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

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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.

Twenty Years Ago – Fast Forward

Twenty years ago I was twenty-three years old and had just had my fifth open heart surgery.  I was sore and exhausted and having a toddler running around made for an interesting journey.  Oddly enough, it seemed she just knew my chest was no longer her playground and I do not recall a time when she dug her knees into my breastbone in an effort to climb on my head.  She was loving and gentle and kind.

Fast forward and I am forty-three and,  it has been almost seven years since my sixth open heart surgery. Our Little Man climbs on and digs his knees into my chest as often as possible.  The discomfort is psychological really, given the fact I have no feeling left in my chest.  He exhausts me daily, to the point I can be quoted as saying “I do not recall mothering a toddler being so exhausting twenty years ago”.  Of course I am twenty years older, so it could simply be a combination of my failing memory and truly, my age.  Or is it simply because he is a boy?

Twenty years ago I was chasing a twenty-two month old around; she was the sweetest and smartest baby I had ever had the pleasure of knowing.  She was my first and as it turns out, the only child I would ever give birth to.  This is the story of opposites, of how babies are different, yet not and how things change and stay the same no matter how much time goes by.

It is hard looking back and getting facts straight as so many years have passed since my eldest child was a baby.  She will be twenty-one in March and I am still left wondering where all the time went? Would it seem to have gone by so quickly had she always lived with me, had I not missed so many beautiful moments in time?  We will never know – but what I do know is the first eleven years of her life were amazing – she was amazing.

Fast forward and I am now chasing around a twenty-seven month old boy; he is the sweetest boy I have ever had the pleasure to know.  He is identical to my daughter in many ways and in many ways, he is so different.  I can only hope to share in all of his life adventures, to not miss years of his life and to teach him the lessons I believe are important….but for now, I will take each day of watching him laugh, run, jump, sing and play I can get.

My daughter started speaking at six months old.  Her first words were Batman, Panther (our dog), and butterfly.  By the time she was a year she was speaking in full sentences, by sixteen months she knew the alphabet by sight and by the time she was two years old, she would have conversations to rival any I have had with another adult.   And she loved books.  She could sit (and I am not exaggerating) for hours listening to me read to her.  God how I love those memories.

Fast forward and my little man is a late talker; we are lucky when we can understand half of one of his sentences.  Though he does know his alphabet and numbers by sight, he is not bringing me  a stack of books to read him while we sit together on the couch, or snuggled up in my bed.  Unlike my daughter, he loves to jump and climb, he is a pro on the balance beam and loves to hang from the uneven bars with the best of them.  He is the true definition of a “monkey man” and he is oh so much more coordinated than I or my daughter will ever be.

There could be several explanations for their differences, though only one for their similarities.  Genetics explains why our Little Man looks identical to my daughter, minus the differing body parts of course. Had we never cut Riley Jabe’s hair and I put their pictures next to one another with them dressed in the same clothing, we would have a difficult time telling them apart.

Could their differences also be explained away by genetics?  Biologically speaking, they have different fathers and different mothers.  My husband and I have had custody of our grandson since he was seven months old though he has lived with us since birth.  He calls us Momma and Poppa; he is as much our son as she is my daughter.   He is only a quarter of me, where she is half.  We have no idea who his other biological parent is, so there is nothing to compare him to in our search for answers.

Or is it something other than genetics which explain away their differences?   When I was pregnant with my daughter, I read children’s books aloud daily as I was babysitting a toddler during those months.  I read to her every day from the time she was born.  I held her for hours on end talking to her, looking into her eyes, telling her how very loved she was.  She was the center of my universe from the moment I found out I was pregnant  and more than anything, I was proud to be her mother.  I had a rule for myself, I would never tell her no I would not read to her.  I was a mother, a house-wife, she was my one and only priority – she was my job.  Trust me when I say she took full advantage of this rule from the beginning, which was fine with me because this meant I got to hold her, to watch her smile and hear her laughter.

Fast forward to when we found out she was with child.  She was eight-teen years old when she moved home to live with me; she was six and a half months pregnant with a baby she swears she did not know was inside of her and she was clear when she stated she did not want to keep him.  This means she had not been taking care of herself, or the baby.  She had not been reading to her unborn child, or talking to him.  She did not want to be a mother; thank God it was too late for her to make other arrangements to keep him from being born into our world.  My husband and I told her we would adopt the baby to keep him in the family should she change her mind.  I had so hoped she would do just that once he was born – after she held him and looked into his eyes.  I had Prayed for her and for Riley Jabe, so wanting her to feel the bond of motherly love which comes from giving birth.  Sadly for them both, this never happened.

During the first four months of his life I bathed, fed and changed him.  I woke with him in the mornings and in the middle of the night.  I pushed her to breast feed for the first two months, but it was so unbearable for her the stress was evident in our Little Man.  Though I tended to all of his needs, I purposefully did not hold him for hours on end as I had with her. I purposefully waited for her to pick him up to read to him, sing to him, to simply hold him.  It soon became evident not only was the natural bond not taking effect, she had no desire for it to develop.  She begged us to adopt him, she begged us for her freedom and she pulled further and further away from him – and from me.

When he was five months old I realized in my desire for her to bond with him, in my desire for her to be his mother, I too was neglecting the baby I told her I would adopt in order to keep him in the family. This being said I had to change my way of thinking.  I had to realize she was not going to magically decide she wanted to be Riley’s mother and she was not going to seek help to work through her emotions.  She had/has no desire to be his mother and the only way he was going to get the love, attention and maternal nurturing he needed was for me to give it to him.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me – there was never a time I did not love him, never a time when I did not hold him when he cried and never a time when he wasn’t cared for; I simply did not give him the same amount of attention as I had given my daughter when she was born, or the same amount of attention he would have gotten had I given birth to him.  Once I was able to look in from the outside, once I came to terms with the fact she was serious – she did not want him and no matter the amount of encouragement we gave her, she was not going to change her mind, I was able to release the maternal instincts within and open my heart up to being his Momma.

I can never make up for the lost time, for those five months I hoped she would suddenly wake to his cries and look into his eyes feeling the love for him I feel.   I can only hope in my desire for her to do so, I did not cause irreparable damage.  I can only hope my choice not to read to him for hours on end, did not stymie his intellectual growth.  I can only Pray the differences in his vocabulary compared to my daughters at this age are nothing more than the fact, all babies are different and girls learn at a greater rate than boys.

Twenty years ago I could not afford such luxuries as gym lessons for my daughter, or play time with Mommy and Me.  We did plenty of fun things, like going to the zoo and playing at the beach or the park, or simply taking a stroll.  Fast forward twenty years and I am financially able to supply Riley Jabe with the extras which help to build coordination, social skills, and pride from each new thing he has learned.  I know this is what has made a difference in his climbing, his jumping, his balance – because Lord knows genetically speaking, he did not get those skills from either my daughter or me.

Twenty years ago I loved my daughter more than life itself; fast forward twenty years and I still love her just the same.  The difference is, now I love him too.

Twenty years ago I was chasing around a toddler; fast forward and I am once again chasing a toddler.  I do not recall it being so exhausting, though I do recall the many rewards.

©Kesia L. Miller

Why Not Write About It?

Writing to me is a form of escape, a secret journey into the mind of the author, a way to view the world through another’s eye.  I have written in one form or another for as long as I can remember – until about five years ago when my Muse suddenly decided she had nothing left to give.

 How could that be when so many wonderful, scary, beautiful, stress building things have occurred during this time?  I mean these are the emotions of parent-hood, right?  And I am a mother of three, so there should be plenty for me to share, to say – something someone, somewhere may find helpful, or funny, or sad.  There must be something inside me which will offer reassurance, questions, answers to someone else seeking their tomorrow.  To put it simply, I must still have something to contribute to the world, shouldn’t I?

 In a conversation recently I was asked when I would write again and how come I had not been expressing myself through the written word for so long.  The truth is I tired of writing of the pain in my walk, the diversity, the hardships.  But did I learn nothing from this walk?  Of course I learned many things and this is what I have decided to share with you here.

This being said, let me start by telling you something about me.  I am a forty-three year old, married mother of three.  To keep things exciting, their ages span from almost twenty-one down to two.  My middle child is my chosen daughter from a previous marriage, so she lives down in Texas with her father’s family and my “son”  is biologically my grandson, though my husband and I have had custody of him since birth giving us more of a parental love for him.  They all three call me Momma and this is a title I carry with pride.  There are a lot of other things I could tell you about me, things which have formed the person I have become – but I think I will save all of that for a future blog or two.  This is after all, why we are here.

The most important thoughts I will share will be of the blessings in my world today, the growth found, the trials left to face and the beauty of what lies ahead.  I hope you will join me through To Motherhood and Beyond and find something of value to take with you.  I will not profess to have all of the answers, nor will I profess perfection.  What works for me, may not work for you but I do hope you will enjoy the laughter I take along The Unforeseeable Journey using brutal honesty, sarcasm and the unrelenting realities we all face.

And now without further adieu I present you with my new blog – To Motherhood and Beyond; The Unforeseeable Journey!