Friday, March 2, 2012

Been a While....

Wow.... I can't believe it's been over a year since my last blog.  For a time there, blogging seemed to be somewhat of a "therapy session" for me.  A place that I could write out some of my 'hidden-to-the-outside-world' struggles and thoughts.  As you know, I am a very guarded and private person, I trust few and allow very few to know the "Janni" beyond Facebook.  Blogging seemed to be a way for me to allow others to see a little more deeply into "our world" but still offer myself the comfort of hiding behind a computer screen! 
After another disappointing phone call today, my memory was taken back to a blog I had written titled "My Moment". After reading it I decided it might be some good therapy to write out a few things we've experienced within the last year... 
As a mother it is our job to protect our children, wipe away their tears and do our best to make life better. In our experience with her father's drug addictions I have always tried to do and be whatever she needs, from doing everything in my power to give her her dad back, to accepting his current state, to supporting her in her desire to separate herself from this stranger that was once her dad.  For years she struggled seeing the last name of a man she barely knew anymore, still attached to her name.  I watched her correct people each time they called her by her full name. She was an ADAMS, but legally she wasn't.  After many prayers and discussions and tears and are you sure's,  we decided we would fight to change her last name to ours! I knew he wouldn't agree to this and was going to make it as difficult as possible for us, and he did. As you can imagine it's pretty difficult to serve an addict that has no job, no home, no contact with family, and that would do everything to avoid us now.  I chose to represent her myself in this case. Not being educated in law or how the system works, the process in changing the name of a minor without consent of the other parent, not knowing his whereabouts to locate him, trying to prove he was considered to have "abandoned" her, or what the hell the stack of legal documents I just read even said... this was absolutely the most difficult challenge I had ever taken on.  As time went on, I was losing faith, every avenue we tried, was NO! NO! NO! But we finally got a break, a judge knowing he had no contact with his family, still allowed me to serve him at his family's addresses because those were the last addresses he had registered with the courts. I felt like I had a judge this time, that after reviewing all our evidence and attempts, just might be on our side.  I served his family members and had to wait out the time for him to respond.  He called to tell me that he would be responding and fighting us on this (not that nicely put, but... I don't blame him for being hurt and upset).  I tried to explain her changing her name, didn't mean she didn't love him, but that it's difficult to carry the last name of someone that hasn't been in her life for the majority of her life. People see we have different last names and automatically ask about her father, the inability to answer "where he is" or not wanting to admit "what he does for a living", it drudges up hurt and negativity every time. He was angry and determined to fight it. Fighting us meant he would need to appear in court, which caused so much stress and anxiety for me. My daughter hadn't seen her father in almost 3 years, he was no longer the man she remembered. His addiction had aged him and worn him down physically, he probably weighed less than me at the time. I didn't want her to see him like that. I want her to remember the dad he used to be, I wanted her to keep the image of how she remembered him in her mind.  Not this stranger, this junkie that he'd now become. I especially didn't want their first encounter after 3 years to be inside a courtroom, with her fighting him, having to tell a judge in front of him, that she wants to "disown" his name.  I didn't want her to see his hurt, I was afraid of his reactions and actions in the courtroom. I was uncertain of how the courts would handle protecting her from seeing it.  Those 30 days until our court date were the longest days of my life, and my family's life. Sleepless nights, constant worrying, going over my documents, researching, planning, visualizing their encounter, her reaction, second-guessing if she was old enough to make such a drastic decision. Making sure I wasn't supporting this for my own secret selfish desires.  I've raised her on my own her entire life, no child support, of course she's an Adams damn it.... was I going along with it for her or for me... even though I knew my heart and my intentions, all these questions had me wondering if I was making the right decision. 
My mom talked me through all my erratic phone calls, all the "what if I forgot this", "what if I filed something wrong", "what if I screw this up", "what if what if what if".... EVERY DAY she took my call. I never gave enough credit or respect to my mom growing up, and it's a regret I will always carry with me, because she truly is a wonderful woman and mother. She was there through every step of this process. She advised me when she knew I needed it and she just listened to me when she knew that's all I wanted. She has a way with her words, to calm me down, to reassure me, to convince me it will be all be okay and that I'm doing a good job.  I know I would not have made it through this experience without her. (Thank you Mama).
When the court date finally arrived, my parents met us in the parking garage, I cried as soon as I saw them, mostly just nerves and scared for the unknown... but also just thankful to have them there supporting us, I needed them.
This was it, this was the deciding day.  My mom escorted my daughter to the courtroom, while Dad and I stayed out in the foyer on the look out, so we could warn her when he had arrived. She was extremely nervous, shaking.  I was too, trying to go over my case and my "speech" in my head but trying to comfort my daughter, myself, be on watch, all at the same time and I was failing... big time.  My mom, stepped in and distracted my daughter, getting her to look at her, sitting in a way that would block any view of her if he were to enter the courtroom, (wonder where I get my protective Mama Bear trait from! ha ha), my mom was telling her jokes, getting her to laugh, and all of a sudden my daughter wasn't in a courtroom anymore, she was in my parents home, comfortably cuddling on the couch with my mom, just having their usual conversations.  With my mom taking over for me, it was my dad's turn to calm me down, distract me, encourage me that I was ready, letting me know he was proud of me and I could do this.  I needed his encouragement and his faith in me that I was making the right decision, this is what she wanted. When the judge was finally ready to see us.... my daughter's dad hadn't shown up, so we were escorted to the judge's chambers to make it more comfortable for my daughter.  I was so beyond thankful for that, it made it less scary and less "court-like". It was just us, talking to this nice woman, explaining our story and why we wanted to change her last name. She was such a lovely lady...very soft spoken, kind, and compassionate to my daughter.  She complimented my daughter on her maturity and asked her several questions.  My daughter spoke from her heart, expressed her desires, explained why she felt this way.  I couldn't have been more proud. And that was it. The judge ruled in our favor. I vividly remember my mom's gasp. We all cried tears of relief and joy when she spoke the words that our motion was granted and my daughter's last name was now ADAMS.  We all just kind of looked at each other and asked "that's it"? As I tearfully thanked the judge, she genuinely smiled and I still remember her eyes as she said, "this has been a long time coming hasn't it?"... I tried to get out a yes, but could only manage a head nod.  She reminded my daughter that she was a very lucky girl and surrounded by people that loved her very much. She congratulated us and that was it.  As I looked over at my daughter, I have never witnessed a child exude pride, independence, empowerment like I did that day. She fought for what she believed in, what she wanted, she was willing to stand against someone she loved to fight for it, with all the odds stacked against us and she won. We went downstairs and allowed ourselves to beam with victory. Of course we had to document it with a million pictures. Even now, when I'm feeling defeated, I always go back to this one picture... It reminds me of how many no's we heard, but kept fighting until we got our YES!!!!  This was definitely my 2011 moment.  I will never forget the feeling in that room, the love between my family. The love my parents have for their grandbaby. And now my lil A is officially an ADAMS.... I still smile everytime I see her name on her homework! 

This last year was also filled with the lows of seeing my daughter's dad continue to lose his battle with addiction. After my last blog about the glimpse we had of him on the road to recovering, it wasn't three days after his release and he was back on the streets looking for his heroin fix.  Two weeks later he was back to his old ways, lying, stealing, using. I couldn't help but feel betrayed, hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, upset in him and that this story didn't have the ending I had hoped for.  Although I knew I wasn't the "author of his story", I still desperately wanted to finish reading that chapter of his book, with him winning in the end. 
It's been another year of his addiction. I still answered his calls, I still reported how our daughter was doing, but each phone call, i knew he was getting closer to death.
I have had another year to come to terms with his choices, but it still saddens me every day. But in this year, I learned I needed to allow my story to have a voice, how I've been affected by this experience as well.  I finally sat down and just wrote everything out about how he's affected me, what his addiction has taken from me. When I see those "dad" moments, observing and watching strangers, dad's laughing, playing, loving their daughters.  The innocent smiles on those little girl's faces, their eyes that light up and scream "I love you daddy" and they mean it unconditionally with every ounce of their soul and spirit.  The daily moments of seeing a father help their daughter with homework, or attempt to do their hair or paint their nails. Seeing my sister's faces as they witness their husbands with their daughters in these "dad" moments. Doing the dad/manly things with their daughters, things I'm not good at, things I have no clue how to teach her, things I attempt but it usually ends in tears or laughter because I completely screw it up. Like figuring out how to put a fishing pole together, with the bubble thingy and not tangle up the line & reel thing. Having to tear a poor innocent living worm and jam it's squirming lil' body through a sharp hook... and then figure out how to unhook the sad lil' fishy we caught but I can't get it out so I tear off half his face while it flops around in agony, I almost pass out from blood and guts, so I just hurry and throw it back in the water and leave crying. Things like that! But being able to watch my daughter with her dad, learn, participate and love to do these things with him, witness those sacred daddy/daughter moments... These are the moments he took from me.  
Now as my daughter is becoming a young woman and life is getting harder in her world, and someone forgot to give me the Parenting Manual, I wish I had him there as a co-parent, maybe reassurance of making the right decisions, have his opinion in how to handle certain situations, bounce ideas off of each other, support her in her activities together, witness the key moments of her growing up, sharing those "proud parent" moments together as co-parents should.  Sometimes, the feeling of 'I wasn't supposed to do this alone' creeps in. There are times I feel like I could have been better mom, more hands on, more energy, less stressed, more attentive, had I had my partner, my co-parent involved, didn't carry the load all on my own.  Please don't get me wrong, in no way am I trying to pity-party woe is me this... I love every moment of being a mom, I take pride in being a single mother. I am proud of what we have accomplished together just the two of us. I'm proud of our little family and I'm proud of the daughter and young woman that she is. The thoughtful, loving, generous, helpful, funny, accepting, open-minded, big heart that is her. My favorite thing about her, is that through all this, she hasn't let it change her. She still trusts, she still has faith and hope in people, she understands life isn't always picture perfect, but whatever her picture is at the moment, she'll make it perfect. No matter the situation, she will find the positive in it, she will take the time and figure out what she can learn from each experience.  She hasn't lost her heart or her smile or her laugh in all of this.  She is exceptional in my eyes. These are things he DIDN'T take from us! 
After his phone call today, and another forced detox, I took a moment to acknowledge the progress I have made. I have come to accept that it's okay for me to be hurt by what I feel I have missed out from his absence. It not selfish of me, it's genuine, true emotion. Me admitting I'm affected too, doesn't take away from my daughter's suffering... just means we've both been affected on different levels. In all this, I've been able to allow sadness for those lost moments, but they don't hold me down. I definitely feel confident in my boundaries and at peace with them.  Still not sure I have defined what the exact balance between being a Christian and helping one in need and enabling is yet, such a fickle line... but I'm feeling good with where I am.  I hope for him, I pray for him, I want for him to find his way back. But it is his battle to fight, his game to win, I can only be a supporting spectator at this point.  To Be Continued.... 

Well we have had several ups and downs over the last year... seemed like an off year for us and 2012 hasn't seemed to start off much better... but with recent crappy events, I think the two of us will choose to continue to find the blessings in disguise, reevaluate and enjoy getting back to the old Adams girls routines. I truly am thankful for my parents, my sister and best friend Kortney, and for those friends closest to me.  Thank you for your support, listening ear, advice, and a new set of eyes for me. (Wow this is sounding like an award acceptance speech or something....) Alright... well THANK YOU to everyone. We love you and I'll try not to wait over a year next time... then it won't be as long as a Stephanie Myers novel! (is that her name??? ahahahhaa) 


Monday, January 31, 2011

My Challenge

After a great conversation with my older sister the other day, I hung up the phone feeling peace and strength.  Although I still have quite the journey ahead of me in certain areas of my life...I have come a long way from the many flaws that I can now consider my past.  These flaws are no longer intimidating boulders blocking my view, but have been chiseled down to stepping stones on my path towards my future. I am comforted in this realization, I have a taste of peace.  For me, peace has often been a touchy word and feeling. I have always struggled to be at peace with myself, my decisions.  I tend to create the battle between thinking with my heart and thinking with my head.  In certain aspects of my personality, I am very much black or white, there is little gray with me.  I am on one end of the spectrum or on the complete opposite end.  For the most part, you will rarely find me straddling the fence.  When I love, I love big or not at all, if I trust you, it's 100% or not at all.  Kinda all or nothing with me, which as you can imagine, is nothing more than a beautifully wrapped present, when opened you find only a bomb with the word PROBLEM written all over it.  I am a firm believer that everything in life needs to have balance.  Emotion is one balancing act I have yet to perfect.  Thankfully I have good people in my life to give me their opinions when I need it and support me in whatever decision I make.  At the end of the day... I have to make the decision that lets me sleep at night. I have to be at peace with my decision or it will eat at me. I will analyze the shit out of it to the point I could earn myself a one-way trip to the local looney-bin.  I noticed that sometimes the decision that brings me peace isn't necessarily the "right" decision, but knowing myself well enough, it's the decision I'm willing to make regardless of the outcome. Obviously my way of doing things has back-fired on me several times, but I've been able to recover and avoid resentment because in the end, I did what I knew I needed to, to feel okay about my part in the situation.

In our phone call, the topic came up about a time that my family was feeling defeated by me and my actions.  They were at a crossroads with me, they didn't know whether letting me go was the best thing for ME or if they should continue to white-knuckle it and fight for me.  I remembered back to how black that period of my life was.  How I had isolated and detached myself from those that loved me most. I was more guarded and angry than I remember ever being.  I could twist, turn, manipulate any situation into making it them, their fault.  I remember the look in my father's eyes when I spitefully told him that "God messed up.  I was not meant to be in this family.  I don't belong with you guys. I'm nothing like any of you".  It was definitely one of my worst moments, not my only verbal regret, but one I will remember.  After all the disappointing, hurtful things I have done, my family has never given up on me.  I am very blessed that they knew I was someone WORTH hanging onto.  That I was worth fighting for and continued to try to save me from myself.  I would not be the mother, the daughter, the sister I am today, if it wasn't for this experience. So for that, I would like to publicly and openly express my gratitude for my family.  There is an undeniable truth in the strength and power that comes from family.  I am lucky to be a part of my family, they are the family I was meant to be with and I do belong.

Each of us is so very different, that is what makes our family what it is.  We all bring our individual flaws and our individual strengths.  My father is the definition of HONOR.  His word truly is his bond.  He will give you everything he can and then more.  My mother is my definition of strength, endurance, love and guidance.  She knows when to listen and when to speak.  She knows when to stand strong and when to cry with you.  My oldest sister is my definition of innocence.  She is unique in her thoughts and her heart.  She has the ability to see the good in all people.  I envy that at times.  My older sister, the word that first comes to mind is everything.  She can make you laugh until you cry, she is the jokester and prankster of our family. She is compassion, she can touch your heart when you didn't know you needed it, she can lift you up when you have fallen to your lowest, she can speak and give you strength, she empowers you, she encourages you. Her heart and intentions are pure and real. Of course I can't leave out our little brother, our 16 year old dog Forrest.  He is the son and brother, we never had. He has gotten all of us through our toughest times.  He knows when you need him, he lays by you and doesn't leave your side until you are better.  Then there is me... I always joke that I am the EXAMPLE, everyone's example of what NOT to do. I do have to admit though, we have all had some pretty good laughs at a few of my "crazy life" stories. I can't say there is one specific person to pin-point as the rock of our family.  We are more like a puzzle, in the box holds many different and unique pieces.  As we each bring our individual pieces together, we join and begin to form our picture... if one piece is missing, the masterpiece is flawed and incomplete. We are complete once every piece is securely fitted in it's proper place.

Again, thank you to all my family that endured with me, fought for me.  Sometimes it took one person in front to lead me, one person behind me pushing me, and one person on each side of me, holding my hand to guide me, and always my guardian angel/grandfather above me, giving strength to us all.  I couldn't tell you where I would be today if they hadn't seen my worth when I couldn't, nor do I want to know.  But I do know I am blessed to be where I am today. (THANK YOU!)

As I look back, I see many friends that haven't given up on me as well.  Although I tried, they didn't let me push them away and managed to fight their way to my heart.  I see a few faces of the ones that have let me go. I believe that they had to set their own boundaries and let me go. Because of my fears, walls and distrust in people, I in turn wasn't valuing their friendship and what they genuinely had to offer.   I see the many faces I so easily walked away from.  People that once I felt they betrayed me, I cut them out of my life.  Friendships I ended when maybe I should have taken more time to determine their worth.  I definitely want to take this realization as an opportunity to challenge myself.  To value more the friends that hung in there with me, to reach out to the ones that let me go as well as the ones that maybe I shouldn't have let go.  This will be a difficult challenge as I am from a family of Scottish (not Irish ha ha) Red-Headed women... STUBBORN has been passed down through each generation of women.  But it's a challenge I am willing to take on.  I also challenge myself to make a better effort to accept that people will let me down, they will disappoint me, that is life, it doesn't mean I have to immediately cut them out of my life.  Just as I am FAR from perfect and full of flaws, but hope that my true friends can see past that and see the genuine huge heart that is me, I need to be less of a hypocrite, more forgiving, and more open to view others as I'd like to be seen.  I will challenge to find some sort of balance with it all...Again, this will be a big challenge, but if you know me, I rarely back down from a challenge. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Urban Bleu

As the weekend is approaching, I am excited to have the entire weekend off from my night job!  More excited that I am actually going to get out of my hermit shell Saturday night and go see one of my favorite bands URBAN BLEU.  Now if they can get me out of my house, you KNOW they have to be good! ha ha
I came across Urban Bleu on FaceBook being friends with Norma (their front-runner promoter and number one fan!!!) I had a Saturday night off and convinced my non-blues friends to accompany me in checking out this band.  I could tell that they weren't excited to go, but being good friends they supported and entertained me.  After about five minutes of listening, I noticed all of my friends' heads begin to bob to the beat of the bass, guitar and drums... once the harmonica was pulled out.... I knew I had them! :) By the end of the night my friends were yelling across the table how fun this band was and that they were glad I made them try something new.
Most Utahans hear BLUES and run for the hills, but don't let the name of the band scare you.  They are far from your typical blues band in suit and old-school hat, hence the name URBAN Bleu.  At first glance you're not sure what to expect, as each member brings their own personality and character to stage... but once they play, they hit you with a production of un-matched and incredible talent.  My first reaction was a smile and a "hell yeh".  From Aaron Robbie Fowler as lead vocals, guitar and harmonica, Django Lachlan as bass guitar and vocals, to Brent Christensen on drums... the trio comes together with unbelievable skill and talent that bulldozes it's way right to your soul! I would say they have perfected a mix of several genres... they keep to the root of blues, but add their own touch of rock, jazz, soul, and bad-ass-ness! (Yes I just made that a genre!) 
I had a chance a couple weeks ago to chat with these kats when they took a break from their first set. Quite honestly that's always my REAL test of a band... yeh maybe you can play but how are you 'in person' off stage... and let me just say... I was happily impressed! Super down-to-earth, chill, good peeps (did I just use the word "super"... ugh!). But I just love Norma, she makes the show fun.  To me, she is just as much a part of their show as they are. I look over occasionally and smile because you see how much she loves their music, which is somehow infectious!  
They had their cd for $5, so I took out a $5 bill from my crappy tips that night and haven't stopped listening to their music.  Right now, I would say my favorite song is "Lookin' Out My Window" and as I've now got my daughter hooked on them as well, her favorite is probably "Nothin' to Lose".  I love it, I look back in my rear-view mirror and see her jammin' to the beats and singing along to the words! She is her own mix of bad-ass-ness! ha ha
If you have a chance, check out their website, facebook, myspace, whatever floats yo' boat and come out on Saturday, January 22 to Green Pig Pub (31 East 400 South, Salt Lake City). Green Pig has great food, drinks and will be accompanied by my new favorite peeps... Urban Bleu. (If you are drinkin' make sure you have a D.D. or I will have to throat-punch you! K!) and come on, I'm actually getting out of my house, with people, come support Operation: Bring Janni Back! LOL!!!! Hope to see ya'll there! XO

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Change In Roles

Tonight I took another step towards improvement, not so much for myself, but in support of our situation.  I knew I was uncomfortable before we entered the room, but I wasn't prepared at all for what would happen.  I had prepared myself with an open mind, but it was my heart that unexpectedly opened.

When asked to share, I was caught off guard.  Years of emotion came pouring out of me.  I found myself uncomfortable and crying in front of strangers, faces I'd never seen before and didn't know if I'd ever see again.  I seldom looked up but when I did, I saw eyes of empathy and understanding.  As I shared our situation and what has become our life, my daughter held my hand, giving me an occasional squeeze in support.  Through the touch of her tiny hand, I could feel her empowering strength and perfectly innocent love. I knew SHE WAS THERE.  I realized she was there for me.  My whole intent of going was to be there as a support for her, yet the roles had quickly changed.  My initial reaction of course, was to shut off my crybaby waterworks and pull myself together, but I continued on, sharing our story.  I realized that I needed to let her be there for me in this moment.  Not only did I need this, but she needed it.  She needed to see me not just as her mother, but as Janni, a person that too has been affected by this situation.  I began to share more of my story and less of our story, a story that unexpectedly yet apparently needed sharing.

I am truly beyond blessed to have my daughter.  She is the perfect balance of everything... boundaries yet hope, tears yet faith, strength yet heart.  Thank you for being my strength tonight.  I love you!

"The greatest weakness of all weaknesses is to fear too much to appear weak."
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. 
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Night

Tonight was a good night.  After an evening of conversations over manicures, dinner and ice-cream, we crawled into my bed and listened to music together.  We didn't really talk, just enjoyed.  I looked over at my sweet girl with her eyes closed, her head bobbin' back and forth to the beats, a smile on her face... and I saw myself.

We've always bonded over music.  I love taking her to different local shows, seeing her enjoy it as much as I do.  Every genre is appreciated with us, listening to whatever fits our situation for the moment.  There have been times I haven't had the right words to comfort her and the only way I knew how to help was to put on a song that I felt she needed to hear.  My song for her has been "I'm There Too" by Michelle Featherstone.  I will never forget the story behind the first time I shared this song with her, but it's a special memory I like to keep to myself.

Tonight I showed her a few new songs that I hadn't shared with her yet.  She stopped in the middle of a song and said, "I love this.  I love listening to music with you.  These are the moments I will always remember, that I'll share with my kids when they ask about my favorite times with you".  It made me smile.  We started reminiscing over different songs and the memories that we've attached to them.  Like I said, it was a good night.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Moment

There is one person that I rarely speak of, but this is a person I see everyday of my life.  I hear his laugh, I catch a glimpse of his eyes, I witness his "entertainer" character often.  I see this person... in my daughter.
Six years ago he began his journey on a different path... a path of abuse.  Drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, you name it.  Through his battle of addiction there were several long period gaps in the relationship between him and my daughter.  He would disappear then occasionally pop back in claiming to be clean, but I knew him.  I knew him clean and sober and I KNEW when he wasn't.  Incident after incident of putting our daughter in situations that I don't care to reminisce, I had no choice but to stop his visitations with her all together.  After another year of not seeing her, he took me to court.  He stood before our judge, sweating, squirming, stuttering, oozing of Meth.  Nonetheless pled his case.  Then it was my turn.  I naively assumed it was an open and shut case, figured I'd do the normal routine, give him a hug goodbye, tell him to be safe, wish him luck, then go home to my daughter.  Life as usual for us.  I waited for the judge to rule. I was told I would be turning my daughter over to him at 3pm that afternoon or I would be facing 30 days in jail!  Shock, disbelief and panic stormed through every pore of my body!  I couldn't speak.  After a moment I recovered enough to ask for an explanation.  She boldly stated that our initial court order allowed him state code visitations, her hands were tied. I was violating his rights.  Was this happening?  This woman had the power to find me in contempt of our court order if I didn't follow through with her ruling.  Tears came. I cried, I  pleaded with the her, but she didn't budge.  I knew she had seen it all.  To her I was no different then the typical jaded baby mama that was using our child to get back at him for whatever reason.  I was a docket on her calendar, just another case number, another file on her bench to get through.
I was terrified of the consequence.  Me in jail?  Away from my daughter.  I'd lose my job.  I'd lose everything we had.  My mind raced.  This wasn't happening.  I started plotting my plan, prioritizing what I needed to do once I got out of the court room.  I made my decision, I would agree to the visitation, get out of the courtroom, finalize my plan and deal with the consequences later.  The mother in me surfaced with force.  My tears turned to ice, my head lifted.  I remember taking the deepest breath just before I told her to take me to jail.  I vividly remember the look on her face.  Her eyes squinting with confusion, quickly turning to annoyance, as if I was a child challenging her.  We had what felt like an eternity stare-down, like a chess player, trying to figure out my motive of that move and what my next move was going to be.  I didn't have a next move.  I broke the silence, but I never let my eyes drop from her stare.  I blurted out "would you let him take your child"?  Silence.  I slowly saw the transformation in her eyes.   The no-bullshit judge melted into the woman she was, once the gavel was down and the black robe came off.  A Mother.  Was that enough?  Anxiety. Prayer. Plotting. Waiting. Answer me!!!  WAS IT ENOUGH???  It was.  In front of me was still a judge, but she was a mother as well.  She had a change of heart and allowed me two weeks to retain a lawyer to modify my court order.  Relief came. I thanked my Higher Power. I thanked the woman in front of me. I exhaled.
I followed through with what the judge ordered me.  Unfortunately he fell deeper.  His addiction turned to Heroin and it's coming up on another two years since he's seen our daughter.  As much as she wanted her father in her life, she refused to settle for a druggie dad.  She cut him out of her life, now goes by my last name, but never gave up hope for him.  I still kept in touch with him periodically, when he called, I answered.  I struggled with my role though.  What did God want me to do?  We are supposed to love everyone, not turn away those in need, right?  But where do you draw the line?  The line between supporting and enabling is a very thin and fragile line.  I wanted him better.  I'd do anything in my power to give my daughter her dad back.  I knew deep down I couldn't fix him, he needed help, but I couldn't disregard the "what if this time it's different" hope I still held on to.  With each failed attempt to get clean, my hope for him dwindled, he began to give up on himself as well and he fell lower than any human should have to witness another fall.  I set new boundaries, found peace with them.  He continued to check-in with me every so often, but each call left me broken, knowing he was at his end.  I knew I would soon receive the call that he was either dead or in jail.  That phone call came. 
It's been almost six months since that phone call and another stay in jail for him.  He was given the opportunity to do his time in a treatment facility setting.  His battle began.  I supported him as I could, we participated in requested tasks, but we knew that the first step in this treatment was not by his choice and we remained guarded.  I visited him and spoke with him weekly, I could hear the change and his progress, but I didn't trust it would continue once he was released from his sentence.  I began typing this post after receiving a package in the mail.  I knew who it was from before opening it, the return address gave it away.  Included was a long letter.  As I read it I questioned if someone else had written it, but I remembered this man.  I remember his thoughts.  I remembered his heart.  This was a man I once loved.  A man I once shared his last name.  I've missed him. I've longed for him.  Not in a romantic, hoping to revisit our past, as that ship has long sailed.  But just for a person I genuinely care for.  This was a man I desperately wanted for him to find his way back.  For himself...for his daughter.  As I finished the letter, I witnessed a changed man, a humbled heart, and a hopeful spirit.  A new, yet familiar man.
My normal self would usually refuse a smile or allow any feeling of this moment, in fear of another unhappy ending.  But in my new attempts towards progression... I'm allowing positivity.  Although I can't say I trust that he will continue on the path I hope for, I can say I am willing to allow myself to trust that this moment comes from a pure and genuine place.  I found myself in new territory.  What was I feeling?  It wasn't hope, it wasn't faith... just peace, contentment.  Regardless of the ending of this "story"... I am choosing today to allow happiness for THIS moment.
I am not the author of his story, I can't write what the final page will bring... but I am enthusiastic to continue reading his book.  Today I will stamp this page in my passport of life and remember my moment.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Uhm... ?!?!?

I just had to post today's horoscope... made me laugh after my post yesterday!!!

January 6, 2011
The celestial configuration is encouraging you to take a tour through the murkier corners of your being in order to understand your attitudes toward relationships.  This is a rare opportunity to see certain patterns of behavior from a new perspective, and begin to analyze your motives for adopting them in the first place.  A new era is dawning in your ability to be open and genuine with others.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


So I have typed and deleted for about an hour now! I'm new to this blogging thing and had no idea what to write. It's definitely an eye-opener realizing how uncomfortable and vulnerable I am expressing myself. I would say that I'm pretty open about most things in my life. I joke and express myself with friends on Facebook about my day, embarrassing moments, mom and daughter experiences, etc. I'm fine making people laugh, but when it comes to the "real" Janni, the one that is full of emotion, love, fears, insecurities, dreams, hopes, sadness and regrets, that side of me is only shared with and seen by a select few.

I questioned if that made me a fake person or just emotionally smart. I began to replay past experiences in my head, going back to different ages and time-lines, seeing the different faces of family, friends, lovers that have co-starred in my life movie. As I watched this film in my head, negativity began to creep in. I saw the lower points of my life, the mistakes, the betrayals, the trials, the heartaches, the chaos, the craziness.  My heart began to beat faster and I felt a rush of anxiety. Normally I would shut off this movie, flip the switch of emotion and distract myself with something else. But for some reason, I allowed my mind to continue on. As the images crept toward happy memories of the different faces that were no longer a part of my life, my knee-jerk reaction was to shut those memories off as well, and then it hit me. I haven't let myself visit the good moments I shared with each of these faces for a very long time. Why??? Because they didn't have the ending that I wanted??? I wondered why I hadn't kept the good memories with me and just let go of the bad, so I dug a little deeper. I came to understand that it has always been easier for me to delete people from my life, go on as if they never existed, becoming nothing but another random stranger on the street, than to pick what feelings and memories I want to keep, and which ones to let go.  I try not to harbor any negative feelings for people or situations, most times I have the "it is what it is" mentality to avoid building resentment.  But I would say that in each situation, I've tried to be mature enough to take the time to figure out why each person came into my life, what lesson could I learn from it and where my mistakes were in each experience.  Now this isn't the first time I've realized these things about myself, but I guess this time it hit me harder.  I see that it's become a repetitive realization. Before, I saw it as a flaw that I should work on, yet over time it's become a flaw that I have accepted about myself and in some ways expected others to accept it about me as well.  An "I am who I am, take it or leave it" mentality.  But when we quit working on ourselves, towards a better us, we quit progressing all together.

So why have I just accepted this about myself? When did I switch lanes from wanting to improve my flaw to merging it into my character of who I am?  I guess it began as my daughter became older, saw the ups and downs of our life.  I have always felt I needed to be my daughter's example and definition of a strong woman.  A woman that will run, walk, skip, or crawl through any situation and come out standing at the end, a survivor of any circumstance.  As much as I always tried to maintain a smile on my face for her, I tried harder to never let her see me cry.  She needed to see a strong mother, a happy mother, and if I couldn't be that at the moment, I was going to fake it 'til I made it.  I have spent so many years stuffing and hiding sad memories into my Pandora's Box because I was worried that if I let myself feel these painful emotions, I wouldn't be strong enough to recover. Not willing to risk it, I put on my emotional armor, my mask, and carried on.

Last night I allowed my "survivor" walls to come down for a moment and looked at myself in more depth than I ever have.  Now I don't know if all this is coming because of the typical "beginning of a new year" mentality, reflecting back at the previous year's failures, wanting to improve the year ahead of me.  Maybe it's just another point in life that I need to pause and regroup. Instead of accepting long standing flaws as current character, take the opportunity and the challenge to work toward improvement.  Maybe it's from coming across a file with some of my writings, poems, letters, thoughts, scribble that I have written over the years.  I can count on my right hand the number of people I have actually shared any of these with.  Of these people, I realized there is not one person that I have shared EVERYTHING with.  I pick and choose who sees what, which seems to be a pattern in my daily life.  I feel so vulnerable when it comes to emotions, and I allow very few to see.  I've spent so much time and energy guarding myself from those that are not in my chosen circle.  Guarded is how I've defined myself.  Protecting the emotional place I feel comfortable in, ready to challenge anything that threatens it.

I can't help but remember back to younger years, smile at how perfectly innocent my faith and trust in people was.  Although I wouldn't take back any of my experiences, good or bad, as each experience truly has made me who I am... beautifully flawed, wouldn't it be wonderful to feel that perfect innocence once again?

As it's a new year... I find myself optimistic and excited to explore, search, and find the Janni of 2011.  I believe this just might be the first step in my journey...