I’ve spent a LOT of time as of late contemplating who I used to be. This photo was taken on my 19th Birthday. I lived in Portland, Oregon…and I was a mess. It took me YEARS to overcome the pain and scars that my childhood left me with. Years. Looking back now, I realize that I don’t even know who I was then. I was bitter, hurt, confused and clueless. I went about my days with reckless abandon, breaking hearts…most tragically, my own. I look back and I’m not sure exactly what it is that I was trying to accomplish, perhaps trying to dull the pain that my uncle left, trying to fill a void left when my Dad moved away…I really don’t know. All I know is that I barely recognize that Kaylene, and for that I am eternally grateful and proud. I lost myself on the path to finding myself…strange as that sounds. In high-school, Chris was my rock. He was my boyfriend and best friend all in one. We moved to Oregon and I started college. Somewhere in there, everything fell apart…we were much too young and immature. We took what could have been a beautiful life and threw it away…with precious little thought. I met Darin … and well, as we all know, that was doomed before it even started. When I had Sierra, all alone in a hospital room in Oregon, ironically, I slowly began to heal. Darin had abandoned me, yet another male in the long line that had hurt me…and it was Sierra and I against the world. Someone needed me to be a good example, to show her right from wrong, to be her rock in this world. Then, I made the decision to try and forgive Darin, and had Jared…only to be abandoned again. I know that was all meant to be, as Jared quickly became a tangible piece of all that was good and right in me. On the day he was born, I told Darin that Jared and I were kindred spirits…that he may look like Darin, but he has my insides. That has held true. Then there were a few other failed relationships, more self-loathing, more heart-break. Finally, it happened. I looked at my daughter and I realized I didn’t want her to grow up thinking it was okay for a man to treat her the way I had allowed myself to be treated. I looked at my son and I realized I didn’t want him to grow up thinking it was okay to treat a woman this way. I searched among the rubble, and I found myself. I found my strength, I forgave myself and I moved on. A while later, I met Steve. He jokes now that he thought I hated men when he met me (it was partially true). We decided that this relationship would begin on solid ground, firm commitment, honesty and most importantly-respect. We’ve built an amazing life together…he is my best friend and soul mate–5 beautiful kids, almost 10 years of marriage…a relationship to be proud of. I had a long conversation with Sierra yesterday. She doesn’t appreciate the “strict” way we’re bringing her up…”how come other parents don’t care if their kids do drugs? how come you’re the only mother in town who doesn’t let their kid drink?” I firmly told her that I will not apologize for the way I’m raising her, but she is welcome to thank me for it. She has a moral compass, she has had stability, she was raised in a calm, honest home…where her parents treated each other with love and respect. She has an amazing role model in Steve, and her Mom’s not too bad either The day will soon come when she is off on her own…nearly 18 with her whole life before her. She doesn’t have the demon’s to battle that I did. I can only pray that her road is easier…in the end, if she turns out to be the kind of Mom and wife I am…I believe she’ll have done pretty well for herself.
About 6 months ago, I reconnected with Chris. It was therapeutic and healing. I had been haunted by some mistakes, and even though my heart had long since healed (thanks to Steve), I never had closure. I apologized for my part in hurting him, and we forgave each other. Thankfully, Steve understood my need for that. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that sort of resolution with Darin, the wounds are deep and sometimes…time doesn’t heal all. I’m okay with that though, I know I’ve done right by our children, and I know that he has numerous demons of his own that he still battles. That’s his issue. Life is about learning… learning to love, learning to forgive, learning to accept that we can’t change the past and sometimes, learning to demand change when it’s called for. I demanded change…in myself. I’ve become the person that was always deep inside me…17+ years of being someone my children can be proud of. Life dealt me some pretty harsh blows…I fought them and landed on my feet with my head held high.