Today, we went over to visit Nana (my mom). While Nana napped with Haddy, Jaina pulled out her dice to play with. My two year old started laying the dice out and saying random numbers, 1-6, as she did so. I got up from the computer to watch her, and saw that she was getting them right about 50% of the time. I knew Jaina could repeat numbers back when you said them, but I was curious about this knowledge of identification. So I had her come over next to me and held up my pointer finger.
"How many is this, Jaina?"
So I tried again.
"How about this?"
She thought a minute, looked at my fingers, then held up both her pointer fingers. "Two!"
I added a finger. "And what's this?"
She ran back to her dice, and I added the other finger. "Can you tell me how many this is?"
Jaina got stuck here. I had to help prompt her, but she finally said four. I held up my hand.
"How many is this, Jaina?"
Essentially, today I discovered that Jaina can count to five (with help) on her fingers! AND she's trying to identify these numbers in other ways (such as playing with her dice).
Moments like these make me proud to be a mama!
On another note, I wish to pause a moment to switch gears, while still being a proud mama. As most of you reading my blog probably know, I am a HUGE fan of Tolkien, and follow many pages on Facebook involving Middle-Earth. One such page, with a long name so I will reference the administrator Arwen, posted a photo yesterday advertising The Semicolon Project. Curious, I read the description of the photo, and fell in love with the idea instantly. Here are the words from Arwen's photo;
"on April 16th, 2013, everyone who self-harms, is suicidal, depressed, has anxiety, is unhappy, going through a broken heart, just lost a loved one, etc. draw a semicolon on your wrist.
a semicolon represents a sentence that the author could have ended, but chose not to.
the author is you, and the sentence is your life.
draw and repost..."
and of course it came with where to post your pictures on twitter. I don't really use twitter, so I just sent them to her on Facebook. If you have twitter, you can repost to #semicolonproject416.
Anywho, this leads to my story. Not many people know these things, as I have avoided talking about them and only recently revealed some of these issues to my parents (senior year, 2009). I always knew I would have to tell my story someday, but I avoided it as long as I could. I had to tell my story for Bible Class before I graduated, but I only just barely brushed the surface of these things to get a good grade, then went back to avoiding things. After seeing Arwen's post, I knew the time had come, so I hope you will bear with me as I try to get through this...
My story begins when I was born. I, of course, did not know these things until many years later, but Sandy told me what happened. Sandy was a recent divorcee, and had two boys, Mark (5) and Mike (3) to worry about. She met her old friend, Scott, and they "hooked up". Sandy realized that Scott was bad news, and broke up with him. Shortly after, she discovered I was coming. (side note: I know you will probably read this, Sandy, so if I miss something or said it wrong let me know! lol) Anywho, I was coming. Scott wanted to get married, do things "the right way", but Sandy knew that was not meant to be. Instead, she picked out a family to adopt me, and made preparations for my birth. Shortly before I was born, it seemed God had other plans and Sandy needed to find a different family for me. At the time, Sandy's mom (my Grandma Betty), was working in the office at the headquarters for the Methodist Church in Indianapolis, and she began calling pastors to find a family. (this part I may get wrong, so correct me if I am) From my understanding, Pastor Baile was visiting HQ at that time, and overheard Grandma talking. He told her he might know somebody, and called Leon and Judy. He told them they pretty much had 12 hours to tell him their answer, as it was January 4th and Sandy was having a C-section on the 16th. The Grubb's decided if it was meant to be, it would happen, so they said yes. Upon telling their families what was going on, they had everything they needed; crib, clothes, stroller, carseat, and all before they were to come meet me. They knew this was God's hand, and made the trip to Indiana. Sandy's sister, Suzy, told me that Sandy wouldn't hold me in the hospital, because she didn't want to bond with me and make the separation harder. But Grandma Betty would hear none of it, and she held me. On January 19th, 1990, Leon and Judy Grubb arrived at the hospital in Warsaw, Indiana and met Elisabeth Katrina for the first time.
Now we jump a few years to the summer I was 6 years old. We were planning our vacation, and my parents decided it was time to meet Grandma Betty. They called her to make sure she was okay with it, and of course (having bonded in the hospital) Grandma was all for it. We went down to Indianapolis, and met Grandma at her office. We entered the building, and went up to where the secretaries worked. There had to be at least five people in the room, but I started running as fast as my 6 year old feet would take me, screaming "Grandma!" For years I marveled at how I could know my Grandma, having never seen a picture or anything before, until Aunt Suzy told me that story about the hospital. That made it much harder.....but I'm not at that point yet.
Warning; The following contains dark content. May not be suitable for all readers.
I do not judge anyone. I do not blame anyone. Mistakes happen.
But when I was 6 years old, I wanted to get my ears pierced. It hurt a lot, and because of the pain I would not let my mom clean my ears (I have very low pain tolerance). My dad got frustrated with me, and before I knew it I was on the floor with a hand mark on the entire side of my face. I don't remember much about the day it happened, but I remember it happened. I didn't want to go to school, as I was embarrassed and felt at fault. So my parents called in for me, but made an appointment with the Principal to explain what happened. We went in about lunchtime, I think, and my dad explained to the Principal. When the bruise started to fade, I went back to school. I don't remember how long it was after I went back, but one day I was called into the office. There was a strange man in the Principal's office, and he wanted to talk to me (in the presence of our Principal of course). He asked me a lot of questions, and I didn't know what was going on. Looking to my principal, he nodded and I answered the man's questions. You've probably guessed, the guy was from DCFS, and he twisted everything I said to sound like my dad had major issues that if he didn't control them I could be taken away. My dad did what he had to do, and I was never taken away, but that incident took a long time for all of us to heal from.
AGAIN I wish to point out that people make mistakes, and we all learn from them. My dad is not a bad person, especially if you know him. It may have taken time, but I love my dad and if anyone hurts my dad I will hunt you down and, well, think of Liam Neeson in Taken, that will be me if you hurt my dad.
Now that we have gone from heavy to laughing, time to continue this story.
A lot of things happened to me when I was six. I don't remember the order they happened or anything, but I remember them.
I lived in a duplex at the time. Our house neighbors had a daughter my age, Sarah, and we were best friends. When we started 1st Grade, I was hoping she would be in my class. Her family, however, was moving soon, so they were starting the school year at the school for their district instead of trying to transfer in like two weeks into the year. Then, of course, they moved. Our neighborhood went from 9 kids on our side of the boulevard plus a few from the other side, to six (our side) plus, and I was the only girl (Danielle didn't count because she was in Jr High and didn't play with us, same for Megan who was in High School). The boys all thought this meant they could pick on me, so I learned fast how to be tough, dealing with getting ganged up on many times. This even went as far as, well, boys are curious, and when you're the only girl in the neighborhood, things happen. It wasn't anything big, it was just embarrassing stuff, like wanting me to flash them, flashing me, once they poked me with a stick....I won't say anymore about that. The first time they asked I laughed them off, but their dad was a cop and they said they would take their dad's gun and kill my mom. I believed them. I am not proud of any of this. They would harass me and beat me up, and I just kind of took it, until the next summer. One such time was when one boy lost his hat, and when I found it he thought I had stolen it, so he punched me in the stomach. I punched him in the nose, and his two brothers started beating me up. I don't remember much after that, I just started screaming, swinging, and running. I got away from them, and got into my back yard. I went in the back door, and saw the boys talking to my dad. I went to the bathroom and hid until my dad told me to come over. In front of the boys, he told me to never beat them up again, and they boys left. Dad told me later that when they came to him, scratched up and blaming me, he asked them what they did to deserve it. After that, I kinda felt like Annie; they didn't mess with me, but if they tried I just had to act like I was about to throw down and they would stop.
Unfortunately, this self defense came too late.
How many times I wished I had beaten them up before, and on top of the issues with my dad, I think I can safely say that was the worst year of my life. I was afraid of my dad for years, but I wanted to get past that and try to be a normal kid, but considering everything else that would never happen.
When I was 10 years old, we moved to another duplex about two miles away, maybe three. I never saw those boys again, and for many years I hated them. I was glad I never saw them again. Right after we moved, I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out. The next summer, we went and visited Grandma Betty and Grandpa Dick. At this time, I was being homeschooled. Life seemed to be a day in, day out kind of experience, and I kept myself busy with CYT (Christian Youth Theater). You may now know it as Spotlight Youth Theater, if you live in the Chicago area. Anywho, I seemed to just kind of be going with the flow. At CYT, I met my best friend, Tiffany, and this guy Christopher who went by Topher. Topher and I liked each other a lot, but our parents thought we were too young to date. But that's a whole different story, I won't bore you with that one. For now, I'm going to jump to the summer of 2004, when I begged my parents to go see Grandma Betty and Grandpa Dick again. I don't remember the dates of these, but I had already almost seen my Grandpa Clark die from a heart condition (in my adopted family, Grandpa Clark is my favorite. He is technically Leon's stepdad, but He's the one that's been there for everyone and more of a dad than Grandpa Grubb. No Hard Feelings, though. The cool part is Grandpa Clark and I are the two people adopted into the family, you could say, and we have the same birthday! Awesome Sauce!). Back to the story, Grandpa Clark's dad died of a heartattack, and his brother had already had one. When he started complaining of chest pains and refused to go to the doctor, afraid of what they would say, my dad and the Uncles threatened to hogtie him and drag him there, so Grandpa went. He had emergency quadruple bypass surgery on his heart, and it was really scary for a while. The Grandpa Kooi, Grandma Clark's dad (so my great grandpa), died. January, 2004, my mom had gastric bypass surgery, and I was really scared because her surgery was in the same hospital Grandpa Clark had been at. It doesn't make sense, I know, because Condell took really good care of Grandpa and he was fine! But it was a scary time and I was remembering that time while my mom was there. But they took really good care of her and she's fine now of course. All this made me realize that I hadn't seen Grandma Betty in Three Years, and I needed to see her. I can't explain it, I just knew I had to see her and tell her how much I loved her. I needed to see my Grandma and hug her, after all that had happened. I called to talk to her, and my half brothers were staying with her at that time. Until calling her that summer, I didn't even know I had brothers! I got to talk to Mark on the phone, and I imagined him as this blonde Californian guy (don't judge me bro lol). I told Grandma I wanted to visit, and she promised I could visit around the Holidays. So we were planning to go visit during Christmas/New Year's break. I was very excited!
Grandma did not lie. I got to visit for the Holidays.
December 23rd, 2004. A day I will never forget.
I had had trouble sleeping that night, like something was wrong. When I finally went to sleep, I slept as long as my parents would let me. They were letting me sleep in, and I came downstairs just as the phone rang. I used to play with my dad "who can answer first" (before we got cells), so I raced to grab the phone.
"Hi...this is Elisabeth."
"I need to talk to your dad."
"May I ask who's calling?" How did they know my name? Most people heard my voice and assumed I was Judy, my mom.
"This is your mom, Sandy."
I froze, unbelieving. My mom was on the phone! I wanted to ask her questions, I wanted her to talk to me not my dad, but I could tell something was going on. I called for my dad, and I'm sure I sounded crazy and it was more a scream. Dad came, asking who was on the phone. My mom was sitting right there at the kitchen table, and I told them it was Sandy. They gave each other a look as dad took the phone, and I couldn't bear it. I ran to my room and started pacing. My mom had called me! This was incredible! I had been hoping to meet her someday, but figured that was years off. And here she is, calling me! I couldn't believe it!
Before I knew it, my dad was calling me downstairs. I bounded downstairs, questions about to pour out of my mouth.
Then I saw her face.
My mom doesn't cry a lot. That's how you know somethings wrong. Tears were pouring down her face. In that instant, I knew exactly what had happened.
I didn't say anything. I immediately began denying it mentally. "You don't know for sure, you're overreacting, calm down" I told myself. Dad asked me to sit, so I did. In my denial, I didn't want to look at him, but I forced myself to. I know my dad could tell what was running through my head, but he had to do it. I couldn't accept it, I couldn't allow myself to think it...
"Elisabeth, that was Sandy, your birth mother..."
Okay, cool. Sandy. Wants to meet me. Mom's just worried about the meeting. No big deal. Nothing's Wrong.
"Grandma Betty died last night."
I knew. I knew all along. I couldn't allow myself to believe it. I didn't want to think it. He had to say it. It sung. I sat there, shaking my head, as his words took my fears and slapped them in my face. I screamed, wanting it not to be, feeling very much like I was in a movie as I ran back to my room and threw myself on the bed.
Grandma had promised I would visit for the Holidays.
She had failed to mention that she wouldn't be there.
I went through the motions that Christmas. I got cool presents, like the Lord of the Rings blanket Aunt Amy and Kayleigh found at Target, I finally got my guitar...but Grandma was always in the back of my mind. I drank a lot of water on Christmas, to give me an excuse to go to the bathroom so I could cry. But then I would wash my face and go back out smiling. Grandma's funeral was on New Year's Day, so we were leaving at the end of the week.
I think what scared me most about her funeral wasn't facing the fact that she was gone. It was meeting the family.
I had always thought that I would meet Sandy, then my dad or her husband, whichever it was or both if that had turned out, then any siblings.
The night we arrived, there was a family gathering at the Nursing Home Grandma had been at. Except for one cousin who was in Iraq at the time, every living member of Sandy's family was in that room. Near 100 people.
I met everyone at once.
Here's the funny part.
When we pulled up to Grandpa's house, there were some kids running around, chased by a tall Mexican guy. I figured the Mexican was someone's boyfriend or a neighbor. Right?
Everyone saw us pull up and ran inside. We walked up to the house, and my parents made me knock and go in first. I knocked, and this blonde haired, green eyed woman answered teh door with a smile.
"Hi, Elisabeth," she didn't have to ask who I was. "I'm Sandy."
She shook my hand, then ushered me inside. Grandpa Dick was sitting in a rocking chair, and Sandy was naming people in the room. She came to the Mexican guy, standing next to his brother (they looked alike, you could tell). Sandy introduces them to me. "And these are your brothers, Mike and Mark."
Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that Mike and Mark, the blonde Californians in my head, were actually hot Mexicans??!!
My life couldn't get any better (or more awkward o.O).
We had that Family Gathering, and everyone was excited to meet us. The youth group was having a New Year's Eve party that M&M were attending, and they promised Dad they'd look after me. Once we were all in the car headed to the church, us kids alone, they started drilling me about the guys I knew. Of course, Topher popped in my head, and I started to talk about him a little. Mark went all "Where does he live? If he ever hurts you we'll come beat him up..."
That was the second offer I had gotten like that. The first was when my cousin, Jake, joined the Marines.
After years as an only child, it kind of felt nice to know I had family my age who would kill for me.
We had good times, despite the reason we were there. (Mark, if you're reading this, I still can't believe you locked your SISTER out of the bathroom while she was brushing her teeth to do your HAIR!!! lol). I made many new memories, even as I was there to say goodbye.
I went through school. I dated, and some guys were just douches. Normal Teen stuff. But then I would be skipping over another incident, one I don't talk about a lot but need to.
There was one guy who crushed on me, and he seemed nice, but we had only met once or twice when he came with some of my friends to church and youth group. I agreed to see him, in the sense that we would get to know each other better and go from there. Shortly after this there was a Lock-In at Youth Group, which was Star Wars themed (I was a new fangirl to The Galaxy). I don't want to say names at this point, but if you know me well enough either A) you know most of this already or B) know enough to know of whom I speak. I had brought my friend, we'll call her Sally, from school to the Lock-In, both to have fun together and to meet this, we'll call him Fred that I talked so much about. At one point, the majority of the youth group was out playing games or eating, but this was my first time watching Star Wars and were were watching it as a marathon, so I didn't want to miss anything. It was me, Fred, Sally, and one of the youth leaders, when the youth leader ran to get another piece of pizza. Before I knew it, Fred was coming onto me, and I wanted him off, especially with the leader coming back soon. The leader took a while to come back, so Fred kept pushing me to make out with him, and it was just a mess. Finally, the youth leader came back, and Fred acted as if nothing had happened. I went to the bathroom to get away. I came back to find the others gone, so I sat down and enjoyed the rest of the movie. While Leo was putting episode 6 in, I went to find where Sally had gone. Everyone was in the Fellowship Hall, or had come back to watch the movie by now, but my friends were still missing. Shrugging, I still felt tense about what had happened, so I went to shoot some hoops in the gym and let off some steam until the movie came back. I found Fred and Sally in the gym, making out. By this point, my emotions were running so hard I started to get a migraine I went back to the youth room to watch the movie, but I couldn't stand it in there, so I went to the Fellowship Hall, but the lights hurt my eyes. One of the seniors, Jessica, had some over the counter pills for migraines on her, and got permission from Leo to lend me one. Once I was feeling better, I went back to watching the movie and avoided my "friends" the rest of the time. The next week at school, Sally came to me and apologized, saying she felt bad, and she wanted to make it up to me by taking me to prom (I was only a freshman and not allowed unless with a date, and she was a junior). We patched up our friendship, and we never spoke to Fred again. Sally graduated, I dated other guys, then Fred came back. He told me he was different, and that he wanted to start over, so I decided to give him a chance. One day, after church, I had to go to the room where my Sunday School class would meet because I'd forgotten my Bible. This was in the basement of the church, and Fred walked me downstairs. Most of the lights had been turned off to lock the church up, and Fred tried to pull me into a corner. I could tell he was up to trouble, so I told him I had to go and turned to walk away. He grabbed my hand, and I tried to pull away. When he wouldn't let go, I kicked him dead on and ran away, feeling my face burn up. I didn't see him much anymore, but he hacked my personal webpage (at the time when myspace was cool), and began stalking me. With the exception of confiding in my best friends, I told no one, not even my parents, what had happened or that Fred was stalking me. It wasn't until much later that I realized, had I not been too embarrassed or afraid of my dad's reaction (I thought if I told someone what had happened I would be blamed for it somehow), I could have taken care of the Fred problem once and for all, and never have to deal with him again...He was 19, I was 15.
Again, we make mistakes.
Because of everything that had happened to me, I can't tell you how many times I thought about ending my life. I even planned it out a few times, and I ended up becoming a "Chronic Klutz". You see, I can't stand the thought of needles, much less the idea of taking a razor or knife to myself. But that didn't mean I didn't hurt myself on purpose. Sometimes I got hurt because I wasn't paying attention, sometimes I did something stupid and made a cover story; One way or the other, I found that physical pain helped to release the tension I held about my past, at least for a little while. I did have injuries that were accidents; spraining my knee at camp, the time Glenn accidentally dropped five tables on my ankle (love you bud). But not all injuries were accidents. My parents would leave the house for something, so I would punch the wall, not to break it but to hurt my hand. Then my hand would hurt for a few days from the bruises I left on the bone. I won't say too much more, as some things are just plain stupid. The biggest confession in self mutilation, is my biggest embarrassment. Just as I was starting to feel the effects of what had happened to me when I was 6, I was dared to do something at CYT; pluck my eyebrows. I pulled out a couple from each side, and it Hurt! Even as I was wincing in pain, I found that the pain had felt strangely good. I picked at my brows a couple times, and it ended up becoming a nervous habit. Once, while watching movies all night for New Year's with my parents, I pulled at my eyebrows until half of my eyebrow had been pulled out. Eventually, all my eyebrows were gone, but my nervous habit was there. So I moved to pulling at my eyelashes. Today, I wear heavy makeup only because without it, I look like a cancer patient in a wig; I have no eyebrows or eyelashes.
I still struggle with depression, and although I no longer plan my death, I still have moments when I want to punch the wall or stab myself with a mechanical pencil, just because I know the release I can get off of my own pain. It's the only way I ever dealt with it in the past, and it's been hard coming out of that. When I met Sean, and told him all these things I am publicly confessing for the first time, I thought he would disown me (much as I fear many of you will after reading this). Instead, he pulled me into a hug and apologized. He had barely known me two weeks (another long story), and He was apologizing to Me! Why would he apologize to me for my faults and failures, I wondered? He has nothing to be sorry for! Sean has helped me come a long way from where I was, but I have so far to go. And he has been so patient with me, trying to help me break some old habits that have been with me for more than a decade. And now we have the girls, and sometimes when I feel I can't go on anymore and I break down crying, Jaina comes over and gives me a hug, rubs my back, and whispers "Shh, Mommy Okay, Mommy Okay, Shh"...my two year old can't understand how her helpfulness trying to comfort me makes me cry harder!
And so, today, on April 16th, 2013, I wear a semicolon on my wrist. Jaina has one, too. Today, I remember all the things in my past that make me want to die, and all the times I planned it, and all the times I just hurt myself for it. Today, I remember the miscarriage I had, and my beloved Baby Angel that I never even got a picture of. Today, I remember that God has sent me parents who, although overwhelmed by a strange child, took me in and were there for me on my better days, and at least dealt with the bad ones :P . Today, I remember that God sent me to a mother who, at a time when Abortion was growing into one of the leading sought medical services, knew this was NOT the way to go and instead found parents who could not have their own children (I am not bashing abortion, that is another discussion for another time). Today, I remember that God sent me a man who, despite my faults, failures, and blemishes, would Love Me as Christ Loves Me; He Loves Me for Me. And Today, I remember that, had I killed myself so long ago, I would not be able to enjoy the things I started this blog with; I would not have my Jaina, Beautiful Bouskie, I would not have my Hadassah, my Pretty Boo Bear (aka Itchy Butt lol).
Although it is hard, and I have more cloudy days than sunny, God has blessed me with so many things.
And so I wear the semicolon.
This sentence could have ended.
But I didn't.....