Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ice Breaker

At this point, I’m a middle aged woman beginning the next chapter of my life, trying to find my happy place. It’s been quite a journey so far. I’m finding I’m an introvert with people skills. I like myself today, which to me is more important than love. Not an easy journey, it has taken many years in recovery for alcohol AND people pleasing to reach this point. My journey, began the day before Kennedy was assassinated, in a town outside of Chicago known mainly for their hospital and prison. Why my 15 year old mother and 17 year old father were there is still a mystery to this day. They found out the hard way that living out the 1960’s mantra of “Sex, drugs, Rock and Roll” to the fullest didn’t mix well with parenting, which led the State of IL to intervene. It’s still etched in my mind two strange women putting me in a car, with my parents claiming they were aunts sent to care for me while they went on vacation to work things out. That last goodbye haunted me for many years. Bouncing between orphanages and foster homes, an adoptive family, wanting a little girl but so done with diapers whisked me away, brought me to their house. Ha! I showed those mean foster brothers, I WAS worthy, ADOPTABLE. Step 1: Accomplished; now all that was left was perfection so as not to be returned. No pressure there. Luckily for me, perfection was something I had been training for, I knew at a very young age that perfection USUALLY left fewer scars. I traded in 2 foster brothers, spawns of Satan himself, for 2 big brothers, parents that loved me, a dog and a cat that I recently found out was mine? Apparently I bought Tinker Bell from my brother for a mere 25 cents. I also met my very first BFF, my constant companion, partner in crime, Grandpa Ott. He helped me acclimate and was the one person that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt loved me no matter what. I wasn’t as accepted by everyone in my new family, but that didn’t matter as long as I had him. Out of high school, my rules changed, and the inner rebel came out until it was mutually decided that it was time for me to become an adult. Venturing out into the world was something I wasn’t really emotionally ready for, which left me a target for the very people I protect my kids from today, but I also found my first “True Love” which led to the birth of my oldest son. Not only did I believe I had replaced the loss of my grandpa, having a child that would love me unconditionally, AND my mom could never label me a teen parent, after all I had 17 days of being 20 under my belt. The combination of my mom’s mastery of tough love and me being a magnet for users and abusers, we set off to begin a NEW, IMPROVED life; Cali here we come. Digging ditches for myself became a way of life. Drama and despair were a constant companion. If I didn’t have any, I’d find a supplier. All while telling myself if it weren’t for all these NOUNS running around, life would be perfect. If there was a bridge in sight, I had the matches. Finally I hit a hard rock bottom on St. Patrick’s Day. Even in recovery, I broke all the rules initially, fought it tooth and nail, but I kept hearing “When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired” so I managed to “Keep Coming Back” without drinking in between meetings. What better way for a single mom to stay sober than to find a man in recovery. Two birds, one stone! The FAST TRACK to perfection, until it wasn’t. Three boys five and under, as well as a brooding teenager, I set off once again, but I gave it my all first. Through his year in the hospital awaiting a liver transplant, I worked full-time, while I covered his work responsibilities, took care of the boys and stayed sober all by myself. With his re-birth, straight out of Pet Cemetery, and my newfound knowledge that I COULD MAKE IT, things never returned to what I had known before, we went our separate ways. Through the nasty aftermath until his death I remembered and truly felt I’m a fighter, a survivor, masked in a mild mannered persona. My secret weapon “Never let them see you sweat. My anthems include “The Bitch is Back and I’m Still Standing” Due to my early childhood scars, my children’s well-being and family became my number one priority, above all else. I can say with confidence that I have raised four wonderful young men, full of empathy for others, while strong enough to know when to walk away from all those unhealthy situations that I had gravitated towards. They are now spreading their wings, embarking on their own paths, creating their own trails instead of blindly following the pack. Over the years I’ve had the opportunities to make amends for my thoughts, words and actions that have hurt others, and to reconcile with my past. I have reconnected with both birth and adoptive family. Although terrified of their rejection, the first amends made were to my parents, whom had become estranged for a few years. I remember my dad called me the minute they received my letter. I’m forever grateful that I was granted about 15 years of building a solid relationship with them. I finally returned to my childhood home after 30 years, to care for my dad in his final days, staying for a month to help my mom during the initial transition. I even claimed “Favorite Child Status” which took a mere 50 years. Now it’s time for me to begin a new chapter in life. I do that through writing, art and getting into service for others. Today my dreams include helping women break the cycle of abuse, writing an Oprah Book Club’s Best Seller, and performing at least one time on that infamous Improv stage, which calls to me every time I see a show. Part of that journey is what led me here, to join Toastmasters, and with a group name “ADLIBMasters” I was hooked. In exchange for allowing me to join you, you’ll all be invited to my second open mic, first one is STRANGERS ONLY!

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