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I talk a lot, but I don’t always voice the things that are hurting me or causing me anxiety or stress.  I have always been the type of person who puts those hurts and indignities that I suffer in a neat little box in my brain and file it away, slowly building up a thick wall around it.  I can visual my brain as this endless file room full of various sized boxes depending on what needs to be filed away.  I don’t forget, I just harden myself to whatever has occurred.  It has probably made me more jaded and cranky that some folks, but I am better equipped to deal with difficult things if I can force myself to become objective.

I have had a worse life than some and a better life than most.  I have achieved nearly every goal I have set for myself.  College – check.  Grad school – check.  Work in a law firm – check.  Change careers and become a teacher – check. Fix my credit – check.  Find the love of my life – check.   Unfortunately, I have come upon the one goal I will never achieve.  You can call it a goal or a dream, a want or a desire, whatever label you put on it, I will never be able to get pregnant.  Being a mom is something I always wanted.  I always thought about “my kids” and what they’d be like and how it would be.  I may be come a mother, if adoption works out, but I will never know what it’s like to actually be pregnant.

My husband and I endured many miscarriages and finally got pregnant three years ago. I made it past the “danger zone” and told everyone the great news.  A week later, we found out that we had miscarried when we had a routine appointment.  It shredded my heart.  I wailed.  Even as I write this, my heart feels like it’s breaking again.  We went through the procedures you have to after an event like this, but I never really got over it  How do you?  You just put on the mask and move about your day.  I have always been good at masking things and eventually that box gets filed away, and I can move on. I have had other miscarriages since then, but no pregnancies that we ever though were going to be successful, no “this time it will work” moments.  My husband is amazing and understands me so well that even though I don’t want to talk about it and don’t, he knows.

This time last year we had an adoption in the works.  In March, she had the baby, invited us up to see her, hold her and name her, filling out the birth certificate.  We were to take her home on a Tuesday.  By the end of the day that Tuesday, she wasn’t returning calls and we learned that she had changed her mind.  Though I harbor no ill will or animosity towards this girl, it was just another thing to shred my unhealed heart.

Trying to become a mom has been the one failure or disappointment that I can’t get over or tuck away or not think about. I literally think about it every day.  “Oh, I will never wear maternity clothes” as I walk past them in Target.  “If everything had worked out, I would have a baby here this Christmas to buy gifts for.  I have a Christmas ornament I bought during that pregnancy that has never been taken out of the box.  I have a room full of things in my house that were supposed to be used to decorate a nursery.  It just chips away at you a little at a time.  You never know what will cause you to burst into tears.   I have always been considered strong and confident, but this one thing that thousands of women do every day, create a life, future and love it while it grows inside of you, I can’t do.

Now, my doctor tells me he doesn’t want me to get pregnant. I have other issues that will impede the process and possibly kill me if I do it.  No one wants to read about medical details, but I must have a procedure in a week that will prevent me from getting pregnant because it could literally kill me.  Then in May, when I should be planning my summer off and what I’ll be doing with my child, I will be getting a hysterectomy.  I am old. I am almost fifty. We have been trying for 5 years.  In the beginning, I thought we stood a chance.  I think that little spark of hope was my biggest enemy.  I let myself think this would happen.

Not only do I feel like a failure, but I feel like I a depriving my husband of the opportunity to be a dad.  He doesn’t agree and is so loving and supportive, and that makes me feel bad because I don’t feel like I deserve that.  If he hadn’t married someone so old, he’d be able to be a father.  I waited until I was older to get married and have kids.  I wanted to be married and then have a child. I grew up with a grandmother and no mom or dad around.  I didn’t want to repeat that cycle.  I also didn’t meet anyone I wanted to marry.  I never wanted to get married just because other people thought I should.  I wanted to wait for “the one”, and I did.  That I do not regret at all.  He says, he had to marry me, I am his soul mate.  I know he’s mine, too, but that I can’t give him a child breaks my heart even more.

At this point, my heart is a tattered mess.   I don’t want to see a therapist, but I probably will.  I do think that writing this all down is cathartic.  I also think that hopefully, with some actual closure and the spark of hope is gone, I will be able to pack up the box and tuck it far away in my head.  I know that my situation isn’t unique or special, and I am holding out hope that we will be able to adopt, but that, too, must have a deadline. I can’t go on forever hoping that it will happen.

I am not writing this for pity or whatever you want to call it.  Just keep this story in mind when you so freely ask women “Don’t you want to get married?”  “Don’t you want kids?”   First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, it could be a subject that brings an onslaught of emotions and pain.

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June 4, 1987, I had it ALL planned out, no vision boards necessary. The next ten years were all laid out in my head.  I would go to the College of Charleston, live with my best friend, become a child psychologist, find Mr. Right, get married, have 3 kids (all boys) and live happily ever after.  HAHAHA!  Oh, how much I knew at 18.  I did go to C of C and live with Amy Jo.  That’s about as far as I got in my 10-year plan.  During my Freshman year, I met and fell in love with who thought was my Mr. Right.  We were together for 4 years, then broke up the month I graduated.  During my Sophomore year, I decided I didn’t want to be a child psychologist.  I had always thought about teaching and law school.  So, obviously, the next step was to obtain a very useful English degree.  While I was doing that, I was also taking education classes so I could teach when I graduated, until I went to law school.  Changing my major and my overly active social life, plus working three jobs screwed up my credit hours, I ended up getting to the end of my financial aid eligibility and not finishing my student teaching.  I graduated.  I moved home.  I got a job in a law firm.  I got my paralegal certificate.

All that time, I was living with my grandmother.  Ultimately, we would live together until her death.  She could not financially take care of herself when she got too old to work, so I took over the bills.  I was glad to do it.  She had worked hard her entire life.  She deserved some time to lounge around and a little pocket money from her Social Security check.

Fast forward 20 years from my high school graduation.  My grandma passes away.  She had been ill and chose to no longer take her medications.  The event in my life that I am most proud of is allowing her the dignity of her death. She never wanted to be in a hospital, hooked up to machines.  My entire life she had always told us she wanted to die at home.  That was my last gift to her.  She died in her bed surrounded by her family and friends.  I will never regret that decision.

So, I still hadn’t found Mr. Right, had three sons but I was living pretty happily, aside from the normal grief that comes with life and death.  Ultimately, I did find and marry Mr. Right.  Unfortunately, it was rather late in life and I don’t know that we will have 1 child, much less three.  I can take some solace in knowing that I have had the joy of impacting the lives of hundreds of children.

Now, 30 years later, almost to the day, my senior class is celebrating and preparing for our reunion.  I am seeing lots of family and friends graduate or promote from kindergarten, middle school, high school and college.  I think about all of those high school and college graduates and their “plans”.  I can only offer advice that at 18 or 22 you’re probably not going to think is very realistic.

First, take chances.  Don’t sit and wait for anything to come to you.  It won’t.  Whether it’s a job opportunity or that special girl or guy, you have to go after it.  Time is not on your side.  In one blink, you are 30 then 40 then 30 again (haha).

Second, forgive.  Don’t hold grudges or hatred towards someone else, if you can avoid it.  It only makes you feel bad.  They usually don’t even know or care.  Forgiveness is more for you than for the other person.  It allows you to move on.

Third, don’t wait.  That’s similar to taking chances, but different.  Don’t wait for that ex-girlfriend to realize she wants you back.  Don’t wait until your 40 and then decide you want to go to law school, but realize you have too many adult responsibilities to justify another $100k for schooling.

Fourth, have fun!  There are so many amazing things you can do.  Travel alone, meet new people.  Take that class in class French cuisine or creative writing.  Plant flowers in the yard because you LIKE that, not because you want your yard to live up to the Joneses down the road.  Be silly.  It’s okay to laugh at yourself.  It’s pretty necessary actually to keep a sane mind

Fifth, let the people you love know it.  I have a friend whose parents never say they love each other or even tell this man or his sister that they love them.   I tell my husband multiple times a day that I love him.

Sixth, actions speak louder than words.  Sometimes idioms enter our culture because they are true.  Thought you may tell others you love them, SHOW them you love them. Clean up the cat barf because you know your wife doesn’t like to.  Call and make the dental appointment because you know your husband hates talking on the phone.  You can still be a snarky jackass and show kindness.  Just ask me, I do it every day.

Seventh, cut the people out who need to be cut out.  Sometimes, we have to “break up” with friends and even family because they are toxic to our lives.  We must watch out for ourselves sometimes.  It’s not easy, but sometimes it is necessary for your well-being.

Eighth, sometimes we don’t know everything.  Whether you’re new to a job or in a workplace, whether you are going through an illness or a divorce, SOMEONE has been there before and can give you reassurances, guidance and an empathic ear.

Ninth, step out of your comfort zone.  Try new things that scare you! Public speaking! Parachuting out of an airplane! Asking that person out! Getting out of your rut will invigorate you!

Tenth, finally, ignore all of this if you want, because ultimately, it’s your life to live and no one can judge you for your decisions and how you carve your path.  As long as your actions don’t inflict harm on others, trudge on.

I’m not writing this just for you nubile adults just graduating.  Sometimes we old folks need a reminder, too.

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Tonight my nephew and I were riding to a friend’s house to go walking to the park. While we were driving we had the following conversation:

K (me) – Mattie, do you have a girlfriend?

M – No, but Riley does

K – He does? How do you feel about that?

M – It’s okay. Do you have a boyfriend, Kitty?

K – No.  What would you think if Kitty got a boyfriend?

M – It would be good.

K – So you would like that?

M – Yes, we could all hang out and watch Transformers.

K – Oh, is that what you want us to do?

M – Yes.  It will be fun. I will get a girlfriend when I am ten.  I want to get a girlfriend and marry her and have children.  Then we’ll move out and live in our own house.

K – Oh? Well, are you going to marry the girl you are dating when you’re ten?

M – yes.

K – Don’t you want to move out of your house before you get married and have children?

M – No.

K – Are you just going to live with Mommy then until you get married and have children.

M – Yes.

K – Well what if you meet a different girl in college?

M – I’m going to college when I’m TEN??

K – No, when you’re 18.

M –  Oh, well I will not have a new girlfriend. Would you like for me to have a girlfriend, Kitty?

K – Oh yes! I would drive you to the park to play together.  Do you want a girlfriend with blonde hair like Annie and Sammie or with hair like Kitty and Mommy.

M – Blonde. Sammie is good.

k – Do you like Sammie?

M – Yes.  I don’t think I want a girlfriend I don’t know, and I already know her. So it will be good.

K – Sammie is pretty, and she’s very sweet.

M – Yes, she is always nice to me. And I know her (apparently that’s his only standard for a girlfriend)

K – What about Annie? She might be jealous. She’s been your girlfriend for a long time.

M – Well, I can have two.  Actually, I will have Annie, Sammie and Claire.

K – Claire can’t be your  girlfriend.  She’s your sister.

M – Ok, well I will just have two then.

K – Girls don’t really like that most of the time.

M – Girls don’t like to share?

K – Not boyfriends

M – Oh, well I will decide when I am ten.

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– Tonight, I have a raging headache that I have been fighting for days. I am now drugged up on Benadryl and Dalmane, hoping for some sleep.

– I have had a roller coaster week, and right now I am on a down slope. I can see a little curve up ahead, but I don’t know if that’s going to take me back up or further down.  I’m not sad, so don’t be sending me all these little pity comments. I am just frustrated, confused, broke and ready for good things to happen on a regular basis.

– It has been a shitty year, and I am ready for the next six months to be awesome. The first six have sucked in a major way.   If there was just one area of my life that was AMAZING, the mediocre parts wouldn’t be as oppressive.

– Really, the problem is I am not used to failing at things I attempt.  (Except Algebra)  Somehow, a specific area of my life has proven time and again to be a failure. Please no homey epithets or clichés.  I am NOT a fatalist.  I am realistic and pragmatic.  I am also about ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

– I have always worried about meat going bad in the fridge, but after hours of watching Food Network, and watching them let meat sit in a marinade for 3 and 4 days, I am rethinking this.

– I was a late bloomer, and did not date a lot in high school.  I didn’t for a while, but this year I tried to be more proactive, but I have at least been going on dates pretty regularly this year. I pretty much hate it. I like being in a relationship, but I hate the dating process.  I hate all that wondering and doubting and insecurity.  This is why it’s just easier to be single.

– I am really baffled by people who still vote for bad politicians. I don’t mean bad as in “evil”, I mean they suck at their jobs.  I am not going to continue to vote for someone who is doing a shitty job just because they have a D beside their name.

– As a child and well into adulthood, I was obsessed with bubblegum and blowing bubbles. I have spent thousands of dollars on Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba, Fortune gum, Bubblicious, Super Bubble.  Once, I start chewing it, it is almost physically impossible to stop myself.

– I need to find some duck fat and cook something in it. It is apparently the culinary shit.

– I also am beginning to think I need to move to a new state or city.   I don’t think I’m a suitable Southern Girl, which has resulted in my chronic singular status.  Although, on occasion I meet someone who makes me think, maybe…. I am looking at options for relocation within the year. Shhh, don’t tell my friends.

– Parents, you should go ahead and tell kids now that life is going to be hard and nothing will go according to plan.  Right now, my godmother is struggling financially, and I think she’s a bit lonely.  When I was younger money never seemed to strap her like it does now, but she was ill and had to quit working for a while. Now she’s trying to find work, but it’s not easy for a women in her 60s to obtain gainful employment, although she is VERY skilled. I am sure this is not how she planned her twilight years to be. I can guarantee that this is not the adulthood I thought I’d have.

– I wish bacon was low fat and healthy.  I’d be in tip top shape.

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Don’t think that when you see me that you know me.  You don’t. I have secrets, fears and dreams that no one will ever know. I don’t even know some of them.  You’ll never know what words, images, thoughts will put a bitter knot in my throat and chest. You won’t mean to illicit that physical response, but you will.  You won’t imagine that your good news will chip away what little bit is left of a heart that has been superglued, stapled, trussed, duct tape to hold it together just a little longer.  You won’t imagine that i would love to have your problems – that I would change places in a heart beat.

You will know that I AM happy for your, even I am sad for me.  I will commiserate with you and help you plot revenge, solutions or just take part in a drunken night.  My heart is breakable, broken, irreparable in some parts, but my mask is in tact and flawless.

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Like so many other people across the eons, Music has been a huge part of my development into the adult I am.  As a small child, every Saturday morning, after breakfast, Grandma put the stack of LPs on that big stereo that was a piece of furniture.  Some of you remember them, wooden, long, almost like a side board for the living room. Her tastes were as eclectic as mine are today.  The selection would include, Ray Charles, The Statler Brothers, Tammy Wynette, Elvis, George Jones, The Temptations, Liberace, Slim Whitman, some polka album she loved, etc.  I think to this day, Grandma is the reason I can’t clean without music pouring out of the house.  Obviously as I grew older, I began to make my own musical decisions. Grandma never, ever censored what we listened to, watched on television, movies we saw.  She would explain to us anything we had questions about.  Along with Grandma, I had my aunt, my mom and my best friend’s sister as musical influences.  They all listened to such variety. Between all of them, and the radio and my friends, I learned to love The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Aerosmith, AC/DC. Loretta Lynn.  It runs the gambit.

As a small, small girl,  like 4 and 5, my favorite singers were Charlie Rich and Tom T. Hall. Charlie Rich was my all-time favorite.  “The Most Beautiful Girl” and “Behind Closed Doors” were always played for me at my request.  Of course, I had NO idea what “Behind Closed Doors” was really about, but I loved The Silver Fox, and so it didn’t really matter. We weren’t really allowed to park in front of the TV too much with Grandma, but we did get to watch Hee Haw. I can remember see Charlie perform on there.Tom T. Hall had an album “Tom T. Hall Sings for Kids”.  It had those songs “I Love” and “Sneaky Snake” on it. Grandma would play that album for me all the time.  It often made it in the Saturday morning stack.

Obviously by middle and high school, I had been exposed to hundreds of songs and bands. I have always had a different drummer to march to, so as much as liking mainstream music, I often went against the grain, and there ain’t no shame in my game.  Yes, I love bands like N*Sync and performers like Nelly, but I also like the Violent Femmes, The Clash, KISS, Metallica etc.

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Of all the music I have been exposed to, bought, downloaded, seen live, loved and hated, it’s almost impossible to pick out favorites because songs mean different things to you at different times, and sometimes, it’s just music for fun.  In March of 1987, I turned 18. That year, I had come to love Beastie Boys, much to the disdain of my best friends, until I just forced them to listen so often they caved in to the awesomeness.  There weren’t many preppy white kids at Dreher loving hip hop and rap, but I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood and was around black kids and white kids alike, so as my black friends were discovering rap and hip hop, I went along for the ride.  Beastie Boys “License to Ill” is still one of my top ten albums of all time.  But it wasn’t Mike D or Jam Master J who was invading my brain, heart, soul, bones.  It was as band I had been listening to for years, thanks to WUSC and MTV’s 120 minutes. That March, Bono, The Edge, Larry, and Adam moved in to my being, and never left. My best friend bought me the cassette “The Joshua Tree” for my birthday, and I was done.  From the first listen to that album, every song resonated with me in some way.  Even now, some songs can get me choked up, make me want to dance, laugh, get angry.  “With or Without You” got me through a broken teenaged heart. “Trip Through Your Wires” helped me realize yes, broken hearts are survivable. “Where the Streets Have No Name” made me want to explore my own small world and stretch it like a canvas.  I have owned dozens of copies of the cassette and CD because I have played the different  copies so often, they’ve needed to be replaced.  I will never change the radio station if one the songs on this album comes on.  I have heard Bono sing those songs to me in person, knowing that he IS singing them just for me while The Edge mesmerizes me with his guitar.

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The only other album that has come close to this level of intense connection for me is Pearl Jam’s first album, Ten.  I obtained a promo copy of this album from my friend and neighbor in college, Rob.  He wanted some sweatshirt I had, so we bartered.  I gave him a lime green champion sweatshirt for the CD that revolutionized my senior year in college. from the first note that came out of my shitty stereo, I fell in love.  Head over Heels in love.  Those grunge boys had nothing on Kurt and his crew, as far as I was concerned.  I loved Nirvana, but I absorbed Pearl Jam.  Again, another album that ANY song can take me back to that senior year.  My college boyfriend broke up with me and pulverized my heart that spring.  “Black”, “Oceans”, “Why Go” and “Alive” nursed me back to some semblance of sanity so that I was able to survive that once in a life time event, the moment your first love breaks your heart and leaves you stunned.  I could be angry and rock out “Evenflow”, “Porch” or “Deep” and just be loud and crunchy – Oh stone and Mike with those guitars.

No two albums will ever replace these as the albums that shaped my life and attitudes about so much.  I often wish my life was “The Kentucky Fried Movie” so I could have my own personal soundtrack as I moved from highs to lows, successes and defeats, boredom and excitement.  These albums would have a starring role.

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OK, I have been pretty open about the whole “I’m going to try to the online dating thing”.  In December, I filled out a profile for OK Cupid.  I have actually had some pretty decent success on this one.  I’ve gone on a few dates.  I do have a couple of complaints (of course).  It specifically states in my profile that I am looking for a LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP.  So why then, do these guys who just want to get laid have a casual affair continue to contact me? PLEASE READ!!!  Also, in a similar vein.  why do you guys have long term relationship as one of the things you’re looking for when clearly you’re not looking past how to get me out of my panties.

Unfortunately for me, I am at an age where most of the men I am meeting have been married and divorced and are bitter about love and relationships again.  Thanks bitchy, cheating women for making my life difficult.  Granted, I CAN be a bitch, but I have never cheated one someone, so why should I have to suffer?  Most of the guys I meet are ready to be a 20 something bachelor again, whereas I am ready to finally settle down and get married. I’ve even gone out with guys I would normally say no to.  I’ll keep trying I guess.

Being a Finney Girl is a hard task.

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