Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Sometimes I feel like I'm that glass there, second from the left, full of cracks and on the verge of falling apart.  I know this blog basically goes into the realm of me whining about my life and myself all the time, but on some level a blog is just a bunch of narcissistic bullshit where we talk about ourselves and pretend the world gives a damn.  I'd talk about other things if I had other things to talk about, but the truth is that I don't.  I'm most of the time just sitting around thinking about what is wrong with me and why I screw up at pretty much everything I do all the time.  That fucking codependency article has me basically feeling like I'm the root cause of every problem in every situation that I'm ever faced with, and that's a shitty feeling to have.  I thought I had sort of moved past that, but I guess I haven't.  I wrote this big "I am not worthless" bullshit post at the New Year, and I believed it in the moment I was writing it but now, maybe not so much.  Of course, if I go back to that article, this is just me suffering from a bit of reactivity, dysfunctional communication and some painful emotions.  Super.  I can now name and isolate all of the bullshit that I feel, not that it helps to fix it.  I mean hey, I could join a 12 step program as the article recommended but that's fucking humiliating and painful and I don't want to let anyone else into my circle of being completely fucked up in the head.  I'd prefer to keep that to myself, thanks.  I mean, I guess that's wrong since I'm typing all of this into a public blog, but I don't need to go into the how or why I am the way I am with a bunch of bullshit people.  I don't even want to go into that with people who are close to me.  Guess that's just me displaying my trouble with intimacy and denial.

I had a conversation last night that I didn't enjoy having.  Not to say it shouldn't have happened, I just didn't like it.  I have a hard time making decisions.  Not every decision.  I can totally decide whether I want to take the highway or back roads to work or whatever.  I just can't make decisions when other people are involved in my decision making process.  I always try to do what's right for everyone else (see People Pleasing, fuck me) and if I do make the decision I constantly worry that it's the wrong one and that someone will be left unhappy.  The problem is that a while back I made a decision.  A really difficult decision that I agonized over for years.  I made a decision and when it was done I actually felt good for the first time in a long time.  I made a choice, and I took a stand for my own well being, which is something I absolutely never do.  I never say "No, this isn't ok, and there are consequences".  I usually just believe everything everyone says about me, I swallow it and allow myself to just accept that I'm a wreck and everyone else is right.  For once I said "No more".  I haven't questioned that decision in months.  Now I do.  Now I feel like I'm somehow harming other people by standing up for myself.  I'm starting to think that I'm supposed to just put on the happy face and say "Oh I'm so sorry, I'll fix it" even though I don't want to fix it, and it's not really in my hands to fix.  Now I just regret making any decision at all.

I'm not sure which is worse, being the doormat for everyone to walk on and trying to make sure everyone is happy, or standing up for myself and having to feel like it was the wrong choice.  I've been told I need to stand up for myself more, but each time I have there have been negative consequences that make me think it's more trouble than it's worth.  Do I fix all of my apparently horrible problems with codependency, or just let it go because when I try to go against my instincts I tend to suffer more than when I just shut my fucking mouth and let people do what they want?  Which is going to damage my relationships more?  Either way I'll probably just be seen as over dramatic in one way or another so what difference does it make?  And sometimes people need help to change, which I don't really think I will ever have, so I don't see the point.  It mostly makes me just want to cut off from everything, lock myself in a closet, and live my life away scratching the walls like Howard Hughes.

Ronan can come.  He doesn't care if I'm a wreck.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I'd like to thank The Fray for summing up my feelings.

"Over My Head (Cable Car)"

I never knew
I never knew that everything was falling through
That everyone I knew was waiting on a cue
To turn and run when all I needed was the truth
But that's how it's got to be
It's coming down to nothing more than apathy
I'd rather run the other way than stay and see
The smoke and who's still standing when it clears

Everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your mind

Let's rearrange
I wish you were a stranger I could disengage
Just say that we agree and then never change
Soften a bit until we all just get along
But that's disregard
Find another friend and you discard
As you lose the argument in a cable car
Hanging above as the canyon comes between

Everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your mind

Everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your ...

And suddenly I become a part of your past
I'm becoming the part that don't last
I'm losing you and it's effortless
Without a sound we lose sight of the ground
In the throw around
Never thought that you wanted to bring it down
I won't let it go down till we torch it ourselves

And everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your mind

Everyone knows
She's on your mind
Everyone knows I'm in over my head
I'm in over my head
I'm over my...

Everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your mind

Well Jeeze...

Hello textbook version of me.  How depressing.
  • Low self-esteem.Feeling that you’re not good enough or comparing yourself to others are signs of low self-esteem. The tricky thing about self-esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only a disguise — they actually feel unlovable or inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame.Guilt and perfectionism often go along with low self-esteem. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself.
  • People-pleasing. It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying “No” causes them anxiety. Some codependents have a hard time saying “No” to anyone. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.
  • Poor boundaries.Boundaries are sort of an imaginary line between you and others. It divides up what’s yours and somebody else’s, and that applies not only to your body, money, and belongings, but also to your feelings, thoughts and needs. That’s especially where codependents get into trouble. They have blurry or weak boundaries. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems or blame their own on someone else.Some codependents have rigid boundaries. They are closed off and withdrawn, making it hard for other people to get close to them. Sometimes, people flip back and forth between having weak boundaries and having rigid ones.
  • Reactivity. A consequence of poor boundaries is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you either believe it or become defensive. You absorb their words, because there’s no boundary. With a boundary, you’d realize it was just their opinion and not a reflection of you and not feel threatened by disagreements.
  • Caretaking. Another effect of poor boundaries is that if someone else has a problem, you want to help them to the point that you give up yourself. It’s natural to feel empathy and sympathy for someone, but codependents start putting other people ahead of themselves. In fact, they need to help and might feel rejected if another person doesn’t want help. Moreover, they keep trying to help and fix the other person, even when that person clearly isn’t taking their advice.
  • Control.Control helps codependents feel safe and secure. Everyone needs some control over events in their life. You wouldn’t want to live in constant uncertainty and chaos, but for codependents, control limits their ability to take risks and share their feelings. Sometimes they have an addiction that either helps them loosen up, like alcoholism, or helps them hold their feelings down, like workaholism, so that they don’t feel out of control.Codependents also need to control those close to them, because they need other people to behave in a certain way to feel okay. In fact, people-pleasing and care-taking can be used to control and manipulate people. Alternatively, codependents are bossy and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. This is a violation of someone else’s boundary.
  • Dysfunctional communication. Codependents have trouble when it comes to communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs. Of course, if you don’t know what you think, feel or need, this becomes a problem. Other times, you know, but you won’t own up to your truth. You’re afraid to be truthful, because you don’t want to upset someone else. Instead of saying, “I don’t like that,” you might pretend that it’s okay or tell someone what to do. Communication becomes dishonest and confusing when you try to manipulate the other person out of fear.
  • Obsessions.Codependents have a tendency to spend their time thinking about other people or relationships. This is caused by their dependency and anxieties and fears. They can also become obsessed when they think they’ve made or might make a “mistake.”Sometimes you can lapse into fantasy about how you’d like things to be or about someone you love as a way to avoid the pain of the present. This is one way to stay in denial, discussed below, but it keeps you from living your life.
  • Dependency. Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They’re afraid of being rejected or abandoned, even if they can function on their own. Others need always to be in a relationship, because they feel depressed or lonely when they’re by themselves for too long. This trait makes it hard for them to end a relationship, even when the relationship is painful or abusive. They end up feeling trapped.
  • Denial. One of the problems people face in getting help for codependency is that they’re in denial about it, meaning that they don’t face their problem. Usually they think the problem is someone else or the situation. They either keep complaining or trying to fix the other person, or go from one relationship or job to another and never own up the fact that they have a problem.Codependents also deny their feelings and needs. Often, they don’t know what they’re feeling and are instead focused on what others are feeling. The same thing goes for their needs. They pay attention to other people’s needs and not their own. They might be in denial of their need for space and autonomy. Although some codependents seem needy, others act like they’re self-sufficient when it comes to needing help. They won’t reach out and have trouble receiving. They are in denial of their vulnerability and need for love and intimacy.
  • Problems with intimacy. By this I’m not referring to sex, although sexual dysfunction often is a reflection of an intimacy problem. I’m talking about being open and close with someone in an intimate relationship. Because of the shame and weak boundaries, you might fear that you’ll be judged, rejected, or left. On the other hand, you may fear being smothered in a relationship and losing your autonomy. You might deny your need for closeness and feel that your partner wants too much of your time; your partner complains that you’re unavailable, but he or she is denying his or her need for separateness.
  • Painful emotions. Codependency creates stress and leads to painful emotions. Shame and low self-esteem create anxiety and fear about being judged, rejected or abandoned; making mistakes; being a failure; feeling trapped by being close or being alone. The other symptoms lead to feelings of anger and resentment, depression, hopelessness, and despair. When the feelings are too much, you can feel numb.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All the strings attached

Whenever I hear friends talking about going on business trips, or having to be out of town for a week, I find myself wondering if I'm somehow horribly co-dependent.  I don't like traveling for work.  I do it, because the job requires it, but I don't like it.  As soon as I have to travel without Jason, I find myself suddenly afraid that something horrible is going to happen while I'm gone.  He's going to get in a car crash, I'm going to be involved in some sort of plane crash, a pet is going to die.  Something.  I don't like traveling away from my family.  I was 1,400 miles away from home when my grandma died, so my entire family was together and they got to say goodbye to her.  I wasn't able to get home, and I never got that opportunity.  My sister's best friend was there, but I wasn't.  I keep waiting for that to be something I get over or move past, but the bottom line is that I am still sad about it, and I still hate that I wasn't there.  I still carry around the plane ticket from the flight I took to try to get home when my parents called me and told me what was going on.  It doesn't go away.  And now, I just find myself afraid to be away from people I care about for too long.  Usually, if I can at least have Jason with me, I'm ok.  If something horrible happens with someone in my family, he'll handle it.  He'll make sure that everything that needs to get done actually gets done.  He handled everything when my grandma died.  At least I'm not alone if something bad happens.

I'm not sure if that means that I have severe codependency issues, or if it just means I'm attached to those I care about.  Mostly, I think that I hate being alone.  Not like, I have to be romantically involved with someone alone, but I really hate being by myself, in a hotel room, eating sad takeout by myself.  I think that when I had to live in Ohio for 3 months, working the sad hell job, I realized that I don't do well without any friends or enjoyable social contact over extended periods of time.  Maybe it's a serious flaw of mine.  Maybe it's why I get upset when people leave my life.  I have no idea what will happen to them after, and usually I feel like if I've tried to maintain a friendship, I don't want to be out of contact for a really long time.  I used to think that I was pretty low maintenance, but now I wonder if I actually am, or if it's just a very wrong perception I had of myself.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

So, Winter Got Here

So winter is in full force.  Normally I really like snow, and I enjoy having 4 full seasons every year.  Well...3.5 full seasons since Michigan does a crap job at keeping Spring feeling like Spring for very long.  It's usually cold as hell, then a couple of weeks of nice spring weather, then 80 degrees.  But still, that's not so bad.  The thing is, I like winter when it's all clean and pretty and picturesque like my photographic friend over here on the left.  I like when the world feels muffled and quiet because there's a blanket of snow on the ground and you can curl up on the sofa with a mug of tea for the evening.  I do not like it very much when it's like my annoying picture friend over here on the right.  That winter can just go ahead and suck it.

This week wasn't winter like in either picture.  It was the sort of winter you can't capture in a photograph, because there's no real way to convey the painful, biting cold that we've been experiencing.  It's the kind of cold that rips through every layer of clothing you can put on, and when you breathe in your lungs immediately reject the knives of icy air you are trying to force into them, causing you to erupt in a fit of coughing.  There have been times when I've wondered if the clouds of breath were going to freeze each time I exhaled so that I'd find myself walking through tiny shards of ice each time I took a step forward.

I'm starting to realize that our very mild winter last year might have spoiled me.  Now all I want to do is find a way to get warm, and never leave the house again.  I'm going to start advocating for human hibernation.       

Friday, January 18, 2013

John Green Is Better Than Me At Everything

Back when I worked at the bookstore, I would read magazines on my lunch break.  I often found myself reading the book reviews in Entertainment Weekly and I came across a review of a book with an interesting looking cover and a more interesting title.  The book was called "Looking for Alaska" and it was getting a lot of attention.  I made a quick mental note to check out a copy, and then promptly forgot all about it for roughly 8 years.  Then Youtube happened.  And Vlogbrothers happened and I realized that this guy I had read about years ago is starting to be just about everywhere.  So I read the books.  I won't lie, I don't love all of them.  In fact, I might not even love most of them, but what I do love is John Green.

I've been following the Vlogbrothers videos for a while now, and I've been following the many side projects that John and his brother Hank have been working on over the years that Vlogbrothers has evolved and gathered such a huge following that this week they managed to pack Carnegie Hall with fans.  I want to point out this is a sold out event, at Carnegie Hall, for an author.  What the what?!  And not an author who has been around for ages like Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett.  No, this is a guy who is relatively new on the scene, and writes books for young adults.  He packed a theater with kids who like to read.  And, unlike his fellow young adult author Stephenie Meyer, he writes books with substance.  They mean something.  And that was just the start.  After creating literature for young people that teaches love, compassion, understanding, while at the same time respecting grief and the fragility of life, he decided to change the world.  He and Hank either head up or support several charitable organizations, and they encourage their fans to follow their lead in the quest to decrease world suck.  They are creating an army of young people who are focused on compassion and selflessness. 

Beyond that, they're both entertaining as hell, and when I watch John's videos I want to be a better person.  He is painfully introspective, and his thoughts on the vast variety of topics he covers are insightful and intelligent.  He talks about literature in a way I've never experienced, and I was a stinking literature major.  He's a better English teacher than I am, and I went to school for teaching.  He takes books I hate and presents them in a way that makes me actually feel guilty for not loving them as much as he does.  Most days, I just sort of wish I was able to do that with a fraction of the effectiveness he does.

I think what impresses me the most about John is that he inspires me.  I'm a pretty cynical and often negative individual.  I am not one to give the world the benefit of the doubt, but somehow when I see all of the good that has come to this world through something as simple as a video blog on youtube, I want to find a way to bring good into the world too.  I want to be a better person, but I want to help create a world of good people.  I want to find something I love and am passionate about and run with it.  I want to create something bigger than myself, and then watch what happens as it takes off.  He makes me want to go back to writing.  He makes me want to create instead of just exist.  And, on some level, this inspiration also makes me less afraid of failing, because failure is part of learning. 

So thanks John, for being so awesome.  Please leave some awesomeness in the world for the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Holding the Mess Together

I don't blog often about my marriage, mostly because I feel like people who are constantly blogging or posting about how great their spouse is are mostly trying to convince themselves that their spouse is great.  I feel like all of that "I have the greatest husband ever" talk is usually trying to prove to someone that not only is it true, but also that they actually believe it's true.  So, for the most part, I just don't say anything.  I feel like if my marriage is good, people see it, I don't need to tell them.

That being said, I'm going to break my norm right now and just take a moment to say how much I appreciate that Jason both loves and accepts my particular brand of crazy.  Anyone who gets to see past the surface with me begins to understand that below the surface is a tempest.  I'm a serious mess about 99% of the time, and sometimes I feel like I'm one loose thread away from that mess spilling out all over the place, and splashing into all parts of my life.  That's why it's nice to have Jason there, sewing the loose threads back together, making a perfectly beautiful rag doll out of the mess of scraps that make up the whole of me.  I don't have to ask, he just knows, and he fixes.  I'm grateful for his ability to see the weaknesses, and work on helping me patch and fix them while at the same time turning a blind eye to the fact that they exist.  It's nice to have someone who can do that, and who never holds it against you.

If I'm going to be entirely honest, I'm not as good at patching his wounds as he is at patching mine.  I'm rash and judgmental with absolutely everyone in my life, including him.  I think I have the best intentions, but I'm pretty famous for doing everything all wrong, and even my efforts to "help" end up hurting.  I sort of wish I had his ability to say just the right thing, and to know exactly how to handle every situation.  Maybe it's just that when he isn't keeping the mess inside me, it spills out and splashes all over him, and then he has to clean my mess off him while still dealing with his own.  I think that it's not until I realize how much it must take for him to keep me from always falling apart that I also realize how hard that must be, and how he must feel like a mess sometimes too and he's just left with me and my clumsiness to help him through it.

Sometimes I think that's what is hardest for me.  Wanting to be everything for him that he is for me, and failing time and time again.  Wanting to do and say the right things, and instead being myself.  It's when I try to help him, and inevitably fail, that I realize how much I appreciate that I never have to worry about whether he can be my rock.  He's what keeps me going, and I probably don't say how much I appreciate it often enough.  I also don't apologize for being so bad at helping him the way he helps me as often as I should.  But the bottom line is, he's responsible for me being the presentable and coherent person I am most of the time.  He gets me, and he doesn't judge.  I appreciate it.  I just don't say it enough.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

O-bla-di, o-bla-da...

Lately I've been thinking that one of the things I like most about the world is that it exists.  I like that this vast planet of diverse locations and cultures exists.  I like that no matter what happens on any given day, and no matter how bad your day might be, life will still go on and there will always be tomorrow.  I've mostly been thinking this because a lot of the students I work with are applying for college and stressing out about their acceptances, worried that their futures might be ruined by the answer that lies in their collegiate stamped envelope.  As much as I understand how important it is to get into college and to finish a degree so that you have the right footing for entering the job market, I still find myself wanting to remind these kids that no matter what school they get into, the point is that they're going to school.  No matter what disappointments lie ahead for them with not getting into their first choice, or not being able to go away when they really wanted to live away from home, or not being able to afford the dream school they might have wanted to go to, the point is that life will go on.  School will still be school, and the point will be that they're going, and they are going to have opportunities open to them regardless of what school they attend.  They should simply be proud of themselves for making the effort to attend in the first place.  When they finish that first semester, it's not going to matter if it was the dream school, or if it was a semester spent living at home or in a dorm.  What's going to matter is that they made it over the hump.  They made it through the challenge of finishing that first semester of college, and it gets easier from there.  Sometimes I just want to remind them that while everyone is telling them that their entire future is on the line, this one decision isn't going to decide their life forever.  They still have choices, they still have options, they still have opportunities.  I just want to tell them to keep calm, and life goes on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's Oh So Quiet, It's Oh So Still

Most of the time, my house is busy.  It's full of people, it's full of pets.  Quiet moments in my house are few and far between.  It's made me appreciate stolen moments of quiet in my life.  Every once in a while, I find that I'm the first person up in the morning, and if I leave the dogs locked in the bedroom with Jason, I can steal away downstairs to the living room and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted quiet.  Even nicer is when I somehow manage to be the only person in the house still awake in the evening.  Something about being in the house at night, when the whole world is quiet and still makes me feel comforted.  I can just sit in the living room, cloaked in the semi-darkness provided by lighting one single lamp, and enjoy the peace.  I can sip a cup of tea, wrap up in a blanket and know that this short moment of silence and tranquility is mine.  I don't have to share it, I don't have to discuss it with anyone.  I can just listen to it, and appreciate it for the brief span of time that it will last before a dog barks, or someone comes downstairs for a glass of water, or the cats begin chasing one another.  This short time belongs to me, and I can envelope myself in it for as long as I wish.  I like knowing that even in the constant hum of our noisy lives in this house, there are moments that I can carve out just for me.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Betty Freaking Crocker

So if you had asked me 10 years ago what I thought my future hobbies might be, I never would have told you cooking.  I'm the girl who spent most of her life as the pickiest eater on the planet.  If it wasn't chicken fingers or french fries, chances are I wasn't going to touch it.  I've never been a foodie, or someone willing to try new things, and when I moved out of my parents house I knew how to make grilled cheese, boil pasta, and I could make waffles.  That was about it.  I'm not sure when I started being interested in learning to cook, but somewhere along the line I found myself with odd hours of free time when there was nothing on television worth watching and suddenly I was watching hours and hours of Food Network.  Sure, i wouldn't heat about 90% of what they were making on most of those shows, but everything seemed so easy, and when the episode was over, the food looked good.  Almost good enough for me to consider wanting to taste it.  At some point, I decided that I probably could make more than grilled cheese, and when Jason was complaining about being bored with our usual dinner choices, I decided I was going to take a chance and try something totally different.  Since that ended up a success I just kept trying more and more new things.  I decided that if I wasn't afraid of doing it, then the worst that could happen is that I'd waste a bit of flour and move on.

Now, at this point, as much as I might find the act of figuring out what to make for dinner annoying, and as much as I hate having to come home and immediately start dinner, there is something strangely therapeutic about the act of putting together a grouping of simple items and making something that people enjoy.  Chopping vegetables, or boiling pasta, or grilling chicken is mindless.  Simple.  Follow the right steps, you get the right outcome.  I like the predictability of it.  Plus, when not burdened with the task of figuring out meals, I still find myself drawn to the kitchen to bake something.  I like the way dough feels when it's being kneaded.  I like the smell  of it as I shape it out.  I like that my house smells like baking bread.  I like producing cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bread loaves, homemade icing, and having it turn into something that makes people happy, or makes people smile when they come home and find treats.

I never expected that this is what I would turn to as a hobby, or something I do when I want to relax and not think about much.  When life is complicated, cooking doesn't have to be.  You mix the right ingredients, and you get the right outcome.  You can always adjust to make it just right.  There's comfort in the predictability.  There's comfort in knowing that a little more flour will fix a sticky situation, and if you make a mistake, it's not so hard to start over again.  I like that in as little as 30 minutes, I can make someone's day better just by feeding them.  Sure, I still don't eat beef, or tomatoes, or a ton of other things, but what I do eat I can cook pretty darn well, and there's comfort in that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections On A Year Past

Last year I wrote this not-so-inspiring list of resolutions for myself in 2012.  I probably should have included surviving the predicted end of the world on that list.  I did survive the predicted end of the world, by the way.  In case anyone was worried.  Looking back at last January and the goals that I set, I find that while I was more successful in some areas than others, the biggest things that were nagging at me as 2011 ended are no longer issues this year as I find 2012 coming to a close.  I think that, more than anything, I've been able to make peace with myself over this past year.  Not one of those super awesome inner peace feelings where you're suddenly super confident and know what to do in all situations, but the kind that at least makes you realize that being yourself isn't as bad as you've been led to believe.  I realized this year that I've spent a lot of time allowing others to dictate my self-worth for me.  I took their poor behavior and mistreatment of me as a sign that I was somehow broken, or wrong, or ill fitted for the world I was living in, and it made me feel terrible.  I let myself believe that when others were bad friends who simply stopped speaking to me for months at a time, or when my values were criticized, or when my world outlook didn't fit what someone else thought it should be, that the problem was rooted somewhere deep within myself, and I was in the wrong.  I never allowed myself to think that someone being a terrible friend was perhaps their fault, or that my values not fitting what someone else believed they should be was a problem they had with my value system, not an actual problem with me.  I had gone so long believing that I wasn't worthy of anything good, that I think I stopped looking for anything good to happen, or for anyone to treat me as a true friend instead of someone they needed to "fix" or change.  I am not broken.  I. Am. Not. Broken.

Making that journey this year has been terrifying and liberating.  It has given me the strength to remove those who do not deserve a place in my life, no matter how close they were to my heart at one time.  It has given me the strength to stand up for myself, to refuse to be bullied, and to refuse to constantly bend and reshape to be who someone else thinks I should be, because it is easier for them.  It has also opened my eyes to some really wonderful people who have never asked me to be anything more or less than what I am, and that removing someone bad doesn't mean that no one else will fill the hole.  I realize now that those who truly care about you are those you know are there in a pinch, who share your joys and your sorrows, your ups and downs, and if there is someone out there who does not fulfill that then it's ok to move on and find others who will.

This year has, without a doubt, been a struggle.  My family has been slandered, ridiculed, betrayed, mistreated and hurt beyond measure.  Wounds have been open that I'm not sure will ever really heal, and there are voids in our lives that are not easily filled.  I miss our work with the drama department daily, and I love those children as much as I possibly can, but I'm slowly accepting that there are things that will never be changed, no matter how unjust they are.  It's a hard pill to swallow, but it's the only one we're being prescribed lately so I feel like I either have to accept it or go mad.  This incident coupled with struggles at work, which have led to struggles at home has made me open my arms to a new year and a fresh start, and a new hope that just as the rug has been so swiftly pulled out from under us in the past, it can just as swiftly be replaced with a newer, better rug that sticks around for a good long time.

To be truthful though, despite the struggles and despite the discontent that has hovered at the edge of our lives throughout this past year, there have been some very beautiful bright spots.  The addition of Jasmine to our family has been one of my favorite things about this past year.  She made a transition into our lives as seamlessly as if she was meant to be there all along.  She plays the roles of daughter, sister, and friend every day, and she fills our lives with her eternal optimism and her cheerful nature.  I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want her around all the time.  She brings light wherever she goes.  I  am so glad we have been able to help her along her journey into adulthood.  With Jasmine we have also added this quirky group to our lives that are like a second family.  We have taken a house and made it a home with the addition of people to our lives that have been around a long time, but now suddenly feel permanent and make us feel whole.  We now have former students who are just as dear to us as our own relatives, and it's really quite an amazing feeling.  Beyond that, we have been able to enjoy time with friends and family more this year than usual, since we're not constantly busy working on a show for someone else.  We have been able to expand our theater company, and perform more shows than expected.  We have been able to travel a little, and share our home with so many people who just needed a safe haven for a little while.  And movie club, which is awesome.  These bright points in a year that has felt dismal are really what has kept me going, and kept me moving forward toward something better, something happier, something that is out there waiting to be found.  I hope we find it.