DECEMBER 8, 2020: “Hey, Younger You – RISE UP!” …

First of all, my sincere gratitude to the very talented young artist I’ve befriended over on my Instagram page, @metalhead_ryze, for collaborating with me on this project. I sent her the words for which I needed a backdrop late the night before last with a query: “I need a superhero looking silhouette with a cape to go with these words. Can you do that?” This picture you see is the final result and I couldn’t be happier with it!

In the meantime …

… don’t forget …

… that “broken kids” aren’t always kids. Sometimes we’re adults. Treat yourself kindly, with patience, love and respect, and validate yourself always! TELL THE BROKEN KID HIDING BENEATH YOUR SKIN THAT THEY’RE TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME AND THEY DIDN’T DESERVE TO BE BROKEN!

“Reparenting”

IT’S EVERYTHING!

The first day in your adult life that you’re TRULY able to show that broken kid you once were (or the kid you never got to be) a little empathy, grace, unconditional love and compassion, will be the first day of the rest of your life. I PROMISE! I call “that day” my second birthday, and yes my friends, I remember exactly where I was when I began the reparenting of “younger me”. It was April 8, 2008, and it truly was the beginning of everything I’ve become!

Much love to all of you “broken adult kiddos” out there. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Your cape will be waiting by the mirror! Find it. Accept it. Embrace it. WEAR IT! Let it adorn your “sick of being tired” shoulders and RISE YOU UP to who you’re waiting to become …

Your personal superhero …

YOU!

OCTOBER 29, 2020: “On Broken Wings” …

Oh how I love these “Facebook Memories”! They’re such a powerful and POIGNANT reminder of NOT ONLY how far I’ve come, but even more so of where I’ve been, how I got here, and exactly where I want to go. The irony with this lovely little flashback to “6 years ago” is that just yesterday my daughter and I were visiting with my mom when this very part of my jacked up, twisted, broken and invalidated story reared it’s ugly head yet again. Only this time, there was a witness to the crime. In being honest, as this crime scene of sorts was in the midst of taking place, there was a part of me that was so beyond distraught that my daughter was caught in the crossfire. Like, literally, I was sick to my fucking stomach as I was sitting there being pummeled with stinging reminders of what made me so sick in the first place. However, once it was over and we got into the car to take off, it was her, my little girl, my brave and wise and courageous phoenix girl, who broke the ice and spoke the first words, because it was so crystal clear to her that not only was I stunned but also fighting back tears:

Mom, are you okay? I can tell that you’re trying not to cry. Man, that was tough to watch. I hope you know that although I’ve never once doubted the things you’ve told me about your childhood, that was the first time I’ve actually seen it happen out loud. With her that is. I love you mom, and I’m proud of you for handling that as well as you did. See? Look how far you’ve come! That was about HER, not about you, and you didn’t deserve that. Grandma loves you. I KNOW SHE DOES! She just doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand. Or, maybe she DOES but she just can’t acknowledge it because it would hurt her too much to know how much you’ve suffered.

So, with that

“Long live that day that I decided to fly from the insideand start this twisted story all over again as an actual living QUEEN, because guess what people? These wings of mine aren’t broken anymore, the BEST versions of me are still yet to come, and every fucking THING I’ve been fighting and praying for was just justified by my daughter’s spoken words.

ON BROKEN WINGS

Fight the fight alone when the world is full of victims. Dims a fading light in our souls. Leave the peace alone. Now we all are slowly changing. Dims a fading light in our souls. In my opinion seeing is to know. The things we hold are always first to go. And who’s to say we won’t end up alone? On broken wings I’m falling, and it won’t be long. The skin on me is burning by the fires of the Sun. On skinned knees I’m bleeding, and it won’t be long. I’ve got to find that meaning, and I’ll search for so long. Cry ourselves to sleep. We will sleep alone forever. Will you lay me down in the same place with all I love? Mend the broken homes. Care for them, they are our brothers. Save the fading light in our souls. In my opinion seeing is to know. What you give will always carry you. And who’s to say we won’t survive it too? I’ll search for so long. We’ll set a-free all relying on their will to make me all that I am and all I’ll be. We’ll set a-free all who’ll fall between the cracks with memories of all that I am. {Alter Bridge}

DECEMBER 26, 2019: “Hey, Mother, Father” …

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

MOTHER, FATHER

“She sits alone, an empty stare. A mother’s face she wears. Where did she go wrong? The fight is gone. Lord help this broken home. Hey, mother, father, sister Hey, come back, tryin’, believin’. Hey, mother, father, dreamer. Don’t you know that I’m alive for you? I’m your seventh son. And when lightning strikes the family. Have faith, believe. With dreams he tried. Lost his pride. He drinks his life away. One photograph in broken glass. It should not end this way. Hey, mother, father, sister. Hey, come back, tryin’, believin’. Hey, mother, father, dreamer. Don’t you know that I’m alive for you? I’m your seventh son. And when lightning strikes the family. Have faith, believe. Through bitter tears and wounded years those ties of blood were strong.So much to say. Those yesterdays. So now don’t you turn away Have faith. Belive. Believe.”

~ Journey

DECEMBER 25, 2019: “Starting Over As A Queen” …

IMG_8199… IT’S TIME TO JUST START OVER!

Someday soon, I’m gonna pull myself together. Win or lose, I’m starting over again. Start this day like any other day. I fold my hands as I begin to pray. Sometimes we gotta throw the past aside, and come what may, I’m gonna open up my eyes to all my broken feelings. It’s the only road I’ve known. I just wanna say to you: Maybe I won’t feel the pain when you leave me one day, and maybe it won’t be too late when you need me someday. Someone take me away from the one who betrays, but things won’t ever be the same. I’m starting over. In days gone by, I was hiding from myself. In all those lies and the truth was hard to tell. But I will try to turn my life around. I’ll close my eyes so I can finally see the road to all my broken feelings. It’s the only one I’ve known. I just wanna say to you … You were my heart, you were my soul. You were my breath ’til I grow old. You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” {Saliva}

So here’s my parting message to all the people, places and roadblocks that had become me in the four decades before finally opening my eyes to all my “broken feelings” and finding the truths behind the lies that were my former realities.

It’s my Christmas gift to me!

Zack and I first heard this song in 2007, and it immediately became as vital in unraveling the mystery of what had broken each of us before we’d met than actually meeting in the first place. It spoke volumes as to our prior journeys – it was who we were, where we’d been, and why we needed to cut ties with some people in our lives and truly just start over. It was a cryptic message to everyone that had discarded us at virtually every critical juncture in our lives, not the least of which were “our families” …

You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?

Today I’ll spend another “first” without him, completely severed from the family that has once again “washed their hands of me”. But guess what? That’s okay! I WAS MARRIED TO A KING! An imperfect, broken, mortal king with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave me every “thing” a woman could want, but more so his heart, his soul, his eyes, his faith and his love without condition for the first time in my life, all of which truly did make me a QUEEN!

And HE WAS MARRIED TO A QUEEN! An imperfect, broken, mortal queen with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave him every “thing” a man could want, but more so her heart, her eyes, her soul, her faith and her love without condition for the for the first time in his life, all of which truly did make him a KING! Quite clearly he fell, with a tragic twist that some may never fully know or understand, and hurt us in unspeakable ways. But today is Christmas and “who was better at forgiving than Jesus?” Indeed I have forgiven him for the devastation that ended our story …

… but here’s what else you should know:

I forgive you that mocked, punished, laughed at, or burned me alive on a cross every time I let you down, embarrassed or disgraced your reputations when I failed miserably at all the things I failed at.

I forgive you for invalidating, disregarding, and discrediting my feelings as “drama, immaturity, ingratitude or self-pity”.

I forgive you for abusing the trust I placed in you with vulnerabilities and truths by throwing them back in my face and driving nails into my already broken heart.

I forgive you for taking it so personally when I decided to break the cycle and for just standing there watching as I fought tooth and nail to get that God-forsaken Venom suit off my weak and weary body so that maybe one day my daughter’s daughters or my son’s sons will be the first branches from this sick and dying tree to not end up in a psych ward because they too want to blow their own brains out!

I forgive you for only loving me when I was good enough to be loved, but “washing your hands of me” when I broke the rules you decided would be best for me, which (PS), were complete and total double standards of sick and enmeshed BULLSHIT! As it turns out, it’s okay to leave the web, if not the best thing one can do. The wisest spiders are proud of the babies that manage to get out of the webs they may have unintentionally spun and find a way to survive this fucking life in peace!

I forgive you for NOT forgiving me for being an imperfect human being and I forgive you for all the times you abandoned me! But more so than that? Thank you for everything you’ve done to hurt me because that is how I became a Queen! You pointed me straight to both my Kings – the One born today and the fallen. He may be gone now, but I’m still right here with the crown and sword he left for me, charging bravely forward all the days I have left in this realm! There is still so much I have to do with this power my impossibly strong heart now wields.

There’s the Phoenix I made who I’ll fight beside tooth and nail as she ascends towards the culmination of everything my own broken flight was purposed for, and that first born Prince who hasn’t yet realized that he too is a king because he hasn’t yet found the strength to tear off “the black suit” that shrouds his soul in darkness! He’s trapped in a web and has still yet to realize the long-terms effects of the emotional abuse he also is succumbing to and that being repeatedly being told “I’m done with you” for failure to follow the rules is slowly becoming the death of him too. I will not rest until that day comes that he opens his eyes to all his broken feelings and finally walks away with the courage and strength that’s hiding somewhere within himself so the next time he hears “I’m done with you”, he too can say,

NO! It’s ME that’s done with YOU!

If I’ve learned anything in my first fifty years it’s that “real love” shouldn’t cost you anything, yet it’s the only commodity that gets you EVERYTHING! Love shouldn’t make you sad, make you cry, come with strings or conditions, cause you to doubt yourself, want to shoot yourself, or make you want to hide in the shadows of any authentic version of yourself because the people who claim to love you refuse to accept you as you are. Here’s the thing: Once you’ve had finally had it – “REAL love without strings and conditions”? YOU CAN NEVER ACCEPT “LOVE” ANY OTHER WAY, EVEN IF IT MEANS BEING ALONE! I won’t be the last queen that ever reigned alone in her kingdom because she refused to settle for anything less than everything! You see, I’ve been blessed by the unconditional love of two earthly Kings in my lifetime. There’s no going back to where I came from, so I guess it’s time to just start over.

Merry Christmas Queen Catherine!

MAY 30, 2011: “Fly From The Inside” …

IMG_1473 (2)My Dearest Christian:

Oh my gosh where do I begin? There are not enough pieces of paper in this printer or hours left in my life to be able to fully and properly express to you exactly how I am feeling at this moment. Christian, you made it! Against all odds and despite the dysfunction and chaos THAT YOU NEVER EVER ASKED FOR, you made it! There are literally a thousand things I want to say to you, but instead I’m going to just write you the lyrics to a song that make me thing of you the most these days that also happen to sum up my own feelings in a nutshell. Inhale this song, breathe it in, breathe it out, and know that I truly believe that these are the most important words a mother in this situation could possibly convey to her son after 18 years of living through a nightmare he never asked for the way that you have. Close the door on this chapter of your life forever baby boy. Fondly remember the many wonderful, beautiful and happy days in your life thus far – THOSE ARE THE THINGS YOU MAY KEEP! God please NEVER forget them. Hold on to them dearly in your heart and call on them if ever you find yourself lost, lonely or afraid. As for all the rest of it – the garbage, the trash, the chaos and the heartache? THAT’S WHAT YOU SAY GOODBYE TO! Keep only what you need of those memories so you always remember that HOW STRONG YOU CAN BE and just how much of a SURVIVOR you truly are! Let those things fuel your fire of determination in changing the direction of this family’s “toxic legacy” for once and finally all …

“FLY FROM THE INSIDE” …

Is the weight of the world on my shoulders? Is the weight of the world on my shoulders? On my shoulders … All alone I pierce the chain. And all in all the sting remains. And dying eyes consume me now. The voice inside screams out loud, I am focused on what I am after. The key to the next open chapter. Cause I found a way to steal the sun from the sky. Long live that day that I decided to fly from the inside. Every day a new deception. Pick your scene and take direction. And all in all I search to connect. But I don’t wear a mask and I have no regrets. I am focused on what I am after. The key to the next open chapter. ‘Cause I found a way to steal the sun from the sky. Long live that day that I decided to fly from the inside. I can’t escape the pain. I can’t control the rage. Sometimes I think that I’m gonna go insane. I’m not against what’s right. I’m not for what’s wrong. I’m just making my way and I’m gone. {Shinedown}

Christian Peter, I love you so much – more than you could ever possibly know. I am so very proud of you and always will be, no matter what you do or do not manage to accomplish in this lifetime. You are my son and I want nothing but the best things in this life for you. And please always remember that many of the truly best things are not tangible, material “things”. True, unconditional love and acceptance, not only from others, but also for yourself, is something that cannot ever be bought. And peace of mind? While I can’t exactly say that it’s “free, because TRUST ME WHEN I SAY IT, “peace of mind” can, at times, “cost you everything” yet it’s also something that money can never buy! Over the course of time you will arrive at many crossroads wherein you will be daunted by the task of choosing one door or the other. Always follow your heart Christian. Always follow your heart! All the answers you will ever need are already inside there if you’ll simply trust and believe in yourself as much as I trust and believe in you!

And hear this too LOUD AND CLEAR: Another one of the most valuable “things” in life is yet again something no amount of money can buy: Self-forgiveness and the ability to fall, fail and make mistakes GRACEFULLY without the need to carry those mistakes forever on your shoulders like a cross. No, Christian! You are a human being and therefore you are imperfect. Only God is perfect and only God has the right to judge you! He is the one you will answer to when your road in this life meets it’s ends, and guess what? He already knew you’d be imperfect since long before you were born and has known every one of your mistakes before you even made them. He is more than abundantly willing to forgive you for your humanness before you even open your eyes each day if only you will ask Him AND HE’S ALREADY CARRIED YOUR CROSS! In this regard perhaps my biggest single prayer for you is that you surround yourself with a good, loving and firmly solid support system of people that will never cease to have faith in you, never give up on you, never stop believing in you, never stop being ON YOUR SIDE and unconditionally allow you to fail, fall and misstep GRACEFULLY, continually supporting and HELPING YOU MOVE ON from any of the “pasts” that you yourself may jade. People who are proud of you when you win BUT EVEN PROUDER WHEN THEY SEE YOU FALL ONLY TO SEE YOU GET BACK UP AGAIN AND TRY! I pray that you will surround yourself with people who will accept you just as you are, nothing more and nothing less, and that you never have to be faced with the unspeakably painful and daunting task of having to “say goodbye” and walk away from those people, especially ones that you have loved and trusted the most, because they refused to let you rise above yourself, move on and give you ALL the “Second Chances” you will ever need!

Inasmuch as it has taken me an entire lifetime of shame, pain, guilt and “a cross to carry” that VERY few would let me lay down to discover that the key to all of this is the practice of grace, forgiveness and unconditional love, PLEASE KNOW that these practices and principals are not only a blessing to receive BUT ALSO TO GIVE AS WELL. So then just as I pray that you will surround yourself with people who will extend these priceless graces to you, even more so do I pray that you will extend these things to others. Learn to give and you will be given. Love unconditionally and unconditional love will find you. Learn to FORGIVE and you will know forgiveness and most importantly HOW TO ACCEPT IT!

The world is your oyster now my handsome first-born Prince! Get out there and start gathering your pearls! In the meantime, just know your Mom loves you and is ALWAYS going to be here, good or bad, right or wrong, no matter what do or don’t manage to do. I AM ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE until my last breath on this Earth and hopefully even beyond! You will NEVER be too old for me to call “my baby” and I will NEVER turn my back on you I promise! You’re my blood and bones and flesh of my flesh. YOU’RE ONE HALF OF THE BEATING OF MY HEART! I brought you in to this beautiful disaster of a world and for that reason I will ALWAYS stand behind you as you find your way through the maze. I give you to the world now and set you free my butterfly. No wait, my Little Star! Remember that one? “Never forget who you are Little Star! Shining brighter than all the stars in the sky! Never forget HOW TO DREAM Butterfly! Never forget where you come from, from LOVE”! In closing, while in the process of writing this to you I’ve now realized that these words are in a sense written not only “to you and for you”, but also “to me and for me” as well. It appears we are both standing at crossroads right now, aren’t we? Congratulations my graduate, I LOVE YOU! It’s time for you to FLY FROM THE INSIDE!

Momma

APRIL 19, 2009: “Circadian” …

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It was a Sunday afternoon and He and I were separated again. I’d been out running errands and arrived home for dinner at my parents’ where I’d been living, right down the street from what used to be my house and still is His. When dinner was over, I walked out to my car, opened the door, and found this envelope taped to my steering wheel. It was “The Letter” from my father that changed everything – his way of urging me to “do the right thing and go home” via these Pros and Cons, which were nothing short of narcissistic, emotional abuse, blackmail and toxic parental extortion:

IMG_8312So, maybe I should have renamed this entry:

APRIL 16, 2009: “Are You Fucking KIDDING Me Right Now … My Life Is A Farce … Haven’t You Heard ONE Thing I’ve Said … My Marriage Is Toxic … I’ve Been Trying To Tell You For Years … All We DO Is Fight … All We HAVE Is Tension … We’re Only Roommates And It’s Been That Way From The Start … I Don’t Think We REALLY Love Each Other … Pretty Sure We Never Did … We Only Got Married Because You MADE US And I WASN’T EVEN PREGNANT … I’ve Been TRYING To Repair The Damage For Years And Have LITERALLY Begged Him On My Knees To Meet Me Halfway … BUT … He Won’t Leave His Theatre Room … He Won’t TALK To Me … He’s NOT Looking Out For Me … He’s NOT Taking Care Of My Heart Or Soul … We Abuse EACH OTHER Daily … He Won’t Release Me From The Past … He Holds My Mistakes Over My Head … OMG I THINK I MARRIED YOU … My SON Is Being Verbally Abused … AND Emasculated … In That VERY Nice HouseI Can’t See My Reflection In A MirrorI’m Afraid I’m Going To Give My Daughter An Eating DisorderOh Yah – I HAVE AN EATING DISORDERThere’s A Dragon Circling Above Me And A Venom Suit Trying To Suffocate Me … All I Do Is Cry … HOW CAN I CONCENTRATE ON GETTING MY LIFE BACK ON TRACK WHEN I NEVER FUCKING SLEEP … I’ve Only Been PRETENDING To Be Happy So Everyone ELSE Could Be Happy And NOT Go To THEIR Graves With Unrest … All The Nice Things I Buy When I Go Shopping With The Credit Card In My Very Nice Car Aren’t Fixing Anything … I HAVE NEVER BEEN FREE TO DO WHAT I WANT … I’ve Been Praying For A Bus To Run Me Over … It’s Not Just Your DEAR Wife And My Kids Who Fucking Need You … “GOD Forbid Anything Happens To MOM?” … Yah, GOD Forbid Anything Happens To ME! ... Because … MY KIDS ARE WATCHING ALL OF THIS AND MY GREATEST FEAR IS THAT I’VE ALREADY LOST THEM AND THEY WON’T LIKE ME ANYMORE!

After reading it, I drove to His house, because in that moment I desperately needed to see my kids. I’d been standing out front waiting for them because I didn’t want to go back inside, the whole time just knowing that something dark was coming. I could feel it in my skin and bones. I literally couldn’t breathe, but could feel my adrenaline dumping. I was crumbling inside. When I looked up and saw my babies at the door, I was done! I finally had the nervous breakdown I’d fighting SO hard not to have for too many years to count! I am certain there were Angels present with me and my children in that moment, and if it is true that Angels cry, then they had to be crying their fucking eyes out as they witnessed the tragedy that was happening on that driveway. They had to literally peel my son from my body so that I could by taken away. He too was crumbling, and I’d never seen him cry so much. And Gia? She looked so lost, like a sad little puppy that just wanted to be picked and held. FUCK!

I’d actually gone insane!

By 9pm that night I was on an plane to The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, and arrived at the facility just before midnight. I was SO mentally FUCKED that the intake doctor made the decision to very heavily medicate me as soon as I was “processed”. I slept so long and hard that I wasn’t even assimilated into the campus population for more than 72 hours. My toxic childhood and the ensuing fallout from my self-sabotaged adulthood had won their final round in the circadian that had become my life, and I was mentally and physically broken.

CIRCADIAN

Who’s to say we’ll make it through? Starting to believe that what we think is never true. And who’s to say the rhymes beside your bed will keep you warm when everything is getting colder? And I’m just holding on until it’s over. Mayday! Somebody save me now. I’m closing my eyes ’cause once the sun rises it’s out of my hands. It’s out of my hands. Who’s to say this history isn’t only just some winter’s distant memory? You can’t escape this drying ink. The fall of who we are is getting closer and I’m just holding on until it’s over. Mayday! Somebody save me now. I’m cutting all ties from the world outside ’cause it’s over my head. It’s all coming undone and falling apart somehow. I’m closing my eyes ’cause once the sun rises it’s out of my hands. Oh it’s out of my hands. The light pulls me under and I keep on caving in. {David Cook}

TO READ MORE ABOUT EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL AND MANIPULATION:

5 Personality Emotionally Personalities

Classic Toxic Parent Moves

The Narcissistic Father

What Is Toxic Parenting?

SUMMER OF 1979: “Under My Scars” …

We moved to Allen from Providence, Rhode Island, in 1979, back when Allen’s population was probably aroud 2,500. My mother, sister and I were three of only a handful of Hispanics when we arrived which soon became the root of my deep lack of self-esteem.

I will never forget the day when a gym teacher of mine, “Coach Spann”, made his way to the middle of the floor. As he reached for the mic to call us to attention, a very cruel girl all but leveled me in front of a gymnasium full of my peers in one of my deepest childhood traumas: “Look how Spic and Spann these floors are!”

I remember the humiliation … a million tiny needles stinging my leather brown hands and feet as if it were happening this instant. In my mind, it seemed that everyone was laughing at me, and all I wanted was to crawl under a rock and die. The funny thing is, at the time I didn’t even know what it meant. “Spic? What’s a spic?” It wasn’t until one of the friends that was sitting beside me leaned in closely, as if to shelter me from the trauma that I didn’t even realize I was experiencing, and asked if I was okay. “Why wouldn’t I be okay?” I asked. “Well, a spic is a Mexican or wetback. She was making fun of you for being so dark.”

I don’t remember how I finally made it from the gym floor to the bathroom, but do remember staring into the mirror and crying.  It was on that day that I began to despise myself and the skin I lived in, and though I did manage to have a handful of truly good friends until graduating high school in 1987 (many of whom after almost 40 years are with me still today), that moment bruised me for decades come.

Thank God for my family back then. At home, I was “safe” with a roof over my head, and, above all loved, with Mom never more than a heartbeat away. Looking back, I can’t remember a moment that she missed. Not one single lunch, class party, field trip or game, and never a “latched door” for us to come home to. From what I could see at that point in my life and for many years to come, my mother would have torn out her own beating heart for the sake of those that she loved despite her outwardly gentle appearance.

Of course, then there was Julie, not only my sister, but one of my truest, lifelong friends. She’s been my rock, my sounding board and one of the only people in this world who has ever truly understood me. So close are we that over the years when I have heard people talking about their “sibling rivalries” I have always been perplexed. Julie is everything that I am not, and together, we make a whole person. She, too, over the years has suffered many of the same prejudices as I, only her much more so, because she has always been so much darker than me.  Through it all, though, we have always stuck together and never once in my life has she abandoned me!