Embracing Your Mess
Oh Boy...I'm going to start by saying, you may want to go ahead and pour yourself a drink because this is a long one. This is a post I have long contemplated about doing but finally found the courage to do it. For years, I have been told "Sarah, You really should start a blog. I think people would LOVE getting to know you." or "You have THIS and THAT. You should blog about it!". As I began to consider it I quickly began to notice the bloggers that I enjoyed following and the ones that weren't my favorite. I found myself at times thinking, I don't want to always seems so perfect or that I have this perfect charmed life because in reality, I don't! At all. My biggest concern was, "I never want a reader to finish reading a post and feel less than or that they're not enough". I would never want to make anyone feel that way. I have tried to throw in bits and pieces of my personality into my posts so those of you who don't know me can maybe get a better understanding of who I am but it weighed heavy on my heart to share my story as I feel like it could help SOMEONE out there reading this. This is what Going Gosnell is for me. I thought about trying to put this into my "About Me" section when I first created my blog but I thought "Damn! That's kind of a lot for just an About Me section". So, if I start rambling too much today, my apologies.
I know I have shared with you a little bit of what my life is like right now but I have never discussed any of my past or what got me here. Before I married my husband and we had our family, life was a little different for me. I was raised in a loving home and never wanted for anything growing up. My parents remained married and I grew up in a good area with a nice house, nice clothes and was pretty much a spoiled brat. I never knew what struggling looked like. Looking back on it, I can see where a lot of people probably thought I was kind of a bitch growing up. Well...that all changed when my life completely turned upside down and I "fell in love" with the bad boy. After a year or so of an on and off again relationship, I became pregnant with my daughter Camryn when I was just 18 years old. Coming from a relatively conservative Southern Baptist family you can imagine how my family took the news. (Can we say hello blacksheep?) It was a really hard time for them and myself because I had plans of cheering in college, all of my friends were going off to college and here I was, staying back home to have a baby. To make the situation harder, I was in a relationship with a drug addict. I didn't originally realize there was a problem and at 18, dating the "bad boy" was a thrill for me I guess. Now looking back on it, I had seen the signs for years but I never wanted to believe it. When he was sober, he was a COMPLETELY different person than he was when he was on drugs. I only wanted to see him as the sober version of himself. I loved the sober him. He was very intelligent and had a great sense of humor. We would laugh all of the time together. I think that's the hardest part about being in a relationship or having a loved one who is an addict. When things are good, they're wonderful. They're exactly who you want to be with but when they're bad? They're really really bad and people get hurt. Everyone surrounding the situation gets hurt. The drug becomes that persons #1 priority and they will step on whoever they need to get what they want. It is just a really sad situation and something so many of us all deal with as the drug epidemic continues to rise in our country. Anyways, it was something I dealt with throughout my entire pregnancy and was an extremely stressful time. I wanted so badly to believe that my daughter and I would be enough for him to get clean and straighten up but over time learned to not take it personal. Things would be great and then they would be bad again. It was a rollercoaster ride I just wanted off of. When Camryn was 5 months old I knew I could not continue to live a life with someone like that much less expose my child to it so I made the choice to be a single mother.
Luckily my parents allowed me to move back home and they helped me for awhile so I could figure out what my new life was going to look like. For that I will forever be grateful to them. I truly wouldn't be where I am today without them. I probably could have stayed with them much longer than I did but I knew I needed to put my big girl panties on and face the world like a real adult and I needed to do it by myself. I went to school during the week and worked in nightclubs as a "Bottle Girl" on the weekends. My parents HATED it. They just didn't agree with me being in that environment which I understood but luckily it allowed me to quickly save up enough money to get my own apartment and try to be a provider for my daughter. I remember saving up enough money to be able to pay 2 months rent in advance, buy a couch from Big Lots, a kitchen table from Wal-Mart and some decorations. Other than that my parents allowed me to take Cami and I's bedroom furniture from their house with us. It wasn't a lot but it was super cute and it was ours. I knew it was going to be tough but I knew I had a lot of growing up to do and I needed to do it on my own in order to be a good role model for her and prove to myself I could do it. As a single mother (receiving no child support) I utilized the government assistance that was offered to me and was briefly on Food Stamps and received WIC vouchers, something I never in a million years thought I would have ever done. Not going to lie, standing in line at the DFCS office with my Louis Vuitton bag I had received as a sweet 16 gift from my sister was a weird experience for me. Like...."Omg, I can't believe I am in here, How did this happen to me?" I think that was one of those life changing humbling experiences I will NEVER forget. As if a lightbulb went off in my mind..."You're things don't mean sh**. It does not matter who or what you're wearing. You are no better than anyone else in this building and you can see how easy it is to be here". I made a promise to myself on that day that I will never ever let my things define me ever again and that I will never think I am better than anyone, and I meant that. Yes, I do love nice things, but they aren't what measure my happiness, success or my character. I still to this day frequently pray to God that no matter how much my circumstances ever change, I will never forget that day in the DFCS Office and will never lose sight of who I really am. I will admit, It's easy to get wrapped up in it. As time went on, I was able to stop working in the nightlife scene and was able to get a regular day job that paid well and offered full benefits. At this time I felt so proud of myself because I was able to provide for my daughter without any assistance anymore. It felt great! Again, I didn't have much but I did it on my own.
As a couple of years went by I met my husband Steve. I get asked all of the time "How did you guys meet?" Well, I can humorously laugh and say he was my Boss. He is 14 years older than me, Bald, and we are the Ultimate Cliche and we love it. From the moment I met Steve I could tell he was the type of man to take care of people. I'm talking the kind of guy to literally take the shirt off of his back for someone. He definitely has a super tough exterior but there is the biggest heart of Gold in there. When I worked for him, I can recall multiple times he would let me bring Camryn to work if she was sick and couldn't go to daycare that day. She would go in his office and color on the whiteboard and he never gave me a hard time about it. Once we started dating he always made it a point to treat her just like his own. Since I can remember he has always told Camryn that him and I got married because he fell in love with her first. It's the sweetest thing. I was so happy to finally have the father figure for my daughter I had always dreamed of. As you can imagine when you have blended families it can be tough at first. REALLY tough. Camryn and Gabi didn't necessarily like eachother at first (understandably so) and of course it probably was a really tough transition for Gabi having to share her Dad with this "new kid". It took some time but I must say once we had our son Jax, he was the glue that bound us all together and from there, things began to get easier for our new family. So here we are, this newly blended family and things seem to be great but there was still that one thing that always weighed on our mind. Camryn's "Daddy" in the eyes of the State of Georgia was not her daddy. Steve always knew he wanted to adopt Camryn but we knew we were going to have to get my exes consent on this. Would he do it? Do we even know where to find him? It had been years since I had heard anything about him other than I had heard he wasn't doing well. As you can imagine, often times people who are heavily involved with drugs face many hardships and often find themselves in trouble with the law. Our lawyer was able to determine this and presented him with the adoption paperwork while he was incarcerated. We were so nervous and worried he would refuse but to our relief, he signed off on it and even wished our family well. I was speechless. Obviously we were happy and excited because this journey was finally over but I was also surprised like "Wow! He wished us well? He wasn't angry or a jerk about it?" In that moment I realized the fact he accepted and knew he was not what was best for her was the most SELFLESS and FATHERLY thing he could have ever done for her. He made things right. This is where forgiveness started for me and I was able to slowly begin to let all the pain and anger go.
I had always wondered if he would ever be able to get his life together and even prayed for him at times but unfortunately, he passed away of a drug overdose in 2013. It was SUCH a hard thing for me. I found myself completely devastated when I got the news. One minute I would be balling hysterically and the next minute be thinking "why are you so upset? You haven't cared for this person in so long. You saw this coming". Then I would feel guilty and like a horrible person for even thinking that. It was just a whirlwind of emotions and I didn't quite understand any of them. My husband accompanied me and we went to his viewing so I could say my final goodbye's and my husband even thanked him for giving him Camryn. Seeing his family was really hard also because at one time they were a huge part of my life and no one deserves to lose a son or a brother. Things were tough when we went through everything when Camryn was a baby but still...none of this was their fault. They didn't make him do drugs. Even though the circumstances of me seeing them that day were horrible, I was happy to see them again. We were all able to put everything to rest and be at Peace again with eachother. I would like to think that's what my ex would have wanted.
It's crazy as I type this because my feelings about the whole situation are so different now then they ever were before. I used to be filled with so much hurt and resentment and now I am at peace. I realize now I would not even remotely be the same person I am today if I hadn't gone through some of these things and I am not ashamed of any of it. In fact, I embrace all of it and I don't think I would even like the person I would be without experiencing this journey. Ultimately what I am trying to say here is this... It's so easy to look perfect on the Internet and like we are all living our "Best Life" but what if our "Best Life" is overcoming all of the bullsh** we have dealt with? Maybe we should celebrate that instead of always aiming for perfection? We all have things that keep us up at night and that we're ashamed of. Don't let it anymore. accept it, own it, learn from it and if you're comfortable....share it! More than likely, someone in your circle of friends, moms, co-workers, or even someone you may not like is probably going through some kind of mess and they may feel completely alone. Society continues to tell us we need to fit into a nice square box and I say own your messy. Being messy makes us human and being human means we're filled with love, pain, anger, guilt and everything in between. No matter what you're beating yourself up about whether it's your marriage, your kids, your finances, your self image, just ANYTHING...I can promise you're not alone and the people you would least expect are probably the people you may have the most in common with.