The Broken Ones

Do not give me the ones
who will never be “human;”
the ones who paint their masks on
so tight that you can’t tell
where it ends and they begin;
the ones who cast
handfuls of glitter
on top of despair and say
it’s beautiful because it sparkles;
who try to convince the world
that nothing has ever touched them
with cold, cruel hands
(and if it has
it meant nothing).

I do not want those ones.

I want the ones
who have suffered;
who wear their scars
for all to see.
The ones that follow their
voices and their hearts
and are not afraid
to dance or scream
with tears streaming
down their cheeks
in a summer rain
simply because they are struck
by the moment.

Give me the broken ones
who have pieced
themselves back together
into something
majestic
and moving
and timeless;
who prove that strength
lies within weakness.

They are the ones
who grip my soul.

They are my people.

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New Direction

For about a year and a half, this blog was dedicated to posts about my children, the daily chaos of my life, and writing prompts from a group I’ve unfortunately discovered is no longer intact 6 years later.

In wanting to continue with and reacquaint myself with my writing, I’m taking it on a “different” road now – a more “real” road. I think that back then I thought if I could shade my life with bright words and an overly healthy tendency towards sarcastic humor that, even despite my most brutally open and honest posts – the ones that brushed against my core like steel wool to write – it would appear that I had myself mostly together.

For the most part, I believe that I did (and do), partly because, as it turned out, those brutally open and honest posts were the ones that forced me to do the most soul-searching. It also helped both myself and others feel like we had a voice and that we weren’t “alone” in the grand scheme of things.

My plan with this blog now (in between whatever other ideas I come up with) is to take it more regularly to that deeper level. To analyze, ask bigger questions of myself, to learn, to grow, and to do even more healing in the process.

(Edit: I would also like to get back to more creative writing. Not only because I miss it, but because I think the routine of it helps in making me more receptive to being able to focus on broader thought processes for longer periods. ADD can be brutal to creative endeavors.)

I’m hoping that, with me asking those bigger questions, it will prompt others to do the same.

May we all keep open and accepting minds and hearts in the year to come, and may we all learn, grow, and heal from ourselves and from one another. ❤️

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Why I Don’t Owe Anyone My Forgiveness (And Neither Do You)

Forgiveness is a wonderful gift to be able to give, for the recipient as well as the giver. But it isn’t always in the best interests of the one giving it, especially if it means they are opening themselves up to the same betrayals time and time again.

Take, for example, a cheating spouse. To forgive once – and attempt reconciliation – is understandable. There’s a history, or a family to salvage. Whatever the reasons, it isn’t a foreign concept for an indiscretion to be “overlooked” for the greater good of salvaging something that was previously deemed worth having forever, right?

However, if you attempt to forgive and reconcile while said spouse is still being unfaithful, then what are you working towards saving? More importantly, what are they working towards saving? A lifetime of you sticking bandaids over wounds that will never quite heal? Of wondering why you’re not good enough to warrant an actual attempt at doing what’s right or decent?

The same concept applies to just about any other scenario one can come up with when it comes to the people with whom we are closest (or were at one point in time), yet who decide hurting us is better than the alternative.

Not everyone deserves my (or your) forgiveness, and here’s why:

1. The Lifetime of Bandaids

You can patch yourself up only so many times before you run out of proverbial skin to stick a bandage to. If whatever it is being done or whoever is hurting you is continuing the same behaviors and they are aware of how it affects you, then they lack enough respect for you to not hurt you. Assuming that your requests are reasonable (and that you are not asking for a pet llama for each third Tuesday of the month or requesting that someone redefine their entire self in order to satisfy a superficial need), someone who cares for you and respects you will be careful not to intentionally overstep your boundaries in order to avoid causing you pain. Which brings me to this:

2. Their Apologies (or Lack Thereof)

We all hurt people we care about at one time or another. It’s a fact of life. But someone who has that aforementioned care and respect thing going on will have a genuine apology for how their words or actions affected you, whether it was intentional or not. If they don’t, or if they continuously supplement apologies with “if you hadn’t done [insert excuse here], then I wouldn’t have said/done that,” they are incapable of owning their own actions or reactions and they are essentially blaming you for causing them. A true apology doesn’t assign blame to anyone else other than to the person apologizing. Remember that.

3. There Are Things That Some People Can’t Forgive

To forgive is divine. Or, at least, that’s the saying. It’s also said that God is the only one who can judge any of us, that we were made in His image, and that we should act as such. But if God is the only one that can judge, then, as Kesha sang with so much strength and vulnerability, “some things, only God can forgive.” Don’t be guilted or manipulated into forgiveness that isn’t earned or deserved if it doesn’t bring you peace.

4. You Are Allowed to Feel Your Feelings

You are entitled to be angry or hurt when someone betrays you. Allow yourself to feel that without guilt. Embrace it and learn from it what you need to, then release it. Like a bird, it may return from time to time, but only when it has something new to teach you. When you feel that it is finished with each lesson, let it take flight again. Harboring the anger or sadness will only hurt you more, which is essentially why you are always being told to forgive. It is absolutely possible to both set aside the act of forgiveness and to process your emotions in a positive way. Don’t ever think that you have to do one in order to have the other.

5. There Doesn’t Need to be a Reason

It’s really as simple as that. You don’t owe someone who has hurt you repeatedly (or even once) anything at all. You only owe yourself a chance to find peace of mind and happiness.

There doesn’t need to be a reason.

You either forgive them or you don’t.

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A Forgotten Saved Draft

I found this draft dated March 13, 2013 while attempting to clean up the mess that became my blog when Photobucket decided to opt out of its third-party hosting and charge $400 a year to every person wanting to embed a photo somewhere from their site (needless to say, I abandoned them).

I’ve taken a long hiatus from this blog. Namely, since I started working again. But I’ve found that, again, I need an outlet, and this is the place I feel it should be.

I don’t know quite when the depression started sneaking in on me again. It showed itself in brief glimpses here and there: after the births of my children, during the expected hormonal shifts of my menstrual cycles.

Always just slight instances and almost never anything I took as a serious matter.

Stupid hormones.

All part of the curse of being a woman.

Normal.

PMS:Every woman deals with it.

Except it wasn’t normal.

And it began to get gradually worse after each of my children was born.

It manifested and multiplied until slowly, each month, it began to devour me.

There aren’t any words to properly describe exactly how it feels to know that you’ve reached the end of your proverbial rope, just as there are no words to convey what a solitary experience it truly is, no matter how many people tell you they are there supporting you.

In those moments, none of their words matter. They are simply empty air falling on deaf ears and mocked by a soul that feels just as empty as the sound of whatever is being said.

Because they can’t possibly understand.

The motivation towards isolation sets in because, in the midst of it all, knowing you should be stronger but are incapable, all you can think is that everyone will be judging you for this weakness.

Not that it would matter…

Who could be a harsher judge than yourself…?

Eventually, the facade I was putting forth each day became too flimsy to hold up against the shipwreck of emotions behind it. For three weeks each month I could keep it maintained; feed it with delusions of how I was stronger than whatever this was.

But that fourth week… everything would come tumbling down around me. I finally reached the breaking point in February [of 2013], when I nearly drove myself to the hospital because all I could think was that everyone, including my children, would be much better off without such a train-wreck of a mother/friend/acquaintance/employee.

That was the first and only time I had/have ever missed work simply because I couldn’t even envision myself with the energy to view anything from an upright position.

I cried. Stared blankly at nothing for hours.

And I realized…this wasn’t me.

I needed help.

Follow-up: At that time, I was prescribed an anti-depressant, birth control pills, and an anti-anxiety medication (a PMDD diagnosis at the height of what is supposed to be a woman’s sexual peak – aka hormones abound), the second of which I was removed from as soon as my BP issues came roaring to the surface at above stroke-inducing levels (after 2 months of feeling like an actual human being, I will fully admit to crying in the doctor’s office when they told me I could no longer take the birth control pills to balance my hormones).

I spent 6 months loving the f*ck out of Xanax for 2-3 days each month, and the following year and a half re-learning myself and finally understanding how much toxic people/relationships/mindsets contributed to my emotional status before finally stopping all of the medications entirely. It was, at some points and in future years, another learning curve to get past without them, but this month marks 3 years that I have been med-free (for non-physical issues).

I will never say that all of this was mind over matter, because it definitely was not. Any battle we fight is, ultimately, one we fight alone. It cannot be lumped in with anyone else’s, regardless of the things in common. The similarities within us allow us to relate and possibly commiserate, but we still must come into our ownon our own termsalone.

It was a long road, but I definitely don’t ever feel as desolate as I did during those moments when everything made me feel so helpless and hopeless that nothing could ever fix it.

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Teaching Respect Without Respect…?

This is the e-mail that I received from my six year old’s teacher this afternoon… I’m actually livid at the moment, so if my response to her doesn’t say enough, I apologize. But only half-heartedly. Because I stand fully behind what I said.

Hello Denelle,                             October 7th, 2014

I wanted to discuss with you how Braeden is doing and some areas of concern that I have this year. It would be helpful for me to discuss this with you in person but I realize you are very busy too.

Braeden is a very sweet boy and has the ability to do very well in school! Most days he seems very tired and will just lay his head on his desk:( He also likes to play with things and many times is in his own little world. Sometimes it difficult to bring him out of that world.

Now that we have been in school for awhile and I have had the opportunity to get to know Braeden a little better, it seems as though he has a difficult time looking at me when I am teaching, and he has a need to play with things when it is listening time. He is very easily distracted and in the last couple of weeks he has cut his hair and his stuffed animal that he brought to school today. Can you help me understand, so I can find ways to help Braeden at school. We both want the best for him and I haven’t found anything that motivates him. This too is an area where I need your help. I want to work together with you so that Braeden has an awesome year in first grade.

I’m also concerned with the number of sight words he can read. Right now he knows 22 out of 60 words that we have had so far. Is there someone that can work with him each night on these words? Once he learns to read, no one can take that away from him.

Thank you for any insight so that we can help Braeden enjoy school and do well.

Your partner in education,
[Insert teacher name here]

While I appreciate her pre-programmed and seemingly scripted e-mail to help soothe anxious parents, what she neglected to mention is that she took that stuffed animal and threw it away, as well as taking away his scissors.  I’m technically fine with taking away both, but my response explains the rest:

Mary,

I’m not sure why Braeden seems to have such a hard time with his sight words at school. He practices them at home and misses only a handful of 60 at worst. As far as focus, it isn’t the first time the issue has come up for us as two of his older brothers have ADHD (one of whom lives in the same household). I’m hesitant to say that’s what he has or if he is just emulating his big brother’s behavior, because when they are apart from one another at home, he is a completely different person. However, he is around children who can be easily swayed into hyperactivity (as most 6 year olds can with/without an instigator) and that is probably part of the problem if he is seated near anyone he feels he can amuse or entertain or “impress.” His 10 year old brother was the same way. He can be somewhat self-conscious and shy at times because of it, but I’m sure that it leads to episodes of acting out and “over-acting” to compensate. A very valid reason I will not start him on medication just yet.

That being said, I’ve read the episodes about the scissors on all occasions they have come home. He has been talked to quite sternly on all occasions. “Don’t cut your hair. Don’t act like you’re going to cut other people.”, etc., and grounded from video games. Today, however, has me quite upset and I’m surprised that I can actually type this up as calmly as I am and in logical terms, albeit somewhat dry and “medical,” if you will.

My problem is this:

Braeden has explained to us the extent of the damage that he did to this stuffed animal, which was not actually his, but something that his 4 year old brother allowed him to take to school because Braeden was told he was allowed to one day this week and that, being his favorite game and a favorite character, is what he chose to bring. He has impulse-control issues; I understand that. So do many (most) children. He also has issues remembering things he was admonished not to do prior because his mind is constantly going 100mph and, again, his desire to make people laugh, even inappropriately, takes over. Again, so do many (most) children. If not, most parents would not feel like a broken record player, even though most kids these days have no idea what the saying even means when we say it.

What I’m getting to is this: he informed us that the damage he did was a minor snip wherein no damage was truly done. If that is not, indeed, the case, and you can show me otherwise that it was unable to be salvaged with a needle and thread, then I can understand a first instinct to toss it into a garbage can. However, the correct response is to package it in one of the plethora of gallon Ziploc bags that are provided at the start of the school year and return it to the parents so that the parents can decide what to do with the aftermath. It is not your place to throw out anyone’s personal property other than your own and it is our place, as his parents, to decide if he should have it back.

I feel that you owe my son an apology, if not a search through the trash for his brother’s belongings, as I also feel that he owes you an apology for disrupting the classroom. However, he’s 6. I’m certain he isn’t the only one at that age to do so since I just had 15 of his friends in my home for his and his brother’s birthday party this weekend.

Disrupting is part of the territory and part of learning what is and what is not acceptable in class.

Learning that it’s ok for someone to disrespect your property while telling you to respect theirs is not something I think he should be learning.

Sincerely,

Denelle Wolff

—–

First post in 2 years… and it took a first grade teacher to bring it.

Posted in General, My Babies | 1 Comment

Mommy Dearest

Note: You may wish to read Shell of a Girl first.

I received this letter from my mother when I was 27 and filing for divorce. I was livid and fired off a scathing response first thing, hitting send without any reservation, severing my ties with her for good.

Excerpts from The Letter

Are you ever going to get help for yourself? And why is it that anything you do is supposed to be okay? Everyone else is always wrong, aren’t they? You’ve been a spoiled little girl all your life.

And yes, I know how you’ve told everyone you were so abused as a child. I don’t know whose childhood you relive all the time but it wasn’t yours. Who knows, past is past.

All I know is all you kids were raised with the same principles and morals and you’re the only one that’s always been dishonest. And you know what’s so sad is that you’re dishonest with yourself. A lot of your problems stem from guilt for all the wrong you’ve done to others and yet you hurt yourself the most with it.

I’ve been there for you through an abortion, a miscarriage, the birth of my grandson, your marriage. Anytime you needed me I was there for you. How quickly one forgets.

You need to come to terms with all you’ve done wrong and learn to forgive yourself. Until you do you won’t be happy in any relationship.

Hate me if you must. We know it’s because you know I’m right.

Love, Mom

Excerpts from The Response

‘Anytime you needed me I was there for you.’

That’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard. You were there with me through an abortion because you had to be in order to force me to have it done, when what I wanted to do was give it up for adoption. You were there with me through a miscarriage because it was mandatory that the hospital have your consent to treat me. You fail to realize that you are not a perfect parent. You fail to realize that when I needed someone on a deeper level than just as a requirement between the ages of 14 and 17, you offered nothing.

What baffles me to no end right now is the fact that in the last 5 years, you have not made a single effort to contact me. You came out for my wedding, have met and spoken to my “husband” only as many times as we have been up there, and yet suddenly you feel you know our entire situation.

I guess what confuses me is how you could have so little interest in my life and suddenly you’re as involved as though it were your own relationship. It’s not and it never was. Your relationships have not all been picture perfect, and never once have I ever heard you take even partial blame for the failure of one of them.

That seems to be the one base difference between me and you: I admit to my shortcomings.

Sorry if you think my leaving for the very valid reasons that I did means I am “playing the victim.” I’m not. He and I both had a part to play in this and apparently I’m the only one admitting any of it.

I will probably hold parts of the conversation you had with [my ex] against you for a very long time because he did tell me what was said. So either you were lying to him, or you were lying to me – again. Whichever one it is, I don’t have it in me to care anymore.

__________________________________________

At 32, seventeen years after the events that changed my life forever, the last letter I received from my biological mother resurfaced. I did the only thing I could do in response to it, despite the response it did get when I’d first received it five years prior:

The Unsent Letter

I’m not bothering to send you this letter because I know that it wouldn’t do any good.

I wish you could see how you have emotionally crippled me to a point that I cannot get anything back.

I wish that after 17 years I could be over this same old bullshit that sideswipes me from out of the blue every now and again.

I wish that my fucking idiot of a sister would just acknowledge everything for once and see what it is that she has contributed to this.. and, perhaps if you hadn’t allowed her to be so fucked in the head as well, she would have had the presence of mind and the feelings of self-worth that could have led to something more than just “settling” for her pedophile husband.

Of course, I am the only one still living in the past, still reliving what you, and everyone else, said and did.

You admitted to me that you thought our stepfather molested us both; that it was the reason you sent her to live with her father.

Your ultimate solution was not to divorce him for the safety of your children, but to “watch him more closely.”

Just as your ultimate solution where the family was concerned was to stand behind my sister’s disbelief to, as you said, protect her from being hurt.

What about my hurt?

You admitted that you had no doubts that I had told you the truth when it came to what your son-in-law did to me two months before my 15th birthday. You even told me that he did it as revenge against my sister for the affair that she had. You told me all of that long after I suffered the damage of growing up in a house being shunned by everyone for my “lies.” For one brief moment, I had a small amount of vindication.

To my detriment, I thought you would stand by those words, but years later you revoked every last one of them behind my back to my (then) soon-to-be ex-husband by telling him that it was all lies; sympathizing with him about how fucked up your daughter was and how sorry you were that I hurt him and how desperately I needed therapy to overcome this need I have to gain attention from everyone by fabricating a life that I never lived.

I cut you from my life after that.

Your apparent response was no response. No attempt at apology, not that I could actually take it seriously anymore, all things considered.

The only thing you have ever been consistent with is finding new ways to open the old wounds and I ran out of bandages long ago.

As long as we ignored every problematic issue between us we were fine… or, rather, as fine as we could ever hope to be. I wish I could be happy with that as a relationship, but I can’t. So instead, I opt for nothing.

I’m not happy with that, either.

I hate hating you, but I don’t see any other way to protect myself from further damage: the damage I know you could inflict if I gave you that opportunity. I hate hating you because I don’t think you do any of these things intentionally, but the fact that you do the majority of these things blindly is even more dangerous. I hate hating you because it means explanations to my children I’d rather avoid.

I hate hating you, but it seems to be my only safe option.

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Too Slow

His face was etched with malice. She cringed. Why was he always so angry? He approached slowly, intently. She backed away with equal intent. Too slow. He lunged.
____________________

This post was written in reponse to a prompt by Write On Edge.

Compose a post in the form of a text – 160 characters.

Your text must elicit or express fear.

Posted in Fiction, Red Writing Hood, Write on Edge | Leave a comment