The Things We Leave Out

“What an odd thing a diary is; the things you omit are more important than those you put in.” Simone de Beauvoir

I have four blogs left to write; when I saw this quote, I really stopped to think about what I hadn’t written about yet.

There are lots of near death stories: swimming topless in Lake Sakakawea with a bunch of girls, while our friend (as a joke) drove the boat away, as I dog paddled frantically to stay afloat.  Jumping off of the catwalk into the middle of the river because my boyfriend told me he would hold my hand and then let go. Was it an omen for the marriage? Riding with same boyfriend in his car, spinning “cookies” on the lake as the ice made cracking sounds below us…. I survived those times.

I have always loved to hostess parties and there were a couple of great ones, including my friends 16th birthday (the friend who drove the boat away in the above paragraph), which I talked my folks into letting me have at the farm. When the bars closed, adults joined us, going into the house to visit with my parents. Finally at 2:00 Mom asked me to tell everyone to leave. My parents didn’t drink; I don’t know what they were thinking. I got up the next morning and my sister Lisa was out with a garbage bag, picking up the beer cans. I went out to help and she said she had found one sock and one pair of underwear underneath the grain truck.

My 16th was really fun. I took all of my birthday money (sorry Grandma) and talked my cousin into buying a keg. It fit perfectly in my car where the spare tire was supposed to go. It was an old station wagon my Dad was letting me drive, after I rolled my first car. The party was a huge success.  The police raided it, but I don’t think they really expected us to leave; they just enjoyed watching us run. Some of us girls camped out in the station wagon. Our friend Clyde, showed us a safe place to park, where he didn’t think anyone would bother us. I shudder to think of our naiveté; It never occurred to me that someone would think of bothering us. The next morning, we went in to town early to have breakfast. I remember the looks on the early risers, as we crawled out of that car. We looked wild; we really weren’t.

I have left out many stories that I could use to prove a point or validate a decision I made, but they involve other people, so I hold those back, from you my diary.

I haven’t shared, in much detail at all until now, how incredibly much it has hurt me, that there are friends and family members whose disapproval of my blog sometimes weighs me down like a layer of dirt guilt. The violation of my youth is enough; the missing support adds to the pain and is harder to put away when it is current. Don’t ever doubt that those of you, who have supported me with your kindness, will ever be forgotten by me.

Some of my greatest disappointments were women in my life who betrayed me. Men I was trained to expect it from, but not the girlfriends I trusted. I wished women were more supportive of each other, more honest and less bitchy. We tend to be our own worst enemies sometimes. It is hard to fight the peer pressures and spousal pressures, but I’m hopeful we are learning. Loyalty is priceless; let’s keep learning.

There are other things I wouldn’t put in a diary and wouldn’t write to you; moments of bad decisions, shame, and things that don’t need to be remembered. Posterity, how do we want to be remembered? I told my oldest son one day, “When you get up to do my eulogy, don’t put me on a pedestal and make me sound like someone I’m not. Tell the truth.” He grinned and said, “Don’t worry Mom, I won’t, and I will tell the truth” Now I am worried.! 🙂

I don’t know if anything I have left out is more important than anything I’ve said. What’s important is the outcome: a life well lived, a family well loved, gratefulness for friends, and hopefully a dog, or granddogs, and a bottle of wine.




Surviving Divorce.

Writing about divorce is as personal to me as writing about abuse or death.  It sends a weight to the pit of my stomach.  I don’t write other people’s stories and that’s why I’m cautious about this subject.  There wasn’t just me.  There was a spouse and there were children.  Little children who deserved better.

When we pick spouses, we base that decision on many things, love, lust, need, fear, compatibility, escape, ambition, life goals, family suitability… When you are young, I had just turned 19, you don’t know yourself and you certainly are clueless about who you will become.  The newsflash is your intended spouse has the same feelings.  You start out with plans and they go awry, you fight, and pout and beg; there are a few good weeks, and the cycle starts over again.  Eventually someone says enough, or one or both of you make decisions that most people can’t come back from.

When my first marriage ended, I told the children.  One was very young, one was happy go lucky, and one cried and told me it was his fault.  When I assured him that it wasn’t, he said, “Mom, I’ve been praying to God, that you and Dad would get divorced.”  I knew that I didn’t have a choice, no child should bare that kind of responsibility, to want to protect his family so much that he should be pushed to pray for a divorce, in order to have peace.

No one starts out in a marriage planning on a divorce. We all start out wide eyed and innocent, hoping.. no planning…. on the best.  We bring children into it and sometimes we fail.  Typically it’s not just one spouse who fails, both play a part,  I firmly believe though that one person can’t make a marriage work by themselves, not year after year.  There has to be a commitment by both to the marriage, to the family and to the commitment.  In a bad marriage there is no  50/50, it’s 75/20 or sometimes even 90/10, but that isn’t sustainable without someone’s hurt getting too deep.

When I moved to Williston, after my divorce, I started dating and eventually remarried.  I remember distinctly, a couple of women in town who had been divorced twice.  It had been and I’m sure continues to be challenging to be a divorce’ once, let alone twice.  The stigma, even in this day and age, continues to suggest a harlot, a red letter A, plastered firmly on your forehead.  I smile when I write this because it’s archaic, but yet sadly in small towns, it’s true.  I looked at those women and said to myself, “That will never be me.”  You know how God loves that when you make ludicrous statements like that.  God says, “Watch this.”

Well watch I did, not just watch, but I experienced my second divorce.  I was one of “them.”  I had joined a club unwillingly; oh I had initiated the divorce, because I had apparently finessed the talent of poor decision making.  I dated a bit and frankly I lost my appetite for it quickly.  I had learned a lot and was still learning, wanted to learn, wanted to and had decided that being single could be great.  I learned to enjoy being single; the freedom was something I hadn’t experienced before.  I learned to survive divorce.

Do the children survive?  They do, some more quickly than the rest.  My children’s father and I were decent divorced parents; we kept the kids out of most things.  Children are smart though and they always know more and see more than you think.  If my mother had divorced my father, would my life have been better?  Sometimes the damage is already done and it’s hard to know.  I bare full responsibility for my poor decisions.  In a world where everyone likes to shirk their faults and shift the blame to their pasts, or abusers, I won’t.  I could have done better.  I have done better. 🙂


Close to the end…

When I started blogging, my goal was to be disciplined enough to write one years worth, 52 weeks, of blogs on surviving.  I jump in and out of my own sexual abuse survival experiences; while trying to find something that is humorous or will interest you the next.  What was I hoping to gain through this process?  I had many initial thoughts, but now I think it was my voice, and while I was finding my voice, so were millions of women in the “Me Too” movement across the United States and even other parts of the world.

The “Me Too” movement is part of a pendulum motion that has left some men afraid of flirting, not knowing exactly where the boundaries are, afraid of missing a cue and adding to the unsureness of their place.  Rest assured the pendulum will swing back into a place that most of us will find comfort…we will have found our voices…hopefully people will listen to them and if they don’t we can only get louder.  The movement is important, as uncomfortable as we sometimes feel dealing with it.  My blog has made people uncomfortable too.  My sense of knowing it was right comes from you who read it.  I have men and women read it; people from many different countries (Australia, China, Philippines, Spain, Germany, South Africa etc. ) have read it and that is exciting to me, not because those people make me think differently about my purpose of writing, but because I know we are the same..what matters to us is the same.   When we get past the rhetoric and fear, we are more similar than not, regardless  of color, religion, sexual orientation etc.

I have 8 weeks left to write; to share my thoughts and continue to finesse my voice.  I’m going to stay honest and keep myself vulnerable.  When I’m done with my blog, I may continue to blog periodically but won’t post on Facebook.  If you are interested after that point, you can “follow” the post, which means whenever I write something, it will show up in your e-mail box, like a bad penny.  🙂 I have several book ideas roaming around in my head.  I started one years ago, but lacked the discipline, and to be fair, the time to finish it.  My priority first will be to write about my mother’s death.

When Mom was given the sentence of Lung Cancer; it happened so fast we were unprepared.  That’s how cancer works; it snaps up with no apparent provocation and slams the victim into the wall with its severity and the fear it so generously provides.  I don’t believe anyone can be prepared for it.  It also is a horrifying experience for the family.  I’m not going to say in any uncertain terms that when you are fighting for your life and fearful of losing it, that your families feelings are as important…….or are they?  They would be to me, but as my husband tells me, “You don’t know until you experience it.”  The hospice pamphlet we were provided with was helpful, but it didn’t help any of us prepare for what was coming, until the dying process that occurred at the very end.

I hate very little and very few.  I don’t want to give my power and energy away to anyone, or anything that doesn’t deserve it, but I have a strong feeling about cancer, and my way to work through that feeling is to give it a voice.  I hope you will continue my journey of survival with me the next few weeks.  If you are willing to personal message me any insight or thoughts you might have, please feel free to send them to me.  If you have a favorite blog of mine, feel free to share it, or PM me and let me know.  We have been in partnership the last year and I hope it has meant a fraction to you, what it has meant to me..


One Second More……

I had to wait several weeks to write about what I have been incredibly thankful for the past few weeks-my life.  I used to have a bad habit of checking my phone, texting, looking up information, all while I was driving.  I had a couple of things happen, that should have been wake-up calls, but they were like the pain of childbirth; time erases everything.

Driving down the four lane road, I slowed down to 45 as I drove through a small town in ND; actually, it was the town Mom and Dad lived in, before her death and his move to assisted living.  I made it through town, kicked my cruise control on and up to 75 and reached for my phone.  I was taking a few pumpkins to town for the grandchildren and had my sister’s little dog in the back of the Subaru.  Sassy, the dog had actually been Mom and Dad’s at one time.  Mom loved Sassy.

You think you are going to look for a second, but it must have been more than that… I don’t know what made me look up, but directly in front of me was a highway truck, with a flashing arrow.  It was stopped and I was not…  I didn’t even think, just swerved….I got past the truck and pulled off to the side of the road.  Sassy and the pumpkins had gone for a ride and I had to call her a couple of times before she looked around the seat at me.  Her face clearly said, “What in the hell were you doing?”  I held her and cried; I could barely drive the rest of the way to the city.  I called my middle son and he said, “Mom, you’re too old to text and drive.”  “I know,” I said.  I kept seeing the arrow; for days I kept seeing the arrow.  It wasn’t until the next morning, when I woke up and saw the orange cones flying in front of the car.  It had happened so fast; what if my reactions had been slower, what if I had looked up one second later.  My heart rate accelerates, my breath catches, and a tear leaks down my cheek, as I write about it.

All of the things we worry about, that I worry about; controlling my diabetes, having enough money to survive retirement, watching the grandkids graduate and grow in their own lives, writing things that matter in my blog; all of it didn’t matter in that one second.

I put my phone in my glove box now.  I still catch myself reaching for it out of habit.  My phone is an Apple and the new upgrade has an app, which I downloaded, so my phone sends a message out to anyone, who texts me, “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on.  I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.”  Surviving sometimes is just living.. keeping yourself alive.  I have news for my son though, “If we want to live, we are all too old to be texting, while driving.”  When I told my youngest daughter-in-law, I said that if Mom had a save in her, I appreciated her using it on me.  Megan said, “She wasn’t saving you, she was probably saving Sassy.”  I laughed because it would be true.

I am so grateful to be alive….I ate a cookie that day and did some shopping.  One second more…..


Forgiveness is mine

Thanksgiving is coming up soon and it always gets me to thinking about what I’m truly thankful for:  This week I am thankful for forgiveness.

I’m not a perfect person as my children like to tell me regularly.  They tease me about my foibles, the eccentricities of their mother, and my outright mistakes.  (Only they are allowed to do this though, they would set anyone else straight who criticized me.) I have had to ask for their forgiveness and I am so thankful that they have given it to me.  I can’t imagine living with the guilt for the rest of my life, if they said, “No, we can’t forgive you, you are unforgiveable.”  Their father and I made mistakes in our marriage, ending it in divorce, and today respect each other and have given forgiveness.  Our children have benefitted from that and learned from it.  We are a family who believes in forgiveness.

I had coffee today with a classmate from my high school days.  We talked about forgiveness and how it correlates in today’s society.  I shared with her that it upsets me that our entire society seems to have a chip on their shoulder and is unable to give forgiveness.  What we have is a society of victims who can’t give forgiveness, choose not to move forward, and are unable to be healthy survivors.  Here I am on my high horse, I know.  There are wonderful examples of groups of peoples who were treated horribly in history and have moved on: the Italians, the Irish and the Chinese were treated as slaves, they mined and built our railroads receiving little or nothing for pay.  They were spit on, beat up and called names.   They are survivors.

When you act like a victim; people treat you like a victim; you are perceived as weak and unable to take care of yourself.  Look around you.  Some of you will think I am talking about a particular race, or culture, but I’m not.  You see victims everywhere, regardless of whatever stereotype you want to name.  I’m reading a book right now about coal miners in the Appalachians who were treated horribly..  Many moved on and survived; many didn’t.

I understand forgiveness, because I have had to ask for it and I have given it; both are tough. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget, as my children example shows, but forgiveness means you get peace.  The negative energy it takes to not forgive, becomes positive energy, you get to move forward.

My Dad is in assisted living and I stopped up an visited with him the other night for an hour or so.  When I left, I said, “Dad, I’m going to be gone for a couple of weeks, but will see you when I get back.  He said, “Ok, well I will miss you.”  “I love you Dad.”  “I love you too Wanny.”  Our family knows forgiveness.  I know forgiveness.  I wish it for you, with all of my heart.


Don’t trust anyone, not even your Papa..

Trust; the way a child feels about their parent, a dog feels about its owner, a child towards a grandparent, a spouse to spouse….. how do we define it or explain how we lose it?

I don’t know what was wrong with me, when I was a kid.  I loved to jump… I was like a  little Mexican Jumping Bean…  My Dad tells the story of standing in front of the barn working on something; I had climbed to the top of the old two story barn; was only about five, and said, “Daddy should I jump?”  He said, “I don’t care.”, never in a million years thinking I would.  He said he saw a shadow come over his shoulder, and he looked and I had landed in the hay pile next to him.  I jumped off of everything…one afternoon I was practicing my jumping bean routine and Dad had tired of it.  He came upstairs, in our old farm house and said, “I’m going to break you of your jumping.”  He proceeded to have me jump off of everything: beds, dressers, chairs, and finally the banister of the stairs.  He caught me every time, until the bannister.  I jumped and he stepped back.  When I landed on the floor, I asked him why he hadn’t caught me.  He said, “Don’t trust anyone, not even your Papa.”  He told me later that his father had said the same thing to him, at some point in his life.  I understood little of trust at that age, and only thought about it retrospectively later.  How sad it is not to be able to trust.

I don’t jump anymore: I’m afraid of heights and would probably break an ankle, or a hip. 🙂  I’m not very good at trusting either.  Do you trust?  Who would you let catch you if you jumped.  I have seen the trust fall demonstrated at conferences.  You fall back into a colleagues arms…. scary!

I do still try…trusting with bits at a time…my husband, our children, (I trust most dogs!) working on it!  Working on trust leads to disappointment sometimes.  My oldest son told me that I always expect people to do the right thing and that’s why I’m disappointed.  I do expect people to do the right thing and I’m tough; I can stand a little disappointment as long as there’s the chance…  Trust!


PTSD: Please Don’t Call Me Honey

There have been traumatic events over the course of our history.  The PTSD that Veterans experience has started to come to the forefront of our awareness.  My son has a friend, who experienced such severe PTSD, that we worried for his safety.  We all know that the suicide rate is high for Veterans with PTSD.  What is it specifically and why am I writing about it? defines the symptoms as:

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.
There are four types of symptoms of PTSD (en Español), but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.
Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

Now, Luanna why are you writing about PTSD? Are you a veteran?  No, I’m not, but read through the symptoms.  Do you recognize any of them? in yourself? In a friend?  I worked with “At-risk” students for years.  They became my specialty; I could see the best in them, even the days when it was challenging and even when they could never see it in themselves.  Many of the students displayed the symptoms. While most of us have not fought on foreign lands; many people display PTSD.

My abuser called me honey.  To this day, if a male calls me honey, I cringe inside and feel anxious… all these years later.  I dated someone who would call me honey, and I had to close my eyes, breathe, and say to myself, “This is not that person.”  It almost became a mantra, I used to get through a snuggle, for Pete’s sake….. “This is not that person, this is not that person, this is not that person……………

There have been days, when I feel this butterfly in my chest, one, than more…. I want to drive fast, be reckless… I have..  PTSD can be real.  Identify it and get help for it.