The Book of Sunshine: Chapter 1

Date: December of 1976-1981

Age : infant-5years

Husband: J.D.

In the 70’s there was a movie titled: Sunshine . I can’t really tell you why but this is where my mom says she got my name. As with the first few years of my life and what led up to it, I never asked my mom about the origin of my name until after 2001, after I turned 25, after my mom had a major stroke and really couldn’t tell me much.

This movie was a “made for T.V.” special and it’s soundtrack consisted of 7 songs by John Denver, one of which was “Sunshine on my Shoulders’ for which the film is named: IMDb

There’s a menagerie of memories I have up until 5 years old. They are kind of thrown together and all mushed up. My most vivid memories are from 2 different apartments in the same apartment house.

The 2nd floor apartment consisted of a living room to the right when you walked in, a small bathroom just to your left, the kitchen straight ahead and then the only bedroom was to the left of the kitchen. In the upstairs apartment we had a female German Shepard name: Lady and when I was around 3 she jumped up on the roll away bed with me during an argument and her paw got my cheek leaving a scar on my cheek right below my left eye.I also remember a picture of me or maybe it was just my favorite dress pictured in my head hanging on the door frame leading into the living room from the hallway. Either way I remember my favorite pink dress, the one I wore in the pics that actually hung at the neighborhood bar: Julies Tavern, in Decatur, Il , right down the road from where I grew up! I never have come across these pictures as an adult but I remain hopeful!

In the downstairs apartment I have several memories mostly good! My mom would always take me to the public library to rent Little Golden Books & Dr Seuss! I loved reading and being read to and the fun poetry world of Who-ville would leave an everlasting impression (positive impression) on my life! Additionally there was an incident in which I washed my hair with Nair (a bottle of cream rinse used to remove bodily hair which unfortunately included the hair on your head) and to “teach me a lesson, or whatever, my mom cut all of my hair short”. Also we grew up in a time when kids in Africa were starving so it was our duty as a member of The U.S. to eat every thing on our plate no matter what! This particular night it consisted of a bowl of chilli that I did not want to eat for whatever reason so I added A LOT of salt to make it better! Of course it actually made it worse but I had to eat it anyway because we did not WASTE food back then!!!! Lastly, the memory I tell no one about: My stepfather was an alcoholic and he believed in whippens! If you did wrong then you got a spanking with this red and white belt! Well I clearly did something wrong that warranted a whippen with THE BELT!!!! After getting the spanking, I rolled around on the bed in a “convulsive fit” and rolled off the bed and broke my left jaw on the “end table” that sat next to the bed. Who knows what the Dr was told but ultimately the dentist wired my jaw shut to allow the break to heal which meant I had to eat baby food in preschool…..it didn’t last….I pulled the wires out and the dentist gave up.
I honestly don’t remember how soon after this incident my mom and I moved out but I do believe anything longer than immediately would not have occurred if the roles were reversed!

Advertisements

The Piggy Parent Chronicles: Xmas

OMG!! No one told me that you can’t mix pet pigs with a Xmas tree. I know it stands to reason but with EVERYTHING else on my mind it hadn’t dawned on me just how difficult it was going to be!

They look so sweet……but….

I finally get up the energy to put up my tree today (yes I know it is only a week till Xmas) and I realize that if you have 8 ‘ ceilings and a 6.5’ tree you can only lift the tree off the floor 1.5’…..well you see that wouldn’t work!

Addiction Tuesdays

For the last few months I’ve been going to group counseling and then private. I go every Tuesday because “My name is Sunshine and I am a ____________. Just fill in the blank: an addict, a survivor of abuse, a person with a mental illness, a product of my shit childhood……you get the point! So, although I’ve been going to counseling on and off since I was 9, I affectionately refer to my most recent “stint”in counseling as “Addiction Tuesdays”!

I have no idea where I was at when everyone else got the memo on exactly how to “find themselves”. I feel like the majority of people born in December of 1976 may have got like a cheat sheet to life!

Anyway, I think someone sent it snail mail so you know, it just showed up 20 years late. #USPS for those of you too young to know, that stands for: United States Postal Service…..Ok, I am done with amateur comedian hour!

So, my real point of turmoil is that I keep evaluating EVERY SINGLE THING I SAY AND DO! Like ALL day, EVERY day, I keep bending Roger’s ear (he seriously is a great listener ^^especially for a man^^)

Randomly I will be like: I just figured out today the reason why I drive you crazy is because my mom wasn’t a good mom…..Okay, that isn’t what I say. I’m sure it was something similar though. It is clear though, to me and my husband that I have this insatiable desire to learn what it takes to be “normal” At first this meant the little house with the white picket fence, now it means finding peace. Due to my childhood it has taken a long time to realize that I deserve it. I am hoping that someone will read this and save themselves the 20 years it took me to realize that I am deserving of peace!

The Book of Sunshine: Prologue

Something About Sunshine

Everyday and probably several times a day I think about writing a blog post. I can never make up my mind if I want to write about my life…. It’s certainly been eventful enough to muster up a best-seller! Or, do I want to write about whatever is on my mind at the time….I know that whatever is on my mind is always exciting enough to have everyone engaged!! So, like any great procrastinator, if you can’t decide what to do you just do nothing!!


In 1977, my mom left Kosciusko Mississippi with a very tiny me! She had no job, no money, no car and had to make it back to Central Illinois with a baby!

The man on my birth certificate isn’t my biological father (I’m not certain who is and I genuinely could care less) but my mom had 3 older children that she conceived with this peculiar man. However, he didn’t think she should take the other kids with her. The 2 of them and the children stood in the front yard, on a cold and snowy winter day, literally playing tug of war with one of my brothers!

My mom only made it back to Illinois with me. She started out hitchhiking but a good Samaritan bought her a plane ticket and we were off to Illinois!

This is where my own story loses the first 3 years because of course I can’t remember it, my mom can’t tell me because of a stroke she had several years ago AND there’s no one else around that can tell me.

So, we will just start with 3 year old Sunshine! We always lived as poor as I ever witnessed, of other kids were as poor I couldn’t tell. I realize that people had it worse but we always lived in higher crime neighborhoods, in very small apartments in broke down apartment houses.

I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight about the neighborhoods I lived in as a child so I looked them up! Well some are empty lots now but my favorite is the graphic showing all the high crime neighborhoods in dark blue and every street I lived on is in dark blue…

Have you ever read V.C. Andrews books? She is the author of Flowers in the Attack. When I was 15 years old I spent the entire summer reading books. Each book she writes is generally 1 of 5 in a series and I read 2 of her series that summer and I swore that my family must be like these folks in the books!

OK, maybe there’s a bit of an exaggeration, we didn’t live in an actual shack nor did we live in the mountains! I do remember my mom making “hobo stew” and I just assumed that meant throwing whatever you got on hand into a pot and cooking it up. As it turns out there is actually a recipe for it!

OK, OK, back to business. This is why I never get my posts published! I get to researching this that and the other thing and I get lost. So, now we know what my neighborhood looked like, what kind of food I ate and what my perception of it all was!

Although my childhood was filled with negativity such as: poverty, abuse, drugs&alcohol, mental illness and foster homes, I tend to look back on most of it with a sense of humor. I realize this may seem strange to some people but it is my own way of taking the power away from the negativity and enables me to focus on the positive moments!

Writing about my life story is important to me for a few different reasons. 1: It is important to me that I deal with my past so I can move forward. Many people may think there’s no need to “deal with your past or childhood” and I believed for the longest time that I had done a great job not letting my childhood “get to me”! Little did I know I had just become really good at compartmentalizing! 2: I hope that someone will read my story and know that they are not alone and that whatever negative feelings they are dealing with as a result of anything they have been through does not have to define them for the rest of their lives! Last but not least (I say this with a small amount of jest) Maybe one day soon this will lead me to writing a best selling novel and I’ll make lots of money!! 

Edgar & Esmeralda: The Piggy Parent Chronicles

A year ago we brought home a Vietnamese Potbelly Pig: Edgar aka The Super Bestest Pig Ever! It’s been a learning curve ever since! Just like bringing a baby home you have to have your house baby pig proof and they are as smart as can be so they pretty much potty train themselves but they are much happier piggies if they have a schedule! They strongly dislike change and they will let you know in their own little way!

 

Edgar is now a year old! My Vietnamese potbelly was acting out, being aggressive, sleeping more and not playing “crazy pig” (running around the house or yard either from me or after me at a remarkable speed for a pet that weighs in at 150 lbs and is only 18″ tall) so like any good piggy parent I consulted the FB piggy group and they felt it sounded most like he needed a companion!

So 3 1/2 weeks ago we brought home a female Juliana pig and named her Esmeralda!! Like everything these days I researched all about pet pigs and even researched having more than one pig but it never occurred to me to check the difference in breeds or gender!! Esmeralda’s personality is completely opposite of Edgar’s!! He is a no fuss, no muss type of Piggy!! Esmeralda on the other hand she is sweet and sassy!!

The Book of Sunshine: Introduction

(A short, ok sort of short, preview)

My early beliefs shaped so many decisions:

As a young girl I HATED my name. So much so that I always went by Sunny until I was in Junior High. Why couldn’t I have been named Kim? That was my dream name! So simple and not drawing any attention. That is the way I wanted it!11021168_10203210876383998_6864499889922935607_n

Poor People Have Poor Ways!


Causes of poverty

Poverty is an exceptionally complicated social phenomenon, and trying to discover its causes is equally complicated. The stereotypic (and simplistic) explanation persists—that the poor cause their own poverty—based on the notion that anything is possible in America. Some theorists have accused the poor of having little concern for the future and preferring to “live for the moment”; others have accused them of engaging in self‐defeating behavior. Still other theorists have characterized the poor as fatalists, resigning themselves to a culture of poverty in which nothing can be done to change their economic outcomes. In this culture of poverty—which passes from generation to generation—the poor feel negative, inferior, passive, hopeless, and powerless.The “blame the poor” perspective is stereotypic and not applicable to all of the underclass. Not only are most poor people able and willing to work hard, they do so when given the chance. The real trouble has to do with such problems as minimum wages and lack of access to the education necessary for obtaining a better‐paying job.
More recently, sociologists have focused on other theories of poverty. One theory of poverty has to do with the flight of the middle class, including employers, from the cities and into the suburbs. This has limited the opportunities for the inner‐city poor to find adequate jobs. According to another theory, the poor would rather receive welfare payments than work in demeaning positions as maids or in fast‐food restaurants. As a result of this view, the welfare system has come under increasing attack in recent years.
Again, no simple explanations for or solutions to the problem of poverty exist. Although varying theories abound, sociologists will continue to pay attention to this issue in the years to come.

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/sociology/social-and-global-stratification/causes-and-effects-of-poverty

Roughly 14% or 40+ million Americans live below the poverty line and depending on if you are Trump (250,000 Americans live in “deep poverty”) or the UN (18.5 million Americans live in “deep poverty”) Growing up I always subscribe to the belief that “poor people have poor ways”. This is certainly a personal belief based on personal experience as well as data compiled by many theorists etc. I’ve read some very offensive versions of this belief: “poor people are the way they are because they are lazy/ don’t care/ don’t know any better”. For me it’s clear that poverty is often a life cycle. You start out poor and it can become like a habit. You start to realise or believe that you aren’t worth an education or a good job. You are often looked down upon in a way that tells you to “stay in your place”. My counselor recently stated it very well. People living in poverty often feel isolated. Poverty puts you in a box! My point to all this is that my family seems to have been plagued by some pretty messed up choices for generations and most of these choices seem to occur most often in poor families. So yes, as television will tell you: drug addiction, domestic violence and child abuse doesn’t discriminate BUT these situations are much more common to families living in poverty! 


The effects of poverty

The effects of poverty are serious. Children who grow up in poverty suffer more persistent, frequent, and severe health problems than do children who grow up under better financial circumstances.
Many infants born into poverty have a low birth weight, which is associated with many preventable mental and physical disabilities. Not only are these poor infants more likely to be irritable or sickly, they are also more likely to die before their first birthday.


Children raised in poverty tend to miss school more often because of illness. These children also have a much higher rate of accidents than do other children, and they are twice as likely to have impaired vision and hearing, iron deficiency anemia, and higher than normal levels of lead in the blood, which can impair brain 

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/sociology/social-and-global-stratification/causes-and-effects-of-poverty

So, my point to all this carrying on is: I will start writing a collection of posts that will all be titled: The Book of Sunshine. My method has changed several times in the last few days and I already had the majority of this post completed as well as the post titled “Prologue” so I’ll officially start the story with:The Book of Sunshine: Chapter 1. I don’t believe I will have titles for each chapter yet nor do I have an exact plan for a timeline but I do have a brief outline from me being a toddler to age 16 which is actually divided up by who my mom was married to at the time. 

I’ve been trying to get to a place in my life that brings me peace! I’ve made SO much progress year to year but this year I’ve made the most progress thus far! To have peace I feel that I have to make peace with my past and as it turns out, to make peace with your past you have to process it and as it turns out that includes a much more difficult task: You have to take a long hard look at what makes you who you are AND you have to be “OK” with it OR adjust accordingly. This collection of posts are my biggest and best attempt at processing my past and because that is a work in progress so are my methods of processing!

Blah Blah Blah

So it hasn’t been the best week. I mean
I’ve been sooo tired once again! Since deciding that I have anxiety which I’ve always thought of as stress they decided “hey lets put her on a new med so she can feel like shit for 4-6 MORE weeks in a hopes that we are right and the medicine WILL work!  I keep hoping the day will come and they will say: “she has chronic fatigue and we will give her a magical pill (since there is one for everything) and she will have all the energy in the world! So I am convinced this may partially be the brain of an addict but we have all this being prescribed for various reasons but I’m confused on who decides which ones are controlled due to their ability to alter your state of mind? Don’t they all alter your state of mind? The point of pain medication is to tell your brain your not in pain, antidepressant to tell you that you aren’t depressed, anti-anxiety to tell your mind you aren’t anxious? While I’m on the topic, isn’t that the reason weed isn’t legal everywhere? Because it has the ability to alter your state of mind? Top 10 prescribed medications:
  • Vicodin, Norco, Xodol (hydrocodoneacetaminophen) Drug class: Opioid/acetaminophen combinations. …
  • SynthroidLevoxylUnithroid (levothyroxine) Drug class: Thyroxines. …
  • Delasone, Sterapred (prednisone) …
  • Amoxil (amoxicillin) …
  • Neurontin (gabapentin) …
  • PrinivilZestril (lisinopril) …
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin) …
  • Glucophage (metformin)
Top reasons for prescribing marijuana:
  • Cancer.
  • Glaucoma.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Hepatitis C.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A chronic or debilitating condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
Medical cannabis
  Top 10 reasons people smoke weed: 1. Marijuana as medicine. 2. For the effect of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. 3. To relieve the stress, anxiety, fear, pain or anger related to personal, psychological or family issues. 4. Popular culture endorses marijuana use. 5. Low perception of harm. 6. The opportunity to try marijuana presents itself. 7. Peer, family or role model influence. 8. People use marijuana because they were born with or develop certain personality dimensions, such as unconventionality, which make marijuana use non-taboo. 9. Curiosity. 10. To relax.

Anxiety/Depression/Baggage (it’s all related)

anx·i·e·ty
aNGˈzīədē/wp-1539450923462..jpg
noun
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
“he felt a surge of anxiety”
synonyms: worryconcernapprehension, apprehensiveness, uneasinessunease, fearfulness, feardisquietdisquietudeinquietudeperturbationagitationangstmisgivingnervousness, nerves, tension, tenseness; More

 Depression:
1: feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
“self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”
2: a long and severe recession in an economy or market.
“the depression in the housing market

Baggage:

past experiences or long-held ideas regarded as burdens and impediments.
“the emotional baggage I’m hauling around”
wp-1539451156930..jpg
It wasn’t until the last couple of weeks that I realized anxiety was the voice I kept hearing in my head telling me “you can’t do this” “you don’t have time for that” “remember, that is too hard to do” “you aren’t smart enough to accomplish________” I kept identifying the feelings as stress! This is a link I found for screening tools that can help you sort through various mental health issues:
Growing up I thought that people could just look at me and see right through me. I was sure that people could tell that I was growing up with a shit home life, poor, parenting myself, abuse etc. It took me years of adulting to know that wasn’t the case.

I’ve been going to counseling since I was 9 years old! Well off and on anyway. Any counseling before I was 20 was mainly court ordered due to being in foster care and/or related to resolving issues of abuse which looking back never was successful.

1_IN_10perpetratorsrisk_factors_3SIGNS

If you or someone you know has been abused:

GET HELP NOW

CALL 866.FOR.LIGHT OR TEXT LIGHT TO 741741

You are not alone – resources and support are available. Call to have questions answered or chat with a trained crisis counselor, 24/7 at no charge. All conversations are confidential.

 

Researchers estimate that 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually
abused.5,6 Of these, 40% tell a close friend, rather than an adult or authority.7 These “friend-to-friend”
disclosures do not always result in reports. This means that the vast majority of child sexual abuse
incidents are never reported to authorities, though research suggests that disclosure rates to authorities
may be increasing.

Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H. A., & Hamby, S. L. (2012). Child and youth victimization known to school, police,
and medical officials in a national sample of children and youth. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, (No. NCJ 235394). Washington,
DC: United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

I’ve always avoided discussing the abuse I endured growing up. I stuffed it down deep for years and spent my time perpetuating chaos subconsciously avoiding my childhood. I did have counselors that would elude to the fact that I wasn’t covering the root of all my problems but I was hell bent on putting out fires because that required less effort.

Finally I moved back to Decatur in 2013 and life started to be less chaotic and as a result I had more time for self reflection. wp-15322971963037355743889565155872.png

In 2015 I found an amazing counselor who let me avoid the topic of abuse for awhile but then started pressing me. That eventually led me to finding a counselor at Growing Strong Sexual Assault Center but not until 2017 and I only went a few times AND I verbalized what I had endured ONCE and thought I was cured and didn’t go back.

This situation is actually intertwined with another that I’ve been going through this year. I would not say at all that my childhood was actually the cause of my opiate addiction but after finally openly discussing some things with the counselor I am seeing now I can see a correlation.

People who misuse opioids often report extensive histories of childhood maltreatment, which include emotional and physical abuse, emotional and physical neglect, and sexual abuse……Authors:News Author: Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW; CME Author: Laurie Barclay, MD

Of course it started with a prescription here and there over the years (2007-2015) and then it occurred to me that if I took pain medicine then I could work more. The pain in my feet, carpel tunnel and back would be relieved which curbed the fatigue and enabling me to work more hours. After the scripts ran out then I found opiates on my own and of course justified it all with the above reasoning.  This ties into the childhood issues because being sexually abused over many years by several men made me feel like damaged goods. If I could work more than I would be indispensable regardless of being damaged goods! If I could have identified these issues earlier in life it would have saved me a lot of heartache!

I started this blog for 2 reasons:

1: I was sure that writing this blog would be therapeutic

2: I wanted to help others

Point being, if there is anything that I would stress to anyone, DON”T WAIT! Don’t wait to take care of yourself!wp-15322981882021055409800515570857.png

I think it is safe to say that we all want some of the same things in life and just as I thought when looking it up the #1 thing was:

Happiness
Biggest Challenge:  “Not knowing what I want to do.”
Happiness is a choice folks.  It just is, plain and simple.  Every single day you get to decide if you are going to be happy or not.  I think the main reason most people are unhappy is because they are looking for something outside of themselves to “make them happy.”  Guess what, the new car, house, outfit, boyfriend, or girlfriend is not the answer.  The only person or thing that will bring you happiness is YOU…….Kathy Caprino  The Top 10 Things People Want In Life But Can’t Seem To Get.  

You can’t be happy if your anxious or depressed and the only way to beat anxiety and depression ongoing is to get rid of your baggage! The sooner you get rid of it the better! You can’t just ignore it, shove it down, alter your mind to avoid it….you have to take it step by step. You have to actually put in the sometimes long, tiring, frustrating, no immediate gratification work to boldly acknowledge your baggage (each piece individually) take it out, unfold it, see where it came from, why it is keeping you down and after you’ve gone through each one (like steps in the grieving process) you can then and only then fold it back up, put it in the bag and let it go!

Zachuery aka Zachariah aka Pooky Wooky

October 19, 1994 (2 weeks after my due date, 1 day after a failed attempt at inducing labor and 4-6 hours after the Dr assisted my water breaking) came my 2nd bouncing baby boy!

The next day we took him home and unlike his older brother he started sleeping 4+ hours at night within the first couple of weeks. He was such a calm baby (especially in contrast to his brother) that I called the pediatrician concerned something was wrong! After a handful of questions the pediatrician assured me that Zach was just fine and just a good sleeping baby!

I’ve mentioned this in a past post but I like to remind my kids that they are so smart and healthy because I breast fed all of them and Zachuery for the longest. I’m sure there is a direct correlation to his good health and generally good decision making!

As the boys were growing up we always told them Zach would be president and his older brother Sean would be his bodyguard. That’s not quite how things have turned out but it gives you a feel for their personalities.

Zach did great in school and starting in 5th grade (due to his distain for daycare) he started watching his little sisters before and after school. He was always so responsible and fairly meticulous. We realized at one point that he had been folding his dirty clothes and when we would eat out everyone would be done eating but Zach would just be done cutting his food into perfectly even pieces!!

A review of over 200 birth order studies found that middles are characterized as sociable, more faithful in monogamous relationships, and have the fewest “acting out” problems…..

However, if events would have been different then I would not have spent this summer with the newest born love of my life…..Zachs’ daughter : Rima

Unfortunately in September Rimas’ mother came and took her to Texas and will not allow us to see her or talk to her. Zach and her mother were never married so at this point he has no legal rights. However, I have quickly become a legal self help guru as a result and I have begun filing the necessary paperwork to get into court and establish paternity and custody/visitation. We do not have lots of money for an attorney but we are going Monday for a free consultation! In the meanwhile we are keeping busy using our missing her as motivation to work hard on getting her back in our lives!!
%d bloggers like this: