How 2013 Was A Huge Life Changer For Me
How I looked before Grumpasaurus
How I looked after Grumpasaurus
Choice 1 Buying Property With a Slave Driver
In early 2012 (this runs over a bit into 2013 but the lessons learned were priceless and I felt I should share them) I attempted to buy a few acres in the country with a couple. One of them was a fantastic person to be around, the other only appeared to be in the beginning, after a while she became a slave driver.
The living in that place was crazy, there was so much work to be done and, according to her, it all needed to be done right now, which led to several weeks of maybe fifteen hours of sleep, because there were times we would stay awake for three days straight.
After several months of living with said slave driver, things were, undoubtedly, very tense. Arguments went off like fireworks, at the end, almost daily.
I have to say, the slave driver, or Grumpasaurus,as we shall call her, got me to places I had never been before emotionally... dark DARK places... I am a pacifist, by nature, and I never thought that I would want to do physical harm to a person... EVER, if it did not involve the safety and well being of my children or family... but she... almost got me there.
After a several months of taking ALL of my money, I was put out suddenly... with no home to go to. To say I was upset... that was the biggest understatement of the twenty-first century.
I still keep in touch with her other half, as friends, and check in often. Her other half, as I said, was fantastic.
Just some of the things that happened while I was there:
Dislocated my shoulder, and was treated like I was lazy because the pain medication knocked me out, and like the broken computer (which I claimed fault for and apologized for repeatedly) was the end of the world and I had just set off enough nuclear bombs to blow up the entire planet. Seriously, people, Grumpasaurus had her other half check on the computer before me, despite me screaming in pain on the ground.
The motor on my car blew and I was left with nothing to get around in, until my father risked driving his very old Cadillac the fifty mile journey to where I lived, without so much as an I'm sorry I attempted to drive your rattle trap on a 300 mile round trip when we knew it was on it's last leg.
Got into the dirtiest pool on the planet repeatedly to get it completely clean (seriously there was an entire ecosystem growing in there) without so much as a thank you.
Yeah, I was treated great by the great Grumpasaurus.
Lessons learned from this:
Do not trust everyone as much as you do. It just leads to a lot of pain of the physical, mental, and emotional sort.
You never really know a person.
After spending the next month or so sleeping on couches offered by my very good, and extremely patient, friend Kelly, I continued on to a seedy hotel for a few weeks before spending a night in my car with my children at the local marina. From there I was able to spend a week or two with my father and his roommate, who tolerated our presence. After that, we spent the next few months seaside in an off season condominium. I walked at least three miles a week just because I could. The early winter of 2013 was mild and amazing for walking on the beach and even wading in the surf, so it wasn't all bad. If it hadn't happened I would still be sitting in that country town, shivering my teeth out, miserable and probably facing felony assault and battery charges, (while I never laid hands on her, there would have been no guarantees had she gotten within arm's reach) and I would never have found a temporary place to live at $750 per month, with utilities included right on the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed the calm after the storm.
Choice 2 The Roommates From H***
Yes, I have now said it outright.
After leaving my wonderful condo (since the rates were about to shoot up and there was no way I could afford to stay in my island paradise- literally, this place was on a Gulf Coast island) I moved in with someone I considered to be my best friend for over ten years, and her fiance, and her children.
Little did I know I was going to be living with the tazmanian devil himself. So, we'll call him Taz.
Taz is 22, going on five. This guy does not like being treated like the youngest adult in the house, which he is. He started out drinking... which he doesn't do much to my knowledge anymore. This man cannot hold his liquor... at all. He becomes a hyperactive toddler, and talks like one too... though this is not much different from his normal speech pattern, only it's slurred.
During this time, both of my adult roommates got sick, as in going to die sick. They contracted H1N1, and I spent the following two weeks exposing myself to their ick to clean up the entire house, seriously I steam cleaned all floors three times a day, cleaned the bathrooms with bleach and basically kept their kids cared for, on top of my own. To cover this completely, four kids, two very sick adults, three 911 calls for dehydration and chest pains from low blood sugar. For two weeks. I did this without complaint. Needless to say, I was neither thanked, nor treated like I had done anything at all while they were sick. I even, at one point, had to get into her face in the ER to translate for her since she'd lost almost all of her voice and the nurses were like Van Helsing with a cross on a vampire to her deadly swine flu. Somehow, I did not contract this seriously killer virus, and thanks to religiously cleaning everything to the point that some would call me obsessive about it, neither did any of the kids.
I also, in the past few months, have dealt with so much tension and hostility that I have (not literally) locked my children and myself down to a total of three rooms in the house, we leave our bedrooms to cook, eat, bathe, and leave the house. This is because Taz is a heavyweight, I cannot take him physically if I am attacked, and yes, I have had moments where I feel like I could be. I do not have friends over, I would not dare expose the real friends I have, who actually do care about my well being, to the nightmare that I live with on a daily basis.
For the majority of the last year, I have spent not speaking to the only other adults around me on a daily basis, because no matter what I say it is going to be turned on me like I insulted someone's mother. So much as a "Hello" gets me snapped at.
Also, over the past year, they have gotten one dog and had to give him up because he was tearing up the apartment (seriously he was eating the door frames because they did not keep in mind this very large puppy's tendency towards separation anxiety and did not kennel him when necessary) and promptly turned around and got another dog that they do not care for. I have seen this dog walked a handful of times... he's been here for three months, and he has fleas. As far as I can tell by the massive flea population that has now taken up residence in my cats, I can safely assume they do not treat the problem, completely negating anything I do to counter it in my animals.
I have no desire to be around someone who acts like I'm a horrible person for putting up a Christmas tree, being that I am a Christian and my children are Christian, and that they are aware of this, I have literally been counting the days until I can leave, three until I can start moving my stuff out, eight until my new place is finished.
A few weeks ago, when my daughter dared to use the bathroom deemed for adults, he came in screaming at her, of course, I keep my staffs by my bedside, not for inflicting harm, but for self defense if need be. He then proceeded to jump down my throat, while entering my room... my personal sanctuary, posturing and, at one point, (at least I perceived it as) bowing up at me as if he would raise a hand to me. Since then, if I can be out of the house, I am.
Today, he found out that I had expressed my concerns about him with our current landlord, who he will be continuing to rent from once the lease is up on the first, and I listened to him yell and shout for an hour at the woman he claims to love (I think it's more involved in her wallet and steady income but that's just me) about how upset he was that I dared to speak of my problems. Keep in mind, I do not speak to him because I am not going to be screamed at and have names called at me after my children's father made a daily task of doing that to me for several years.
I have been treated poorly at best, at least with Grumpasaurus, there was some communication. Despite the nightmare, I have stuck it out, not bailing on any bills or rent, while also bailing them out of $200 when he put her card information on a credit checking site, and "not expecting them to take money off" and when I reminded him of that, while he was listing things he was going to need back, he acted like it was months before, when it was literally just in November... I think his memory is intentionally skewed. I am not a person who usually harps on small debts, five dollars is not a problem, but when I spend $200 on something for someone who says they will pay it back, they had darn well better pay it back, this is also not including maintenance, fuel, and repairs to my very old Cadillac, that I did myself, which all total added up to about $100, with the extra running that I willingly did for them. I never asked for gas in the first six months, now I won't have them in my car, considering they had a tendency to trash it.
In case you haven't noticed, the stress of this past year has been absolutely crushing. While I have been washing my own dishes when I use them, they get upset that I do not do theirs as well, when I clean the kitchen after they've trashed it, they complain that their stuff is not where they left it, I stopped cleaning up their messes, they complain that their stuff is where they left it... I could do something completely selfless and giving, and I would be doing something wrong, but at this point, I am willing to let karma take the reins.
I am not even going to broach the problems I have with how they deal with their children. I don't have the space for a novel.
Let's just say that Taz has certainly done what his namesake would be proud of, wrecking everything. I even quit a job because of his poor ability and trustworthiness as a babysitter (I have had to find ways to make money from home for the past several months).
Yes, even if you've known someone for over a decade, you do not really know them and certainly you do not know her new significant other, and that makes for a poor choice in roommates.
I think I am getting too old for rooming with high school friends.
Choice 3 I Enrolled in College
Yes, I know, you think this is going to be negative, but they aren't all bad.
This was probably one of the best decisions I've made. I am holding over a 3.0 GPA and slated to graduate early in the summer. I would say that this is one of the biggest positive chain of event starters I've had, despite the negativity I have been dealing with.
When I enrolled, I was tentative at best. I had been out of high school for almost ten years, and getting back into learning new things in an educational setting. Since then I have made a point to absolutely absorb everything that my professors throw at me.
This has helped me in so many ways, which we will cover later. I have been in classes since April, and what was supposed to end in April of 2015 (for my AA, going for my BA immediately after) has turned out to be much shorter than expected, since I tend to take enough classes to put me well over the full time range. I will be graduating in July, and that was never really the goal, the goal was to pass my classes and get a degree and remind myself that I actually love learning new things.
This has been the start to a lot of positive changes in my life, and I really have my friend, Amanda to thank for it, since she rode my butt to get enrolled in the first place.
Before enrolling, I continually said that I wanted to go back to school, but still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I felt that a lot of my ideas would not be put to use if I went to one field or another, but most of them were geared towards the non-profit range of business ideas. So, while I was talking to the admissions people about online courses, I had no idea the changes it would bring me. They ran across their Business Administration program, and I knew it was where I needed to be, it offered the widest range of classes, which I loved, and it would help me get to my goals of starting and running a nonprofit organization.
I firmly believe just this one choice has made a difference in my subsequent decisions, and that the majority of them are better than the ones that I have made before.
My Kids at the Stream Fed by the Fountain of Youth
Choice 4: I Took My First Vacation Just For Pleasure
Since I was, at the time, working for a really great company and getting really great pay, I was able to take my first trip out of town for something that didn't involve a massive family planning committee (I love those anyway) and big dinners, etc., and just went to enjoy myself.
My kids and I travelled four hours to see my sister, Kayla, in Jacksonville for my 28th birthday, and it was the best birthday I have ever had. I got to eat a blue cake my sister made for me (my favorite color) and go see the Fountain of Youth in Green Cove Springs, FL, I even got to swim in a different ocean from the Gulf of Mexico (which is the only one I have ever set foot in). For the first time in a long time I just relaxed. It was probably the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my kids emotionally during this difficult year.
I have spent my whole year stressed out except for those few days on a pleasure trip with just me and my kids. I enjoyed myself and enjoyed life. It made me realize just how much I needed some peace in my life.
Choice 5: I Rediscovered My Love of Photography
As you can see above, I cannot resist a beautiful shot. When I was younger my father would spend probably hundreds every year for disposable cameras and film for other cameras that I had that were not disposable.
While I am not a professional in any sense, and my sisters (biological or otherwise) Kayla and Lottie, who take gorgeous photos themselves that could make mine look like garbage, I absolutely just love to find something beautiful and capture it "on film" to the best of my ability.
This has allowed me to express myself in such a way that I cannot write it. If something matches my mood, like a looming storm cloud over a waterscape reflects a feeling of looming trouble, I pull out my phone and start taking photos. While I think equipment has some part to do with my lack of those gorgeous magazine quality photos, and I hope to one day get an actual real camera with some really good lenses to go with it, I do not see the point in not trying to take a fantastic picture, in the least it can still be pretty.
As an adult I have sometimes forgotten that I love to take photos of pretty or pretty interesting things, and at times I become obsessed when I remember that about myself. I will spend hours of some days just snapping pictures on a sunny, cold beach facing a storm front with my cell phone camera, or I'll be snapping pictures of pillars of black smoke rising from some unknown forest fire looming over trees and getting a shot from a beach (a safe distance away).
In fact I got the shot described above after trying to figure out where a fire was at since we were in the area and it looked like it was coming from an Air Force base nearby, so we crossed a bridge that separated our town from the area earmarked for the base and could not find out where the source was. As we were heading back, I caught a glimpse in the side mirror, from the passenger seat, since my father was driving, and told him to pull over so I could get a picture. I ended up getting several photos, including a panoramic shot, as well as a new style that I found that I think I like, and it was an accident. I will include these shots below.
I also love photographing closeups of flowers, it's a weird thing I have done for a few years now, it's nothing that couldn't be kept as anything more than something pretty to hang on the walls, but it makes me happy to take a flower, without killing it, and preserving it's beauty in that moment.
Fire Over an Air Force Base
Working on Me
Choice 6: Choosing to Be Single
Yes, I chose to be single for the majority of this past year. Firstly it was because I was embarrassed by the way Taz behaved, but later, I realized that I needed to learn to be by myself before trying to be with someone else. I have focused more on me than on me being in a relationship than I have for my entire adult life.
I realized that I have been content, if not a little bit lonely from time to time. The decision has been a good one to make. It has given me the chance that I have needed since I was eighteen to discover myself and not try to make myself into what others think I should be. This experience has shown me that I have a voice, I can use that voice, and I can protect myself. With all of the drama going on here, there would have been far more things to worry about than just being in a relationship and getting to know each other.
At the same time, I have spent time I am learning more about myself, about how I feel about the world and the way it works. This time has been a priceless time in my life, it has helped me to stand on my own two feet, and allowed me to explore myself and who I am. I have learned to stand up and speak when there is something wrong, and it has allowed me to realize that I am a strong, independent woman who is not only smart enough to work her butt off at college and pass, but that I am also beautiful on my worst day, even if it is not a physical beauty.
Choice 7: I Started Writing Again
It had been a long time since I had written anything about myself, specifically. I used to write all of the time, but it was fiction. I guess in some ways it was my dreams, dark and light alike mixed into a story, but there was nothing that pointed at me specifically. I even had trouble writing a small introductory paragraph for my classes. So, when I started writing on here, I decided that there would be an element of me in everything I write. It may or may not be good, but it is me, my experiences, and my hopes for myself or for the world.
I used to be able to sit down and write a large portion of the equivalent a Nanowrimo novel in a day (never wrote a novel, but it was never difficult for me to put words to paper. I had giant binders full of my stories and ideas, these days, with college, this is my outlet. It's no longer fiction, it's raw, real fact that I spend so much of my time putting me on paper (so to speak).
Choice 8: I Decided To Sing
For several years, I would not sing in front of anyone but my children. My own father, who believes I can sing, tells me often how much he wishes that I would. Stage fright was just too much. After a while, though, I realized just how much I used to love singing when I was dealing with extreme emotions, and I decided that I would consciously make sure I sing. Taz was never fond of the fact that, with a major affinity for learning lyrics, I knew the words to most of the songs on the radio and would sing along.
It turns out that the less I like someone, the more often I want to sing around them, mainly because if they don't like me, it will irk them and in their mind I'm happy, which bothers them even more. Despite the fact that I sing no matter what my mood (seriously, it is very difficult to cry and sing at the same time, it physically hurts to do it.) is and if it's a bad mood, it helps to take my mind off of things, if it's a good mood, well, the song selection is going to be a weird range.
It also helps that, since I quit smoking my voice is clearer and I am not hacking between notes. I find that I enjoy singing, my daughter does the same thing, and I think it has a lot to do with how I grew up around a grandmother who was constantly singing, no matter what she was doing or who she was with.
I have taken a page out of her book, it calms my nerves, it helps me to breathe when I'm so stressed I fear I may hyperventilate, it helps me to stop any tears, and it helps me to express how happy I am when things are looking up.
My Cuddle Kitties
Choice 9: I Adopted Two Cats
Yes, at risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, I did adopt two cats, both of them older. The goal at first was to just get one of them, but there was a fear of separating the two I brought home. Turns out I managed to pick out the two most laid back cats in the world, they put up with everything, except big dogs... my female cat, Pippy, terrorizes them (you read that right).
Onyx is a black cat who just wants a good cuddle, at about five or six years old he's just ready to chill out, and doesn't play much (been on the lookout for a toy that grabs his attention), while Pippy is actually around eleven, and she's still frisky for an old lady. This cat is a trip and purrs when you acknowledge her, you can really get her going with a good scratch between the ears.
Since I've had them I have not had a major bout of depression. They offer so much love and comfort when I am sad that I cannot feel bad for myself at all, if I am down they are immediately meowing at me for love, and I give in every time, then they do silly things like headbutt my phone when I try to take a picture, which always gets a laugh out of me.
Choice 10 : Obtaining Freedom From My Current Stressors
While 2013 has been difficult, with more than it's fair share of stresses caused by Taz and Grumpasaurus. I have finally ended this nightmare (in 2014) with a new place to live, without Taz and without the constant feeling of being threatened and feeling like a prisoner in my own home.
While I know that Taz and his significant other are moving within the same housing project, I am moving to a quiet, small mobile home community, into a mobile home that is far less than what I am paying in rent now (total rather than split with Taz and my former friend), which has been totally renovated, had new wiring, drywall, appliances, plumbing fixtures (including a brand new tub), and carpets. This is something that I would have never expected to find, in my life. Just the feeling of knowing that I have somewhere to go, and an escape in sight, has put my mind into a tailspin of relief. While I know I still have a long way to, such as looking for work since I will not be expected to pay for subpar babysitting services from someone I do not like, once I get settled into my new home, I know that things are getting better.
I am happy to be in a mode where I can toss all of my stuff (neatly) into boxes, and prepare to make my escape from Taz and his fiance, and I will not be looking back.
This is the best part of 2013, the end of it. While it ran over into 2014 a little, and also ran over into the 2012 for a minute, it does not mean that 2013 has not been a year for learning and growth, and while I would never go through so much drama on purpose, there has been far more good than bad, I am looking forward to 2014 and all of the lessons I am bound to learn there as well.