At Least I Didn’t Poop On The Floor

“At Least I Didn’t Poop On The Floor”

“Having a 2-Year-Old is like owning a blender that you don’t have a top for.”

–Jerry Seinfeld

I’ve always said that being a parent is the hardest but most rewarding job on the planet.  Our dreams of being coming parents was not easy in any shape, form or fashion.  Thank goodness there are companies that now include fertility benefits that makes this dream possible not just for LGBT families but any family that has this same dream.  Our dreams were fulfilled and soon much laughter would ensue for us as first time parents.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed the most is the same kind of humor that I would experience sometimes days or weeks later after a specific event.  This is the same way that I’ve also found humor being in the mental health system for many years.  The humor might not be seen in the moment but trust me I would see it soon afterwards.  Lesbian moms raising two little superhero boys guarantees a wide variety of funny moments daily especially when I’m involved.  And there are also those times as a mother when I have come to the realization why some animals eat their young.

As an LGBT couple one of the questions we have been asked many times is, “Who did you choose as the donor?”  First of all, the process of finding a donor requires much more than noting the name and look of someone in a lineup.  The process is actually much more complicated.  It took us approximately 1 year to pick out our initial donor which is not the “donor daddy” as we call him, of the boys.  He is completely anonymous which is how we chose him to be.  We don’t have a  name only a donor number chosen from a nationally well known donor bank as HIPAA also protects their specific information as well.  We do, however, know specifics about the donor and his biological family’s health information minus the names.  And well….this is as far as I’ll go in talking about this part of the process.

noise with dirt

One of the most frequent questions asked specifically about the donor is ethnicity.  And after watching our sons single-handedly transform our living room into an obstacle course of different objectives that is only meant for kids no matter how much the adults try to succeed at beating the course I can very confidently say, “THE DONOR IS PART NINJA WARRIOR!!!!!”  Both boys have the uncanny ability to jump from the sofa, to the loveseat and then to the coffee table and back while having a loaded nerf gun; shooting zombies and dodging sharks in the ocean (otherwise known as the carpet) while simultaneously avoiding hot lava often times with either me or Mel being the disabled one who was shark bitten and is now hopping around on one leg from our wounds.  Yes they do let me use one of their nerf guns  which is usually the one that doesn’t work.  I inevitably  will take heavy fire from both boys only to get frustrated with my guns and just take the nerf bullets out and start throwing them due to mechanical failure.  My battle wounds are usually heavy and we both usually end up with many painful red polka dots all over our faces and body from their always “spot on” aim.  I have yet to understand why their aim is so good with a nerf gun and the aim for the toilet looks like a drunk with a water hose has been allowed to just have “free time.”  With the automatic watering of my eyes after a shot right between the eyes or directly in the nose and a loud squeal from me after another battle wound eruptions of laughter would commence.  This was usually followed with a burning question from our 6-year-old Marshall while I’m assessing my wounds, “Momma D can I practice shooting your boobs as target practice until you’re ready to play again?”

When the boys were infants some of the funniest moments were me and “DIAPER TIME.”  Mel grew up helping to take care and babysit children, of all ages,  on a regular basis.  I, however, was always uncomfortable around children and ran when diapers were going to be changed.  Being a new mom DID NOT change that like many would think.  The saying, “It will all change when it’s your child” was a lie.  It might not be someone else’s child’s shitty diaper but it was still a shitty diaper and nothing make that any prettier no matter how much Glade air freshener was sprayed around the topic.  I always hated those words, “Dana it’s your diaper turn!” My instant thought was, “Somebody just kill me now!”

one sock on

There are those people, like Melody, who are just natural mothers in everything they do.  I am not nor will I ever be that kind of mom.  I’m the one on in the background gagging at just the sight before the wretched smell even has time to enter my nostrils.  She would always end up snickering and say, “My God Dana!  It’s just a diaper!”  “Ummm….yes Mel that is the problem at hand!”  She would always try to help in her own special way by finding the nearest spray can of air freshener and spraying it all around the area where the diaper changing would commence.  When the sticky tabs of that diaper were forced to release the death grip on the plastic that occasionally helped hold the brown napalm death in its holding area the smell in that area of the house would resemble something like a shitty fruit basket.  I would be gagging and would say, “I swear it smells like someone took a gigantic crap in an apple orchard!”  Comical doesn’t begin to describe the sight of me attempting such feats.  It pretty much looked like a scene out of a YouTube video of father’s gagging while the mother’s are videoing and laughing hysterically.

I knew, though, that every time I got through one diaper that my turn would follow again sometime after Mel took her turn with such ease.  So, I tried to get smarter about how I went through this process.  I eventually took the time to wear full turnout gear like I was about to face the “Diaper Apocalypse.”  I would prepare by covering everything on my face, accept my eyes, with a sweatshirt and holding my breath.  I would also have both hands in sterile gloves to protect my skin from possible poop exposure.  Having everything I need very near and at my disposal, I take a deep breath and shout, “I’m going in!”  I always tried to change the diaper in the time that I was holding my breath but inevitably I would eventually need to breathe.  I would try to take very short breaths just until the job was done but some of the jobs seemed like a construction site.  Out of desperation, I would try to take an even bigger breath just to try to make it to the end and that’s when it happened.  I would start gagging and usually throw up but not without first saying, “Oh my God I taste it!  It literally feels like I just ate shit!” I would no doubt look back at Mel saying, “I’m in diaper hell!  Help me!!”  She trying her best not to wet her own pants from laughter would say, “Dana it’s just a little poop!”  I have never been able to adjust to such wretched smells that have come from our little boys.

I am also the parent that when one of the boys gets sick at school rushes off to rescue our little man cub hoping to God that he doesn’t puke in my vehicle.  The whole ride home, maybe 3 miles, I would saying, “Please don’t puke!  Please don’t puke!”  Inevitably when we finally get home the spewing would finally let loose and my own gagging would once again start.  This time I’m gagging while trying to keep our puking kid from traipsing through the morning’s breakfast.  There is absolutely no possible way I could clean that up without exposing my own breakfast.  But as the spouse I am considerate in my own way so I gently place newspaper over the area and block it off with fluorescent cones so no one would step in it.  And the soured mess patiently waited all day until Mel got home from work to clean it up.

Potty training is another source of laughter for our family.  I understand that it takes time when your child comes to you and says, “Mommy I have poops and need a new DIPA!!!!”  In my opinion, if you can say this you are old enough use the toilet.  Letting them run around without a diaper never seemed like a good idea to me especially when they take this to mean that they can “free pee” anywhere including my leg while I’m running their bath water.  “Son you are NOT a Chihuahua!  Pee in the toilet!” is what I said and we all had a good laugh.

hand out of pants

Truly, some of the funniest moments we have experienced as parents are the total randomness of both boys in things they say and/or do.  Here are a few of those situations.

  1. When Copeland was an infant and Marshall being raised in an electronic world when Copeland would start crying he would ask, “Momma can we put Copeland on the charger so he will stop crying?”  No son but we can pretend.
  2. Conversation between Mel and Copeland…..

Copeland:  What are you made of mommy?

Mel:  Sugar and spice and everything nice….

What are you made of Copey?

 Copeland:  Plastic

Mel:  No sticks and snails and puppy dog tails that’s what little boys are made of.

Copeland:  Nooooooooo I don’t have puppy dogs!!!!

Mel:   So what are you made of?

Copeland:  Rubber

Later Mel tries to ask the question again.

Mel:  So what are you made of Copey?

 Copeland:  Plastic and rubber and Boogers!!!  Lot of Boogers, Momma!!!

  1. Marshall being so proud that he lost both of his bottom teeth asked Mel if he could put his picture on Facebook, Instagram and TWEETER.  Obviously, Mel and I and the rest of the universe has been saying this all wrong.  Death to Twitter.
  2. Marshall and Copeland were having a pillow fight when Marshall was overheard saying, “Pick up your pillow and fight like a man!”  Words never heard in THIS lesbian household.
  3. Trying to give our boys the freedom to choose what he would like for meals has been advantageous for both them and us.  Sometimes you can get some funny requests.  Like recently, Mel asked Copeland what he wanted for breakfast and he instantly said, “Not broccoli-it’s not tasty.”  Ok let me just say before it’s assumed that our little boys are being force fed trees for breakfast  like miniature brontosaurus’s is not correct.  Randomness…remember…randomness.  How about a snow cone?  When asked what flavor of snow cone he replied “a chicken one!”  Now, I have seen chickens with flip-flops but not on snow cones.
  4. Just today I learned that both boys now take pleasure in crossing their pee streams with each other so they can see how they can make an “X.”
  5. Recently, the boys were arguing and then the oldest got “fwapped” by the youngest very unapologetically in the face.  Marshall runs to tell on Copeland and says, “Momma, Copeland hit me in the face and touched my eyeball!”  As hard as you might try to maintain the “parent face” sometimes with statements like this it just can’t happen.
  6. Copeland decided that he didn’t want to wear his diaper after his nap and took it off and then proceeded to go squat on the hardwood floor in front of his grandfather,  who was watching TV, and took a big dump.

Our little family has a complicated life most of the time.  Without knowing the obvious our family is just like most raising two children with both being boys.  Food groups have expanded from candy, chicken nuggets, boogers and now include a group known as the “hot dog.”  Honestly, you don’t even have to speak English as long as you can speak fluent “poop and wiener” you’ll be able to have a conversation with our  3 year-old and 6 year-old. We don’t ever take for granted the laughs because we understand that all that can change on a moment’s notice.  The humor is always welcomed for however long it’s willing to stay to give respite from the stress.  Mel and I were discussing something about the boys one day and it we just weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on something and the words that changed the whole tone of the conversation were hers, “Well At Least I Didn’t Poop on the Floor.”

“There really are places in the heart that you don’t

even know exist until you love a child.”

–Anne Lamott

#thispuzzledlife

The True Meaning of Sacrifice

The True Meaning of Sacrifice

“Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success,

it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure,

and the temporary failures.”

–Vince Lombardi

Memorial Day is the day of the year where we celebrate and recognize the ultimate sacrifice given by those who served our country.  It’s not about the barbeques or all day swimming with friends and family.  The tumultuous times regarding the leadership and safety of our country is not only seen on major news channels but also witnessed within our own living rooms.  Our troops returning home have sacrificed the life of daily freedoms and modern conveniences to go fight to protect our freedoms.  Often times, though, when they return the true meaning and consequences of fighting a war now have redirected their once simple way of living by way of PTSD and all the complications that go along with it.

As I attempt to live this life with my own issues, I am often met by complete strangers who see my medical alert dog tag identifying PTSD as my condition.  They soon notice and sometimes question the many scars on my forearms.  They ask, “Were you in the military?  Did you go to fight the war?”  My response is always, “Ma’am/sir I didn’t fight or serve for our country.  But fighting a war I have done since I was a young child.”  It is at this point that the questions usually cease and their own uncomfortability surfaces not knowing what to say next.  And well….I usually let them marinate in their own thoughts without explanation.

epcot family

Today marks mine and Mel’s 11 year anniversary.  We don’t count our “legal” anniversary because well that was controlled by the laws of the land prior to that date.  Our marriage and family life has been one of sacrifice both individually and collectively since day one.  We have sacrificed relationships with both friends and family as a result of our love for one another.  And we have also sacrificed many parts (no pun intended) of our relationship as a direct result of my own personal traumas and the scars and open sores which they have left.

And yet again we find ourselves continuing to sacrifice our family cohesiveness and my time away from our children all in the hopes for better days ahead.  I can write clear headed for now and these are the times where I can see the importance of that sacrifice.  There are days recently where I’m blinded by the tragedy of those traumas and living life is not a priority in any fashion.  Sometimes, though, I seem to get sucked down into the ditch of a previous life when the only option was to survive or die.  The images of abusive memories soon become those not of the past but of the present.

Mel patiently and very lovingly makes sure the kids are taken care of and are safe and have some form of normalcy for them all.  The tears she silently cries I don’t know about now.  I’ve seen enough of her tears for me, our children and our family unit to last me the rest of my life.  She and the kids continue to heal their own wounds while I search for answers of my own.  She loves me but knows that this walk I’m on has come to a point where I have to do it without them.  The continuation of hope for a day when I will have been able to shed some of these layers of hurt and pain and to function as a happy and healthy member of our family seems to be in the back of her mind at all times.

There was no possible way for us to envision the what the term “sacrifice” would entail.  She and I both continue to watch and be a part of daily struggles regarding attachment, trust and bonding even with the most compassionate people. My absence for birthdays, kindergarten graduations and just daily life as a family can never be gotten back.  However, the days of being genuinely happy to be alive and to one day be able to be “fully present” for future events is all the justification we need to know that the right decision was made for me to move here to do this work.

The transition has been one that has not been easy in any sense of the word.  I brought therapy baggage that has complicated things in ways that I thought would be easy to ignore and work through.  What I’ve found is that that couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is also when the words spoken by trusted coaches ring very loudly in my heart and soul which say, “Keep swinging the bat.  Keep shooting the ball because no athlete plays perfectly all the time.  And it’s these times when you have to keep going and try, try again until you achieve the results you want. It’s about hard work and never giving up.”

Happy Anniversary, Mel!!!

#thispuzzledlife

Advocates

Advocates

“Momma D, Why Do You Act Weird Sometimes?”

–Marshall Landrum-Arnold

The above is a question from our 6-year-old son.  The one thing I’ve learned about having this disorder is that no matter how hard I try to be “normal” I’m not.  The term “normal” is truly a subjective term that only fits perfectly on a washing machine.  Maybe I should say socially acceptable.  Regardless of what term I or anyone else tries to use the fact of the matter is that a lot of times I’m just not.  I have awaken many times to face the day with the attitude that I don’t nor will I ever have some type of mental disorder.  No sooner than the words roll off my tongue do I realize that I, in fact, have a mental disorder that can, at times, be completely debilitating.

I have come across many people who are of the opinion that “you just need to look at things differently” “you just have to think more positive” or “the past is in the past.”  I would instantly become infuriated even if the emotions didn’t reach my face.  A lot of statements are not malicious but rather out of ignorance.  Also, with trauma you just can’t “unbreak the plate.”  There is no possible way to just pretend that things didn’t happen…..THEY DID HAPPEN.  Everyone around you can be in total denial with their heads in the sand but the fact is that the images, words, feelings, body memories and mental torture goes everywhere I go all day long every single day.

Having a diagnosis like Dissociative Identity Disorder is not one that’s easily hidden from those closest to you.  When you have a spouse and children the inevitable will surely happen.  I’m talking about sometimes very rapid mood changes, alters emerging, rages, voiced self-hatred, noticeable self-harming behaviors, etc.  I realize that not everyone with this disorder operates the same as “systems” are as unique as fingerprints.  But for our little family we have chosen to educate our children as things happen.  Please understand that I’m not talking about telling our children my trauma history in detail.  We educate them on an age appropriate level.

We’ve educated and continue to educate our children about being from an LGBT family and how families look differently.  I have found that children are pretty satisfied once their questions are answered even with the most simplest of answers.  Throw the taboo topic of mental illness that most cringe to discuss in there and more questions emerge.

As a child, I credit my parents for exposing me to individuals with mental retardation and other disabilities.  Maybe this is why I don’t shy away from anyone with a disability.  I truly accept anyone as they are regardless of disability or difference.  Within our little family there’s no denying “difference.”  Marshall has been noticing for a couple of years now that I’m just that….Different.  He might not know the name for what’s happening when alters come out or when I become completely non-functional.  But make no mistake that he knows something’s wrong.

One of my biggest hurdles everyday is anxiety.  I can range from just a little uncomfortable to vomiting and diarrhea.  So, while living in Albuquerque I found that the gentle vibration of a moving vehicle combined with my favorite music can soothe the soul.

survival

 One day Marshall was riding with me which was always our special time to sing together and get a snack from somewhere without little brother.  He said, “Momma D, can I ask you something?” Me thinking this would be a typical little boy question similar to “Why do birds poop when they fly?”  But what he asked me for the first time caught me by surprise.  He said, “Momma why do you freak out and act weird sometimes?”  Instead of further fueling the shame of the having the disorder by saying, “Don’t ask questions like that.”  I simply asked him for clarification by saying, “Baby what exactly are you talking about?”  He said, “Like when loud motorcycles drive passed you and other loud noises scare you. Or when we are playing with my toys and you act like a kid.”  I told him, remember age appropriate, “Son when momma was younger she had some people that scared me really, really bad.” He said, “Did they like jump out and scare you?”  Not being too far off the mark in some instances I said, “Well sort of but mommy just got really scared and things still scare me a lot.”  He said, “And that’s why you freak out sometimes and get scared by loud noises?”  I said, “Yes, baby.”  He then asked, “Is that why sometimes you have to go to the hospital?  Like to help you not be so sad and mad?”  I thought to myself, “Why is he so perceptive?”  But I replied, “Yes, baby.”  He said, “Is that why you see people like Tina so they can help you not be so mad and sad?”  Proud to answer the questions of such a smart little boy I said, “Yes baby.”  His instant reply was, “Ok can we go to Toys R’ Us and not tell momma Mel?”  I chuckled as I said, “Heck yea!”  You will be entertained to know that all teenage and child alters were shouting with excitement when I said that.  When we arrived at the store he said to me what Mel has told me many times prior to going into a very overstimulating situation like a toy store, “Momma D, I will sit in the buggy and will put my hands on your hands to help keep you to the ground. (He was talking about staying grounded.) Don’t worry, it’s just a store and people and they won’t hurt you.”

These were some simple situations with some very powerful answers and outcomes.  And how you choose to educate or not educate your family about mental illness is your business.  Some might disagree with how we choose to do this with our children.  My answer has always been, “That’s the beauty of living in a free nation.  We don’t have to agree.”  But what a disservice it would be for this little boy if we weren’t honest with him.  I wasn’t inappropriate in any manner.  I was simply answering something that had been bothering him in a very age appropriate manner. I didn’t get into specifics about my trauma as at age 6 he is not mature enough to handle that.

The fact is this…..I’m one of his mommas and he and Copeland both love and miss me dearly.  He knows I’m different and yet without judgment he still loves me unconditionally.  Being away from Mel and the kids living in Texas and working with someone determined to help me is extremely difficult.  Take away all of my mental issues and what’s still left is a momma and a wife who misses her family dearly.  Things I’m missing being away from them I’ll never be able to get back.  Through necessity we are raising our family to be….ADVOCATES.

“A lot of people are living with mental illness around them.

Either you love one or you are one.”

–Mark Ruffalo

#thispuzzledlife

Soul Murder

Soul Murder

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” 
― 
Louise O’NeillAsking For It

I have written and spoken several times about my life and domestic violence.  Under the umbrella of domestic violence are several forms such as:  physical abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse; economic deprivation; endangerment; criminal coercion; kidnapping; unlawful imprisonment; trespassing; harassment and sexual abuse.  I knew that several years after leaving him that something about our sex life continued to haunt me.  I didn’t know what it was called but I always knew what it felt like….SOUL MURDER.

In the conservative deep south, I was brought up like many children to “save yourself for your husband.”  This was not a tall order for me as sports was my number one priority.  I would meet him at the age of 17 which was 19 years his junior.  Naivety led me right into the cold awaiting arms of a predator disguised as “Prince Charming.”  He used the one promise that he knew I couldn’t refuse to set the hook and reel me in “I will help you find your birth family.”  Rolling off his silver tongue of manipulation would be the promises of a future with a man who would “treat me like his queen.”  But like most things that seem too good to be true his promises would turn out to be lies.

I guess what made this so confusing was that I NEVER saw my dad treat my mom with disrespect.  I was questioning the whole time, “This is what I saved myself for?”  He was my first and the guy that finally trusted in such an intimate fashion only to have that trust betrayed in a way that is still too difficult to handle emotionally.  I secretly wondered why I was never told about this side of marriage.  The truth despite his “brainwashing” justifications for his actions was that no this was not normal and healthy marriages do NOT consist of this type of dominating behavior.

soulmurder.jpg

Many years later while looking for answers regarding the strange, threatening and coercive nature especially with the passages of the Bible about how a “woman is to submit to her husband,” I came across the term Marital Rape and I knew instantly that this was what had happened.  The term marital rape describes “any unwanted sexual acts by a spouse or ex-spouse that is committed without the other person’s consent. Such illegal sexual activity are done using force, threat of force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent. The sexual acts include intercourse, anal or oral sex, forced sexual behavior with other individuals, and other sexual activities that are considered by the victim as degrading, humiliating, painful, and unwanted. It is also known as spousal rape” (https://definitions.uslegal.com/m/marital-rape/, 2018).

I personally have not been able to make sense of such an intimate form of betrayal.  This type of violence destroys you from the inside out.  Remembering how scared I was as a young child when the first time I was introduced to sexual abuse the rules of these types of scenarios were still very clear.  The easiest and least painful way to get through the moment was to give in to their demands.  If you try to fight them the abuse gets worse.  If you don’t “perform” for them the abuse gets worse.  And as I was told many times, “What are YOU going to tell them Dana?  You’re the “head case” with the mental history, not me.”  The puppet master continued to pull the strings to make sure that his needs and only his needs were met.

leftovers

Even as I write this the nausea bubbling like a pot on a stove builds its way to the back of my throat as I think about and remember the vile ways that I was treated as property rather than as a human being. I was not a wife but rather a legal whore.  Being told what I was going to do for him and then berated with humiliating and very damaging body image comments afterwards just seems to further rake into your soul with the devil’s claw.  Consensual loving sex is not…

  • Forced sex. This should be obvious. But some men have the mistaken idea that marriage changes the rules. It doesn’t. If a husband holds his wife down, pushes her, or imposes sex by hurting her, it’s rape. Making love doesn’t include making someone cry.
  • Sex when the wife feels threatened. If a husband forces sex through verbal threats of harm to the woman or to people or things she cares about or if he comes to her in a barely contained rage, she can’t consent. She can only comply rather than risk being harmed either physically or emotionally.
  • Sex by manipulation. If a husband calls his wife names, accuses her of not being a good wife, or blackmails her emotionally by suggesting she’s so bad in bed that he will go elsewhere, he’s manipulating her. Some men even threaten to leave and take the kids with him if their wives don’t comply with demands for sex. When a wife falls for these tactics, it isn’t consent. It’s rape.
  • Sex when the wife can’t give consent. Loving sex is genuinely consensual. If a woman is drugged, asleep, intoxicated or unconscious, she obviously can’t give consent. Even if she says “yes” in such circumstances, the “consent” isn’t valid or truthful. She’s in no shape to consider the consequences or to participate as a willing partner.
  • Sex by taking a woman hostage. Some men keep themselves in a position of superiority by controlling all the money, by making contact with friends and family difficult to impossible, or by making sure there is no way for her to get transportation out of the house. The woman becomes a hostage in her own home. Like many hostages, she gives up and gives in to whatever he wants — including sex.
  • Sex when the woman feels she has no choice. Giving in isn’t the same as giving consent. When a woman feels that it’s just easier to give in to sex than to respect her own needs, she is being raped (https://psychcentral.com/lib/marital-rape/, 2016).

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF SUCH BEHAVIORS INCLUDE:

  • Short-term psychological effects include PTSD, anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Long-term psychological effects include disordered sleeping, disordered eating, depression, intimacy problems, negative self-images, and sexual dysfunction (https://vawnet.org/material/marital-rape-new-research-and-directions, 2018).

COMMON WAYS THAT ABUSERS AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

  • Denial: Acting as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, boldly stating that it didn’t happen, calling you crazy for saying that it did, saying he doesn’t remember.
  • Rationalization: “You must have wanted it” “You could have stopped me,” “A husband is entitled to it”; Rationalization is also blaming you: ” If you gave me more sex I wouldn’t have to force you”
  • Minimization: I didn’t really hurt you” “You’re making a fuss about nothing” “I just wanted to make love to you.”
  • Claiming Loss of Control: “I was too turned on to stop”, “You make me so angry” (https://pandys.org/articles/partnerrapeoverview.html, 2009).

To say that I’ve lacked a fulfilling intimate sex life would be the understatement of my life.  The level of fear that I experience even with the most supportive relationship cannot accurately be described with words.  Whether it be child alters, teen alters or adult alters who step in to try and make this very part of my life possible, it always becomes a disaster.  Oh and the mood gets squashed when you think, “Finally, I can do this!” But, yet, you find yourself running from the bedroom straight to the bathroom to vomit.

What I can say about this type of abuse over many years is this….

He not only raped my body, he also raped my mind and murdered my soul.  I was very fortunate to meet someone like Mel who is one of the most caring, understanding and compassionate people I know.  Our relationship has always been based on love and not sex.  I married someone who loves me for the shattered and leftover parts of someone who use to be a fully functioning human being.  It took me loving and bowing down to a monster to be able to recognize an angel.  She and I walk hand-in-hand often with tears in both of our eyes trying to find a way through all the destruction.  She didn’t ask to be married to a spouse with so many complex problems both physically and mentally.  She does it because she loves me.  Would I go through it all again just to have her?  I go through it every day.  The abuse has never stopped.

“Here, from her ashes you lay. A broken girl so lost in despondency that you know that even if she does find her way out of this labyrinth in hell, that she will never see, feel, taste, or touch life the same again.”
― 
Amanda SteeleThe Cliff

#thispuzzledlife

Tioga Bound

Tioga Bound

“When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with

the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge

can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.”

– Chief Seattle, Duwamish

 

I was looking through my recent blog posts and realized that I had not yet written about a place I went to visit last summer/fall 2017.  There are some situations in life when/where it happens you have to just be quite and let it soak in.  Sometimes just looking at how situations came to be can unlock a little patch of “surrendering to the process.”

I believe wholeheartedly that there’s something about how the stars are lining up in my life.  I don’t have those answers yet but they’re out there somewhere.  In March 2017, I was pretty hopeless in most areas of my life.  Out of the blue I get a call from someone who still completely amazes me with her compassion and patience. I had found my new coach finally.  Tears streamed down my face as I call my wife Melody to let her know what had just happened.  The challenge would be for Mel and I, as a couple, to figure out what was best for our family as a whole.  I had my eye set on one thing as my goal and that was the day I could begin this arduous work with someone already proven trustworthy.

We already had planned a trip to Walt Disney world in Orlando, FL  with our boys obviously not knowing what the coming months would bring.  Anyway, the boys and Mel enjoyed the trip. I just realized how bad things had gotten and was continuing to decline.  Our boys were entitled to have some genuine fun that normally they couldn’t do around me because of PTSD symptoms.  While at Disney World I enjoyed seeing our boys and Mel with smiles on their faces.  For me having so many issues with social situations the trip was torture.  The amount of people and no private space had me wanting to just randomly bite people for no reason.  Then somewhere on the inside I heard…”Orange is not a good color for you!  And you won’t like the flip flops!!!!”  Not conventional grounding  method but it worked.  The fireworks shows, though beautiful, had me running for cover.  But I do love my family.

IMG_0015

Mel’s grandmother passed away which meant we would be staying very close to the city where I grew up.  It doesn’t matter the situation. That area of the country is just not safe for me to be hanging out in.  But It was a death in the family and loyalty to our friends and family are stronger than anything we have individually, as a couple or as a family.  We eventually made it back to Albuquerque.  And things went from bad to worse.

I ended up returning to a trauma unit where I would meet more close friends referred to as my “battle buddies.”  This stay was quite difficult to say the least.  Things were much different and I left there completely defeated.  Just months before I caught wind that someone cared which left me very curious say the least.  The only thing I’ve never been surprised by is in the fact that change is constantly happening.  This situation was absolutely no different.  I licked my wounds all the way back to Albuquerque to my awaiting room where I keep all of my secrets.  It was sort of my prison within my own prison.

Someone did mention about this place out in Tioga, TX called Healing Springs Ranch.  The last thing I wanted to talk about was more treatment.  I was exhausted and felt beat up.  My recent trauma unit stay reaffirmed to me that professionals were just dangerous no matter how they put a nice spin on things.  And I hated them all.  No one would have another shot at me like that was how hurt I felt.  I was so miserable and wanted a way out.  I wanted help but feared it to my core.  Again, I was told to call them and check it out.

I wanted the opportunity to go and try another open campus facility, at some point, because those were where I was most comfortable.  I just didn’t want to go right then. Being on a locked unit never helps me or anyone else.  But what I was about to walk into was something I was never prepared to experience.  I was told who my inpatient therapist would be.  I had already known her from previous visits to other facilities and knew that she was gentle so having that knowledge really helped me to settle.    Here I was about to trust someone to mess with my “system” again and I wouldn’t be able to leave for awhile. And there was only minimal trust to start with.

My wife dropped me and my belongings off after getting checked in.  I was told to enjoy that last Diet Coke for a while.  I froze.  What in the hell did he just say?!!!!  I instantly felt death near.  I knew that coffee was not even a remote possibility for me.  Caffeine, Caffeine where shall I find thee?  I was truly starting to panic.  OMG….what have I just agreed to? I was trying to keep the fear buried and plenty of smiles and laughter on the outside.

finding myself

I soon took that long ride, on the golf cart, to the main building known as the Bunk House.  I was beyond terrified and my inside guys were assessing everything we saw, heard and smelled.  We passed the field of cows I would learn to love and talk to every morning on daily walks.   There were a couple I would name T-Bone and Rib eye.  I know I should have a conscious about their names but I don’t.  And the golf cart would be parked by cows that had this exact conversation go on right before their eyes.

Friend:  Dana those are those different cows called Yams!

Me:  I can assure you that those are not yams.

Friend:  Dana yes they are I know what I’m talking about.  Those are YAMS!!!

Me:  Oh for the love of God and the Holy Angels!  That is not a potato!  A yam is what you have on Thanksgiving!  If that is a yam then that potato has four legs and a tail while also saying…MOOOOOOO! A YAK!  A YAK is what you’re thinking about and that is not a Yak either!  That’s just a messed up looking cow!  We laughed then and still today about how funny that brief moment in time unfolded.

When the doors opened and I began the incline on the floor to the nurses’ office I was greeted by a few people welcoming me to Healing Springs Ranch.  Omg…they’re a cult!  They have a following of people that claim that they care and are happy.  I saw who would be my therapist and instantly I thought…Damn I feel bad for you already.

Everyone was so incredibly caring and you just somehow knew that this place was special.  It was just different in a loving kind of way.  In my illustrious career of dealing with treatment centers and stabilization units I had never found this much compassion in one place.  This is a place far from a locked unit.  They loved without conditions.  This has always been a foreign concept for me because from several abusers “love” had conditions.  So accepting this love was going to be a challenge and it was the majority of the time.

Very slowly but surely I would begin to settle in with this new community.  This place whatever its magical powers was loving me and I began to melt.  No one saw this right off but both me and my alters felt it instantly.  I’m a difficult patient in the best of circumstances. But apparently The universe knew what it took to make me crumble……COMPASSION.  I was still a very angry and scared person under all the smiles and laughter.  They had already found my weakness.

family

And you seem to know that the relationship is going to be interesting when one of the first people you see you say, “Hey 13 is that you?!” Calling someone, who would turn out to be one of my closest friends, one of your alters’ names can be incredibly funny.   I’ll be honest that an argument between a 10 year-old and a 13 year-old can be awfully flamboyant. But put them both in adult bodies and that could be sent to the comedy show of your choosing. However, The awesome look at nature and it’s scary and comforting critters it hides seemed to be medicine for my soul.

Charlie the Squirrel seemed to take the place of the Angry Birds in Albuquerque.  My personal encounters involves said tree rodent.  Oh Mr. Sandy cheeks decided that I needed a little more confusion and proceeded to bark at me machine gun style.  With my very well developed hyper startle response, Charlie might as well have been sitting on my face and chewing on it. All I could think to say was, “It jumped out from the bushes and almost killed me!”  Really he just scared the shit out of me from about 10 feet away in a tree. Then I scared the shit out of the people walking with me.  We still laugh about it all.

Life had become routine which I loved.  At night after most of the day staff left for the evening and we had all gotten our night meds and snacks people would head down to their rooms either for a shower and/or bed.  But there were also members of our tribe that enjoyed that 30 minute time period of sitting on the porch with the slight breeze and just decompress from all of the day’s activities.  The night wildlife was front and center.  If you were brave enough to listen to some of the conversations we would have you would realize that there was an amazing amount of healing that went on.  There started out with about 4 people, including myself, who took full advantage of hanging out with this new family.  By the time it was my graduation, there were usually over 10 people at night.

I was usually telling some kind of funny story or just getting tickled about the day’s activities.  There were stories about Miss Betty and the Mr. Bitchy.  Many also know about my Ozzy Osborne impression shouting “SHARON!!!!!!”  Any issues between me and Charlie the Squirrel had to be told. Funny stories from being an EMT. Or the funny things about being a lesbian mom raising little boys.  On a more somber note someone might bring a guitar to the patio and we would sing.

These other clients and staff were hearing details, ugly details of my past and they still loved me.  They were getting to know my alters almost as well as my own spouse.  The work we all did was hard to say the very least.  Walking in their doors with all of my therapy baggage at the forefront assured me just starting on trust again.  But my family members who were also working on their individual issues were also there.  After many years of Melody and I flying solo through this life of Dissociative Identity Disorder, I can only wish that the facility had been there much sooner. Finally I  had found a place that would take the time to get to know someone beyond the adolescente.

There were times when the work we had done during the day time just managed to leave the mark on someone’s face that said,  “I need a friend who understands and to be able to let the tears fall where they may without the fear or feeling of judgment.”  Healing with your peers with no parameters to interfere was total freedom.

At HSR, I found my tribe.  I found a whole host of “safe people” that I never knew existed.  All of the amenities are just a bonus with the total experience.  The food is prepared by one of the finest chefs on my list. The staff packs a lot of knowledge about both addiction and mental health disorders.  Their passion for what they do can be seen many miles away…like Albuquerque.  But what you’ll experience as a whole is beautiful.  I didn’t leave there with a lot of answers.  But I left there knowing and believing that all people aren’t dangerous and that was just what I needed.  Because “those people” and the alumni are who I call….FAMILY.

These are just a few of the reasons that Healing Springs Ranch is where I found my forever home with a brand new, handpicked by the universe, group of likewise compassion and passion for life kind of family.    I learned at “The Ranch” that even clowns need to make time for tears. And that not everyone is put on this earth to hurt me.  As for my alters and I, well let’s just say that the process of “being loving” with our tone to each other is still moving forward just at a snail’s pace.  And I did get to move closer to my HSR family.  As difficult of a process as it’s been not moving here with Melody and the boys, I’m in the arms of members of that same family.  I finally made it here about 2 months ago and I walked into those loving arms of people that I met hear. They understand without explanation but with humor when I say that I’m one of those people who are buy 1 get 15 free.

“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I

guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”

– Robin Williams

https://www.healingspringsranch.com/

#thispuzzledlife

It’s Not About The Food

It’s Not About The Food

“Girls developed eating disorders when our culture developed a standard of

beauty that they couldn’t obtain by being healthy.  When unnatural thinness

became attractive, girls did unnatural things to be thin.”

–Mary Pipher

One of the things that I’ve learned the most about my many maladaptive behaviors is that the perfect storm had arrived to ensure me having eating disorders when I was a very impressionable teenager.  Not only was it teenagers having issues with body image.  It was also the abuse that occurred during that time and the things that were said and my impression about what had occurred and what was done.  As a part of the abusive teacher’s very hateful nature was the being humiliated about myself as a human being in front of my peers.  I was put on display a lot of the time and made to stand in front of the class while being made fun of without having any type of recourse.  If I ever said anything back I was punished by both she and the administration who clearly had no idea to what extent her abusive nature was.  She on more than one occasion, would tell me when the rodents would get into my food in my locker “It doesn’t look like you need food anyway.”

My high school years during which I kept those eating disorders alive and well I became a sickly 83lbs and ruined any of my hopes of playing athletics in college.  What I was left with was a life of painful eating disorders that I still struggle with daily.  These behaviors were further compounded when I met my ex-husband who disguised his personal reason for wanting to help me by encouraging the eating disorders in his own way.

skinny back

I was made to weigh for him sometimes weekly because “I’m not going to be married to a fat ass” he would always say.  He would also tell me that “it’s ok to have fat friends but you don’t have to look like them.”  He micromanaged my food to the extent that that I was only allowed to eat what he approved of and nothing else.  To make sure this happened he would allow me only 10 pistachios and 10 olives to eat while at work working two jobs.  He would also, on occasion,  sit out in the parking lot to make sure I didn’t eat anything that was not what he allowed.  When I would tell him that I was hungry his supportive line was “No pain no gain.”

He would also leave random newspaper clippings around the house about the latest weight loss diets and/or make me take pictures of myself in swimsuits or naked, put them on the refrigerator and tell me “next time your fat ass gets hungry look at this picture and maybe you won’t want to eat.”  He would also make comments if we went out to eat about how all the people were looking at me because I was a fat ass.  He would say, “If you don’t like them staring at you then don’t be a fat ass.”  If we had dinner with his family he would wait until we left to criticize either what I ate or how I ate. And many times these comments were said where other people could hear them.  He would also say, “Did you have to eat that much of whatever we had for dinner?  You eat like a prisoner who’s about to have their tray stolen!  And that is why I have to tell you how, when and where to eat.  Because you’re too dumb to do it on your own.  You’ve already proven that time and time again.”  Eating quickly became the most dreaded activity I had to deal with on a daily basis.  My goal was to try to get through life with him and eating as little as possible.  As you can imagine I didn’t do that to his standards either.

The message that was conveyed to me was that no matter what I did it would never be to his irrational standards.  I was also expected to be at the gym to workout mornings at 5:00 am.  Being a well known guy in the city he knows many people and that included the employees at the gym.  So, he would call to verify be being there and what types of workouts I was doing.  If I ran 4 miles he would want to know what I didn’t “gut it out” and run 5 miles.

scales

Years of his verbal abuse, threats, and sexual abuse slowly broke me down.  People who don’t understand why individuals stay in relationships like this often say, “Well he only did what you let him do”  cannot possibly comprehend what this does to your psyche.  Those types of hurtful comments are why most suffer in silence and don’t ask for help.  After all, sometimes it was the easiest and safest thing to do by just going along with whatever his demands no matter what they were.  He had me convinced that I was nothing without him.  He and his brother tormented me for years and continue to do so internally.  But again they were both raised by a father who was also a malignant narcissist and a mother who worked at home without an education until much later in life.  So really she had nowhere to go with three children and no education.  So for many men and women in these types of relationships that don’t leave usually have a damn good reason for staying.  There’s always more to the story behind those closed doors than what you realize.  My own parents had no idea the extent of the abuse that I was having to deal with on a daily basis. Such is a life with a malignant narcissist.

To this day, if someone tries to take a verbal jab at me while in a public place or group setting my “verbal sniper” becomes activated and a one-sided war will ensue.  Get me in that little conservative and very judgmental city and I “turn into a werewolf” as my wife puts it.  I have found that striking the first blow is a way that I can set the tone that I will NOT be hurt by whoever it is that I feel is a personal threat either imagined or real.  All I have to do is see this as a possible threat.  Anyone that I perceive as a authority figure, I absolutely will not make eye contact with if at all possible.

scales attached

I guess the message I’ve tried to convey is that eating disorders and other maladaptive behaviors are about something much deeper than society sees them.  You see the signs and symptoms and I feel the weight of the trauma every minute of every day.  To this day I will chose not to eat because the internal war about what to eat is just too painful.  When I do eat I can never be full and satisfied because full means fat to me.  If I do feel full I have to purge with laxatives to get rid of that feeling.  It’s not a binging thing it’s an eating thing.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…..IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD.

Understand this as well….I’m done trying to live my life carrying my trauma and the trauma those two boys in adult  bodies.  I will NOT continue to be a part of the cycle of not working on my own trauma just to have mine and theirs to be spewed out onto other innocent and unsuspecting people.  This is a work in progress no doubt but the cycle dies with me.  I’ve proven that I can live through it.  Now it’s time to prove I can live without it.  All I need was to find a coach to help with this and I did.

“I failed eating, failed drinking, failed not cutting myself into shreds. Failed friendship. Failed sisterhood and daughterhood. Failed mirrors and scales and phone calls. Good thing I’m stable. ”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

#Thispuzzledlife

LGBT And DID

LGBT and DID

4.3.2015

“Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you.” 
― P.C. Cast, Awakened

I’m not going to get on a political soapbox about LGBT rights.  The fact is that, people aren’t going to change my mind based on their beliefs. I’m not going to change their mind about my beliefs.  Honestly, being a member of the LGBT community and having DID leaves me in the minority of the minorities.  Do I care?  Some areas yes, but the thoughts don’t control my life.  Does the idea of refusing service to someone based on who they love concern me? Yes and I don’t believe that it’s right at all.  However, no one’s opinions about my life and marriage pay my bills, sleep in my bed or raise our son.

My mother gave me some valuable advice my whole life that even as a child I was able to quote.  When I would complain about something not being fair, she would always say, “There are a lot of things in life that aren’t fair.  The sooner you learn to live with them, the better off you’ll be.”  To me, that translates to a very common theme in 12-Step communities which simply means, ‘Living life on life’s terms.’  Abuse is the exception to the rule.  Abuse is never ok.

If my wife and son were to go into a restaurant and be refused service because of the makeup of our family, sure I would probably make a scene by making my voice heard.  I have no problem defending my family at all costs.  Chances are after a verbal lashing from yours truly, the person who refused the service might actually think before making such comments.  I don’t know.  Maybe try checking with one of the employees at our local library to see what he says.  Anyway, my wife and I were taught something even more valuable while growing up in the deep south….the art of southern cooking.

 One thing I know without a doubt is that, I’m gay and very happy being my authentic sexual self.  I was very unhappy living a life that wasn’t me as a straight female.  Some people, including family, have an issue with me being married to a woman even though I was being abused by my ex-husband and very unhappy.  You know what…it truly is their issue and not mine.  I’m happy being with the woman I love and being treated with love and respect. I don’t regret one day since I ‘came out’ even though I, too, have lost friends and family as a result.

I found my soul mate in one of the most chaotic times in my life.  We love each other as much and more than we first met.  We have weathered storm, after storm, after storm mostly on our own.  So, for us, our relationship was do or die.  Melody is truly my balance.  Since my diagnosis of DID, life for us has still remained chaotic even when our personal life has been ok.  Life keeps pounding us with more and more.  What I do know about us as a couple and as a family is that we are incredibly resilient and strong.

Our lives on a daily basis don’t even fit the ‘our plate’s full’ analogy.  ‘Our plate runneth over and over and over’ seems to be more accurate.  If you need a better description, think of an organization that’s collecting money for some charity and they have the thermometer that’s colored red as the collection of funds climbs.  When they reach the top, the red starts spewing out the top.  Yea, that’s a more accurate picture of how full our plate usually has been for several years now.  Mel and I took a proactive approach 6 years ago to start couples counseling as a way to maintain a healthy relationship.  How valuable these therapists have been for us as a couple during all of this chaos.  Sometimes, it has truly felt like our couples’ counseling has been the only thread holding us together.  She sees her therapist. We see our couples’ therapist. And someday soon I’ll have my own therapist again.  Truthfully, I would just like to take a break from individual therapy until our new baby boy is born to give my ‘system’ time to chill.

People can have their opinions about gay rights and that’s fine.  I also have a choice whether or not to be a one member audience as well.  Sometimes I choose to jump into an already futile and  very argumentative effort.  Nothing really ever gets accomplished but the usually equally aggressive insults.  In the big scheme of things, everyone has an opinion and thinks that they’re right.  Laws are changed by the government not me.

I’ll tell you what the most important thing in my life right now…potty training the 3 year old.  We also have friends and family in need.  I’m looking for a new therapist.  And daily, I deal with the horrors that I’ve experienced my whole life.  I do my best to try and put the pieces of my puzzled life back together.  It’s not that the topic of gay rights isn’t important to me.  It’s just that, at this particular time in my life, other things take precedence.  I’ve got my wife and son and no government or food establishment can take that from me.  Most of the time I just roll my eyes and shake my head.

Every single day the evidence of my life of secretive abuse floods my mind and body.   I fight like hell to get out of the bed and to try to challenge my fears and anxieties about life.  Life isn’t easy being gay or having DID.  Both have their own stigmas and bent belief systems by society.  Have your own beliefs and opinions, but you can’t touch our rainbow bubble.

And since the uproar about the pizza establishment has become such a big deal….I don’t feed my genitals pizza anyway.

#Thispuzzledlife

Happy “Legal” Anniversary

Happy “Legal” Anniversary

2.25.15

 “If someone could reach into my chest and tear out my heart and turn it into a living, breathing person, “Melody” would be it..”

– Airicka Pheonix

February is a month on my calendar that will always be remembered specifically because of Sarah’s passing.  There are very few dates that I remember that hold so very close to my heart.  Mel and I have been “legally” married for 4 years now.  I really don’t know what the exact date is not because marrying her wasn’t important but rather that was the day that the government said we were married.  The horrible date of May 17, 1997 when I legally signed my own “abuse warrant” by marrying my “EX” husband, was replaced by a beautiful date of May 28, 2007.  This was the date that Mel and I married each other in our hearts.  There are soul mates as friends and family.  Nothing can compare to soul mates with the right spouse.

We were instantly friends and devoted to each other.  I have always been one where the term “friendship” isn’t just thrown around like a household word.  There was something different about her and I knew it but was afraid to admit that I loved her.  Firstly, I hadn’t stepped out of the elusive closet as being gay.  All I knew was that there was this person who I was finally “safe” with both emotionally and physically.

I told her at the beginning of our relationship that I had a lot of emotional baggage from a very long and very abusive relationship.  She didn’t care.  She loved me for me and everything that would come with it.  I’ve tried pushing her away in every way possible to prove to her that I’m not worth loving.  I was someone’s “sloppy seconds” after a 14 year stretch.  I felt as though there was nothing good left of me.  I knew that I could be her friend, but “marriage” scared the absolute hell out of me.

I had a hardness about myself that was meant to keep people away.  For some reason, she had me melting like butter on the inside.  I knew how the rumors, comments and bibles would be thrown at us as a couple.  I had dealt with that for many years and really just didn’t care.  This was a whole new experience for someone that I loved dearly.  I told her I could handle it again and I tried to help paint a picture of what this would look like as word got around.  She didn’t care about that either.  She just wanted to be with me.  Needless to say, I just couldn’t understand that.  What I had just experienced for many years was totally the opposite.  My idea of a “marriage” was one that had nothing but fear attached to it.  My thought was that no one is accepted for who they are without strings attached.  And once you’re legally married, that means you’re property.

Things have been difficult to say the least about us being a gay couple.  People were not going to be happy for us because we each had found someone who loved and respected us.  To put it quite bluntly, our genitals were put on display instead.  As you can imagine, our families were not thrilled.  I actually think my mom went and put her head in the oven and turned it on.  Not really, but pretty close.  Even at the thought of being rejected by family members couldn’t deter us from wanting to be together.  Have she and I both lost “friends” and “family” because of our relationship?  Yes, of course.  However, neither one of us are responsible for their feelings nor how they choose to act.  We CAN determine whether or not we will be an audience to their ignorance and hatred.

Six months later, in the privacy of our house where we living together, on Christmas Eve, I proposed and she said YES!  We wanted to get “legally” married and have children.  We had no idea what all was involved both financially and legally to make this all happen.  She very eagerly said that she had always wanted to carry a child.  I very eagerly said, “Good because I didn’t.”  I wanted to be a mom, but I had no desire to be pregnant.  My ex-husband took the joy out of wanting to start a family which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  We didn’t have to really tell anyone because you could just see the happiness that we both shared.  We also didn’t have the luxury of proclaiming our engagement because of such conservative views in that area of the country.  And so the journey of being each other’s only support when it came to our relationship began.

My mental health issues seemed to get somewhat better from just being in a supportive environment with someone that genuinely loved me.  We were both in graduate school and that was our first priority to finish.  What was becoming increasingly evident was the PTSD that had developed from a lifetime of abuse.  The safeness that I felt with her slowly started to reveal just what kind of damage had been done.  All I wanted to do was finish school, get as far away from that area of the country and start a family.  So, in June of 2009, Melody and I headed out to Albuquerque, NM to begin a new life.  We didn’t know how anything was going to turn out.  We just wanted to live life as a couple without all the stares and harassment.  That, I can say, has happened since we moved west.  Do we both miss friends and family? Yes more than anyone will ever know.  Moving back there would come at a cost that we’re just not ready for as a family yet.

We would soon realize firsthand what the long term effects of abuse would manifest.  She was fortunate to get a job with a company that provides fertility insurance.  This was how we would make our dreams of having children a reality.  On December 3, 2011, our little 5 lb preemie baby boy was born.  Here we were as brand new parents to a preemie that we knew nothing about.  We were out here by ourselves and had just entered the world of parenting.  No one could’ve ever prepared either one of us for the feeling of having to leave the hospital without our baby boy.  Every day I would drop Mel off at the hospital to spend the day at “Camp Marshall” while I went to work and then pick her up on the way home from work.  Mentally, I couldn’t handle the thought of losing our newly born son so I just avoided seeing him at all costs.  I was terrified of our son dying and tried to distance myself. This I now regret.  We were both on auto pilot in different ways.

She continues to be the same very sweet and kind hearted woman that I initially met.  She has a beauty within her that is hard to find in most people.  She loves me despite my mental disorder and continues to want nothing but the best for me.  What she and I have been through as a couple and now as a family is more than a lot of couples go by themselves in a lifetime.  We can read each other like we’ve been together for 30 years or more.

People often wonder how we have made it as a couple.  The truth is, since the very beginning of our relationship, we have always had to depend on each other for support.  When you’re 18 hours from where you were raised and have no desire to go back to small town living, you’re forced to sink or swim.  We have struggled both emotionally, physically and financially just like “straight” couples.  We are in the process of raising a very energetic, superhero of a kid that only knows one thing….he is loved by his mommies and that he’s not going to have a baby “sisser” much to his displeasure.  Mel melted my heart when I met her.  Now 8 years later both she and our son continue to melt my heart.  The way I try to make sense of a deep traumatic past regarding a marriage is that there will always be challenges in any relationship.  Had I not had a horrible and abusive marriage, I wouldn’t be able to fully understand how my mom and dad have their own loving connection.

Thank you, Melody Landrum-Arnold for just being you!  Thank you for continuing to love me despite the hatred for myself.  Thank you for helping to make our dreams of becoming mothers a reality.  Thank you for always having my best interest in mind while we walk this treacherous road of trauma recovery side by side.

My mom always told me growing up, “If you find a man a tenth of what your daddy is, you’ll have a good man.”  My answer is, “I did find HER.”

#Thispuzzledlife

And 2 More Makes 3…..

And 2 More Make 3……..

10.21.14

“God touched our hearts so deep inside, our special blessing multiplied.”

 ~Author Unknown

I must admit that I had a Maury Povich moment when we went to our fertility specialist today.  I was hoping that if we saw more than one yolk sac that I would hear those magical words…”You are NOT the father!”  No, I’m convinced it was a brief moment of psychosis when I heard the word….”TWINS!”  I’m not sure where the idea of throwing myself into a bubbling vat of Ebola came from but I assure you it was brief.  I totally started thinking, “Where did the twins come from?  There aren’t any in my biological family?  I don’t understand?”  Ok, so maybe it was full blown “situational psychosis.” Already being a parent to a toddler has taught me that brief moments of “situational psychosis” seems to be accepted as a daily action most assuredly in public.  So, my little stand alone moment in the doctor’s office was most definitely appropriate, I think.  If someone tells you that they got that same news and didn’t at the very least think, “What the hell?!” I would have to say that they’re not telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.   I must admit that I’ve had several laughs since that moment only a few hours ago about why I was actually having those thoughts.

Sometimes events surrounding fertility treatment can also be quite funny.  I can’t tell you how much fun I have with the people at Walgreens when I tell them that I need to pick up my wife’s birth control pills.  For once, I can understand what it must be like for a man to pick up tampons and pads. I usually don’t know whether to laugh or run.  I just get the typical strange looks from the employees.  So, I must respond in a rather humorous manner.  I usually tell them, “Yea, we don’t need any slip ups! The doctors told me I had a low sperm count but you can never be too safe.”  I usually just get a nod and a head tilt similar to that of a puppy.   Sometimes you just have to have fun with ignorance.  My brother, Levi Pierce, taught me that a long time ago.

I know that some will just from reading the blog and not even being around our family daily will think, “OMG, so much has happened already and your lives have been so chaotic. Why now?”  Well, let me see if I can “splain it to you, Lucy.”  So, the term “chaotic” does not even begin to explain what our lives have been like the last several years.  Truly, we both wanted to wait a little bit longer just to be able to catch our breath.  Here’s what it all comes down to………as a lesbian couple who are currently moms, we can’t just decide when the “perfect time” or “more appropriate time” would be better because without the fertility insurance that we have our costs to have a child runs $30,000+ every month we try.  Most straight or gay couples have to have the savings or the ability to take out another mortgage to be able to do this even once.  This, however, is not us.  Melody was blessed with a job that has same sex benefits including fertility benefits.  That was all about to come to a screeching halt as of less than a month ago because Mel’s current job within that company was about to be eliminated.  That meant that we would have fertility insurance only until the end of December. So, our ‘baby making’ days were looking like they were going to end and very soon.  We were scared and very sad.  We looked at everything and said, “Well, now is not really the optimal time but we had to jump on this last opportunity.”  With very minimal cost to us, we proceeded with the process of trying to get her pregnant by December.

As a gay couple, we have to take many things into consideration before having a child.  The fertility process takes up most of the brain and emotional space backed up by legal concerns.  We definitely want to move ‘closer’ but definitely not back exactly where we grew up.  Unfortunately, that area of the country is not in the majority when it comes to equality for gay rights.  We currently live in a state where both our marriage and my rights as a non-biological mother are also honored without having to adopt because we are legally married.  We, by no means, are obligated to explain why we made the decision to have another child to anyone.  Here’s just a little “bird’s eye view” of what it takes for us to be parents.  No daddies other than “donor daddies” are in this house or are involved in this process.  These babies were actually fertilized into embryos the same time our almost 3 year-old son, Marshall.  These were our “frozen babies” which also have to be paid for yearly to be kept on ice.  I’m also knocking on 40 years-old so, we really needed to get on the ball despite what all has been going on.

We transferred two embryos just like we did with Marshall in the hopes that only one would take.  However, unlike when we conceived Marshall and lost the other embryo, both of these took.  That is a chance that we as a gay couple have and had to be willing to take each time.  We could have transferred only one and taken the chance of not conceiving and running out of time.  As life would have it, Mel was offered a different job with the same company and we now have the same benefits. When you don’t know for certain what life might hand you, you have to be willing to take risks and live with the outcome.   We transferred two frozen embryos a couple of years and neither of them took.  And then it seemed that life had once again hit the gas pedal.

 I have personally always taken risks. Some decisions were good and some were not.  Mel and I have, for the most part, had to deal with this alone in the beginning because our “lifestyle” was not accepted.  We have proven that we can be parents and make it happen on our own if need be.  Is this a decision that I regret? Absolutely not!  I wouldn’t change our trials of not being accepted as a family by both society and certain family members for the gift that we have both been given as a couple and as a family.  Life has taught us many things through the gift of our son.  He makes everything seem ok among the chaos.  Has it been easy? No, but nothing ever has been for either of us even before we met.

So, sometimes when you think you have everything planned the way you want it, the universe has a good chuckle and says, “oh yea, watch this!”  We do now and will continue to embrace our roles as spouses and parents.  But, make no mistake; we are finished with baby making after this go round.  And no we don’t have to worry about having tubes tied or accidental pregnancies.  Just a bonus, I thought I might add.  We are going to embrace these babies and continue to live our life as a normal family with sometimes abnormal circumstances.

I have a total of four reasons for both living and to attack my very puzzled past and present with a vengeance.  Painful as hell is what this recovery has been and will continue to be for a while.  Mel and I are both warriors that face life like this……”Tell us we can’t accomplish something, and we can assure you that you will be proven wrong.”  This isn’t a spiteful stance just one of the signs of a strong couple who loves each other dearly. And a family that perseveres no matter how it might look; what people think; or what it takes to have a minority family and keep it together.  We struggle just like every other family ours is just made up of two mommies, a little boy, two yolk sacs and a lot of love.

I would totally go through all of the abuse of 14 years from my previous heterosexual marriage again to know that in the end I would eventually hit the jackpot!

#Thispuzzledlife

Who Am I?

Who am I?

9.8.14

“Don’t underestimate me.  I know more than I say,

Think more than I speak,

 & notice more than you realize.”

–Anonymous

Behind the smiles you don’t see the frowns.  Behind the laughs you don’t see the cries.  Behind the eyes you don’t see the tears.  And behind the contentment that you see in the pictures of me and our son, you don’t see the fears that I hide.  You see what I allow you to see.  I let you see what is socially acceptable.  But, you DON’T see the real me.  What if you did? Would you even recognize me? Could you even pronounce my name?  Or would I be that same person, to you that you’ve grown-up with and known the majority of your life?

I resemble the same person you knew in middle school and high school.  I have a wife instead of a husband.  We have a 2.5 year old son.  We live in the time zone known as “Marshall Standard Time.” I wear shorts and t-shirts instead of cleats and uniforms.  I’m still the same ‘clown’ that you’ve always known me to be.  I still laugh at inappropriate shit. My humor about things has never disappeared.  I’m just not as “happy-go-lucky” as I use to be.

 There wasn’t one event that caused a change in me over time.  It was abuse that occurred over many years that has changed me.  If I met you 20 years now since high school, you would see that same person that you were in the halls with but attached to my leg is a little boy. And attached to my heart is my wife, Melody Landrum-Arnold.

No one ever knows someone else’s true “secrets.”  You saw a seemingly happy wife walking by her husband’s side and holding his hand.  You saw parents supporting their child in every way possible. You saw an athlete very passionate and dedicated to the sports she loved.  And you saw a fun loving and respectful person when our paths crossed.  There were scars and open wounds that you never knew.

What you didn’t know or see were all of the “secrets” of a lifetime of abuse.  What if you knew all of my thoughts? What if you knew the things I was made to do? Would you look at my scars and be disgusted? Could you look me in the eye because I couldn’t you? Would you stand there speechless because of the lies you were told and believed? Or would you say, “Gee, I’m sorry” and avoid all eye contact.  Why? SHAME.  Those of us who were once victims carried the shame of our abusers who were “shameless.”

I wish people who have and continue to judge me could spend one day in my brain with all the chaos as a result of the abuse.  You wouldn’t survive one minute!  No one taught me how to survive all of that.  I figured it out on my own.  Some behaviors are maladaptive, I’ll agree.  I did what I had to do to SURVIVE in any way possible!

I’ve been very strong for many years but I’m tired.  Mornings like now seem like the movie Groundhog Day.  The abuse replays every moment I’m alive.  Every morning, the abuse starts all over again.  I feel like, I’m stuck in survival mode all the time.  Sometimes I feel like a victim and sometimes I feel like a survivor.  I try and live life “one minute at a time” because “one day at a time” seems entirely too long, right now.

I’m very much a realist.  I see things for the way they are, instead of the way they can be.  The whole analogy of the duck is how I view even the simplest of events, ideas, comments, etc.  So, basically I get in my own way.  Part of this process is going to be to retrain how the brain perceives things, I think.

I also repeat things sometimes at different times.  So, if some of the abuse stories seem to overlap, just ignore and keep reading.  I’ll explain why this happens later.

Please try and understand that this is just where I’m at in my healing journey.

#Thispuzzledlife