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Six Hands on the Handlebars

My parents were separated. They only stayed that way for two years. Two very important, sometimes scary years. I took comfort in my visits from my brother. He always wanted to play. Six years older than me, a jokester, my closest confidant and life coach during my formative years.

One fine rainy day while he was visiting our apartment in Virginia Beach we hatched a plan. A plan I feel like probably wasn’t thought through and come to think of it, I’m pretty sure was set to fail. Story of my life, but anyway.

I had this awesome Pink Panther Bike. The banana seat was perfect for a plan like ours. I never liked riding on the handlebars after the great fence crash of 1980, so the banana seat was a perfect solution to a two kids / one bike problem.

We lived at Indian Lake Apartments in Virginia Beach during this transitional time. My best friend at the time, Eric, lived upstairs in an apartment with his grandpa. Eric was a cool kid and always down for an adventure and well, this day was no exception.

It sounds crazy today to tell the story…to think that kids would just set out on their own, 11 and 5 years old, to who knows where and be gone for hours, returning home soaking wet and starved. But I really can’t remember anyone noticing. I’ll have to ask the infamous commander of this great and epic expedition and see if he remembers how we got away with it.

The first thing to remember is, we didn’t die. Second to that may be the fact that we could have literally been killed and not one adult tried to stop us. Times were a little different then, I suppose.

At some point in the morning of that fateful day, we wheeled out the trusty single-geared Pink Panther. It was summer so I remember I was scantily clad in a crop top and some shorts. But it could have been a bathing suit for all I can recall.

Eric just happened to come down from his apartment in time to see that we were going for a spin. My brother Kevin, feet firmly planted on the sidewalk held the handlebars still and braced the bike so I could climb aboard. Eric hopped up onto the handlebars and we tested her out. Sturdy. Let’s do this.

We headed out, the shortest route was definitely not the safest. But it was also the only way we knew. After all, we had only ever traveled to Mt. Trashmore in the safety of our Mom’s station wagon. How different could this be?

Well, let me frame this up for you. Have you ever been standing really close to the tracks while a train goes by and you thought wow that’s soooo loud? And then you were like, this things got a lot of power and could crush me to death is a hot second. And then you start to think, is this bitch gonna somehow knock me off my feet and suck me under the wheels? So you step back and you’re like , “shew, I’m never getting that close to a train track again. Mama was right.” Have you?

Ok, so think about that feeling and know that that’s pretty much what it felt like to be flying down the highway on the front tip of the banana seat astride the Pink Panther, smashed in between my peddling to beat Hell brother and my best friend facing literal death on the handlebars….. for five miles….

I have no idea how long it took. An hour? Three? No clue. How fast could we have even been going? But we made it to the park. Of course we made it. My hero brother wouldn’t have let me and my bestie down. Would’ve gotten us killed sure, but not disappointed. No way.

I can’t remember the details of what we actually did at the park that day but I do remember when the thunder started. My hair stood on end and my bare feet tingled in the grass. The black clouds rolled in like vape smoke when the lights go out at the school dance…..

And we got the brick out of there! As lightening danced off the grass behind us, I gritted my teeth in anticipation of a very wet and frightening ride home. Chin tucked and teeth chattering, I remember thinking I might possibly freeze to death. My brother took pity on me, even though I was in the warmest spot on the bike rolled up in a ball with Eric shielding me from the rain. Kevin stopped to give me his shirt.

At this point we were shouted at by a passing motorist.

“Hey kids, can I take your picture for the paper?”

“Um, of course!”

And just like that, we were famous.

We got home and dried off and warmed up and this girl took a nap. My mother came home from work eventually and thankfully she was none the wiser.

Mom: What did you kids get into today?

Us: ….. nothin….

No waiver was signed as you can tell by the misspelled names in the article. No parent permission was given. But the next day when my mom got the paper, there we were, in all our glory and much to her surprise! As you know, famous people don’t get into real trouble and so, neither did we. This is the stuff childhood is made of.


Much thanks to John H. Sheally II for capturing this wonderful memory for us way back when.

Hi! I am the owner and sole writer for “DisturbingClarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at http://www.disturbingclarity.com. I began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like myself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. I have also found myself writing about food and gardening and living your best life! I hope you enjoy these articles and please feel free to make suggestions. I would love to hear your ideas!

(….And sometimes I join the community of poets and songstresses on WordPress and break my own heart while I write)

disturbingclarity@gmail.com

How to love a child who doesn’t love you back – a mother’s honest narrative of raising a child with reactive attachment disorder : Institute For Attachment & Child Development

When people dream of adoption, they often picture a child to love who loves back and settles into their family beautifully. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality.
— Read on www.instituteforattachment.org/how-to-love-a-child-who-doesnt-love-you-back-a-mothers-honest-narrative-of-raising-a-child-with-reactive-attachment-disorder/

Dear Mom,

Your voice has faded from my memory.

I’m always a little jealous when people say things like, “I can still hear her voice” when they talk about you.

“Can you?” I want to say. “I can’t.” Though they tell me I sound like you.

You know how in movie flashbacks when the daughter or son have those full-color visions of holding hands with their mom, glancing up and seeing her face looking down? I can’t see that. Though they tell me I look like you.

I do have pictures that I am grateful for. You, in all kinds of situations just being your awesome self.

I wish I had just one video though. I would wear it out.

I’d love to see you animated and hear you laugh. I want see the way your hair flew in the wind and the way you moved.

I wish so much that I could be in one of those rooms you lit up like people say. Just one more time.

I didn’t know it was the last chance I’d get. Each thing that you did and said, I thought I’d see you do or hear you say a thousand more times.

I remember that I used to see you in dreams. Real honest-to-goodness dream visions and you would talk to me and sit with me. It went on for weeks after you died. I thought I was wishing those dreams into existence.

I would wake up and write poems that I’d never share because I didn’t want anyone to know I was still hurting. Because maybe, I should have gotten over it by then, in my teenage mind.

I’m much older now and I don’t care who knows my heart. And I don’t care if they think it shouldn’t still be broken. It’s been broken for forever and scarred over a thousand times.

But I still went to bed each night hoping that I’d see you while I slept. And you’d talk to me when my mind wasn’t trying to shut out the pain of losing you. That’s when I could really listen. I was never defensive in our secret dream talks.

Then, one day you stopped visiting me in my dreams. And your voice and your realness faded away from my memories.

I am a little jealous of the people who got to know you as an adult. Those people remember you well.

I bet you gave the best advice and listened when they talked and kept the secrets they asked you to. I am more than a little jealous that I didn’t get to be your friend.

I’ve tried to work it out so that I didn’t miss you this way. I have tried not to need you. But thoughts of you are always there, because you’re not.

And when I had a daughter and I realized that she was my whole heart, I suddenly felt that I knew more about you. We finally had something in common that I could touch and see and hear again.

When I realized that nothing would ever stop me from holding on to her. Nothing would ever stop me from saving her if she needed me, that’s when I knew those dreams were the best you could do. And you gave them to me for as long as you could.

And maybe, I really won’t ever have another one.

But I can’t accept that I also have to forget. Maybe I can’t touch you again. Maybe I’ll never hear your voice. But I am absolutely going to hold out hope that somewhere in the aging and forgetful part of my subconscious your voice exists and I’ll hear it again.

So, if I could just have another one of those vivid vision-like awesome dreams, where you come and sit beside me and hold my hand for a little while, I promise I won’t forget this time. I’ll commit every piece of you to memory and hold you there the way you deserve to be remembered.

– Love, Cook

Continue reading “Dear Mom,”

Rumors

Rumors are the shards of glass that fall from the shattered chandelier of adolescence.

They stick in your feet as you try to walk by them with your head held high and scar your hands when you try to clean them up.

When you get dressed and try to go about your day, they constantly sting and burn.

Everyone notices your hands. They heal quickly though, that’s the good news. People will forget.

But at night, when the world is quiet and the shoes you had to wear come off, the shards are still there, so deep you can’t extract them.

They’re still there in your 20’s when you’re deciding what kind of life you want.

They’re still there in your 30’s when you’re asking “is there anything more?”

They’re still there in your 40’s when you’re teaching someone else how to navigate the world.

Maybe you can find a way at some point in your life to overcome the pain and help someone else through theirs. You can’t get that time back though and sometimes it all comes rushing back.

Something to remember though, that’s helped me down the road, is that nobody starts a rumor about someone who doesn’t matter. Your magnetic qualities, your strengths and your charisma made you a target. You get to keep those things.

You couldn’t have prevented it. That’s how rumors work. Rumors are the things you didn’t do. Someone else is responsible for causing that kind of pain.

Just don’t be that someone else. You’re better than that.

Continue reading “Rumors”

SHARED Trauma and a Facebook Post

Dear William,

I wanted to write a response to you regarding your comments on my post but I needed to do some digging first. Like, the real deep kind. My knee-jerk reaction was just to make a snarky comment and set you in your place. That’s not what I dreamed up when I made that blog post you didn’t bother to read with my picture attached, that you so harshly judged. See, that blog post was about my insecurities about my arms. Then you used it to hurt me. But, I am in a place that you are not yet and in this place, I can be candid. I am in control. I am going to give you some grace.

So as I was driving today I decided to take a good long look inward and decode my emotional response versus my pro social therapeutic response options.

Several times I thought maybe I should just pull the car over and have a good cry. But I didn’t do that. Someone might pull over and try to rescue me. AND I DON’T NEED TO BE RESCUED!

But, maybe YOU do. So allow me. I was also in an abusive relationship. I also got hurt. I responded in life in a variety of damaging ways. I’ve not always been proud of the choices I made when I was trying to get over the whole ordeal.

When I finally got out of ‘said relationship’ and began to try to heal it was NOT EASY.

Healing is a process, the length of which is akin to the length of the process that was used to alienate me from my family and friends. To make me feel worthless and useless. To make me want to please someone at my own expense. To walk around in my own home every day and wonder what I was doing wrong. What was I going to do today that he would berate me for? Why can’t I just get it right? The process that made me believe that I was the terrible wife and mother that he wanted me to believe I was. It took a long time for him to train me.

It took one split second for me to suddenly and violently realize that I was not all of those things he accused me of being and I was going to get out. It took another three years before I actually did.

It didn’t matter that he wasn’t much bigger than me. It didn’t matter that I was skilled with weapons and COULD fight back. He may have very well been able to physically overpower me if he came at me just right, but he didn’t even have to do that. His words cut me deeper than any of the beatings I took. The anxiety that I had just wondering if I was gone too long at the grocery store was enough to send me into a panic attack.

And it took me A LONG TIME TO HEAL FROM THAT! I’m still not done. I will come out of every corner I am ever backed into swinging still to this day. But here is what I have become.

I am strong. I am proud that I am strong. I survived. I am proud of that too. I am proud that I didn’t become another statistic. But I know that there are two sides to every story. Maybe you didn’t want to know mine. Maybe I don’t know yours. Here is what I do know.

Men can be victims of domestic violence too and I would say that many, much too many, frequently are. And they’re never going to tell. As stigmatized as I feel right now admitting it, I can’t imagine what you feel, as a man, because you aren’t supposed to admit that you let her hurt you. Of course that’s garbage talk, but that’s where we still are as a society.

I think you are brave to admit that a woman overpowered you and physically hurt you. Because you are not supposed to admit such things. You are a man afterall. I can’t compare my pain to yours and I won’t.

But brother, let me tell you something, you have got to do the work on yourself now in order to heal from your trauma. Read the book. Take the class. Join the f***ing support group. You need it. Don’t spend years denying that you do. It’s a waste of time and you and everyone you love pay the price.

I am not afraid of men who are bigger and stronger than me. No person’s physical appearance is threatening to me. I don’t find strong men unattractive because they’re strong. I don’t think they look like monsters. I don’t find less muscular men unattractive because they might be weak. My trauma didn’t manifest the way yours did. I know that no matter what a person looks like on the outside, they are who they are at their heart. There really sometimes is no clue to who they are until you give them a chance to show you.

Don’t carry your trauma around for the rest of your life making assumptions about what people are capable of or what kind of pain they may inflict on you because of the way they look. You are gonna miss out on a whole lot of awesome. Do the work on yourself and keep your mouth shut about the way other people look.

And for the record, I wanted to be strong, not so I could fight back against some man if they ever tried to hurt me again. Not so I could show off my muscles and take selfies. I’m 44 and I just want to still feel good when I’m 66 and beyond. I want to be able to make the damn bed without giving up and asking for help. I want to be able to do the fun things I like to do without the amount of pain that I was in before I started lifting weights. And it is working. And I’m happy about it. AND I want to inspire other women to take their health into their own hands. Eating right and exercising takes a lot of dedication, but it’s worth it. It’s another step I have taken on the road to being my best self. I will never be ashamed of that, regardless of who finds me attractive.

Healing….. means wading through the trauma you experienced and ending up standing on top of that mountain of bullshit that life threw at you and screaming “I F***ING WON”!

Continue reading “SHARED Trauma and a Facebook Post”

Cliques vs Friend Groups

Ladies, hear my words and rethink your attitude toward other women!

Cliques still kill me. I’ve never understood the need to stand shoulder to shoulder with other women and make other people feel unwelcome. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be accepted or that I’m somehow immune to the sting of rejection.

When you’re a teenager you can travel purposely in groups of peers if you happen to be lucky enough or skilled enough to be accepted by a clique. (Still not sure what it takes) But as an adult you find yourself trying to do things your kids enjoy, break new ground and “get out there” or you find yourself in some obligatory situation where you have to go somewhere for a function and you try to find some joy in it yourself.

Anxiety grips many of my friends and keeps them from going out and enjoying life.

I’ve never been a clique type of girl and honestly when I was a teenager I wanted nothing more than to be accepted by certain groups. To be invited to the movies with a group or to go skiing or to the pool together. It may not look like it now but high school was the worst for me and I just knew there was a better world somewhere out there where I would find my people.

I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons since then and one of them is that this mentality doesn’t go away with age. I’m pretty sure this is where social anxiety springs from and it’s completely unnecessary. You might look at me and come to your own conclusions and say “she fits in everywhere” and you know what, I do. You know why? Because I don’t believe the lies that other people tell about me.

I am a seeker of the outcast at parties. I am the girl you can walk up to and say without words, “I have no one to stand with and people watch” and I will hear your call and stand with you. If not for the rejection I felt as a teenager I might not be this person today.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was never able to teach my children how to fit in to cliques either. But I really like the adults they’re turning into so I’m going to go with “fortunately”. They have all had a hard time with other girls at school. They are all fiercely independent and passionate people who defend others who can’t defend themselves. All have a heart for the outcast.

My oldest daughter got kicked off the bus one time for a day because she stood up to a bully who took a a special needs child’s book bag. She pushed her down and took it back. The bus driver called me and said he was sorry he had to suspend her for the day because of the rules but she was his hero. ♥️

So to all of you who have a super strong bond with your female clique and refuse to accept new people into it, I am sorry for you that you will never meet and know all the awesome women I have met who still today don’t travel everywhere in cliques.

“Adult women still do this? Yes. Very much yes. Just go try and find a chair at the pool.”

I’m not shaming anyone for having friend groups. I have those. There’s a difference. And when you’re grown and you purposely shut other women out who are clearly seeking someone, anyone to cling to in an awkward social engagement, then you’re in a clique not a friend group. You are the kind of people who would let someone figuratively drown in a social situation and watch them leave and laugh about it.

You know if you are someone who doesn’t reach out and offer those women to sit beside you, even if they might say “no”. You know if you are one of those women who purposely shut other women out because you are jealous of them or worry someone might judge you for spending time with them. And good news ladies, it’s not too late to change.

Am I saying you have to be friends with them? No. I’m saying you can be kind to them, offer them a seat. If you decide that they’re bad news well then I’m all about some boundaries. But don’t let Mean Girls be your theme for life and pretend like it isn’t.

Love yourself enough to love other women and the world will be a better place, I promise.

Continue reading “Cliques vs Friend Groups”

Finding YOUR PEOPLE and ACCEPTING YOURSELF

I used to hate my stomach. Then I hated my arms. Then I felt insecure about all of the things. ALL OF THE THINGS….

I used to wish I was smarter. I used to wish I had more tact. I used to wish I fit in everywhere with everyone. EVERYWHERE WITH EVERYONE….(sigh)

And then one day I noticed that I was healthier and happier and didn’t hate so many things about myself. But there was a lot of stuff that happened in between.

One of those things was realizing that not ALL of the people are MY people. I had to find my people. Not everyone thinks they need this but I’ve never known anyone who regretted finding theirs. It’s like this giant step I made toward ACCEPTING myself.

Finding other people who accepted me first. I didn’t know it was happening. I didn’t feel that anything was changing. I just know that when you are around people and you don’t have to hold the real-you in, good things happen. When you don’t have to pretend to be more confident than you actually are, when your sense of humor doesn’t have to be checked, when you don’t fear that they’ll cast you aside because you said something offensive accidentally, you’ve found your people.

The weird part is, they don’t have to be LIKE you. They don’t have to eat the way you eat or workout at your gym or do the same thing for a living. They don’t have to be people that politically see eye to eye with you. They don’t have to be the same religion or color or size. They just fall in love with who you are and you fall in love with them. You love their life and how they’ve built it. You feel their struggles and want them to succeed. And they feel yours and you can tell they want the same for you. Those are your people.

I can say that I wish I had found them sooner. But really, I might not have appreciated them so much.

And I say all of this to say, it’s okay to insist on improving yourself. To constantly try to mold yourself into your idea of a better you and LOVE YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY. Some of us feel unlovable because we aren’t the best version of ourselves yet. Love yourself anyway.

Every day I still look at my arms and wish they were tiny like they used to be. But I love that they are strong and I see their potential. My arms don’t bother anyone but me. My people could give two shits about my arms. I know this because I couldn’t care less about what their arms look like. I might not realize this if I hadn’t found them.

If you haven’t found your people yet, you will. It’s going to happen when you least expect it but it’s going to happen when you need them the most. Cheers.

Link to Part 2 of this article in reply to a comment I received on my FB (you need to check this out)

Continue reading “Finding YOUR PEOPLE and ACCEPTING YOURSELF”

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Grains: Sensitivities beyond wheat | PCC Community Markets

There is little to no medical controversy over whether wheat and other grains trigger allergies or sensitivities. They do. Where controversy enters is in the areas of incidence and symptoms to grains other than wheat.
— Read on www.pccmarkets.com/sound-consumer/2011-08/grains_beyond_wheat/

Another good article on grain sensitivity.

9 Weird Signs You Should Avoid Grains

While you may think of grains as a go-to, easy item to have around, grains may be cause your body more harm than good. As someone with celiac disease, I’m very familiar with the negative effects grains can have on a person’s body. However, the term…
— Read on www.bustle.com/p/9-weird-signs-you-should-avoid-grains-5499460

I’m pretty sure after 3 years of monitoring and eliminating different foods that I’m largely grain intolerant. It’s even worse if there is excess sugar involved. I can tolerate a small amount of oats, and I do mean small. And a small amount of white rice. Other than that I get every one of the symptoms mentioned in this article. I do at least one Whole30 a year and while it is difficult my skin clears up, I have more energy and all of my digestive issues go away. It’s not a maintainable diet but it is possible to do a Whole30 even if you have to cook for a family. Try it. I get so tired of seeing everyone pop up with these digestive problems and fatigue and refusing to change their diet for the better. A good elimination diet that lasts long enough to see the short term effects should be enough to give you a glimpse into a better life. #disturbingclarity