Yup, you read that right- September has been a wee bit insane for me- this post has sat in the queue for well over a week, but before everyone Googles what crisis line to refer me to, I’m doing fine. I did though, want to relay everything that’s happened since I’ve gotten a few “Hey, where are you?” messages from folks that have noticed my lack of regular blog posts and sporadic tweets. I think it was time to let folks know what’s been going on in my life- rarely do I go this personal on the blog, so if you’d rather just tune this one out, I don’t blame you.
On Tuesday, the 23rd, I got an early morning call that my mother passed away in her sleep and was discovered by my step father.
My mother’s passing was an odd experience. Mom and I hadn’t even seen each other for 6 years, she moved to Arkansas with my step father and due to some personal choices she’s made through the years, she surrounded herself with the choices she made. I left my mother’s home when I was 16 to go live with my paternal grandmother because my mom’s drinking had compounded my already turbulent and angsty teen years leaving me feeling hopeless, trapped and depressed.
When I was 15 years old, I had no idea why things at home were so rough. I didn’t really understand if my home life was normal, but I was starting to realize it didn’t feel right or normal. Ours was a problem that had no name. I emailed an online advice website- something like, LookingForAdvice.org, and I described the situation. I had lived the reality of my mom’s two sides- the mom I knew and loved during work hours and the one who showed up on weekends, and I thought it was normal.
I told this anonymous councilor about my situation and the weight it was putting on me- I was starting to get depressed, my grades were awful and I couldn’t sleep at night. I was concerned about my mom and asked what I could do to fix a situation I didn’t fully understand.
It wasn’t until I got a response a few days later, where something clicked into place- “Honey, your mom sounds like an alcoholic.” I will never in my life forget that moment, when I heard that word used to describe my mother. My mom’s behavior was always described in whispers and gossip, never directly. Finally, our problem had a name- my mom was an alcoholic. I stared at the screen and tears poured down my face- I was shocked, ashamed and scared, but finally, the silent problem had a name.
Even at 15, I knew this was a problem I couldn’t fix alone. I loved my mom and step father, but even those early years, before I would grow to understand alcoholism as an adult, I realized that they had made their choices and I was powerless to change the situation unless they wanted to talk about it. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I made the choice to leave and hoped that somehow it would send a message. Now I know, it didn’t.
When she and my stepfather decided to leave California and move to another state, I knew that I would only come visit if we could ever have the conversation about what drove us apart. I wanted to approach the situation as an adult and talk about the “problem that had no name” that plagued us for so long, but that conversation never came. Six years passed without addressing this situation. I knew I would always come to help if they ever needed it, but that call never came- I got a different phone call, and now, that chapter has closed.
When I got the call that my mother had passed away, I was at work, and I just began to cry. It was like a long chapter had finally closed and it was an odd sense of closure. I prayed my mother found the peace in the afterlife she had not found in life. Despite all that happened, I love my mom and stepdad and harbor no anger. I do wish that things had been different and there hadn’t been such distance between us, both emotional and geographical, but I sincerely hope that she understood that my choices in life were not meant to hurt her. We both had made our own choices, and there is no shame in accepting how things developed.
We are both adults, she chose to build walls, and I learned to accept them. Could things have been different? Maybe. But I stand in my truth and couldn’t hide her choices from my heart, it hurt too damn much and I was road weary from years of living under the shadow of a problem that had no name for a little girl who didn’t know any different.
As an adult, I stood in my truth, and sadly the day we could stand together within it will never come. I wish her peace and send everyone in my family so much love- I really struggled whether to blog about this and rewrote the post several times since talking about it is hard, but necessary. Even after 11 years after leaving her home, I still struggle to call it what it was.
My mother, at her core, was a good woman, calling her an alcoholic sometimes makes me feel so mean- but it was a disease that hid the beautiful person she was and put so much distance between us. I can’t live my life sugar coating the years we lost because this problem was so central in our lives, overshadowing all else.
Blogging about it is I suppose my one way to finally put this to rest. I never got the chance to talk to my mom about this- to her and to those around her, that life was “normal.” It was something we didn’t talk about. In fact, we all seemed to go out of our way to pretend, on our rare phone calls, to pretend like everything was great between us. She had a lot of pain in her life, and I wish we could have addressed it with therapy instead of symptoms, but that ship has sailed.
I’m 27 years old, and I have known this problem for over 11 years, yet I still struggle to stand up and say “No, this was not normal. I love you so much, but I couldn’t support that way of life,” and put a label to our experience beyond my silent actions. She’s gone now, that’s a closed chapter we all have to live with. I’m doing okay, and I pray each night that somewhere, she is too.
Okay, so that was a doozy….and now, more….
So, onto the fact I quit my job…if you’re even still reading at this point- I took a few days off of work to grapple with my mother’s death. I sat at home and took a ton of concerned calls (thank you) and accepted flower deliveries (thank you again) and sat in pug fur covered yoga pants to watch tv and just vegetate. When my Gram died in 2008, I went into hyperdrive in college to take on a second major, join a sorority and apply for graduate school- but this death just left me completely out of ammunition. I literally just sat there for days and waited for the sobs to come back.
I returned to work on Monday and decided it was time to put in my notice. I have my reasons for this departure, and wish my awesome team mates nothing but the best. My last day will be coming up soon so for now, I think it’ll be time to process everything that’s happened, get my projects caught up, relaunch a few endeavors and sustain myself on the blog. I will be looking for a new social media gig, but for right now, I’ll sustain myself with the blog, freelance gigs and the stack of unfinished projects around the house. The pugs will be very happy to have me work from home for a bit and I know the right opportunity will present itself soon!
And..yet another transition…
If a death and leaving my job wasn’t enough to make my head explode, my boyfriend popped the question a day after I put in my notice. Apparently, he had planned the proposal for October 12th, but during dinner, he decided that plans are stupid (ha!) and he was going to seal this deal that very night.
We had our dinner and went for a drive to “get frozen yogurt.” He was acting adorably squirrelly and since we had designed the ring together and I knew it had been completed, on the drive over, I refrained from my normal question batterings and just let him drive.
We ended up downtown, at the exact spot where Route 66 formally begins and he got down on one knee, pulled out a TARDIS ring box and asked me to marry him. There also may have been a Taco Bell “will you marry me?” sauce packet involved…but that will be officially included as a side note. Classy.
There will be more on wedding madness later, but for now- I wanted to update y’all on why the blog posts have been sporadic the last two weeks and to let you know I’m okay.
Frugality teaches you to be grateful for what you have. It teaches you to be honest and live authentically, owning up to whatever blessings or shortfalls you have. I’ve had two years of practice living frugally and it’s more than just a way to save money on groceries, it’s a way to combat life’s ups and downs.
I count my blessings, even the blessings that feel like hardships. I make no attempt to hide my history or “keep up with the Joneses” in all that I do- both financially and personally. I feel lucky that I have such great people in my life, a family I love and appreciate, a career that gets me excited and a fiancé that understands my nerdy side.
This blog I write isn’t about clipping coupons- it’s about being authentic and feeling grateful- frugality helps you achieve your financial and your personal goals. Living authentically with your money means you can translate it to all arenas of your life. Count your pennies, count your blessings.
You rock. Chat soon.