Let me see the world with hundred year old eyes. Let me gaze fondly upon the quirks and flaws of others. Let me count the laughs and hugs, may I gather the smiles as if they are the last harvest.
Let me hold the hands that are extended my way, and wear my best pearls and perfume on Sunday morning.
Let me pat cheeks and give away my collection of marbles. Let me smile at every baby I see, have my house in order, and write thank-you notes.
Let me be sentimental,
soft-spoken and big-hearted
and with time for a story, a memory, a joke, a glass of sweet tea.
Let me live with the heart of a hundred years, long before my time.
Before you read this post, I want you to know, I’m okay. Really, truly. I’m not in a heap on the floor as I write this. I’m up from the heap, with a certain clarity, and now I need to write this. But not because I am not coping. It’s my WAY of coping, to finally express the reality of what drugs has done to my family. It’s not an attack, it’s not a plea for help. Please don’t feel obligated to read this if you don’t want to.
There’s a small child in me that wants to say, “I hate drugs. They’re mean. I wish they never existed.”
I don’t say that, though. I know it’s an oversimplification. I know that it’s far more than just a bad thing coming into our life. I do still wish it, though. I wish drugs never happened to us.
Being the sibling of an addict is different than being married to one, or being the parent. (All are awful, and there’s not contest here, that’s not my point.) But as a sibling, you are losing the addict to his addiction, and you are losing your parents to the addict.
You live under constant, awful questions. How would it feel to go to the addict’s funeral? Will he go to prison again, or be beaten up in a parking lot, or plow his car into a tree? You wonder if he’ll live under a bridge, if his own child will one day disown him. Will you gather in a hospital room over his drug ravaged body one day, saying goodbye? All the stories you know, all those people who carry these tragedies, will you be one of those people one day?
But it doesn’t stop there. You haven’t just lost your sibling.
Your parents are never the same after drugs come along. Even if your parents aren’t enabling the addict, they are different. They carry the weight of grief in their eyes, and it drags them down, down, down. You don’t get the happy version of them. You get to know it’s always in their mind, this wish that the addict was better. It is a shadow over every other happy moment in life. You’ll never be enough to make them happy.
And if they are actively enabling the addict, then that’s a whole new mess. You have to watch helplessly, as they repeat the same things over and over. You battle the constant urge to make it personal. The rejections pile up, the times when it seems like choices are being made and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You are left to deal with life on your own, because they know you won’t go off on a week long bender and end up in jail if you get shortchanged emotionally. You’re responsible, you’re fine, you don’t need them the way the addict does. So, the portion of their attention and involvement in your life that would be natural, that bit that would be beneficial and enjoyable to both of you, that part you always assumed would be there– it’s now redirected to the addict.
So, you get angry.
Then you feel guilty, selfish, terrible, horrible. Then you feel pathetic.
The only person who really gets this is another sibling. You band together, holding on to each other, not knowing what to do with this disaster happening. Somehow, you are on the outside. You can never fully understand their pain, you’re told.
And they can never fully understand yours.
So, that’s it. That’s what it is like on the inside of the outside. It’s not something we want to talk about. I certainly don’t. I don’t want anyone to know how bad this hurts. I don’t want my pain to make someone else’s worse. But I can’t heal from wounds I won’t acknowledge. I get that now.
And that’s what this is about for me now. Just healing. And that can happen. We’ll look different, we’ll bear scars. But as long as there is life, there is hope, and that is what I will hold on to. I will hold on to it for all of us.
Good grief. I wish I could just go ahead and write it all out, already. But the thing is, I so carefully consider the fall out of my writing now, that I’m all but paralyzed. I think, how will this affect my family? What about my parents? Will my kids read this and be harmed in some way? Am I helping, hurting, what???
My solution to that was to simply quit writing. Anything. At all. And so that thing bothering me never gets exhumed, never exorcised. It just gets pushed down, squashed and compressed- and heavy. Really heavy. I don’t want to write recklessly– I’m past that. I understand the weight of the written word. I want to write with care. Responsibly. As much as I want to do that, the answer can’t be that I will just never write again. I simply can’t do it. I can’t contain Life without a release valve. I can’t be so afraid of the Reading that I can never do the Writing.
So, I will write today. I will be brave, I will be careful, but this has to happen.
I write to you from a very strange place. On one hand, my life is so beautiful and bright, I can’t even look directly at it. It shines in all the darkness of the world around me. I love, love, love my children. I am devoted to my sweetheart and he to me. What a lovely, rare thing in today’s world! No matter what trials and hardships we face (and believe me, this has been the most challenging year of our lives), I go to sleep at the end of the day, absolutely buried in blessings, and I know where they come from. I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine. It is a sweet and wonderful thing, this being alive, and belonging to Christ.
But it’s also complicated.
Because for the joy and peace that does exist in my life, there is a brokenness also. There are days when I am so despondent and furious and hopeless, that I can’t quite reconcile the two extremes! I can’t fix my brother’s addiction, I can’t fix my parent’s responses, I can’t patch up the broken holidays or missed moments or empty eyes. I can’t make my parents smile, or laugh. I can’t stop my brother from wrecking his body, his relationships, his career, his LIFE. I can’t make any of us unselfish or wise or strong. I can’t stop my parents from being swept away in it all. I can’t stop the bleeding. I can’t fix the hole in my heart. I can’t put back together the pieces of this family. I can’t even see how they fit back together anymore.
And I know what you’re going to say. Please don’t even say it.
Yes, we’re praying, Oh Lord, we’re praying. Every day. I’m praying that God will do all of the above, because I know I can’t. I realize how absolutely NON I am in this equation. I am zero. I am a pebble in a tsunami. I get it. So, I pray.
That’s where I am. That’s what hurts. That the answer is “no.” That years are passing, and the answer is “no.” And then there’s trusting in the Lord. Trusting what? That he’s going to suddenly cure my brother’s addiction? The co-dependent cycles that have been in place for fifteen years? He doesn’t work like that. I trust Him, I really do. But I trust Him to do His good will, and that can mean a lot of things. Lots of times, His good will HURTS. For whatever reason, He has chosen not to remove this hardship from us. I know He could, I trust that, if that’s what that means. He physically, literally, is all powerful and could do this. But no, I do not think, just because I love Him and trust Him and am praying to Him- that the answer will finally one day be YES. Maybe I can’t see it clearly anymore. Maybe I’m way wrong and too broken myself. But that’s what I see right now.
On one side of my life, the sun is shining so brightly. And the other is eclipsed by this darkness. It’s disorienting and confusing sometimes, to be so perfectly happy and sad at the same time. I know that’s life. It’s complicated. I know it’s not unique to me– we all have stuff, right? I don’t have the answer to this, maybe nobody does. Maybe you just hunker down, and survive it like a war. I don’t know. But for me, surviving it means writing about it. So, that’s it. I’m here, just me and my keyboard, trying to get through this. I truly don’t want to shame anymore or bring hurt unnecessarily, there’s enough pain already. But sometimes, silence can do just as much damage as saying the words aloud. This isn’t for anybody but me. It’s not a letter to my brother (done that, by the way, didn’t work). It’s not a message to my parents or my family (they have heard it all before), it’s not an SOS or even a prayer request. It’s just me, using the tool in my hand, trying to get myself through a tough patch.
Anyway, that’s all for now. The hardest part is over.
After a long week of school, and many days of King Pen working extra hours… it’s easy to feel a little lost. I had a moment this afternoon, when I was struck with that panicky sensation of anonymity that sometimes accompanies motherhood. Who am I? Where am I in all this? Could a ROBOT do this job? Where have I gone and will I ever come back?
Not the first time that’s hit me. Fortunately, I know better than to waste time analyzing and moping over it. Could have saved myself an awful lot of angst in the early years if I had realized how simple the solution was! Now I know when I begin to get lost in the crowd a bit, it’s time to redefine myself. Not reinvent myself, mind you. That one took a couple years to figure out, too. No, what I’m talking about is when the lines that separate me from all the other things in my life get a little too blurry, I just need to darken them up a bit. Trace over those old familiar things that I used to enjoy. Get some definition to myself again.
So I got my camera, my boots, and headed into the Brimberry.
Okay, it wasn’t that easy.
I got my camera, and realized the battery was dead, so then I had to charge it. Couldn’t leave the Shorties, so I had to find THREE pairs of socks, three pairs of boots, and make sure everybody had gone to the bathroom. Which, at least ONE hadn’t, so off with one set of boots and socks and pants, and get the business done. Finally, camera is (half) charged, I found a snake stick, and we were off.
Anyway, I knew this was what I needed. Just to SEE something. Something green and interesting and not at all requiring anything of me. They aren’t the most fascinating photos I’ve ever taken, but they made the lines around me a little sharper, a little clearer. I am more ME because of them.
Here’s where my boots went a’walkin’ today.
So– what don’t I do?
I don’t do baseboards. Kinda regretting the choice of white trim nowadays.
I don’t put the clothes into the drawers. They sit on the dressers for ages, which means they’ll probably tumble to the floor. And then I’ll think they’re dirty. So they get washed again. And don’t even get me started on those winter clothes that need to be packed up. (Maybe if I did that, there would be room in the drawers! Yup!)
I don’t file my paperwork. Why do that, when I have a perfectly good laundry basket to hold it all?
I don’t match socks, until people are crying.
I don’t defrost my freezers, clean the oven, or RSVP to bithday parties. I should do all of those things, I know. I’m sorry. It’s awful. I could at least try, but… yeah, I’m not going to. (Because I don’t make false promises. That’s a good don’t, right?)
I don’t sew buttons back on. Because where in the world is my needle/thread? I have no idea! Just look on your dresser for another shirt! (Or the floor, in case it is in the Tumbled to the Floor Phase.)
Those are just a FEW of the things I don’t do.
Someone wondered that the other day, what doesn’t she do so that she can do all the other stuff?
That’s not easy for me, actually. I don’t like leaving things unfinished. I can’t stand walking away from the breakfast dishes so we can start school on time. I don’t like ignoring the puzzle pieces all spilled out in the bottom of the closet. But ya know? Despite my online moniker, I am NOT WonderGirl. I cannot do it all. If it EVER looks that way to you, let me disabuse you of that notion right now. WonderGirl is an oxymoron. It was supposed to be ironic, kinda funny. It was not meant to be a declaration of my competent handle on the world, I promise. Maybe I should change it to something more accurate. BarelyTogetherGirl or DustBunnyGirl or OhGoodGriefTheDogToreUpAnotherPieceofStyroFoamAllOverTheYardGirl.
If you come to my house and it’s squeaky clean, you can put money on it– I was cleaning like a crazy she-creature because I knew you were coming. If my sock basket is (nearly) empty, it’s because I needed to justify a Battlestar Galactica marathon. If my baseboards are sparkling, that’s because somebody spilled a glass of water on it. Just being honest here.
I don’t do it all. Who can? I just do what’s essential, and try to get to the rest eventually. (And I cross my fingers that you won’t need to open a closet door when you’re here. For your own safety.)
Not WonderGirl. Not WonderMom or WonderSister or WonderFriend.
Just me. Giving the best I got.
So that’s it. That’s the secret: There IS no secret. Not for any of us. We’re all just getting along the best we can, and God is merciful and good.
I have been SO. INCREDIBLY. BUSY.
I’m so happy.
I could probably end this post right there, and get straight back to it. You wouldn’t hear from me again for another month. But I won’t do that. Because I want to record it, so I can remember it. I suppose, in the future when I reread my blog, I can look at these huge gaps in my writing and just know it. Oh, that’s when I was so busy being incredibly happy.
But, in consideration of my spotty 80 year old memory, I’ll try to jot out a few of the details.
School has filled my days, which means my kids have filled my days. During the summer, they are busy playing with friends and the dog and climbing trees and swimming and I see them for popsicle breaks. But during the school year, we are WITH each other. For better or worse– in good attitudes and bad. We’re in it. And it is soul shaping stuff. I can clearly see my weaknesses and flaws in the hard moments. And I see the utter, absolute GIFTS of God in the good ones. I just love it. the end. el fin. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing with my life– no other thing that brings me such joy and contentment. Even when it is hard, it is the easiest choice I’ve ever made.
So, I’m pretty wrapped up in that. It’s a consuming experience, homeschooling! As a matter of fact, I was a little worried that when I DO find time to blog, that I would overrun the Sift with homeschool stuff. So, I started a new blog specifically for that topic. (I promise, this won’t get out of hand. No more blogs within the blogs! ha!) Anyway, feel free to check it out if you’re interested in the detailed version of our homeschooling days.
Besides schooling, we’ve been very focused on firmly rooting King Pen’s business. He’s doing some promotional stuff this month and working lots of overtime. Still pushing through the pain of starting up your own business, but we’re hopeful. Hanging in there. Honestly, I’m glad to have the first year behind us! Year Two, here we come. Giddyap.
So, life’s busy and wonderful which equals lots of blank posts on a blog. No worries, though. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a lousy blogger now. But I’m not half bad at living in my life, so I don’t mind too much. Hope you don’t, either.
Happy weekend, everybody.
There are a million and one ways to homeschool, and even more ways to set up your learning space! This year, we’re blessed enough to have a separate dining room to turn into my happy place. It’s mahvalous, dahling! Here are our school room rules. We like to keep it simple, and cute.
So, here is standing outside my dining room. We hung a heavy curtain- helps to block out the world when we need to get focused, and keep cool/hot when we want.
Stepping all the way into the room, you’ll see the technology corner: We do a lot of stuff with the internet and computer disks!
Then, to your left, is the library: We’re still building up our supply of reference books. Paint and playdough up top, and mailboxes that we made to deliver letters/goodies to each other through the school year. (Good writing AND kindness practice!) On the whiteboard, I jot down words we misspell or whatever we need to work out visually.
Pulling back, you can see the timeline in this photo as well:
Then turning around, you can see my cabinet o’ wonders:
It’s my fave. Here is where I store our notebooks, manipulatives, teacher manuals, flashcards, etc.:
Here’s our spelling center: We play games and do copywork with the words we misspell throughout the day.
The opposite wall is where I keep most of the student supplies. Boxes of crayons, markers, colored pencils, art supplies are all here.
Up close, you’ll see their individual boxes with workbooks, etc.:
Message center: chore lists and assignment board let them know what’s up! I just made these out of regular picture frames and white paper behind them.
So, that’s it. That’s where our magic happens. Hope you enjoyed a little peek into our school world!