It’s Not The Race, It’s The Finish Line.

So I switched things up a bit with school. Now that I have the twins every day, I had to re-think my schedule. The final couple of courses I needed to finish up would have forced me to extend things a bit…and I really didn’t want that, especially seeing that come the end of May, I’m going to be saying so long to New York and heading home to Tennessee. J YAY!! And so, anyways, I did some thinking and looked over a few things and decided to switch my major to a more general liberal arts degree, with a focus in humanities. It worked out since I already have the majority of the credits I need for the degree anyhow. So I’m finishing up the remaining few credits and will be completely done come graduation in May. And even better, I’m doing all the work online, so it doesn’t interfere with me watching the boys for my sister. It’s already one week in and I’m not going to lie—what with my consulting work, school, AND playing nanny to two VERY energetic (but loveable as all get out) 3-year-old little boys 5 days out of the week—it’s absolutely insane…but it’ll be worth it. Just a few more months and I’ll have what I want. A big part of that is that I’ll FINALLY have this degree out of the way. I never imagined when I went back to finish up that there’d be all these hiccups along the way…but such is life. And now, the hard part is over.


It’s not about the degree. I don’t need it to do what I do. But having it feels nice. I know that when I decided to back and finish up, it was more for my family than for myself. I know I really let them down when I first decided to walk away from the Ivy League path they’d envisioned for me. I don’t think they would have been nearly as disappointed if I’d told them the truth about why I left. If I’d told them that I’d gotten messed up with the wrong guy and caught in a really unhealthy, dangerous situation—they’d have been completely supportive. Well…I think they’d have gone off the rails a bit first and did something crazy like send my brother out to rough a certain someone up a bit, or have my sister call up the Dean and demand that the situation be rectified. Well, technically, my sister did end up doing something along those lines. She called up the school and actually requested a meeting with the Dean of Students himself. When I found out, I was of course, livid and literally had to beg her to stay out of it. My thought process at the time was that I felt like I’d been humiliated enough. I didn’t need or want my big sister or any member of my family to come swooping in and trying to fix the mess I’d made like they always did. After almost a year and a half of covering up bruises, making countless excuses, and constantly feeling as if I was walking on eggshells, I felt completely hopeless. Honestly, I think I just a reached the point to where nothing mattered anymore. I was tired of the pain—both physical and emotional—and of feeling like nothing I did or said was ever going to make it better. It’s not so much that I wanted to die as it was that I no longer cared if I did or didn’t. I think a part of me would have taken death as a relief. Sad and pathetic, I know.


In hindsight, I now realize just how ridiculously messed up that whole situation was. I was stupid to stay; stupid to believe him when he apologized and swore it’d never happen again…until the next time when it did. I was even more stupid for letting him run me out of school, for making me feel like I had no other choice but to go. For making me feel like it was somehow my fault, so I had to be the one to leave. I hate that I gave him that much power over me, but what’s done is done. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and finishing what I started. At some point over the last few years, it stopped being about proving something to my family and instead became more about proving something to myself. I wanted to prove that I could do it…that I could finish. That I could do more and be more. I know that I can do this. And I’m going to. For ME and for the people in my life. Right now, I’m just focusing on the prize waiting for me at the end of all this: I get to go home. Back to my friends and the people that already feel like family to me. Back to long hikes in state parks, just me and my Canon. Back to the peace and quiet. Back to the city life. Back to where I belong. Back home.  ❤ 🙂

xoMESSIE

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Letters To Bug.

(    !! Fair Warning – this one is a long one !!   )

Was feeling a little nostalgic for the days and all the years gone by earlier…then this happened…



My oldest niece, Angelina, will be fourteen in April and all I can think is what the hell. It can’t be. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was kneeling on the living room floor, arms outstretched, stomach in knots and a lump in my throat as I held back the tears and watched her take those first few shaky steps towards me. So fourteen—it can’t be, and yet I’ve known it from that very moment on that she was going to be unstoppable. And she hasn’t let proven me wrong yet. She’s so smart and funny and sweet—and even when she’s being an absolute brat, I still love her to pieces. I really do. And while I’m so proud of the young woman that she’s becoming…part of me just wants to scoop her up in my arms and never let her go. To keep her thirteen forever –minus all the teenage angst and attitude, of course. It’s a silly wish, I know, but I wish it nonetheless. I just feel like if I blink, I’ll wake up and it’ll be the day she takes her road test, or her graduation day, or the day we send her off to college, or god forbid—her wedding day. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping she waits awhile on that last one. It’s not that I don’t want her to get married or anything. I do. Of course, I do. I just want her to take her time getting there, that’s all.


I want her to have some fun first…to go out with her friends and enjoy being an adult for a little while. Granted being an adult can be absolutely frustrating and just plain hell at times, but there are some perks—some advantages to be young and dumb AND legal. I want her to take a semester abroad and travel the world – to know that there’s so much more out there for her to see, explore, and experience – OUTSIDE of this little town. I want her to fly to all those places she’s seen/sees in the magazines and that she’s dreamt/dreams about visiting someday. She’s got that stubborn personality, that impulsive, independent, and recklessness about her—always has—that I recognize all too well. She’s not mine—I didn’t give birth to her—and yet, she’s like a miniature carbon copy of myself. I’m not so sure if that’s a good or bad thing yet…but time will tell.


What I truly want more than anything else for her…is for her to find love. I want her to fall in love, be it just the one time…or more than once. I want her to find a guy that doesn’t just tell her that he loves her…he proves it over in spades. I want her to find a guy that treats her right—one who doesn’t hold her back, step on her dreams, or put out that fire in her beautiful brown eyes. I want her to know excitement and to feel those little butterflies flapping their little wings around inside her—the kind that steals her breath and makes the rest of the world disappear. I want her to know love; to know that she IS worthy and deserving of that love. I want her to know the kind of selfless, all-in love that doesn’t leave her yearning for more or left out in the cold. While I don’t relish seeing her hurt, I want her to know heart-break. It’s not being harsh, it’s being practical and simple: You can’t fight, understand, or avoid something that you’ve never experienced. I want her to get her heart broken at least once, to experience that soul-crushing devastation that leaves you crying on your bathroom floor and wondering if any of it was even worth it. It’s hard—those life lessons you have to both live and learn from—because they’re lessons that we all – her included – must learn on our own. You have to walk and go through Hell to get to Heaven, as the saying goes, with love especially. And she’ll have those moments of weakness where she’ll do anything to make the pain go away…to just give up and throw it all away. But she’ll get through it and come out the other side a hell of a lot smarter – and a little less naïve—because of it. She’ll look and she’ll find that untapped strength and determination that makes my strengths look puny. I know she will. I don’t want her to have to live with the same regrets we all live through (for me, at least) when we put ourselves in situations that we’re set up to lose right from the very beginning when we fall for the wrong person. But if she does have them, I don’t want her to let those mistakes and regrets consume or define who she is. I want her to learn from the experience—good or bad—so she knows what and how to avoid repeating them down the road. Moreover, I want her to know that love isn’t perfect. Rather, it’s flawed with both good and bad. I want her to know that love doesn’t always work out—no matter the effort you and/or he might put in trying to save it and to make it work. I want her to learn to fight for what she wants—and to live her life the way she chooses, instead of listening to and letting everyone else live her life FOR her. I want her to never lose that free and independent spark of hers.


I want her to know that she shouldn’t and doesn’t need a guy to define or complete her. She’s better than that. I want her to stand strong, and fall apart, too (if that’s what it takes). I don’t want her to be embarrassed or ashamed by her feelings or emotions…or feel guilty or like she has to echo those three little words just because he’s ready and she isn’t; or because he says it and/or feels it and she doesn’t. I want her to keep that sparkle and light in her eyes, and to avoid the men that will put that fire and shine of hers out. I want her to know that she doesn’t have to stay…that she can leave at any point. I don’t want her to stay in a relationship that isn’t working because she feels she has to or that it’s expected of her…or because she’s afraid that people will judge her or condemn her choices or attack her sexuality and call her derogatory names because she’s moved on with someone else. I want her to know that the double standards on men sleeping around opposed to women having more than one sexual partners. As women, we hate it—but it is what it is, for now at least. I want her to know that she can try everything…to defend or hell, explain herself until she’s blue in the face…and there will always be that one person (if not others) that will be determined to tear her down with all their cruel assumptions and accusations and insults…but that she can’t let their negativity or their miserableness get in the way of HER happiness. There are just some people that are like that. You can try to understand it, but you’ll never succeed. That’s life. That’s people. You just have to take it with a grain of salt…or tequila, preferably.


I want to tell her to try her best to live only in the present. For her to know that it’s okay to forget, move on, and put the past behind her… and to not worry so much about what the future might bring. I want her to focus on all the moments—the good, the bad, the big, and the little ones. I want her take risks, to tests the limits, toe the lines, dream big, and fly high. So very, very high. But more than anything else, I just want her to be happy. Whether it’s in her work and the career she eventually chooses, or a lifestyle and hobbies, or finding the right guy—the one she thinks she could potentially see a “forever” with, standing side by side, both worthy and EQUAL in EVERY way. The deck is already stacked unfairly against her because she hasn’t had the best female role models in her life. My mother and my grams have had custody of her since she was 6 months old. Neither her mother or my brother have been around her very much. My brother’s been doing better and he’s been around more these last few years, but it doesn’t negate all the time that he should have been, and wasn’t. As for her mother, that woman is all over the place. Including my niece, she has 5 kids with 4 different fathers. She’s constantly going from one loser to the next. In the past few years, I think she’s been “engaged” like 3 times—with different people. She doesn’t even have her other 4 kids…and the youngest one is barely a year old. My nephew lives in the boonies with her mother, and the others are each with their respective fathers or relatives of the father. How you can feel no shame in coming and going in and out of your children’s lives, letting others raise and care for them…is a mystery to me. She likes to say that she’s settled down…but she’s a little off on the definition of “settled down” I think. She might not party as hard as she used to, but if she really had cleaned up her act as she claims to have, then she’d be a mother to her kids. But she’s not. I know it bothers my niece that her parents aren’t around a whole lot—she’s at that age—just as I was—when I really started to wonder where my father was and why he wasn’t in my life. I’m sure she’s wondering the same. She plays it cool, but you can tell it bothers her. It took me a long time–even longer to accept—before I finally came to the realization that people are where they want to be. If they love you and really care, they’d move mountains to be there, with you. But some moms and dads are just wired wrong and missing that maternal/paternal instinct. It’s not always entirely their fault, I know. But even so, the majority of the blame is on them.


They’re the ones that brought you into this cruel, unforgiving world and for –essentially—abandoning the kid at the world’s door step. My mother was like that—still is, in fact. With my mother, men always came/come first and my brother, sister, and I second. She hasn’t changed at all over the years. My niece’s mother is like that. What’s sad is that I know what my niece is going through…how she’s feeling. Like myself, she knows how to put on a convincing front and pretend that everything is great—even when it’s not. Same as her, I tend to keep people from getting too close—mostly because I’ve blindly put my trust in people I shouldn’t have…and it almost always ends up coming back to bite me in the ass—some way, somehow. Always. Without fail. Admittedly, my method isn’t the healthiest of coping methods as far as coping methods go, but it works for me. Shutting down and shutting people out is what I do best—but then again, I’ve spent all these years perfecting the art of deflection. That, and leaving. I’m used to people leaving. People always leave. And the unspoken pain that goes along with it. I know she has to find out for herself that life isn’t always fair…and that some people really suck. I’ve been in her shoes. And when the time comes for her (which it most certainly will) I want to be there to reassure her and remind her of that “this too, shall pass” adage and whatnot. I didn’t have the amazing, loving support system that she has when I was her age. I didn’t have anyone really — my family was busy, distracted and just plain clueless to notice me, let alone offer any reassurance or protection from the dangers of the big, bad, old world out there. It was just me. No one else. And it was fucking hard. And it still is at times. I want my niece to experience and eventually learn for herself that life isn’t all puppies and rainbows. Sometimes, life really, really, REALLY sucks. Unfortunately, there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. You don’t have options, you have a choice…and it isn’t always an easy choice to make, no matter how right it may or may not feel or be. I want her to know that it’s okay if she doesn’t have a 5-year-plan or know just yet exactly what she wants to do in life or who she wants to be. She might not see it—in fact, I’m sure she doesn’t. After all, I was a 13-year-old kid myself once upon a time, and contrary to what she’s convinced herself of and loves to remind me, that wasn’t all that long ago. And I’m not as old as she makes me out to be. Hell, I’m not even 30, but the way she talks about my age, you’d think I was ancient or something. That’s my mean. She’s such a brat. A spectacular one, but still…a brat.


I’d give her the world if I could. That is, I can’t give her ALL of it. I can at least give her some of it. Even at that, it seems a small consolation—if it’s any consolation at all. All things considered. And I’ll be honest, just the thought of her growing up in this hot mess that we call the world – well, it scares the living shit out of me. I know the day will come when she won’t need me to always be here—and even though it’s going to absolutely break my heart when that moment comes—there’s not going to be any postponing…on any level. It’s going to happen. She’s going to grow up. She’s going to leave to find herself, and along with it– the answers to all the questions she’s always had or may have down the road.


Only 4 more years. Four short years that are probably going to be some of the last I have with her…you know, before she gets bit by that travel bug, marries someone, and has little ones of her own. I can’t stop her from growing up, but I can give her the advice and encouragement she might need one day, that she’ll need on that day—when she takes flight and doesn’t look back—for the most part—only forward and straight ahead. I know that she’s going to be amazing because she’s already amazing. And beautiful. And talented. She’s sassy and one-of-a-kind…she’s going to be an incredible human being, that’s for sure – more than she already is and that I could ever imagine. And I’ll be her greatest fan, truest friend, and her loudest cheerleader—always. One thing I know for sure is that she’s always going to my Little Bean (my nickname for her) no matter how old she is and gets to. 13 or 33…she’s still ours. For now, I just hope she realizes the value of being careful and sure cognizant of her vulnerabilities AND of time. She’s too young yet to know just how quickly time passes and that it all goes a hell of a lot faster than she’s even probably aware right now. If I can, I want to be someone she can look up to, that she trusts…and trust isn’t something that grows overnight. It takes time, not just to build that trust, but to cultivate it and allow it the time it needs to reach its maximal and greatest potential. On that same coin, however, life really can happen in the blink of an eye. If you take too much advantage of something or someone, if you’re not watching or you aren’t careful enough…you can miss some of the very best parts, without meaning to. And that would be an absolute, damn shame.


angelina-loose-french-braid So in tribute to my Little Bean (who’s not so little anymore) and the little girl that stole my heart 13 some odd years ago in seconds … I just hope she keeps on dancing. My wish for her is to find all the happiness in the world and all the opportunities this crazy, beautiful, frustrating world has to offer. She makes me proud to be her aunt. I’m the lucky one. Truly. I hope that when life gets hard, she just remembers what I’ve told her since she was little…

“Dream big…

Soar high…

Never question fate or ask why…

And never, ever be afraid to fall

Or fly…”

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xoMESSIE

You Should Be Here…

Today was Avie’s birthday. She’s six years old already—yeah, it’s crazy. Where does the time go? Seriously. Where. Does. It. Go. Seems like it was just yesterday that I was sitting on those big blue foam mats in the kids’ playroom at my Gram’s, watching roll around until she ran out of room, and thinking “she’s mobile”. And in the next moment thinking “oh no, it’s starting”—pretty soon she’ll be walking and those gummy smiles and baby babble will turn into words—and that once the words started, there’d be no stopping her. Six years and I wasn’t wrong. She’s a little spitfire, that one. She just doesn’t stop…the talking, the running around, the attitude, the energy…it doesn’t stop. She’ll talk your ear off with that Southern accent of hers…which we can’t for the life of us figure out where she got it from. She’s all sass and Miss. I-Do-What-I-Want, so much so that it gets on your nerves sometimes, and other times when you can’t help but smile at her dramatics. She’s fiercely independent, and grows more so with each passing day (Gee, I wonder who she gets that from… lol). Six years ago she came into this world and she’s been a light in our lives ever since. That little girl, she changed me. Hell, she saved me.


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Her birthday’s always a little bittersweet, though. My grandfather’s—or Papa, as we called him—birthday is the day before hers. He would have been 78 this year. Sadly, he never even made it to 61. Cancer. He fought a courageous battle with it for years…but ultimately he lost. I still think about it and him some times. Of what could have been and never was. I think about him now and wonder if he’d be proud of the woman I’ve become, of all my accomplishments and successes. I think about how different everything would be if he’d lived. For the most part, he was really the only male/ father figure I’d had growing up. Sure, my actual father was still there in the background with his child support checks and maybe a call or two every few years or so, if that. But my grandfather was actually there. Physically. Emotionally. I was only 12 when he died, but I felt the loss of him, all the same. I have these little snippets of memories here and there : of him picking us up from school, taking us for ice cream when we’d had a bad day or just because or even the smell of that old beat-up, brown car he used to drive and how he’d let me sit up front in the middle and play any old cassette tape that I wanted. He spoiled us—all of us—rotten, but it was out of love. He was the one who started my collection of Beanie Babies (remember those anyone?? Lol) and add to it every chance he got. Even when he was sick and weak and on the very cusp of his final moments, he stood in line and waited with me for hours at a convention just to buy 2 Beanie Babies. Though he was in pain, he never complained or said “that’s it kid, pack it up, we’re leaving”. Though I wish now that he had. Maybe it’d alleviate some of the guilt I felt then with him dying no more than a week afterwards. I was 12. I blamed myself, convinced that his decline had something to do with my having him stand in that line all those hours despite his pain, despite the fact that his circulation and legs were so bad he could hardly walk. Looking back at that 12 year old girl, I know that rationally, it wasn’t my fault. It was the cancer that had invaded, overwhelmed, and weakened his body. It was the cancer that ripped him out of our lives before we were even ready to lose him. The cancer was to blame.


*Papa*
                         *PAPA*

It’s bittersweet, but it makes me smile to think of what he would have thought about the kids. He’d have loved them and spoiled them to pieces, no doubt. Just as he did us. That Avie of ours would have given him a run for his money, that’s for sure. And of course, they’d have him wrapped around his little finger from the very start. Without a doubt they would have.


The kids have a tradition of buying birthday balloons for their “Papa” in heaven. Sometimes they’ll write a little note on theirs to him, then let them all go—convinced that when they disappear from view, that’s a sign that Papa reached down from heaven and took them all.


I don’t do that God and heaven and hell stuff. I can’t just survive on blind faith, as they seem to so easily do. I have to have tangible proof in my hand, physical evidence to back up a claim of any kind—much to my grams’ horror and outrage. She can’t believe the little girl she’d bring to church every Sunday—who literally grew up in the church—would turn out to be such an outspoken atheist. But I did. And a lot of it has to do with my grandfather’s death. I just couldn’t justify some invisible higher power—whom people claim to be “loving” and “all-knowing”—putting my grandfather what he went through. Allowing him to suffer as he did. Taking him before he had a chance to meet his beautiful great-grandchildren. Is that the will of a “loving” God? I don’t think it is. When no one could give me a good enough reason as to why my grandfather…I guess I just eventually stopped asking. I wasn’t going to find the answers I needed in some book or hymn or The Bible, so I stopped looking. Still, I go along with the kids. It’s harmless, I guess. And they’ll eventually grow up like I did and they’ll have that some choice to ask themselves and the world. I don’t want to burst their bubbles. If they say there’s a god…and that heaven is real…then it must be true, at least to them. I want them to have faith (not necessarily religion), in whichever shape it comes in. It’ll ground them, I think. And the way the world is right now—how it’ll be for them, I have a pretty good feeling that they’re going to need it. Hell, we ALL are gonna need it.

xoMESSIE


Our Skeletons.

I’m going back. To Nashville. I’m going HOME. Yes, because that IS what Nashville is to me, it’s HOME. Not here. Not anymore. A home is a place where you feel loved and protected and safe and wanted. And I don’t feel any of those things here. I should. My family is here. And therein lies the whole of the matter. There’s this saying that goes “…sometimes it’s funny that the people you’d take a bullet for, are the ones pulling the trigger.” It’s true. With my family, it is SO true. My “family”.


You know, there was a time when I would have gone to bat for any one of them, no questions asked. A time when I actually believed they were good, loving people. When I would have said that while “sure, they’re a bit dysfunctional, but what family isn’t” and defended them to others…to myself. Growing up, I didn’t really think much of the dysfunction, you know? It was just the norm. The fighting, the secrets, the cops being called on nearly every holiday or family get-together. I ignored it, hid it. On some level, I think I was probably ashamed of it. I mean, our house wasn’t the place for birthday parties where you invited your friends from school or sleepovers. There was just too much yelling and drama for that. The older I got and the more skeletons that came out of the woodwork—the more I realized just how selfish and callous and oblivious they could be. I finally started to see these people for who and what they really were. My grandmother—the woman I’d pretty much looked up to and idolized my whole life—I saw her for the controlling narcissist that she is. She’s the matriarch of the family, through and through. Right down to who holds the reins and what is and/or isn’t. She’s spent her whole life raising kids. She loves kids. It’s the ones out of pull-ups and grade school that have opinions of their own that she despises. Oh, how she loathes anyone and everyone who dares to even breathe a word in opposition to her. Heaven forbid she’s ever wrong about anything. And my mother—well, she wasn’t much of an enigma. I’d figured her out long before the training bras came off, so to speak. I guess that happens when you’re five-years-old and you wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream and Mommy’s nowhere to be found…so you go to the window and watch her getting in the car and leave with whatever guy she happened to be seeing at the time. And while you’d like to say that it only happened once, you can’t. Because time and time again, she put you and your siblings in the 2nd priority slot and never the first. It’s hard when you’re little, you know? You’re five. You don’t understand why your Mommy would rather be with some man and not you. You don’t know why you aren’t good enough, or what you didn’t do for her to love you enough. You blame yourself. As you get older, the clouds lift and everything starts to look a hell of a lot clearer. You start to blame yourself less. You realize that it’s not—that it’s her. And part of you feels sorry for her—because she must be sick or at the very least have something wrong with her to be so cold and disinterested in her own child. But the other part of you—that’s the part that gets angry because you’re not a kid anymore. You know that the decisions she’s making are exactly those…decisions. Choices. A deliberate and conscious effort and action. That what she’s doing is wrong and unfair. You know it and you want her to know it…but you know it’s pointless because in the end, it’s not going to change who she is. That that is who she is. And all you can do is accept it and move on and hope like hell that you didn’t inherit that motherless gene from her that makes you love—for all intents and purposes—but not actually care about your child if and when you decide to become a parent yourself.


I’ve made so many excuses for them over the years and I’m done. I’m just done. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t defend them when my heart’s not in it anymore. And my heart’s not in it. It may be a horrible thing to say, but they aren’t worth it. I came so close tonight to giving in and giving up and cashing in all these chips I’ve collected over the years…because of them. And the fact that they could push me that far and that close to the edge—well, it scares the hell out of me. And I’ve come too far and worked too damn hard to get to where I am right now to throw it all away for them. They’re my family. They’re supposed to have my back. They aren’t supposed to be the ones to stab the knife in it. They’re supposed to be loyal, but they don’t have a loyal bone in their bodies. I honestly don’t think they even know the meaning of the word.


It’s a long story, but there’s been a war launched between my brother and I this week. He’s had his skank of the moment and her kid nearly moved in here. Neither my mother or grandmother want her here and he’s been told, but of course as he always does, he does as he pleases. Because they don’t have the nerve to confront her directly, I did. Well…he didn’t take too kindly to that, or my calling the bitch for what she is: a whore. And I don’t use that word lightly, but she is one. Hell, that’s pretty much his type—blonde, white trash whore. Of course, you can’t dare insult any of his skanks because then he turns the tables onto you—in this case, me. So it was back to the whole “I’m a whore, I’ve slept with half the county, traded sex for coke…blah, blah…” spiel that’s so worn I’m surprised he doesn’t have dry mouth when he says the words. He also tried to punch me in the face—would’ve if my mother hadn’t stepped in the middle—and threatened to kill me. Wait, what were the words… oh yeah… “I’ll bury you.” Yep. And yet, I get told to shut up and just ignore him. No calling the cops or going to family court and getting an order of protection against the bastard because of course, that wouldn’t look well for them. After all, they have the kids to consider. Funny. They’re so concerned about these kids when it’s convenient for them and never when they actually should be concerned. And the kids aside—what about me? Where the hell is their concern over me? Their flesh and blood. Someone they claim to love. Someone they constantly say they don’t want to go back to Nashville. Where the hell is their concern when he’s spouting his bullshit at me? Holding the worst things to ever happen to me over my head? The bastard has held that damn party 9 years ago and my secret over my head for years. But you know what? I’m done caring, of shutting up and letting things go just so he’ll keep his mouth shut about that night—things he read in my journal that he stole—the words and secrets of a scared 16-year-old who had literally just had her entire world turned inside out, who had to cover up and lie because she didn’t want them to think less of her for having made the mistake of going to a stupid party and getting raped. Even so, I’ve come to terms with what happened and the things I’ve done. I’m not a saint, nor have I ever claimed to be. I’ve made mistakes. I made one that night. I’ve made a hundred more in the time since. I won’t deny that. But I won’t stand there and shut up as he calls me a whore and accuses me of sleeping with scores of men and trading sex for drugs when I have never and would never do such a thing. I may not be lily white, but unlike the trash that he whores around with, I can sleep at night knowing my sexual exploits.


Rather than cause a scene or hell—make her leave–what really pisses me off though is that they continue to let her come over—despite both still saying that don’t want her here—ESPECIALLY after all the shit he’s done and said to me over the past few days. And the fact that his smug fucking bastard self is winning is what pisses me off the most. He gets what he wants and nothing changes. Nothing. Ever. Changes. It’s the story of my entire fucking life. And they don’t see a thing wrong with it. They don’t see how their silence is, in essence, condoning everything that he’s doing. Everything that he’s saying to me. I told them to make a choice. Either get rid of her—and stand up to him for me, for once—or I’m done. And they chose to let it be. To “keep the peace” by not making her leave—as in, not get him pissed off by kicking her out. So…they made their choice. And their beds. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. They aren’t my family anymore. They’ve shown it time and time again that they have no regard whatsoever for how I feel. So I’m going HOME. To Nashville. To the place where I don’t feel like yelling and screaming at the injustice of the people and situation I’m surrounded by every five minutes. The place where I don’t feel like I constantly in a backslide into the past, being dragged under and drowning by memories. The place where I feel like I actually have a chance. A future. Where there are people who actually care—good friends that I might not have known for very long, but that I trust a hell of a lot more than these people I share the same blood with. Those people—they’re my family now. And maybe that’s a horrible and hurtful thing to say, but until you’ve met my family, until you’ve lived with them, been dragged down into their hell where there’s no air and you can barely breathe and you’re alive but you’re just waiting for someone to do the humane thing and let you out of your misery…don’t judge me. Don’t you dare.


As soon as I can make the arrangements, I’m gone. As badly as I want to just pack it all in, get in the car and drive and not look back right this second—hell, at this point I don’t think I care what the destination is so long as it’s a hell of a lot of miles between there and here—I can’t. I’m stuck here, thanks to these damn headaches and the doctors—half of which don’t have a clue and the other half who seem to be getting off on treating me like a guinea pig the majority of the time. Thanks to the lovely state of Tennessee and the even lovelier medical specialists it employs, whom for some godforsaken reason won’t treat a patient with out-of-state insurance, nor someone who doesn’t have full-resident status in the state—despite the treatment being for injuries sustained in an accident that occurred in that lovely state. Oh, the irony! So thus the dilemma I find myself in. I am stuck. I can’t stop treatment—I need it. And I’m hoping like hell that it works. Then there’s the legal aspect—the lawyers and this damn court case. So no, I can’t just stop. So instead, I’m spending my time trying to find a loophole—something—that could fix this little dilemma of mine somehow. Once I figure that out—figure something out—I’m out. Once and for all.


I’m going back.

I’m going HOME.

 

xoMESSIE

Not My Brother’s Keeper.

So tonight was interesting, to put it mildly. The kids and everyone had gone to bed, so I was out on the front porch calling a friend back. I wasn’t out there long when my mother comes rushing out the front door with my oldest niece’s softball equipment bag and tells—not asks—me to get in the car. So, I did and she peels out of the driveway and I ask her what the heck is up and she tells me. Apparently my brother was drunk again and decided he was going to fight a bunch of guys at this dive bar in one of the neighboring towns. So she’s speeding down there and is telling me to get the bat out of the bag—to which I of course was like hell no. I’m not an idiot. I know damn well that if you hit someone with a bat it’s assault with a deadly weapon. And its one thing to defend yourself…it’s something entirely different if you bring the damn bat to the scene with you. But of course, my mother doesn’t think of these things…and to put it bluntly, doesn’t give a damn.


Anyhow, so we get there and I guess the other guys had taken off or whatever—I don’t really care—but my brother’s standing outside the bar, shirtless and drunk and ranting as per usual. My mother brings him over and has him get in the car to go home, and of course he didn’t want to go home. He wanted to go back to the bar, so he was being mouthy in the backseat. Once we got on the highway, he said something to which I replied—god, I don’t even know what I said, but he took offense to it and being the dumbass belligerent drunk that he is—he decided to open the door while the car was still moving and try to jump out. My mother barely brought the car to a stop before he got out…barely. He then took off staggering down the middle of the highway, back the way we came. Since there was a concrete median, we had to drive a couple miles ahead to turn around and then do a U-turn to head back to find him. As we’re doing that, my mother’s bitching at me for not keeping my mouth shut—like it’s my fault that he’s unreasonable and drunk as hell (not to mention, she was the one that demanded I go in the first place!)—and calling 911 for help.


It was a fucking disaster—if you can imagine. I mean, its pitch dark, on a highway. He’s walking in the middle of the road, right into oncoming traffic going Eastbound, and we’re following on the other side of the median in the passing lane going Westbound, my mother trying to talk to 911 and pleading with my brother out the window to get in the damn car. It was ridiculous. Then she just stops the car, throws it into park, tosses the phone at me and gets out. She climbed over the median and went after my brother, who decided to take off down into the steep, wooded ravine that borders the highway—leaving me to deal with the 911 operator and meet up with cops to show them where they were. Once we got there and pulled off, we found them, basically crawling back up the steep ravine—which is pretty much like a 30 or 40 foot drop. Once my mother got almost to the top, me and one of the officers helped her up the rest of the way, and then my brother took off again back down the ravine, refusing to come out—despite the officers assurances that they weren’t going to arrest him.


He finally came up like 15 minutes later, running his mouth at the cops as usual instead of shutting the hell up like we kept telling him to. He never, ever learns. You’d think after all the run-ins he’s had with the police and all the times he’s been arrested—hell, he’s still got the 4 inch scar on his forehead from the vicious beating they gave him during one of those run-ins when they cracked his head open with their nightstick—that he’d learn—but no. So anyhow, he’s going on and on and cussing them out—turns out the same cops had run into him a few hours earlier and they’d had a few words outside the bar where we’d picked him up. He got into the backseat of the car and everything seemed fine until the state police showed up and the one officer comes walking over and opens the door and tells my brother to get out and put his hands behind his back. Ohhhh that didn’t go over to well. Everyone flipped. My brother flipped because the other cops had said they weren’t going to arrest him. My mother went after one of the officers and I had to pull her back or she would have gotten arrested for assaulting a police officer…it was a disaster. The trooper tried to defuse the situation when he put my brother in handcuffs and had him sit down on the guardrail and told him he wasn’t arresting him, that he was just detaining him while he asked him and my mother a few questions. Oh, my brother wasn’t having any of that. He went off the handle on the two local cops that were holding him back and cussing them up and down and essentially giving them more than enough cause to get him for drunk and disorderly. I tried to get him to calm down and shut up or he WOULD get arrested—nothing worked—he eventually got pissed and got in my face and threatened me, so the one cop stepped between us and told me to go and sit in the car, for my safety. I mean, really? He was cuffed, what was he going to do? But anyhow.


Ultimately, after what seemed like forever, and once we assured the officers that we didn’t think he was going to harm anyone else or himself—after all, he had jumped out of the car while it was still moving, so they technically could have taken him in on a 5150 hold. And for those of you that aren’t familiar with a 5150, it’s a statute that essentially gives the police the right to transport you against your will if need be (that is, if they feel you’re a threat to yourself or others), to the nearest hospital to be evaluated and involuntarily admitted on a psych hold for a minimum of 72 hours. After, they finally uncuffed him and let us go. Of course, the second the doors were close he started his whole “I could take ‘em all, screw them” ego tirade. He’s all talk. Drunk or not.


He’s currently sleeping it off it the room next to mine. And tomorrow, no one will talk of it and life will go on as if nothing ever happened. As per the usual with him and incidents such as these. Which, in my opinion, is total bullshit. They think they’re helping him…and they’re not. They’re enabling him. He’s 32 years old and what does he have to show for it? He has no job. No car. He lost his license after his little DWI stunt some years back when he drove my grandmother’s car into a parked semi-trailer—and nearly got himself killed in the process, I might add. He’s got three kids that he doesn’t pay a cent of child support towards. And all he does is drink and party and get high. And they allow it. It’s total crap. He needs a rude awakening. He needs to grow the hell up. I don’t care what his problems are. Hell, we all got problems. But do we get go out every night and drown our souls in a bottle of Jack Daniels? Nope. He needs to suck it up like the rest of us and start taking responsibility for his actions. He’s got kids, damn it. They shouldn’t have to see this or hear about it. This shouldn’t be their reality or their norm. If it’s rehab he needs, then that’s where he needs to go. But this crap of letting him continue what he’s doing…it’s for the birds. If it takes the cops having to arrest him on a psych hold to push him to do what needs to be done—then so be it. I’m sick of standing by and watching. He’s my brother and while he’s done a lot of shit that I don’t like and can be cruel as hell when he wants to be, I still love him. I still care what happens to him. And this path he’s going down…it’s a dead end. It leads nowhere—at least nowhere good. Even if he doesn’t want it for himself…his kids deserve better. That alone, should be all the incentive he needs. You would think.


xoMESSIE

Water’s Thicker…

I know they say that you can’t pick your family…but seriously if you could, I’m telling you–I’d be that “camped-out-all-night-in-a-tent-like-its-Black-Friday-just-to-be-first-in-line-at-the-register” shopper. Literally. And maybe that’s a horrible thing to say…but if you knew my family–hell, if you’d dealt with what I’ve had to deal with the past 28-and-some-change years–then you’d understand. I know you would. Honestly, if it weren’t for the kids–my nieces and nephews–I’d have burned these bridges with the lot of them years ago. I really would have…


 

Starting with my grandmother. You know, it’s actually ironic because growing up, she was the one I looked up to most. I had the utmost respect for her. She was the strongest, bravest, greatest woman I knew. She raised me and my siblings like we were her own and she was always the one person we could count on no matter what. For the longest time, she was this hero (or heroine, if we’re being politically correct) to me. A mother figure that stepped in when my mother was more concerned with pleasing the not-so kid-friendly men in her life than she was with really being a mother to my sister, brother, and myself. In a way, I saw her as our savior, you know? But then I grew up. And as I did, those rose-colored glasses started to come off and little by little. And as they did, I started to see her and the whole situation in a different light. And I realized something. And to this day, I can’t help but wonder how much of her stepping in to raise us was actually about her trying to give us stability and love–and how much of it was about her trying to take control.


She’s a control freak. It’s like she gets off on it or something, I don’t know. Time and time again, I’ve watched her do it–step in and take control. She did it with my siblings and I. Then with my oldest niece, Angelina. The same with both of my younger nieces, Emma and Ava. Until you reach a certain age, that is. Everything’s great and she’s happy, so long as you’re under her thumb and you do what she says. But once you get older and start to pull up away and get a mind of your own–god forbid you have an opinion that challenges her–well, then you get to meet her “Mr. Hyde” personality. Of course, I was the good girl in high school–straight-A’s, never caused or got into any trouble–so she and I didn’t really butt heads all that often. Of course, she (along with my mother) was also a little preoccupied with taking my brother and niece’s mother to family court to petition for–and ultimately winning–custody of my oldest niece…so our paths didn’t really cross much. That is, until I’d voice my opinion on something–ANYTHING really–having to do with my niece or “put my 2 cents in”–as she likes to put it. Then the control freak would materialize and snap back with some bitchy response of how it was “none of my business” or how, since I wasn’t the one with custody, I had “no say” in matters whatsoever concerning my niece. Oh yeah. Grandmother or not, you have no idea how often I was tempted to put that woman in her place–so damn bad. Granted, my name wasn’t on those custody papers alongside hers or my mother’s…but how quickly she’d forget that it wasn’t just her that had a hand in taking care of my niece–though she loves to act as though that was the case. I was just 16 years old when my niece, Angelina was born. My brother was in jail at the time and Angelina’s mother lived with her father way on the outskirts of town in the middle of nowhere, so my mother and grams offered to let her and Angelina move in with us when Angelina was just a month old. My brother got out of jail shortly there-after and let’s just say that he and Lena’s mother were more interested in having a good time than they were in being parents. They’d leave Lena with us for days while they went partying and took off. If you said anything to them about it or pissed them off, they’d pack their stuff and Lena’s, say they were moving out, and they’d take off with her. They’d always come back. Sometimes they’d be gone a few days…maybe a week. Maybe two weeks. You never knew with them. You didn’t know where they were or where Lena was or WHO she was with or if she was okay. After months of that bullshit, they went to court and won custody. She was 6 months old. My grandmother had a job working 2nd shift, which meant that I was the only one with Lena from the time I got home from school until my mother got home from work, and then the two of us had her until it was time for her to go to bed. Again–let me point out that I was 16. While everyone else my age was hanging/going out with friends, going to parties, experimenting with typical 16-year-old things–I was home playing peek-a-boo and warming up bottles and watching Elmo Goes To Grouchland for the 1,607,982,298th time. When Lena was fussy during the night, I was usually the first to hear and get up with her, since my room was across the hall and closest to hers. When she was colicky and teething and just utterly inconsolable one night no matter what we tried, my mother and I took turns walking back and forth across the attic floor with her for hours. My grandmother is quick to discount all that, but I haven’t forgotten it. She can say what she wants, but I was there. All those baby milestones. Her first steps, first words. Family outings. First days of school. Soccer games, volleyball games, talent shows, concerts, recitals…everything. I’ve been there. My name may not be on that damn piece of paper, but my opinion should damn well carry just as much weight as anyone’s–even hers–and my niece damn well IS my business. Whether my grams likes it or not…SHE IS.


For the most part, these days anyhow–my grams asserting her “custody/ownership” rights in regards to Lena–has been a non-issue. Not because she’s seen the error her ways, unfortunately. It’s my niece herself, actually. She’s 12 going on 30. She’s got an attitude, that one…and a mind all her own. A fact of which my grandmother, of course, loathes. She’s brazen and she’ll talk back and she doesn’t always do what she’s told right when she’s told to do it–and so my grandmother is always griping on her for that. She’ll bitch and say it’s because Angelina’s a spoiled brat or mouthy or that’s she’s lazy and doesn’t do anything…but it all boils down to one simple fact–Angelina’s no longer under her control. And she can’t stand it. So as is her typical fashion–Angelina’s now the enemy. She’s 12. Yeah. Tell me how fucked that is.


With my other two nieces, Emma and Ava, it’s the same thing. Especially Emma, who’s 10–but is Special Needs and has a lot of physical, emotional, and developmental delays. Granted the girls’ mother has been MIA most of their lives in nearly every maternal way possible and my grandmother’s been their primary caregiver and all–but it’s more than that. She controls the who, what, where, why–and every aspect of their lives. You’re barred from having any opinion or say so in where they are regarded. Yet again, she’s under the assumption that she’s the only one that’s been present in their lives. And that she’s the only one that cares about them. Both of which are grossly false. And I’m getting damn near tired of her insinuating as much.


Her whole ego and control shit with the kids is frustrating, yes…but old news. There’s no point in arguing or debating the semantics with her. You’re just wasting your breath. So long as she’s got a baby or kid to control–she’s peachy keen. And at the rate people in my damn family keep popping out kids and handing them over to her to raise, she’s not going to be running out of ones to control any time soon. When she does start her crap, I ignore her. Sometimes if I can’t hold my tongue–I’ll tell her off. She doesn’t like it–but that’s just too damn bad. The woman acts like she’s fucking Hitler. It’s ridiculous.


What really gets me though is that she has no loyalty whatsoever. She really doesn’t. And that’s the deal-breaker for me. She really pisses me off. When I left for Tennessee she was all tears and “you can always come home” and then when I was down there, she kept asking me when I was going to quit my foolishness of running wild and my gypsy ways and come back to New York. All the time she asked me that. The problem with that however, is that New York isn’t “HOME” anymore. And a lot of that is due to her. Directly. She has no regard for my feelings whatsoever and has shown nothing but blatant disrespect for my wishes since I’ve been back. And she’s done so by association with my bitch of an Aunt Faith and her junkie C-U-Next-Tuesday daughter, Jennifer (my cousin)–both of whom I, without an ounce of remorse–LOATHE. It’s no secret that I’ve hated those two for years. My aunt because she’s been jealous of my siblings and I our entire lives for the fact that my grandmother showed us more attention that she did to my aunt’s children, and as a result, we’ve had to deal with the resentment and a forced competition of sorts with her kids when we were growing up. Like her, they always acted like who they were–and like the world owed them something…like they were better than the rest of us…and that’s her doing. They learned it from her. And now their kids are the same way with my nieces and nephews. And I can’t stand it. What really cemented the cutting of all ties though were that bitch Jennifer’s actions some 7 or so years back. I won’t bore you with details, but long story short, she got jealous that things were going well for me–great job, new ride, new apartment, going back to school. Whereas she was broke, living with her mother, had just had another kid with a 2nd baby daddy who broke up with her and got himself a wife and new baby out in California. She couldn’t have that so the conniving bitch that she is, she decided to fuck things up for me. One thing led to another and she ultimately did a kick ass job of screwing up the really going thing I had going for myself. And she did it for no other reason than because she was jealous. And because she could. She’s a fucking bitch. And the betrayal was so much worse for the fact that I was the one that had had her back the entire time–had been her shoulder to cry on after the break-up, had taken her out with my friends to get her mind off everything. I did so much for her and she stabbed me in the back. And then, even after I confronted her with proof of what she’d done, she had the nerve to deny it. Her mother, of course, believed her. And to this day, still defends her. Like mother, like daughter. That bitch Jennifer though, she eventually got jammed up–and my mother just happened to be in court for something with my brother when Jennifer had an appearance for a bail hearing or something of the sort. Months before the bitch had cornered me in Wal-Mart when I was with my niece and got in my face, so I’d filed a complaint with the cops. It was on record so when the judge brought it up and used it as a reason to deny to release, I guess the bitch turned right around and looked at mother and then–right in open court–said that she was going to kill me. Yep. She’s a junkie, a bitch, and a fucking idiot. A real trifecta, that one. So yeah…all that, and yet my grandmother can’t even show me the courtesy of telling them to stay away while I’m downstairs, knowing full well that I can’t even stand the sight of them, Jennifer especially. If I have to hear her tell me one more time to “get over myself”, I swear to God I just might lose it. I don’t care if it’s been 7 years or 17 years. I can’t stand those bitches and I don’t give a damn if they’re family. As far as I’m concerned, they aren’t. They made that choice when they did what they did. I could honestly give a rat’s ass what the hell happens to them. And she might choose to associate with them–the two-faced bitch that she is–but that doesn’t mean I should have to. And yeah, that might be her daughter and her granddaughter and her house, but it’s also my mother’s house and I’m a guest of my mother’s while I’m here in New York. And my grandmother, she’s the biggest hypocrite of them all. She’s held a grudge against my uncle Joey’s wife Kathy for almost 3 decades now and I know damn well that if the woman showed up, hell would have no fury. So fuck that. And fuck her.


Tonight she let that bitch and her daughter come over. Of course, I had a few choice words for Jennifer when she walked outside and I was on the porch–to which she ran back inside and told on me. Pathetic. My mother, of course, came out and “scolded” me for using such foul language. Bitch, please. I’m 28 years old. As far as I know, this is still a free country and freedom of speech is still in the 1st Amendment. I can say what I want, to whom I want. And all I spoke was the truth. I won’t apologize for that. I shouldn’t have to. That my grandmother got all up in arms about it and sent my mother out to yell at me just cemented what I’d already come to terms with…I’m done. Done with her. Just done. I’m so sick of her not having a loyal bone in her body. Well, that’s not entirely true. She’s loyal to those two bitches, just not to me. She says that’s not true, but it is. And I’m done. She made her choice.


I thought I’d be sad. But I’m not. Honestly, I just feel relieved to finally be done with her bullshit. I used to idolize her. But the woman that I thought she was–that woman is long gone. And the one that’s left in her place–I don’t know her. And I sure as hell don’t respect her. And without respect, what else is there, really…

xoMESSIE

 

Only Tennessee.

Low-lyin’ clouds

Birds singin’ all night long

I see the hills in my dreams

And hear the bells, hear the bells in my bones

Never thought I would give in

Now you’re underneath my skin

**

Only Tennessee

Only Tennessee can save me now

Lazy, long roads

Trees bending in the wind

I’m coming home

**

Wild flowers in the fields

In the fields of my mind

I feel the sunshine

It’s coming through

**

Never thought I would give in

Now you’re underneath my skin

Only Tennessee

Only Tennessee can save me now

(Song Credit: “Only Tennessee” — Written By: Claire Guerreso & Daniel Tashian)


I’m heading home to Nashville after this weekend. FINALLY. Even if I didn’t want to go and I wanted to stay her in NY — which I definitely DO NOT!! — I couldn’t. The lease for my apartment–the one I literally only lived in for 3 weeks, by the way–is up at the end of the month, so I have to pack all my things and move into my new place.


This is the part that sucks. The leaving. As glad and as excited I am to be going home and seeing my friends and everyone in Nashville again, I feel sad about leaving my family, the kids especially. When I first got here, back in July, the Twinnies–they didn’t even recognize me. It actually took them awhile to warm up to me at first. And now they’re all over me. Ty especially. He’s such a little lover. He’s always climbing into my lap and giving me hugs. My grams watches them during the day so we’ve made a routine, Ty and I, of taking an afternoon nap. He’ll climb on the bed, take my phone and open up the PBS kids app (all on his own!). He’ll watch the shows for a little while until I tell him it’s time to take a nap. Then he’ll hand me the phone, turn over so that he’s facing me, and then literally curl right up against me and fall asleep. He’s a big-time cuddler and it’s the cutest thing. I’m going to miss the little guy. So much. And Jakey–that kid is something else. He’s got a temper, that one. And he’s a little monkey, too. He’s always climbing on and jumping off from things…he’s totally fearless.


I hate to leave the girls, too–especially with everything that’s gone/going on with Emma and Avie and the whole custody/family court thing. Who knows what the hell their mother has up her sleeve and/or will try to do the next time she gets pissed and feels like being a bitch and taking the girls out of pure spite. Then there’s Angelina–she’s out of control. Her attitude is atrocious and she doesn’t seem to think that she has to listen to anyone. My mother instead of disciplining her like she should, just lets the bad behavior continue–as she’s allowed it to for years. As her first granddaughter, she spoiled the hell out of Angelina. She still spoils her. She let her get away with murder all these years and only now is she cracking down on the behavior…now that Angelina’s 12. Hell, she’s going to be a teenager. If they think she’s bad now, I can just imagine how she’ll be in a couple of years. They’re in for a hell of a time with her, I’m sure of it. And they’ve only got themselves to blame.


So anyhow, yeah. It’s time for me to go. And while I may be leaving, it’s not goodbye. So…I’ll see you on the flip-side New York. ‘Til then…


xoMESSIE

Halloween Two-Oh-One-Five.

So the little ones had a dry-run Halloween party/parade thing at Avie’s school tonight…

When oh when did they grow up–they’re getting so big!! How do I make it stop??!! 😦


<3 Avie J (*Doc McStuffins*)
Avie J. (*Doc McStuffins*)
Emmie (*Bumblebee*)
Emmie (*Bumblebee*)
Angelina (*Butterfly*)
Angelina (*Butterfly*)
Lena w/ her Daddy.
Lena w/ her Daddy.
Ty Bear (*Iron Man*)
Ty Bear (*Iron Man*)
"...make me fly, Dad..."
“…make me fly, Dad…”
Ty (*Iron Man*)
Ty (*Iron Man*)
Ty & his Dad
Ty & his Dad

**Halloween Dry Run 2015*

Left My Heart In Tennessee.

I feel like I’m going…albeit slowly…f***ing insane. No joke. I need to get the hell out of here…out of New York. I’ve been here for about 7 weeks now and I’m not kidding when I say that that’s just about 6 weeks and 6 days too many.

**

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I do. But there’s a reason why I moved 900 miles away–and it doesn’t have a thing to do with exes or running from the mistakes and sins of my past. It’s horrible, but one of the main reasons why I left was to get away from them…away from all the drama and the dysfunction and the fighting…hell, the utter insanity. It’s strange because when you grow up in that kind of environment, you get used to the loudness and the chaos. And that’s fine. I mean, it’s all you know. You don’t know any different. But when you choose to leave and you’re gone for awhile, you get used to a different kind of normal. So going back is like a shock to the system and you just want to shut it all out and make it all stop.

**

Tennessee, for me, is quiet and peaceful and above all–drama-free. There’s no constant fighting and/or bickering back and forth with one another, no cops being called for the littlest of the things. And it’s quiet–so quiet. Sure, sometimes I miss the constant chatter of all the kids, but for the most part, I tend to appreciate the serenity that comes with the silence these days. The best thing about living 900 miles away from family though is the independence and freedom to do and live as I choose and please, without all the watchful and prying eyes of my all-too-curious family members. For 27 years I lived under their watch and by their rules, always living my life as they saw fit, always trying to mold myself into this “person” that they wanted me to be, to reach those unrealistically high expectations that they set for me…always afraid of disappointing and letting them down. And it sucked. I was miserable. I felt trapped, smothered. Not me. You know? And it took me 27 years to get the nerve to take control of my life…to realize that I could dictate my own future and realize my own happiness…and so that’s what I’m doing…

**

I know a lot of people thought I was crazy for packing up my life and moving down to Nashville like I did–and that some STILL think I’m crazy for it–but honestly, it was the best decision I ever made and I don’t regret it, not for a single second. I love it. I love everything about it. I don’t know if it’s my forever home…it’s far too soon to say that. All I know is that right now, I feel like it’s where I need to be…where I’m supposed to be. Nashville. Tennessee. Who knew.

**

Hopefully after these appointments these next two weeks, Nashville and I will be reunited. Then it’s off to Atlanta with the crew for our film premiere. I can’t wait. Everything is really happening…and I feel like the ride is only just beginning…it’s a pretty crazy feeling…exhilarating…overwhelming…amazing…surreal.

**

xoMESSIE

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