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!! 

Advertisements

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!!

If I could see me now


I often look back at younger Sunshine with a great amount of thoughtfulness. Often wondering if I’m making her proud! I’ve always seen actual images in my mind of how I thought living normal would look:

Every morning this “normal” family consisting of a husband and wife , 2 kids and a cat and or dog all get up, have breakfast around the table then go off to work and school and then at the end of the work/school day the parents take the kids to after school activities, return home for dinner at the table, followed by family fun, bath and bed! For years that was the standard for myself. Needless to say starting out being a teen Mom didn’t do much to help me feel normal. However, I have come to a point in life that I think my 9 year old self would be pleasantly surprised by!

The fact that I can walk out in my backyard at midnight and not be worried just amazes me! It has nothing to do with the way things are in the world right now but because I grew up so poor we never lived in a neighborhood that would have been safe to be outside at night time.

Daydreaming

In comparison to me my husband is very outgoing!! In his career (10+ years in sales 10 years owning his own business) he has to put himself “out there” daily. He is constantly having to”sell himself” and he genuinely does a good job of it! I feel that these same personality traits are the ones that allow him to vividly tell me stories that involve our lives taking a turn for the better whether it’s small and temporary or on a large long term scale. I honestly wish I could be in his world. It appears to be so wonderful and magical to someone like me: Quiet, (unless you mess with my loved ones, I had several disputes with teachers and MDs when my kids were young) shy, paralyzed with fear of rejection……

However, if I were to allow myself to daydream I think it would look like this:

That looks like a great life to me! Old house out in the country with Edgar the Super Bestest Pig Ever, his sidekick Cat Buddy Jerry, a few rescue pigs, lots of Sunflowers and then inspirational/serene walks! The reason why I bring all this up is: I feel that many people (like my husband) are genuinely able to see themselves doing whatever it is that they want to do and some how that enables them to move/propel themselves in that direction.

Nearly everyday I go over the same things in my head: What can I do today to make my life better? After coming up with most of the same answers as the day before, I start reading up on whatever will motivate me, work on my blog, or marketing our family business or developing an online store and then as the day goes on I talk myself out of any move that would actually bring some results! I have this ever present fear of failure, brought on by an ever present fear of people judging me negatively, brought on by an ever present fear of feeling shame/embarrassment which after years of therapy, reading and recently blogging I know stems from childhood……

I am the blond, naturally, being silly every chance I got! Looking at these pictures I realize a few things: 1. When I think back my memories always have a dark cloud hovering, by this time I had already had many days of witnessing abuse which at one point resulted in my jaw being broke when I fell off the side of a bed as well as many days of going without many of the things we all take for granted on a daily basis: attention from our parents, food, a safe home etc 2. I was 6 in the pic with the dress. In a year’s time my mom had left the man I thought was my Dad, moved into a women’s shelter, met a man, moved in with him and this is their wedding day. The picture with me sticking my tongue out, I am 9. By this time my mom left the last husband, I’ve experienced abuse more than once, my mom has met a new man that she has married and he has lost his job within a year so we are living in poverty and I am no longer oblivious to how bad life is. 3. Discussing the above memories is something I rarely if ever do!

Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect – Child Welfare Information Gateway

The impact of child abuse and neglect
is often discussed in terms of physical,
psychological, behavioral, and societal
consequences. In reality, however, it
is impossible to separate the types of
impacts. Physical consequences, such as
damage to a child’s growing brain, can
have psychological implications, such as
cognitive delays or emotional difficulties.
Psychological problems often manifest as
high-risk behaviors. Depression and anxiety,
for example, may make a person more likely
to smoke, abuse alcohol or drugs, or overeat.
High-risk behaviors, in turn, can lead to
long-term physical health problems, such
as sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and
obesity.

Suggested Citation: Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

Father’s Day

as-a-father-this-was-the-best-mothers-day-gift-ever-109493.png

It was only recently that I realized how little regard I had for the “father role”. I had no idea who my biological father was until I was 15 and when I met him he said “I couldn’t be sure at the time because of your mom”. So in once fail swoop he let me know that 1: it didn’t matter enough to him to figure it out and 2: because of your mom…….implying what? That my mom was sleeping around? Wow what a good start. At any rate, no real love lost there. During my childhood my mom did marry several times and all though they all had some endearing qualities (I use this term in the loosest possible way) they all were actually the last person you would want your mom to marry.  OK, after saying that I feel kind of bad, 1 1/2 of them were OK. Point being still no one showing me that fathers actually matter. I remember thinking to myself at one point that if/when I had children I would be better off just raising them on my own.

After doing everything ass backwards, getting pregnant very young, married very young, divorced young and then having my girls, and then leaving their dad. I actually found myself in a position in 2013 that would lead me to realize how important and wonderful fathers can be! My girls father and I got back together as our youngest daughter was starting her freshman year of high school. I thought I had made an awful mistake because our daughter aka our Princess aka Alexa and her Dad could not see eye to eye. Alexa gave her Dad a run for his money every time he tried to enforce the rules. She would even tell me I was letting him be mean to her by taking her phone away.

In 2015 my husband had a diving accident (this was kind of self induced but changed our lives forever due to the traumatic brain injury TBI) Austin and Alexa could not see their dad in such a condition but Alexa clearly has come to love her father more than ever!alexaanddad.jpg

So, here we are: 2018. Our 3 children we raised together have all gone off to college, are working while going to school, have their own places etc. I genuinely believe now that God intended on their being 2 parents (or more) involved in a child’s life. Regardless of the family dynamics it is virtually impossible for 1 parent to give a child everything they need. There is no balance.

I just want to say: Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers. If you aren’t in your kids lives please make an effort to do so!

This is my husband and I the day before the accident, We’re pretty sure he got a face lift in surgery! =+)meandrogdaybeforeaccident

Eminem & Bonnaroo 2018

So I have had a longing (we will call it) to see Eminem for nearly 20 years! My older daughter: Soleil who is 20 became a big Eminem fan in 2011 after meeting her best friend Breigh. As much as I would like to deny it I think Breigh qualifies as the biggest fan out of 3 of us and then Soleil and myself. (I’m basing this off the fact that she knows every word to every song…and not like when people say: I know everyone of his songs…..she genuinely knows every word!

At any rate, fast forward to January of this year. Soleil and I were at work together and she was looking up dates to see Eminem. Well our little world was changed forever!! She found it! Bonnaroo 2018 featured artist: Eminem!!!! For those who don’t know about Bonnaroo it is a huge camping/music festival on a farm held every June in Manchester TN 

 

Of course I don’t agree with everything ever said in every Eminem song but I am not one of those people that base my entertainment choices on how the person is otherwise! Having said that I did stop watching Grey’s Anatomy because Shonda Rhimes killed off Dr. McDreamy and I tweeted her to let her know!!

At any rate, the experience was amazing all around. It was primitive camping and our campsite had to be a mile away from “Centaroo” the weather was as hot as possible all day long, so happy the rain stayed away though.

No matter the heat, cost, waiting in lines I would absolutely do it again in a minute. There is certainly something to be said for getting to see your favorite musician/artist! I’ve always loved Eminem’s music, I loved that he was bold enough to say whatever and it meant a lot to me because I could relate to his point of coming from nothing and fighting so hard to get to a better place!

Depression, Doom & Gloom, The Dark Cloud

It took me years to recognize when I was depressed.  I was always running on empty, raising the kids, working all the time, going to school and hardly sleeping. As time went on I realized that if I wasn’t taking my medicine I had more days that gave me the constant feeling of impending doom.

After life calmed down I guess I thought I could be depression free. Of course deep down I knew that wasn’t true but I still tried several times to go without medication. I’ve also learned what makes “The Dark Cloud” darker and I’ve tried to keep anything like that at bay. Additionally I have learned what fills up my cup and I desperately try to keep a good balance of those things so that the cloud doesn’t take over.

So, having said all this, it seems as though depression has not acted in a conventional way over the last year. All the things I’ve known to work, to keep that feeling of Doom & Gloom away are failing. I hadn’t been taking my medicine regularly but I have for the last month and I am still waiting for the relief.

Last year, for months on end, I couldn’t get my bearings. I was taking my medicine, staying away from triggers and filling up my cup with very little change in my mood. It seems to have spilled over in to this year. I suppose I could choose to look at it another way! Maybe the feelings of Doom & Gloom, or the inability to get rid of the dark cloud has to do with the fact that my baby just turned 18 and will be going to college in August. Being a mom is all I’ve known for the last 25 years and with everyone leaving I’m not sure where that leaves me.

The Weird Category

I read some where (don’t quote me) that nurses have one of the highest rates of mental illness. I can understand why! Anyone that has a heart doesn’t stay in long term care unless they care! Of course there are some nurses that play tough (fuzzy wuzzy) but for the most part you don’t make it any length of time as a LTC nurse without having a heart. I would like to add that the home I work at now far surpasses any other facilities I have worked at in the past when it comes to caring nurses, CNA’s and caring families! So props to us for that!

So: The Weird Category. I was getting report from a nurse this week and some how the term weird came up. I told her that I would put myself in “The Weird Category”. I think it causes me just a little bit of trouble and it requires a lot of patience!! My personality seems to be associated with a Big Heart . Unfortunately they don’t pay well for “Having A Big Heart”.  I find the term: Weird to be endearing for some reason. I think it means that people these days are far more accepting toward people that aren’t in the “normal” category. So although I have little love for what “Politically Correct” has gotten us, I absolutely love that fact that my children are far more open minded toward people than my generation.

At any rate if you show up on our door step with one of our children rest assure we will waive you in no matter, race, gender, sexual orientation.

Pondering Life

I have this ever present longing, for what I am not sure, to do something great I guess. The funny thing is that if I come across a situation or cause that I can do nothing about it really bothers me! Whether it be in my personal life, something I see happening at work,  or something I have heard about on the news that I feel passionate about. I just feel like I want to help in some way and I just don’t know how.

I am sure this drive is directly related to my becoming a nurse. Unfortunately this has been a good and bad choice. Good because I love to help people and bad because often my hands are tied as a nurse. I spend so much of my time advocating for my residents that I feel exhausted.

Every cause I come across: Nursing Homes, Poverty, Mental Health, Overcrowded Prisons & Mandatory Minimums. I research for hours on end and I’m not quite sure why but I’m sure it’s because I feel  I can make a difference somehow. I have done a handful of things to do my little part. I work in a nursing home so I’ve presented several ideas to my supervisors to make things better. I go out of my way to make things bearable for my residents!! As far as the other causes mentioned, I have sent several letters to politicians pleading for change as well as educating myself about the politicians so I can feel good when I go to vote. I joined FAMM: families against mandatory minimums and change.org. Change.org allows you to sign petitions that directly affect people and their causes. Lastly I started this blog in hopes that I will say something or provide information to someone that will be of help and/or make a difference!

 

 

%d bloggers like this: