Love Letter

Come, and Be my Baby

The highway is full of big cars

going nowhere fast

And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn

Some people wrap their lies around a cocktail glass

And you sit wondering

where you’re going to turn

I got it.

Come. And be my baby.

Some prophets say the world is gonna end tomorrow

But others say we’ve got a week or two

The paper is full of every kind of blooming horror

And you sit wondering

What you’re gonna do.

I got it.

Come. And be my baby.

– Maya Angelou

His hands were cold. The dewy springtime grass tickled the back of my legs as we looked up at the stars. Our hands were intertwined, pulling us closer as we strained our eyes to make out the constellations. Our cheeks touched and he kissed my nose. My heart and hormones started to race all the while whispering,” This is love.”

I put my head on his chest and could have sworn our hearts fell into a rhythm that I could feel all the way down to my toes. A few months shy of sixteen years old, I was certain that he was the one. Like a typical teenager, I had planned the rest of our lives in my head over and over.

Until it was over.

Hell hath no fury as a broken hearted teenage girl. I needed someone, anyone, to love me. I had already spent years staring into the mirror hating the face looking back at me. The storm inside of me that I wasn’t good enough and would never be good enough, spun me like a tornado, leaving me with the aftermath and debris The wreckage I created pushed those I loved away.

You are pathetic.

You are dramatic.

You should have known better.

Time passed as it always does, and I found another boy to replace the last. That was my solution for poor self-esteem and body dysmorphia. A newbie. When that solution ended I bounced around to the next- eating disorders and alcohol. If my body was smaller, I thought it might be easier to love. When that didn’t work I decided to shut my brain off whatever liquor I could steal from my parents.

My mind and heart became quiet as I lost myself.

Find me.

It hurt too much to think, and it hurt even more to not.

My feelings didn’t change, they stayed right there in my teenage dream. It was comfortably painful, but familiar. The thought of self-love was foreign and impossible. Life kept chugging along. I found a new blue eyed boy and kept my fingers crossed as we exchanged vows. I would stare into them like the ocean, trying to find a pigment of truth I could hold on to. I loved him, but I kept looking for someone who wasn’t there. I laid on the grass by myself from time to time. I looked up to the sky, hoping I would find him. I felt stupid. I kept repeating the memories over and over. In the quiet of the night after my kids fell asleep I would lay in my own bed and feel the tears streaming down the sides of my face. There was a man right next to me, but he wasn’t him. I never felt settled or safe. Something was missing.

I was certain that he wasn’t thinking of me during all this. I would vaguely replay our last text or email, long deleted, and probably pieced together by me in a drunken fit. But- what if he was?

“Don’t be stupid.”

” You haven’t spoken to him in almost fifteen years, you’re insane.”

” He’s probably married and you look pathetic.”

I spent some of those years in a complete black out. The empty spot inside of me was once filled with joy, was now full of Pinot Grigio. Eventually, that stopped working too. Something clicked, the light bulb turned back on. I dove head first into a new life where self-love was a possibility. I couldn’t find it the bottle or prescription, it was inside of me. No more numbing myself, no more doubts. Sobriety changed the way I viewed the world completely- except for this one thing…


He just kept popping up in my head. My brain had left the fog of addiction, and the freedom and happiness from the steps I took to find myself. Surely, in sobriety I would have been able to remove the constant cycle of thoughts about him.

Nope. Still there.

I felt crazy. Who the hell holds onto the the thoughts of a first love from decades ago? Grow up. I shoved all of this under the rug and started to look at things differently. I didn’t need a mind altering substance anymore.I felt free- and in that freedom that I found for myself, I planted a tiny seed of self-love. Tiny, but mighty. Divorce pushed me into a life where I spent a lot of time alone. In that quiet space, that tiny seed I planted started to grow.

My mind was quiet and I started to let people in who could relate. They told me about their experiences and how they handled the challenges life throws at us. It was beautiful. In a moment of complete clarity I decided it was time to let him go. I didn’t need someone to love me, I had started to love myself. I didn’t need someone to hold my hand, I faced my fears. I didn’t have to carry the burden anymore. I did it. I let him go.

God has a sense of humor, because pretty quickly after that…

He came back.

Opening yourself up to love again after heartache is an act of bravery. Sharing past hurt, working through tough emotions and circumstances, loosing the life you thought you wanted, letting go of blame, grieving the relationship you once put your faith in and finally forgiving yourself and others…

Forgivness- The key that opens your heart. It sounds like subtext of a screenplay created by Lifetime Movies. There is no space in your heart for anyone or anything when you have filled yourself with anger and disappointment. You start to drown. There are no life vests, just life. You have to swim through it to reach the other side, and when you do, you learn to breathe again. I always looked at divorce as a failure. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. For me, divorce was a lesson in patience, honesty, acceptance, humility, love and accountability . I needed to be broken before I could put it all back together. 

Kind of like Humpty Dumpty. There was no bottle of wine, dating app, gym membership, or self help book that could do that for me. I had to get on my knees and pray for the chance to turn it over and heal the broken pieces. Slowly, I let it go. The wreckage of my broken past poured out of my hands like ashes. I watched as it blew away into the distance. blew into the distance until I could no longer see them. I had a moment of grace. Maybe even a moment of gratitude for finally understanding the lesson in front of me.

I had no idea that the reward from this lesson would be him. I couldn’t have imagined that the boy who told me he loved me when I was only fifteen would be the man who told me he loved me and had always loved me after all these years. I had no way of knowing that the would embrace my children, my sobriety and my past. His hands felt the same, his laugh still left an echo in my heart, his eyes stared straight into mine and I was home. 

He is my home.

It’s a home we built together on our own separate journey throughout the years. It’s a foundation built on something we can’t explain, the feelings we can’t put words to, the mystery of how we ended up back in each others lives. It’s sturdy and strong, even though we started it separately. It came together just as it was supposed to. The walls are covered in memories from being a teenager, traveling the world, seeing and experiencing things without each other, moments of happiness and also moments of sadness. The roof gets direct sunlight all day long as it’s layered with every new memory we make. 

The path that we each took to get here is nothing but extraordinary , and we hold those steps close. Mindful of where our feet are and staying grounded in the moments with each other. 

This is my love letter to you. 


Pitter Patter.

It usually starts around 5:45 am.

The sun is just about ready to rise. The dog is snoring blissfully, while the cats cuddle up in the corner. The ceiling fan is spinning fast, providing the white noise that keeps me in snoozing. The rest of the world starts to wake up outside my window. Then, like clock work, the first set of tiny toes start to make their way down the hallway and up the stairs. Pitter patter, pitter patter. I change my sleeping position to make room for her in the bed.

” Mommy, can I snuggle?”

Of course.

A few minutes later we are joined by another one. ” Mommy, move over. I want to sleep with you.” I scoot over into the middle, creating a mommy sandwich with one kid on each side. My pillows have been taken from right under my head and sharing the blanket with these two isn’t an option. I take a glance at the clock and realize I have forty-five more minutes left to sleep.

Please. Dear God. Let me sleep. The day will begin soon and I have a million things to do. The girls fall right back to sleep, while I toss and turn awkwardly between them. I start to get angry, they never leave me alone. How can I take care of them if I can’t shut my brain off for a few hours a night? The anxiety starts to rise and I ask myself what the hell I was thinking when I decided to walk away from a marriage 800 miles away and become a single mom in the town I grew up in.

I watch the ceiling fan, hoping it will hypnotize me back to sleep. I close my eyes as a little hand reaches over from my left side and interlocks my fingers with hers. I turn my head to see rosy cheeks and fluttering eyes to my right. They are blissfully asleep next to mama. The last set of tiny toes comes up the stairs just as my alarm goes off. She jumps onto the bed and tells us to get up. Those little eyes open and fingers stretch as her little sister says, ” It’s good morning!” I grab a pillow and cover my face and groan.

” You guys never let me sleep. You woke me up, I didn’t get to rest at all. You have to stop doing this, I’m going to snap. Go downstairs now. I need five more minutes.”

They slide off the bed and head downstairs as I hit the snooze button. I sit up after the final alarm goes off for a final time and make my way downstairs. I thought I hid the TV remote, but they found it. They’re watching youtube videos about slime and Barbies. I ask them why they aren’t dressed and why is their homework not in their backpacks. I turn the tv off, grab some cereal, milk and bowls. ” Here. I have to go get ready.”, I say as I march back upstairs. I have to feed the cats, make my bed, get dressed and check my emails. I glance down at my phone and realize we have to hustle to the bus stop or I will be late for work. The rush begins as I yell down the stairs, ” You have two minutes to brush your teeth and grab your backpacks! HURRY UP.

If we don’t leave in the next few minutes we will miss the bus and I will have to scramble to figure out who can drive them in as I race to work. I think to myself how easy this would be with a partner, if only I could share the responsibilities with someone else, maybe I would’t be so grumpy. Maybe I would be that nice mom who sends her kids off to greet the day with happiness and rainbows instead of screaming how unmanageable the three of them are and how rude it is to not listen to me.

Why can’t they just do what I ask them to do?

As I packed their lunches the night before, I thought to myself how stupid is that these kids won’t eat the free hot lunch that’s offered at school and how teidious it is that I have to cut out freaking zoo animals in their sandwiches that they probably won’t eat anyway. I put a note in everyday with a joke or just a simple ” I love you”. As I pile them into the car I realize I left their lunch boxes in the fridge and sprint back upstairs, tripping on the damn dog and yelling out to no one, ” GOD DAMMNIT.” I fly down the road, their little bellies doing flip flops as I drive down the hill and back up again for the bus.

“I love you, have a great day.”

I go my way, they go theirs and the day takes off like it always does. I chug along until lunch time crashing from the morning caffeine and sugar rush. As I eat my lunch I reflect on the morning and beat myself up for yelling at them. A good mom would have patience. A good mom would wake up earlier and make them pancakes every morning. I remember how we used to have dance parties in the morning getting ready for the day when I was a stay at home mom with them. I smile at the memory, but the guilt quickly fills my cup and I wish that things were different…that I could be better.

I start to think about how hard this year has been for them. I can see their tears as they say goodbye to their dad after another plane ride and visit with his family. Sometimes, I doubt every move I have made since the day I signed divorce papers. I wonder if I’ve screwed them up forever. I ask myself were my best intentions really for them? Is it selfish to want to raise my daughters around the men and women who raised me? There’s a undeniable space in their daily lives from how things used to be.

Did I do that? Will they hate me someday? I see images online all day of moms who give up everthing for their kids. They all look so happy. A full family, all positions filled for an average American household.

Over here it’s just me, the dog and the two elderly cats that we can’t seem to get rid of. My eyes start to water as I think about how I would do anything for them, but maybe I haven’t done enough. I try to fill the hole in my heart with anyone I can find, and then when they leave the hole gets bigger. It doesn’t occur to me that the hole can’t be filled by another person, so I keep trying from one to the next. If I was in love, I bet I would be happier, more patient and calm with my kids. I just need to find someone to love, that will fix it.

Maybe that will fix me.

The hours go by slow and eventually we are all home again at the dinner table. One kid is feeding the dog the chicken I spent an hour cooking, while the other two are kicking each other under the table and screaming about how one or the other is lying. It’s chaos. I roll my eyes. If only these damn children would shut up and eat so we can have a nice night as a family. Instead, I slam dishes in the sink and tell them if they want to hit each other, go right ahead, just don’t come crying to me if it hurts. Later, as I rub their backs and sing them to sleep, I tell myself to remember this forever. Remember how they snuggle up to me and drift off into dreamland. Remember how they needed me and how these moments should be treasured. They grow up fast, soon this will be a memory, no longer in present tense. I think about how tomorrow I’ll do better, I”ll be a patient mom in the morning and I’ll help them start their day off right with kisses and smiles.

I pack their lunches and head off to bed myself. I try to sleep but decided to scroll on my phone and waste time instead of shutting my eyes. A few hours later the cycle starts all over again and I find myself repeating the same grumpy behavior from the previous morning. It goes on and on until I start to believe that the exhaustion will kill me.

The past few weeks I’ve woken up alone. I’ve rolled out of bed every morning well rested. I get myself ready for the day without worrying about anyone else. I can pee by myself and put my shoes on without someone asking me where their socks are and can I help them find their coat. I take my dog for long walks and sit in the sun collecting freckles while sipping on ice tea.

It’s quiet.

It’s empty.

I would give anything to be woken up by the three of them, demanding breakfast and asking if we can do a play date today. I wish I could throw them in the car and drive to the ocean for the day to see if we can find mermaids. I want to sit in a muggy field and watch half decent fireworks for the 4th of July. I wouldn’t even mind only getting four hours of sleep if it meant I could hold them in my arms before the day begins.

Mothers carry their children for much more than just those first nine months. Our children are a direct extension of ourselves. I am much more than just me. I am theirs, they are mine. I can look in their eyes and know exactly how bad the booboos hurt when there’s tears running down their cheeks. I know when they’re telling the truth. I know their favorite books, their favorite tree to climb, how much bubble bath I should put in the tub, and their favorite songs.

I know when their hearts are broken and even though I want to put them back together, I know I’m not that powerful. I know how to hold them as they learn to express their feelings, knowing that I will support them every step of the way. I don’t have a magic wand and I can’t solve every problem or understand every emotion they experience. All I can do is pray and hope that I’m teaching them to be strong girls who know their worth while surrounded by my love always.

I don’t know everything, but I know I was meant to be their mom.

Grumpy or not.

In the moment things can feel so heavy, the weight of the past is gone but the memory of it leaves a sting. For all the sleepless nights, my babies and I are surrounded with more love and support that I ever could have imagined. Moving back across the country with three kids, a dog, two cats and a hell of a lot of uncertainty has proven to be one of the most life changing experiences. Our family and friends open their doors to us, provided us with our own door and helped make this house our home. It’s hard pill to swallow on the days when they desperately miss their family that we left behind in the Midwest. I had no way of knowing that the space between could swallow you whole. I hadn’t learned that lesson before now. Eight weeks of summer without my little girl gang by my side has been a crash course into the other side of parenting from a distance.

This must be how their dad feels.

I didn’t know.

I never had to count the days until I could hug them again.


I get it now.

Summer will go on. I will wake up in the silence, but that’s ok. The hardest lessons in life are always the most fruitful. Those little toes will be home soon enough and I”ll remember the mornings when they weren’t.

I might even make them pancakes once in awhile.

Because of.

Grief is not temporary.

It took me years to realize that the presence of grief is everlasting. It also took me years to realize that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grief brings sadness, denial, anger and eventually acceptance. It isn’t a fleeting moment, it’s part of the stitching that holds us together in life. It keeps those we love and have lost alive within us. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s undeniable. Although no one can say for sure what happens to us when we die, it’s clear that death doesn’t remove the power of the presence of someone in our life.

Ten years have passed and I feel her everyday. My body remembers how it felt holding her hand in the hospital. Her skin was soft and her hand was as delicate as a newborn in my hand. I can hear the wail and shock as my family and I realized she was gone. Her body was surrounded by her children and grandchildren as we sang her off from this life to the next. I can remember my aunt stroking her head, tears running down my dads face, and the confusion in the eyes of my baby sister as we all came to realize we wouldn’t see her physically here anymore. I remember shaking my head as we walked down the aisle in the church at her funeral, in disbelief that I wouldn’t be able to call her anymore.

That’s when it hit me like ton of bricks. The grief slowly flowed inside of me and then all of a sudden it was real. It was an impossible reality to have ever thought that she would someday be gone. She was our rock. As a mother and a grandmother, she had come to terms with all of that long before we did. She set the stone for us. As the years passed, we each brought our own little pebbles to gather around hers. Eventually, the pebbles grew closer and closer, encompassing her stone, and becoming one.

No longer just her stone, but ours.

The parts of her that created the foundation fused with the parts of us that made it stronger.

This past Thanksgiving, there was an abundance of gratitude at the family table. My large Irish/Lithuanian family could finally cut the turkey together, as opposed to our Covid/Zoom Thanksgiving from the year prior. We embraced, we laughed, we celebrated, we cried, some of us yelled- but it was comforting to finally share a meal with the ones we had loved and missed. Later in the evening my Uncle was reminiscing about past Thanksgivings. My grandparents started our family traditions decades before I was ever part of them. They raised their kids with the belief Thanksgiving was the most important holiday to share together as a family. Each year they asked everyone to try to make it home to be with the family if they coupd. They then requested that their kids and their spouses find their way home for that special day too. As the years passed it was important that their kids, spouses, partners and grandchildren join the family table too. We were free to go where we wanted for Christmas, but Thanksgiving was a priority.

My aunts and uncles would drive hours or even just a few minutes down the road to my grandparents home to help cook the turkey and set the table for their loved ones. Every year trips were always planned around that week in November to ensure that no one would miss out on a Thanksgiving in Connecticut. There were years that it was almost impossible for some to attend, but they would go above and beyond to get there one way or another. Snow storms, flights cancelled, conflict with a spouses family and whatever else would get in the way. At times, it was a chore to get there, but there was a force more powerful than any conflict that could arise.

It was the smile of the face of my grandmother and grandfather as family members trailed in through the front door. My grandmother would reach up from her chair and hold you tight in a hug with a kiss on the forehead.

My grandparents were incredible people. They constantly opened their heart and home to anyone in need. They were selfless, hard working, extremely silly and loving people. Long after their deaths, their are still people who’s lives were greatly impacted by a single act of kindness from Bob and Peg Andrulis. They were pillars in their community for decades. They did so much for so many people and asked for nothing in return. That kind of generosity and compassion is a rare gift that they happily gave.

If I ever needed a hug, a nap, a prank call, or a double stuffed Oreo, I would find it at their house. They gave me the same love and comfort that they gave their children. I was the first grandchild and commonly referred to as my Grandpas favorite. They gave me unconditional love and support. If I wasn’t the first grandchild or anyones favorite, they still would have given me the exact same amount of understanding and compassion.

I could write thousands of examples. They were just the absolute best.

Showing up for them was a small request compared to the lasting effects of their devotion to each and every family member.

My Grandpa passed when I was in high school. I had never experienced grief before. I knew he had died, but it didn’t seem real. It felt like a scene in a movie. My Grandpa was different from all the other Grandpas out there- he was supposed to live forever. I couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. I couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving without him seated at the piano playing the same three songs over and over while the food was being prepared for the table. I couldn’t process that I would never hear him sing ” Let Me Call You Sweetheart” one more time.

Months passed and eventually Thanksgiving arrived. As we stood around the table to say our family prayer, I felt the words choke in my throat. He should have been there. I felt the hot tears roll down my face and looked over at my aunts and uncles, the same tears flowed for them. Then I looked at my GG. She knew something I didn’t. She knew that the traditions would stay the same, the same prayer and song. The same place settings. The same green bean casserole and stuffing. My Grandfather remained alive in those traditions. Year after year, his presence was intertwined in all that we did on that special day. His unique imprint was permanent.

As the sadness, denial and anger of grief pulled away with the tide, the beautiful wave of acceptance came up to shore and somehow seemed to whisper, ” You’ll never walk alone. We will walk with you.”

And they have.

As my uncle moved on from the memories of Thanksgiving to present day, he said something that settled into my heart and hasn’t left since.

” You know, we used to come home for Thanksgiving for them. We did it for them. Now we do it because of them.”

They made our family traditions important and repeated year after year. By setting up the importance of family and community in each of us. Standing in my aunts kitchen making jokes about the gravy, watching my brother eat an entire turkey leg like a cave man, listening to my dad talk about our favorite memories from years ago- these simple acts keep us attached to each other. The values and beliefs about family that were so important to them are now equally as important to all of us now.

We travel from a few different states and a few different towns. We expand our family table to accommodate spouses, children and friends. We designate different cooking jobs to different people. We stand, hold hands and sway as we sing our family prayer. We stand in the kitchen, eat cheese and catch up on each others lives. We make sure everyone has had enough to eat and leave room for ” just a sliver” of pie. We sit by the fireplace and hold our annual family talent show after sing ” Over the Rainbow” together, because it reminds us of the memories and love the two founders of our family gave us and continue to give, even after death.

Ten years ago today we said ” Toodaloo” to the woman who made sure we knew her love was never ending, even in death. A few days before she passed, as she lay in her hospital bed, she looked out the window and motioned for a few of us to scoot out of her view. She saw her husband, our Grandpa, waiting for her. Their love transcended death, and because of them we now gather and let our light and love flow from one generation to the next.

We live in a crazy world full of fear and change. It seems like the rug just keeps getting pulled out from beneath us. When everything spins out of control, I know with great certainty that by continuing the legacy of my grandparents to my own children and family, I can leave that same imprint that they so gracefully left for me.

The Big D

Hidden away in a Lisa Frank neon spiral bound notebook from 1997, lies a two page letter written by a much younger version of myself to my future husband. I remember my pen gliding over the thin white sheets writing the words, ” Dear Husband…”. My heart felt like it might explode out of my chest. That word seemed like the most important thing I had ever put down on paper.


Saying it, writing it, even thinking it- it felt like a prayer.

Who would this guy be? Would he love me as much as I already love him? I wondered if his hand would fit perfectly in mine as we sat in movie theaters, snacking on popcorn. I thought about what our first kiss might feel like and if I’d know that he was the one when it happened. I imagined him looking at me from across the library and seeing in his eyes that we were meant to be. I hoped he would want kids, a zip code close to our families and brunch every Sunday with friends. I desperately wanted him to be the kind of guy who didn’t mind my frizzy hair or my singing in the shower. Whoever he was, I knew he would be perfect.

I was eleven.

My only experience with boys was passing notes in study hall and practicing kissing my Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic poster after brushing my teeth every morning.

As time continued to pass, I became more vigilant and determined to find my guy. Walking through the mall after school, my eyes would dart back and forth the food court, hoping I’d catch his eye. Anyones eye. If someone else could see me for more than I could see myself, maybe that would quiet the voices in my head that screamed obscenities at my adolescent body. I had high expectations that my first kiss would seal the deal. He would kiss me and he would never need to kiss another girl ever again. He would be mine. That’s not exactly how it went. My first kiss happened in the middle of a late night game of man hunt in my backyard, where my crush tackled me to the ground and half kissed me, half licked my face.

He tasted like destiny.

I never saw him again. It’s probably for the best, I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my days with a man who would want to lick my face.

One day I would find Mr. Right and I would be able to give him all of me. He would know the way I like my tea, how many times I hit the snooze button in the morning, how I fold my towels and my favorite playlists from high school. He would know the good and the bad. He would know every freckle and every fear. We would build a life together and when it was our time to go, our future children would spread our ashes out into the ocean while our song played in the background. Anyone who couldn’t do these things or fit in my life the exact way I had envisioned it, they would be deemed unacceptable to me.

Onto the next.

And the next.

And so on.

Walking down the aisle with my dad by my side, my parents beaming from the front row, and the sun shining down on a beautiful lake in the middle of Connecticut- I looked into the eyes of a highly qualified candidate. The parts of him that didn’t exactly align with my vision could be changed. There was time for that. Get married. Have kids. Grow old. Become each others soulmates on the journey. The exhausting hunt of finding him had worn me down, and I figured this was the best shot for that white picket fence, two car garage and king sized bed.

Every Disney movie I spent hours watching and re-watching taught me that I had to find this Prince Charming. My unrealistic expectations for what a desirable partner should be were validated every time a helpless, beautiful woman (usually a princess) was saved by a strong, handsome man. Their entire existence seemed to revolve around being found by a savior while maintaining their beauty regime. I used to walk around Chicago trying to figure out how to look street smart and pretty. I didn’t want to come off as too bold or self-assured, I had to maintain that fine line between the girl next door and the girl who could kick your ass. I’m not either of those, but I played the part as needed.

It has been ingrained in our minds over and over that we will only have one true love. One marriage. One partnership. One person forever and ever. ‘Til death (or divorce) do you part. When that person appears in your life, you will have exactly what you’ve wanted. Your search is over. Entering a marriage young, I was clueless. I remember getting ready on my wedding day surrounded by a group of women I loved dearly. As my mom, step-mom and mother-in-law were all fussing over my train and clasping my pearls, I looked at my bridesmaids. All young, smart, beautiful and somehow tragic. I felt sorry for them. They were in their mid-20s and their search for their happy ever after wasn’t over yet. They would still have to go on first dates, awkward one night stands, the agony of breakups and the uncertainty that they would ever find someone. I was lucky. That search was over. I could at least count on that.

Until the day I filed for divorce.

I was in a marriage with someone with whom I would never fully accept. Once the diamond got dusty and the savings account drained, I started to feel the dread of, ” Oh shit. Now what?”. I thought that if he made more money, if he smoked less pot, if I quit drinking, if we moved back home, if we went to every marriage therapist in the state, that we would be able to get back on track. I promised myself that I would never split my family up, my kids would never have two homes and two sets of parents. Doing that would undoubtedly ruin their lives.

My parents divorce wasn’t something I could control. My own divorce wasn’t something that I could control. Whichever way the blame was thrown, it had to happen. There was a reason, a purpose and a lesson to be learned. One of the most profound things I have learned over the past few years in sobriety is that things don’t happen to me, things happen for me. God, the universe or whatever you want to call it- the force in my life that is greater than myself, has a plan for me that I may not understand right away. Tragedy, heartbreak, death, and loneliness are things that would have led me down a spiral of destruction in the past. When moments of clarity arrive, I’m able to recognize that emotions and events had to take place in order for my life to go in the direction it was intended to. I suck at reading maps. The direction I would like to take usually seems easier at first, but never leads me anywhere good. It’s not my job to write the map, it’s my job to ask for directions when I get lost.

It hurts, it’s painful and it routinely brings me to my knees. When I’m down there I have to ask for help, it’s not just handed to me. I have to be willing to put my pride away and sit in the vulnerability for as long as it takes. It might take a day. It might take a decade. When I let go and ask for help, I open myself to a different perspective and I am given an incredible chance of a life I never could have imagined.

Without a husband. Without my own home. Without a clue as to what tomorrow may bring. I am happy. Insanely happy. I’m also still crazy, resentful, mean, judgmental, ignorant and stubborn as hell when I want to be. I have the choice to sit in that garbage or humbly ask for guidance.

One morning a few years ago, I was brushing my teeth and looking at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t standing next to my partner getting ready for the day together anymore. I was alone. I tried to search inside myself to remember what it felt like to start the day next to him. I couldn’t. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I no longer had the satisfaction of sharing a connection that was so simple and yet so profound with another human being. I couldn’t remember what if felt like to be in love. I longed so desperately to feel something, even a slight bit of a butterfly in my stomach. I thought a person could only fall in love, not out of love. I had fallen straight off the cliff. We spent half our lives together and in that moment I came to realize we were strangers. It had become an ownership, not a marriage. I had to process that I had groomed myself into believing that I would only have that connection with my one and only. I couldn’t fathom how different I felt. It was like walking into a new house with the same furniture. You’re comforted by the familiar items, but the walls are new and strange. One day you can hardly breathe and the next you start to feel alright.

Better than alright.

I brush my teeth next to my kids. I sit in the stillness of the night next to my dog. I write down words that I’m willing to share once in awhile, because I’m not the only sober single mom going through it. I stopped planning my revenge on everyone who hurt me. I stopped wasting my time with the what-ifs and pray for the happiness of those I hurt and those I let hurt me. I don’t particularly enjoy practicing humility and understanding, but the peace the comes from it is immeasurable.

This is growing up from the mind set of that eleven year old girl who thought Mr. Right was a prize I had to win. I can love and be loved. I can be in a relationship or be single. I can share a connection, or loose a connection. I don’t deserve any more happiness than the next person. I don’t have to suffer or make anyone else suffer. I don’t have to waste time on people, places and things that I can’t change. Opening my heart and self to new experiences, new people, new perspectives and new challenges is how I want to spend my time now. None of us know how much we have left or how much has been wasted in the past, but we can sure as hell enjoy what we have right now.

Lost Love

It’s time.

You’ve been here long enough. Cut the chains and wipe off the ashes. You have to do this on your own. Take a good look around. Do you see anyone else who can take on this task? No. You’ve tried that before and when they failed, your prison walls came closer and closer. You’re lucky the claustrophobia didn’t kill you. You were so sure that it would.

Take a good look in the mirror. Notice the wrinkles that you once used lotions and potions to prevent. Notice the chicken pox scar on your forehead that a few bad bang haircuts couldn’t conceal. Notice the freckles that once gave you enough faith to let the light in, if only for a brief moment. Notice the frizz and grey hairs popping up on your head that you desperately tried to hide with conditioner and hair dye. Glance down at your arms and the extra skin that sways back and forth when you wave your kids goodbye on the bus in the morning.

This next part will be hard, but you are worth it.

Pull your shirt up and look down at that space on your body that you have wanted to cut off since you were a kid. Try to remember a time when it was smaller. Try to remember a time when it was bigger. Try to remember a time when you didn’t hate it. Think about all of the diets, cleanses, disorders, cuts, Spanx, abuse, and tummy control leggings that suffocated you. Pain is beauty, isn’t it?

Keep going.

Now, focus on your legs that couldn’t sit still. Remember how they couldn’t run fast enough to set you free. Then remember how they ran a little too fast from moments that could have lasted if only you could have stayed in the present. Look at that extra skin that looks like cottage cheese and recall all of the gels, squats and self tanner you tried to use to make the fat disappear.

Lift your head up and look straight ahead. Make eye contact with person staring back at you. Think about all the times you couldn’t face her. Your eyes were always too blurry or too tired to focus. Remember how you wore the shame, disappointment, guilt, hurt, and anger like it was a new shade of foundation from Maybelline. Maybe you were born with it. Think about how you learned to hate that face and what’s behind it Think about all the plans you had, the places you would see, the life you thought you needed. Remember how you told yourself over and over that happiness was a big house, a two car garage and unlimited funds on a credit card. Then, remember how those things brought you desperation, not happiness.

Close your eyes. Fold your shaky hands and breathe.

Take a moment.

Take another moment.

Now, open your eyes. Those wrinkles on your face are souvenirs from happiness. You laughed too loud, now you have smile lines. You looked up to the sun and crinkled your forehead to take it all in. The chicken pox scar that made you feel different from the other kids isn’t visible at all anymore, it’s just part of your face. The freckles are reminders of camping by the ocean, walking the dog, bbqs with family, sitting on the swing with your legs pumping you up to the sky. That grey hair is there for a reason, you’re growing. No one becomes a self-sufficient adult without a few grey hairs. Those flappy arms have grown strong with each child you have carried through the sunshine and the dark. Those arms are home to the ones you love with each and every bear hug.

smile lines

It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to feel fear. Just ride it through so you can feel something better. I promise, you will.

That stomach that you wanted to carve out of your body is the most miraculous part of anatomy. That space is where you get nourished to live each day. That space has been abused for so long, it’s time to have gratitude for it. Your belly holds the memories of each delicious family meal and homemade desserts. It’s an excellent communicator of your daily needs, even when you forget. It may have been the space where you grew a life inside of you. It may have grown or shrunk over the years, but it’s sacred. It is your temple. It sustains your life and holds the parts of you that create the magic and wonder of life. It’s been beaten and bruised over and over again, but it’s still there. Part of you. Big, small, full, empty, covered in stretch marks, covered in scars. You can suck it in or push it out. It doesn’t matter.

Still a part of you.

Your legs are powerful. They have carried you this far, show some respect. Have gratitude for the limbs that have kept you standing on your own two feet. They haven’t given up on you, they just keep moving you right along.

Look back at your reflection again. That is the face of resilience. You are the image of strength, intelligence, perseverance and determination. The parts of you that are on the inside are the most important of all. You’ve let the voices of others create your internal dialogue. I’m here to tell you that you are the only voice you need to hear. You can gain knowledge and inspiration from others, but your thoughts are yours alone. They aren’t your enemy anymore, they are your gift. Your worth and presence in this world isn’t defined by your fears. It’s defined by your ability to go through them and survive.

You are a survivor.

It’s time to love yourself again. Take away your filters and appreciate the person you used to be, the person you are, and the person you are becoming. You may not know when or how you lost it, but you have just created the map to lead you right back to it. It’s always been there.

Love yourself.

happier than ever


intransitive verb: to box with an imaginary opponent especially as a form of training

The greatest thing that I’ve learned thus far is that I know nothing. 

Absolutely nothing. 

I spent most of my life trying to be the ringmaster in my own personal chaotic circus. I thought I could train the people in my life to play different roles for me, to perform different tricks. I may have needed you to be the tightrope walker. Perhaps I needed you to be the knife thrower or the clueless clown. I could have asked you to be the juggler or the lion tamer. Whatever it is I needed you to be in that moment, you would have to play along or you were of no use to me. It was my own masterpiece, and I enjoyed being the puppet master. 

Until you told me that you wouldn’t be willing to fulfill that role anymore. 

Then you became useless to me and I would have to fight to find a new person to replace you in my distorted reality. I have found myself constantly fighting, Not in the sense of a verbal or physical fight at all, but in my mind I couldn’t let my guard down. I had to be prepared for everything and anything, I had to practice over and over. No one could hurt me if I was strong. If I was capable. If I was in control. I became an olympian shadowboxer. 

Training for a knock-out. 

Fists up. 

I came to win. 

Punching the air, ready to attack the enemy. 

I won’t be hurt again. 

I won’t. 

I attended twelve-step meetings and heard over and over again how I needed to rely on something bigger than myself to help me cope with life on life’s terms. I nodded my head. I said proudly that I had turned my will over to this Higher Power of mine, but in reality I was lying. Mostly to myself. 

I had no problem being transparent and honest with others, but I spent most of my time telling myself lies that I thought would help me get through the day. I thought I was doing the right thing. I told myself that the daily exhaustion and emotional blackouts were due to other factors, They had nothing to do with the constant war in my mind that told me I wasn’t good enough, no power in the world could protect me from reality and my solution was to tighten my fists and stand on guard at all times. 

My thoughts would spiral. My mind was cramped with the “what-ifs” and “ I can do this, i should be strong enough to do this.” 

I was two years sober and absolutely miserable. I felt fatigue in a way I had never known possible before. I wanted my divorce to be over. I wanted my kids to be happy and adjusted. I wanted a boyfriend to fill the hole from my empty marriage. I wanted to go above and beyond for my kids, not realizing they didn’t need a super mom. 

They just needed me. 

I laid in bed every night feeling like I had ran a marathon. Every cell in my body just wanted to rest. I couldn’t figure out how to let shit go, trust that everything was going to be ok, or actually use the tools I had been so freely given from other alcoholics. Every once in awhile I would experience a brief moment where I could let my guard down and rest. This usually happened in a room with a bunch of other drunks. I heard them talk over and over how it worked for them. Their experiences, their strength and hope. A little lightbulb would turn on in my head briefly to hear the message- if I wanted to live a life worth living I had to let go of the control.

Turn it over. 


Alcohol no longer controlled my thoughts or actions, but my alcoholism refused to let go completely. I thought it was my job to heal my heart alone. I thought it was my job to make sure my kids never experienced life on life’s terms. I thought my terms were a better bet. I wanted to be successful, in love, and filled with peace.

That’s the insanity.

If I just unclenched my fists and opened my heart, if I could just have faith that things didn’t have to be so hard. I didn’t have to sucker punch the shadows lurking inside in order to survive. 

I had to stop fighting and go with the flow.   

Time to rest.

Time to retire from my former job title as “ Coordinator of Chaos”.

Day by day I started to notice the changes within myself. We’ve all heard the phrase, “ You can’t control people, places, or things.” It takes up so much energy to try to change a person who isn’t you. It takes less energy to see my capability to change myself with the help from a God of my understanding. A few weeks ago, I was driving from Illinois to Connecticut with my three little girls and sister. My brain was all over the place. I was consumed with the stress of driving, stress of keeping kids entertained, and trying to make sure that my sister was ok with the three squealing children in the back seat. I put my earbud in and listened to some recovery podcasts and tried to pray. I prayed for patience and peace. At some point during the two day trip I felt a shift. I had been trying so hard to put my guard down and trust that things would be ok.

All of a sudden, I knew things were ok. I knew I would be ok. I knew my kids would be ok. I knew that the sudden peace and calm that hit me like a freight train happened in that moment for a specific reason. Moments pass, but the clarity stuck. I had been hiding behind the fear of change for over a decade. I had to walk through that fear not only for myself, but for my kids. I had to surrender and go with the damn flow.

The flow led to an opportunity to move back home after seventeen years. I made the decision. I got a job. My family opened up their homes and hearts for us. I would be naive to say this was some sort of easy process. It was excruciating and painful for everyone, especially the other side of my daughter’s family. But- I never faltered. I had been given the grace from God to know that I can get through pain. Pain is necessary sometimes for growth, and it had been a long time since I’d had a growth spurt. For the first time in a long time, I can provide for my kids, have a roof over our heads, and embrace the love and stability my family has showered us with. 

It’s crazy. 

A year ago, or even six months ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me that I’d be moving back to the area I grew up in with three daughters, a dog, two cats and a job. But- here we are. Home at last. 

This has been one of the hardest things my kids have had to experience so far in life. They are moving across the country from a family that loves them unconditionally and will miss them terribly. I knew that I would not be able to give them the kind of life and home they needed if I didn’t take this leap of faith. 

We are still a family. 

Home is where the heart is, and our hearts are here, there, and everywhere. 

I don’t have to throw punches to protect myself life. I just have to let it go and follow the flow.


You never heard me sing. You never knew the lyrics to my song. You never stood barefoot in my kitchen swaying to melody of my life. You never heard the rhythm of little girls tip-toeing in the early morning making pancakes and tea on a rainy Saturday in May. You never spun through the grass while singing to the stars, holding the little hands full of hope and abandon. You never heard the harmonies coming from the second story windows as we turned our stories into musicals note after note, page after page.

And that’s ok.

Sometimes, the greatest lessons of life come in the smallest packages, the smallest moments. My daughter and I were smashing bananas and sifting flour for our favorite muffins when her favorite song came on. The country-pop classic played loud over our afternoon baking session. We belted out the same lyrics we’ve always known, the beat we’ve come accustomed to, and yet it was different this time. As we added the sugar and egg, my brown eyed girl looked up at me while the lyrics, ” You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess, it’s a love story baby just say yes…”played and said this…

” Why would she want to be a princess, when she could be a queen?”

My brown eyes met hers laughing and said, “You’re right. You are right. Queen it is. Now pass me the chocolate chips.”

I’ve spent my entire life trying to transform my body, my mind, my heart for someone else to enjoy. For someone else to give me worth. For all the wrong reasons. I’ve preached but I have not practiced. I have talked and only walked out. I’ve posted notes all over my home with inspirational, uplifting words, but I can’t say them to myself. I tell my daughters to never let anyone tell them who they are or who they aren’t. I tell my daughters to run around barefoot in the back yard, climb the trees, splash in the puddles- experience it all.

But I have sat on the sidelines. Three years ago I surrendered my life to a power greater than myself and stopped allowing cheap wine give me comfort and take away my self worth and value. I have planted roots in sobriety, but I haven’t allowed myself to grow. I can’t tell my babies that they are more than their shade of lipstick, when I can’t even stand the sight of my own face in my reflection every morning. I removed the poison, but I’m still sick. The music notes on the page dance between major and minor, never producing the sounds I wish they would.

I look at my baby with the hazel eyes rolling around on the rainbow carpet in her room laughing with reckless abandon. I ask her what’s so funny, and she smiles her crooked little smile and says, ” Everything.”


I sit on the couch and look at my phone. I sit on my bed and look at my phone. I lay next to my sleeping children and look at my phone. I find a new recipe. I download another meditation app. I look at homes I’ll never live in. I check my bank account. I read articles about parenting, without actually parenting. I look at pictures of myself and wonder out loud, how I ever got that fat or ugly. I ask myself why no man can seem to love me for more than a few minutes at a time. I put my phone down. I stare at the wall.

I choke down the emotions that have been following me for years. I can’t let them out, what if they’re contagious? What if my three girls catch the same thing that caught my voice? What if they are silenced too?

My fingers used to stretch across the keys on the piano, eyes closed and let the vibrations pour over each note. Now they stretch over the wrinkles on my face or the stretch marks on my belly. Now they cover my eyes and mouth while I scream over and over- please don’t leave me. Please don’t hurt me. Please just take me. They claw and beg- please stay and dance with me. Please hear what I hear. Be part of my song. Be part of our song.

My green eyed girl with her long blonde hair climbs into my bed almost every night, right when the world seems to go quiet. She takes my hand, puts it in hers and asks me to sing. I hold her as close as I can for as long as I can. I put my cheek right next to hers and we sing ourselves right over the rainbow and back.

You don’t have to be a princess who sings songs about imaginary love from a castle far, far away. You can be a queen. You can write your own song. It won’t be a song for everyone.

That’s alright. Just as long as it’s yours.

Side effects may include:

This past Saturday I pulled into a large field filled with anticipation, dead brown grass and volunteers wearing bright yellow vests. As I pulled in they asked to see the code on my confirmation. A woman much younger than me scanned the barcode and told me which lane to pull in. She and her partner were discussing which Taco Bell they were going to hit up for lunch when they were done. I left my window down and eavesdropped as I watched the line of cars moving at a sloths pace, waiting to get this over with and out. I laughed to myself thinking, ” This teenager is volunteering here and just chit chatting with her friend like this is the most normal thing ever.” Thousands of people have died this past year, and here’s this smiling young lady talking about a cheesy Gordita crunch.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

Looking back, I wish I could have somehow ordered a big card saying, ” You have no idea how far this selfless act of volunteering at this vaccination site will change the lives of so many. Here’s some tacos and mountain dew. Thank you.”

I had no idea how this whole thing was going to make me feel. Last April I sat in my car parked in my garage while my kids watched Paw-Patrol re-runs and screamed. I screamed and I cried. I punched the steering wheel and I asked God, ” Why?”. Why? How could this happen? Tragedies across the globe have always seemed so far away. It would never happen to us. We’re American. We’re safe. We wash our hands and have health insurance. We’re fine. A few years back I was on the red line about to get off at Argyle in Chicago when I first heard of the swine flu. I remember looking around at the other passengers thinking maybe I shouldn’t hold the arm rail, too many germs. As the train pulled into the stop, I lost my balance and grabbed that rail for dear life so I didn’t crush the poor pregnant woman to my left. I never thought about it again until now. I had no fear, I believed that I was different. We were different.

We’re American damnit, we’re elite. We cure cancer! We purify our water! We wear Adidas sneakers and attend large music festivals. We do what we want, bro.

I wasn’t there to say goodbye. I wasn’t there to hold my mother or share her tears. I wasn’t there to see the people lined up and down the streets honoring the life of a man who served his community and family with humor and love. I wasn’t there to stand beside my grandmother as she stood bravely with courage that I have yet to comprehend as they handed her the folded flag in honor of his service as a Marine. So, I sat in my car and screamed. I couldn’t speak my emotions, there was this eerie internal silence that had muted me from the moment my mom called to tell me he was gone. I felt like I was choking for days until I just had to scream. Once in awhile one my kids would peak their head out the door and try to see what the heck I was doing. I’d pull myself together for the .3 seconds I would need to tell them to close the door I”d be inside in a minutes and bribed them with chocolate.

I sat alone. I no longer had a husband. I no longer had the support system that I thought I had in the past. I no longer had the privilege of hoping in the car and driving to the city to be with my family, because it was too dangerous at first. We had so much fear and loosing another family member was not an option. I had never been through anything alone like that. Everything was amplified by my impending divorce and the stale, slow burn of grief for things I could and could not see. I had this imaginary canvas in my mind that reminded me that life wasn’t pretty. It was a canvas splashed with black tar and shards of glass. It was the kind of thing you wouldn’t want to hang on a wall, it might have scared someone. It was the kind of thing that needed to be tossed in a bonfire, letting it go in the ashes and out of your life.

That was my experience with Covid. It took my Grampie from me. I can’t get him back. This past Christmas I stood at his grave with my grandmother and I told myself over and over to keep my shit together, because this poor woman does not need to see me cry like an idiot at her husbands grave. I tried to swallow it down. It was impossible and I realized that I had to let it out and I had to let it out with her. I had grieved without her a million miles away, and finally standing there with her, I wasn’t alone. We held each other close and I can’t explain why- but being there with her, holding hands, looking at the grave of a man who had treated me like I was a person that mattered in this world my entire life- the weight of it all just flew right off my shoulders. I asked God to just be with us and there was no doubt that He was.

When I found out I was eligible to get the vaccine I wasn’t sure I wanted it. It seemed too good to be true. What if it made us sicker? What if this was all some government planned bioterrorism take over? What if it turned us into flesh eating zombies? What if?!

I think I had quarantine brain.

My family back East and family in Chicago started getting it and I saw the relief in their faces through the phone. They were going to be ok. They were excited and hopeful that this shot could potentially put an end to this lonely, bleak time in our lives. So I said- screw it. Zombie or not, I’m getting it.

Which brings me back to that crowded afternoon in a field of people I had never met before who were volunteering their time to potentially save my life and so many others. Even though there were hundreds of other cars there, the line went fairly fast. I pulled into the area where the shot would be administrated. After I filled out the forms, showed them my license and let them know that the only thing I’m allergic to is elementary level common core math, the woman prepped my upper arm, put the needle in, took out a small piece of cotton and then said to me, ” You’re all set! Congratulations!”. As she put the bandaid on I could feel the salty tears pouring out of my eyes and down my cheeks. She looked at my face and said she was sorry. She asked if she hurt me. Did I need anything?

She didn’t hurt me. She healed me. That sounds pretty dramatic, but she did. I’ve watched my family going through grief and anxiety for an entire year. My sister is in nursing school and has always been incredibly selfless and kind. The constant looming fear that this disease could take another one of us down weighed heavily on her. She has one less family member to worry about now. I hope her load is lightened by those of us who have chosen to get this vaccine in a time of so much uncertainty and fear.

I finally had a momentary break from the heavy tears and I looked at this woman who was still holding the wrapper of my bandaid in her hand and said, ” I lost my Grampie last year. I miss him so much. I wish he had been here to get this for himself, but he can’t, so I will… This is for him.”

I’ve heard a lot about the side effects: Fevers, chills, body ache, fatigue, headache, gastrointestinal issues and more. The side effects I was unaware of started with a lighter heart, a hopeful mind and a sense of community knowing that we were all doing this together. There will still be extremely difficult issues worldwide, but in that brief moment after feeling so helpless for twelve months, I was finally able to contribute to the ever changing and evolving treatment and understanding of Covid-19. My contribution is smaller than a speck of sand but every speck counts.

I’m filled with so much gratitude for all the people who worked endlessly to be able to provide this brand new vaccine for all of us. They took the impossible and made it possible.


Peace, she supposed, was contingent upon a certain disposition of the soul, a disposition to receive the gift that only detachment that only detachment from self made possible. – Elizabeth Goudge

Self-love, or lack thereof, has been the largest stumbling block of my life. I have constantly viewed my outside as too much and my insides as too little. If only I could shrink my physical size and grow some smarts on the inside, maybe I would like myself. Maybe you would like me too.

I need you to like me.

Please like me.

Once we’ve got that covered I’m going to need you to tell me exactly how much you like me several times a day. I’m not going to actually tell you that, I’m going to assume that you can read my mind.

Communication seems to be an on going issue as well.

Insecurity is as much of a part of my DNA as the color of my eyes. It’s been with me always, that loud voice screaming , “You will never be of any value.”

I remember as a child staring at my left arm and feeling embarrassed about the splotchy birthmark that spread out over top of my arm all the way down to my pinky finger. An older neighbor told me that it looked like a map of the world once. I wanted to cut my arm off right then and there. I didn’t want a map on my arm, I wanted a skinny arm. Thin. Long. Skinny.

I was six years old.

I remember learning about birth defects in 10th grade biology and suddenly realizing that this thing on my arm made me defective. My high school boyfriend traced the outline of it with his finger, saying he loved it. It was part of me, and he loved all of me. When he broke up with my shortly after to head to Boston for college my first thought was that he was probably the only man who would ever love me with this defective arm.

Defective and dramatic. Tragically dramatic.

Years later when I gave birth to my youngest daughter I did the same thing I did with the older two when they were born. I counted ten fingers, ten toes, and made sure I saw no birthmark. No daughter of mine would suffer the way I did. So much suffering.

For what? An arm? An arm that works perfectly well. An arm that has carried textbooks and children. An arm that hugs the people I love. What else matters?

When she was two weeks old, a red dot showed up on Lucie face. I asked asked the dr, I asked the nurse, I asked family members- Is that a birth mark?


Is that one of those birthmarks that grows and grows and disfigures poor innocent babies all over the world?


I watched day after day as it grew and grew. I cried at night when I was breastfeeding her, holding her hand, knowing that people would ask her, ” What’s that thing on your face?”. I imagined all the kids in school who would point fingers and laugh. I took my over dramatic personal experience with birthmarks and marked my daughter with a bleak future of isolation and insecurity.

Her birthmark stopped growing pretty fast. It was dark red and shaped just like a heart on her lower left chin. She was born on February 10th, and her sisters thought it must be shaped like a heart, because her birthday was so close to valentines day. She’s four now. Her birthmark is 99% faded, no one ever made fun of her, and when people asked what it was, it was never a big deal. She’s fine. She was fine.

I wasn’t fine. I was projecting my insecurities on a newborn. I hate that those thoughts ever crept into my mind. If her birthmark hadn’t faded, she would still be the beautiful, crazy, sweet girl that she is. Her birthmark has nothing to do with who she is or who she will become.

When I was in high school I used to spend hours on my Dell computer pretending to do homework. Instead, I was instant messaging this guy I thought was cool. He use big words. He talked about math and space. He quoted historians and famously dead musicians. He was interesting. I was boring. I would type out a message to him and before sending it, I would do spell check, use the thesaurus and double check to make sure I sounded witty enough. I signed up for daily emails so I could pull out a new word to spice things up if I started to sound too basic.

I’m not as smart as you. You probably think I’m dumb. Dumb and fat.

Even after treatment at fifteen for an eating disorder, even after countless appointments with therapists, all I saw was a stupid girl who still doesn’t have a thigh gap. I once dated someone who told me he liked having a little something extra to hold on to at night. I interpreted that as to mean he liked to spoon my belly rolls. Needless to say, we never snuggled again. Later in life, I spent hours on the couch of an older man talking about anything and everything. I felt understood, I felt smart, I felt appreciated and I felt worthy. I figured if this man thought I had something of worth to give to the world, I should start to feel that way too. That was all fun and dandy until he cracked a joke about me still carrying the baby weight from my last pregnancy several years before.

The hate just boiled and boiled until it became too much and the only thing I could shut it up with was a drink. Not one. Not two. No three. As the wine started to do its job, I started to feel better. I began to feel pretty and witty. I would look into the same mirror I had just been staring into crying and see a confident, beautiful, engaging woman who could do anything she wanted.

Get ready world, because here I come! Well, just wait a sec, let me finish this Pinot first.

I wanted more, more, more, more, more to feel less, less, less, and less.

Next came the tears and the blackout. The self loathing would continue to grow evry morning when I couldn’t remember what I did or said the night before. My pounding head would quickly remind me that if I pounded another drink with the sunrise, I would be able to reach that euphoric feeling of self worth, if only for a few minutes.

The same cycle over and over.

I’ve been sober for a few years. Sobriety has given me my life back. Sobriety allows me to be a present mother. Sobriety gives me a healthier perspective on how to cope with hard times. Sobriety has given me friends and love. I surround myself with other sober people and make a conscious effort to work on growth in my sobriety every day.

It’s a beautiful thing.

So, how come I still don’t feel beautiful or worthy? My entire outlook on life has changed, just like they promised it would. I have experienced happiness, tragedy, divorce, death, love and heartbreak with such a different perspective than before. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life even though some stuff really sucks some days.

When I sit down to write, I always hope that my experience may be able to help someone else. I write a lot about the positive changes I have experienced due to my sobriety. I do my best to make sure that the message I want to convey includes the miracle of sobriety.

This post is a little different. This post has been in my heart for so long, I just didn’t know how to share it. I have to be transparent and I have to be vulnerable to allow change. I know that things take time and every single moment of every single day is exactly how it should be. I know that I am not in control. I know that there’s something far larger than myself guiding me on my journey.

And yet- I still don’t know how to love myself.

I still want to apologize for being me.

Where does self love begin? How do I get there? The simple answer is prayer.

Someone out there must feel this way too. Perhaps just knowing that you’re not the only one struggling helps. By sharing this, I wanted to remove myself from the isolation in my mind that I have experienced with this.

This is me now.

I know that if I surrender, if I call myself out, if I stay honest and open- I can get through absolutely anything with a little help from a force larger than myself and the people who have always promised me that with a little work miracles do happen.

I’ve seen it in others time and time again.

I hope that I will see it in myself, with our without that mirror I stood in front of before.

Today, tomorrow and the day after that…

It’s been a hell of a year. The twelve month rollercoaster that none of us wanted a ride on is reaching its final loop de loop. We’re all sitting in our seats, pulling the safety bar close to our torsos, bracing ourselves for the last upside down, hands in the air, twisty, terrifying moments.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve yelled up to God saying, “CAN WE STOP NOW? I THINK WE’VE HAD QUITE ENOUGH.” I can’t think of a single person in my life who hasn’t had their world rocked by this past year. There has been loss of loved ones, loss of income, loss of health, and loss of normalcy. Empty classrooms and empty booths at your favorite pizza joint. Abandoned playgrounds and libraries closed until further notice. Nursing homes and hospital floors with big warning signs- no visitors allowed. Grocery stores and targets running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Mothers with empty arms that once held their precious loved ones, now carry their grief instead of their children. Weddings and graduations postponed until further notice. We wear masks on our faces to stay safe, while others have taken this turbulent time to remove their masks and show us who they really are with violence and hate.

We’ve taken things for granted that would never have crossed our minds before- like breathing. Filling our lungs with the oxygen that’s required to keep us alive. People have suffocated right in front of us.

Breathing. So simple. But- when the breathing stops, so does the living.

I’ve been spending a few much needed days home with my amazing, loving and extremely patient parents, as well as my amazing, loving and extremely patient little sisters and brother.  After months and months of FaceTime and many tears, I’ve finally been able to hug my grandmother and visit my Gramps final resting place. There’s some kind of magic in the New England air that fills up my heart and heals the parts I thought were broken. 

Earlier today, I was sitting at my Aunts house today admiring the warm, familiar space where she and my uncle live. The walls are covered with memories of an ever growing and changing family, the Christmas tree still lit up and pretty.I felt at ease as we sipped on tea and reflected on the past few months.


Shit got real this year. Shit got ugly. Shit got desperate and dangerous. Shit was never ending. Shit was big and bad. Shit got messy and we lost our way.

And then we came together.



But- surely we realized that the human spirit is not so easily crushed.

Families came together and made sure that their neighbors didn’t go hungry. Teachers gave their students their all, while taking care of their own families in the classroom or remotely. Parents working from home balanced conference calls and middle school algebra. Bus drivers deliver free food and graded homework to all the kids on their routes. We’ve supported each other in peaceful protest, louder than the contagious hate others have shouted on Twitter and sidewalks all over.

The opportunity to help or hurt others didn’t start in 2020 and it won’t end in 2021. There’s always something happening, somewhere in the world. It’s a little unexpected when it ends up on your doorstep and blows up like a glitter bomb, covering everything and everyone. You can try to vacuum it up, or you can surrender and realize you can sparkle. Even just a bit.

New Year resolutions can be a starting point or a crutch. Loosing ten pounds, quitting smoking, training for a marathon, reducing screen time, finally finishing reading that book you started three years ago- all of that stuff is good.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great if we could all sit back, take a deep breath and search within ourselves to pull out that euphoric feeling we get when we do the right thing? Helping our neighbors. Going that extra mile. Recognizing gratitude. Standing beside those who are hurting.

The date really doesn’t mean much. There’s no real difference from December 31st to January 1st. A resolution doesn’t have to be made. Your expectations don’t need to be all that high. If you fail, it doesn’t have to be the end. You don’t have to wait another full 365 days to make a change in your life or others.

You can do it right now. You can do it tomorrow. Do it whenever you want. When we wake up tomorrow it’s still going to be Friday. The calendar date is irrelevant. Make it simple- just for today. One day at a time. Do your best. And if you can’t? There’s another day coming. I can promise you that.

Happy 2021, happy new day.

(…and don’t be afraid to steal a smooch from someone you like to get smoochie with at midnight. You have to live a little!)

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