Wednesday, October 26, 2011

update on my writing

I wrote that post here, there, and everywhere. Then I submitted it to a group blog called "Band Back Together" ( has a lot of mental health, recovery, and other survivor type stuff on it. They accept submissions but then they edit them and choose when to publish them. So I submitted, and then waited..and then I saw that it was being reviewed and edited... and now I have a date. It will be published on November 8th. The editor emailed me with the news and after some back and forth she said I was a "good writer" and that she didn't have to edit much. Really what she did is add some formatting for emphasis, like adding italics and things like that. She said she could have put it up for publication sooner but it was so good that she wanted to put it in a PRIME TIME. Oh.... :-)

She got me in the ego. Yup! Loved hearing that. So that was really nice.

The scales have been smiling for the last couple of weeks too. I dropped a couple of pounds, and a co-worker complimented me on my weight loss and my new jeans. Sweet!!

Feeling good about yourself is not a crime, just in case you ACOAs need a reminder. I am not a selfish person for feeling good about my accomplishments. I have worked for a long time, and I have worked hard to lose weight and to be a good writer. I did not do these things overnight. They have taken effort.

Now I am taking a couple of more steps.

First of all I have slowly been building a following on Twitter. I am not in a hurry to build myself but I am determined to do it. Twitter is helping me to find my voice. It is helping me to figure out what is important to me and figure out what my opinions are. Like many ACOAs I have not really felt like I had a voice most of my life. Twitter is really helping me to define myself. There is a site called Klout,, which identifies how much influence you have, and what topics you seem to know about. I find this very helpful too.

Second, I am joining NaNoWriMo which is just insane. NaNoWriMo is the idea of National Novel Writing Month... somehow I am supposed to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Yeah, right. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 21, 2011

apologies to Amy Tan

Well I started reading Amy Tan's book "Twist of Fate" a week or two ago and then I set it down. All week I've dodged reading that book and to me that tells me something.. Even though it's probably a good book I guess I'm not into it. So I am going to set it down for a while. I realized that I had originally checked it out from the local library but I wasn't reading it fast enough. I returned it to and checked it out from the university library instead. The university library lets me keep things longer. So I am setting it aside for now, and I will do some other reading and come back to Ms. Tan's book in a few weeks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Route 66 Adventure Handbook" by Drew Knowles

A co-worker was reading a different book about Route 66 and that gave me the idea to check out a book about Route 66 from the local library. I ended up with "Route 66 Adventure Handbook" by Drew Knowles. I have to tell you I did not finish the book. The author talks so much about how hard it is to FIND The original Route 66 because of the way things have changed that it pretty much made me give up on the idea. He kind of killed the magic for me. Instead of feeling inspired, I feel defeated. I might pick up another book on the subject right now, but for the moment I think I'll read other road stories or plan my own fantasy vacations etc. This book was a waste of my time. Sorry folks. I don't recommend it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

reposting this everywhere

 I thought it would be a good time to post some of my ACOA history. It's Mental Health Awareness Week too, so there's another reason.

My mother is an alcoholic. I can say that now. When I was growing up it wasn't allowed. She's been married and divorced 3 times and has been "single" now for many, many years although she almost always has a boyfriend around somewhere. She can't stand to be "alone".

When I was growing up she was married to my step-father (now ex-step-father) for a few years. During that time they tried to have kids but my mom kept having miscarriages. So they decided to do foster care. We got a 4 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. My parents still wanted a baby though so when I was 9 years old (3 years later) they got a 3-month old baby boy who they eventually adopted.

The foster kids stayed with us for 4 years. During that time my mother abused the girl. When the social workers finally caught on to the abuse the kids were pulled out of our home immediately. I pretty much never saw them again.

Flash forward 30 years. Last week I found their names on Facebook. They were connected to a friend of a friend.. the girl has changed her name thanks to adoption and marriage. The boy has also changed his name because of adoption. However after figuring out what I could I solved the puzzle.

So after 30 years we are getting the chance to catch up. My mother is in Florida and I haven't told her. I might soon, but so far I haven't. My adopted brother is 31 years old now, and still in touch with my mother and my step-father. He doesn't remember the foster kids at all I think since he was only an infant when it all happened. He's 9 years younger than me so he had a different experience with this all.

Still I think what is amazing is that I think the girl thought she was the only one to be abused, and while I knew that my mother hit her once I did not know much of the other stuff. The words that come into my head are "You are not alone." I think we both thought we were alone on this, and turns out we weren't.

Many ACOAs feel they are alone. I know as a kid I wanted nothing to do with group therapy because I didn't honestly believe that anyone else had a crazy mother like I do. I know better now, and sadly I have heard stories far worse than ours as the years have gone by. Still.. it's a good thing. Very traumatic, but a good thing.

I've done a lot of writing in the past week, and this is more of it. I think writing it down helps make it real, and helps me process what can best be described as "grief".

Thanks for reading my story.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Cherry" by Mary Karr

I picked this book up at the library kind of at random. I was looking for an autobiography to read, and the book cover drew me in. So I picked up "Cherry" by Mary Karr. This seems to be the second of three memoirs by this author and deals with the author's teenaged years. I'm sorry to say but I'm putting this book down before getting to the end. I realize that Mary is not from my generation or whatever, but I'm 30 pages in to the book and I have other books waiting to be read now. This book is going back sooner rather than later.

If you check Amazon you get a mix of reviews on this one. Many say that her first book "Liars Club" was better, but it dealt more with her parents and with her younger years. I don't really care. I'm just going to say I'm moving on to something else. Sorry folks.

I found my foster sister and we are both survivors

I submitted this to "Band Back Together" which is a group blog. They have the right to edit it, etc.. so if/when they finally publish my piece it may be altered from the way I originally wrote it. I'm not thrilled with that idea, but I thought it was good to get my story out there, and their format seems like a good place to do it. More people read BBT than read this little thing I think.  When they do post it, I will put up a link etc..

In the meantime, here's the raw piece--

Something for Band Back Together

I am a married, mother-of-a-5 year old, full-time employed, forty year old woman. Life is good now but it hasn’t always been that way. At the risk of being labeled with “multiple personality disorder” I have 3 blogs all under different names. I’m also on several social networking sites. I guess you could say I like to write.

I am also an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (ACOA). I went to my first Al-Anon meeting when I was 18 years old, a freshman in college, and my mother finally left a physical mark on me. I didn’t start going to meetings regularly until my mother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and I thought she was going to die. She didn’t die, but I learned to detach. I learned to live. I have stopped going to meetings now but I still use the coping skills I learned. I have lived in the F.O.G. that is Fear, Obligation, and Guilt all my life. Although I feel like I have moved on I will never truly be free.

This was brought home to me last week.

Last week I was surfing Facebook.  A friend’s list had a name I knew. That list had another... and within a few clicks I had found not only the name of a former high school classmate but also the name of her biological sister. Her biological sister had been MY foster sister for four years. Her half-brother had been my half-brother too during those years. I couldn’t believe what I had stumbled upon, and I wasn’t really sure it was 100% true. Names change over time, and the world of Facebook is a pretty big place. Nonetheless I sent out the messages and friend requests.

My former foster sister responded very quickly. She was glad to hear from me. Then before I knew it we were talking about old memories. My mother beat this girl. My mother abused her repeatedly. For four years my mother beat this girl who was 4 years old when she came to live with us. When she was 8 years old my mother finally left a mark that someone at school could see. Then the social workers came, and then she was gone. I saw her once a year later but I couldn’t talk to her, and then I never saw her again. I was 10 when she left my home. I’m 40 now.

For three days I cried after finding this woman on Facebook. It was not a reaction I expected. I thought I was relapsing into PTSD and I was pretty scared. I know now that I am pulling out of it. I will be okay. However in the past week we have messaged back and forth about the past and the present getting caught up. My mother is a monster. I had to let this woman know the guilt I carried with me. I had to tell her that she was not alone. My mother has abused many. My foster sister, and her brother were lucky to get out. The baby who my mother and step-father were in the process of adopting was not so lucky. In spite of the child abuse charges the adoption still went through. My adopted brother is 31 years old now. He was likely abused too and he has suffered his own demons that I can only guess at. I am 40 now. I have to keep telling myself that.  I am still in contact with that monster who gave birth to me. I am the only biological child and I was always treated as the oldest.  I am grateful that many miles separate us now, and that I have a supportive network, and the tools I learned from Al-Anon to support me.

Re-experiencing the past was a shocker though. Hearing my sister’s stories, learning about some of the abuse that I didn’t know about  was hard. Reliving my own memories is scary.

I went to the doctor’s office on Friday because my asthma is bothering me. They were “updating their forms” they said. There was a question on the forms “have you ever been abused?” Well for the past 8 years I have lied about that question because it was in my past. On Friday though I had to speak my truth, and in the examining room with my doctor, I broke down and cried.

My foster sister said she learned to never be quiet, never expect not to be believed. Always stand up for yourself, and always speak your truth. She is right. I will not defend my mother. I don’t think I ever have. Staying quiet is not the answer though. We need to speak our truth, and when we share it with each other we find out that we are not alone.