One Corner at a Time

I am a hoarder. I am not a dirty hoarder, filling my home from floor to ceiling with other people’s trash. I am not a hoarder of items acquired over the years. I am a hoarder of things past, of shadows in my mind; I am a hoarder of transgressions against me, of guilt ridden trips to a place I call “Yesteryear”. I have been excused from my families lives; I have been wiped clear of their memories. I have swept my broken heart under the proverbial rug in an effort to move beyond the clutter left within the walls of my wounded soul. I have picked myself up and dusted myself off and have become a better person than they could have envisioned in the wake of their departure.

I have forgiven, but I have yet to forget. To forget would mean to allow the same hardships back into my life. I do not dwell on the loss of those whom should have never walked away, those family members who were entrusted to love and guide me, those friendships I could have never seen broken, no matter how many times they were dropped. I have cleared them from the pain drawer of my mind, one corner at a time. In doing so I have been able to continue my walk without them, I have been able to create a new world, a new truth and a new life for myself.

The winds blow and past hurts do tend to peer through the cracked door from time to time. It occurs to me today that this is only because I have kept others in my life who do not have my best intentions at heart; I have held tight to relationships and hoarded the hurts they have caused in the recess of my soul, hoping my love for them could eventually bring to light the friendships and/or family loyalty I have felt for them all of these years. The question occurs to me, how many times can I allow someone to hurt me through their obvious lack of loyalty where I am concerned?

As I sweep out the old, cleaning the cobwebs from my life and the hurt from my heart – I have to also question if I am perhaps a tad-bit sensitive because of issues I feel I have worked though emotionally, when in fact they are still hunched over monster-like in the depths of my darkened mind. I guess only time will tell. Only the changing tide within can wash away the deception. Only I can clear the air of my present and future by packing up those things I have hoarded, one corner at a time.

©KLynn Miller
July 15, 2012

When the Wind Blows

Our lives begin with the breath of God and we are full of promise. The future is ours and the world is in our hands; we are life. We do not get to choose our families, our social standing, or our child-hood experiences. We are molded and we become – different from what was initially intended by our Creator. We each have a different walk, an individual road we must find and establish as our own. The lucky ones are guided gently by loving parents, by a family, a village filled with villagers carrying only our best intentions in their hearts.

And then there are the others – those left to their own devices, to learn, to fend for themselves, to grow on their own. Their families are riddled by alcoholism, drug addiction, lawlessness. They are beaten, molested, given drugs for their silence and abandoned. They are the future and sadly, their future seems bleak. Some rise above, some drown in the sorrow and some stay stagnant – neither failing nor succeeding in a life once filled with so much God-given promise.

I have tried so many times to reinvent myself, to wash off my past, to move beyond the long arms of depression caused by not only my own choices, but by transgressions against me at the hands of those villagers who were entrusted with my care. I have stood strong in the face of adversity, only to fall face first into the pits of my own, self-imposed emotional hell. It does not take much for this to transpire; one moment I am fine and life is perfect and then the wind blows and though life is still as perfect, I do not feel emotionally so.

It has been years since depression has grabbed me and taken control of my life. It has been years since I have allowed myself to wallow in self pity. I was well on my way to completely reinventing myself and living the life I know I was intended to have and then the wind blew. That was in March and four months later I still have been unable to take a control on my emotional well-being. I had so many good things going on, so many dreams I was close to fulfilling and so many Prayers finally being answered – and yet here I am, filled with such a deep sense of despair I am unable to relinquish the hold it has on me.

Just as in the darkness of years past, I know I will shake this off and I will be well on my way to reinventing myself once again. One thing which is most important to me is this blog – it is the one step I need to take in order to get back on track with the parts of me I wish to retain. Writing has always been my release, but my desire for To Motherhood and Beyond; The Unforeseeable Journey was not to share the bleakness that was my past. My dreams and wishes for this blog were and are to share the possibilities, the possibilities of success we are each born to achieve. With this being said I think it is time to move onward and upward, to new and brighter things. To Motherhood and Beyond; The Unforeseeable Journey – yes, it is time for my departure from melancholy and my ascent into a future free of guilt and afflictions from a past best left forgotten.

©KLynn Shelton Miller

texas_bluebonnets-5495245_std

Texas Torture

South East Texas, where there are four seasons: hot, hotter, hotter than hell and rain. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with the lack of heat, please do not worry, chances are better than not tomorrow the temperatures will rise. The humidity is so thick you can cut out heart shapes with a butter knife in the dead of winter. I have decorated our Christmas tree in shorts and a tank top, all the while sweating enough to fill a lake. We have what we not so fondly call, heat rains. Yes, you heard me right – rain caused by heat. One would hope it would cool us down but it will not be of any help, instead the humidity will rise and the heat will envelope you completely. South East Texas, where we run our air-conditioner year round, seldom using the heater to get the chill out of our homes in the morning. You either love it, or you hate it – there is no in-between. I was oblivious to the Texas heat for the first thirty years of my life, roller skating on the seawall in Galveston, Texas year round while the sun worked hard at bleaching my hair and tanning my skin to a pleasant shade of acorn brown. And then it hit, damn it is hot!

I had never known what four seasons was really about until at the age of thirty-four I moved from Texas to Northern Virginia. How beautiful it is to have a cooling down period in the fall as the earth prepares for winter and again come spring, a warming from the snow-covered ground before the heat of summer makes herself known. But none of this has anything to do with my story – well, not really anyway.

We leave places for a reason, we go back to remind us of why and to see those people we love which we may have left behind. I go home once a year at this point, though when I first moved it was anywhere between two and six visits in a three-hundred-and-sixty-five day turn. I needed to be there, not because I loved South East Texas, but because I needed to remind myself of why I left and I needed to see my daughters. Time changes everything and I no longer have the need to be reminded of why I left, though I would like to see my youngest daughter a bit more often.

Ever since I left Texas I have had a rash pop up on my chest and neck about two weeks before I depart from Virginia. I have lovingly dubbed it, “My Texas Stress Rash”. I really was not too concerned, as I really did think it was only stress and according to the doctor, this is probably what started my original outbreaks. However, as time moved on other changes in my body started to occur and one of those changes was my reaction to the sun – of which there is plenty of each time I go home. In my moments of graceful aging I have become allergic to the sun. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited this change makes me. Did I write this clearly enough for you to feel the sarcasm dripping off of my words like ice-cream from a cone on a hot Texas day? This being said, when I went home in March of 2012 to visit my youngest daughter I was not too surprised when my face started to itch a little.

I had not yet been in Texas for twenty-four hours. I had yet to go out on our friends boat, or even in the sun for that matter. Imagine my surprise when my face began to itch, hives began to appear and wait, what is that? Swelling? My face began to swell, my lips, my eyes, my mouth began to tingle and my goodness, the itching was enough to drive me crazy. This all transpired very quickly and before I knew it I was in the emergency room being told I was now allergic to the pollen in the air. After a high dose of steroids via an injection and seven days worth of steroids to follow (which I failed to take at first thinking, “the rash is gone I must be okay so why ingest steroids I do not need”- that is until I ended up in the emergency room again, this time in the middle of the night) and daily doses of Benadryl for the rest of my stay, I have come to the conclusion I no longer need the excuse of all the emotional baggage I had left in my wake in Texas as a reason not to move back. I now have a physical reaction to my home state, the place I was born and raised – yes, I am officially, realistically allergic to Texas.

All of this being said, Texas really is beautiful if you visit the right areas. The bluebonnets in the spring time are amazing as they ripple in the wind of an open prairie and the sunsets on the lake can be quite breathtaking. Just be warned of the Texas Torture caused by a heat beyond compare twenty-four hours a day from spring until late fall and now, the pollen count being so high it is possible it will not matter if you were Texas Born and Bred or not.

did-you-know-header

About the Dangers of Disposable Diapers

Welcome to the first installment of my Did You Know… series, in my “Going Green Express” category.  In this series I will be collecting information from around the web by researching different sites which have already done all of the hard work for me.  I will always include links to all areas of interest so you can read the complete article for yourself if you would like. Though I do trust the blogging community, I also realize a lot of blogs are based on a persons beliefs and perspective of things, so I will be doing my research by visiting reputable sites outside of the blogging world when possible.

We have always heard, “knowledge is power” and I do believe this is true. Of course I also have come to realize over the years, sometimes it would be best if we could un-learn knowledge we have obtained. Today’s post is no exception, as we will be discussing the dangers of disposable diapers. Those are the exact words I used in GOOGLE SEARCH when I began my research for this article – try it if you would like, but be warned the information you will find is quite alarming.

I am going to start with disposable diapers because I have just made the switch to cloth – a bit late in my toddlers life I might add.  I have been chasing a diaper rash for quite some time now; it will clear up almost completely and then the next morning his little bottom will be beet- red again.  I have cut out using wipes, to using natural, scent- free soaps and water on a soft cloth.  I have changed bathing soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and lotions. I have switched out diaper rash creams more times than I can count.  I have borrowed breast milk, purchased all natural products and as stated above changed to cloth diapers from disposable.  I have bathed him daily, let him run naked and cried with joy thinking something has finally worked, only to scream in anger internally the next day when his little bottom became inflamed again. I have tried everything under the sun, except for the steroid cream the doctors gave me which “can cause sterilization, stunt growth and/or cause thinning of the blood vessels”. (WHAT??) I am working on potty training him, but he still shows no interest in going on his own and at times will cry uncontrollably when I put him on his tiny commode. If I hear the words, “He should already be potty trained at his age” one more time, I may scream!  After researching disposable diapers, (I had already made the change to cloth before this), I have to wonder why I had not done so earlier and therefore would have made the switch to cloth sooner. To all of you new and expecting Momma’s out there – trust this old dog who has just learned a new trick, cloth diapers are the only way to go. If this article does not convince you, nothing will.

DISTURBING FACTS ABOUT DISPOSABLE DIAPERS

  • In 2009, Americans dumped nearly 4 million tons of disposable diapers into landfills.
  • Diaper companies are self-regulated. This simply means diaper companies are responsible for ensuring their products are safe.
  • Because diaper companies are self-regulated, they are not required to list all of the ingredients, chemicals, glues, etc. which are used in developing their products.

    English: diaper pile

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Andersen Laboratories published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999 showed diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity. (These emissions did NOT come from dirty diapers mind you – just the diaper themselves.) It was also noted that xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins. Styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin were also visible in emissions.
  • Diapers contain a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants. Some of these ingredients can cause irritation.
  • Most disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which is a super-absorbant gelling material. The safety data sheet for sodium polyacrylate indicates that “the respirable dust is a potential respiratory tract irritant.” The dust “may cause burning, drying, itching and other discomfort, resulting in reddening of the eyes.”
  • When the papers used to make diapers are bleached, they can contain cancer-causing dioxin.
  • Diapers also contain polyurethane, adhesives, inks and lotions.
  • The lotions used to coat the diaper linings contains the same substance found in Vaseline, which has the potential to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH‘s.
  • PAH’s are cancer causing chemicals found in crude oil.
  • The fragrance agents used in many diapers to hide the smell of fecal order contains phthalates, which is a class of chemicals known to disrupt the endocrine system.
  • It takes five hundred and fifty years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

Now I do not know about you, but I find it quite alarming to learn diaper companies do not have a babysitter ensuring their products are not harmful to our Little Angels, not to mention the fact they are not required by law to list the chemicals and materials used in making them. Cancer-causing dioxins? PAH’s found in crude oil are also present in diapers? Sodium polyacrylate, a respiratory tract irritant? And let us not forget the potential damage to the endocrine system. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes. With all of these potential health risks I am genuinely surprised disposable diapers are even legal. I am unsure how they can state these diapers take five hundred and fifty years to decompose, given the fact they have yet to be around for this long. However, it still leaves me shocked knowing the diapers I put on my daughters bottom some twenty years ago are still sitting in a landfill somewhere in Houston, Texas. Can you say, “DISTURBING”?

Information for this article was found while researching the following sites.

He Will Not Carry Guilt

I suppose all stories are different. Yours is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as hers. I grew up in a home where guilt trips were the family vacation of choice. This continued well into my adulthood as my mother pounded the guilt she must have felt into me, making it mine to carry. Nothing was ever good enough. I did not clean my house good enough. I did not visit her often enough. I did not put my life on hold enough. I did not close the door to my father, because she decided she didn’t love him anymore. I will not even get into the guilt she made me feel for being born with heart problems, or the ensuing five open heart surgeries I would have and the care she would give as she took time off from her job to tend to me. I repeated I am sorry so many times, it became the basis of our conversations.

Was this a reflection of her mirror? Was she casting  her own guilt on us for the times she left us home alone while she went out on dates, to parties, dabbled with her drug of choice, off to play soft-ball or to bowl? And yes, she was entitled to those things, entitled to a life outside of her children. What she was not entitled to was the physical and mental abuse she dished out to my brother and me. What she was not entitled to was to make us live our lives with an overwhelming amount of guilt which she dumped on our shoulders for her own misgivings.

I try very hard with my daughters not to take them along on these guilt trips, though I realize at times I fail. Because she lived with her for eight years, my eldest daughter is very much like my mother, in the fact that she is both mentally abusive and loves to pack a big ole sack of guilt and pull me along for yet another trip. And admittedly so, I join her for the ride and I retaliate throwing it back her way and then – and then I feel more guilty than I did before because I have allowed her my power, given in to the trip and carried the guilt of others actions which have caused our relationship so much damage. And then I say the mandatory, “I am sorry” so we can move beyond the latest scuffle.

A few days ago I read an article on a news blog in which the author was stating she wished there were a way for all Momma’s to unite, without the judging of how we raise our children, without the criticism when we do not see eye to eye. In the end she decided this was impossible because of the “Mean Mommies” in the mix. The ones who turn their nose up at other parents, the ones who mock another’s parenting style, the ones who are obviously so much better at parenting than we are. In reading this article I was reminded of a day in the park with my Little Man a few weeks ago. I was reminded of the Momma who decided I was not raising my son right, because I had yet to teach him to say he was sorry. I was reminded of the fact that she returned to the park bench where her friend sat waiting, pointed at my son and went on to talk about how he must have learning disabilities because he could not say, “I am sorry”. I commented on this article with a reflection of this particular incident in the park. Before I tell you about the assault on my character which followed, you will probably want to know what transpired at the park that day.

There is a little park in our town behind a museum which is normally empty when Riley and I visit there for a play date. I like it this way; I am a long time sufferer of agoraphobia and though I have been able to overcome the most difficult symptoms of this mental affliction, I still prefer less crowded places. On the day in question there were two women along with their four kids and a couple with their three children already playing at the park. Though this did make me a bit uneasy, Riley had already seen the slide and was running straight for it. He was obviously younger than everyone there and because he is more accustomed to singular play I stayed right on top of him. (Well, that and I have an unnatural fear of people and their intentions.)

There is a three-year old at the top of the slide who continues to sit there as Riley Jabe climbs the stairs, of which I am standing next to. I am telling Riley to be careful while he waits three-quarters of the way up on the ladder. He moves up two more steps and he touches the boy on the shoulder. I remind him he needs to wait his turn, just as the other kid starts to scream and cry. I move my Little Man down a few steps, the other mother comes to the bottom of the slide, encourages her son down and begins to check him for any signs of injury. There are none, Riley really only touched the little boys shoulder. He did not push him, he did not hit him and he did not grab him. Of course I realize he may have done any one of these things, had I not been standing there to remind him to wait his turn and to physically move him down a few steps – he is two years old and though close to it, he is not perfect. As the other mother consoles her son she says to him, “It’s okay, ask for an apology. I am sure the little boy didn’t mean to hurt you”, or something along those lines. I am thinking to myself, I am not sure if Riley has ever said I am sorry before, when the other mother looks up at me and says, “We will expect an apology” in a most indignant tone.

All I could think to say was, “I am sure he is sorry he touched your son, but I highly doubt he will say he is sorry”. I was turning towards Riley with the intention of asking him to say he was sorry, when she asks me why he wasn’t going to apologize. I sort of chuckled when I replied, “Well he’s never said those words before”. Before I could get another word out of my mouth, to her or to Riley, she looks up the slide at him and asks me with condemnation dripping off of her tongue, “Why hasn’t he said those words before? How old is he anyway?” I answered her honestly, “Well he’s two, but he has never been asked to say he was sorry”. Before I was able to finish my thoughts she was walking away, back to the park bench next to her friend, literally pointing at my Little Sugar Man and loudly stating he must have a learning disability since he is two years old and cannot say he is sorry. And of course the underlying insinuation being, what kind of mother am I anyway, that I have yet to teach my son to apologize?

Had she waited for the rest of my answer, she may have learned the following. He is a late talker and we are lucky when we can understand one thought he is trying to convey. Yes he has words; yes he says please and thank you – they apply to his life and being from the south, I am a stickler for manners. However he has never done anything to warrant, “I am sorry” and is too young to understand the difference between “I am sorry I hurt you” and “I am sorry you feel that way”. Of course it may not have mattered if she would have let me finish because I was able to convey these things on the news blog repeatedly as my character and parenting skills were attacked, insulted and criticized for three days by yet another stranger. Apparently because I have not enforced, made, taught my son how to say I am sorry I am raising a child lacking in empathy and as a result he will grow up to have an antisocial personality disorder.

I am so glad to know this. I am so glad this stranger has so much insight into my life, in how I interact with my son, the depth of respect I have already instilled into my two older children, to know I am doing it all wrong. She must be able to see into the future, to know my Little Man will grow up to be antisocial. (And you know he just may. I mean, I am – but it has more to do with my fear of people and their intentions, than it does with my inability to empathize with someone’s emotions.)  I wonder if she even realizes she has proven the authors point that we cannot band together in unity as women, as mother’s, simply because we are too busy judging and criticizing how others raise their children?

Now I realize you may think I am crazy because I do not think Riley has done anything which warrants an apology, as all children do things which are wrong. He is no exception, but he is not a mean child; he is sweet and gentle by nature. Saying you’re sorry implies you have done something intentionally and/or with malice, it implies you know what you have done is against the rules; it implies GUILT. Given the fact I am not sure how much Riley actually understands given his limited vocabulary, it is unrealistic for me to expect him to carry guilt or feel regret when he makes a mistake, not to mention I do not want him to. At this point in his life anything he does wrong is an innocent mistake, it is not intentional. He is still learning; he is learning what his words mean, he is learning that for every action there is a reaction. He does not purposefully head butt me, but when he does he gets a sad look on his face and hugs me. He shows empathy for my pain and his little pats on my back as he sweetly hugs me, convey what the words, “I am sorry” never could. And my guess is, when the time is right and when I am certain he understands everything he needs to in order to feel a healthy amount of regret, I will instill in him the importance of a genuine apology. There are plenty of mistakes for him to make and feel guilt over in the future and you can bet, I will be the first one to put him in his place and remind him of how important it is to respect and be respected.

But for today, he will not carry guilt.

©KLynn Miller
February 17, 2012