Becoming Destiny! (A glance back)

I recently found some old writing for the beginning of an autobiography I started 10 years ago in the midst of my divorce (before my breakdown). I’m happy to say that I am in a much more self-aware place than I was 10 years ago. The pain is gone. The scars have healed. The “plan” still has not been revealed, but the journey has been steadfast and rewarding.

How can one reach the age of 32 and have no idea who they are? Isn’t this supposed to be a complex of the existentialist adolescent, something to ponder for hours on end at a coffee shop while ignoring calculus homework? And yet, here I am, 32 years old, ironically, at a coffee shop, wondering who the hell I am.

I mean, by 32 I kinda figured I could give a perfect 20 second sound byte to answer the open-ended question, “Tell me about yourself.” I look around and see “Don Brown, 60, corporate buyer, happily married family man who just wants to retire to the lake and watch his grandkids grow” or “Lauren Hayes, part-time Jazzercise instructor, MOPS leader, doting wife and mother who’s trying to lose the last five pounds to surprise her hubby by wearing new negligee for their anniversary.” 

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that those superficial responses are the be all and end all of Don and Lauren’s personalities, but I also find myself trying not to become a casual cynic by automatically assuming that Don has homicidal tendencies toward his boss that are only suppressed by his nightly scotch binges, or that Lauren’s piqued interest in a more toned ass is for the hot yogi who plowed her after last week’s Bikram class. Even if that is the case, is it healthy for my mind to jump right into the basket of someone else’s dirty laundry? Especially when I have loads of my own to sort?

I am well aware that my sudden identity crisis partly stems from the discomfort I have with my own sound byte. “Destiny, 32, recent divorcee, single mom.” It’s not exactly something that I’d want to just roll off the tongue at a class reunion or networking event. Sure, I could pick other modifiers to throw into the mix—editor, writer, mom of three amazing kids—but then I’m left with a feeling of lying by omission. A ridiculous burden to bear, of course, especially since Lauren’s chirpy introduction has zero hint of guilt for the fact that she still has yoga dick breath, but it’s one that I carry nonetheless.

Whatever the reasons for my recent obsession with solving the “who exactly is Destiny” mystery, I feel compelled to give my inner Encyclopedia Brown the reins for a while. I’m not looking for a new sound byte, or really even to polish what I’ve got. Instead, I seek a simple level of comfort and familiarity with my own beliefs and outlook, which might help me feel less lost and wandering and just might help me to be a more grounded mom and a positive contributor to society. 

But really, I just want to feel good again. I want to lose the shame I have from creating a broken home for my children. I want to lose the feeling of failure I have for my life being unexpectedly thrown off course from where I imagined I’d be. I want to go one whole day where my smile is genuine, my laughter is pure, and neither are masks to cover my anger and grief. I want to be at peace with where I am without constantly searching for where I want to be. I want to know, even if it is knowing through faith, that I am on the right path in this journey. And by right path, I mean my path, not one I’ve adopted because it’s the one everyone says I should be following or because I’ve hitched my sled to someone else’s dog team. I want to know me—me at 4, me at 13, me at 23, and me at 32—so that as I move forward and am hit with all of the surprises that I expect life will throw my way, I am not knocked on my ass trying to deal with a lifetime of suppressed feelings and a false sense of identity. 

So how do I do this? I unplug for a while. I read. I reflect. I pray. I write. I enjoy the simplicities of life as they come. I do what I have to do to keep going each and every day, knowing that time won’t heal all of my wounds, but that it’s one hell of an analgesic. And with less raw pain, I gain perspective. 

It’s hard to look at anything but the torn flesh and the congealing blood when there’s a knife sticking out of your chest and you wonder if you’re going to survive. Even after surgery, it’s difficult not to fiddle with the stitches or wince as the bandages are changed, as you are thankful you’re alive but are certain you will be scarred forever. And as you continue to heal, you curse the world for the itching caused by the scabs, but at the back of your mind, you think, “at least the stitches are gone.” As the scar turns from purple to pink, you push it to recall the pain of the original wound, angry that your body will carry this mark for the rest of your life, forcing you to explain your trauma. 

At this stage you have two choices: You can either continue to push the scar, even long after it fades, so that the injustice will never be forgotten. You start to walk hunched over; you get residual pain in your back, your head, your legs—none of which are a result of the original wound but which you claim would not be a problem if only you hadn’t been stabbed to start with. Or you let the scar fade, understanding that your fingers will occasionally find their way to the fleshy ridge, but that even that road will become obsolete with time. And soon it becomes a small aberration in your skin tone, nothing more extraordinary than a freckle, just another place to be kissed by a future lover.

To say that this is the crossroads where I find myself isn’t entirely true. I know which turn I want to make. The road markings are clear. The real life examples of where the “other turn” leads flash in my mind as a warning of the melodrama and bitterness that is guaranteed if I choose that route. Absolutely, I know the right path. But making that turn means releasing the pain and anger for all of the dashed hopes and dreams I had. It means admitting I was wrong. It means asking for forgiveness. It means letting go of my pridefulness and selfishness for the promise of dignity and a greater sense of self—one that is not defined by my trials, but by how I chose to overcome them. It means relinquishing what I thought was my destiny in order to find myself, Destiny.

A friend recently posted on her facebook status, “While you’re figuring it out, God has it figured out.” I believe that, even if I don’t necessarily live it, particularly at a time when my own faith is shaken. Really, it should be so simple to stop figuring it out and let God handle it. And yet I still struggle with wrapping my brain around my situation, my divorce, my future. “Yeah, yeah,” I say to myself, “God’s got it figured out. Now if He could just give me a peek at this master plan of His, that would be grand.” But perhaps I’ve already gotten that nudge by knowing which turn I need to make at the road’s end. Maybe I need to go ahead and make the turn instead of worrying whether I have enough water in my backpack for the journey or protesting that I shouldn’t even be at this intersection if things had gone as planned.

So I take a step forward, trying to figure me out and hoping that as I do I’ll learn to trust that God really does have a greater plan for my life. And if He doesn’t, well, it’s not like He’s sharing anyway. I might not know the plan, but I’ll sure as hell know Destiny.

On the 10th anniversary of my breakdown

I am coming up on the 10 year anniversary of my mental breakdown, my psychotic break, my come apart. The details of the weeks leading up to the day I was found walking down I-75 barefoot with three children under 6 in tow are sparse. I know I didn’t eat for around 7 days prior, and I didn’t sleep for 5, so a psychotic break was inevitable. I remember the details of being picked up by a stranger in a black SUV and transported to a police station where they were finally able to get a hold of my ex-husband to come and get me.(The privilege is not lost on me there.) I remember every single minutiae of that day, as the details haunt me even to this day when I feel like my life is spiraling out of control. But one big difference between Destiny 10 years ago and Destiny today is a sense of self and a sense of purpose.

The 18 months after my come apart were literally spent trying to put me back together. My brain chemistry was all out of wack, I had a diagnosis of depression then PTSD then finally bipolar 1. I had taken a sabbatical from my job in September of 2010, a month after my breakdown, and was living on alimony and child support. People have done it on less, but raising a family of four on less than $1700 a month means you are barely making ends meet. I relied on government assistance as I tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

As anyone with any familiarity with bipolar 1 can attest, if you’ve broken once, you’re gonna break again. And I did. In February 2011, I was back in the hospital. I was put on the gamut of medications all while trying to regulate my cycling. My mania would throw me into psychotic episodes where I would be a divine being, a werewolf, a movie starlet, or an alien ambassador just to name a few. I managed to eke out some semblance of sanity for me to get hired back on as a copyeditor for my old journal in November of 2011. 

Another trip to the hospital in May of 2012, thankfully work was understanding and Will took the kids. I was so doped up I don’t remember much of 2012-2013 other than trying to stay sane enough to keep my job and keep my kids. I couldn’t put in many hours at work, so I was still just above the poverty line, but I had a boyfriend at the time who helped keep me afloat. After that relationship ended, I threw myself into work to try and make a decent living as a copyeditor. In 2013 I no longer qualified for government assistance, so my diligence was paying off.

The first half of 2014 was full of horrible relationships and I had just about given up when I met Adam in July. A relative neophyte in the world of relationships, he instinctively knew what I needed and has supported me from the moment we met. In October 2015, I put our relationship to the test and was admitted back to Good Sam’s psych unit for a week. Just another case of going off my meds. Thankfully that was the last time because the formulary that they put me on after that trip seems to be the magic cure. Since 2015 I have had only a handful of depressive episodes and a handful of seasonal manic episodes, but no mania to psychosis. My meds have no side effects, other than requiring 8-10 hours of sleep at night, something I can do now that my kids are older. 

In May 2016, I had saved enough to buy my house. Since then I have been working on paying down the nearly $40K of debt I had accrued. I’m halfway there, and every week I eagerly hop on Credit Karma to see how my score has changed with each additional credit card payment. My days are long as I put in long hours at work to try and pay off my debt faster. But I try and balance out the long hours with quality time with the kids. Especially as they are getting older and Jolie will be out of the house soon. I am constantly running the kids somewhere for something, as any mom of teens will attest to, but I honestly would not change this season of my life for anything. Adam and I are in a good place, the kids can come to me with their problems, I am still working on moving beyond waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am happiest when I can live in the moment.

Today I look back on how far I fell and how I scraped by to make it where I am. Thanks to Will, I don’t think the kids have ever wanted for much. They all know we have to wait for payday for any major purchases,and we have had our share of mac and cheese or ramen nights. I still have the scars from being under the poverty line. Every time I hand my debit card over, I cringe just a bit as I pray it goes through, even if I have plenty of money in my account the dread is still there. I wonder if that will ever go away, or if that’s my own brand of PTSD.

So on this 10 year anniversary of my come apart, I think it’s important to recognize all the people that helped put me back together. My parents, my siblings, my boyfriends along the way, Will—I couldn’t have picked a better father for my kids, I wouldn’t change that for anything. Douglas, my rock, my bff. Adam, my partner, my true north, the one I want to have coffee with forever. It’s been a long road to get here, and I know I still have a ways to go, but I feel confident in who I am as a mother, lover, friend, child of the stars.

I love you all, some more than others.

A resounding YAWP!

The Universe tells me to write and yet I have no idea what to write about. I am a creative wasteland. Even in the Universe, the same storylines are repeated over and over. I take a deep meditative breath and my virtual reality goggles come on as I launch into the multiverse. Where will it take me today? A world leaders’ summit? At the table of the gods on Mt. Olympus? Traveling through space and time of the vast multiverse? Or simply fallible Destiny, destined to rehash all of her worst mistakes? I feel there is more to me than just my mistakes, I have a track record of good deeds to prove it.

I glance at the pink sticky note that screams, “DO!” at me in an attempt to inspire and motivate, and I find myself wondering in the midst of my meditative state, how can I effect change? How can I “Do” as my sticky note commands? My thoughts start tumbling and I am whisked away to a make believe place that as a mother I know well. It’s a place of made-up whimsical characters and words to describe them, I see that sweet gray elephant with the ball of fluff in his snout and I am suddenly reminded of that lesson that Horton taught me so many years ago. Be a voice. Dr. Seuss’s Who’s were on the brink of destruction and all hope seemed to have been lost as the people in the most peril could not be heard.  Then at the last minute, the one little boy who was scrolling facebook and listening to Spotify finally chimes in with a great big YAWP and the community is saved.

At a time when lives are in danger just because you have the “wrong” skin color; where rights are being stripped because you have the “wrong” parts; where children have lockdown drills; where two dozen vets commit suicide each day, we are a community in peril. And there are voices out there who are speaking up for the disenfranchised, but we aren’t loud enough yet. We need more people speaking up, especially as we go into the 2020 election year. I know I have a small but loyal following, and my voice is wee compared to those on the national stage. But this is me, Just Destiny, hoping to effect change by chiming in with a resounding YAWP!

Seven Sentences for Sunday 3/27/16: She Has Risen Edition

  1. I forgot to blog this week because I was so busy digging through paperwork for our mortgage broker and the underwriter who are doing their damnedest to help us get the house we love. We’re close.
  2. I am down another 2 pounds and I felt both of them because I have been bouncing around the same 3-4 pounds. It’s nice to have landed low.
  3. Paisley is guest writing for a sentence: I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!!
  4. And now Jolie is taking her turn: I can’t drown my demons; they know how to swim.
  5. Clearly Jolie is neck deep in angsty preteendom and she made me promise not to ask her any questions about it but she did tell me that it was a quote she found that resonated with her.
  6. And not to be outdone, Rhett would also like a turn: I WILL SMASH THINGS!!!
  7. I’ve left my tomb unattended and I am risen again like a mofo.

 

I love you all, some more than others.

Oh, Fine, I’ll Keep Keepin’ On

Last week I came clean and discussed my struggles with my weight. While I don’t intend for this to become a weight loss blog per se, I am going to use it to document my journey and all the ups and downs along the way. And this week there were ups. I gained 0.8 pounds at my weigh-in this week and I was dismayed to say the least. I wanted to reach for the nearest box of Tagalongs or Samoas that I have thus far resisted because, fuck it, if I’m gonna gain, I at least want a reason! My meeting coach did a good job of talking me down, and I sat down for the meeting frustrated and vowing to go even lower on my points this week. Continue reading

Off Tempo

It was a hectic day, to say the least, with Jolie’s 5th grade skating party from 4-6 and Paisley’s 1st grade reading night from 6-7. Since school let out at 3:10, we had precious little time to grab a snack and dinner before the evening’s events Mother-pulling-her-hairstarted.

The roller skating party went off without a hitch. Paisley and Rhett stumbled their way around the rink, while Jolie took off, grooving on all four wheels to the latest Taylor Swift songs. All was well until it was time to go. Continue reading

Poetry for My Peanuts

On this Thursday Verse-Day, I’m doing a reblog from my sister’s and my blog over at crossingthestreams.net. Frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve written any real poetry. And since February seems to be the month when grade-schoolers are introduced to the time-honored tradition of the acrostic, we decided to format our own. Here’s my contribution below:

Jumping doodlebug, doing gymnastics all over the house,

On the couch, across the floor, my biggest

Little one isn’t so little anymore. A special place

In my heart she will hold, my

Eldest, my Jolie Bear, my almost 10-year old.

 

Rhettster, Rhett-Rhett, or just plain old Bud.

He is sensitive to his core,

Ever striving for perfection.

Trying at times, but what little boy isn’t? When he

Tells me he loves me and gives me a kiss, I know it’s from the heart.

 

Poo is her favorite subject, she’s just at that

Age. Soon she’ll move on to other less disgusting subjects, like boy bands or beads.

I am loving watching my youngest grow, for

She’s no longer a baby. A little girl, not quite a young lady, but always my

Lovebug. Her devilish grin, her twinkling

Eyes, she can capture your heart in an instant.

You watch as my baby girl scoops up the world in the palm of her hand.

 

I love you all, some more than others.

Ugh. Seriously??

Living close to the ground

Is seventh Heaven ’cause there are angels all around

Among my frivolous thoughts

I believe there are beautiful things seen by the astronauts

Wake me if you’re out there.

–Owl City

So here’s the thing about being a blogger like me…one who opens her heart and discloses the inner goings-on of her mind and soul…there’s a lot of risk involved, but I think it creates a more transparent and honest experience for my readers. Unfortunately, at times I can also get burned when shitty things happen. And I could choose to ignore them—to sweep things under the rug as if they never happened—or I could address them and then move on. Continue reading

Mr. Wang

Recently I noted that my 2013 Facebook posts were more like my 2008-2009 pre-divorce ones…chipper, full of insights into this quirky world, lots of anecdotes from the kiddos. Of course my wall was still filled with tons of lyrics, but that has become normal for me as a way to track the upward and downward swings of my life. Some may shake their heads at the way I just throw out a random lyric, but I know exactly what I was thinking when I put it up there—no matter how much time has passed. The difference I’d like to see in 2014 is that I replace some of those words of others with thoughts and reflections of my own. Continue reading

Seven Sentences for Sunday: The Oddly Thankful Edition

A few weeks ago when I was visiting my sister in L.A., I visited her MOPS group. Along with their monthly teaching, they also did a craft project where they decorated mugs with things that they were thankful for that you might not necessarily be thankful for in the moment. With that in mind, here is my list of my oddly thankful things.

  1. I am thankful for sassy mouths…because it means my children have the power to reason with their strong vocabularies.
  2. I am thankful for middle of the night nursings…because those moments are so fleeting, and I know that it’s the only time that my baby will rely on me alone for nourishment. (respectfully borrowed from my sister, Lacey.)
  3. I am thankful for early morning wakeup calls during the school week…because it means I can make a fried egg sandwich for Rhett and see him and Jolie off to school.
  4. I am thankful for past mistakes—the ginormous ones and the only mildly big ones…because they guide me through the stumbling blocks that are sure to continue to line my life path.
  5. I am thankful for heartbreak…because it makes me appreciate the swooning of a new relationship that much more.
  6. I am thankful for afternoon kindergarten…because it means I get special time with Paisley every morning, even if it means stretching the budget just a bit tighter so I can stay home with her until she enters school full time next year.
  7. I am thankful for apartment living…because maintenance issues are not my own and because the kids have fun, understanding neighbors who don’t mind our loudness on occasion. 

I love you all, some more than others.