Valentine’s Day 2019 Gifts – Lots of Unicorns!

I had a good Valentine’s Day yesterday!

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My husband and I went to Fazoli’s for a casual dinner because we just don’t find it worth it to go to nice restaurants on Valentine’s Day when it is so ridiculously busy and packed. We will go to a nice dinner in a few days when it is calmer lol.

I loved all the gifts I got! As you can tell, there was a unicorn theme! Lots of stuffed unicorns, a unicorn & mermaid coloring book, adorable sloth and donut socks, chocolate covered strawberries, and and awesome gudetama notebook and bananya (cats in bananas) pen.

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When Someone You Loved Embraces Ignorance

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I have to be careful how I word this post as there is a slight (but unlikely) chance the person I am talking about might read it. However, it has been weighing heavily on my mind so I wanted to talk about it.

There was a person in my personal life I was really close to for several years. I cared about them deeply and loved them like family. They were much younger than myself, so I tried to set a good example for them and be a sort of big sister to them. We spent much of our time together, partly out of necessity at the time and partly because I genuinely enjoyed their company.

Now they are all grown up and I am still in loose contact with them and seeing how they have turned out has kind of broken my heart. They have embraced some radical ideologies that are rude, ignorant, and sometimes bordering on mean or even cruel. I know I only had a real influence on them for a few years, but it still makes me feel like somehow I failed them that they have turned from such a thoughtful, sensitive, caring young person to a cold, bitter, angry, and sometimes hateful adult.

I still love them and know that goodness I knew inside of them must be there somewhere. I know they have had a rough life and many hurtful experiences, just as I had growing up. I wonder if I am being too hard on them. I know sometimes the other side goes way too far with political correctness, perhaps it is just a reactionary thing? Maybe they are just being young and foolish, like we all once were? I don’t know, but it still hurts my heart.

Can Abusers Ever Be Reformed?

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This is a question I struggle with myself on a regular basis. Can abusers really ever change or is it just theater to try to pull you back in so they can mistreat you again? Should you ever let a prior abuser back into your life if they seem to have changed for the good?

None of these are easy questions and there are certainly many contributing factors that should be considered as well. Perhaps abusers who once had drug or alcohol addictions and have now gotten clean for a significant period of time will have changed enough to give them a second chance.

What about those who lived for years with undiagnosed, untreated mental illness and finally get the help they need? How much of the abuse was who they truly were and how much was the influence of the untreated mental illness? This scenario is one I personally have experienced to some extent with my own family. How much responsibility should they hold for the abuse, especially any times they may have actually dipped into psychosis?

I know many abusers find religion at some point in their lives and claim to have been completely changed. I must admit I am suspicious of this claim. Perhaps religion truly does change the hearts of some, but much of my personal experience has taught me that if someone is a bad person before they find religion, they will likely be a bad person after they find it. Superficialities may change, but does their behavior/attitude/actions?

Unfortunately, I have no real answers to the question of whether abusers can ever change, but I hope that they can. I would warn everyone to be cautious in extending an olive branch to anyone who has deliberately hurt you again and again, but I do understand the desire to believe in the power of change.

 

Party Like It’s Your Birthday…

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Yesterday was my 36th birthday! I had a great day! My mother and her new husband, Bruce, took me and my husband out to eat at Perkins where I had some delicious spiced pear and cranberry waffles, then we went back to my house and visited for a while. Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably know I have a rocky relationship with my mother at times, but yesterday was actually really nice.

My mom also gave me some gifts, including cash and all this stuff:

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The llama dances to the tune of “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and is so adorable!!!

After my mom and Bruce left, my husband gave me his gifts for me:

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The t-shirt is awesome since I adore black cats and that lyric is from one of my all-time favorite songs (by Simon & Garfunkel). The black skeleton candle and Hello Kitty card are big favorites too!

A good friend of mine also sent me a little care package which was extremely sweet:

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I’m looking forward to reading that book since the movie looks pretty cool too. And you can never go wrong with ponies and cats!

Overall, I had a great day! Thank you to everyone who helped make it special!

I Don’t Owe Anyone Anything

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Yesterday I had rather a bit of a breakthrough moment. Now, to most people with healthy backgrounds and relationships, this will likely be a bit of a “duh” moment, but to people like me who were groomed to be codependent caretakers, it is an immensely important realization.

My “eureka moment” can be summed up in one sentence:

I don’t owe anyone ANYTHING, and no one owes me ANYTHING.

Of course, this does not mean that I can’t give to others out of the goodness of my heart, or that they can do the same, but none of us should feel required to do so. I would say the one exception to this rule would probably be children. If you bring children into this world, you do owe them something – and that is to do your best at providing them a safe, stable, and loving childhood. I guess pets fit that category as well. If you sign up to take care of something that can’t care for itself, you are essentially accepting that responsibility.

Outside of that, I’m not sure if any of us should feel like we have to fully take care of others emotionally, mentally, physically, or materially. We all have a responsibility to do our best to meet our own needs, and while that may mean reaching out for help now and then, we have to realize that sometimes we may be turned down and that is ok. If so, we just need to keep looking I suppose.

As someone with disabilities though, I do want to say that I do feel it is vitally important to have public programs and assistance available (whether these be government or charity systems) for those of us who sometimes struggle more than others at being “functioning adults”. To me, it is just a simple matter of society welfare and empathy that should strive to help anyone who falls through the cracks.

Why Did I Watch the Abuse?

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Last night I was thinking about my history of abuse and how I grew up seeing so much of it. As far as physical abuse goes, I did endure some growing up, but it was much more common for me to see someone else physically abused in my family. There was a “scapegoat” in our family who seemed to be the target of much of the worst of the abuse.

Thinking back, I remember how when this abuse would happen, I would scuttle into the corner or hide in a nearby alcove, but I never tried to actually leave the room. Common sense would seem to dictate that when violence is happening, you would want to get as far away from it as you can, but I didn’t even try.

I questioned myself last night why this was so. I came up with several possibilities. First, perhaps I was afraid to leave the room because I thought it would draw further attention to me. My main goal when violence would erupt was to try to become invisible. Sometimes the rage would boil over and the physical and verbal abuse would extend to me if I happened to get caught in the crossfire, so I naturally tried to fade into the shadows. Sometimes, early on, I would try to distract and please the abuser in hopes of calming them down, but that never really worked.

Another reason I think I stayed to watch was because deep down I feared for the safety of the scapegoat and I wanted to make sure they didn’t die. There may have been some morbid curiosity tossed in there too, the way that human nature makes us crane our necks to see what happened when driving by a car crash.

Lastly, I think I stayed and risked my own safety because I felt responsible for trying to make peace after the explosion. I hated to see the division in my family and the anger and pain created by these confrontations. After the worst of it was over, I would often go to the victim and try to comfort them, and then I would even go to the abuser and try to comfort them. I would try to mend the rift between them, although obviously looking back with adult eyes, I see the utter futility of my efforts and sometimes feel anger that I felt responsible to hold the family together in the first place, as I was so little at the time (elementary school age).

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!