What kind of ship is your marriage?

Ya’ll, I have really been struggling lately. That’s just the real, raw, honest truth. I know we all go through things, but for the past month my anxiety and depression has really had a hold on me. I knew it was coming due to some medication issues, which is the hard part about depression, knowing it’s there and not being able to do anything about it.
Just as things were starting to feel normal again, Tommy and I were hit with a HUGE curve ball!!! I mean, the kind that hits you in the stomach and takes your breath away. This time instead of breaking down and just living in it, I prayed. Well, I pray all the time. My mind is always running so it’s sort of an open dialogue between me and God, but this time I deliberately prayed. I was honest, I didn’t even know what I was praying for. I mean, it wasn’t a health issue. It wasn’t like we were going to be homeless. It was just something that effected us big time and took another swing at us coming out the other side of these last long 5 years.
So Tommy came home for his few days off the road and sat down and “looked” at the books. Somehow, he figured it out. Sure, I can give up my dream of going back to school and just go back to work, and of course that was on the table. But we know that isn’t best for our family. I then realized that not only had God answered my prayers, I mean I didn’t have all the money we needed, but he had given us a way to provide. My husband. That was the answer. This man that for the last 5 years has listened to me complain about this decision and not get over how we got here. But now, in this moment it’s where we needed to be. He is able to provide what we need. He is able to provide what other responsibilities he has. More importantly he is willing to do it. That is the answer to the prayer to our huge curve ball.
But it was a friend of mine that sort of pulled me out. She asked questions better than a therapist. She asked about the past, like “do you blame him for this” and “do you blame him for that” and “do you trust him”. After all the ugliness, which I never deny , was there all on the table she then asked, “do you believe that together, you two can handle anything”? That was the moment I got it. I understood that I was harboring all of the resentment for the past 5 years despite that we continued to hold onto one another and make it through anything. There was no reason to keep the resentment. There was no reason to keep the ill will. First, there was no infidelity. It was just a fucked up situation that happened. I was mad for all sorts of reasons. But in that once conversation with my friend I realized that despite being mad, we had made it through because we can make it through anything together. That’s our love.
So I let it go. I let that heavy ball go. I prayed. I realized what the real answer was and had been. I also read something that was so poignant. It compared marriage to a ship.
All of this time, even though I had been carrying ice bergs with me, my marriage was a strong ship, not the Titanic. I had been so preoccupied with what caused the rough water that I didn’t notice the strong ship that we had built and how it was withstanding the waves and wind because of the two of us holding it together. I am grateful for my prayer, I am grateful for that friend that gave me the perspective, and I am grateful for my shipmate.  

Bathroom stages according to the penguin

The Penguin and I were discussing a certain bathroom event and decided we needed to come up with a term we would both be comfortable using. I could have used the proper terminology, sure but, but that would lead to a whole other blog post. Agreeing on a number system, she then broke down the entire number codes for me.



#3-diary (diarrhea)

#4-throwing up

#5-diary (diarrhea) and throwing up

#6-peeing, diary, AND throwing up

There you have it peeps. The decoded bathroom numbers according to an eight year old.

#parenting, #motherhood, #reallife, #thebelleandthepenguin, #pottyhumor

My Holiday OCD is having to be tamed

I understand this might not make sense to some. I also understand some people probably don’t see me as having any OCD tendencies seeing the way I live now, with the laundry in piles and all, and I get that. However, those of you that are skeptics would be interested to find I have quite a few quirks that I’m sure a psychologist would love to figure out. Most of these I do keep within some type of ‘control’, or I had to adapt to having a penguin almost seven years ago. 

One of the biggest ones has been my holiday OCD issue. Before the penguin was born, I had holiday rules that had to be followed or my mind would just explode. Not just your run of the mill don’t-put-Christmas-out-before Thanksgiving issue either. There were no clothes to be worn except for that holiday, no movies to be watched, no food to be ate. One did not watch “Charlie Brown The Great Pumpkin” outside of the month of October, or occasionally the network would throw me off course and save it for November. All of the sacred Christmas movies were saved for December only! 

Then the penguin was born. As she got old enough to watch movies, one of her favorite groups to watch was “Frosty the Snowman ” and “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer”. In ANY month. It took me a lot to get used to. I actually tried to talk her out of it. 

Now, I look down and find myself in July wearing Halloween socks. Gasp. What was once unheard of is just pure survival because the Halloween socks are the ones I can find clean. I just find it amusing that I’ve changed that much all because of my penguin. The best thing ever. The love of my life. I am still holding a strong front against wearing Christmas socks though.

Grape juice Explosion and ACV 

I know all about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. The real kind. I’ve seen it work personally. But, like most people, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting past the god awful taste. I attribute some of this to a CRAZY weight loss plan I did some years back. I could only eat about 6 different things with limited seasoning, however one of those was Apple Cider Vinegar. So, I cooked A LOT of things in a “stir fry” fashion in the stuff. I think I got major burn out.

So, I’m on my third try of drinking the good for you stuff again. I’ve taken surveys on Facebook to get advice on how the regulars take theirs. My mama is just balls to the wall and shoots hers like a sorority girl and tequila. Others say mix with a bottle of water and my daddy chases his with milk (but his LDL didn’t improve). But, I went to where any self respecting wanna be super mom would go-Pinterest. I found some great recipes that appealed to my tastebuds and didn’t cancel out the health benefits.

I stocked up on fresh pressed Organic grape, cranberry, and apple juice. No sugar added, not from concentrate, only the juice straight from the fruit. I carefully measured it out for and drank it for about 4 days. Then, this happened….

I was running behind so I thought, “I’ve done plenty of shots in my lifetime, this will be a breeze.” I prepared the shot glass and had grape juice as a chaser. I got the shot down and took a gulp of the chaser just as the acid hit my stomach. I literally spewed grape juice all over the kitchen counter and dripped down onto the floor. Because of the burning sensation in my throat I started coughing and couldn’t catch my breath. The penguin, who previously was very concerned for a patient on Grey’s Anatomy, didn’t even bat an eye. She stepped back to let me know I had gotten grape juice on the floor that “daddy had just fixed”. I finally composed myself and made it out the door.

Now, two days later, I am braving it again. Only this time I mixed it, shook it, and poured it over ice. We are watching “Barbie:Life in the Dreamhouse ” and the penguin said I could “close my eyes and pretend I was drinking it on Barbie’s jet”.



Am I the ringmaster or the monkey?

This morning I was trying to take a bath and shave my legs before someone thought I was an extra for a Wookie. The penguin was sitting on the edge of the tub, Tommy was standing at the edge scrolling on his 📱. I asked “when you are in a mental institution, are there this many people watching you all the time?” Of course in my most sarcastic tone. Tommy replied, “yes, especially if you have a razor”. OMG! Somebody please help me. I’m in a cage.



Roots can be big in a small town

My earliest memory of wanting to leave my small town was middle school. The feeling probably began earlier than that, but Jr High is when I remember it becoming a day to day goal. Spread my wings, see the big city, go somewhere that my unique personality would be appreciated. All of the cliche “I’m too big for this small town” reasons. 

I left. Graduated high school early and moved away for college. I stayed away for ten years. Then, another cliche event happened-I moved back after a difficult divorce. Cue the Julia Roberts movie now. In the last years of my marriage I actually had tossed the idea of moving back around. It seemed like a good idea. Maturity and life lessons had made me realize the advantages of a small town. But the stars were aligned differently and the blessing of a divorce came, so I packed up and moved ‘home’ to plant my roots.

I’ve been back in my hometown now for almost nine years. Almost equal to the time I was gone. I’ve remarried, built a house on my family’s land, and we are raising our six year old daughter. Our daughter goes to the same primary school I went to with some of the same teachers. We attend the same church my grandmother attended when she was alive. My daddy was born and raised in this small town also. There is a comfortable familiarity that is soothing and at the same time the reasons I wanted to leave sometimes rear their ugly head too. 

But, then this happens. My six year old breaks her wrist and is going to have surgery Tuesday. We have had such an outpouring of support and prayer from the community that can only come from this small town. A high school classmate of mine who no longer lives here has a son who is battling a rare form of childhood cancer. This small town is supporting her with fundraiser help, donations, etc even though she lives two hours away. But, she’s one of ours. Her roots are still in this ground of this small town too. That’s when I realized there is no place I’d rather be to raise my small family than here in this small town. 

Complacency and the F* Word

It’s no secret I have weight issues. Body image issues. Well, yes, issues in general. For the first time in a really long time, I really believed I had found a healthy place with my weight . Healthy in terms or my way of thinking about it most importantly. Turns out, I became somewhat complacent in my journey, and apparently when you struggle with the F* word, being complacent cannot be afforded. 

After a year long weight loss, monitored by a physician, I really was in a good place. Physically and mentally. But, around Christmas, when all of those treats start rolling in to the office I started thinking like a skinny girl and not like a chronic F* one. I am not shaming the thin. I also know there are plenty of thin girls who work HARD at staying that way. I’m referring to the genetically, weird universe joke, thin women/girls who really do eat what they want and amazingly remain thin. And by “eat whatever they want” I am referring to the fact that they may just eat. Period. Or they may eat the Christmas treats, not in excess, but enjoy them like all of the other “normal” people, not like the chronic F* ones. Yeah, so I thought somehow my 50lb weight loss put me in that category. As if the cosmos had shifted and I had never been the 8 year old at Weight Watchers, never been the chronic F* person. I thought I had a handle on it. I still felt the same and mentally I felt great because for once I was being realistic about food and not restrictive. 

For the past year I’ve only weighed at the doctors office. Just a pact I made with myself, that in order to overcome being obsessive about my weight it was best this way. Call me crazy, okay you don’t have to, I know I am, but I decided to weigh after the New Year. No, not because of some stupid resolution. There is no resolution when you are me. There is just life. I’ve learned that lesson over and over. The scale reflected my biggest fear. Weight gain! What? The thin girl I thought I was can eat within reason and not gain but a few pounds, not 15lbs!! That’s when the news flash hit me like the ton of bricks this emotional baggage is. I AM NOT the thin girl. I never will be. Complacency has no place with the F* word.

Now, I am trying to hold on so I mentally don’t tailspin out. Mentally tailspinning will only cause me to gain more weight believe it or not. I’ve got to take over my thoughts again and get back control of this. I have got to resist letting the scars that haven’t completely healed begin to ooze once more with toxic thinking. I realize now it takes more than a year for me to overcome whatever psycholocal issues I suffer from concerning my weight and body image. I realize that half my battle is in my head, not on the plate. I realize I am not and will never be the thin girl and maybe I’ll be okay with that one day. But, right now I’m working on gaining my control back.
**I am not and never would body shame anyone-even if they are the thin girl or the chronic F* girl like myself. These are just the thoughts on my head**

Are you there? It’s me….I’m not sure who that is most days.

Okay, so the title is a bit of a stretch. The fact is I know exactly who I am, but that is part of the problem. I know who I am but I’m unable to be that person. Yes, I am able to be a mom, which I am first, but not always the way I would like. That’s another blog post. But so much has happened since the last time I posted, things have just gone crazy. 

Personally, on the home front, things are great. The truck driver changed his schedule and is home every 4 days. The Penguin is very excited. The two of us haven’t exactly found our groove only because of my work schedule, but it’s still a positive adjustment.

Really this whole post is a farce. There is so much more I want to say. Not about my relationship mind you, just about life and some serious things that have happened. But, it’s just so much. I haven’t processed it all yet, much less tried to put pen to paper. It’s almost too much for even Penelope to bear. 

Sorry to waste your time. I’ll be back when I can sort through it all. 

Scared Straight by grief

The Belle works in a prison. Yes, this gentle southern belle of yours works with some of my state’s worst criminals (insert sarcasm on the gentle southern belle part). But, it’s true, I walk into one of the oldest, and the original death row for this state, prisons every morning and stay behind its locked gates and within the cinder block walls for 10 1/2 hours. I work in the dental clinic on a medical floor that is open 24/7. I’ve done this now for over 8 years and I’ve seen many things. There are many things I have not seen. 

Fortunately or unfortunately , depending on how you view it, I’ve become desensitized to a lot of things. After the bureaucracy of the department of corrections reared its ugly head and the dog took a bite causing my husband to loose his job after 10 years of service, that desensitization became even worse. Most days I am quite capable of ignoring everything and anything that an inmate may say or do. I often drift to the ER when there is an emergency to see if any of my Grey’s Anatomy skills can be of use, and because I’m curious to see what’s going on. Don’t judge! It’s prison.

Yesterday’s trip over to the ER started off as any other. I could see the “big time” security officers standing around, the ones called in to contain a situation. This usually means something good. So like normal I casually made my way over. But, this wasn’t a normal “cutter”, room mate fight, or just an inmate faking a seizure. It was something that I have not encountered in my 8 years. Then Penelope started to think. What I witnessed would be better than any scared straight program.

You know, the Scared Straight and Beyond Scared Straight that are on AE and similiar shows on other networks.  According to CrimeSolutions.gov here are the practice goals to the Juvenille Awareness Programs (Scared Straight)  

juvenile awareness programs (also referred to as “prison tour” programs or “prison awareness” programs) are deterrence-oriented programs that involve organized visits to adult prison facilities for juvenile delinquents and youth at-risk of becoming delinquent. The most well-known of these programs is Scared Straight. The overall goal of juvenile awareness programs is to deter youth from future criminal behavior

These programs use different methods to obtain these goals such as tours of prison facilities and presentations by current inmates. The inmates often rely on intimidation, fear, and hostility to attempt to scare the youth into living a life free of crime that would land them in prison. Sometimes they are shown pictures of inmates that have been involved in violence. 

I’ve seen that. The result of inmate violence. I’ve seen inmates die from it. I’ve performed CPR on inmates who have overdosed or hung themselves. Should we show the juveniles that? I’ve seen blood smeared down the halls. I’ve seen enough to scare me straight. But what I saw in the ER this time maybe what the scared straight programs need to focus on.

Grief. I heard the sounds as I walked towards the ER. I thought it was the typical sounds of an inmate moaning as he resists whatever it is they are asking him to do. But when I entered the room the moaning clearly turned into wails. The purest of human emotion. Grief. There he was, a 25 year old boy crying from the bottom of his soul “why are you telling me my mama is dead? I want my mama, I want my mama”.

I’m sure some of you are asking/thinking “what about his victim(s)”? True. Very true. First off, I didn’t even ask his name so I didn’t even look up what he was sentenced for.  If he has victim(s) of a violent crime I am in no way diminishing their grief or their right for justice. I’m trying to show another side to prison life that often gets overlooked when these programs are trying to deter youth from a life behind bars.

Heart wrenching , guttural grief, and the words “my mama was the only one there for me and now you say I’ll never see her again? I want my mama, I want my mama” coming from a hardened inmate. May do more than just someone yelling in their faces. 

Why I go to a public place for silence

 It’s my day off. I really have A LOT to do. Tons of housework. Dogs to clean up after. Naps to take. Grey’s Anatomy to watch. I have a bank account that needs to be straightened out after a mishap with an overdraft (oops?), and April’s monthly budget has to be completed today. 

Why am I in a coffee shop? Well, the first answer is obvious. I am addicted to caffeine after all (hint, hint Southern Belle on Caffeine). Secondly, S’Moores Coffee, has THE best coffee around. And the real reason is because it’s quite. A public coffee shop quite? Yes, even with the sound of the espresso machine and the occasional blender plus the hum of constant chatter in the background, it is still quiter than my empty house.

My empty house is very noisy. The pile of laundry continues to make a high pitch sound as I try to calculate the budget. The overall neediness of the small army of #meredithgreythepug, #gizmothelucydog, and their guest Tinker Bell makes so much noise and can also take over your olfactory senses as well (phew). I’ve got a brand new vinyl machine still in the box that I can hear clawing to get out (I send the lotion down) and a wardrobe of penguin clothes to sort through for the fall that have no home and I can hear sobbing. 

So yes, the public place is quiter. It’s easy for me to zone out and focus on this budget in front of me. All the sounds of my empty house will still be there when I get back home. For now I have coffee, a calculator, my budget book, and the silence of this place.

Photo credit: http://www.liveluvcreate.com/image/ive_never_heard_silence_quite_this_loud-440420.htm