Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suckage, thy name was Monday

This week officially sucks-- and it's only Wednesday. Is there really a point to hashing out all the miserable details just so you can be mired in the miserable muck that started out as Monday? I know they say, "Misery loves company" but, really, I just like to be left alone with a good book, some mellow music, and an empty cup to catch my tears. Well, not really. It just sounded good, poetic, to say, er, write.

I don't catch my tears; in truth, I rarely grant them release. I guess part of the reason why is that I'm afraid of what would happen should the flood gates be thrown open. Maybe I should come with a QMV warning system like they have with hurricanes and other natural disasters because me giving in to tears would be exactly that, a disaster.

So, no, I won't spew a litany of grievances against the fates for the abuse I've endured these last three days. Nay, I shan't. Even though I'm not too happy with the three traffic tickets I received from an over-zealous cop (it's the end of the month) as the rain clouds preempted the sunset. I won't complain; I'm here, relatively healthy, and whole. I won't complain because to do so would be an invitation to the tears that threaten to fall at any given moment. And I don't think this house is stocked with enough tissue.

In case you haven't realized it by now, I'm depressed. I'm recognizing it for what it is and am working out to combat it. I had just finished working out an hour or two before I received my tickets. Guess that's why I wasn't in such a bum mood about them.  Monday, I started working out with my best friend/colleague immediately after work in the gym: 20 minutes walk/jog on the treadmill and about 20 minutes of strength. Today, we added jump roping. I think I'm going to have to keep up with the working out this school year; it's really burning the stress hormone.  Yesterday, I skipped it (had to register my son for school) and I was an emotional wreck.

Today, not so much.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bogey Man Among Us

I looked under beds. I looked in closets. I looked online (familywatchdog). I even looked into the eyes of the men in my family. I kept a vigilant watch for the bogey man, the one the evening news warned about, the pedophile that lurks among us. Having been a victim of sexual harassment, molestation, and rape on separate occasions, I'm always on the lookout, trying to protect my kids. Well, Friday, I found out that I failed.

While I had forbidden my sons from attending sleepovers until they were old enough to call me and say no (age 13 or there about depending on observed maturity), even kept my youngest from going over his father's house unless I knew their itinerary, a pervert, wrapped in the disarming package of a 2nd grader, got to my son. He touched him in the private area. My son didn't share this with me until years later. He's now a 6th grader.

All this time, I had a feeling something was wrong, I just didn't know what. Because my son was diagnosed with ADD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder, or something like that), it was easy to brush the increasing behavior problems off as symptoms or displays of his issues. But more and more was I starting to notice sexuality rearing its ugly head. First, it was the sites I found in my internet history, not once but twice. Result: banned from the internet unless an adult is present at all times. The discussion turned up disturbing conversations 4th grade boys were having amongst themselves as well as equally disturbing behavior. I removed my son from that school and it was a "good" school.

Then it was the use of vernacular (not used in my or his father's household) towards another student at the new school, another "good" school. Finally, it was the male member drawn on paper during class and tossed at a fellow student at yet another "good" school and it had only been in session for 5 days. The pattern showed my son was the problem. Something was wrong and I pressed for an answer. What I got stilled my heart.  He was touched. The bogey man found him. I failed. I failed. I failed.

And I can't help but recall a dream my son mentioned to me. As he was being devoured by an alligator,  he screamed for help and I couldn't hear him. I didn't save him. At the time he shared it with me, it scared me so much that I changed my plans of moving to New York to pursue a career in writing/acting. I would have brought him with me but it was a land of strangers. So here I remain in Miami.

My son has been changed and I didn't help him. I'm saddened by this fact, scared of what it might all mean for the future, powerless to change the past. And I also wonder about that little boy, the one who was known for misbehaving and throwing tantrums. I wonder if he was acting out because he, too, was being touched. Only adults have the power to pervert the innocent. Or so I thought.

This parenting stuff is hard.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gotta Have Class

Didn't make it to church this morning but that did not stop me from talking to God. As the Bible says, church is within us. We are church. So I talked to God, seeking His face (ear) because I want to be the best me I can be, that He wants me to be. As I wrote a little earlier today, I didn't know how to make that happen. And, truthfully, I spent the morning feeling somewhat sorry for myself.

I read articles about daughters reminiscing over things their mothers said or wish they could tell their mothers (see herehere and here) and I had tears in my eyes because, no matter how rough a relationship one of them attests to, I still never had even that level of closeness with my own mother-- a woman who, during one particularly heated argument this summer, told me she hated me as much as I hated her. The funny thing was that, until that moment, I never hated her; I'd been disappointed, yes, disgusted even at times but I never hated her. And it was at that very moment that I realized she hated me. Everything ever done to/for me or not came flooding back from the recesses of my memory and slid into place. It was an Aha! moment, a Now I get it moment of understanding. It was because she never loved me that I kept getting thrown out of the house,  or spanked on the regular (well, my cheekiness surely added a good reason), or just plain treated differently from her other 3 kids (kids created w/in her marriage--  I was from someone else before). So as I read, I wept for a relationship that never was and probably never will be.

I sat here on my bed, mired in misery, pleading pitifully for something, for God to show me something. And He did. A thought popped into my head, I already showed you something (see A Walk with God). Well, what are you going to do about it? My school's (Covey's) 7 Habits credo (summary found here) flashed through my mind, well, mainly 2 of the 7: Be Proactive & Sharpen the Saw. Then my eyes landed on a banner on top of a news website I was perusing; it was an advertisement for an online Masters in Creative Writing at a reputable school I vaguely drooled about going to a few years back. They didn't have this degree at the time and now they do. So I clicked the banner and filled out the the boxes, requesting more information. But I wasn't satisfied because 1) I didn't know how I would pay for such a thing (I'm in a student loan mess right now) and 2) I wanted something a little more accessible now. Immediately, my mind grabbed hold of a memory detailing an offering for photography classes at the local community college. Yes!, I thought and quickly pulled up the MDC website.

I found the photography classes and, with a little more poking around, I found other classes I would be interested in taking as well: teaching ESOL (required by my job, gotta have a just-in-case in the back pocket), learning more Spanish so I could stop complaining about the anti-nonHispanic-American non-equal opportunity job market here in Miami, web design (so I can finally do my own website), and magazine writing (so I can put my degree to use). Talk about sharpening the saw.

I've decided to make the sacrifice to take, at least, one of these classes each month (may have to do every other month due to financial constraints) because I can't complain about my life if I'm not willing to do something about my life. Not yet excited because i always say I'm going to do something and I don't follow through. But I'll endeavor to make this time different.

In Need of a Road Map

I'm lost. Somewhere along the way, I got off the path, I lost my passion, I left behind my purpose. And I am clueless as to where to begin to reclaim it. Even though my late grandfather, who passed in February 2004, warned me in a dream to "never settle", that's exactly what I did.

I've been settling in my employment and got complacent as a teacher, drawn into the lifestyle of afternoons and summers off. The first 4 years of my 6 years of teaching were struggles but they were for a purpose. God was using the classroom to teach me some very important lessons about myself, lessons that only took that long to learn because I was too stubborn to look at them for what they were and to use them towards my improvement of self. But once those lessons were learned, I overstayed my welcome. The stress of being undervalued and overworked and, in some cases, feeling discriminated against affected my health. I've had more hospital and doctor visits in the last 2.5 years that I've had my entire life. Now, I have high blood pressure and adult acne, a heart harboring hatred and humiliation, and bitterness brewing in my brain. I don't like it. I don't want it. But I don't know how to change.

I've applied to dozens of jobs, seeking to get out of education and back into the corporate world. But the world has changed a lot in the 6 years I've been missing. It's like being Rip Van Winkle and waking up in place populated by a foreign language and abbreviations. Half of the items in job descriptions are like Greek to me. And I feel lost, angry, and bitter that I've let myself down, that I've let myself become so comfortable in education, that I settled.

How do I un-settle? How do I reclaim myself? Where do I begin?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Walk w/ God

So I was on Facebook today, mindlessly wasting my last day of vacation (school starts tomorrow for us teachers) on one of the few games I play on the site when an old friend of mine posted, "Oh wow! A VERY worthy repost: Sometimes, God doesn't give you what you think you want, not because you don't deserve it, but because you deserve better." I quickly reposted but it got me feeling a certain kind of way. It felt like God was pressing in my space, seeking my attention. I needed to be alone so I went to my thinking room (the bathroom) and sat on my thinking chair (porcelain throne) with a notepad and a pen with the sole intention of hearing what God had to say. I prayed and I listened and my mind wandered so I returned to praying and listening and my mind continued to wander (I have a serious case of adult ADD-- self-diagnosed) and I continued to pray. Finally, a few directives came (noted below) and they started flowing faster than my hand could transcribe. Tears started rolling as He ""talked". I'd been convicted. He spoke to the very core of me. I know what to do; He has placed it in my heart many many years ago. I just really need to live it, live purposefully. I <3 my God. And I'm so thankful He loves me.

The notes verbatim:

"1) No sex until the issue is resolved, no titles either 2) Be cleaner 3) Be nicer 4) Be more humble 5) Be a doer; stop procrastinating and wasting the talents that I have bestowed upon you. I get no glory from Facebook. I can only get it from you being delivered into your purpose. And you are purposed for great things. You will be an instrument of change in the hearts and the minds of my people. Not through Facebook. Not through hours of precious daylight and time wasted cruising on the internet. You are not meant for that. You are to go out into the world; I have you pegged as a traveler, a deliverer of my message to cities, counties, and states across the nation-- and, eventually, the world. Your gifts are not meant to lie in unfinished thought, in just plans and not progress. You ARE a child of God. You are not to shrink from the light in which you're called to stand. You have got to recognize your worth. Sure, I can tell it to you; sure, I can show you your purpose. But what would that solve? What will it gain? I have been sharing the vision w/ you for years- through dreams, people I've sent your way, and by the way of the little voice whose whisper is, both, felt in your heart and heard in your mind. Stop ignoring me, stop ignoring you, before I am forced to do something about it. That is all."