’t carry a false impression that I have escaped addiction. Instead I carry the burden and weight of my addiction, willingly. It holds me to being humble. I refuse to walk this Earth and pretend I am not one choice away from a past life. I carry the weight so I don’t forget the heaviness of addiction. I have to always be honest with myself. I understand my choice to get clean and work this hard is the reason for my abundant blessings. I also understand I have seen too many people relapse, so I carry addiction’s weight close to me so I can feel the reminder of where I don’t want to be.

My being triggered didn’t come out of left field. There were a lot of factors that played part. I work very hard. I have been working harder recently, trying to make up bills from maternity leave. I sleep very little. All of you amazing mothers and fathers understand this struggle. Having a baby is hard. It’s beautiful and my dreams have come true with him, but the lack of sleep does have an effect on your mental state. I was stretching myself too thin; taking on too many projects. I started second guessing every thing I did. Lack of sleep, emotions, motherhood and society had me second guessing my worth, my choices, my work, my actions. I felt my self confidence and the fire in my belly die down a bit.

And here I stood, standing with the door closed behind me, hands trembling, tears stinging my eyes - admitting that I wasn’t strong right now and I didn’t trust my own recovery in this moment. We talked about it, I got it out, and the moment passed. I carried on with my day, got in the card, turned on my Playlist, and let the music soothe my soul. Sober came on and I heard her sing, “I want to be a role model, but I’m only human.”

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I am human. I will be tested. I am not strong all the time. I break down. That’s okay. I am so incredibly grateful that I have a vibe tribe, family and husband that I can be honest with in these moments. I continue my 6 years of recovery because I can be honest in times like this, and have learned how to get through the impulse or triggers.

I want to give a shout out to the women in my circle lately that keep me laughing. The ladies that keep me going, keep me honest, keep me accountable, keep me safe and keep me loved. Motherhood is a trip. I am so grateful for these fantastic women who I can be unapologetically real and honest with. Motherhood is scary. I have moments I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but I have this band of women behind me, covering me in their light and standing by my side. I have this tribe of superwomen that push me to be a better mom. They tell Society to eff of with it’s standards. They make their own ways. They make their own paths. They make their own mistakes and then we sit around and laugh about them. I love these women. You know who you are. When you have a tribe like this, LOVE THEM HARD.

I Didn't Invite You, Postpartum

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse and Postpartum

I want to start off by saying this blog will not be the beautiful and poetic writing that I normally do. I realized when I wrote this that my writing is much different when I am writing about something I am going through as opposed to something I have conquered. I am still learning about my own self each day. This is not poetic, but it is very honest and that will just have to be okay.

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I didn’t invite postpartum into my life. It felt like an invasion and betrayal of trust. I trusted my mind and my body to protect me from depression and anxiety. I was suddenly watching a young mother cry every time she held her Prince in her arms. I was completely overwhelmed by every little thing. If someone said they wanted to come over, I threw myself into a cleaning frenzy and sobbed in the shower while I would try to pull myself back together. I was a shell of the woman I imagined I would be as a mother.

Before William was born, I would have nightmares that I was going to have postpartum. I suppose my body and brain knew more than my soul wanted to let on. Why, though? Why was this happening to me?

Trauma. Let’s start there. Early childhood trauma. In our community we are now aware of the early trauma that occurs to children exposed prenatally to substance abuse. I am aware of my trauma due to it. I am also aware I’ve suffered more trauma than that. At a young age of about 4 or 5 years old, I was molested. My parents did everything in their power to get me the help I needed to recover. I was in therapy and counseling, I saw psychologists…they went to the ends of Earth to protect me from it.

Here I am a new mother, and I was uncomfortable. The thought of having to change my son’s diaper made me nauseous and sick to my stomach. I went to kiss his Buddha belly after he was born and I felt disgusted after. I had my husband give him his first bath. I began to isolate. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing and the response was always the same, “I’m great, I love being a mother!” I did. I loved being a mother but I wasn’t great. There were highs, but there were a lot more of the lows. I was crumbling everyday. My husband and I began to grow distant. I was out of my mind anxious and could not stop crying no matter what I did. He wanted to help and I couldn’t tell him how. I was convincing myself I was a monster. My son was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, but why was I uncomfortable? Why was I shell?

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My entire life I have experienced not “normal” sensations to affection. I am a very affectionate person, but I also am aware that affection makes me uncomfortable at times. I haven’t been able to find the trigger or the common denominator of those moments, but when it happens I feel repulsed and anxious. When motherhood came, I didn’t feel worthy of being this perfect prince’s mother. I felt damaged and repulsive again.

My sister sent me an article of trauma and sexual abuse and it clicked. Everything this survivor was feeling as a mother was what I, myself was feeling. I looked at my son and wondered how someone could do something to a child like was done to me. I can’t fathom the thought of my child feeling my kiss or my touch and feeling disgusted by it. I can’t fathom the thought of my prince feeling repulsed by a hug or snuggles of someone he loves. I can’t fathom the thought of my son ever being taken advantage of. I wept. And I wept more. I have forgiven, but I have also had those wounds reopened and it hurts. They are only little for so long. I have to embrace these moments with him and get to a place where I am the care free and the open mother I want to be. I want to show all the affection I have for my son and never second guess it. I deserve to be happy and joyful as he is. William doesn’t know what has happened to his mother. He loves his kisses. He loves his snuggles. He loves his bath time. I am the one who is having the issue.

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So where do you go from here? You get help. I had to admit to myself I need help and that’s okay. I love therapy. It’s amazing and wonderful. There is no shame in needing help. I have preached that my whole life and I have to take my own advice again. I am worthy of making sure my beautiful mind is at peace and the healthiest it can be. I am worthy of loving my child. My child is safe and loved and will always be and I have to learn how to believe it. I have to silence my own trauma and stop deflecting it into my own journey of motherhood. My journey of motherhood does not have trauma. I am not what happened to me.

Time to heal.

Time to heal.

A Generation Protected

It has been three weeks since my miracle joined my husband and I in this world. He was born 7 pounds and 5 ounces, 20 inches long, blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. The days that followed his birth were engulfed in sleepless nights and love. I would stay awake while he slept and I would cry. I thought I may have postpartum depression. I asked myself how could life be so cruel to pass along postpartum when having my own child was my prayer for so many years. I didn’t feel sad, or anxious or depressed. I would just look at the face of the tiny and perfect human we had created and be overwhelmed with love. I sat myself down and aimed at identifying what exactly was triggering me. At the end of the week I realized it had brought up skeletons in my closet, and I also realized that I wanted to protect him more than life and that I was experiencing a love I had never felt before.

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This love I was experiencing was deeper than the core of our Earth that burns at 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. This love dove deeper than the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. This love was taking my soul and entire being and traveling along the Earth’s circumference. I remember knowing that I was sure I would never be the same after this love. It had woke me up to a new world. The bad in the world was no longer at the fore front of my mind. Instead I was immersed in all the glory of the universe and all the graceful, dazzling and delightful things this world has to offer. I was submerged in the ideas and fairy tales that I could see William waking up to; the forests he would walk through and the grounds he would cover with his tiny feet. I could see the laughs he would catapult into the world, and the hopes he would shower this planet with as he makes his way through it. I could see the outline of his soul and the imprint of his compassion. I could see the provenance of his mind, and how he would talk to everyone he meets with stars dancing in his eyes, yearning to learn more every day. I could see the fountains of our soon to be memories. I was suddenly in a foreign territory where no darkness could dim the light, as desperate or unforgiving as it tried. William, my protector, had shown me this world, HIS world, and I could not see past it. Why would you want to leave paradise?

My Momma came to visit and stay with us. She rocked and loved her grandson. Every moment that she was here I was overwhelmingly reminded that this life I have is because of her own grace and magnitude of motherhood. She shared stories of the many babies she fostered. Some who were much more difficult. She had fostered blind and deaf babies, she had fostered “failure to thrive” babies, she had fostered drug and alcohol affected babies, she had fostered abused and neglected…and each child she fostered she spoke with in the same voice with the same love and compassion as all the others. The love and care given was no different from child to child. She shared tips and experiences with me. We laughed the entire time. I was given glimpses of my mother’s motherhood journey. It was surreal and incredible and pushed me even harder. I was basking in the light and glow of a woman who was nothing short of a heart warrior put on this planet to heal and love those around her. When it was time for her to leave and make her own way home, I thanked her and God for sending me to her. My heart knew I needed her when I was born, and my parent’s hearts knew it, too.

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Motherhood is the greatest blessing I have been gifted with. The pregnancy was not easy. I had to work hard on my health, harder than I ever have had before. I had to make sacrifices and remind myself there were two lives my actions now affected, not just one. At the end of the delivery when I saw how perfect and beautiful he was, it was joyous and it made every needle and insulin injection, every work out, every healthy meal, every self love task and every detrimental substance not taken, worth it.

When I was 17, I wondered if this could be me. I wondered if I could break the cycle of my birth family’s history. My birth mother was an addict, her mother was an addict, my birth siblings and I have suffered from addiction, and here I am 12 years later with my Prince in my arms and the knowledge that it has been done. The cycle has been broken. I have started a generation without FASD. I have conquered my family’s demons and I have brought a life into this world that is a force to be reckoned with.

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William means PROTECTOR. I am his protector but in many ways he is also my protector.

“I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words,
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

— Your Song / Elton John

Bird Box - We Still Have a Long Way to Go...

December 26, 2018

I’m sure by now some of you are familiar with the new Sandra Bullock movie that just came out, Bird Box. I like many others, saw the trailer and was instantly hooked. I could not wait to sit down and throw myself into an anxiety attack. I do not handle thrillers or suspense well, but what I can say…I am a glutton for punishment. I just can’t help but indulge and be anxious later.

My older sisters made reference to it within hours of each other that they had finished the movie and LOVED IT! I immediately sent a text out to them, ‘where did you guys watch it?!’. Netflix was the reply. Last weekend my hubby agreed to enable me and watch it. We sat down and curled up with some blankets as I kept all lights on, because I truly am a big baby with suspense.

We were able to get through about an hour of it before I had to take a break. I am pregnant and didn’t want to overwhelm my child with my emotions and a racing heart. Evening came and we sat back down to finish it. This is where my interest took a turn in the opposite direction. Maddy and the group had just came back from their run to the grocery store. Douglas, who stocked up on alcohol, was in the kitchen preparing a drink. Maddy is quite pregnant at this point. Douglas decides to offer her a drink of alcohol and pours her a glass of dark liquor. He insists that she enjoy it, leading into something along the lines of they’re all going to die, so she might as well enjoy it. The second this scene started to play out, my heart stopped. I became well aware my breathing was hallowed from a different kind of nerve. I looked at my husband for a split second out of the corner of my eye. He met my glance with, ‘no, no, no,’ as he murmured the words to our flat screen. Maddy said something along the lines of, “I hope you’re right,” and proceeded to take a swig from the glass.

I felt like I had taken a blow to my stomach. The next 20 minutes of the movie, I could not tell you about. I was too embodied in my own mind and my own thoughts. My husband offered to turn it off. His first reaction after the scene was to express his disdain for how the moment had played out. I on the other hand, felt stuck. My life mission is advocacy. In the past few years of blogging and advocating, I have FELT the shift of the changes we are making in society. I have SEEN the impact our voices have made. I have WITNESSED state governors and celebrities take part in our journeys, I have WATCHED the news coverage of statistics and reports come out of new research…yet suddenly I am wondering how we took a year back from ourselves. Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses. I pride myself in my support of strong women, multi ethnic adoptions, and powerful and community driven women. To see one of my favorite actresses agree to speak those words in a film sent a fury of fluster to my soul.

I want to believe that she knows the impact of this scene. I want to believe her intent was to open doors for a conversation on substance use and pregnancy, but I also am no longer naive. The perception that was taken from those 3 minutes was that if we are indeed facing a crisis or drama, we as women who are carrying a child, can pick up a drink and it will be okay. How wrong this perception is! How DAMAGING THIS mindset is. Would it not have been more powerful for her to take those spare minutes and make a statement against it? Would it have taken anything away from the movie plot or reviews had she just pushed away the glass and said those same words, “I hope you’re right,” or “no”. I mean TRULY would the outcome of people’s reactions overall had been negative? No! I can promise you it would not have deterred a soul.

I understand there are film directors, and she is an actress with perhaps little control over the end results. But I believe that if we continue to voice our frustrations with the normalization of drinking and pregnancy, we can reap real results! Had she taken a stand and demanded they change a few small words, advocates and affected families world wide would have felt a small victory. Our hard work, our struggles, our voices, our pains, and our beings would have been vindicated. We pound the streets and sing our truths until our voices are but whispers, and then we dance our stories until our limbs say we must find other paths. We are constantly fighting for education, awareness, and reform in today’s society. We must NOT ever become content with what awareness we have created. We CLEARLY have more work to do. We have more people to reach. We have MORE alliances to build and MORE paths to tear down to get to our end goal; a world that is aware and a world that recognizes there is NO safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Today I am disappointed in Hollywood. Today I know our jobs are BUT done. Let us push even harder to get our stories across.

My First Year's Reflection

One year ago, July 15th 2017, I went live with this website and blog. It was a choice that was so personal for me and had much meaning. As I sit back and think to what exactly this past year has shown me I am beside myself with joy and and hope. I would like to first share my favorite moments.

This blog has shared 9 amazing people's stories whose lives have been affected by FASD. Each of their stories have gained so much awareness and have rallied support from over 6 countries! Each one of these people have given us a very personal gift and it was my absolute honor that they entrusted me to keep their story safe and to hold it to such a positive and hopeful light. These 9 people are WARRIORS! I hope to share many more stories this next year. If you would like to share yours. please message me!

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In November, I was gifted the opportunity to travel to Washington DC and attend the NOFAS Gala. I met senators, families, doctors, law makers, and many more incredibly devoted and strong people. I was able to meet one of my dear friends, Rebecca Tillou, fellow advocate and author. We met through FASD support groups on Facebook and it was a dream come true to be able to share the evening with such beautiful people in my life. This event raised a lot of money to go into resources for families affected. I was also able to catch up with my college professor who sparked my passion in advocating from 10 years ago, Claudia Brown. I walked away with even more drive in my belly.

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November was also National Adoption Month! This blog shared the unique and marvelous stories of their adoptions. As an adoptee, my hopes are to showcase how beautiful the families are that give the most unselfish gift of love. I cannot wait to share more stories this November! I had dozens of people write in to support and appreciate these fabulous people and how much joy they found from their stories. 

 

 

Just SOME of the donations!

In December, my family and I held our first annual Foster Care Drive at my parent's church where my father has assisted as Assistant Reverend. They now attend as parishioners. It was a magnificent success! We filled a 16 foot truck of donations; clothes, socks, underwear, coats, brand new JanSport backpacks, duffel bags filled with coloring books, stuffed bear, crayons, and a blanket each. We were even able to purchase some hygiene items thanks to the bake sale donations. We helped hundreds of youth in Foster Care and still have people come drop things off when their children outgrow them. Next December we will be holding our second Foster Care Drive. I have a rally of more support behind this now and I am so humbled and grateful. I urge all of you who donate to Goodwill, to contact your local agencies and services for families and offer to donate it to them. They also can provide donation slips if that is a concern. :) Your items will make such an impact and go to children and families who TRULY need them!

In February, I published my first book, a children's book about a boy with FASD. It saw it's way into the top 100 on Amazon's Special Education category. Being an author is in my blood and has been a dream since I was 11. I am currently working on more in this series as well as a thriller I have been working on since high school. Being able to finally publish a piece was one of my greatest achievements. I have to mention it would not have been such a success without the FASD community and all the amazing people who saw it's light and helped share the word. Yesterday I saw 20 books sales of the hard copy. I have received so much positive feedback. I love that so many children connected to it and found it to be something they can relate to. My goal as an author is to bring people to share an experience and find enjoyment, emotions or connections from what they read.  

In May, I attended a local parent support group here in Oregon. I was invited to share my story and offer advice on what has worked and what hasn't. I met some great and monumental people who are very important in my life today; one of those people being my dear friend Julie. These parents gave me more than I was able to give them. These parents are the hardest working, strong willed, patient and loving people. They are mighty WARRIORS!

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In June, I attended and was gifted another unbelievable gift, Diane Malbin's FASCETS workshop which discusses the Neurobehavioral Model. It is a game changing method of accommodations and support for individuals with FASD. At this work shop I learned an insane amount of material regarding this model. This approach is changing the lives of those affected; parents, teachers, children, etc. It is mind blowing and if you have the chance to attend one, DO IT! You will not be disappointed. I was asked to share my story. After I shared my story, blog and book, I had several people approach me who had purchased the book and seen my blog but had no idea I was the one behind it. It was this moment I felt the propellant of my work and the ripples I had no idea I had made in this community. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I met EVEN MORE WARRIORS and I cannot express enough how fantastic and inspiring they are!

June also marked the reveal of my second clothing line, Red Shoes Rock Collection. The profits go to FAFASD and we have sold over 30 pieces so far with everyone's support! I am constantly in awe of how many people support this blog and it's work.

Here we are a year later and it has been nothing short of an adventure that I never could have believed I would be taking. I spend about two hours a day on this website and posting on my corresponding FB page and support groups in the FASD community. It is a lot of work to research articles, reach out to people and ask if they want to share their story, editing and adding new content, etc. The process, time and energy it takes to go into this blog is worth EVERY SECOND when I see how many people are affected by it and find something good in it to take away. 

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As we venture forth into the second year of Love Me Enough, I would like to thank all of my readers and supporters. I love each and every one of you. You have helped me to be the person I am today and your support is truly the greatest gift you could give. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! <3

Sincerely,

A Girl Who Still Has Big Dreams