I’m cooler than you on Father’s Day…..

(I’ll get back to funny soon – there are some GREAT dating stories in store)
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I am cooler!  And I’ll tell you why in just a sec (and it’s not just because of how cute I was as a baby – look at that face!).  First, I have to say Happy Father’s day to all the dads, moms who play dad, men who stand in the gap, and to the men who chose to be dads when they didn’t have to be!!  Your role is more important than ever…..and I’m lucky to have had the best and know some of the best!  I am also lucky to have some pretty great faux dads that have taken me in as their own (especially the latest guy – my mom’s fiance, who has done nothing short of making sure my mom and me and my sisters are taken care of!! Love you, Joel!)
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I’ve never been able to sit still and find a way to write all the encompasses my dad.  Or, I should say that I’ve never felt like I could do it justice.  He really deserves a book.  I’m not just saying that as a proud daughter, who thinks her dad was the greatest.  I mean, he really deserves a book.  He is the survivor of a terrible incident (as in survivor out of 9 people that these monsters killed – while being handcuffed to a dead guy and stuffed in the trunk of a car – where he was trapped fro 6 hours in June, in Arkansas…..sooooo yeah, that’s a story worth telling).  A book is on my bucket list to complete, but for now, I blame life in general and a ridiculous amount of fear for not having done it yet.
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Although the above tid bit is enough to put him leaps and bounds ahead on the list of great guys, that’s not why makes me cooler than you on Father’s Day.  I could argue that these throw back pics included should definitely put me at the top of cool, but that’s not it either.
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You see, what makes me just a TINY bit cooler than you today (unless you’re my friend Aaron, I’m not as cool as him) is that I get this day as a reminder that I was chosen.  I’m gonna take it up a notch and even say that I was hand picked.  My dad came along after I was already born.  I was part of the package of loving my mom and I was VERY young when he showed up.  Thankfully, too young to know that the “real” one had basically abandoned his opportunity to raise this legend!  And thankfully, too young to have that pre-established hesitation for someone coming into the picture (even though the above shows me less than happy, in general. haha).
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I’m more than proof that DNA isn’t the sole factor of making a child.  My dad chose me.  I think that’s what has always made me a little cool 🙂  He didn’t have to be my dad, but he made the conscious decision to.  And he did so, fiercely.  There was never a difference.  Not one time.  If anything, he was harder on me.  I am more like him than I would’ve ever thought possible – and I’m ok with that 🙂  (even the stubborn).  He and my pop were two of the most important men in my life and I will never be the same without them – but I’m proud to be who I am because of their influence!
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Some guys don’t get to choose.  Some are told they are going to be a dad and enter into the role out of obligation.  Some know they want to be a dad and follow the process of “first comes love, then comes marriage……”.  Any way that you become a dad and step up to the role is great.  I in no way want to disregard that. I just simply want to recognize that  (and am a little partial to this method) my dad chose me.  To make a deliberate choice to fill a role, an often thankless role and to fill the role with your whole heart – THAT makes you one heck of a guy!
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One of my favorite stories is told by my aunt, after my dad passed.  She tells about the first day my dad had duty alone with me.  She says that he came to my grandma’s with me in tow, in matching denim overalls.  She goes on to always make sure I know that on that day, she had never seen my dad look more proud.  She talks about how he entered the house, carrying me, and was beaming.  My dad had been through a lot by then.  He had a lot of reasons to not be a happy person.  And, if you knew him, you knew that he definitely had his grumpy and closed off side.  A side I fought him on through much of my teenage years (because of course I was dramatic and wanted to always talk about my feelings lol – oh his eye rolls will forever be stuck in my head).  But to hear her tell about how on that day, he had a glow………GOODNESS it makes my heart tingle EVERY TIME I recount it!
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My dad expected a lot from me.  My dad was strict.  My dad was one of the best math teachers to ever live. MY DAD WAS A FIGHTER (polio, shot and left for dead, heart attack on the day of my grandpa’s funeral, and a cancer journey).  You will be hard pressed to find someone that was as tough as him.  And he NEVER complained.  He might have gotten grumpier at times, but he just never complained.  He wouldn’t ever let me cry for very long without expecting me to pick myself up and keep moving.  He wasn’t a “hugger” or emotionally available guy. I can still remember the first time he truly said “I love you”.  It was a big deal.  He HATED that I was a procrastinator.  We spent most of my teen years fighting.  He didn’t “save” me from a lot of mistakes, because he knew that I was the type that just had to learn on my own – but also believed in me enough to know I was smart enough to eventually figure it out (even if I took longer than he cared for, to do so).  I’m sure we could all say we gave our parents a run for their money.  BUT HE CHOSE TO STAY.  He chose me.  And I know that he was proud.  He told me so, before he died, in a very emotional voicemail, that I would sell my soul to the devil to still have.
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I can’t stop smiling and I have erased how many extra times I have typed it already.  HE CHOSE ME.  And I didn’t appreciate it enough, of course, until it was too late, and he was gone forever.  But, like I typed above, he always knew I would “get it” eventually.  So, I’m sure he is wondering around in heaven, not a bit surprised that I took way too long to “get it” about him.
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I could sit on the front porch all day, with a glass of cold sweet tea and tell story, after story about him.  His story gives me breath and life….and it’s REALLY COOL that when I seem to be missing him the most, the big guy sends someone my way to listen to me ramble about what an incredible story (or 3) my dad had.  He is one of three major examples that contribute to me being set apart (I don’t say that to brag – because if anything, I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t made the most of what is so clear about those examples).
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I don’t know why it took me until the eve of this Father’s Day to realize the whole chosen thing.  I wish it would’ve “clicked” while he was still alive, so that I could write him a cheesy card that he would just roll his eyes at and throw away (he was a man of few words – I was a child of too many words lol).  Maybe he would’ve kept it – he did keep this amazing wood burning art I did for him :P.  He wouldn’t have sat and let me brag too much about him though, he wasn’t that kind of guy.
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I’m pretty lucky that I was chosen.  I’m pretty proud at how many people also saw how awesome he was, and I will never tire of hearing people talk about him (they still do, to this day – which is testament enough to his impact).  It’s pretty hard to justify letting anyone tear you down or make you believe in yourself less, when you had someone choose to fill one of the biggest roles in your life.  I had someone pick me!  And I will do my best to remember that before I cry to a friend (like I may/may not have done last week) when some stupid guy doesn’t pick me.
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Thanks for letting me type out loud and process what is normally a rough reminder day.  If you read all the words, thanks for letting me proudly share about my awesome dad.  If your dad is still here, hug him or call him, but do not let him go unappreciated on this day.  Dad’s are such important people!

Raw and Uncut…ex-boyfriends,triggers and hurts…..

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I wasn’t going to say anything.  I knew what was happening and I knew how I was trying to handle it was not going to work.  But, I let too much “noise” get in my head and tell me that nobody wants to hear it. Or, that it’s been long enough that I should be over it.  Or, the worst one, the voice of my ex boyfriend, immediately following the events, who kept saying “you’re too obsessed about it – you just have to get over it”……….

So, as per usual, I filled myself with temporary distractions.  So many distractions actually, that I ran myself in the complete opposite direction, straight into pure exhaustion.  In doing that, I seemed to forget one little detail……exhaustion is one of the two biggest enemies of my chronic condition.  And thanks to all that madness, here I sit………my body in total rebellion and if I’m being ridiculously raw, my heart sutures, a little busted.

And the only way I know how to feel better, is to write.  You see, no matter what you personally think of my words (or of me, for that matter), I don’t write them for you (or maybe this time, I actually do).  I write them because out of all the things I don’t like about myself, and out of all ways I question what the heck I am wondering around this planet for, typing words is the only thing I’m sure of.  It’s the only thing that boosts me into dealing with whatever I need to (yes, even if it’s a funny dating story).  And more than that, it’s the only thing that I KNOW is meant for something bigger than me.  I know if it’s taking me to such an uncomfortable place to write/type them, then it’s also meant for someone else to read.  Even if it’s just one person.  I think it’s even more cool that my job is to write it and release it.  It’s not for me to know where it lands from there.  

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Sorry, I digress.  I came here to admit and face today.  Not to over explain myself. So, Hi, my name is Alicia and I’m hurting.  I’m also angry.  I want to be in a different place and I’m not and I know it won’t go away until I tell you about it.  Why the universe puts me in these positions to open myself up to so much, I’m not sure….but I’m definitely gonna address it when I get in front of the big guy :p!

Five years ago this last week, at around 4:30 in the morning, I sent an email to my core tribe of friends, telling them that I was in serious danger and needed help.  I asked them not to contact me until I could escape and make contact with them.  I admitted that I hadn’t been truthful with them about what was going on in my life.  I confessed that I was terrified of what would happen to me.  For a few seconds, I questioned whether I was being too dramatic in what I was saying.  I couldn’t use my phone, and I wasn’t even sure if any of them would check their email.  Then, he woke up.  And it all started again.  Nope, definitely wasn’t dramatic in my email.  To this day, I firmly believe that if he hadn’t have passed back out from being so drunk, that he would have followed through on his promise to kill me.  And that was the start of a living hell on earth.  

My deliverance from abuse was nothing short of carefully orchestrated moments and miracles.  Period.  It just was.  I wish I could tell you more.  But I can’t.  Even after five years, I am yet to be able to sit down and write it all out or tell the story in any translatable format.  For someone like me, that is so foreign.  I’m a story teller after all.  Yet, it never fails that people come across my path and the story (or the parts that are needed to) come up.  I share and exhale.  And then I swell with gratefulness.  I struggle with why I’m not supposed to share the “cool” parts of the story with the masses.  But, I have to trust that it’s to come where it’s supposed to.  

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Let me bring the point of this a little more together and wrangle it in.

  1.  It still hurts.  It hurts differently.  But, it still hurts.  I’m not sure that it will ever go away.  And that’s ok.  I’m not where I was.  And healing doesn’t always mean it all goes away.  Being tough doesn’t shield you from the sneakiness of the triggers.  Those little brats show up out of nowhere.  I’m more than thankful to be equipped with the right tools and right people to help me through them.  There is no shame in the admittance of the triggers, the asking for help or the sitting and simply feeling them.  
  2. I shouldn’t have ignored the triggers this last week.  I knew it was coming.  This anniversary and a few other dates ALWAYS trigger something.  Thankfully, it’s smaller triggers, like simple unsettled feelings and a general uncomfortable feeling.  I start sleeping less EVERY SINGLE YEAR during this time (the thief comes in the night, right?).  And I try to ignore it.  Because, according to others, I should be over it already.  And EVERY SINGLE YEAR, I end up here.  Completely drained.  Mark these words though, it will be the last year that the ignoring happens.  Next year, it’s a tropical vacation of poolside sitting and feeling it all.  Raw.
  3. The physical scars and abuse went away.  The mental mountain has been way harder to climb.  I’m SO PROUD of all the work I have done and the network I have had to get over “him”.  You know what lingers the most?  The first person I dated after.  The one I said “ok” to and opened myself up to.  The one who I knew before, the safe one, who pursued me.  The one that I gave ALL the trust I had left to.  The one I trusted with my completely shattered heart and damaged self.  Yeah, that one hurt the most.  Because he was the one who couldn’t deal with the Alicia that I was.  I know it’s not completely his fault.  I wasn’t in a place that I should’ve been dating at all.  And I said that multiple times.  But he still worked to gain my trust.  And I gave it to him.  And when I let myself love and be completely me, even the broken parts – he couldn’t handle it.  And in what I’m sure he thought was just tough love and brutal honesty, his words and actions (or serious lack there of) completely ruined me.  They were the “nail in the coffin”.  And what maybe would’ve been another year of work and healing to be past the abuse, has now lingered a very long five years.  And that’s all ok.  Because no matter what story he tells himself or others, or how happy he is in his own moving on, he served his purpose in my journey.  
  4. I’m still grateful.

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LISTEN TO ME RIGHT NOW…….

  1.  If you are in an abusive situation, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get out.  PLEASE ask for help.
  2. If you are dealing with anything traumatic – feel it.  No matter how big or small the situation seems, if it is impacting you – then it’s real. If you feel it, it’s real.  And you NEED to feel it.  I can remember SO MANY days of checking the clock and thinking “ok, I just made it through an hour.” and I would take a deep breath and try to make it through the next.  That is as literal and truthful as can be.  Hour by hour.  I couldn’t even make it through a day.  I had to take it hour by hour.  And it wasn’t until I acknowledged and owned that feeling, for that time, that I could even think about how to make it through a day.  

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3.  If you are a friend of someone in that situation or of someone who has escaped….WATCH YOUR WORDS.  Watch your judgement.  Period.  It’s not about you.  It’s not up to you to decide how they heal or how long it takes.  If you can’t play the role, then don’t.  That’s ok, too.  But you do not accept the role and get to dictate how the victim deals.  You just don’t.  I’m sorry.  I know it’s seems so easy to help and for them to see how they should just be ok.  They are out, they are safe, so they’re good?  Nope.  Not how it works.  And if you can’t step outside of yourself and choose to love unconditionally – then you DO NOT deserve the person in the first place.  You just don’t.  Because your judgement and impatience is doing more damage than being thrown up against a wall will EVER DO.  

4.  If you come into a person’s life long after the event, consider yourself a sacred part of their life.  You probably won’t understand, why five years later, on a Monday night, they are texting asking for random prayer.  You might not understand why they seemed fine a few days ago and then all of the sudden just seem cranky, and puffy, and tired and stupid sensitive.  Just hold on for a minute and love them anyway.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do is let people like me and know what the past few years have held for me.  And at the same time, the easiest thing for me to do is to cut you right on out if you screw with what little trust and heart I have left.

5.  Let me make this clear one more time.  You DO NOT get to tell someone that how you made them feel isn’t valid.  You just don’t.  You don’t have to agree with how they feel.  You can think whatever you want.  But, if you truly love them or are truly their friend, you HAVE to acknowledge that their feeling is just as valid as yours.  Read this again: YOU DO NOT GET TO DECIDE HOW SOMEONE FEELS OR HEALS.  

ok.  

I already feel better, even in the midst of busted sutures, that unfortunately have left me more vulnerable than I care for……. and even in the midst of a lot of things piling on (of my own doing, for trying to be tough and hide feelings) and a to do list still a mile long.  Writing with all those feelings seeping out of me is the best therapy (accompanied by a great playlist).  You can think that is dramatic if you want to.  Maybe it is.  Maybe I just feel that hard.  And maybe I’m done apologizing for that.  I will never fully heal if I don’t shut those other voices of doubt and judgement out.  To be honest, it’s probably those things that have kept me from healing, way more than the abuse memories have.  

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And in it’s own twisted way, and with all those rambling words above, it’s actually beautiful how something so awful keeps coming up at all.  Because each time it does, as painful as it is, I can’t deny how much I have learned. I mean it when I say that it truly is a beautiful story. It seems like it keeps coming up so that I don’t forget that I have climbed a damn big mountain 🙂  These pics were from my first beach trip, ever in my life, which happened to come not long after my escape (one of those cool parts I reference).  Just digging those out again and including them here makes me reflect on how surrounded I was.  The things that happened were amazing.  

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I am stronger.  I KNOW that I have shared it with those that needed to hear it for whatever reason.  I am wiser.  I am more intentional.  I am protected from ever going through that again.  I found out that as much as my core and heart can be shattered, that it can also be rebuilt (sometimes even better than before).  

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Released and now I can rest.  I look forward to a good night’s sleep.  Thanks for reading.

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