Whenever you need someone
To lay your heart and head upon
Remember, after the fire, after all the rain
I will be the flame  ~ Cheap Trick

The first time I saw him I heard my soul quietly whisper,


Apart from that there was not much. There was no lightening strike or moving earth beneath my feet. No angels singing or alignment of the stars.

He was still married but in the process of divorce and I was still new at being sober. Between the two of us we had fairly negative opinions on matters of the heart. When I look back, I would swear we were a disaster waiting to happen.

It was an early Saturday phone call from a mutual friend inviting me to go jet-skiing with him and his roommate that brought us together.  I really didn’t want to go but we Floridians do love our water sports and the mid-August day was perfect for it after a long work week.

Knowing said mutual friend was interested in more than just friendship and since I was not even remotely interested in matches of any kind being made I didn’t do much to improve my appearance. I rolled out of bed, threw on some cut-offs over my bikini , pulled my hair into a ponytail, and waited for my ride.

Walking down the dirt path to the lake I was starting to feel a little more excited about being on the popular chain of lakes for the day. Our friend and I rounded the corner at the boat ramp and I looked several yards over at the roommate sitting on a jet ski in the middle of the lake.


That was August 18, 1997.

Obviously, he divorced and I managed to scrounge together a few more years of sobriety. We stayed together despite the odds, enjoying adventures I never thought I’d have and for the first time in my life I knew what love, all mixed up with respect, joy, laughter, comfort, and trust, felt like. No expectations. No violence. No conditions.

After three years, the man who told me he would never get married again stood with me, the girl who didn’t really care in the beginning…..until I did, under a willow tree at sunset and said, ‘I do.’ We have taken those vows very seriously, holding true to our word when we’ve had our share of better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health.

We lived within a few miles of each other our entire lives. We attended rival high schools with only a year between our graduations. We shared some of the same friends, went to the same drunken parties after football games. We drove the same streets, ate at the same restaurants. We circled each other, in the same orbit around the same sun, for years upon years.

We both had some tumultuous years before we met. There was alcoholism and addiction along with the chaos those things bring. There were bad marriages followed by bad divorces. There were lives up-ended and righted once more.

Only after the smoke cleared did we find the strength to heal and the power to transform our own lives. And only then did we meet in the middle.

The middle of a chain of lakes where today we take our kids tubing in the summer and, with a shared sideways smile, show them the exact spot where we first met. Maybe there were some odd goings-on with the angels and stars after all.

And after eighteen years, I still hear it.






photo credit: Hearts via photopin (license)

Judge Not

How would your life be different if you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey. – Steve Maraboli ~ Life, the Truth, and Being Free

As a human, a person with emotions often worn on my sleeve, I find that I don’t like being judged. Who does?

However, in the past week…or more, I have found myself doing the one thing I try not to do. I have found myself judging another person, making assumptions about another human while not having even the slightest clue what makes them the person they are.

Every one of us are born and from that day experience joy, sorrow, love, hate, happiness, anger…the normal range of emotions. However, some of us also get the added struggle of abuse, addiction, soul damaging heartbreak, sickness of the mind or body, or the involuntary participation in watching someone we love fight their own battle, be it mental or physical.

These parts of our personal history form us, can jade us, and sometimes defeat us. At the very least they can catapult us into a darkness that we might manage to climb out of only to find that the person we once were….is gone. Someone else has taken up residence in our soul and no matter how hard we try, that new part of our personality digs in its heels and becomes part of our permanent make-up.

It happens.

If I sit and wonder what is wrong with the world today I would need to look at my small part in it. I sit in judgement of someone, knowing they have not been dealt a perfect hand in their past. This would be the time for me to take a long, hard look at myself and wonder what gives me the right to appraise this person’s individuality.

We all sin differently.

Truth number one: There are no rules that state that just because you play on the same playground you have to like everyone on it. I don’t have to like all the people. And all the people don’t have to like me.

Truth number two: As long as I get up every morning and try my best to do the next right thing and I can put my head on my pillow at night knowing that I did just that, then what other people think of me…well, it’s really none of my business.

I don’t always get it right. Many, many times I get it wrong. It would be easy for someone to look at where I came from and who I used to be and judge me accordingly. Since I don’t live there anymore, that would be wrong. I have managed to leave that person and most of her shortcomings behind. I say most because I am still a very flawed human but have made my peace with it.

Not everyone has found that peace. I need to be more aware of that and show some grace.

That is, after all, the next right thing.

photo credit: Gavel via photopin (license)

Gaslighting Selena

Having a twelve year old daughter I am exposed to, willingly or not, much of the new music out today. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, MeghanTrainor, Five Second of Summer, One Direction and, because once in a great while a bone is thrown, Maroon 5.

Just to name a few.

One of her favorite artists is Selena Gomez. I remember in years past watching this adorable girl in Wizards of Waverly Place, smart-mouthing and trouble-making her way into our hearts. She was growing up beautifully and readying herself to take the world by storm as some of Disney’s darlings manage to do. She was even doing it with her tongue in her mouth and all of her clothes on, never once sticking her hind end into a married man’s crotch.

I digress.

Aside from Spring Breakers, young Selena seemed to be making good choices.

Enter Justin Bieber.

In November, my darling girl and I sat watching the American Music Awards and listening to all of the music she loves and most of which I can barely comprehend. Just before a break we caught a glimpse of Selena backstage preparing for her performance.  She would debut her newly dropped single ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’.

The young beauty took the stage barefoot and wearing Armani. Before the song started there was an audio piece that played which is apparently the prelude to the song. I could barely hear it but have heard it since and I can’t help but feel like crying just reading these words now:

When I was on stage and I was thinking of … I know him though, and I know that I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn’t do to hurt me.But I didn’t realize that I’m feeling so confident and feeling so great about myself and then it [can] just be completely shattered by one thing … by something so stupid. But then you make me feel crazy, you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.

The song’s melody is lovely but its words are heartbreaking. One string of lyrics immediately caught my attention and I knew who this young woman was singing about. This was no celebrity standing there emotionally choking out her newest single.

I know I’m acting a bit crazy
Strung out, a little bit hazy
Hand over heart, I’m praying
That I’m gonna make it out alive.

This was just a girl, heart broken by a boy, trying to make sense of the mess she was in. In pain and blaming herself with no understanding as to why. She is also very clear in stating that she will not listen to anyone’s advice because, well, the heart wants what it wants. Sanity be damned.

Save your advice ’cause I won’t hear
You might be right but I don’t care
There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants

The first thought that came to mind as a former victim of domestic abuse was gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic used to twist a victim’s reality, make them question their own actions, their own perception of events often leaving them mentally disoriented and their sanity stretched. It is known to be exercised by unfaithful or abusive spouses and sociopaths.

And apparently Justin Bieber.

You got me scattered in pieces
Shining like stars and screaming
Lightening me up like Venus
But then you disappear and make me wait
And every second’s like torture

It took me a few plays and finally looking up the lyrics on the internet to realize that the situation Selena sings about is an all too common occurrence and a nightmare for me as a parent and domestic abuse survivor. My daughter was playing this song on repeat for days.

Did she understand the words and the meaning behind them or is she just listening to a song by an artist that she loves?

Will she remember these words in a future relationship should a partner, God forbid and God help him, make her feel this way?

Am I doing all I can to make sure she has the ability to trust her own good judgment to keep this from ever happening to her?

Will she…….?

Am I……?

Is she…….?

I hope and I pray. But only time will tell.

Why am I so affected by these dark words sung by a pop princess?

As I mentioned, I have suffered this abuse at the hands of more than one significant other. As an addict and alcoholic I was always swimming in a cesspool of low self- esteem and had a special gift for attaching myself to the most charming of liars and manipulators.

I found myself constantly second guessing myself, remembering the intelligent, sensible person I once was and wondering what happened to change all of it. I made excuses for my abusers’ behavior and apologized at every turn for every move I made. At times I found myself completely dependent emotionally and financially on an abuser. I felt helpless and hopeless.

It has been quite some time and I made it out but I can tell you that it is a wound that can still be torn open and the blood of memory can still seep through.  It is hell to have to live through and recover from.

Domestic violence is alive and well in all walks of life and we are getting to see it played out day after day in the media. Physical abuse is sickening to watch but it’s not a party to watch a young girl come apart mentally on stage either. This is simply one example. Imagine, if you can, these same situations that we are not seeing or hearing about.

It is far, far too many.

The bed’s getting cold and you’re not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I’m not alive until you call
And I’ll bet the odds against it all

To Selena I say thank you…for the beautiful performance at the AMAs.  I also say to her, and to all of those who feel her words on their heart….

Walk away while you still can.

If you still can.