Show Me

There are days when finding the good in everything – or anything – is difficult.

Life loves to beat you down until you wonder how much lower you can get or how much more you can take. I’ve become fairly certain that this is just a fact of life for the vast majority of us.

If you feel that I’m wrong in this assessment, please don’t tell me how blessed and perfect your life is, always has been, and always will be. Because I will just automatically assume you’re lying. Also just a fact of life. Sorry..? Not really, but at least I’m honest about it.

We’re human. We’re genetically constructed with the predisposition to faltering, failing, and sometimes outright sucking at our own existence.

All of that aside, I am finding it hard right now to manifest myself in the positives. I feel alone. I feel set aside. I feel abandoned all over again. Like nothing I say or do is worth even garnering the smallest response or reaction.

I know all of these feelings are temporary. That I will triumph over them (because “I’ve survived this long without you and I’ve proven that I don’t need anyone anyways: I can make it all on my own”), but when they are here, they are still painful.

Maybe they will always be painful.

Maybe I will never fully recover from them.

Maybe I just need someone to show me consistently that I’m noticed, especially in the moments when I’m down, out, and otherwise hurting.

That what I say and show and express is valid or matters.

That I’m not just hidden in the background until I’m remembered again on a slow day.

That I’m actually still here.

Breathing.

Alive.

Show me.

Because some days, I forget to remember that I am still breathing and that, maybe, I might need a little help remembering..

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The “Private Failing” of Public School

I’ve been battling with this post because I didn’t know where I should really begin with it. I’ve posted about my son’s struggles with school, his social anxieties, and his inabilities to process his emotions (or even sometimes to express them) in a productive manner. I’ve also posted a three part post (found here, here, and here) on how we handled it at that time.

These posts took place circa 1st and 2nd grade. He’s now just barely finished 8th (with summer school beginning later this week), and honestly? I’m more lost now than I was then. A 14 year old definitely presents more challenges when it comes to open discussion, even if we were able to make it happen before.

Throughout elementary school, he remained a primarily B and C student, but he was placed with a reading comprehension teacher that would pull him from his regular classroom a few times a week to assist him. Needless to say, he hated it, and when he finally tested out of them in 5th grade, he was actually looking forward to being able to select an elective class that he would enjoy in middle school.

It turned out that his elementary school recommended him for a reading assistance class there as well (stemming from his lack of wanting to read books throughout the year and take tests on them) and, instead of being able to choose an elective, he was placed into RTI reading (which consisted solely of sitting in the classroom, reading a short story, and taking a test on it. For an entire year). It turned out to be a bigger blow to his confidence, morale, and willingness to try bettering himself almost immediately… because, in his mind, why try to prove yourself if they aren’t even going to recognize it?

His grades dropped in 6th grade, but began seriously plummeting in 7th grade, when he was taken from the RTI reading class and placed into their RTI FB class (functional behavior – meaning that it’s an assisted class for kids they believe are capable of the work, but need assistance with organization and actually completing it because they’re just “choosing not to” or “forget.”). Summer school was recommended after 7th grade for Math and English/Language Arts, but at the tune of $200 per class (and not even receiving the information until after registration – or a time to ask questions – had passed), it didn’t happen. So he moved on to 8th.

Eighth grade brought the same RTI FB class and, primarily because he had fallen behind the previous two years, the grades started out, and stayed, in the tank. He consistently failed the majority of classes (except gym), managing only a couple of D’s across all four quarters.

By this point, we didn’t know what to do or even what could have been done differently to make that better than it was. Did he just not care anymore? Did he want to fail and be held back?

Note: there was a social worker all three years he was in middle school who was frequently pulling him from classes to try to talk to him, but he doesn’t respond well to basically being told he’s failing at anything, even when he can see for himself that he is.

Also worth noting: we tried putting him back on the Focalin in 7th grade (after another Vanderbilt assessment showed ADHD-Inattentive Type as a general consensus among both parents and teachers), thinking maybe it would help. Not only did it not help, but he continuously complained that he didn’t like how it made him feel, so I took him back off of it. I’m not going to force a legally classified controlled substance on my child, physician recommended or otherwise, if he doesn’t want to take it.

So here we are at the end of 8th grade, with letters that were coming in the mail on a regular basis warning of potential academic failure. I was fully prepared for him to be held back, and he had accepted it for the most part as well. Then we discover that, because we qualify for waived school registration fees, the same principle also applied to summer school, so he would be able to go, after all. It was also discovered that even if he failed summer school he would be moving on to high school for one simple reason: he tested out at grade level on state standardized tests.

Yep, you heard it. Classroom material/performance doesn’t influence one bit whether a child passes or fails; they are considered academically ready for the next grade level as long as they can guess their way through a standardized test.

Let that sink in.

You don’t have to do well in primary or middle school as long as you can pass a test that proves to the state that your particular school is NOT failing you academically, even if they are failing you in every other possible way.

At this point, I had already ordered his gown, class shirt with all their names on the back, and graduation tickets in the event of some miracle occurring that would see him graduating into high school with his friends. His name was on the back of the shirt and we were told by the social worker that, as of two weeks prior to graduation, he was being allowed to participate in the ceremony.

Until suddenly, two days prior, we get a call saying that any child failing 2 or more classes is not allowed, that this has always been their policy, and that we should pardon the misinformation because this was that particular social worker’s first year there. I guess that somehow excuses her from having to know school policy. In fact, we’re told, he should never even have been given a gown or tickets in light of his academic standing (which were distributed by homeroom teachers, and honestly, since his homeroom teacher was also the RTI teacher, surely she had to have known, right?).

Ok, fine then… I requested that the gown be refunded. The principal agreed. He takes it back to school the next day – the day before graduation – to hand it in (which I’m sure was a great feeling already), only to be told that they won’t be refunding it because it’s not in the package (he relayed this information via text prior to school starting). Well, no kidding it’s not in the package. It was removed because it needed to not be a wrinkled mess for the ceremony.

By that point, I was fuming. I also knew that that day was graduation pictures, and I just had that feeling that they were going to make him partake in that. That feeling was correct. For whatever reason, he was being pushed on to the next grade and being requested to partake in all of the other graduation activities without being allowed to participate in the ceremony.

I found myself at the school the morning of graduation day, speaking to the principal about all of this, being told he couldn’t participate because he hadn’t technically graduated… because he hadn’t passed summer school yet.

But… it doesn’t even matter because standardized tests, right? So who cares about summer school? Right now it just seems that it’s their version of some warped technicality designed to fuck with kids’ heads.

Because it isn’t boosting their desire to achieve.

And it sure as hell isn’t teaching them anything, either.

——————–

There is so much more information I could have included here, such as the hours spent researching how to do his homework in order to help him with it because textbooks seem to be a thing of the past.

Or the number of times YouTube was the only recommendation a math teacher could provide.

Kids are struggling to get through this without references directly in front of them to turn to. And nobody seems to be making the effort at changing it so that they have those references available to them again.

I’m sure they really had only his best interests at heart, though, since after three years they still could never spell his name correctly..

I’d say “You do the math,” but, honestly, I’m afraid that’s not even really a valid metaphor anymore.

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I Have Limits, Too…?

What do you do with parents that don’t love you?

I mean, that’s a generalized statement (and one that most people would assess as false, because how could it be that a parent just does not love their own child, right?)… at least half of them in my broken and remarried parental sets loved me when I was little.

But what do you do when they stop?

What do you do when their own upbringings and life experiences make them incapable of being able to (or too manipulative to) deal with or able to relate to their teen or even adult children?

I was cut off from any of their love at 14. Not presumably, but actually and not just in actions, but in words.

I try to understand; I really do.

I’ve justified their behaviors and responses (all 4 of them!) so many times I could recite them in my sleep (empathy truly is a dual-edged blade, and it will take you down if you’re not careful with it).

One biological parent refuses to acknowledge any wrong-doing (we’ve not spoken for nearly 15 years because of the major toxicity of it all); the other acknowledges failures repeatedly and yet makes no changes.

No greater efforts to contact me. No efforts to rebuild our relationship. Just silence… until I reach out the next time. It’s always me that has to “bridge the gap.”

———————

I’m tired.

Tired of anyone who is expecting that I should be able to not only survive on, but be thankful for “leftovers.”

You know, those scraps of people’s hearts left after others have damaged, destroyed, or otherwise abused them, leaving them unable or unwilling to fully invest in anything.

I’m tired of trying to fight to understand why it is that I cannot be loved in the capacity that I want or need. Tired of trying to reach across the gap time and time again (and seeing or finding that there’s time for everyone else but me), only to have whatever building materials I possess slapped from my hands from out of the blue.

And yet, in all honesty, I will probably keep putting myself out there to take it all again (once I heal myself from whatever are the most recent blows), because it’s what I do… with everyone else and with myself (limitations are only temporary, I guess?)…

I’ll make time even when time isn’t made for me. Maybe because disappointment is familiar, maybe because I forget too easily the pain from every time before… only God knows the reason why, so there must be a lesson plan in here somewhere that I just haven’t come across yet.

Honestly, I really want to just tell people to either BE there consistently and permanently, or disappear from my life completely, because in many aspects I know I am still that teen girl NEEDING to be loved and acknowledged, appreciated and encouraged… and inconsistency just really fucks with my head.

And although lacking that is something I’m accustomed to, and despite my fierce claims of independence on needing anyone, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with at the end of a rough day when I’m tired, and worn, and needing something – anything – more… and the only one that’s truly there to turn to is me.

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Wide Open

Which path would you be most likely to put more faith in?

The known, or the unknown?

Most people would answer that they find more comfort in the path they’ve made for themselves; the one that they have struggled for years to maintain control over, and where they dictate what happens, when, and with whom.

But do you ever get the feeling that there are signs pointing everywhere and elsewhere around you, and you’re unsure what to do with them, but you know that they all tie in together and that they are trying to tell you something important?

After some time trying to figure out my own spiritual path and what direction I should be going, I took a break.

Life got messy, I needed time to process some things I had learned based on signs I had followed already that caused me to reevaluate where I thought I had been going.

However, shortly after that, even more signs started popping up on a regular basis, with more frequency and with a lot more unmistakable timing than could even be attributed to “this is just a bizarre coincidence.”

They have come one after the other in a rapid-fire that even I have been having trouble keeping up with.

From songs at just the right moment, to the sky bringing forth colors and lights in various and otherwise seemingly normal ways at, again, just the right moment.

Things we wouldn’t notice on any other given day, but that my eyes and ears were drawn to for no other purpose than to just make me notice.

I’ve said in a previous post that I do not believe in accidents. I believe everything that happens to us (and sometimes because of us) was meant to happen, even if we will never know the reasons why.

And I believe that those particular things were pushed towards me for a reason.

I am no longer, at this point, going to just keep wandering aimlessly, digging and searching for the answers. Instead, I am placing myself, both willingly and because I am being “gently” pushed, on a path that is allowing me to be led with my eyes wide open, heart wide open, and soul wide open.

Wide. Open.

Because you can’t get anything that you’re unwilling or resistant to receive. And you can’t forge a journey if you’re resistant to the path that is being paved for you to walk on.

And, I can honestly say that it’s a relief to, for once in my life, let go of the death grip on that steering wheel inside, hand it over to the powers of the universe, and just patiently wait to see where I end up when all is said and done.

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Sorry… Not Sorry

I’m learning to stop apologizing for who and what I am. It’s been a long process; a process that involved many stages of feeling guilt over situations I ultimately had no control over (or that I should even feel remotely responsible for).

I think for awhile I was lost in the illusion that I could somehow save the world, or at least the ones whose paths ultimately crossed mine. And when I failed (as I was destined to do because, let’s face it, nobody is responsible for someone else’s happiness: happiness is an inside job), I took it extremely personally.

I felt guilty. Inadequate. Like I hadn’t done enough. And in some cases, I was told that exact thing.

It took a long time for me to realize that I could not be responsible for anyone else’s happiness or wellbeing (outside of my children, of course); that it was something that everyone, including myself, needed to look within to find.

So for anyone – past, present, or future – who is too selfish or self-serving to appreciate or understand that journey:

Sorry… not sorry.

Not even a little bit.

I spent so much of my life being whatever it is that would make someone else happy (family, friends, men), that I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t know what would make me happy because it wasn’t something I had ever focused on (I’ve got a wee bit of work left to go in that respect).

I bit my tongue (most of the time). I averted my eyes (still an anxiety thing; I’m working on it!). I stopped worrying about what I thought – because it didn’t seem to matter to anyone – and focused on the people around me: if they’re happy, I’m happy.

It was true, to a certain degree. Being an empath meant, back then, that I simply fed off of others’ emotions, thinking they were actually my own. If they’re happy, I’m happy.

That is, until I learned how to separate those feelings from my own (still a struggle sometimes) and I realized that I wasn’t. Not truly, anyways.

So I spent a few years diving into myself, exploring everything, really learning me, and now…?

Well, now I’m unapologetically a mess of a woman colliding into actual life at every turn, both figuratively and literally – and laughing at myself for and through it is slowly becoming second nature, when it used to be that even the slightest perception of potential criticism could send me spiraling into an abyss of self-doubt.

And while that still has a tendency to slightly pick at me at times, I’m no longer going to adapt myself to it.

It’s going to have to learn how to adapt to me.

Sorry… not sorry.

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Slow and Steady…

Just a brief update regarding my previous post, for those who may be wondering: in my push to find so many answers in so short a period of time (coupled with an extremely bizarre set of events over the past couple of weeks that I will not get into here), I found that I was inadvertently exhausting myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

See, I have this inherent NEED to always find a solution as quickly as possible to any question/problem I may have. Unfortunately, sometimes digging to the root of personally and emotionally based issues is something best done slowly, and without striking too hard at one’s self in the process.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner in that respect.

Something requiring answers, for me, has always been about digging in, focusing, and doing the necessary research to find said answers (Rip it off like a Band-Aid, right?). I don’t like waiting around and possibly missing out on those answers because I wasn’t paying attention, and that’s probably my anxiety that’s worrying about that aspect. So, essentially, I go full throttle, and then am either successful… or completely exhausted from the effort.

It was very quick to become the latter.

And that’s ok, because I know I will recoup and I will be ready to face it all again.

I just need to remind myself not to be so “head on” about it when I am, because it truly can be a collision course if I don’t practice some kind of internal tactical maneuvering… and with it being such an important set of answers that I’m looking for, I am determined not to get myself so overwhelmed with everything that I just end up giving up on them entirely.

I will continue to read and to explore and to allow myself to have an open mind and heart, but I also know that pushing at it too strongly would not be in my best interests, short or long term.

Slow and steady wins the race, right…?

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So, About God… I Have a LOT of Questions

There was a time in my youth when I didn’t question my faith or wonder if there truly was a God somewhere out there. Half of my divorced family went regularly to church and I had always found comfort in it in my younger years. But as I entered adolescence, I began to doubt what was being taught. Not only because of school, societal/peer pressures, etc., but because everything I was seeing around me by those who proclaimed themselves Christians was contradicting everything I was being told that Christianity and Jesus were about.

I struggle to remember a time in the home of the church-going side of my family where there wasn’t anger, resentment, or some form of physical or verbal altercation that worked diligently alongside all of the other outside influences (family-related childhood rape, parents brushing it aside to preserve something irrelevant to justice or anything that may have been decent, etc. You get the idea.) to chip away at what I had once unquestionably believed in, replacing it with layers of bitterness, anger, and a teetering disbelief in basically anything good at all. As time went on, I gradually just slipped away from any form of religion altogether because if that’s what it was about, I didn’t want any part of being associated with it.

It was too organized. Too specific. Too incomprehensible in a world of science to fully believe… and too incomprehensible in a world filled with so much injustice and pain to fully accept. It was also, from my viewpoint (and even still at times to this day), chock full of hypocrisy to boot.

Even with all of that being said, I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t believe there was something out there bigger than all of us, though I’ve never claimed to know exactly what…. or how. I mean, assuming that something isn’t there or doesn’t exist just because you’ve never seen or “experienced” it yourself is a pretty solid definition of leading a blind existence and I can honestly say that I have never taken that route. I have always had an open mind and, as time has passed, an open heart for others whose experiences I perhaps didn’t fully understand in my younger years.

However, I’ve also always been one that requires a solid “definition” of things, wherein there is no room left for questions or doubts. A “this is what it is and these are the reasons why” type, if you will.

I guess that as I get older, I’m learning that that isn’t something that can (or does) apply to every situation, and least of all to a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs, for one very good reason: nobody actually has all of the answers.

Simply put, it’s about faith. It’s about one’s own personal feelings – what they truly feel deep in their hearts – and each and every person out there has their own unique relationship with the deity(ies) of their chosen religion (should they have one, of course). What feels right for someone else may not be comfortable to another (and vice versa), even within the same religion. I feel that that’s how it should be, to an extent, simply because it is something so personal, and maybe that’s the reason I’ve always considered myself to be more spiritual than religious, because I really am just not capable of being an “organized” or “specific” sort of person in the sense that some have deemed religion must be.

So the question in my mind becomes this: What is it that gives someone the ability to have an unquestioning and unwavering faith in anything (or even anyONE)? And is it truly unfaltering or does everyone experience moments of doubt?

I don’t have either of those answers. And not even half of one those answers on some days.

But I do know that seeing the sun filtering in rays through the clouds fills my heart like nothing else, no matter what I’m doing.

And I know that there’s a sense of peace and an awe that gives me goosebumps and can bring me to tears when I hear any song with true emotion that’s geared, not just towards religion in general, but towards Jesus specifically.

So what does that actually mean, for me personally? Is there something still there, deep down, buried beneath the debris of life, or is it just a wistfulness for the ability to experience that sort of love and truly believe in it, no questions asked, when there’s never been an instance of “unconditional love” that I can relate to?

It’s something that I have every intention of exploring, so I guess we’ll find out.

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