I came across this photo on Facebook, and it explains so much about where I am at in life, and who I am.
To fully explain, we need to go back a few years. When I hit my rock bottom and had to climb out of the hole to keep from drowning – pretty much on my own.
At the middle to end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 was when all of the shit hit the fan.
I’m trying to figure out how to lay the shit storm out for you so you can fully understand where I was at.
I guess the breaking point was when dad passed away in March of 2015. But between the summer of 2014 and my rock bottom in 2015, my car kept breaking down, causing me to throw money at it every paycheck – which had a downward spiral effect on my finances. I was constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul. I bounced two rent checks, had my lights turned off, and even after I paid that I was still under a constant shut off notice and receiving eviction notices nearly every month. I had to get a Payday loan, and borrow money from dad. One month I would pay electric and not rent, and the next vice versa. But then all of a sudden I couldn’t juggle the bills anymore. Everything came due at the same time and none of them would work with me on payment arrangements. This was just before Christmas, which left me with no choice but to borrow a large sum of money from a family friend to keep a roof over our heads. Dad was too sick for me to worry him with it so I had to swallow my pride and ask someone else. I had switched jobs to try and make more money to try and catch up but at the point I was at financially, catching up was slow going. My car had finally started to act right (mostly), but my back passenger door was tied shut with bungee cords and rope because I couldn’t afford the $500 repair to keep it shut. My front breaks did go out completely at one point, and of course it happened in between paychecks – so I continued to drive to work but bummed rides for my kids to get them to school and daycare. In the meantime my best friend stopped talking to me, and I was coming to terms with having to be a single parent for the second time.
And then dad died.
When I say I hit rock bottom, that’s pretty much a literal thing.
My boys and I have a lot of people that care about us, and would help if I asked. I have a hard time with asking, mainly because while I appreciate and love the people who we count as family, I also am a loner and don’t regularly talk to many people. I have a hard time with asking someone for help if I barely talk to them, regardless if I know that they care enough to help. I think it’s called pride. Or stubbornness, take your pick. I was embarrassed about where I was at financially, and when dad died it put me into survival mode – take care of my little family, keep all of our heads above water, make it all work.
I felt like this hole was mine to climb out of, and these responsibilities were mine alone. In retrospect, I was stupid. I should have leaned on anyone that I thought could help. But I didn’t. Instead, I dove inward.
Everything happens for a reason though.
I pulled myself out of that hole, little bit by little bit, and I ran not just one household but two, and figured it all out and made it work. I overcame set back after set back – my car finally died for good, we had to move Aaron from the home he had made with Dad to a new one, I had to figure out the logistics of Social Security for Aaron and finalize everything dad had going before he died and figure out the VA benefits for his burial, not to mention the climbing I was already doing financially, and dealing with my grief and raising my kids – and in overcoming all of this I found a well of strength that I had no idea that I had. I did it the hard way because of my stubbornness and pride, but I did it.
In roughly a year’s time, I grew up more than I had in the 30 years prior. Emotionally and mentally, I became a different person entirely.
I found that the things that used to bother me and upset me didn’t anymore. Those things seemed trivial all of a sudden. I had come through the worst thing I could imagine in my life – the loss of my father – and the dumb shit that happened on a daily basis just didn’t phase me anymore. I came to realize what was actually important, too. I came to appreciate my children and my time with them more, realizing that someday they would lose me like I lost my dad, and all they would have would be memories. I cherish every memory I have with my dad, and during that horrible time right after he died and even now I lean on those memories with him to get me through. The hugs and the laughter, the encouraging words and support he gave me no matter what – that’s all I have left, and someday that’s all my children will have of me. They won’t care about a spotless house or money I did or didn’t have. Surface things just don’t matter as much as I once thought, and I had spent a lot of time with people who put too much value on what the outside looked like and didn’t take the time to appreciate what was inside. And I realized that I won’t get my children’s childhood back. While I have always been a loner and didn’t spend every night partying, I did have my share of bar nights and hangovers, taking away from my kids in the name of fitting in.
During my fall, and then subsequent climb back up, I didn’t have the time or the money to go out, and the people I used to hang with had all gone their separate ways. I came to appreciate the home I had fought and worked so hard for, I came to appreciate my solitude and love who I was and all I had been through that made me the person I was becoming. I had a lot of time to think and come to terms with everything. I had time to realize what was important and what was not, to figure out who was in my corner and who was not. I also had time to figure out who I actually was and who I wanted to be.
Knowing who you are and what is truly important to you is a powerful thing. It gives you the ability to smell bullshit a mile away, and to see through others facades. You gain the ability to feel different energies and vibes that you may have never noticed before. Before, I was distracted by the facades and unable to see below the surface of a person or a situation – I took things at face value. But having dove inward the way I did, I now know that there is generally way more to everything than what you can physically see. I am more inclined to trust my intuiton, and remove myself and avoid situations that just don’t feel right – and keep those people with not so good vibes and who are all about the surface image at arms length, if I don’t completely cut them out of my life all together. And I am very selective on who I allow in my life, as well. Whether they give off a good or bad vibe, I keep my circle very small to keep distractions at a minimum.
I have made new friends on my journey, and reevaluated who is family, and I have realized that blood is not always thicker than water. These are people I have carefully selected because they understand me and what I’ve gone through. People that give off good vibes and have similar priorities to mine. People that aren’t offended if I turn down an invitation because I want to be with my kids or by myself, who aren’t offended that I go months between phone calls, that I fall off the face of the Earth in the winter months. . . People I can be my true self around. People that even though I maybe turn down invite after invite or don’t interact with them regularly, know I still love them and don’t take it personally. My tribe is people I can trust with my life, and the lives of my children. And despite the fact that we don’t talk every day, they watched me grow and were there for me when I came out on the other side of my hard times and my grief.
There are no facades anymore in my life, zero fake personalities. I don’t have the energy or the desire or time to deal with any of this type of bullshit.
When you have been through the worst thing imaginable, the hardest time in your life, it brings everything into focus. You come to realize what’s important and what is not. And while this was a horribly painful time in my life, I’m better for it. Growing up is hard shit, folks.
So if you go back to the quote, this is why it spoke to me this morning. Because I’m done with who I once was – all of fake shit and surface shit. I don’t want to go back there, I have no desire to go back there. I have come so fucking far from who I was five years ago that to go back is unthinkable. Perfect doesn’t exist, and I have no illusions that I am done growing and learning – but I know who I am not and I know what I want and I know to trust these vibes and energies I feel, and the instincts I have now. I know what’s on the surface isn’t important – and if all I feel from you is that, if I all I feel is that you care more about appearances than what is inside, I want nothing to do with you. I have priorities – my family, my job, my home, my own well being – and everything else comes after that. And if you can’t understand and identify with that you have no place in my life. Once upon a time the surface shit mattered. Outward appearances were important. Once upon time, I was that person. I’ve dug my way out of a very deep hole, and I broke the surface. I’m not the person I used to be anymore.