Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

The Finish Line


When my oldest son started senior year way back in September, I never imaged how fast senior year would go, but here we are, less than 3 weeks away from graduation day – the finish line.

It stills feels like yesterday that I was counting the days he was late for being born – he was 13 days late to be exact. And now I am counting the days to his high school graduation.

Eighteen and a half years ago, I was blessed with this bundle of joy and I never knew I could love a human being so much.   As I reflect back, it seems as if the time moved too fast from when he was a newborn to this amazing young man he has become.  He wanted to grow up so fast, and I wished he would slow down.

There were plenty of moments where I questioned whether I was doing anything right, especially as I did it alone.  I raised that little boy all on my own, without a father in his life, and if you ask that young man, he will tell you he never missed out, that I gave him more than both a mother and father could give. His little brother looks up to him and even though they aren’t always on the same page, my little one brags about how he wants to grow up to be just like him.   And even though he and I have had our moments, he is without a doubt the best son a mother could ask for.

Over the years, as I watched that boy grow from a baby to a toddler, a little boy, a teenager, and now a young man, and his compassion, kindness and loving heart show me what kind of person he was becoming.  He constantly goes out of his way for others, sometimes putting his own needs aside to help.  And even when adversity stared him in the face, in the form of anxiety and panic attacks, rather than dwelling, he took the experience to educate others.  And I thought to myself, “wow, this kid is amazing,” and every day, he continues surprising me.  So, I look forward to his pursuing his dreams after graduation and showing me and the world everything he has to offer and give with that big heart of his.

Graduation day will be a day of mixed emotions for me. I will be proud of him for all he has accomplished, but another part of me will be sad because he has grown up so fast.  More than anything, I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to share this special day with us.  Mostly with me, because I am watching my little boy – who now hovers over me by at least a foot – starting a new chapter in his life, becoming the adult I always wanted him to be. And he is taking a piece of my heart with him.

As he closes one chapter in his life, and prepares to start a new one, I hope he remembers he will always be my little boy, the boy who stole my heart, who makes me laugh, who teaches me to be a better person, and who can never be replaced.  My love for that young man is unconditional.  I will always be his number 1 fan and his loudest cheerleader.

And my love for him is everlasting, starting from that day in January 2000 when he took my hand and didn’t let go.  Now, he is letting go and it is time, but he knows that even though the finish line is almost here, he knows where to find me now, after this graduation, after the next graduation, and with every milestone of his adult life. I will always be there in the sidelines cheering the loudest and beaming with pride.

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Posted in Life in general

Anger and Chronic Pain – Part 2


It has been quite some time (8 years) since I previously wrote on this topic.  I had noticed at the time that these terms were common search terms leading people to my blog.  I didn’t expect the response I got then and continue to get on this post.

It Can Get Better

When I wrote that post, it had been a little over 2 years into my diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and being new to chronic pain, anger seemed to be an appropriate response.  I was angry at the universe for throwing me a curve ball when I was a young mother of only 32 years of age, and two years later, I was still feeling that anger because I was struggling to cope.  I was also in denial that this experience could get better for me.

That is not to say that it gets better for everyone. Everyone feels and experiences pain differently, and for some people chronic illness and pain results in disability, financial struggles, and so much more adversity than what I have faced.  But me, I was blessed and even though initially things went downhill, and they plummeted, they eventually got better with time.

These days, I lay an emphasis on my happiness, but I can tell you it is not easy. The days where my fatigue and pain are in full force are the hardest. Plus, I have joint damage and I suspect there will be surgeries down the road. Moreover, RA has led to inflammation related complications.  I have also suffered from clinical depression, and the thing about depression is that it returns in small bouts, and I always have to be aware of the fact it could return in full force.

I don’t fault anyone for being angry or resentful about living with chronic pain.  But I’ve come to realize that feeling too much anger worsens pain, affects sleep, ruins relationships, makes treatment harder, and results in depression, anxiety and unhealthy habits.

Fight or Flight?

When it comes to anger, the body responds by preparing a “fight or flight” response in the way that it would to perceived threat. The body responds physiologically to anger with:

  • An increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Adrenaline rushes
  • Muscle tightening
  • Heightened awareness of senses

While there some benefits to feeling this way, long term anger has adverse effects. Positive aspects of anger:

  • Awareness that something is wrong
  • Providing energy to right wrongs
  • May trigger problem solving to threats and issues
  • Energy to fight illness or do what is necessary in a situation
  • Gives courage to change and improve

All great things, but the negatives might overshadow the benefits. Anger:

  • Causes emotional and physical discomfort
  • Could lead to damaging actions
  • Impairs function
  • Compromises health
  • Carries serious and negative outcomes
  • Promotes negative self-image

Feeling angry all the time simply sucks for you and everyone else. And it sucks the joy out of life. Trust me, I know.

Considerations

 Here are some things to think about when it comes to feeling angry.

You have a right to be angry.

Chronic illness and pain suck but you have a choice. You can either work it to your advantage (i.e. finding solutions) or you can let it consume you and take over your life.

Anger is about what you feel.

People and events do not make us angry. The feelings we have about these people and events do.  You help yourself when you stop attaching an emotional response to these things.

Anger sometimes equals frustration.

We are frustrated when our expectations are not met. Maybe you need to rethink expectations.

Anger hurts you.

Feeling angry towards others or about certain situations hurts you more than anyone else.  And often, when it comes to people, they either don’t know or don’t care.  It is your energy being consumed, not anyone else’s.

Anger needs a limit

Anger is necessary for healing.  Even through anger feels like a bottomless pit sometimes, it is okay to feel it.  The more you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel about your illness and pain, the more you will heal.

Anger, sometimes, unfortunately, has no limit and can extend to loved ones, so be careful with those relationships.  Any anger felt later on in your experience with illness and pain will hold you back from enjoying life.  If this sounds like you, I implore you to talk to a professional.  Seeking help for my angry and depressed feelings was the best thing I ever did for myself and my children.

10 Years

It has been almost 10 years since I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia and my life hardly looks the same.  Chronic illness and pain have not only changed my life, but they have also changed me.  The people who have followed this blog a long time know this.

I don’t blog as much these days because my plate is full being as a single mother and with my legal career and my freelance writing.  More recently, I started a new job and cut back on my writing although I still do a lot.

I have been trying to take a more relaxed approach to life, particularly cutting down on unhealthy habits (i.e. my former excessive coffee habit), trying to relax more, and keeping people out of my life that in the past made it harder for me to be happy. And as for the latter, I don’t wish anyone any ill will, but I am trying to do what is best for my family and my health and happiness.

How I Respond These Days

Does the pain and sickness make me angry still? Sometimes, it just does.  I respond by praying for better days.  It is how I cope. You are entitled to cope in any healthy way that works for you.

I don’t always pray for a reprieve from the pain.  Sometimes, I pray for the Almighty to watch out for my children especially in the world we are currently living in.  Watching the news these days promotes depressive feelings for me, so I try to keep my media exposure to a minimum. I pray to be a better woman, to find the strength to rise above, to be there for loved ones, to have courage especially when it comes to my heart and to forgive and forget.

I don’t pray as often as I could, and I often pray when things are bad, rarely when they are good.  This is something I need to work on. I am not a religious as I was raised to be, but I try.  I am definitely better than I used to be.

A Long Ways

My life hasn’t been easy, but I have certainly come a long way. Anger, resentment and hurt are things I have let go of, for myself and my children.  But letting go of anger and forgiving doesn’t mean we allow people back in our lives that have hurt us.  We live, learn and let go – that is all any of us can do to make this journey a little bit easier.

I hope your journeys with chronic illness and pain get easier and continue to get easier. I hope that each of you finds strength to keep fighting for happiness and normalcy, but mostly, I wish for your pain (physical and emotional) to be eased.

Posted in Life in general

Growth


When it comes to luck, I felt like I have for so long carried the short stick, and was destined to hold on to it. Life has thrown some pretty rough curve balls my way, and anyone who has followed my blog knows this.

I was married young, that marriage was hard, and I didn’t get to raise my three daughters.   I raised my oldest son without his father in his life – and that was his father’s choice.  After I walked away from that marriage, my family wasn’t very supportive, so I went on my own to figure out my life. I was remarried when I was 31, and even through I thought things were looking up, they went downhill.  I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia after my youngest son was born, my brother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away, my second marriage ended, Mom had a stroke and passed away a few years later, and I was struggling to keep afloat – emotionally, physically and financially.

If anyone could be so screwed up, it would be me, but I am not a martyr. I am someone to keeps getting up every single time I fall, and that is what keeps me going. And I learned from the greatest woman that ever lived – my mother.  Everyone that knew her knew how strong she was, and she never let anyone see her waver, and I will be darned if I ever let bad circumstances win.  The only way I stay down is if I am on my knees praying.

Here we are – almost in 2018 –  and my daughters are these lovely young women.  Two are married, and I am already a grandma.  I keep in touch with all three, and our relationship is in a good place. My oldest son is a senior in high school, and he has turned into a wonderful young man, and he turned out remarkable because of me.  And life has blessed  me with this amazing, bright and happy 9-year-old boy who makes me smile, even on the days when it feels like I have nothing left in my me.  My health isn’t ideal, and there are set backs, but I fight everyday to keep going so that RA doesn’t win.

I turn 42 in a couple days, and I realize how much I have grown emotionally in the last several years.  I am afraid to say it out loud sometimes, but I am doing okay. Kids are healthy and happy, I don’t feel like I am drowning anymore, but mostly, I am happy.   And “mostly” is pretty good.   I am not waiting for the other shoe to drop, which was something I did for so long.  I know that I cannot predict the future, but if life has taught me anything, the one important thing is that I AM A SURVIVOR.

I spent so much of my life trying to get validation, and I failed miserably.  It has taken lots of therapy and soul searching to be content with who I am, even if others in my life don’t agree.  And I am content. I no longer need or seek validation from family, a man or anyone else.

Of course, there is still stuff I strive to change about myself, but who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves?  I am working towards being the best version of me based on what is best for me and my kids, and not necessarily what anyone else feels or thinks is better.  So, I say, STAY TUNED.

Maybe it is maturity or growth, but I am starting 2018 feeling hopeful and positive. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me.

I hope that 2018 is filled with happiness, good health, and growth for you.  Merry Christmas and have a great New Year!

Merry-Christmas-Happy-New-Year-2018-001

 

 

 

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Hardest Moments of Being a Single Parent


I never planned on being a single parent, but it happened.  I love my children and I cannot imagine my life without them.  But parenting alone is hard, and there are some really big challenges that stand out.

Worrying Alone

There is no lonelier feeling than worrying about your children, about taking care of them, and keeping a roof over their heads alone.  When I am up all night because someone is sick, or I am struggling with whether I have made a right decision, I feel overwhelmed and alone. I don’t miss my ex, but I wish he played his part. The burden of knowing you are the only person invested in your children’s lives and future is scary and hard to bear alone.

Celebrating Alone

I look forward to the milestones of my children’s lives.  They are the best reminders that I am doing a good job, that I have not screwed them up, and that they are growing up healthy and turning out to be amazing human beings.  While I look forward to the celebratory milestones like every other parent, I hate celebrating these milestones alone.   I feel like a single voice cheering my children on, and it is a subtle and painful reminder that I am alone in this experience.

Crying Alone

Single moms cry – a lot, but it is the worst when you have moments where you have held it in for so long, and you finally let the tears flow.  And you can’t let your kids hear you.  So, you grab a pillow and you cry into that pillow.  The crying alone part is magnified because you know you have no one to help you or to tell you, “it’s going to be okay.” I know it is all up to me to pull myself together.  It is not like I have a choice. But I need these moments. And I just wish someone could hug me and tell me it will get better, even if that is not true.

Asking for Help

This may not come as a surprise to those of you who know me, but I hate asking for help. I just want to be enough for my children, so I try to convince myself I can manage and balance everything.  While people are willing and eager to help, it takes a lot on my part to swallow my pride and admit I actually need help and that I cannot do it all.  It is even harder to ask because my children and I have been let down by the very people that were supposed to be there for us. So, I focus on doing the best I can despite the circumstances because asking for help is just plain hard.

Disappointing My Children

Every parent on Earth disappoints their children once in a while.  But when you are a single parent, it feels like you are disappointing them more – maybe you’re not, but it sure feels like it.  You don’t have as much time and money, and you just can’t play the role of two people.  I wish I could give them everything they want, because all I want is for them to be happy. But alas, I cannot, and I need to learn to be okay with what is out of my control.

Explaining Why the Other Parent Isn’t Around or Doesn’t Show

Having to explain to my child something that is hard to understand is probably the hardest part of being a single parent.  Why doesn’t Dad call? Why doesn’t Dad show up when he is supposed to? Does Dad love me? Is he ever coming back?  Watching my child struggle to understand the absence of his father breaks my heart.  But I watched my older son before him go through the same thing, and he turned out just fine, so I can take some comfort in that.  He is almost 18 and tells me that he never missed out on his father not being around, and that I gave him more love than two parents could.  (Yea, just thinking about that makes me teary-eyed.)

I love my children and my life.  If I had a choice between single parenting and not being a mom at all, I would choose being a single mother without hesitation.  But as many single parents can tell you, some days are rough, and going at it alone is very lonely. We are all doing the best we can with the cards we have been dealt, and despite our worries, our kids are turning out just fine.

Posted in Life in general, Living Life As I See Fit

Ending 2017 With Strength and Grace


This is the time of the year my editors are asking for holiday and New Year’s articles.  While it may be early for you and me to think about these things, these companies are doing what they are supposed to do, which is plan.  As I start writing my articles and start to close out yet another year of my life, I start to look back on how much growth I have accomplished in the last year, two years, five years and even ten years.

Chronic illness has changed my life more than I ever could have imagined. Some of that has been hard and some life altering, but I have managed to weather each and every storm with strength and humility – and that has taken a lot of work on my part.   I have evolved into a different person, especially compared to the one I was before chronic illness came into my life.

Flash back ten years ago when my health didn’t suck.  I was married with a nine-year-old and a newborn.  I wasn’t happy in that marriage and I eventually walked away.  Months prior to walking away, I had lost my younger brother to cancer and the pain of his loss lingered for years after.  My mom had a stroke months after my brother’s death and her health spiraled downward until we lost her last year. From the time of her stroke and onward while her health was deteriorating, I did everything in my power to take care of her with every setback.  Eventually, all her health issues and my brother’s death took their toll and we lost her two summers ago.   Her death was the biggest wakeup call of my life.

I had already been transforming as a person with chronic illness, as a single mother and single woman, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister and aunt and someone’s friend.  I had spent a lot of the past 15 years of my life taking care of others and after my mother’s death, I came to realize that all of it had taken its toll on me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It was my pleasure to take care of my mother and everyone else who needed me. But I forgot to take care of myself in the process. I stopped putting my needs first and asking for help when I needed it. I allowed people to take advantage of me and it was my own doing, I wanted acceptance and I thought putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own was the answer.

My mother’s death stopped me in my tracks.  My mother was gone, and I had put distance between myself and some family members – not because I was angry at them or because of something they had done.  I put that distance between us because my mother was the reason I allowed myself to put up with so much. I made choices because of my love for her and because I believed these were the things she wanted and expected of me.  Granted, I don’t know what my mother wanted or expected.  I did what I thought was expected of me and her loss sent every thought and expectation into a brick wall.  I was alone without her.  And I had to learn to live a life without her and without the influence of my family because I was so unhappy.   And it was NOT just grief.

I was the strong one in the family – that is what everyone told me for so long.  Because I was the “strong one,” I believed I had to bear all my burdens alone. And I did and guess what? No expected me to ask for help and they were used to me not asking.  But they all asked me for help and I helped – always.  I probably never will ask for help because well, I am supposed to be the strong one. But I did seek outside help after losing Mom and I found out that I don’t have to be the person every expects me to be and that I can be happy even if it means doing my own thing, living up to my own expectations and being the person I have always wanted to be.

I have always faced by life with strength and grace, never backing down and never letting anyone see my hurt and pain.  When I finally let my wall down, I realized that letting it down meant letting people in I could rely on, who would allow me to be the person I was destined to be, who would accept me as I truly am, and who would love me despite all the flaws I see in myself.   And I face the New Year, I am facing it without fear of judgment, or losing, or making the same mistakes as before.

I am finally living my life on my terms.  And if I keep my distance, it is not because I am angry at anyone, it is because my choices and life aren’t open for debate. The person I am today stopped trusting somewhere along the line and has simply chosen to find better ways to make sense of her life and cherish the important people in her life.   I love the people who have always been a part of my life, but if the last year has shown me anything, it is that I can be happier finding my own place in this world and looking to a life that continues to get better and brighter.

 

Posted in New Life Outlook

Is My RA Causing My Fatigue? Guest Post Brought to you by NewLifeOutlook


The health complications of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are numerous. People living with RA face flare-ups, stiffening, and pain and as a result are left with fatigue.

RA can make you feel fatigued for several reasons, and it can be difficult to pinpoint which aspect of having RA is causing your fatigue. Often a combination of factors causes increased tiredness.

Determining the source of your fatigue is the first step, and will help you take the next step to finding a remedy to help relieve your fatigue.

Pain and Medications

Your pain from RA may cause you to feel tired because it’s exhausting to hurt. Also, you may take medications to relieve your suffering, which has side effects that worsen your fatigue.

Muscle relaxants, narcotics, and medications often have sedating effects which persist for hours and may cause you to feel groggy. Medications such as corticosteroids and biologics hamper your immune response, which can make you feel tired too.

Infections

If you have RA, you may be more susceptible to infections, especially if you take immune-suppressing medications. Fatigue may be a sign of an impending infection or other illness.

If you find your energy levels are draining significantly,

Poor Sleep

RA stiffness and pain may be keeping you awake at night. If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, you may not be getting enough hours of uninterrupted sleep.

A lack of sleep can take a toll on your energy levels. If you find your regular 8 hours of sleep is too much, you may find naps to be beneficial — unless they prevent your to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Excess Weight

If you are overweight, your energy levels will fall. This is a particularly true if you have RA.

The extra weight from your body puts stress on your joints which may result in feeling more pain, and an increase in medications that cause fatigue as a side effect.

If you maintain a healthy weight, you may find that your energy levels will rise.

Poor Diet

Eating well-balanced diet supplies your body with the nutrients it needs for energy and tissue repair. Following a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables ensures that you get plenty of antioxidants that will help reduce inflammation and flare-ups.

Your rheumatoid arthritis diet should focus on consuming foods which contain essential fatty acids to help relieve inflammation and pain. As a result, you may find a reduce dependence on medications which may promote fatigue.

Healthy food choices include:

  • Flax and hemp seeds
  • Fish, including herring, salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Supplements, including flax, fish, krill, evening primrose, borage, or blackcurrant seed oils

Avoid “junk” foods and an excess intake of meat as both increase inflammation. Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.

Exercise-Rest Balance

Exercise are great ways to reduce inflammation and increase energy levels.

Low-impact exercises, such as swimming or stretching routines are often best. Check with your healthcare provider for exercise recommendations and how you can get started.

It’s important to remember to modify your exercise routine during flare-ups as too much or not enough may result in fatigue and injury. Also, be sure to perform warm-up exercises before you begin any type of exercise and a cool-down exercise after.

Pushing Yourself Too Hard

Are you expecting yourself to do all of the activities that you did before you had RA? Depending on your age and level of health, you may be expecting too much of yourself. This may result in energy-stealing frustration.

You must pay attention to what your body is telling you so that you will have less stiffness, and pain. Remember to take things one step at a time and ask for help when you need it.

Emotional Challenges

Living with RA is emotionally challenging. You may be worried about your ability to care for your loved ones and maintaining independence.

It is well-known that pain can impact your emotional well-being. People who suffer from chronic health conditions often suffer from anxiety and depression — both of these conditions can decrease your energy.

If you are newly diagnosed, you may feel angry, isolated, or resentful. You may feel overwhelmed and exhausted due to focusing all of your energy on your RA.

Consider taking a walk in a park, enjoy a cup of soothing herbal tea, get together with friends or family, get a massage, or just considering relaxing by watching your favorite show.

If you find your anxiety and depression is overwhelming, talk with your healthcare provider about the emotional challenges you’re facing and find a treatment plan that is best for you.

Is It Your RA?

While there are many reasons why RA can cause fatigue, it is important to consider that tiredness may not be related to your RAat all — it may be a sign of an unrelated condition.

Discuss with your healthcare provider if you are unable to determine the cause of your fatigue, or if it is interfering with your activities of daily living.

About NewLifeOutlook

NewLifeOutlook aims to empower people living with chronic mental and physical health conditions, encouraging them to embrace a positive outlook despite unfortunate circumstances. 

Our articles are full of practical advice from people who have firsthand experience of rheumatoid arthritis, and as a result truly understand what our readers are going through, and our community members are welcoming, understanding and supportive.

 

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

I Am Amazed, Proud and Sad – All At The Same Time


It crept up on us, but here we are. My older son is now a senior in high school. He took senior pictures a couple weeks ago and that is when the reality sank in.  Then, there was his new car.  He leaves every morning on his own and returns home on his own. He no longer needs me to take him from point A to B.  The finish line is almost here. And, then there is college and one of these days, he will have his own place and I won’t be picking up after him. He barely needs me now and soon, he won’t need me at all.  And that is a good thing. It means I did well.  So, I am amazed, proud and sad all at the same time.

My son who I have raised all on my own since he was 3 months old is almost an adult and writing those words brings tears to my eyes.  They are happy and sad tears all at the same time.  Sad that the time flew by so fast, but happy and proud of the amazing young man he has become.

My amazing son was raised by his single mother- ME.  For almost 18 years, I did this all on my own.  Family will say they helped, but their help was very little, judgmental and/or not helpful at all. And that is what most families tend to do. My parenting was constantly judged and pulled under a microscope. But despite the criticisms I received, he turned out to be respectful, polite, honest, kind, generous, and this absolutely, amazing human being. He is also stubborn with a heart of gold and this is one my most favorite things about him.  I pat myself on the back every day because I did a damn good job.

There has been many years of trials and errors and highs and lows – so many times when I thought I was failing miserably.  I loved that amazing young man even when he hated me.  He has never had a father in his life, but you ask him, he says he never missed out and I gave him more love than both a mother and father could.   He reminds me daily I am the only parent he has ever needed and hearing those words especially helps on the days when I feel inadequate in both my parenting and as a person.

Here he is almost an adult (he will be 18 in a few months). The saddest and hardest part – for me at least – is I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to see what a wonderful young man he is becoming. It has been over a year since we lost her and missing her hasn’t gotten easier.  Graduation is just around the corner and this is a milestone, I wish Mom was here to see.  But I know she is up there smiling and proud – not just of him, but of me as well.

What Mom may not have known when she was alive is that I learned to be a strong single mother by watching her.  She was 43 when Dad died leaving her with a 4-year-old and 4 teenagers and she did the best she could with what was handed to her.  She is reason I am able to raise my kids alone. When I lost her, I was afraid I couldn’t do it without her- any of it – but I have and I continue to because of the lessons she taught me.

Here we are, nearly at the finish line – my almost adult son and me.  I look at that young man who towers a foot over me and I feel immense pride.  I never expected – or wanted – this time to get here so fast but it did.  As a small child, he was always one step ahead of me, always running in front of me, instead holding my hand and walking next to me.

I will never forget the day when he was seven and said he was too old to call me “Mommy” and it was “Mom” from that point forward. Or when he was nine and told me that big boys don’t cry and he’s rarely shed a tear in my presence since. Or every single time he didn’t understand why I wasn’t ready to send him out on his own. He thought it was a lack of trust, rather than worry and fear. He has always trying to grow up so fast, trying to be older, wiser and more mature. And for all the times, he gave me better advice than most of the adults in my life, I should have known then how grown up he already was, but I wanted him to be my baby forever.  As much as I tried to keep him younger, he persisted and here we are.

This morning, as he got in his own car, waved goodbye, and headed off to school, I tried to hold the tears back.  I smiled and whispered to myself, “You did good …. No, you did better than good – you excelled.”

Posted in Life in general

Missing Mom


The is no relationship in the world like the one you have with your mother.  Sometimes, she is your best friend, sometimes your enemy but usually somewhere in between.

My mom was the person who was there for me at my worst and she was the person I celebrated with me at my best. My mother was everything to me.

I miss her and losing her was the absolute worst thing to ever happen to me.  And that is saying a lot, because I have been through a whole lot.  Nothing in the world could compare to the day I realized I could no longer lie in her arms and that is one I will never forget.

With every single day that passes, I miss her more than the day before. With every new beginning and ending, every milestone for my children and me, I desperately crave for her love, encouragement and her support.  There is no one that can ever replace her.

And with each day, I try to pick up the pieces of my life without her. For once, my life is where it is should be.  I am happier than I have ever been.  I am doing well in both my writing and legal careers. My kids are doing great and they are happy and healthy.  And I have let go of people who made my happiness harder.

But some days, I feel alone without my mother and that feeling is the most devastating in the world.  I know that there are so many others who live with this same pain and so many more who will.

I know my mother lives inside me. After all, she raised me to be the woman I am today. And while sometimes, I wish I wasn’t walking alone, I know that I am doing fine and she is looking down on me with pride. She may not agree with all my choices, but she knows I am strong, resilient, and smart and that I will always do the right thing.

And even though she is not here to support me and cheer me, she is still my biggest fan.  She still has a front row to my accomplishments.  She is further away but she is still with me.

I am lucky to have my mother for as long as I did.  And missing her is hard and sometimes, it takes all I have when things get to tough to move forward without her.  But I do it every single day and despite how much I miss her and how much I ache inside for her presence.

If you are lucky enough to have your mom still around, don’t take it for granted.  Call her, visit her, pick up the phone when she calls, listen to her, and remind her how important she is too you.  You won’t know how truly blessed you are to have her around until she is gone. Don’t take her for granted today because tomorrow might be too late.

 

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, long over due

My Struggle with Pleasing Others and What I Have Learned


Pleasing others brings a lot of anxiety to person’s life and impacts a person’s life significantly.  I know because I have been there – sometimes, I am still there.  Trying to please others forces one to sacrifice their own happiness.

I am not sure when I started basing my life’s choices around what I perceived others wanted from me but it is safe to say; I did it for too long.  As a result, people took advantage of me and I let them. I let them think it was okay to place heavy burdens on me, to take care of everyone but not myself, to consider their happiness over mine or to worry about how my choices affected them.  I made choices based on what others (especially family) would approve of and in the end, I suffered more than anyone else.

I let people take advantage of me because they always did.  I let them treat me badly because they always did. I let them place heavy responsibilities on me because they always did.  I made decisions in my life based on how it affected them because I always did.

I apologized for every thing; even when I knew it damn well wasn’t my fault. I did it to avoid disagreement or to make others happy. Or maybe, I thought my disagreement wasn’t important.  I swallowed my pride for too many reasons and let others be right even if they were hurting me.  Sometimes, I let people hurt me and then blame me even it clearly wasn’t my fault.  I never said “no,” because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

I held on to my own mistakes and I analyzed them over and over thinking about what I could have done differently or what other options there were.  I allowed myself to get hurt so others wouldn’t.   I was made to feel selfish when I tried to do or think about what was best for me.  I held on to relationships that weren’t fulfilling my life – again, in the name of pleasing others.  I needed approval and I didn’t always feel like I was enough – for others, for God, and even myself.

While I was always there for everyone, I was bearing my burdens alone. The people whose feelings I was concerned with or who I continually was there for were not there for me.  I stood alone and I continue to.  Mostly because I didn’t trust them because of how often/much they hurt me and how they took full advantage of me. Anytime they hurt me, they placed the blame on me so hence, you can see how I became a people pleaser – for so long and to my detriment.

You see a pattern here?

The one person in my life who I knew I could rely on no matter what is gone. I miss my mom in a way that words cannot express.  But I put up with so much from so many people because of my love for her. But she is gone and I can’t be the person I used to be or the person I thought she expected me to be. I can’t. I refuse. But for her, I forgive, but I am not forgetting or allowing myself to get hurt ever again.

It has taken a lot of soul searching and a whole lot of tears over the past year, and counseling over the past few years.  But I am learning it is okay to make myself happy, that I matter too, and it is okay to not care what others think of me or my choices, and that I can think of myself and not base my decisions on how it affect other people.

I used to think that getting away from people pleasing meant simply doing my own thing.  And I have done that – whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it, and with no regard for how it affects others (except the people that actually matter).  But there is more to it than that.

The people pleasing habit doesn’t just disappear.  It nags at you. But you have learn to fight the feelings.  And trying to fight it makes you angry – at the world, at loved ones, at the very people who you tried to please and at yourself for allowing this and putting your needs on hold.

It has taken a lot of work and a lot of distance from people who don’t understand the burden they placed on me for so long to be okay with not making everyone happy and seek out my own happiness.  And they have hurt me. They just don’t get it or even see that. They blame me and I accept that because I cannot control how anyone feels. But I can’t continue to sacrifice myself in the name of acceptance.

I am learning to trust in myself, my faith, and in the Almighty as I learn to face my life on my own terms and that involves keeping my distance from certain people – people who for someone reason are yet to figure out, I need to lead a present and perhaps long journey on my own.  And I don’t know for how long. It is for however long it takes.

I am taking responsibility for what is mine, what I deserve and what makes me truly happy.  And for the first time in a long time, I am happy and I won’t apologize for that.  It takes a lot of courage to stop thinking we have to fix everyone else’s issues and prioritize ourselves.  And that is not selfishness.  It is strength.

I am learning to love myself – something I have was not able to do in the past.  I am learning to feel enough – for myself, for God and the people that truly matter – my kids.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have the ability to make my own choices, but I do now. I can and I will.  And I get that upsets people, leaves them behind and makes them worry about how it affects them. But it is not about them.  It is about me. For once – it is about me.  It never was before. But now it is.  I got too old to worry about how my choices affected everyone else. I am making my choices based on how they affect me.

Taking back control of my life is motivating. It has allowed me to genuinely love and care for the people that truly matter.  Healing is not 100% here, but I am getting there. And for now, it is enough.  But I am not looking back. I can’t and I am not sorry.   I am living my life as I see fit and holding true to the title of this blog.

Posted in Life in general, Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit

Realize Your Worth and Potential and Don’t Look Back


I am always amazed at the strength of women who walk away from situations that aren’t good for them or make them unhappy.  Like so many, I have been there.

But there are women who stay. We cannot force them to leave.  We can only hope and pray they can see the infinite potential they have to find their own happiness.

I don’t stay. I walk away because I know my potential and self-worth.

The moment you realize your self-worth, it is amazing and priceless.

Anytime I have questioned my circumstances, I knew something had to change. Whether it is a job, a city, or people, even if it’s family.  I can’t stay in situations that hold me back or that are unfulfilling.

I have tried to wait for situations to get better. I have pretended to be happy. I have questioned whether I could leave.  But all these things were indicators that I should leave certain situations and relationships.

I was tired and defeated and resentful.  I had given my power to others and I was unhappy.   I sought help from professionals and friends on dealing with specific situations that caused me anxiety and the reasons and people for them.

I was tired of giving more than I had to give in to many of my relationships and feeling like I didn’t get enough back.

I wanted to smile and laugh again. I was tired of being sad all the time. The stress was overwhelming and the hurt was too much.

One day, the universe forced my hand.  It was time to move on and I found my strength.  I was the only one holding me back. I had to believe I was enough.  And yes, I was afraid of the aftermath. I still am, but I refuse to give control of my life and happiness to others.

I am no longer angry or resentful. I picked myself and found the courage to believe in myself.  I am strong and I will survive on my own terms and with the people I want in my life.

The person I was before was weak. She let others determine her happiness and self-worth.  She didn’t feel enough for herself, for God, for love and at most relationships in her life.

I wanted to live my life without fear and without the expectations of others. I wanted to feel joy and passion and for the first in my life, I am feeling just that. And it took leaving people behind that were holding me back.

Happiness found me because I choose be unconditionally happy and not allow people back in my life who expected me to live my life on their terms.

For all the amazing ladies out there, I hope you find the strength and the courage to live your life joyfully. I hope you can feel worthy and breathe freely and I hope you never look back. I hope you feel enough and loved.

Because happiness and freedom from others’ expectations is the best feeling the world and I have no intention of ever feeling differently again.

Posted in Life in general

Things Change, Life Changes Us


Life is a persistent (sometimes mean) teacher so I have learned this year.  We are getting close to the end of another year and it has been a difficult one.  My life has been shaken up this year, and over the past couple of years, there have been events that have surprised and changed me, and hit me when I least expected.

 We lost Mom this past August.  I thought losing my brother was hard but losing Mom came so unexpected it shook me to my core and made me question everything and everyone in my life. After her funeral, I didn’t cry for a month. The tears wouldn’t come and I was numb. But once they did, they brought back my old friend depression with them.

I struggled for months to accept Mom being gone; I was shell-shocked. The tears have finally started to dry and the depression has lessened.  I miss her and it likes a lot of effort to not be able to pick up the phone and call her, and just show up at her place. My boys miss her too, and they, too, have struggled with losing her. While we have all struggled to accept this loss, we were trying to embrace the impermanency of life and the changes that come along the way.

My mother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but she was my mother and I loved her and would have done anything for her. I get my strength, determination, and willpower from her, and losing her brought with it fear, loneliness, anxiety and much sadness.  For almost 41 years, my mother was the one constant in my life. She was always there for me. Friends have come and gone, two divorces, my health issues, and so many life changes. But she was always there! She was my rock, my strength and the person who held me up when I didn’t think I could go on. But I also held her up. I would have done anything for her. I am strong because of her. I am strong because I watched her strength all my life. I know I can still be strong without her. I just wish I didn’t have to be.

I don’t know who I am now that Mom is gone.  I still am her daughter, but her not being around changes what that feels like.  It feels that all I am now is my children’s mother and I feel so lost in that role without Mom.  She was my rock when life threw hurdles at me, and my rock is now gone.  Granted, I always took care of myself and my kids without any help, but I did that because she was here. I knew that no matter went wrong, I would have her.  Now, I struggle with the idea that it is really “me and my kids against the world.”  But we are okay.  We have been and we always will be. It is just a matter of my accepting that while I miss Mom, I will be okay and so will my kids.

I turn 41 this year, and the older I get, the more I continue to realize my happiness is more important than living up to others’ expectations or their acceptance. The older I get and the more distance I keep, this gets easier.  Like the next person, I just want to be happy and I want that happiness on my own terms.

My teenager turns 17 in a month. Where did the time go? And as much as he drives me crazy and as much as I can’t wait for him to grow up and mature, I am struggling with what that means.

In 2016, life changed me and my ideals drastically. It broke my heart and made my soul ache.  I couldn’t fight or resist the change. I just had to learn to accept it and let things go.  Sometimes, all this change and loss brought me to my knees, but it also reminded me that I am still here.  I am still here to be the parent my children need and deserve, to be happy, to be loved, to love, and to live life on my terms.

Things change and life changes us. We also change. I know I have.  I also know we cannot do a single thing to stop change or slow it down, as I learned this year. We just have to accept life and change as they come and hope for the best.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Five Things I Hope My Teen Son Understands


A co-worker of mine recently said goodbye to her 18 year old son for six months, as he went off to National Guard boot camp. While I know she is proud of him, I know it cannot be easy having your child leave home for the first time. My teenage son is only two years younger and while I don’t think he will be leaving home at 18, as his plans are to go to school and live at home, I still wonder what the world has in store for him. Less than two years, he will be an adult and I wonder if I taught him enough that he can survive the current cruel world we live in.

Times have changed. College is expensive. Jobs are hard to get.  Young adults graduate with debt. There is more evil and hate in the world than ever before.  And he really isn’t an all American kid. I raised an American Muslim child who sees the world more innocently than I do or ever did.  I raised him to be tolerant in an environment that isn’t necessarily tolerant of differences. I raised him to be strong even though I was and continue to be a hovering mother. I taught him the importance of independence and I tell him every day never to rely on anyone while making sure his needs are met. Despite my examples, it scares me the type of world he is becoming an adult in, one where people associate faith with evil.

And I have learned a lot of from him as well.  He reminds me to be kind even when there is cruelty. He tells me to forgive even when I have been terribly hurt. He is a big old teddy bear, hovering over me by at least six inches and he is getting taller. I have to look up to talk to him, and I don’t always see a child in front of me. I think being raised by a single mother makes a young man softer, kinder, smarter, and more accepting of the world.  I pray that he has picked up on my strength, my willpower and determination.  I know that he sees how hard I work to keep a roof over his and his brother’s heads, but I don’t know if he is prepared the real world – the one that is unfair, unkind, and sometimes intolerant.

What I do I want him to know as he ventures out there in the world? How do I prepare him? Do I just pray that the values I instilled in him help him to be the person he needs and wants to be? And how in the heck do I prepare him for the cruel world out there?

There are so many things I really hope he understands as he makes his way in adulthood. Maybe he already does or he doesn’t but I am trying my best to make sure he survives out there.  Because from a mother’s perspective, the world sometimes seems like a zombie apocalypse.

Here are five things I hope he understands as he makes his way into the real world.

I Hope He Understands That There is Unfairness

This generation of children has been told that there are no losers and that we are all winners. The sad reality is that in real life there are losers and not everyone is a winner.  And there is plenty of unfairness. People get their way in life because of who they are and what they are have, and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, it might not matter. It is just the way life is. Everyone experiences unfairness at some point. And bad things happen to all of us – things that make us feel that life is harsh and very unfair – death, divorce, breakups, illness, job loss, etc. Unfairness has no prejudice, as no one is spared.  And it doesn’t mean you should give up trying.  You grieve, grin and bear it and move forward.

I Hope He Understands That There is Evil in World

I read this line in an article somewhere: “Being Middle Eastern is the new being black.”  It seems like it has been the case since the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country.  A bunch of crazies professing they are Muslims (i.e. ISIS or Al-Qaeda or whomever) have decided they speak for all of Islam.  And every time there is some act committed by a crazy Muslim, the entire faith has to apologize. Christianity doesn’t apologize for the KKK or crazies like Timothy McVeigh so why should all Muslims have to apologize for ISIS and the attack on an Orlando nightclub by some lunatic professing his allegiance to ISIS and some other radical group.  Yea, there is evil out there and I have to have to explain to my children that these people are not Muslims. They are killing innocent people, including Muslims. I have to tell my teenage son to be careful out there anytime one of these so-called crazy Muslims commits some horrific act and that people will judge and be hateful and that scares me as a mother. It scares me that it will get worse before it gets better.  And he is oblivious to all this right now and that scares me even more.

I Hope He Understands That There are Good People Out There Too

There are good and kind people in this world. They preach kindness and not hate. They won’t judge him because of his faith or because of his background.  I want him to be one of those good people. I want to accept everyone despite their differences. I want him to help others less fortunate and stand with goodness and against cruelty. I want him to never look down at anyone unless he is helping them up.

I Hope He Understands that Not Everyone Will Like Him

The older I get the more I realize how important it is not to care what people think, even family. It took me 40 years and a lot of heartache to figure this one out and I hope he figures it out much quicker than I did. I hope he learns that it is okay to be different and that others don’t like him or his choices.  He shouldn’t get worked up or feel hurt or try to change for anyone.  He should be himself and do what makes him happy and that those that truly love him will accept him no matter what. I know I will.  

I Hope He Understands That No One Owes Him Anything

Teenagers generally struggle with the idea that their parents and the world owe them. I guess it is a teenage thing and the sooner they outgrow this idea, the better. Although, some people never outgrow this. You have to work for what you want because no one will ever hand you anything on a silver platter. He has watched me work two jobs for at the last seven years trying to give him and his brother a good life. I don’t believe anyone owes me anything and I pray that my teenager learns from my example. And failure can also come with hard work and I hope that he understands that success does too.  We just have to keep trying, be brave, take risks and put ourselves out there if we expect to get anything out of life.

As I said before, when it comes to my children, I often see the world as a zombie apocalypse.  I can only protect them for so long before it is time for them to do that for themselves. I have pray that I am teaching them all the things and giving them all the tools to make it out there in the world. Because they will venture out whether I am ready or not.