12 Things That Didn’t Suck about 2015

Here is, in no particular order, a list of things that didn’t suck about 2015. Because I’ve focused enough on what did suck.

  1. I did theater. And while it led to a lot of suckage, it also led to my learning more about costuming a show and how to run the theater and, well, now I’m directly involved with the theater in a more specific way and that makes me happy. Right?
  2. I did more theater. Another show at a different theater… a big part where I got to be funny and make people laugh and that definitely made me very very happy.
  3. Made new friends. Like brand spanking new people I didn’t know this time last year are now folks I text with and visit with on a regular basis. Awesome!
  4. Grew closer to friends I already had. Several folks I already considered to be my friends are now even closer friends than they were, say, a year ago.
  5. My marriage. Dude, the hubby and I are in a better place than we have been in years. This is pretty amazing considering the year we had.
  6. Kate. Kate Pierson, the love of my life before the people in this house were a part of it, released a solo album (which I now own on vinyl, cd and mp3) and proceeded to go on tour which included a stop in Nashville where I drank too much wine, watched her play an incredible show in awe and snagged a couple of hugs and pictures and had a sweet conversation with her and… gosh, I just love her so much.
  7. TV. Seriously, there was so much amazing television this year. It’s hard to imagine a time in my life when Kimmy Schmidt didn’t exist now that I’ve watched the entire first season a good six or seven times. Thanks, television, for giving me something to do while being pathetic.
  8. I got better. Had nervous breakdown. Broke my body, literally. Broken in every possible way. And then healed and survived and am starting the new year out in an improved state. Sweet! High five!
  9. Christmas. We had a lot of fun this Christmas. I didn’t cry. I laughed and smiled and felt loved and not alone and… yeah. Good memories were made.
  10. Star Wars. I’ve spent my whole life trying to get on board that fandom train but just could not force myself to care about the force. (See what I did there?) But man, 7 has totally stolen my heart and now I’m ordering Star Wars skirts on the internet.
  11. My kids. For goodness sake, my kids were rock stars this year. They met their goals from last year, they stepped it up when things got rough around here, and they matured immensely. Gosh, they just bring me such joy and I’m so thankful for them.
  12. Vinyl. With Christmas money last year, I treated myself to a fairly cheap record player which was followed by the hauling of the vinyl into the house and then finding a shelf appropriate for housing these treasures. Finally, I ended up with what is now my favorite part of my house… a record-playing station that is practical and aesthetically pleasing plus a rocking chair next to it for my aspie stemming needs. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I realized I must have subconsciously been recreating a childhood memory by purchasing a cheap rocker to place next to my record station because I spent every afternoon as a preschooler rocking myself and playing records. It was such a comforting ritual and if there is anything I need right now in my life it is a comforting ritual. If you stop by unexpectedly, don’t be surprised to find me rocking so hard I nearly tip backward (according to my Mama, this is what I would do), belting out “Islands in the Stream” at the top of my lungs.

And finally, a few things to which I’m looking forward in 2016…

Walking along the beach, seeing the B-52s with the Nashville symphony, a less complicated schedule, revamping homeschool, a full year of health, making art, and even more amazing television.


I’m Mad

My dear friend who has been battling cancer just sent me a text telling me she’d learned today of an acquaintance her age being diagnosed with the stage four version of the cancer she herself has. She said the news pissed her off. It pisses me off too.

I’m pretty mad in general right now.

The more that I think about the people who keep have dropped out of our lives, who haven’t fought even one iota for the relationships I thought meant something to them, the madder I get.

The more I think about the family member who chose to cut me and my children out of his life for four years, the madder I get.

The more I think about how it would feel if he did that again, the madder I get.

The more often I see my children cry over the friends who have been ripped from their lives because mom and/or dad decided something or other about their mom and/or dad, the madder I freakin’ get.

Life is short. It is so very short. When we find someone who loves us, even if they are imperfect, even if they screw up, even if they have a lot of work to do, why do we think it’s even an option to cut them out of our lives? Why aren’t we more prone to remaining loyal to people we supposedly love?  What gives anyone the right to decide that you are no longer worthy of their love? Please, someone, tell me the answer to this question.

I cannot sleep at night I am so often awake pondering why and how anyone would be willing to walk away from my family, knowing it must be breaking the hearts of my children. Yet, if they came back now, I’d never be able to trust again because if they did it once, they might do it again. And once I’ve gotten them over this hurt, I swear, you may have to fill out an application and sign a bloody contract before I ever let you close to my kids again.

What has this world come to that we are so covered up with close friends that it’s absolutely nothing to just discard one once in a while, much like you might toss out last season’s shoes or an old newspaper?

I am just so tired of it. I’m exhausted and weary and, sadly, quite leery as well.

None of us are promised tomorrow. I keep wondering what would they say of me, if I died today? “She was a whore and I am glad she’s out of my life.” “What a loser that Mandy was. Good riddance.” It’s hard to imagine anything else after the way I’ve been treated.

But I know in my heart of hearts that I was a good friend. I cared. I listened. I helped out. I loved. I stepped in. I served. I was there.

If they can’t see that, then whatever.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I am mad. Madder than hell. And frankly, I am so mad, I might be blogging about it a lot until the anger fades and all that is left are the memories, and the trust issues, and the ashes of friendships that seemingly never were mixed with ashes of my former self.

For this is all part of my journey.

And I supposed it’s part of my children’s journeys as well though I think that really sucks. It really really really sucks.

After this though, I swear, if you hurt my children, you will be dead to me.


At the Closing of the Year

This week, I couldn’t help but notice people posting the latest Facebook generated link. Click here to see so and so’s favorite memories from 2015. All the while, I’m sitting over here thinking, “Dear GOD, I don’t want to be reminded of much of anything about this year.”

Funny how typically, on my birthday (which happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year), I write a post about the life goals I met from the previous birthday and ones I want to work on for the upcoming birthday. Couldn’t bring myself to do that on the most recent anniversary of my birth. In fact, I couldn’t so much as look at last year’s post to remind myself of what I had wanted to accomplish this year. I’m almost certain it said something about, “Do more theater” and, well, I definitely did more theater.

Was doing “more theater” enough to make this a redeemable year? I can’t say as it was. Frankly, when I look back all of the way to the beginning of the summer (all I can recall from before that is memories of my friend’s cancer diagnosis and the mental state of anguish that left me with), the only thing I can think is, “2015, good riddance”.  I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too. But Mandy, you are safe, you have a roof over your head, family who loves and cares for you, and you are healthy (at least physically). Really, what more can you ask for? And this is true, to a certain extent. I am very blessed and I have little, today, about which I can complain. But if there is anything I have learned from the positive psych class I am taking online just because it is that, if we are experiencing stress, it doesn’t matter what our physical state and environment is all about, we are in survival mode and we are suffering.

Folks, my stress level has been through the roof this year and, let me tell ya, it finally broke me. I’m pretty sure I just experienced a nervous breakdown and it’s been accumulating for years. Decades even. There have been times when I almost went ahead and had that nervous breakdown so I’ve had touches of them here and there. However, finally, this summer and fall, all of the stress and unhealthy shame messages and toxic self-images and unrealistic expectations I’ve put upon myself… well… I guess I found the straw that finally broke this camel’s back?

As I sit here, clinging to my warm coffee cup (vat) in front of an open window during an unseasonably warm December, one week from Christmas Eve, I can honestly say that I am completely and totally broken. Each day, I am gluing the pieces of my heart, my spirit, my mind, and my trust back together. But I know that I will never ever ever be the same. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

The loss. Oh my goodness, the amount of loss I have suffered is unspeakable. But then again, many assure me that what I “lost” was never real anyway. What is real has shown up in major ways via visits and gifts and text messages and “I love you”s and meals and forgiveness and kisses on the head and hands being held and still, quiet presence. There is nothing quite like going batshit crazy that will  show you exactly where you stand with people and precisely who is on your team.

Last year, I spent my birthday watching Rocky Horror with my kids and waiting for Thanksgiving. My birthday “celebration” was one I requested with friends where I brought the meal and when I arrived, realized that basically the entire party had been forgotten by my host. It was an embarrassing spectacle and I may have gotten a little too drunk to help me cope with my humiliation.

This year, though  I was in pain, two of my closest friends, despite it being Thanksgiving, came to my house, one in the early part of the day, one in the evening, and brought me cards and gifts and sat with me while we watched Seinfeld, swept my floor, and in general, kept me company through what was one of my most difficult days during my (physical) healing process. I did not feel alone. I did not feel embarrassed. I did not need to get drunk.

While on the surface, it seems I was in a better place last year, I’m not sure that is true. Last Christmas I sacrificed the happiness of my family to make myself available for another family who literally left me waiting all night long on a call telling me that I was needed. I was so eager to help, I didn’t mind staying up all night awaiting notification for me to head on over. I loved to serve. When the call never came, I fell asleep on the sofa for a little while and spent the rest of the day too exhausted to enjoy myself or my children, curled up in a fetal position in my bed. I was, yet again, humiliated that I cared so very much for this friend who was willing to use me and not bat an eye.

This year, there is no way in hell I’d offer up my free services to another family on Christmas. At least not for something as trivial as babysitting. Especially not to the detriment of my own family. Not a chance. I can now see how often I’ve put the needs of my own family and myself below the needs of people who live outside of this house. Never again.

As I reflect upon 2015, all I see is a blur of pain and hard work and suffering and shame. I am utterly ashamed of the situations that put me in a place where I’m up at 4 am writing about my nervous breakdown. On the other hand, I cannot help but be thankful for the opportunity for growth that this year has brought me. I know myself so much better now. I know what I need and want in a friend. I know that I believe with every fiber of my being that I deserve to be loved as much as I am willing to love. I know that the people living in this house are on my team and I can trust them all with my life. I know that my in-laws are MY family too and I can depend upon them when times get rough. I know that being able to take a walk, make a meal, care for my home, be present with my husband and children are the things that I missed most while incapacitated. I know that I don’t want to write right now (I say as I sit here writing) and instead I want to read and watch good tv and lesson plan and make things with my hands.

I also know that I have a lot of healing left to do, both emotionally and physically, and that in order to do that, everything must come to a screeching halt. I’ve removed myself and my kids from various commitments and intend to spend the semester simply being and resting and learning and loving. Being gentle with myself is my number one priority. 2016’s theme is quietness, stillness, nothingness. I intend to ask myself a lot of questions like, “Is this serving me? Is this bringing me joy? Is this stressing me out?” I look forward to seeing what life looks like next year after months of letting the answers to these questions guide me.