Pain Stole the Person I used to be

“Thomas married you so he must love you.”

“….Or used to. Pain stole the person he married.”

I was just joking around with a friend, and it came out. I’d never thought it before. Never realized it. It hadn’t once crossed my mind, but it must have been festering back there for longer than I know. But it’s the truth, the real truth. When I married my husband, I wasn’t in pain. I was just me.

In my mind, I thought I was still just me- until that came tumbling out of my mouth. I’m not the same. I can’t be the same. Chronic pain doesn’t allow me to be.

I don’t get to just go and do whatever I want anymore. I have to think about if it’s going to hurt me. I can’t even allow myself doze off on the couch or I could hurt myself. Pain gets considered before everything else. What I wear, what I do, how I sit, how much I can walk. Literally everything.
Pain effects my moods, and my emotions. Some days so much that I don’t even recognize the person I am anymore. My temper is short, or I’m overly emotional because the pain gets so overwhelming that I can’t mentally handle it.

Explaining chronic pain is confusing. Experiencing it can be even more confusing. It’s never the same from one day to the next. Sometimes it shows up in different places. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it feels like a pull, or an ache. The only thing I can be sure of is that it will be there. Always. It’s been there, always, for over 7 years now. In those 7 years, it’s transformed me into who I am today, and this person isn’t who my husband married. It’s not who I wanted to be.

Most days, I miss that me, and not just because she wasn’t in pain. I wonder what kind of person she would be today. If she’d be a more patient mother. A more loving wife. A more supportive friend. I wonder what my body would look like. I wonder if I’d still be writing, if my hair would be crazy colors, if I’d have all these tattoos. If I’d have the same dark sense of humor, or if I’d be lighter. If I’d want to try skydiving, or those wacky ass trampoline parks. Would I like the same things, the same music, the same shows?

Who would I be, and would I like that person? Because… as much as the pain has tried to destroy me, it hasn’t. I’ve grown stronger. I know what I want. I push my limits all the time, which I might never have done before- maybe I’d have become complacent, or bored, but no. I challenge myself, because I refuse to let it win. The pain is a part of me but it does not define me. It doesn’t own me. It will never own me.

Posted on September 21, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 2 Comments

Holdin Holden’s 10-year Anniversary! Looking Back

My oldest baby’s 11th birthday wasn’t the only occasion I celebrated yesterday. Eleven years of being a mom means TEN years of having this blog.

When Holden turned one year old, I decided I needed a change. I’d joined and even adminned mommy groups online before, and it didn’t feel like ANYONE understood me. I was judged, ridiculed, made to feel like I didn’t belong… and maybe I didn’t. I didn’t sugarcoat things like most of them did. I didn’t pretend motherhood was perfect all the time.
My new baby was up every night screaming for 7+ hours, and I was supposed to pretend this was a magical time of my life? Like Tinkerbell was floating over my house farting fairy dust on top of us? I loved him, but I was losing my mind, and what I needed was support– moms to tell me it was okay, it was normal, it would pass, I wasn’t crazy–and the one place I thought I could get it gave me the opposite- so after a year, I decided to create my own place.

To be honest, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it. The name was my husband’s idea when I couldn’t come up with one myself (I’ve never been very much good at giving things titles)- Holdinholden.blogspot.com
It was just a place to vent– to put my weird thoughts, and whatever popped into my head, and slowly– it gained a following. It was a relief and a shock to me that there were actually people– other moms– out there that felt the same way as I did; laughed at the same things I did; were sick and tired of the “perfect parent” bullshit that filled the internet. It wasn’t real. Perfection never is, but especially when it comes to a human attempting to raise another human.

We were a small community that couldn’t be stopped. The blog saw me through reflux, an unexpected second pregnancy and difficult childbirth. It saw me through the extreme illness of my second child and the INSANE bullying that occured after it. The mom-shaming, the stalking, harassment, slander. There were times I wanted to quit– people told me to quit– to walk away from blogging, writing, because the bullying wouldn’t stop. It even went as far as having Child Protective Services called on me by these “women” (I use the term lightly) claiming I was abusing my child, all because they didn’t like me, because I spoke out against them.
But instead of shutting me up, it pushed me farther, because just like before with the Mommy Boards, I knew I wasn’t alone. Other moms were being bullied, too. Where would it end? How many lives would it ruin? How many moms/dads would it take?

Instead I got inspired. I wrote a book–it was hurried, and messy, but it was real, and I did it.
I moved from blog to this website.
I started the Facebook Fan page that has grown to almost 100k followers.

And from small community we grew to something amazing. A network of moms who could laugh at themselves instead of cry. A collective of parents who supported one another, even if they didn’t agree.

You all saw my through the harrowing process of writing a second book and trying to get it published, and then FINALLY getting to see it in bookstores everywhere.

We shared our thoughts, our ups and downs. The weird shit our kids say. We called sanctimommies out on their bullshit, because we didn’t want anyone else being bullied or made to feel bad. We watched Parker get on Good Morning America because of his Disney Princess proposals. We also killed off a handful of them for the past FIVE Halloweens. But it wasn’t just about kids, because becoming a parent doesn’t erase your life. We talked about loss, we talked about self confidence, and marriage — no matter HOW awkward.
I’ve posted OVER 2,000 blogs here. TWO THOUSAND. So many that I honestly don’t even remember all of them- and when I thought of linking some of my favorites here, I had trouble digging in the back of my mind (and my library) for them. It should be more, but like any normal human, any normal parent, sometimes life got in the way.

This sounds like a goodbye loveletter, where I go over all the things we’ve done, and how amazing it is- but tell you I just can’t do it anymore. The distance is too great, or “it’s not you, it’s me”-
But that isn’t true. Although changes in social media, and changes in my life and schedule have made reaching you harder, and finding time to write (and things to write about) more difficult- I am looking forward to ANOTHER ten years. More laughs, more cries. PUBERTY. GIRLFRIENDS. LEARNING TO DRIVE. Okay, now actually, I’m terrified- but I know that like I’ve been told I help so many of you through things in your lives, that you will help me through these things in mine– because that’s who we are. It’s what we built TOGETHER, and I couldn’t be more proud.

 

So thank you all. I appreciate your dedication, and your time you take out of your days to read what I write (even if it’s silly) and to leave comments. I appreciate your opinions, your styles, your stories. I appreciate YOU, being you, and sharing it with me.
Let’s keep going!

Posted on September 18, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Welcome to Second Summer Break

DISCLAIMER: To some, perhaps this isn’t a time to joke, but I find that humor even in the most dire of situations is an important tool to help get us through– all the while being absolutely prepared and taking precautions to be safe, and healthy as best we can.

 

It’s the second week of school, and off the coast of the eastern United States is an asshole called Florence. Four days last week, admittedly a struggle trying to get back into the swing of things, but this week was looking up. I was getting used to waking up early, getting used to sending one kid off to the bus & driving the other one. Settling in to the hustle & bustle. Things were looking up, and then Florence decided she wanted to come to town.

Only… I’m not even surprised. Not even a little. In fact, anyone who lives on the south eastern coast knows what this is, because it happens every year. It’s SECOND SUMMER! Second Summer is what we have to look forward to every single hurricane season, when one of these big swirling assholes comes in and tries to wreck our school years.
Growing up, we once had one SO bad, that flooded SO much, that we were out of school for weeks. We missed midterms. We missed so much school that they were forced to make midterms OPTIONAL. Can you imagine? OPTIONAL MIDTERMS AFTER A SECOND SUMMER BREAK! It was every kid’s dream. We didn’t worry about the damage or the flooding- we reaped all the benefits.

Second Summer Break – aka – Hurricane season, is every parent’s nightmare, and not just because you have to worry about keeping your family and home safe, but because the kids are home again, after you JUST got rid of them, making you fucking crazy, because it isn’t like first summer break- you can’t just toss them outside and tell them to entertain themselves. They’d end up in Oz. And they aren’t as crafty as Dorothy, they would probably never make it back to Kansas.

I’d say that I’m going to lose my mind- but it hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes I wish it would. Let my mind wander FAR away from the “cone of uncertainty.”

Just as we recover from Second Summer Break, y’all, get ready for the holidays, Christmas Break and… wait for it… Second Christmas Break- because GLOB FORBID IT IS COLD ON CHRISTMAS HERE! Nope. It waits until February/March and then shits snow on us… after we’ve spent all of our money on hurricane prep & cleanup, and have NOTHING left for ice, snow, and plows… so out goes school again.

I have no advice in these situations, even though they are the ‘norm’ for me, as I’ve lived here (almost) my entire life. All I can suggest is to make sure you stock up on the essentials. Dried goods, water, batteries for your noise cancelling headphones, and booze.
In all of these situations, I truly do hope you all stay safe, and as sane as you can!

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

I Changed my mind– Back to School time SUCKS.

I know I make this big deal about back to school– oh what a relief it is to send the kids away and be able to enjoy peace and quiet again, at long last. While all of that is true, with the good comes the bad- and the bad is pretty fucking annoying. Maybe it’s the long summer months, or the brain-melting heat, or the bajillion tantrums thrown in 100 or however many days of summer (believe it or not, I didn’t count)- but I forgot just how terrible back to school time is. Am I alone? Did you forget? Are you deep on the throes now and wondering “Why did I look so forward to this? This is awful!”?

Not just waking up at the asscrack of dawn- but getting up with the kids at the asscrack of dawn

Making lunches

Getting that same lunch home barely f’ing eaten. WHY DID I EVEN MAKE YOU ONE, THEN?

Actually having to put on pants to be able to leave the house for all the school things

The clusterfuck that is school drop off & pick up

Homework… because it ain’t just for the kids. If your kids have homework, so do you

Scrambling to find “lost” homework when the bus is already in the area, or you’re already running 5 minutes late for drop-off, even though you know your kid JUST HAD IT WHERE COULD IT HAVE POSSIBLY GONE

Fees

Teachers sending you e-mails, and notes home when you forget to pay the fees in the first few days because you’re busy dealing with LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE

Germs

More germs

Getting sick all the damn time

Worrying the entire time they’re gone that they are okay, are making friends, and aren’t being the douchecanoe at school that they are once they get home.

 

Moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for. It’s almost always a double-edged sword.

Posted on September 7, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Back to School & Back to Reality

All over the country right now, it’s BACK TO SCHOOL time. Whether your kids went back a few weeks ago, today (like mine did) or not yet- it is that time of year, and we’re all adjusting to the idea.

If you’re anything like me- you have or had this fantasy in your head of what it’s going to be like once the kids are out of the house and you finally get the peace and quiet you missed so much during the summer months. As you watch them walk out the door, you think about all the things you’ll finally be able to do that you couldn’t do while the kids were around. You’ll finally keep the house clean for more than a few hours because there aren’t kids constantly in it. You’ll finally be productive. For me– I have dreams of writing more, and finishing my third book, on top of just being maybe a little more sane, and having a bit of patience in the reserve tank.

And then the day comes, and…… you do nothing. Literally nothing. All the dreams of productivity go out the window. All you really want to do is sit on the couch and binge trash on Netflix. Catch up on the DVR. Take a nap.
You feel like you shouldn’t really want to do any of these things- you should feel more rested, more motivated- because you don’t have little crotchfruits tailgating your every move- but you don’t.

Guess what? Totally okay. Acceptable. Understandable. In fact, I argue you SHOULD take the break. Take a day or two. Maybe three. Shit, take a week.

Just like the kids adjust to the new school year with new teachers & classmates, we have to adjust back to days without the kids. Their schedules, getting ready in the mornings, back to making lunches. We have to take time to decompress and get used to the quiet, because IT IS WEIRD. Summer break is not a break, it is work. And you, the parent, deserve a vacation- even if the vacation consists of binge watching Supernatural while elbow deep in a bag of sourdough pretzels. Take that time to find your damn center- your new normal, new schedule. It’s not instant.

The first year both of my kids were in school (and they are 3 grades apart so I had a LOT of time to think about it) I dreamed of all the shit I’d be able to get done… and spent the first day watching Magic Mike. The movie sucked, but I wouldn’t take back that time I took for me, myself, and only I for anything. It’s become sort of my tradition over the years.
First day back? Do literally nothing. Hang out. Veg.
I only did a load of laundry today because none of the fucking alarms went off this morning and we had to scramble to find clothes for the kids because we forgot to finish the laundry over the weekend, and I don’t want a repeat any other time this week while I’m still trying to get everyone back into the swing of things.

This is a weird time, parents. Take care of yourselves when and how you can, okay?

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment