Talk Hippy To Me (A year of No Poo)

Last march (2014) I really stepped up my hippy game. Before that I kind of identified with “crunchy granola” parents, more because I attachment parented, and we eat clean. The last year though, was a game changer. I threw out all the shampoo, lotions, conditioners, hand soap, body wash, deodorant and tooth paste. I wrote a whole blog explaining “no poo” and I posted recipes for body butters, hand soap, deodorant and toothpaste. Today I want to give an update. the last year has been a learning experience, and I’m happy I took the year to learn more about my body. What I did not expect was that I would learn so much about communication and compromise.

Jojo, one year NO POO, she's become my little boho babe. Very proud of no poo, and clean eating... with the exception of cupcakes.
Jojo, one year NO POO, she’s become my little boho babe. Very proud of no poo, and clean eating… with the exception of cupcakes.

No Poo/Dandruff/Eczema/Psoriasis: Well, I have to say, I did not know what to expect with my hair. Talk to your hair dresser and he or she will probably be mortified if you even consider quitting shampoo. Turns out, it’s really freeing. I had never just used water on my hair in my life, I was so attached to the suds, and the silky feeling after conditioning. At first that hard wet feeling really bothered me. But I was amazed by how quickly my hair dried, and how light it was. I hardly had any transition. Most people have a greasy week or 4. I had a few weeks where my hair needed extra TLC in terms of brushing sebum through. Even now, a year later, i have no split ends, and my hair is soft and shiny!  But the only problem I had is that I couldn’t get rid of the dandruff. I had never had dandruff until I gave birth to Jo, and have struggled for the last 6 years. I had tried EVERYTHING. The only thing that seemed to keep the flakes away was washing often. So you can imagine how “in your (my) face” this issue was once I stopped washing. I began searching forums and googling “natural” dandruff cures. The one that stood out the most was pouring 50/50 ACV (apple cider vinegar, and they say the smell goes away after your hair dries, maybe if you have less hair, but I have thick wavy hair and the smell DID NOT GO AWAY! It drove me and my husband crazy!) and water onto my scalp and letting it sit for 30 minutes every 3 days. OK, that was quite a commitment. But I was encouraged that it would help. It didn’t. In fact I ruined the pH levels on my head so I ended up with waxy hair. By waxy I mean, if you were to pinch a chunk of my hair it would feel sticky-ish. ALL of my hair. And water couldn’t penetrate it! Water would just roll right off my head like my hair was made of wax paper. I even went in the swimming pool, and it did nothing! So I tried apple sauce to get rid of the wax. Apple sauce helped the wax, but then my hair was filled with apple flakes! So it looked like I had the worst case of dandruff in history! I think it took 3 baking soda scrubs and LONG soaks in the tub to remove the apple flakes. In the end, the dandruff came back. So I tried an egg wash. OMG, that was the most disgusting thing I had ever done. Besides the complete weirdness of massaging snot-like goop into my hair, it smelled AWFUL. It continued to smell until my next ACV rinse. Those were my more amusing stories. But over the year I tried many “cures”. patchouli, lavender, coconut oil, tea tree oil, honey, kombucha, aloe juice, yogurt… Nothing helped. At least nothing helped for more than 3 days. Then the itchiness came back. I read that dandruff might be a type of yeast, so I cut out sugar, and started using probiotics, in fact, I have been brewing kombucha in my kitchen for months now! Still no relief. At the end of the year I tried a “low poo” conditioner from Shea Moisture, it didn’t help. So I finally decided to try the African Black Soap system from Shea Moisture. I kinda wish I had tried this 6 years ago! So far so good! right now I plan to use it once a week, then see how long I can go between washes. If the dandruff stays gone I will go back to no poo. If it comes back I will used this system as needed. I do use coconut on my ends, I think that’s why I don’t have split ends.

A 24 weeks in to no poo, 10 days water only!
A 24 weeks in to no poo, 10 days water only!
February 2015 No Poo allllllmossst one year!
February 2015 No Poo allllllmossst one year!

Lotion/Moisturizer: I’ll be honest. I missed lotion the most. Out of EVERYTHING I changed. I love lotion. And while I used hand made moisturizers, lotion bars etc, I just missed regular old lotion. I thought my skin would adjust so I used nothing for a few months. I hated it! I missed being super smooth!  And the simplicity of a pump. So at the end of the year I bought Shea Moisture’s baby lotion. I love it. (Should I mention that Shea Moisture is not paying me to pimp them out, its just an affordable brand that doesn’t have a whole bunch of added chemicals.)

Acne: My acne has been gone for over a year now. I stopped using all the astringents, soaps and spot treatments. Now I oil cleanse, and use a jojoba and coconut oil serum twice a day. Oil Cleansing is super simple. Massage the oil of your choice (I used jojoba) into your skin for a few minutes, then cover your face with a wet hot wash cloth (Don’t burn yourself… common sense, guys.) for 2 minutes, then just wipe the oil off. Only do this at night. I also still use my lemon scrub (sugar, lemon, raw honey) 2x a week.

Body Wash: Turns out water cleans really well on its own. I suggest using a scrub occasionally, or something a little on the rough side to get a good scrub. I do still love my coconut oil and sugar body scrubs, I’m just sure to rinse the shower REALLY well after because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt and it’s slippery and gross looking.

Toothpaste: I enjoyed using my DIY toothpaste, but my husband HATED it. He especially hated that it clogged the sinks… So we’re back to toothpaste, I have been using the Trader Joe’s brand toothpaste with fennel. It tastes like jagger, but it really gives you a whole mouth clean feeling.

Deodorant: Another thing that my husband was not impressed with. I used it occasionally. Like today because it’s going to be 80 degrees, AND I had coffee. That’s what I learned, If I drink coffee, or eat dairy, I should use deodorant. But I’ve maybe used it 15 times in the last year. I made a deo with beeswax and it seems to work better, less drippy. My co worker traded me ***succulent clippings for the deo. It was an awesome trade!

Hand Soap: The hand soap smells nice, and works well, but it’s super watery and was an annoyance for husband, so we are using hand soap again. I’ll have to research what kinds are more environmentally friendly.

My Kombucha! home brewing for 6 months!
My Kombucha! home brewing for 6 months!

 

Kombucha: I started brewing kombucha in our kitchen 6 months ago, and it is going very well! My kids like it, I drink it daily. It think it causes minimal annoyance for my husband. Kombucha is a fermented tea, it’s filled with probiotics and is extremely healthy. I started brewing it to help with the dandruff, it didn’t help, but it was more affordable to make my own then spend $4 a bottle.

Oil Pulling: I still oil pull a few times a week.

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House Plants and Succulents: My newest obsession is clean air. I started out adding succulents as decoration in our home, which has been fun, and a good test since it’s difficult to kill succulents. I recently added a few air cleaning plants to each room. A Peace Lily, a Parlor Palm, a Snake Plant, a Golden Pathos and Aloe Vera. My husband has reminded me that plants belong outside, however I think he prefers this obsession over no poo.

So the moral of the story is this: I had fun, I feel good about the last year. However, somethings just weren’t worth the effort, or the fight. I’m definitely gonna stay on the crunchy side, just not as strictly. I have a lot on my plate, and unclogging a coconut oil filled sink is just not worth the effort. And as you can tell, my husband just wasn’t impressed by any of this. Since he responded a bit better to eating real food, I think I’ll focus on that. And kudos to him for putting up with it for so long!

Lucky bamboo
Lucky bamboo

 

How I Drove My Husband Crazy By Accident

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Compromise.

I can’t begin to explain how often that advice is given. It fits with just about any issue… in a perfect world. But what about when there is no compromise? Because those situations are the real issues. The small things, yeah, we can find middle ground, one of us will back down because, we’re just too tired. Too tired of fighting. I am too tired.

Last year I committed to a year of “no-poo”. Well that’s what I called it, but in reality shampoo was only one of the many changes I made. I stopped using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial hand soaps, body wash, lotion, face wash, acne treatments and sunscreen. I know, now I sound like a dirty hippy. Don’t worry, I’m clean, and not smelly. I started out by making my own hygiene products, and slowly weaned off of many things altogether. Here is what I learned in the last year:

The biggest thing that stands out, to be honest is that I drove my husband bonkers! Seriously. Like I think there was a point where he was ready for one of us to move out. No, not because I smelled bad, but because I didn’t give him the option NOT to jump on my bandwagon. Within a matter of weeks I had thrown out all of the shampoos and soaps in the house. I went DIY crazy and made toothpaste, hand soap,  and shaving cream. He hated it. Not all of it, but most of it. He missed the suds in shampoo, and the wateriness of the body wash. The coconut oil toothpaste was salty, I fixed that, but then it was clogging our sinks. Our showers and sinks were nearly impossible to clean because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt. Still, I stood strong. I felt I was doing my job, I was saving my family from diseases. I still 100% believe in my “cause”… I just may have done it a little differently. I know that I changed everything because I love my family, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have… the negative impact. I had high hopes for the positive! I didn’t expect my husband to be frustrated daily. Missing the simplicity. I didn’t realize it took so much energy for him to try to understand my reasons, and how overwhelming it must be for him. I mean, our first year together I took away all the processed foods, and he started reading food labels. Which annoyed him then, also… now he has to read labels on the hand soap…

I realized that I was insensitive and didn’t truly know my husband. And he didn’t know me. I did not respect him. I didn’t bother to ask him, in my mind I had to save the world. That’s me… I am an activist. I see a problem and have an innate need to fix it. My heart is too big, I inherited this martyr-esque personality from my dad, and seriously I will be uncomfortable and miserable and choose the path of GREAT resistance for the greater good. That’s not my husband. They say opposites attract. Well in this case, it couldn’t be more true. I’ve learned this year that my husband is both a blessing and a lesson. I’ve learned that I am a control freak… and so is he. I’ve learned that compromise is a bitch.

The year mark couldn’t have come soon enough. Not that I wanted to buy regular hand soap, but I was ready to stop fighting. Every day became a fight on some level. Maybe we didn’t actually argue, but he would get frustrated by any number of inconveniences caused by the changes I made. And I took it personally that he hated it. It was those little things that wore on him, and turned into reasons to bicker. He became so frustrated. I felt like he didn’t care about his health, or our kids. It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that it was too much. This isn’t what he signed up for. It was all too much. And let’s be honest… Ignorance is bliss. I stripped away his bliss, I dissected it, and magnified the ugly truths, broadcasting them, forcing them to be acknowledged. This was the third time I turned his life upside-down and inside out. The first time it was the food, switching to organic and banning fast food. Next it was parenting, I brought my crunchy attachment parenting ideals into his home, and changed the rules. I took parenting out of his hands, again without compromise (in his eyes). And now I’ve taken away shampoo. In his mind, I’ve been taking. Taking away his comforts, his jobs, his rules, his ideals, his deodorant… In my mind I was enriching, nourishing, helping and teaching. It’s mind blowing how opposite we see the same situation.

It never occurred to me that I might make him feel stupid. I have such strong feelings, often based on extensive research, and because I trust my intuition. It was never my intention to make him feel less than he is. All I ever wanted was to be better for each other, our kids and the planet. I never thought that maybe he was perfectly happy with the way things were. Who do I think I am, that I can just make these decisions without talking with him? I am not his children’s mother, I do that job, he asked me to… And I wanted to. I assumed it meant I could parent the way I saw fit. I didn’t stop to think that because this is a partnership, he should have a say, more than a say… they are his kids. But I thought it was my job, this parenting thing. I have a daughter of my own, and I do my best. I thought his job was to provide, and back me up, while I did all the nitty gritty mom jobs. I didn’t think he wanted to “parent”. He never expressed interest in it, that is until I was doing it full time.

I learned that compromise doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It means I value my marriage. So last week I bought shampoo. I bought antibacterial hand soap, lysol, and toothpaste, too.  (I’ll write a whole blog on what kind and why!) I am picking my battles, and finding ways to keep my household healthy… and also realizing that all of our emotional health is more important than  physical. I would rather be married.

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I plan to write all the amazing things (and all the not so great things) I learned in the last year! What worked, and what didn’t… I know this post makes it should like it it was a disaster, it wasn’t. My hair is happy and my skin is smoother than ever! I had to get the therapeutic part out of the way first 😉

 

 

Maybe we should talk about this? (Open communication in marriage)

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What is proper relationship etiquette? And how do know what is and isn’t OK in a relationship? There are millions of marriage self help books out there, and they seem to have one common theme: Communication.

As individuals we all have different ways we need to be loved, and different preferences when it comes to other humans in our lives. Much like parenting. We know as parents that each child is different and we strive to respond according to our children’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same with adults. The hard part is that as an adult we expect every other adult to ACT like an adult, and when they don’t, we are MORE frustrated. As adults we are just as stubborn as a willful two year old, but we have a lot more power. We have the ability to change things, and we have that innate need to push others to be what we think they should be, or act the way we think they should act.

Enter the balancing act. In a marriage our job is to be one half of a partnership. The hard part is that the other half is not controllable. It sounds simple enough to roll with the punches, but at some point it gets exhausting. Without healthy communication we are being constantly hurt by the one person we love most, and chose to spend our life with. Nobody hurts you worse than a spouse… it’s an utter betrayal. (I’m not saying other things don’t hurt, and I’m not saying your spouse will hurt you more than anyone, I mean, when you are hurt by your spouse it’s THAT much worse. It’s broken trust.) Part of the problem with putting all of your faith in another person, and not knowing how to communicate is that you both have expectations that are impossible to meet because you don’t know how to have that talk.

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My husband and I are the odd ones in our group of friends because we both are good friends with members of the opposite sex, and it’s not necessarily mutual. We have our own friendships. It’s always been that way. My married friends think it’s so strange. Some of them don’t allow their husbands to speak with other women hardly at all, only in group settings. Some of them know each others phone, email and Facebook passwords. Some share their Facebook page! You can see the extremes here?

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Personally I have always found it odd for people to be so enmeshed in their partners lives. But I see that for some of these couples it insures fidelity, and brings them closer. I think it would drive my husband and I bonkers. We both need our space. We have both been in relationships where our significant other took advantage and read through our emails, texts and for me, my journal. We chose to give each other personal space. However, we never discussed boundaries on communication with the opposite sex like certain conversations we feel are not appropriate and talking to a member of the opposite sex during “our” time. I think we both felt if we put restrictions on each other, it was a sign that we don’t trust each other. Which isn’t true. the problem with the way we do it, is, neither of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to one being upset about a friendship because neither of us know what kind it is. In the event that anything happened that “looks” wrong, either of us might jump to conclusions based on assumptions. Just like with children, boundaries protect us.

Communication is more than: “Suzie has softball and 4, Max gets out early today and we are out of milk ” Communication is being open about feelings and the things that matter. making your expectations clear. BONDING.

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Step Monster

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I am so tired. Emotionally. I do not want to get out of bed because I’m not sure I have the energy to be a step mom today. I feel like every few months I’m at my wits end, sobbing in the bathroom into a glass of wine, resisting the urge to call my own step mother, and best friend to tell her I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how she managed, how in the hell she didn’t run away. I think, actually at one point she did run away. I don’t blame her. I can’t say whether it was harder for her to not have her own children, it was definitely a piece that was missing, but maybe it was a blessing for my sister and I? We needed all of her heart.

When I came into this relationship I already had my daughter, and my husband had a daughter and a son. I liked his kids immediately, and they liked me. I was thrilled to become a step mom, having been raised by one, I felt like maybe it was preparation for my future as a step mom. Not everyone is lucky enough to be raised by a step parent that they actually look up to. (It certainly wasn’t always like this, there were times that I think we hated each other, and years that I made her life miserable.) It didn’t occur to me that my life would turn into a fight. A constant fight for the impossible. I had been a stay at home mom, an attachment parenting mom. I was and am deeply connected to my daughter. I had not thought a whole lot about how I would parent her as she grew up, because I was taking it one day at a time. (When she was three I was convinced she was possessed, turns out she was just three… But I spent hours on the phone and the internet trying to figure out what to do.) Suddenly I had a 7 year old and a 5 year old, and my 3 three year old. I figured I would keep doing what I was doing, I tried to fit into their life as best I could, but there really was no place for me. The family was so used to taking care of each other that I was only really needed as a babysitter. Feeling like a fish out of water I began to make small changes in our household, there had to be a way to make us a family. Initially it was health. I threw out all the packaged, boxed and canned food and worked tirelessly on changing their diet. I wasn’t comfortable feeding my child TV dinners, and I thought it was the loving thing to nourish my new family. Well, that backfired. I ended up becoming the enemy of the in-laws and extended family. Instead of backing me up, they decided to lie, and sneak around, teaching my kids that I do not deserve respect.

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That was 3 years ago, since then we have had similar struggles, and they seem to be worse and more frequent. Between encouraging my kids to lie to me and my husband, and actually lying to us, it’s impossible. My husband is so used to his family disrespecting each other that he doesn’t see the problem. Because he doesn’t see it, he thinks I overreact. He feels I should just let it go, because they will never change. I would do that if it didn’t directly effect the way his kids treat me.

You can see, my husband is generally more relaxed, he’s not a rule enforcer. The only time he really pushes it is dependent upon his mood, or what is necessary, like if we have to go and the kids are messing around, THEN the dad voice comes out and everyone scrambles. I prefer that the children are obedient and don’t require “dad voice”. I am aware that as parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children and teach them to be decent human beings. (The jury for me is still out on The Lord of the Flies, but watching my step son, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hesitate to eat his friend.) It seems I worry endlessly about who these kids will be as adults and I am scared. Honestly scared. I see a child with no conscience. And I believe it’s our job (and I mean EVERY adult) to teach children empathy. We are not all born with the gift of empathy, and if you grow up in a household where it’s every man for himself… and that’s kind of the environment I see. The problem is, I seem to be the only immediate family who sees a problem and I go back and forth between just letting it be, and then being horrified and feeling a deep seeded need fix the problem.

I wonder if I didn’t have my own daughter, and actual horse in the race, maybe I would just let it go, be a babysitter, and let their lives be the way they were. The problem is that I have a little girl that I have high hopes for, I see so much promise in her, and I won’t cut comers on parenting. Not with my little girl. I have seen the products of “non parent parenting”, and I am not going to be responsible for that. The problem is, I have a hand in parenting my step children, so I will have responsibility to take. What am I gonna say? I’m sorry I fought with your dad so much and taught you that it’s OK to undermine your partner? I’m sorry I was so inconsistent? I’m sorry you think I favor my daughter– I wasn’t allowed to be your mom. I’m sorry I gave up on you….

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I don’t want to give up. I love these kids. And I love my husband. I want us to be a family, but I don’t see how we are going to get through this with out royally fucking these kids up. At some point something has got to give. I’m tired of fighting. But I feel a moral obligation to these awesome littles. I feel a deeper obligation to MY little.

I am blessed because my daughter has a wonderful step mom who has become my friend and sometimes my therapist. I have 100% support from my daughter’s father and his wife. It’s refreshingly healthy. I can’t see why I don’t have that from my husband’s family.

I know I’m not an expert parent, but my heart is in it, and I work my ass off trying to do right by my little family. Often times it’s the hardest thing to do. And way too many times it turns into a fight. Where is the balance? What battles do I pick? How can I make this work? I have fantasies that I take my daughter and we just live together, and I spend weekends with my husband and the kids… wouldn’t it be easier if I only saw them all occasionally, and didn’t have a responsibility to parent? I would miss them, but I think I would be much more relaxed. It’s a huge responsibility being a parent. I do not take it lightly… I do not want to abandon them. But I do want to run away sometimes. Like today.

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Mommy Issues

So this morning as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed, sipping my coffee, I come across a new single written by Pink. You all know I am a Pink fan, so I was excited, I click the link and read the article, turns out, this song was written for Pink’s mom… My initial reaction to this news was conflicting. I have serious mommy issues (You’ve heard about my daddy issues already.) and I have hesitated to blog about them because… Well for one it fucking hurts. As I type tears burn my eyes and and my throat is tight, also, this stuff is personal. I know I have been open about a lot, but this is the most sensitive subject for me, I’ve told you about the time I was attacked, and I don’t even cry anymore when I talk about that. I have told you about my history with the cult, and I have even publicly apologized to a friend (<—- I even mentioned some mommy issues.) But this mom stuff is really hard to choke out.

My sisters and my mama at my wedding
My sisters and my mama at my wedding

“No one ever held you, no single moment of truth, but if you were mine I would have looked into those eyes and said, tell me the words you long to hear and I’ll sing them loud and clear, let me heal the wounds you’ve held onto for all these years. Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

It’s like she took the words from my heart, words I have never been able to even think. “But if you were mine….” right there, that’s when I broke, that’s when the tears came. When I was pregnant and didn’t want a baby, I promised this baby that I would be the mother that my mom couldn’t be. I was so afraid to continue the cycle. Every day since Jo was born has been therapy for me, I have spent the last 5 years cleaning up the mess my mom left, I have loved Jo, and hugged her, and connected with her in all the ways I SHOULD have been loved, all the ways I DESERVED to be loved. I don’t have memories of not being wanted, but it became clear while I was in CFD, you may remember the Justine Doll Incident:

“When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.”

I’m not saying it’s ALL my mom’s fault that I literally hated myself and did not think I deserved to be nurtured or loved, there were a lot of factors, but I’m pretty sure being essentially abandoned is a huge contributing factor. Thinking back on that doll I have such a sick feeling, who can leave their little girl? I look at my daughter and I have a hard time imagining a day without her, I cry every time she goes to her dad’s house. Jo changed me, she changed my perspective on life. I could’t help but wonder… why didn’t I do that for my mom? Why didn’t I change her? Why didn’t she look at me, and fall in love? It’s not very fair is it? I can’t imagine walking away from my baby girl, but my mom felt that I would be better off without her. She may have been right, but that’s not really the point is it?

Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

I have spent the last 5 years breaking the chain. I could have been my mom, I could have left when it was hard, I could have given up at any point, but I promised Joliene while she was in my belly that even if I didn’t love her, I would ALWAYS do everything in my power to make her feel loved, and I would never EVER leave her. I promised to show that her she is perfect and beautiful, that she is essential and loved. I vowed to be better and to give her everything I should have had. I broke the cycle.

Me and my Jojo <3
Me and my Jojo <3

“If you were mine…”

I have spent the last 5 years wishing I had been my own mom. Wondering what it would have been like if my mom had been like me, would I have been more confident? Would I have still starved myself? More importantly, would I be the mother I am today? What I never thought until hearing those words was, what if she was mine? What if I could go back and nurture my mother? What if I was HER mother? Would she have stayed?

Disclaimer: “Too many missing pieces, that’s always been your reason to justify how you feel inside” To be honest, I know my mom can’t help who she was. She has more than enough reasons. She was dealt a pretty shitty hand in life. It just sucks that I had to suffer because of HER past. But I love her, and have come a really long way. I think this song really reminded me to be compassionate.

 

 

I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself

I remember very distinctly, about 9 years ago, standing in a car port in the middle of the night smoking a cigarette watching my best friend drive away. He had just essentially broken up with me. (It’s not what you think, he’s gay, so when I say best friend, I do mean a completely platonic friendship.) As his tail lights vanished around a corner I marveled in the realization that someone who I felt was just as fucked up as me… if not MORE fucked up than me, had actually called me out. He had driven 20 miles to tell me that he was worried for me, and it hurt him to see me self destruct.

I took one last puff, dropped my cigarette on the concrete, stepped on it and walked away. I didn’t think much about the conversation, not one red flag shot out at me, I was so deep in a sick and toxic place I couldn’t see love when it looked me in the eyes. I had to hit rock bottom. I didn’t know it yet, but the next 2 years would be the hardest, scariest and darkest days of my life.

Looking back I wish I had really heard what he said to me, I wish it had sunk in and impacted my decisions, but it didn’t. Over the years I have not forgotten his words, so I suppose they were waiting for me to hear them.

Believe it or not, I did learn something from that moment. You cannot help someone who is not willing to help themselves. There is one thing you can do: LOVE. And sometimes love means letting go, particularly if it hurts you when you watch someone you love circle the drain. My friend let go, but he never left. He just refused to be my savior anymore. No more drunken 2am phone calls to pick me up from who-knows-where. No more holding my hair over the toilet while I cried and apologized, promising this would be the last time. He couldn’t do it anymore.

I have this friend whom I love deeply. She’s one of my oldest friends and closest. For the last few years I have watched her destroy every chance of happiness, and every opportunity for love that has crossed her path. It is like she intentionally chose the worst, least compatible, controlling, and twisted man. And god forbid anyone points it out. If you do, be prepared for her to do something to rub it in your face, like, for instance, she secretly married him. Knowing he has anger issues, knowing he’s abusive, knowing he is a terrible parent, knowing he has no respect for women, having heard him call her two best friends c**ts, experiencing him stalk her and harass her… She married him. She didn’t tell anyone, because when you do something so effing stupid why the hell would you tell anyone? The crazy part is she thought she could keep it hidden. The sad part is I am her best friend and she lied for months. Looking back I’m realizing how many times she lied to me. She knew I didn’t approve so she hid her relationship, her pregnancy, her wedding…

And you know what? I was there through EVERYTHING. I never let go, every time a lie came out I let it roll off my back, I forgave her because that’s what you do when you love someone. But the lying never stopped. Another lie came out today. I thought we were done with this, her divorce is almost final, she has a new life, a boyfriend who loves her so completely, who flipped his entire life upside down to accommodate her, and she sabotaged it. And for the last 3 years, her lies have all revolved around this jackass. At some point you have to see that HE is a problem!!!

Just 7 months ago friend’s of mine bent over backwards to help her get into a safe place, get back on her feet, and take control of her life, this is not the first time someone had to save her… and evidently it’s not the last considering recent developments. I’m tired. I’m hurt. But how do I keep making excuses? I have been excusing her behavior for years.

This part of me feels like I owe her. She stuck around while I was living my life in ways she didn’t approve. She’s been there, she’s been my alibi too many times to count, she’s come to the rescue when I’m in over my head… but the difference is that I am honest with her. If I do something stupid, I own it, in fact, chances are I’m telling her about it before I do it! I don’t hide things from her. Because friends are supposed to be honest with each other. Wether we agree with the other person, or not.

So maybe I’m hurt that she doesn’t feel like she can be honest with me. I know… I’m opinionated. Outspoken. I don’t think before I speak… ever. But I don’t care how stupid you are, if I love you I love you.

And I love her. It’s time for her to help herself. Maybe she doesn’t want to be happy? Maybe she can’t see the big picture, the people she’s hurting, the innocent little girl that is tagging along while her mother is too busy messing up their lives. I don’t know, but… if you’re reading this: I can’t help you until you help yourself.

 

Nature Vs Nurture

In high school before reading Lord of the Flies we had the “Nature Vs. Nurture” debate and I was die hard Nature. I believed deeply that we are innately good, despite my Christian upbringing. (If you are Christian, you more likely believe that man is evil, and must make the conscious choice to do “good”) As an adult, and a parent I am considering that both are important. I still believe we are born good, that our hearts are pure, and we are effected by circumstance. But I believe we are who we are. Do circumstances effect a person? Change them? Yes, but I believe we already have a blueprint, so to speak, so we still react based on our personality.

For instance, I’ll give you three girls, all three grew up in the same church (you guessed it, ICOC), all three lived in loving Christian homes, they went to the same schools and all three were molested. To keep things interesting let’s name them: Gemini, Aquarius and Pisces.

Gemini never really fit in anywhere, and she over ate and wore baggy clothes as to not attract sexual attention. She was mean to other kids, and angry. Mostly she was sad, but didn’t feel like she could show it. She eventually began using and selling drugs. After a few rounds of rehab, she is clean and happy, working and going to school. She has a huge heart, and is comfortable with her body and her sexuality. She has a higher power.

Aquarius tried to talk, but was hushed repeatedly, eventually she stopped talking. She felt ashamed of her body because of the kind of attention it attracted, she threw herself into extracurricular activities. She became too busy to feel. She is now on the road to entrepreneurship, she has her own business, sings and doesn’t let anyone push her around. She still has faith.

Pisces plastered a smile on her face in public, and was overly friendly to everyone, she never wanted anyone to think she wasn’t OK. At home she hid behind her books, and escaped in other worlds so she wouldn’t have to deal with reality. She can’t handle injustice and calls people on their shit. She wants to save everyone from pain, and is empathetic to a fault. She can’t stand churches of any kind, but truly believes the best in people.

You see, all three girls reacted in their own way, even though they each went through the same thing. They each found a way to escape: drugs, work, and fantasy. I see this as proof that we are who we are.

If it wasn’t obvious, Hi, I’m Pisces. I have been hurt deeply in my life, just as Gemini, Aquarius, and so many others were, and still I see good in people, I trust WAY too quickly, I want to believe you. I feel connections to people almost instantly. I also instantly know if I do not like someone, and I can usually figure out what sign they are based on my uneasy feeling. I feel it is my mission to help people, and I have passion out to wazoo. I also have a really hard time taking criticism, and admitting I’m wrong feels like I’m swallowing a flaming sword.

I’m telling you all that to show how individual I am, because you may be a Pisces, and you may be thinking, “Well astrology is BS because I’m not like you, Justine. I am shy and quiet, and I go with the flow. I have had less than 3 sexual partners, and I keep my opinions to myself because I don’t like drama.” Of course not every Pisces is gonna be a clone of the next Pisces. I think that people get that impression about astrology. You see, different people have different coping skills and personality traits that may have been passed through genetics, or maybe it goes deeper? I have always connected with astrology, my birth chart (not to be confused w the horoscope you find in the newspaper) is insanely accurate, my parenting, love, emotions and life mission are spot on. Just bear with me, I know you think it’s a bunch of crap, but I have a point. I want to show you my blueprint.

I am going to stick with the super basics so I don’t lose you. So I’ll show you 4 of my twelve signs, the 4 that seem to me to really build a personality.

Sun sign: Your sun sign is your birth sign, mine is Pisces. So that’s super basic, a typical Pisces is emotional, absorbs others emotions, good or bad, can be a sucker for anyone who needs help. Can be gullible and shy, dreamy, romantic. Gets easily lost in their own fantasy world. Pisces can be airheads, and pretty temperamental. A Pisces mother has a deep connection with their children, she is a nurturer and may spoil her children. Most of that is true about me, however, most Pisces can relate to the first level, but we may feel there is so much more? In my case, where is the out-spoken passionate fighter?

Rising Sign: Your rising sign is the mask you wear in public. It is usually someone’s first impression of you. Mine is Cancer. Cancer risings like to be in a familiar place, and get uncomfortable in new places, they are cautious and conservative, gentle and giving. Cancer risings are nurturers. Overly sensitive to criticism. If you just met me (not having read my blog because my blog totally blows my sweet sensitive water sign’s cover) you would probably think these things about me. More so when I was younger, as I’ve aged I have actually started to embrace my moon sign more. In fact, people who I have reconnected with over the years always ask, “Where did the quiet little Justine go?” She found her voice, it was hiding in her moon sign.

Moon sign: The moon sign is the main reason people with the same sun sign can be so different. Your moon sign is your emotions. It’s the way you intuitively react to things. Mine is Aries, after reading my blogs and seeing so much of my fiery side, you were probably surprised my sun sign is Pisces! “Aries Moons are headstrong, aggressive and may be difficult to control. They do best if they can find a physical outlet for their emotions” An Aries moon is a fighter when emotions are aroused, they have a hair trigger to specific stimuli, and will just unload everything (verbally). They act before they think, which can get them into trouble. They have quite a temper, but surprisingly do not hold grudges. Their moods change quickly and have an extremely strong and forceful personality. I can relate to all of that, however, I do have my peaceful water signs that will sometimes come in and drown my fire, and because I am intuitive, when I am around other people who are happy, I will be happy and keep my moon to myself.

Mercury sign: Your mercury is the way you communicate. Some people have absolutely no communication skills, others are very factual. Some people only say what needs to be said. My Mercury is in Pisces, so my thought process is not logical at all, it’s emotional. I think with my feelings and imagination, I trust my intuition and tend to reject ideas that are based on logic. This is where I am thankful to have a husband who is a “true” Virgo. Five of his twelve signs are Virgo, including his sun, rising and moon. So you can just imagine our discussions, I’m all emotional, and he’s totally factual.

Now that you have little understanding of a birth chart, you can see where I am going with this. My nature is quite literally written in the stats. Just as Gemini’s nature, and Aquarius’s nature were written in the stars. Having grown up in the same neighborhood, attending the same church and school, we each responded differently to the same situations.

Don’t get me wrong, I think nurture plays a huge part in self esteem and bonding, and I do believe that the way a child is raised has an effect on who they become. I have three kids who couldn’t be more different, or more like their charts. In children I can see even more how nurture plays an important role in becoming who you are, but I also see that each child is so individual and requires their own brand of nurture. I believe that abuse and neglect have a lasting effect on a person, I just also believe we all deal with it the way we are cosmically built to respond and cope.

I do not know about people who are inherently “bad”. I think we all have the capability to latch on to the negatives, to ignore our basic intuition and turn off the good. We all have some darkness, even in our charts (that is much deeper, I’ll save that for another blog), and we can in a sense, nurture the darkness. I know a little boy who gets angry very easily. You can see it on his face, his face gets red, veins pop out of his temples, he will scream and yell, hit and kick, as if he isn’t able to control himself. This behavior, and reaction to things like, lack of control over his toys has diminished since his parents began talking very calmly, reminding him to count to ten, and giving him space when he is upset. He may always struggle with anger, but I think as a child, if the people in his life are patient and loving, and still give him limits and boundaries, including ways to let his anger out, he can grow up into a well mannered man with self control. I also worry about the type of man he could become if his anger is not addressed in a healthy way. I know men who were like him as children, it’s a scary thought. I can relate, granted I am not violent, but I can be explosive when I am angry. Mixing the Aries moon with the Pisces Mercury can be a very noisy tear-filled argument, and while there will be times when I will lose it, I have had to learn to control myself. Other people do not deserve my acid tongue.

This all may sound like hocus pocus to you, but this is just me making sense of life, and people. I cannot look at my children and see evil. I see good, love, innocence, beauty, curiosity and silliness. While sometimes they may disobey, or fall out of line, I don’t see the devil in them, I see a kid who needs a reminder, maybe a hug, but certainly no evil. I guess my point is that we should nurture nature.

 

*I use Always Astrology for birth charts you can find yours here: http://www.alwaysastrology.com/birth-chart-calculator.html of what I wrote are things I already know from studying astrology over the years, but I particularly like this website for refreshers.

F.Y.I

 

Welcome!

I’m  just writing a “welcome” blog now for 2 reasons:

1. A lot of people recently registered to this blog, and since I have no “website building skills”, there is a lot you wouldn’t know about this website unless you’ve been following me for the last year or so.

2. Things have changed recently, and I feel I should address those changes. (Yes, I’m referring to the cult)

HELLO

Hi, My name is Justine and I started blogging because I needed a place to pour out my heart. As a mother, step-mother, wife, health coach and writer, my hands were very full, my time extremely limited, and the ‘vacations” I require in my head to write or read were diminishing. Making a commitment to this blog was a commitment to myself.

You will notice that in the beginning my blogs were centered completely around health and parenting. As I have become more comfortable, I have written more personal and therapeutic posts.

HEALTH and PARENTING

Half of you are here because you are on the road to health, or you’re a parent and *hopefully* felt refreshed by my candor on the struggles with parenting. I have no shame in saying that my pregnancy was a bitch, I hated every minute of it, and think labor is the most disgusting experience of my life. I have no desire to repeat either endeavor, therefore, my tubes are tied. I was blessed with 2 amazing step children, whom, along with my daughter and my husband complete me. They inspired me to get healthy, you see I was “skinny fat”, and over the last few years have made the life style change and commitment to eating whole, real, non-GMO and preferably organic food. This was a huge change for my husband and my step-son and step-daughter (and the in-laws) *See my blog for details: http://healthymama.net/fast-food-fight/ * but it has made a huge difference in our energy, attitudes and certain behavior issues we were having with one of our little rascals.

***I used to be associated with a health company, however it would seem they do not appreciate blogs about their products so I am removing all information pertaining to this company. I apologize, it appears I was not in “compliance” when I posted that my husband and I had no wedding debt thanks to “this company”(…. It’s true, I made $9,000 in a couple months which paid for our wedding.)

THE CULT

The other half of you… actually at this point maybe more than half of you are here because you read one or more of my blogs about the International Church of Christ (ICC)/ International Christian Churches (ICC). I want to start this subject by saying that I never imagined my little blog could cause such a stir. Upon writing the first blog about my past with the ICOC, “Because The Bible Says So” * http://healthymama.net/lets-make-parenting-less-of-a-dictatorship/  * Some feathers were ruffled, but all in all, it was not a big deal, so MONTHS later… maybe a year later, I wrote “So… I Grew Up In A Cult…” * http://healthymama.net/so-i-grew-up-in-a-cult/ * and holy WOW! Facebook blew up (I am friends with a lot of members and former members) I started getting lots of emails and tons of views on this particular post. The emails were (mostly) people saying Thank-You for being the voice of those who were burned so badly by the ICOC. I had no intention or writing another blog on the subject until I was accused of lying, and to back me up, and to gain closure, a few people asked me to share their stories, too.  Although I’m a Pisces (typically a go with the flow kind of person) my moon (emotions) is in Aries, which is code for: I’m a stubborn f*ck. So, being accused of lying only ignited my Aries emotion. The more I was challenged, the more my fire was fueled. After a few weeks of compiling stories and quotes, I posted “Queen of the Damned (Recovering from Cult Life)” *http://healthymama.net/queen-of-the-damned-recovering-from-cult-life/ * and this one has been read over 1,000 times, in less than 5 days. Which is insanity to me, but, I’ll be honest, I get it. Not only was I validating hundreds of people’s pain and suffering, I evidently struck a chord with current members. If someone else had written it, I would have been sharing it all over Facebook and Twitter saying “OMG! Someone gets it! Someone else feels the way I do! See, I’m not crazy!!!”

I want you to know something, I am proud to be the voice of former Kingdom Kids. I wish someone had stepped out a long time ago, because I needed this fellowship to heal. I have decided to take my role a little further. I have started a Facebook page called ICOC Recovery *https://www.facebook.com/icocrecovery * and I encourage you to “like” the page so we can start some healthy dialogue. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, feel free to private message me. I am here for you. I believe it is my calling to be support for people in need (there is that Pisces nature), if you need to tell your story, TELL ME. (I only posted stories that people specifically asked me to publish) If you need help getting out, I will help. If you disagree with me and want to tell me how the ICOC/ICC is the only way to god, go for it. I enjoy a healthy debate.

I have definitely had my character attacked by people in one of these organizations in order to discredit me, and I fully understand. They are scared. Their church is young, made up of young impressionable (sheeple) people, and I know from experience that they don’t want me to shake their young one’s faith with my facts, memories and reasons. It must be scary to see a little fish make such a huge wave, especially when you’re trying to rule the pond.

I want to make it clear here that I don’t believe in god, but I don’t consider myself a soul-less heathen. My heart is good, and I know it can be hard for Christians to see good in someone who doesn’t believe same way, it’s OK. I won’t lose sleep if you condemn me to hell. Just bear in mind, I know The Bible (as my best friend said, “You give her a book, she’ll read it!”) and YOU can’t condemn me to anywhere, Jesus said. If you are curious to know my personal spiritual views, click here * http://healthymama.net/the-god-thing/ * I also want to make it clear that I am an LGBT advocate, and I do not tolerate racism, sexism, bigotry or hate.  I believe in love, and I hope for everyone to find their other half, regardless of race, color or sex. Love is love, and it is beautiful. For more on this, read “Stop! Hating is bad” * http://healthymama.net/stop-hating-is-bad/ *

I hope this has cleared things up, and I am working on making some sort of an archive for all 60-ish blogs, and to make this website easier to navigate. If any of you happen to be tech savvy, I would love some help 😉

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.

 

Regrets

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Regrets. You know that feeling, that knot in your throat, the queasiness in the pit of your stomach, the ache in your heart. You fucked up. I am incredibly familiar with this feeling. I envy the people who say they will never regret anything. OK if you have no regrets, you must be an amazing person, teach me your ways! How can you live your life without doing something you wish you hadn’t? I feel like I have so many, maybe they are not huge life altering events, but there are decisions I have made that to this day haunt me.

I had a dream recently that I was waiting at a table in a restaurant for someone, I didn’t know who, when 3 people from my past walked in. They were shocked to see me, my heart started racing, having no idea how to react. Almost immediately one of them acted happy to see me, I knew she wasn’t, so I said, “It’s OK, you don’t have to bullshit…” Which probably made the situation worse. You know how it is, it’s easier to to be fake in an awkward situation. Especially when you know they way you really want to behave is like a jackass. My dream goes on with me alone at my table, and this small group sits at another, I got up to use the bathroom, and so did the girl who pretended to be happy to see me. Since we were alone, I asked her if she’d read any of my emails. You see, in real life I have written to her multiple times to apologize for the things I said to her, and she never acknowledged the emails. Since my subconscious mind seems to be aching for the opportunity to make things right, I apologized right there.

I woke up with that knot in my throat… that disgusting nauseating feeling. And I can’t fix this one. I want more than anything to tell her that I am so sorry I unleashed on her they way I did, that she didn’t deserve it. That I had been holding in hurt feelings for too long and had been fed a lot of negativity by someone close to us. I felt like a fish out of water, no- like an animal in captivity, with no control, and I lashed out at the easiest target. I’m sorry. No one deserves to be spoken to the way I ripped her apart. And I understand why she won’t accept my apology. I don’t deserve the validation.

This is the understanding I came to late last night. Just because we truly are sorry, and we want to fix something, just because our hearts are in the right place, does not give us the right to be forgiven. Not every mistake can be rectified. Sometimes people need to be bitter, they need someone to be upset with, not everyone is ready to forgive, when we are ready to own up to our mistakes. And that’s OK. Does it fit into my plan? No, I desperately need to deal with this situation. Whether she hates me and bitches me out, or accepts my apology and we never speak again… there are limitless outcomes, but it’s ME that needs this, and in this situation, I have no right to “need” anything. I should have thought of that before I lost my shit.

I should clarify, personally, I know a lot more was going on at this time, I know that I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I was on birth control (from other blogs you know that birth control has had terrible effects on me, one of which is temporary insanity. Hormones are no joke.) which made me irritable and anxious, among other things. I also was going through a custody battle. For the first time in my daughter’s life, there was a possibility that I would have to split custody of my daughter, and I was flipping out. For months I couldn’t eat, in fact the day that I flipped out, I had not eaten anything, and we had made sangria. (Not brilliant.) As you know, I practiced attachment parenting, and the thought of being away from my baby was, and is heart wrenching. I cry every Friday when she goes to her dad’s and I spent all of last weekend in tears because she went to Sea World, and that was the first time she has ever gone far from me. You can imagine the fear in me during this time, and the discomfort, I did not know who I could trust, this girl is friends with my ex, which is not a problem, but it was a conflict of interest, and I did not know how to deal with it. I had never been in a situation like this, and for some dumb reason, when I am uncomfortable, I tend to react strongly, in an effort to find a safe or comfortable place. In this case, I alienated someone I loved dearly.

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I feel the need to explain all of this because it is weighing so heavily on my heart. I now can imagine how my mother feels, I have so much bitterness for my mother, and I love her insanely, but in June 2012, the same month I unleashed on my friend, I (verbally) attacked my mom. I was in Indiana visiting some family, and my mom offered to babysit my then three year old (need I remind you thatI was preparing for a custody battle?) and my mom of all people offered to babysit. My mom was the LAST person I was going to trust with my daughter. Not because I don’t think she had good intentions, but because she walked out on me and my little sister when I was Jo’s age. I did not think any of that through when she offered, I just knew that the answer was “No.” She did not understand why, so I had to figure out why this made me so uncomfortable. Jo doesn’t know my mom. We live in California and my mom had met Jo maybe 3 or 4 times her whole life. I was not about to leave my kid with a stranger, I meant, I wasn’t even comfortable leaving Jo with her own father! My mom insisted that she’s not a stranger, she’s Jo’s grandma, and I became more uncomfortable, I ended up screaming at her that she left me when I was Jo’s age, and I will NEVER abandon my baby, I will NEVER give my baby reason to think I had left her, I can’t trust her with the one person I love more than anything. I yelled at my own mother that she had no business having children, and what was she thinking? If she couldn’t stick around for 2 of us, how irresponsible was she to have more children? Clearly at this point I had lost my mind, a lot of baggage had been triggered, and I did not think before I said these terrible things. I said– screamed these things (and worse) in front of my younger sisters and brothers. You may have imagined that this is another one of those situations where I get that nasty knot in my throat. If I could go back, I would have held my tongue. Actually I would not have gone to Indiana that summer. I knew it was going to be too much for me, but I went anyway, and now I live with regret. I hurt my mom, and my little brother’s and sister’s.

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Luckily, my brother’s, sitter’s and mom all still love me, they were in my wedding about 5 months ago. I guess that’s a perk with family, eventually you’re more likely to be forgiven? Here is the thing, though, my mom has asked over and over for me to talk to her, and I never wanted to talk about all of the passed things, the abandonment, and painful memories. I could never understand why she just stood there and took it while I screamed at her. I get it now, when you fuck up, and you have regret, you stand there and take it when someone calls you on it, no matter how nasty they are, you don’t have a leg to stand on, you have no excused. It’s not your turn to talk. It’s your turn to listen, and let the person you hurt heal. With that, I am resolving to be patient, to understand that I am not owed any type of validation from anyone I have hurt, the ball is in their court, and if they are not ready for my apology, it’s OK, the apology is not about me, even though it would make me feel better, why do I deserve to be forgiven? I should hope that whomever I have hurt is happy now, and if it’s easier to never talk about it, I must respect that. I also need to keep these things in mind before I open my mouth, as to not have more regrets.

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Attachment Parenting vs. Traditional Parenting (in my house)

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Blending families… Have I mentioned it’s really difficult? My husband and I have ONE huge disagreement. We rarely argue, but when we do it’s always about this one thing. Attachment Parenting vs. Traditional Parenting.

When Joliene was born, my life changed. Even though I had no idea WHAT attachment parenting was, and had no interest in breastfeeding, co sleeping, or cloth diapering, However, I naturally became a “crunchy” or “granola” mom, and did all of the above! I did not read any books, initially, I followed my instincts. I do not know if it has to do with my personality, my own upbringing, or maybe it was just love? We all show love differently. (There are 5 Love Languages, after all!) I show love by nurturing. If I love you, I want to take care of you, I want to make your life easy, and beautiful and I will bend over backwards doing so, if I feel it’s what you need. I remember Jo being maybe a week or 2 old, and her dad telling me that I could put her down, she was asleep, and I said, “No, I want to hold her.” That’s all I wanted to do.

A lot of people, family included, judged my parenting style, saying “It’s harder. It takes too much time. You’re spoiling her. It’s not necessary. She will never be independent.” I shrugged it off, I didn’t care what anyone thought. I was doing what I felt was right for Jo and for me.

Flash forward to the last year or 2. I moved in with my husband (well, now he is my husband, anyways) and his 2 kids and it was quite the culture shock. His family had all banded together to raise his kids, and it was kind of a clusterfuck. It was amazing that everyone had stepped in to do their part, while James had been working full time. As dysfunctional as the family is, their hearts really are in the right place. However, I felt like I was coming into a… I don’t know, it was like walking into a house that is so thrashed, and you honestly have no clue where to begin. I had 2 new kids who had never had a bond with their mama, and were emotionally band-aid-ed together. 2 amazing little people who had known unimaginable loss, and virtually no consistency. A 4 year old who was playing Black Ops, and running into the street without a thought, and only ate mac n cheese. An 8 year old who spent more time gone at her grandma’s house than home, who was so shy, and at the same time so eager to to be a big girl. The kids already knew what was expected of them, they took a bath, used the restroom, got dressed and brushed their teeth on their own. They really were independent. But, to me this was so concerning, because I saw these little ones doing everything by themselves, not needing any help, any bonding, or support. It was unnerving to me. You may be thinking “How great! they were so self sufficient! It must have made life easier for you!” No… It didn’t, it made me feel useless, and sad. I didn’t know where to begin with them, how to develop a relationship, a parental relationship, at that. Here I am with my 3 year old who only recently stopped co-sleeping, who sat on my lap for every meal… come to think of it, we didn’t even have a schedule, as I had always been a SAHM, we just went with the flow of life, day to day. My baby wanted to be wherever I was, and I wasn’t comfortable with her running across the street to their auntie’s house because I had no idea how she would react without me… I had so many concerns and I had to find a way to fit. I loved that my baby wanted her mama, I loved that she was so connected to me, that we had our own life that virtually revolved around one another. Did I need time and space sometimes? Absolutely. Was it hard sometimes? Fuck yes. But I was comfortable. And I looked at my “new” kids, and I felt sad. It’s funny that I felt so sad ( and in all honesty STILL feel a huge loss, because I wish I could have been with them when they were smaller, I wish I had had the opportunity to bond with them like a mother, to hold them, and feel connected.) they were perfectly happy. They didn’t know that they were missing, and thank goodness for that.

Here we are now, and there are like 3 different parenting styles going on in my home! There’s my husband’s: “Tough love, take it or leave it style” ( for the most part, he still has his moments with “his boy” Lj has been blessed by being not only the baby, but THE BOY, in a family that A) is made up of mostly boys, and B) has an obsession with sports. They pride their boys on their physical abilities and skills and they tend to bully the younger, weaker, more sensitive children. ) My parenting, which is based on each child in that moment and can look insanely unfair, if you are out side of the box. And the CRAZY parenting that happens when we cannot agree, so we kind of take over “our own kid(s)” and don’t let the other have anything to do with them. Jenna kinda swaps back and forth between me and James depending on the situation.

Crazy parenting happens after an argument, usually involving one injustice or another that was done to one of the kids by the “other” parent. It can be the simplest thing that one of us blows out of proportion, like, Jo likes purple, but James gave her a blue cup (tough shit), and I was annoyed that he even gave her the blue cup KNOWING she would want the purple one, but I have been REALLY working on supporting my hubby, so I said, “Now your cup matches Jenna’s!” (In my mind helping her to see bright side, no she wasn’t going to get her cup, and no crying about a cup would not work, but, check it out, blue is nice, too!) Enter James, who knows I’m annoyed that he gave her the wrong color, so he gives her a new cup (completely diminishing BOTH of our attempts at parenting, because now, Jo got her way from crying, and James is now upset because he feels like his parenting is undermined, and I am frustrated because I feel like I backed him up and then he dropped the ball.) So then he gets annoyed by anything I do to “help” Jo, in this case, she didn’t like the sauce on her salmon, so I wiped it off (easy fix). Now we are both frustrated and we are both triggered by the other one so our “never-really-ending parenting debate” continues from the LAST time we had a disagreement, and we both have a billion examples of how the other one is not consistent, which sounds an awful lot like an attack on the other parent’s parenting.

Natural consequences... You fight, you hold hands.
Natural consequences… You fight, you hold hands.

So here I am for almost 24 hours now trying to find a balance. Attachment parenting is based on the theory that we are shaped by our first attachments… “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” I have spent my entire life looking for someone worthy of a true attachment, I have felt alone and abandoned and my first true bond was my little girl. Jo put me together, and gave me my first true attachment besides my sister. I literally cannot help loving her, and wanting to show her in the most selfless ways. I see how that can be weird to a traditional parent, a traditional parent’s habits for teaching their babies to be more self sufficient may be more natural to them. However, having attachment parented for almost 4 years now, I have seen Jo grow up in her own time. Maybe I didn’t force her to use the big toilet when she was potty training, but one day, she made the decision to take off the booster seat and “balance” on the toilet like a big girl. I feel that growing up naturally happens, and it’s not a big deal if she chooses to use a booster seat, because one day, she will decide she’s over it. One day she won’t want to be in my lap all day… Oh wait, that was today. I don’t know why, but today she has been perfectly content to play on her own, and do her own thing. Some days all she wants is to be in my lap or under my feet. It’s organic, and it’s silly to me, to force her to feel something she doesn’t feel, or put her in a situation that make her feel uncomfortable. James feels totally different, like he should be able to tell his kids what to do, or say or how to act, and in that moment they should obey. I give Jo time to process, I don’t spring things on her, I warn her, that we are going to the dentist next week, and I repeat it daily, so by the time we are going to the dentist, she knows, and she may not be thrilled, but she is a big girl about it. However, if I were to tell her the morning of, the world would end, and the dentist, likely would not get anywhere near her mouth. I believe that in time, she won’t require so much warning, and it’s not even an inconvenience for me to let her know ahead of time. I would be pretty frustrated if suddenly I had to be at the dentist in 10 minutes, wouldn’t you? I almost feel like the way I parent is respectful to the child. Yes, I lay down the law when it’s necessary, and I try to be as consistent as possible, but I feel like its fair and better for the child’s sense of self to have some control over their little lives. Whether its a purple cup, warning about a trip to the dentist, or a choice of strawberries or an apple.

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I don’t feel that this means Jo rules my life, I know that when you love someone you make changes and sacrifices to make their life easier, yes, but also, to better them, to encourage growth, learning and decision making.

Jo getting her own fruit! #MissIndependent
Jo getting her own fruit! #MissIndependent

You may pride yourself in your ability to say jump and have your child leap into the air, and I do have that experience with my (step) kids (depending on the situation…. ) and yes, it makes life easier, but I don’t know how “easy” parenting is supposed to be? Isn’t parenting about growing ourselves as we nurture a new life? Being a mother has taught me so much about myself, and I have had to make so many changes, and take serious responsibility. Knowing this, I feel our kids deserve some slack. Why must we be dictators? When we really are meant to be teachers. And I don’t know about you, but my favorite teachers were the ones who personally invested in me, pushed me to be better, and gave me some slack when I needed it.

They have their moments...
They have their moments…