About a year ago a friend of mine sent me a text with a picture of a book called Carry on Warrior – I thought to myself – hmm this friend does share my same thoughts on things and if she loves the book, odds are I would too. What the hell, I’ll order it! The book came two days later – because Amazon Prime is my bestie – and I could not put it down! I would read it and read something that would strike me as so profound I would have to stop and think about it before I could move on to the next part. I found so much of myself in this book – which is probably how a lot of people feel. Within the last year or so I have accumulated the serious collection of self-help – if that’s what you want to call them – books – I prefer the term self-healing books – I think it makes me sounds less crazy. I like having the actual book – I like to write notes, highlight, put post it’s all over them. I’m visual. You can’t do that with a kindle. And these books are cheaper than therapy and I can do them on my own time – because seriously with these kids and their schedules I don’t have time to go talk to someone to tell them how fucked up I think I am and pay them to tell them that period.
In this book Carry On Warrior – she talks a lot about her childhood, addiction, being a wife and mother, her faith, family and lots of other things. I highly recommend reading it because this book changed my life. I have not read her new book Love Warrior…yet. I got a copy of it when I got to hear her talk the other night that was included with your ticket. I cannot wait to start reading it. Meeting her was amazing – she is just as real and sweet in person. I had a notebook and pen out while she was talking and a woman said to me are you taking notes and I was like duh – but I said yes, what if she says some profound shit – I need to write it down. Then I looked over and saw her writing on her ticket too. This night was good for my soul – it’s been a long time since I have done something that was good for my soul.
Let me just preface this part of my post by saying that I love my parents – I have dealt with my issues regarding my childhood with them and everything is fine now.
Reading this book it was like Glennon was inside my head – being able to articulate every thought I have ever had. My childhood sucked – I’m sure it did not suck as much as it could have but it damn sure was not as good as it could have been either. My parents were young – and honestly should never have gotten married, much less had babies. But what’s done is done and here we are.
I remember feeling like I checked out around 6 years old – that for me was the height of when shit started getting really real and really scary. We didn’t really talk about what was going on because my Mom was working a lot and looking back now having her own hot mess of issues going on, my father was on drugs, off of drugs I don’t know what the hell he was doing, my grandparents took care of us a lot and they did not want to hear anything bad that was going on downstairs – we lived downstairs. They were my constant so if something made them unhappy or uncomfortable it must be bad is what I thought. So what does a 6-year-old do? She keeps that shit to herself and gets lots and lots of stomach aches. She thinks is the only one who feels this way and there must be something wrong with her because everyone around her seems ok. Kids at school are happy, her little brother is happy, everyone else is happy. And so I remember that this is when I start comforting myself with food. Sad? Eat. Scared? Eat. Happy? Eat. So, throughout my childhood I was avoiding all the feelings, all the pain that was happening and I was eating it I guess. Because when you’re a kid with no coping skills, your parents keep doing dumb shit, you’re moving a lot to different schools you need something constant in your life – food – because I was too young to buy drugs and I saw how fucked up my father was from those and thought being fat was a safer option.
Now I’m a teenager and all that pain has transferred into anger because I cannot articulate how I feel and I don’t even really understand how I feel. I am so pissed all the time. I pretty much hate my parents at this point in my life and want to do opposite of everything they have ever done. Like I never want to do anything they did. My mother has sent me to my fair share of guidance counselors at every school I have ever been to and therapist and I hated all of them. Now I’m not just eating for comfort, I have discovered new things like cigarettes, pot and drinking. I have also discovered that anything that pisses my parents off or makes them worry is awesome as far as I’m concerned. On the surface – I get good grades, I participate in extra curricular activities, I have a job, I have nice friends, I get leadership and citizenship awards at school. My parents think they have done such a great job. My mother and I fight constantly – seriously it was all the time. She drove me crazy. I’m sure I did the same to her. Everything that came out of my mouth was anger. I really thought for a while she hated me. So two days after I turned 18 I left home.
That my friends was the beginning of the end. I was just running, running from pain.
For years I couldn’t even look at childhood pictures of myself without crying because I remember being that little girl and how much that little girl hurt all the time. I thought of my parents as selfish. I was angry at them, I was angry at God – shit I was angry at everything and everybody. I was walking around with this hole and just trying to fill it with whatever I thought would make it go away – food, shopping, drinking, smoking, men. This is no way to live friends – no way to live.
Crazy part is I didn’t even realize I was trying to fill a hole until I was in my thirties…
When I had Jonathan, everything changed. I was going to be the exact opposite of my parents. I didn’t want my kid to have a childhood he needed to recover from. His childhood was going to be awesome. So, I thought that I needed to eat, sleep and breathe for my kid. Don’t get me wrong I am sure I have made my share of mistakes with him but we talk a lot – I don’t ever want him walking around thinking he’s the only one that feels something or that something is wrong with him. I wanted him to be able to be a kid and enjoy his childhood. I think I have done a good job at that. He just turned 16 and he told me he has had a great childhood. On his birthday we talked about all the trips we have gone on and his whole face lit up. Moments like that I’m almost thankful for my jacked up childhood – what if I didn’t have that – would I be the person I am now with my children? Probably not. Jonathan is at the age when you talk about pretty deep stuff with him – I have always said that he is an old soul. He’s my wise owl.
I spent a lot of my twenties trying to make sense of my childhood and figure out who the hell I am. I think we all do that. I realized a few things – first, I was going to graduate college so I could provide a good life for Jonathan and because it would be a cold day in hell before I would have to depend on a man to take care of us. Second, after all this bullshit I refuse to settle. I will never get married if I cannot find who I am looking for. Third, I will always trust my gut.
I am so thankful for the time I spent alone – not really alone because I had Jonathan but you get the point. I did graduate college. I did get my career going. There were a few relationships/men that looked good on paper – I even thought to myself – should I stick this out see where it takes us? But in the end I go with my gut – doesn’t feel right pass it by. Finally, I met my husband and it was like he hugged me and put all my broken pieces back together again. He really loves me. He knows all about my fucked up-ness, constant anxiety and depression that I have learned to manage when it creeps in and out of my life like it has for as long as I can remember, he knows that I use food as an easy button when I am upset – I know you are thinking shit Michelle how the hell do you stay married? Well let me just tell you – he’s no walk in the park himself! But he’s an amazing husband and father and our kids go crazy over him. They are big fans of Dad!
I’ve learned that pain is not something to be avoided – it something you need to sit with and feel all the feels and let it teach you what you need to learn from it. I don’t run from pain anymore. I don’t use food as an easy button anymore – but old habits die hard friends. I have to check myself sometimes. I quit smoking about 11 years ago. I don’t really drink alcohol period – since I have horrible migraines that it seems to make worse I just avoid it. I know now what my easy buttons are – I try to stay away from them like the plague.
I have a good relationship with my Mom now. We talk a lot and I don’t hold anything back and I don’t think she does either. I tell my truth like I do with everything now. Life is too short. I do talk to my Dad – it’s complicated but it is what it is. I am ok with that. I talk to my grandparents daily. I love them so much.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to my little girl self to tell her it’s going to be ok and give her a glimpse of what my life is like today. I think seeing this would give her hope. My life is pretty great. It’s great to be comfortable in your own skin and head…it’s really great.
After reading this you are probably thinking – wow you are pretty fucked up. Shit that’s what I might think! Some of the irony in this is – what do girls with messed up childhoods grow up to be? Nurse’s…apparently I just love to care for people and be needed.
Now, I live for my family – my husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats. Yep, that’s my world.
I will continue to be the crazy loud advocate for my kids for whatever they need. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum and they are in such different stages of life – teenager and toddler. It’s hard but I have learned that I can do hard things. I have come to realize that I was made for this. Glennon says – we can either be shiny and admired or real and loved. I choose to be real and loved. This is my blog, this is my truth-telling place.