Excuse me? Who, me? Seriously!?!

In April of 2016 I took an Aromatherapy Certification course with my girlfriend, Trisha. It was a weekend spent in the home of the people teaching the course. It was an amazing experience and the food? WHOA!! The wife of the gentleman teaching the course could cook like there’s no tomorrow. If you left the table hungry, that was your fault, but I digress.

We met wonderful women during this weekend from different walks of life. One of these women was from Russia. Her name is Nikita and she had a wonderful accent. She was so knowledgeable already on essential oils and helped to explain some things I may not have understood. During our breaks and after the days teachings were over, Trisha and I started talking to Nikita about different things. Nikita was very into the metaphysical side of life which was something I knew very little about.

We were talking about Astrology, numerology, past lives, etc. It was very interesting to me, but nothing I had ever considered myself to be interested in prior to this conversation. I mean sure I’d read my horoscope growing up, but didn’t everyone? I also messed around with energy once as a kid, which I totally forgot about until writing this post. I was a sleepover in probably 5th grade. We played the game “Light as a Feather, Thick as a Board.” Five little girls were able to actually lift another 5th grader off the floor with just our finger tips. That scared the bejeesuz out of me. We also played Bloody Mary that same night. (BTW, not for nothing, but I didn’t sleep that night.) As if I hadn’t learned my lesson enough, one night we played around with a Ouija board. NOT a very smart thing to do when you have no idea how to protect yourself metaphysically. The damn white thing moved on it’s own and told us it was a 6 yr old child who had been murdered. I was done. Threw the board out and never looked back.

To me, this were all just games. Stuff which wasn’t real and kids just played around with because we were the only ones dumb enough to believe it. Adults told us we were silly and just left us to our devices. My mom did read Tarot cards when I was younger. She had a very bad experience with them when I was about 15 and she never touched them again.

Nikita continues on talking to Trisha and I’m just sitting there listening. I had a look of disbelief on my face and plain as day Nikita said “You have the gift. I don’t know why you’re shocked at the conversation.” Excuse me? Who, me? Seriously!?! You have got to be kidding. And that’s exactly what I said. I shook my head no way and Trisha looked at me and said “Yeah, you do.” My jaw dropped open. We had been friends for about 9 years up until that point and NOW is when she’s telling me this? My head was spinning in disbelief. Trisha repeated what she had said previously. I hadn’t been open to hearing about many things she believed in and she was afraid to talk about them to me for fear of being judged. So.. here we were. She got all into oils and the great beyond was staring me in the face whether I liked it or not. Crap.

This one fairly innocuous conversation was a snowflake which turned into a snowball. One I never expected to snow again much less grow into a snowball. My life was about to change in a very big way. I had no idea.

Blessed Be – Peace be with you
Shelley

**Nikita’s name was changed to protect her true identity.

Creek comes to town!

In December of 2015 I was having hot flashes so bad, I thought my husband was going to kick me out of bed. Covers on, covers off. I ain’t Daniel and this sure as hell ain’t Karate Kid. It was horrible! I didn’t want more medication because I was already taking so many. I had bi-polar II disorder, thyroid issues, migraines blah blah blah. I considered myself pretty healthy even though I was overweight (still am!). But this getting old shit was for the birds. I’d had a hysterectomy when I was in my late 30’s. I was left with one ovary and I was guessing it was time for that ovary to start failing.

Our oldest daughter Creek came to visit with our grandson for Christmas. She saw me going through the hot flashes and started talking to me about essential oils. I laughed at her and told her I didn’t need her Granola/Hippie Mom crap. I’d suffer through it and be just fine thank-you-very-much. She got pretty frustrated with me. I just rolled my eyes at her and asked her how much she liked it when someone rolled their eyes at her? HA! No fun right? She was pretty much like “whatever old woman, just suffer.” I smiled and went on about my business. A few days later she’d had enough of listening to me bitch about sweating and getting irritated as the hot flashes hit me. She sat me down and told me I had absolutely nothing to lose if I allowed her to make something for me to try. I told her it wouldn’t work, but to go for it. I took her to the store and bought some cheap over the counter essential oils. She cringed at the idea, but you work with what you’ve got.

We bought some Clary Sage, Lavender and something else, I can’t remember. (I make my own now and sell it.) I bought a diffuser to put the oil mix in and sat it next to me on my end table in the living room. I wasn’t really pleased with the smell of Clary Sage (not a personal favorite), but she told me to suck it up and just deal with it. I diffused every night after work and every night while I was sleeping. I noticed a difference in the recurrence of the hot flashes after the first couple of days. Then they slowed down much more noticeably and after three weeks, they were gone. That’s about the same time length a pharmaceutical medicine would have taken, but this was all natural. I was shocked!

Now I had to call my daughter and tell her she was right, oh the horror! Her response was “SEE I TOLD YOU!” After she was done with her rightful boasting session, she told me that essential oils do so much more and she really wished I would just listen to her. <insert rolling of my eyes> I responded with telling her I would have loved it if she had listened to me growing up or even now, but does she? No. Not only no, but hell no. We both laughed, but it stuck with me there had to be something about this aromatherapy thing.

The next month I had called my girlfriend Trisha to catch up with her and see how she was doing. Life hadn’t been easy for her and I just wanted to check on her. I mentioned the essential oil thing to her and she started prattling on about how many oils she uses on a daily basis. What the hell?? Was I the only one not aware of this? Trisha was honest and said she didn’t think I’d be open to it so she just never told me. That made me take a step back. Was I really that closed off to new things? The answer was yes. I had become one of the things I never wanted to be: Closed-minded.

I asked Trisha to explain more to me so we decided to get together for a dinner. She lived in Indiana and I lived in Ohio. We were only about 2 hours away from each other so we met in the middle. She spent the whole time talking to me about oils and other things she liked. I thought she was crazy for most of it, but I was willing to listen about the oils. Baby steps man. You can’t expect me to believe in the great beyond when I’m just learning about essential oils LOL. There was only so much my mind could handle.

I started doing research and discovered so much more than I ever thought possible. I signed up to be a Young Living rep and quickly discovered it wasn’t really the right path for me. Yes I loved oils at this point, but not the business model. Through more research and diligence, I discovered you can actually take a class to become a Certified Aromatherapist. I signed Trisha and I up for the class and let Trisha know. It was her birthday weekend and she was all for it!

In April of 2016, Trisha and I became certified through the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, level 1 Certified Aromatherapists.

What happened during that weekend is a whole different blog post.

Peace and Blessed Be.

**Creek’s name was changed to protect her true identity.

From Bitch to Witch in just 48 short years!

You too can change in just 48 years, seriously it shouldn’t have taken that long, but I’m a wee bit stubborn and I don’t really listen well.

I grew up going to the First Baptist Church of Fairborn where my Granny went for many, many years. My brothers and I were put on a church bus every Sunday morning for a long time. We would sing songs on the bus and I’d get to go to Sunday School. No parents were on the bus, but they did have some chaperones. (This was the 70’s afterall.) Every now and then I’d get lucky and actually see my Granny at church and that’s really why I was happy to go. I was baptized on January 15th, 1980 and I remember this day like it was yesterday. I wanted my Granny to beam with pride from the congregation. However, my beloved Papaw was too sick for her to leave the house so she stayed with him. I was 10 years old at the time and didn’t really understand what the commitment meant, but a whole lot of people kept saying they were proud of me. Getting positive attention at the age of 10 was something I really desired so I was happy these people were proud of me.

Shortly thereafter, my mom started dating a man who went to a church near Miamisburg. Now, I have tried like the dickens to remember the name of this church, but I cannot and it’s probably for the better to be honest with you. My mom and I started going to this church with him and his younger children who lived at home. My mom eventually got engaged to this man who was very active in his church at the time. We went every weekend, much to my chagrin. My mom would make me wear a dress (oh the horror LOL), but I agreed on one condition. I had to be able to wear my ball cap too. She gave in and allowed me to do this so I looked presentable. I never did understand why jeans and a t-shirt weren’t ok for Church. Did God love me less because I wasn’t wearing a dress? I was told not to ask such silly questions. I really did like this church because it was much smaller than the last one and the people were much friendlier to us. Everyone remembered my name and I enjoyed class. I even got to help carry candles for service and light them. Man I was special!

Things happen in relationships and my mom and this gentlemen broke off the engagement. The following week my mom and I showed up at the church. I was happy to be able to go, but a little sad because if he was there I wouldn’t be able to sit with him and his children. I loved him. My dad lived in Florida and I never got to see him. He stepped in as my dad and spent time with me. He also had children I loved very much just like my own siblings. Anyway, my mom and I showed up at church and I will never, ever forget this moment for as long as I live. The Reverend came outside with his pasty white skin and thinning dark hair with his robes on and met my mother and I on the church steps. He explained very politely to us it would be much appreciated if we would find another place of worship. It wasn’t appropriate for us to show up there after the break-up of the engagement as it would be too painful for the gentlemen and his family. My mom said she had no desire to find someplace else. The Reverend immediately changed his tone and was very clear. “You are no longer welcome here. Please leave now.” I was devastated.

I had lost another father figure, siblings and now a church. If this is what religion is about, you can have it. I was done. I was forever tainted about Christianity from the moment on. As I got older, I tried different churches. I felt like my skin crawled every time I walked into one. I didn’t mesh with their ideology. One thing became very clear to me, I was not comfortable with being called a Christian.

In my early 30’s, I started researching and found out about Judaism. I took classes with our oldest daughter to convert to Judaism. My husband was raised Jewish so he wasn’t required to take the class with us and the other children weren’t over 13 so they didn’t have to either. When class was done and we graduated, it was time to become official. My husband and I along with all 4 children made our appointments for the mikvah and took our vow to the Jewish culture. Girls went first, then the boys (you never do this together, ever.) We celebrated Jewish holidays, shabbat every Friday, my kids went to hebrew school, all of it. It felt better than Christianity did, but still not right. Eventually I gave all of that up too. It didn’t fit.

Lost. I felt lost. Something was missing. I was tired of religion. I figured I was just different and alone and I’d never find my place.

On and off over the years I’d heard about Pagans and I distinctly remember the Christian view on it. I was so pre-programmed about all of the bad things about being a Pagan, that I never got to learn what it means TO BE a Pagan. The meaning of paganism is very simple and absolutely nothing I was taught: Paganism is term first used in the fourth century by early Christianity for populations of the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population or because they were not militates Christi (soldiers of Christ). It has evolved over the years to now mean simply this: polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion. Pagans pray to and respect different deities of many different pantheons (including Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Ganesha, etc) and they worship nature. Pagans see the absolute beauty in nature. Everything has a spirit: trees, rocks, blades of grass, animals. If it’s in nature, it has a spirit.

I am a Pagan, specifically a shamanistic witch. There are so very many different types of paganism too. The list goes on and on so I was amazed at this! I had to figure out what type of pagan I was (however, I had a little extra help from a friend who clued me in).

I believe nature has many lessons it can teach us about life. There is a balance to everything. The hawk eats a mouse as a way of survival. The mouse has then learned it needs to become much more calculated in its way of thinking so it doesn’t get easily eaten. It finds ways to search for food so it doesn’t become prey. Hawk teaches us that by flying above and looking down we need to be able to see the whole picture before we make a decision. Just because that chicken looks good enough to eat, is it too heavy to carry? Are there predators nearby to watch out for? If you just sit peacefully in nature and watch, there’s so much more to learn. So many lessons which could benefit people on how to treat each other.

This is a religion which makes sense to me. It is absolutely not how I was raised, in fact I was raised to believe anyone who don’t worship Jesus Christ will go to hell. I do not believe that. I believe there is a place in the world for every religion. Everyone serves a purpose to keep the balance in life. You cannot have too much light or too much dark. Yin and Yang. This is the true balance of life.

We each carry light and dark in our hearts. It’s how you harness that energy which will separate you between good and evil.

This is a very short synapses of how I became pagan. I’m actually looking forward to writing about how I’ve healed my heart and moved on to some amazing things in my life.

Thank you for joining me.

Peace and Blessed Be.

 

It Takes a Village People… like it or not.

There is a saying that goes “It takes a village to raise a child.” There is a reason this saying exists. When life was much more simple and humans were more interested in other people rather than a damn phone, tablet or a TV, people looked out for each other. When a woman bore a child, the village women would help her. They would cook for her, help clean her home and help teach her how to raise that child. The entire village was invested in the well-being of the young which had been brought into the world. As the babe grew, neighbors would continue to help. Families helped to raise each others children. Families were large and often required more than just two people to handle it all.

Children were put to work fairly early even with school duties because farms needed tending to, logs needed split, animals needed fed. There wasn’t an enormous amount of free time for a child to sit around and dawdle. Now I’m not saying no one got in trouble, I’m just saying it gave them less time to get into trouble. Men worked outside the home and the females took care of the home. This came with its own set of issues because women weren’t always valued for the true blessings they were to a family. However, if a female was mistreated, often times other men of the village would step in and handle business. Just be patient with me, I’m getting to the point.

As a society, humans eventually started to not like other people butting into their business so they moved to other cities where no one would know who they were. Technology came along like electricity, phones and other modern conveniences. Women learned they could have less children. It became easier to move away from your support group.

If the village has dissipated, who helps the single mom of 3 children care for those children, work a full-time job outside the home, feed those children and make sure they have clothes and all of their necessities? You are now left with a stressed out mother who just wants a moments peace. Rather than her finding that moments peace, it exasperates her situation and she becomes more mentally agitated than she needs to be. Who suffers? EVERYONE SUFFERS. The mom suffers, the children suffer… it’s a no win situation, unless you can afford a Nanny and trust me, that ain’t the norm.

When does society finally decide to actually start caring about other people and helping out those families who are in distress? No one is saying you need to hand over thousands of dollars to someone, but if you see a person struggling, give them a hand. If you see a stressed out child, ask the parent is there anything you can do to lend a hand. BE THE CHANGE WE NEED TO SEE IN THE WORLD. Don’t be a fucking ostrich and bury your head and pretend it’ll all go away.

Hunger is here in the United States. We keep sending money to other countries. FEED US. FEED YOUR LOCAL CHILDREN. Do you not think the parents of hungry children are stressed out? It leads to physical abuse, mental abuse and so much more. If my mom’s parents hadn’t owned a farm, I truly don’t know how I would have eaten as a child. The majority of our food came from that farm and we worked for it. Snapped beans, shucked corn, dug potatoes. I swear that root cellar with the potatoes used to make me puke it stunk so bad. However, I am grateful it existed because it fed me.

I keep money in my car so when I see someone on the street with a sign asking for money, I have money to give. I used to be so judgmental and think “Oh you just want it for drugs.” As a recovering addict, I fight with my inner self on this. What did I decide? I decided, who the hell am I? Who am I to judge someone else? I am no one. Maybe that $5 I hand over is going to go for drugs, but maybe, just maybe they’re hungry and that $5 just bought them some warm food. Give it FREELY with NO EXPECTATIONS.

America expects. I call bullshit. Learn to love openly and unconditionally. If you are donating, it’s called a donation for reason. You gave it willingly. Your end of the deal is now complete. Walk away proud of yourself and pray that the receiver will do the right thing. You don’t get to decide what their karma should be. Mind your own karma.

I have debated many times if I want to continue to write this blog. I haven’t written anything in about 6 weeks. Sorting through how I feel about my childhood and my early adult life has been difficult for me. I have biological family members who have accused me of being selfish, pointing the finger at everyone but me, being egotistical and the list goes on. I let it deter me for a while because I felt I needed to examine my motive for writing this blog. Was it really to just point fingers at someone else and say “Look at what you did!” Or, did I start writing this blog because I was tired of putting my dirty laundry under the carpet which had become so lumpy, I couldn’t walk on the carpet anymore?

It’s none of those things. I started writing it because I give a shit about other people. I want other women and men to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. That’s my message, that’s my reason. If my reasoning pisses you off and you want to yell at me, have at it. Perhaps you need to examine your own damn life and figure out why you’re getting so pissed off about what I wrote. Perhaps you have your own behavior to look at.

And so, here I am writing again. And it feels damn good.

The Truly Bad 4-Letter F-word

FEAR! This word to me is far worse than saying, reading or hearing the word fuck. I mean, seriously. Fear can stop you in your tracks. It can alter the course of your path for a minute, a day or a lifetime. Fear can stop you from taking chances which could propel you forward in life. Fear of the unknown can you keep in a stalemate. Fear of a spider? Can make you stop your car in traffic and jump out yelling like a crazy person. (Yes, I do know people who have done this.) Fear of the dark? You refuse to go into a dark basement until every light is on and even then you wonder what’s lurking in the shadows. Why do we do these things ourselves? Humans have a need to feel safe.

When we walk in safety, we are comfortable with life. We may not be happy, but we are comfortable because it’s what we know. We have a routine which we become accustomed to and we know what to expect. The flip side to this is, we also stunt ourselves emotionally within the confines of safety by not allowing ourselves to grow.

I thought I had a fear of writing about my life and the experiences I’ve had. I’ve met so many other women who’ve had similar experiences and when we share stories, I’ve shared with them I’ve always wanted to write about it so others like us would know they were not alone. They’ve all said to me “You should write about it. I’m too afraid to do it.” It’s always easier to be on the sidelines than on the field in your gear ready to take a hit. And to be honest, it wasn’t really the fear of writing we were worried about at all, but the fear of how our biological families would react to WHAT we were going write about. Yes most of the family members already knew the stories, but confronting them with it in black and white is a different story. How well was that going to go over? Not very well. I knew that going in. I am tired of standing on the sidelines. I’m geared up and ready.

I’m making a different choice now to confront my fear and with that choice comes a consequence. I am losing relationships with biological family members. I have exposed the things which we do not speak of. Did I expect this? Yes.  Is it a surprise? Nope, not in the least. Here’s the biggest question: Have these people loved and supported me no matter what my decisions have been my entire life? The biggest answer: No, they loved me as long as I did what they wanted me to do.

This is a huge epiphany for me. So huge it didn’t even occur to me until I was writing this and figured it out. I’ve said and done things my entire life that I didn’t agree with to make others happy so I would feel loved. This is an admission of guilt. I’ve said horrible things about people I truly loved because it made a biological family member happy. That was MY choice. No one forced me to do this. I allowed others opinions to become my own. I was the weak one. I now choose to stand in my truth and it takes strength, but it can also be physically very lonely. However, as I walk down this road I know I am not emotionally alone. I have spirit guides, guardian angels and family I’ve chosen who do love me for exactly who I am. I am no longer responsible for carrying someone else’s shitty pickles. I am standing with my head held high knowing that I made a different choice. I chose peace and happiness. I chose to claim in my responsibility and forgive myself so I can move forward and grow.

Here is my truth. I have been married four times to four different men. I have 4 children with 3 different men. One of those 3 men I wasn’t even married to. How’s that for airing some dirty laundry? I was very embarrassed about this for years. I’m not any longer. I have remorse for the trail of pain I left behind.

First marriage: 4 months beginning to end. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten married. I apologize to you husband #1. I knew it wasn’t right when we got married and I did it anyway. I accept my responsibility for not putting any effort whatsoever into the relationship and for being willing to walk away so easily.

Father of child #1 – I am sorry I lead you on after she was first born and allowed you to believe there would be a relationship because there was a child involved. I really and truly wanted her to be raised with biological father because I hadn’t been raised with mine. I know I hurt you and I apologize.

Second marriage: 8 months living together, 2+ years total on paper in marriage. There will never be enough words in the English language to tell you how deeply sorry I am for hurting you. I loved you the only way I knew how at the age of 20 & 21. It was far less than you deserved.

Third marriage and father of child #2 and #3 – I am sorry for the part my behavior played in our divorce. I could have been a much better wife and that wasn’t fair to you. I gave all of my love and attention to our children instead. I could have made more time to nurture our relationship.

Fourth marriage and father of child #4 – You’re my favorite asshat in the world. I’ve apologized to you for many things over the years. Marrying you, I will never be sorry for that. We have worked extremely hard at keeping our marriage together including living in two different states for 3 years and stage 4 throat cancer. I will be damned if I’m going to allow my human ego or my pride to wreck this one. I love you with a depth in which mere words could never express it appropriately.

To anyone reading this post if you made it this far:

When you feel alone in this world, please know you are not. With each blog post I write, I lose another friend or family member, but I also gain 2 friends who choose to become family. Family is everything to me. I will hold on tight and love you all til my dying breath.

Peace be with you as it is with me.

Trauma Is Not Just Physical Pain

The definition of trauma is (1) a deeply distressing or disturbing experience or (2) physical injury. When I’ve talked to people about trauma I’ve experienced in my lifetime, they automatically assume it was all physical traumas. There was physical trauma, but what about the emotional trauma? Just because someone didn’t hit me physically doesn’t mean I didn’t experience a pain so deep in my soul it changed who I was forever.

The majority of my specific trauma all happened by the age of 15. After that, I was pretty much a self-serving bitch because I’d had enough of people thinking I was a pushover. I was no longer willing to allow my throat chakra to stay closed and swallow down anymore bullshit for anyone. I said what I wanted, how I wanted and outwardly I didn’t really care what anyone thought of me. When I was alone and quiet I would think about the pain I may have caused someone. It was in those moments I decided I was more like my favorite book/movie character, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, more affectionately known as Scarlett. I always thought to myself “After all, tomorrow is another day.” The translation to this is… I’m not going to think about that right now, which Scarlett said regularly. To her, the end goal was all that mattered and whomever she had to stomp on in the meantime was just going to have to deal.

As human beings walking around with a lot of baggage in our hearts, we often say and do things out of anger or when we are under the influence we would not normally say. In a normal, unaltered state we avoid saying and doing these same things. You know those moments when you’re out and you’ve had a drink and wind up telling the hot guy/girl you’ve been eyeing up all night that you’re attracted to them. There’s a reason alcohol is called liquid courage. It lowers our inhibitions and our guarded protection over our hearts. Feelings we have in an unaltered state we would never allow out start to flow freely. Sometimes we remember stating these feelings and sometimes we do not. Anger can cause much the same reaction. It’s like a switch was flipped and the electrical current is no longer being controlled and stuff just starts flying with no grounding to trigger it to stop. Then comes the electrical shock.

I remember this moment as if it was yesterday; I don’t think I was any more than 6 years old. My parents were getting a divorce and my world was upside down so I wasn’t sleeping well. My father had always rocked me to sleep and with that gone, my routine changed (insert a huge aha moment literally just now as I write this for why I had routine based OCD). My mother had been out for the night and I could tell by the smell alcohol was involved. I have a very sensitive nose, always have and I can pick up that smell very quickly. I remember being scared because I woke up in the middle of the night and went to crawl in bed with her, but she wasn’t there so I went back to my bed. When she did finally come home, I tossed back the covers and my little bare feet hit ground again. I walked towards her room holding my Mrs. Beasley doll (which I still have) and there stood my mom facing away from me. I asked her where she had been because I was scared. She turned around and looked at me and she said a few things but the only one I remember hearing was this “If you had never been born, your father and I would still be married.”

As a 48 year old woman who has been through a divorce, I understand why my mother felt that way. She was hurt, going through a lot and there was alcohol involved. I did ask her about this statement once when I was in my 30’s, but she has absolutely no recollection of ever saying it. I believe that. My own children tell me things I’ve said and I do not remember saying them. It doesn’t mean their feelings about it aren’t valid. That one sentence from my mother, something she doesn’t even remember, had affected me for most of my life. I truly believed I was responsible for their marriage falling apart. I was immediately and deeply saddened. I lost a piece of my soul that night.

As an adult, I can tell you having someone blame me for anything was a huge trigger for my anger to come out, especially when I knew it wasn’t my responsibility. PHEW! Boy howdy would I react violently. I’d throw cordless phones (went through 4 in one year) and I would reach into the depths of my mind to find the weakness of my accuser and I would use it against the person. If they were going to hurt me, I’d show them a thing or two. I was reacting to what was in my view, a huge injustice. In the end, I feel like what I did was worse because it was intentional. I had some serious self-forgiveness to do. I still don’t like being blamed for something which I know isn’t my fault, but I don’t get angry anymore. I’m not going to keep trying to convince someone of something I know I didn’t do. Either you believe me or you don’t. It’s that simple for me.

I step through the triggers instead of allowing them to consume me.

Peace be with you.

Shelley

Moments Which Begin to Define Us

As the child of a single mother in the 70’s, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom playing alone. During the summer months my mother couldn’t afford to pay a baby sitter, much less send us off to summer camp. My brothers were 5 and 7 years older than me so they didn’t really need a babysitter, they were the built-in babysitters. In retrospect, I am able to see that due to circumstances beyond our control they were in the position of having to care for their little sister. Teenage boys would much prefer to hang out and have fun with their friends. My brothers Constantine and Rinaldo were not any different.

Their friends who would spend a lot of time at our house while Mother was at work. Since I was the youngest and the only girl around, I was the designated sandwich maker and drink go-getter. Demanding boys! I remember how much time my brother’s had to spend with me because our Mom was working. I can’t imagine how much it bothered them to always have their little sister with them. I felt like a burden and I certainly didn’t always like getting dragged around to go visit girlfriends when we were not supposed to be leaving the house. However, Rinaldo’s theory on life was that if I did the same thing they did then I couldn’t tell Mother because I’d get in the same amount of trouble as them. I have to hand it to Rinaldo, the boy was a genius (and still is, literally. Super high IQ). I completely believed him and just went along with it.

Most of my brother’s friends were nicer to me than my brothers, but then again I wasn’t their little sister who tattled on them all of the time either. There was one boy who about a year older than Rinaldo who just scared me. Being around him was uncomfortable and I didn’t like to be left alone in a room with him. I remember him with a dark aura around him and he almost always had on a khaki military jacket. One time during the summer he was in the living room and had asked me to make him a sandwich. My brothers were not around and it was just the two of us in the living room. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. After I was done making it, I brought him the sandwich and he ran one of his hands up the back of my left leg on the bare skin. I instantly became very aware that I was a little girl and he was a male much bigger than me. I already knew what that kind of touch meant and no way did I want that happening at my own home. No 2nd grader should have to feel that uncomfortable around her brother’s friends. I ran away from him and made sure I was never in the same room with him again. Nothing else happened with him. He just stopped coming over after a while and I was very grateful. (As an aside, before I wrote this post I googled his name and discovered he’s been arrested several times for crimes against women such as battery and stalking. I was very fortunate.)

I used to have some serious issues with claustrophobia. The kind where if you got up in my face, my fight or flight instinct would take over and I’d start swinging regardless of how much I liked you. Why did I have claustrophobia you ask? Well, let me tell you! Mother was very clear “no one in, no one out.” It was a standing rule when she wasn’t home, a rule which was frequently broken by Rinaldo and Constantine. This one specific day during the summer, my brothers and their friends wanted to get high and didn’t want the pest (aka me) around to witness it. I got locked in my bedroom closet and was told I wasn’t allowed to come out until they came to get me. PS, hours later I was still in the closet. Mother came home and I heard her ask “Where is Maria?” My brother Constantine came running to my room and opened my closet door. He told me I better not say a word and pretend like everything was normal or else. So like a good little girl, I obeyed and shut up.

It’s taken me 40 years to get over being claustrophobic. It’s taken me 40 years to deal with all of the moments where I had to “be a good little girl.” Think about what you say to the younger generation. You are forming the adults they will become. I used those moments as lessons to teach me to what I didn’t want to become as an adult, but not everyone makes that decision. Many times bad behavior is repeated.

The next time you see someone with OCD or with a phobia, before you criticize them verbally or even in your own head, think twice. Ask yourself, what happened to them during their lifetime to cause the issue. It’s much better to see the issue through their eyes rather than your own.

Who are you to judge?

I am just me.

Shelley