I Ain’t Afraid of No Teenagers

Today I am the Guest Writer at Naked Girl in a Dress.  I am so honored to be chosen since her Guest Writers are always people I admire.

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I am not good with little kids.

I mean, I have two little kids: an almost 3-year old and an 8-week old–both boys–and I LOVE them.  I think they are cute and funny and smart and awesome to hang out with.

But I don’t get them sometimes.

And they don’t get me.  They for sure don’t get my jokes.

Although I have trained them to laugh with me.

(WITH me, people.  Not AT. WITH.)

Many of my fellow moms with smalls talk about how terrified they are of the TEEN  YEARS.

I am so not nervous.

Not even a little bit.

continue reading my words at Naked Girl in a Dress

It Takes A Village

It’s Sluiter Nation Recruit Day!  If you haven’t check out the ever-growing list of outstanding Recruits, you should really check them out.  They are some of my most favorite people around the interwebs.  Go check it out.  I’ll wait.

I am honored to bring you Heather of Theta Mom into The Nation today.

Heather’s site was one of the very first communities I found when I first dove head first into this blogosphere.  And it’s one of the only communities I still keep up with.  It’s that amazing.

Heather created not just a blog that makes you feel part of something, but it assures each of us that we are not alone in this mom thing.

It’s not about linking up and getting blog hits and comments with Heather.  It’s about finding other moms like you.  It’s about seeing that you are not up a creek without a paddle.  Theta Mom is not just a paddle, but your canoe, and a barge of cheerleaders.

Read on, you’ll see.

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When I first started blogging, I wanted to share my voice because I knew there had to be other women out there experiencing the same kind of things that I was going through. But little did I know the amazing community that would emerge out of a single blog – before I knew it, a real sisterhood was born.

We all seek community in various aspects of our lives; we want to find it in our neighborhoods, at school, in the workplace and even in our places of worship. We thrive on building community because it makes us stronger and makes us feel more connected. When we are part of a community, it’s like we are part of something greater than ourselves – we share a real connection and THAT is the invaluable thread that binds us together.

And when you really think about it, isn’t building community a big reason why we continue to blog?

If it wasn’t for our readers and the need for that connection, we would probably continue to write but keep our blogs private. Instead, we choose to publish our thoughts for the world to see in the hopes that our endless dialogue and text resonates with other human beings.

When I published my first post at Theta Mom, I also published a Mission  statement. It was my way of communicating exactly what I envisioned for my blog and what I hope would come of it someday. There was an immediate outpouring and sense of community among women who understood this mission and without hesitation, they came on board and the rest really, is history.

My blog is not only the space in which I have the platform to share my stories, but it’s a place for other moms and women to connect, a space that lets you know that you (as a woman and mom) are NEVER alone. I truly believe that blogging has changed my life – it has given me a new perspective on motherhood. I’ve also had the opportunity to “meet” thousands of women from across the globe who continue to share in this motherhood mission. If you ask me, it doesn’t get better than that.

I’m honored to be a part of the blogging community, namely my own at Theta Mom  consisting not of just “one” blogger, but a village of bloggers who understand the ups and downs of motherhood. One of my favorite posts of all time that sums this up perfectly is You are NOT Alone  because we really are in this thing together.

Yes, it’s all about community.

And it really does take a village.

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Go visit Heather…

Owner of Theta Mom® http://www.thetamom.com & Theta Mom® Media http://www.thetamommedia.com Tweet: http://www.twitter.com/thetamom

Got Some

It’s a very special Wednesday here in Sluiter Nation!  Today’s recruit is WAY special.  But first you probably need to know what a Recruit is, so go here.  I’ll wait.

So this week’s Recruit is so close to me that he actually sleeps with me.

That’s right.  This week I am bringing you the words of my sweet husband, Cortney.  Did you know he blogs?  Well, he sort of blogs. OK, he has really good intentions of blogging.  Alright, he started a blog.  It’s called Tasty Buttered Toast.  Sometimes he puts his thoughts there.  But not as often as I wish he would. Because people?  He is a damn fine writer when he wants to be.

He started his blog when he was unemployed, and now that he IS employed…and back to school…and bowling league…and a dad of a toddler…and husbanding a pregnant wife who is carrying his next son…well, he is a bit swamped.

Plus he was the one who encouraged my words.

And because I love his words (and his cute booty), he is here today.

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I was asked to be a “recruit” over a month and a half ago… at first I thought I was a neat idea.  Write for the blog that I encouraged, nay, convinced Kate to write.  And here we are, how many hundred posts later, more readers than she could have ever imagined from parts of the world she’s never traveled.  Anxious to read those comments from so many of you, most of which she has never met in person, but talks about so often you’d swear she just got home from having lunch with them.

For me this blog is more than just an outlet to share the goings on of our little family, but it’s a chance for my darling wife to vent her frustrations, share her successes, and probably most importantly get support from her “fan base” to get her through those rough patches… and you all know we have had our share of those.  A HUGE thank you, and you know who you are, for being there when we needed that little extra something to get us through a rough spot.

So, back to this recruit thing… at first I thought it was a neat idea, not to mention a great way to give me a chance to put my mark on her little slice of the blogosphere pie.

It’s an interesting position to be in… I feel as though most of you already know so much about me already, what is there new to share?  What is there that I want to share?

Well, let’s see… I’ve hit a hole-in-one, bowled a 300 game.  I wonder why there is so much spitting in baseball, even by the players that don’t chew or eat sunflower seeds.  I don’t understand why some people with a NASCAR sticker in their back window choose to drive under the speed limit.

At one time in my life I was an avid pro-PC geek… back then, it was mostly just to antagonize my pro-Mac friends.  Truth be told I haven’t had enough time on a Mac to know that I don’t like it, I just know that the stuff I do on a PC would be different on a Mac; and change at this point isn’t a good choice.  I have a pretty good feeling that at some point, there will be an Apple product in this house (other than an iPod).

I’m not much of a cook, but I pride myself on putting out a solid spread at breakfast time… all credit to my late father for those skills.  He could grill just about anything, but breakfast, specifically omelets; were his specialty.

Well there you have it.  Not too shabby for my first post on the blog with my last name in the header.  I must say, I’m quite proud of the little space that Kate has created, built, and maintained on her own.  Thank you for your continued support of her writing and well-being.  Your comments and site visits make my heart smile.

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He doesn’t have a ton of posts, but he has some that I really love.

When his Grandpa Sluiter passed on Christmas last year, he wrote this:  Parting Ways

His take on lullabies:  Squeeze Box

And every post he writes about his dad gets me.  This one is from last year:  And I Walk the Long Road

I know he hasn’t posted over there since August, but when he does write…man does he write.  I can’t wait until he writes about being a dad someday.  I know it will be fabulous since he is so wonderful at it.

the haze and the fog

Hello and welcome to Wednesday!  It’s time to introduce you to another one of my lovely Sluiter Nation Recruits.  New here? Come check out what a Recruit is here.

Today I bring you the lovely Yuliya who writes She Suggests.  It’s almost impossible to put into words how just wonderful Yuliya is.  She is thoughtful and kind and a talented writer and amazing mother.  This summer I got to meet her at BlogHer, and I was enchanted.  I could have ditched the whole conference and just listened to her talk.

Yuliya and I found each other, I think, through Write on Edge back when it was The Red Dress Club.  I absolutely fell in love with her writing, then with her.

I think you will love her too.

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One of my big fears prior to getting pregnant and all throughout it was getting PPD because I knew that the risk of having PPD is increased in someone who already suffers from depression.

Fortunately I was lucky. Not only did I not get PPD, I had what can only be described as the opposite of PPD. My postpartum period, while filled with the usual intense emotions and occasional unexplained crying fits, was without a doubt the happiest I have ever been in my life. Yes, I was sleep deprived, covered in throw up and leaking constantly but I was exuberant. I was that (annoying) mom who stared constantly at her baby, held her incessantly and covered her with kisses practically every minute.

It was magical.

I started to let myself think that this was the new me and that maybe that old me who suffered from bouts of apathy and cycles of destructive behavior was just missing this, this beautiful child, this coveted role of mother.

But old me caught up with new me, maybe she was switched with someone at the hospital and was now finding her way back to me full of fury. I resumed my old ways, bailing on things I cared about, procrastinating, eating excessively, becoming angry and short tempered or simply lying on the couch and trying desperately to tune my family out. I was inside of a thick fog for months.

I woke up from that fog last Sunday to this:

Aliza, my 20 month old daughter bounced awake from our family bed, exclaimed “Cold! Shoes!” and ran clumsily to dig through her bureau and present us with her shoe selection for the morning. Girl child loves her shoes, and no, I have no idea where she gets it from, I live in flip flops.

She poked her daddy gently in the nose and reminded him “juice, boom, boom,” a reference to him making our morning green smoothie in a booming blender.

At breakfast she refused her bib and ate all by herself without spilling anything on her pajamas, she even drank her smoothie from a cup, using just one hand.

She informed me that she had to potty, about four seconds too late. She turned on the radio and bopped along, little hands waving in the air, non-existent booty shaking, and no I have no idea where she gets it from, Mama’s got back.

I watched and participated as this morning scene unfolded and all I felt was angry.

Angry because in these last few weeks while I was inside of the fog my daughter began to shed the last of her baby-ness. She cut back on nursing, began to wield utensils on her own and started the path toward potty independence.  She morphed from a baby into a full blown toddler.

And I missed it.

In that moment I began to understand what postpartum depression does to someone. Having had depression prior to having a child it just didn’t affect me the same way. Sure, I was frustrated at the time I spent feeling sad or apathetic to life. But now, with a child in my life I felt robbed of all those moments that slipped away, all those changes that took place when I wasn’t present, all the time that I will never get back.

I wonder did my daughter notice when I wasn’t “there”? If I don’t get better will she spend her childhood with someone who goes through the motions but isn’t truly present? Will I get PPD with the next child? Do I even have the right to talk about PPD and what I’m going through in the same sentence?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But by being here today I took my first step by talking about it. Maybe this is the new me, I’m not in the happy magical haze and I’m not inside of the fog, but I’m here telling a little bit of my story to this wonderful community and now that I have,  hopefully I won’t go back to going through it alone.

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I know you will rally around her and let her know she is NOT alone.  Ever.

And then you will want to read some of her other stuff.

Where Yuliya is from (spoiler: it’s not the USA)…Where I’m From

She is funny…and maybe a bit forgetful…Why I’m Not in Charge of Family Finances

And a post that was syndicated at BlogHer and is close to my heart as well…Are Bloggy Friends Real?

There are so many more I could choose from since she always shows yummy pics of food and delicious pics of her adorable daughter (she is an amazing photog, people), so you should browse around her site.

Go ahead.  Get lost there.

You won’t be sorry.

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Oh look!  I am featured at The Mom Pledge today!  Come say hi a quick second…so I am not all lonely over there.

one is silver the other gold

Oh hey…it’s Wednesday again.  That means it’s time to meet another blogger…a new Sluiter Nation Recruit.  What’s a Recruit?  Start here.

Today’s Recruit is someone who has been a long-time Sluiter Nation visitor and supporter.  I met Molly of A Day in Mollywood via twitter and our shared experiences with depression.  That sounds a bit morbid, but I promise it’s not.

I was lucky enough to get to meet her at BlogHer…something I had hoped would happen.  And she was just as encouraging and lovely in person as she is in the world of the internet.

I am so very pleased that I can share her with you today.

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Make new friends
but keep the old
One is silver
and the other gold

I remember walking into my kindergarten class, lunchbox in hand and mini backpack on my back. I met my first real friend, Terra, within minutes. Years later she would serve a very important purpose in my life. But I had no idea at the time.

I think we are attracted to certain people for reasons unknown to us.

The same could be said for internet friends.

If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, chances are you’ve already found a few blog soul mates. The ones that send you into fits of laughter when you were trying really hard not to smile. The ones that cause an upheaval tears from a place you didn’t know existed. The posts where you find yourself nodding along because, while your friend is upset, you know you’ve been there too. That sense of knowing you’re not alone creeps up and knocks the wind out of your lungs.

These new connections, new friends, they’re the silver ones.

Like an unsteady game of Jenga, I’ve stacked one year of my life on top of the other. In doing so I’ve realized that it’s not the making of friends that is difficult. It’s keeping them.

I have lost many companions over the years. Sometimes it was my choice. But mostly they walked away from me. Each time they did I felt a deep sense of loss. The loss of what could have been. The hurt when I realized that person no longer felt I was worthy of their time. But I have come to understand that a friend is along for the ride as long as we need directions to get where we’re going at that time.

We all find it easier to keep friends on the internet. Maybe that is why so many of us are here. Reading about each other’s lives because if you’re offering it up and we’ve got a few spare moments, we’re able to speed up the friend-making process. Technology moves fast and we chase it.

Writing a blog is like the adult version of “show and tell.” We’re standing in front of the class. We’re talking about our favorite things. We’re asking people to like us. And that’s okay.

But we mustn’t forget to spend time with those outside of the computer screen. We need to remember that the friendships we’ve kept over the years will be the most important relationships of our lives.

Because they were cultivated without the help of social media. They have withstood the test of time. They are steadfast.

I can recall holding Terra’s hand, skipping out onto the playground for recess. We hid in the tunnel set above the jungle gym. Sharing secrets and sticking out our tongues at boys who dared enter our hiding place.
Twelve years later, I would receive a knock on my dorm room door. I opened it and was shocked to see Terra standing before me. She needed a new college roommate and I needed a friend more than she knew. We would hold hands during our first year of college. After losing touch through high school we were unexpectedly reunited. We shared laughter and tears. We shared shoes and shots at the bar. She ordered pizza at midnight while I cried over another break-up. She stood up for me when no one else would.

I never could have guessed how important she would be to my well-being during one of the most difficult years of my life. All because two little girls said “hi” to one another on the first day of school. Do you think a part of me knew? I’d like to think so.

But that’s the thing about relationships. You never know.

So hold all your friends close. The constant ones and the acquaintances. The ones who stayed and the ones who walked away. Keep them safe in your heart.
You never know when an old friend, a golden one, will come knocking on your door.

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More Molly?  Ok!

Here is the post that won BlogHer Voice of the Year:  Part II: The Lost Year

One of the hardest things she has ever written:  The BlogHer Breakdown

A favorite of hers…a lovely reminder to keep things in perspective: The Random Placement of People

And a recent tale of a big heart…Let Him Drink

Tribes

Bienvenidos to another Wednesday!  Aside from my saucy Spanish today, it’s also Sluiter Nation Recruit Day!  Need a refresher on what a Recruit is or who has been one in the past?  Well, Ok!  Start here.

Today I bring you someone I met through a comment section of another blog (who actually no longer takes comments.  huh).    And then I noticed she also commented over at this blog that I love very much.  And so I followed her home to her blog one day and there I found Squashed Bologna.

I have adored Varda for quite some time.  She is the mom of twin boys–one who is on the autism spectrum and the other with ADD.  She is the kind of blogger I tend to stalk without words for that little comment box.

But she is also kind and lovely and generous and wonderful with words.

I am excited to share her with you today.

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I am of an age. Older than many other mothers of nine-year-old boys.

I have belonged to many tribes in my 51 years of life on this planet.

In the beginning, obviously, there were the tribes I was born into, happenstance of ancestry and geography: Jews, native New Yorkers.

Then other, subtler tribes, born of the choices my parents made: the tribe of only (sometimes lonely) children, the tribe of Bohemian artists, which I must say was much larger when we lived in Manhattan, shrank to the miniscule when my family moved to the flatlands of Long Island.

Then there are tribes of circumstance and identity that coalesce among school-age children. Mine were of the bookish variety, including the Educated Apes & Pigs – the name the “regular” kids coined for those of us in the Enriched & Accelerated Program, or EAP classes in my elementary school.

We didn’t care what they called us. A group of too-smart-for-their-own-good kids together? Is a very good thing. For two years we with our own, exclusively, and could relax for once. It was glorious.

Then through the tumbled, tumultuous years of adolescence and teenagery, like so many others, I stepped into and out of tribes, trying on and shedding groups and identities; seeking the true and the comfortable, shedding old and too tight skins.

Choir nerd / theater nerd / tech squad / artist / vegetarian / hippie / feminist / punk

Then more of the same in college. But fine tuning it, getting closer to the core, to ones that stuck around for a while:

For a long time I was a radical lesbian-feminist, a member very insular and exclusive group. There was a tremendous sense of identity there, a fierce belonging, a complete subculture and I was one of the tribe, lavender-dipped down to my skin.

And then?

I changed.

It was hard to leave such a tight, interconnected tribe, to step out into the world as just me.

But the inside was evolving and no longer matched the outside. Another skin to shed.

Moving back to New York in my mid-twenties in the mid-eighties, the world was wide. I spun through single gal – married woman – divorcee – married again.

For a while I was in the tribe of the infertile. That one was hard. Rock and a hard place hard.

And then, most transformatively of all, I joyfully, and with many tears, joined the Mom tribe, frequently anointed in pee and poo and leaky breastmilk.

My life, before, ever expanding, contracted for a time into that fiercely insular world of infant parenting: a few blocks bounded by the parks, the nearby stores that sell diapers, teething toys and baby tylenol, the pediatrician’s office, the kid friendly cafes.

I left my square mile infrequently. But within were many other members of my weary tribes: older new mothers and mothers of twins.

In the past few years I have, unfortunately been inducted into tribes not of my own choosing. Although I have embraced it whole-heartedly and learned of its gifts, joining the tribe of Autism Mothers was quite a shock. Unwelcome at first, to say the least.

And then there’s the Dead Dads Club whose membership card comes, eventually, to all who enter the tribal cave of the elder-care-givers. Once again this was thrust upon me. But it is a weight I bear with love, my 89-year-young mother still my charge.

Which brings me to this, the tribe I find myself among today: the tribe of bloggers, we of the writing kind.

I did not know I had not yet found my people. I sat in the middle of so many belongings, I felt so connected. How could I have suspected there was more?

But then one day I transformed my words into little packets of ones and zeroes and pinned them on a virtual page I called my own.

I had no idea what I was doing.

I just needed to shout into the wilderness, to hear my own voice amidst the cacophony of special needs children and dying parents.

I wrote and wrote.

And then I began to read.

And then I joined a blogging community. Or two. A group blog. A conference.

And one day I realized: my ghostly, virtual friends were as real and important as my flesh and blood friends.

And that I was Blogger.

That this was my true tribe.

And that it took me fifty years, but I had found my people, oversharers all, and come home.

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Want more Varda?  Try these posts on for size…

One about her Autistic son…Twinkle Twinkle Little Poopyhead

One about her ADD son…The Conversationalist

And this one about her mother kills me (caution: you may  need a tissue)…Groundhog Day

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One a side note, today is an important day for Postpartum Progress, the site and blogger who helped save my marriage, family, and life when I was struggling with postpartum depression.  Katherine has been running the site without any outside funding.

Here is what Katherine has to say:

I’m very proud of what Postpartum Progress accomplished over the last 7 years without any funding, but despite all that work, it is still the case that only 15% of all women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders ever receive professional treatment.  This means that each year another 850,000 women and their children may suffer from the negative effects of untreated PPD and related illnesses for the rest of their lives because they never got the help they needed.  And that’s just in the United States.  We are ready to do more, but we can’t do it without funding.

If you believe in the work Katherine is doing (and you KNOW I do!), please consider giving so she can continue to grow and do more to help the 85% of women who need help by clicking the button below.


DonateNow

An Ode to Twitter

Yay!  It’s Wednesday!  That means it’s Sluiter Nation Recruit Day…wait…what?  WHAT?  You don’t know what a Recruit is?  REALLY?  Well ok, I’ll throw you a bone.  Read this.  We’ll wait.

Yay!  You’re back!

Ok, this week I have a super awesome friend…er blogger…er tweep…er…she just ROCKS!

It’s Amy from One Foot Stuck to the Floor…or on twitter, The BMG.

Amy admittedly is a bit of a blogging slacker lately, although I have to say, when she decides to write?  It is AWESOME.

Plus she is probably one of the best friends I have never met.  She has given me unwavering support in everything from my struggles with depression to my current situation with my cat, Louis.

She is the perfect person for random chatting or deep conversation.

She is witty, snarky, and quick and compassionate, loving, and generous.

And I owe twitter for bringing us together.

So it’s only fitting that she has written an ode to twitter here today.

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Dear Twitter,

I love you.

Well not exactly you (although your blue birdy-ness is pretty cute).  It’s more like I love (most of) the people who use you.

I love that any time of the day or night, there is someone around to talk.

If I’m seeking advice on toddler sleep problems or weird baby poop, you’re there with an answer.  When I’m having a breakdown over anything and everything you’re there to remind me that it’s going to be ok.

When I’ve fallen down, you’re there holding out your hand to help me up.

I have found good recipes, shared a love of crock pots, and learned about new foods.  I’ve discovered the best ways to trim a toddler’s toenails, brush a toddler’s hair, and discipline.  You help with information about fevers, dehydration, and vomiting.  I’ve learned about postpartum depression, congenital heart defects, and Marfan’s Syndrome.  I’ve shared laughter, tears, and pain.  You name it and I’ve probably talked to someone on Twitter about it.

In turn, I have tried to help with advice, a prayer, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear.

Honestly Twitter, I don’t make friends “in real life” very easily.  I feel like an awkward teenager.  I’m really pretty introverted and content to be a homebody.  It’s hard for me to put myself out there and meet new people.  I constantly worry about how to fit in.  Do I say the right things?  Do I dress the right way?  Will they like me?  What if they don’t like me?  What if they ignore me?  But on Twitter, I fit.  I belong.  It doesn’t matter how I dress or if I say the right things.  We may not always agree or have quite the same ideas, but that’s ok.  We can like each other anyway.

My computer friends are always there whenever and wherever.

And that?  Is awesome.

On a quick side note, yes, I know there are trolls and spambots on Twitter, but for the most part the good outweighs the bad. When it doesn’t? There are always your Twitter friends or the “block and report as spam” button…

Thank you for everything Twitter. Thank you for letting me be me.

Love,

Amy

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If you aren’t on twitter, you SO want to be on twitter now, don’t you?

And if you aren’t following Amy, you need to.  @the_BMG.  Just do it.

You  need to go read her writing though.  So here is a sampling of her awesome….

Probably my most favorite post she has written (and hers too!)…In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

And you all know I am a sucker for the “letter to the child” posts…Thirty Months

An awesome piece she did for a Red Dress Club prompt…Blizzards of Shadows

You will never look at the flu so lightly again after this post…Five Years

Yes, you are welcome for Amy.  She is a lovely treat to have in your day.

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Don’t forget…if you ARE on twitter…tonight at 9pm est is the wine and fundraising tweet-a-thon/twitter party!  just follow the hashtags #ppnb and #winebuzz.  See you there!  Drinking for a great cause!

Naked Broken Afraid

And it’s Wednesday Sluiter Nation Recruit Day!  WAIT!  You don’t know what a Recruit is?  Well start here!

I am not sure what it is about being asked into The Nation, but it seems that I bring out the dark in people.  This either means A)my blogger friends have misjudged Sluiter Nation as a Goth Blog, or B)my blogger friends feel that this is a safe place to share their souls.

I’m going to believe it’s the latter.

Today I bring you one of my most cherished friends in the blogosphere: Adrienne of No Points for Style.

Not only do Adrienne’s words routinely leave me speechless, but she has become a trusted friend and confidant.  She understands–perhaps better than anyone out there–what I am going through when my depression grabs me by the throat and slams me into a hole.  She gets how I don’t want to come out until I want to come out.

Plus she told me the best writing advice that I have ever gotten:  Write what is behind your eyes.  Because until you get it out?  Everything else will be mediocre.  You can’t ignore that which is right behind your eyes.

I am honored that Adrienne went ahead and wrote what was behind her eyes for you all today.

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Some loneliness is soft and sad, like undercooked sugar cookies made soggy by the weight of sick-sweet white icing.

Some loneliness is nakedly aggressive, crouching on the furniture, drool rolling out between its crowded, filthy teeth.

Some loneliness is grown inside an event. It lasts an evening, a week, a month. It lasts as long as it takes to get settled in the new city, find a new faith community, or heal from the rupture of a relationship.

Some loneliness is grown inside us, a perverse organ. A liver of the spirit, it filters wrongly, eating feelings of together and with and a part of, digesting them and excreting shame.

Of the raw materials from which loneliness may be built, shame is the most robust. It is the bedrock foundation on which a lifetime of loneliness is best erected.

Sixth grade: the cafeteria is huge, noisy, and smells like early puberty, dust, and old fry oil. They are talking, all of them, and I know that they don’t want me. All the evidence of this is generated by my own guts, which hunch and lurch under their sodden covering of shame. I go to the library and sit there, alone, reading books during my lunch period for all of my three years in middle school.

Later, a girl with a lumpy blonde ponytail and electric blue eyeshadow asks, “Why don’t you just kill yourself? Nobody even likes you so why do you bother?”, and I know that she’s right.

Later still, I will try to take the advice of the blue-lidded girl, but even that I can’t do right. My structure of loneliness, built on its stout foundation, is large and strong, a luxurious, carefully tended prison. I cultivate it. I maintain it. I seek evidence that justifies its continued existence. I rarely leave it.

Later again, I met a man. He said he would have me, as a favor. My job would be to tend the loneliness, to use it to make myself worthy of him. My gratitude for his occasional visits to my isolated world would make me worthy. I could earn his presence.

After he gave me two babies (good gifts, those, no matter the inaccuracies in the narrative he told of, and later to, them), I saw some cracks appear in my prison’s foundation.

I hated those cracks. Are you surprised? Perhaps not. Perhaps you know, as I knew, even in that dark and ignorant time, that to walk out — away — was to walk into the world unprotected. Naked.

Faced with a terrifying and uncertain transformation, I chose instead to struggle mightily toward reformation, to mash mortar into all the cracks, brace the walls, hang shutters over the broken windows.

Eventually, though, the structure showed itself for what it was: a story, an excellent fiction built of half-memories and warped evidence. The shame created the isolation which bred more shame which fertilized yet more loneliness. I lived on a treadmill of self-perpetuating lies.

When I finally walked out, I found myself in the midst of a baptism, bathed in the cool water of renewed life.

Amazements greeted me. I was accepted, respected, desired, and even loved. I moved into the world with new confidence, erecting a new edifice around me in which I could be secure in the embrace of others. Friends, co-workers, family, boyfriends, a church community. A whole new world. I remarried, had another child, and built a new life. My visits to the crumbling prison grew less frequent and I did fewer repairs while I was there. My new home was better. Shinier and happier.

The new structure seemed so stable, so solid, so comforting. When it crumbled, I was stupefied. The people I depended on most to keep me attached to the ground rejected me. They used hateful words and angry gestures and they went away. Almost all of them, and they took my two eldest children with them when they went.

The pain was monstrous, like having my guts ripped out of my body through my nose. I moved through my life — barely — screaming.

The new baptism was not of cool water but of ripping, crushing, savage heat. I was dashed against the rocks, torn wide open, exposed, without so much as a simple fig leaf to protect me.

Alone alone alone alone alone and no person could soothe this anguish. No person. My heart was bitten slashed stomped poisoned brutalized far, far beyond its ability to rebuild. Bitterness beckoned in the distance. “I can rebuild the old house,” it said. “We will make loneliness a virtue. We will build the walls with hate and peek out at the world through windows made of cynicism. All will be secure in here, where no one else may enter.”

I dabbled in that bitterness, tempted. It was all so familiar, but larger, deeper, better. More.

But I had seen a bit of the sun, and it, too, enticed me. It promised light and warmth and togetherness.

And risk. More nakedness. Vulnerability.

Build a new house on the brink of the cliff?

Step off into the abyss?

I stood there a long time. The bitterness and the light made their cases, the bitterness depending on hard logic and fear, the light wooing me slowly with promises. A third way, the light said. Love without dependence, the light said. Eyes open, lights on, no secrets, the light said.

I listened to them long and long and long and I inched ever further away from the edge of that cliff and closer and closer to the house that bitterness was building for me. And when I was close enough I saw the house clearly, and I saw that my children would never visit me there. My husband would only speak to me through the mail slot. My parents, my sister, my friends, my grandma, a thousand people I haven’t met yet — the door would open for none of them.

Eyes wide open, wounds unhealed and still suppurating, naked broken afraid, I walked to the edge of the cliff.

Stepped off

into the waiting arms of the light

where the pain is sometimes (often) exquisite

and I am tempted to hide in shame and bitterness

and yet

I am never alone.

*************

Want to get to know Adrienne better?  Yeah you do.

Read about her struggles with having a son with a pediatric  mental illness…and the toll it takes on her family in The Mother I Was, The Mother I Am, and The Mother I Wish I Could Be

One of the very first things I read by Adrienne that made me fall hard for her: Love with Teeth

And she is not always dark…she can be pretty darn funny and awesome too: The 2011 Award for Best Use of Peer Pressure for the Good of Humanity and Its Limited Supply of Brain Cells Goes To Jacob (plus some other stuff)

Yup.  She is awesome.

On Belonging

Happy hump day!  Or should I say RECRUIT day?  Wait…you don’t know what a Sluiter Nation Recruit is?  Well, start here, yo.

This week I am excited to bring you KLZ from Taming Insanity.  Why the excitement?  Have you read  this woman’s writing?  She is the bee’s knees. The cat’s pajamas.  The dog’s…um…zoot suit?  Anyway, she is totally rad.

She is not just funny, but charming.  She is not just a mom to a boy, but pregnant with another one (boy, that is).  She is not just brainiac about social media stuff (um, she is half of the Eli Rose Social Media site), but she is generous with her knowledge (seriously, check out Eli Rose).

I have stalked her blog for a really long time only commenting on the biggest of news.  Mostly it’s because I have no idea what to say…she seems to say it all so well that I feel like my comment would fall lame…ever feel like that on a blog? No?  Just me?  Well.

But then I got to know her a bit and I realized something.  She is pretty dang awesome.

And totally honest.

This post she sent me is honest.  And it comes at the perfect time:  back to school time.

But it also rings true to me as an adult too.

Let’s see what you think.

*************

It seems as though it’s become cool to say you don’t belong. Cool to claim you’re a geek, or to declare yourself an outsider. At least online, this is a badge of honor, a way to connect with other outsiders and thus, belong.

As much as I value the connections I’ve built online, I sort of hate this trend. The reality of the situation is this: people are people everywhere – even online – and people like to be in groups.  There is safety in numbers. As proof, the first blogging advice you get almost anywhere is: find your tribe.

I’ve never done well in groups. I can find individuals with whom I share a deep, emotional, heartfelt bond. But groups? I’ve never understood how to navigate their dynamic. Invariably I make a misstep and ostracize myself from the group.

When I was in high school, I tried valiantly to fit into the group. I didn’t want to be popular – I just wanted to belong to a group. Any group would do. I desperately wanted and needed a true support system.

So, I tried to be nice, to not make sarcastic jokes that could be taken wrong, to help everyone. The effort of trying to be everything to everyone just heaped strain on me. I’d try harder just to fail better. I always failed. I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t be it all. These failures would pile upon me until I hated myself. I hated turning someone down for a simple request because I was too busy doing other things. They hated me too. Because I helped everyone else, so why wouldn’t I help THEM?

Inevitably, the stress of trying so desperately and failing so miserably would cause me to implode. I’d snap at someone who didn’t deserve it, I’d cry for no good reason, or do something else that would make me an outcast once more. So, I’d start over. I’d try harder to be nice which created more stress. It was a vicious cycle fueled only by my own unrealistic expectations of myself.

I hated me.

I don’t want to go back to hating me but I lately find myself mirroring that high school girl. I try to visit every blog that hits my email, every blogger that comments on my blog, every interesting link I see on Twitter. I want so badly to be supportive. For isn’t supportiveness the price we pay to belong?

But I can’t be everything to everyone. I’ve tried. And I hate that person.

I have a place where I belong and people with whom I belong. I’m not a natural networker. I’m built for deep, intense relationships. I’m built for relationships where you know everything about the other person and stay with them through thick and thin. I’m built for marriage, not casual acquaintanceships or one-night stands. I can’t be married to a group of 20 people. I am built for monogamous friendships. That’s where I belong.

I don’t belong as part of a group. And that’s ok.

As long as I remember where I belong, I’ll be ok.

*************

You want more of the Insanity, don’t you?

Ok…for some funny…How to Lose a Gut in Ten Days

Oh, and she MAY wear a lot of dresses.  No really.  Dressing Myself

And come on…we have all done it to some unsuspecting new mom-to-be…Mommy Vomit

And I told you she was social media savvy, right?  5 Blogging Time Management Tips

So there you go.  KLZ.  Taming Insanity.

You’re welcome.

Where Were You?

Today I have the distinct honor of guest posting for Alissa at Have Stroller, Will Travel for her series, “Where Were You on 9/11”?

I remember being so young and naive at the time that I wasn’t even sure what the Twin Towers were when someone told me the news.

I was a first year teacher.  A long-term substitute, actually.

I was fresh out of college.

The world was supposed to be open and great with endless possibilities.

But that Tuesday changed things for America.

Come read my small story of being a 22 year old in Michigan–so far from the tragedy, yet touched so deeply.

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