Monday, December 29, 2014

I Would Like To Introduce You To My Real Life Friends

Trust me,  you are going to want to read this one through to the end....

It was almost exactly a year ago when I started this journey with you all. The blog went up in October but it wasn't until Dec 23rd that my first article ran and a lot of you found me.

I was about to pull out of the parking lot at the grocery store when all of a sudden my blog email inbox started up with messages. Now I'm not saying 1 or 2 came in, I'm talking about several hundred within the first hour. I'm a little dull so I'm sitting there thinking "who the heck are all these people and how has my blog suddenly become the place to hang out?"

Now mind you I put up this blog and I told no one. There is obviously no family to tell, I didn't tell any of my friends, I just put it up and went along my merry little way, writing for myself and anyone else who cared to read. For all intents and purposes I had walked into the middle of the forest that is the Internet, stuck a twig in the ground, and suddenly thousands of people were noticing that one tiny twig.

8,000 people that day to be exact and I had no idea who any of them were.

I drove home, pulled up the blog, looked at the traffic reader, and realized that an article I had submitted to XOJane 7 weeks prior had published that morning and people were now pouring into my blog from there. 

It was about then that the enormity of what I had done became apparent. I had told the entire world that I had disowned my family and then they followed me here where I proceeded to tell them that my husband was abusive and I had been raped.

Because that's not scary at all....

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hurry Up!

Gah I have so much to fill you guys in on but I know so many people are busy and traveling for the holiday's that I figured I would wait until things calmed down a bit, which for totally selfish reasons I would like to speed up a bit. So could you all hurry up and get back here please? I have a few things to tell you about my ex, a new boy in my life, I want to talk about New Year's resolutions, and oh yea I still have a few people that want to say "hi."

So until you all get back and because it's a "No Work Weekend," I'll leave you with a few other things to read.

**Dear Haters, Stop Judging My Single Mom Status. I'm Not To Blame.** "I am first and foremost a single mother not because of the circumstances that led to my single mom status, but I am a single mother because the father of my children decided that he did not want to be their father anymore."

**Natural Remedies For Cold and Flu Season.**
"I am one of those moms that worries about overusing antibiotics every time my kids get sick, but luckily many illnesses can be treated right from the cabinets of your very own kitchen."

Also, for once I'm not talking about myself! Check out this article where I step out of my own brain for a minute and talk about someone else: **Lucky Puppy Wants You To Shop And Adopt** "This high-end retail store and spa also makes space for rescue pups, and the public -- including Hollywood celebrities -- are taking notice."

Alright peoples, I will see you on Monday and I'm bringing a few of my friends with me!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thank You For Being In My Heart

It's Christmas!!

This has obviously been a strange year for me. I look back through these blog pages and I am astounded by not only how much I have grown, but by what an amazing support system that I have gained along the way, in all of you, my dear readers.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, please know that you all mean the world to me. I know from talking with all of you that as amazing as this season is, it is also a season for painful pasts and navigating new lives.

If there is anything that I can give you this Christmas, it's that I would like to remind you that unique purposes are taught only by creative lessons. 

We may not have everything everyone else has and our roads might be harder, but if we allow ourselves the opportunity to embrace our differences as a means to becoming more than "normal," but something truly amazing, we will realize that the hardships are simply training for the amazing people we are going to be.

You are not alone this season for I hold all of you in my heart.

Yours Truly,

Eden Strong

P.S. I told a few people about all of you and they have a few things they would like to say, so stay tuned for an interesting sort of "hello" from Mr. Attorney Man and a few others you have read about on this blog. 

Photo Credit

Monday, December 22, 2014

True Stories In The Operating Room

As I've mentioned on this blog several times, I had a few major foot and ankle surgeries when I was in my early twenties. You guys have seen the pictures, heard the background story, but what I have yet to tell you about, were the funny parts.

"Funny parts? Broken bones, screws and bolts, tendon transfers, cadaver transplants, and FUNNY PARTS?"

Well, admittedly, they were not funny at the time, but looking back I think I'm starting to appreciate their humor.

For example;

My first surgery was expected to be a long one. Screws were being placed, tendons were being lengthened, donated cadaver parts were being implanted, it was just a big ole' freak circus going on down there.

As I'm waiting in the pre-op room the anesthesiologist walks in and I kid you not, the heavens parted, I heard a chorus behind me play the musical phrase "Dun Dun," he smiled at me, and his teeth glimmered just like they do in cartoons.

Gosh do I love good teeth.

Ok, well maybe that didn't really all happen, but the man was hot. Not just "oh, he is cute," kind of hot, oh no, I'm talking "Hi, while I was between photo shoots for GQ I did a little studying and now I'm a doctor" kind of cute.

He really did have good teeth. Not even good, more like AH-MAY-ZING teeth.

Anyways, so there I sat, patting myself on the back and happy that I had chosen the right hospital, (Go me!!) and drooling at the GQ doctor with AH-MAY-ZING teeth.

"Hi Eden, my name is Something That I Can't Remember and your doctor asked me to come place an epidural line in your leg."

"Um....I thought I was going to be asleep for surgery....what do I need an epidural for?" was the expression I must have had on my face because he said "Oh, don't worry, you are going to be asleep for the surgery, but because it's so involved this will keep your leg numb for up to 24 hours after you wake up."

Marvelous!! Sign me up for that plan!!!

"Ok" I said, "no problem."

"Alright great" he said. "Since this is a teaching hospital, would you mind if a student observed?"

Well sure, no problem, I'm all for aiming to help mold America's youth. Bring the schmuck in.

In walks seven students.

Saaaaay what!?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Make It Count

I have a best friend that has the same name as me. She parents almost exactly like me, even has her kids on nearly the same diet as mine. We shopped for maternity clothes together and when it came time to have our sons baptized, she stood in front of the church and led the congregation in prayer over my son and then I did the same for hers. I spent last Christmas with her side of the family and Halloween with her husband’s side. I feel more a part of their extended families than I have ever felt with my own family. Our schedules are different, our lives are hectic, I don’t see her as often as I would like, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about her. I trust her with my life and above that, I trust her with my children’s lives.

There are no two things more certain about me than the fact that I love my children and that I trust almost no one.

Last week I finalized my will and in the event of my death I left her the custody of my children.

Just weeks after my ex left, she came to me and I will never forget what she said. She said “Eden, I know this is weird and I don’t want to put you in a strange position and if you want to say no I will completely understand and this won’t change anything between us (she was rambling), but I wanted you to know that XXX (her husband) and I have been praying about this, we have talked to both of our families, and I want you to know, and you can say no and I won’t be offended, but if anything were to happen to you we would love to take your children.”

It was so awkward that I made some sort of joke about the fact that I have cute children and if I said “yes” was she going to kill me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Life In My House Is Strange

The other day I got out of the shower and found this dude standing in the bathroom. I looked at him and for a fleeting moment thought "this is strange" before immediately thinking "actually, this is fairly normal around here."

Kids are weird man. I mean there really is no two ways about it, they are weird!

My boy child recently announced to me that he was "too big for my bed so I now seep (sleep) on da for (the floor)."

He was apparently very serious about that.

Serious enough to commit to it night after night.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?

The Girl Child wanted to build a gingerbread house this year, but with our dietary restrictions the only place I could find a gluten and dairy free kit was online and it was $29, plus shipping, plus a several week delivery time.

Yea that's not happening. I don't really have the time to be baking gingerbread walls either, so...sorry kid.

A couple days later I was in the grocery store and just happened to walk past the largest marshmallows I have ever seen in my life. I stood there for a minute and started thinking about the ridiculous amount of cookies the food pantry had given us and the left over frosting and chocolate chips that I had from another project. I grabbed a bag of the ginormous marshmallows, a jar of marshmallow fluff, and headed home.

I decided that while we couldn't make a gingerbread house, we could make snowmen!

Be aware this was made by a 3 yr old so it's imperfectly perfect.

I have to say, not only do I think the project went well but the kids had a blast!!

Do you want to try it too? Of course you do! (I'm feeling a little over confident here)

What you will need:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Did You Hear About The Tradition That Killed The Reindeer?

Christmas growing up in my household, like many households, was basically like living in the movie "Groundhog Day" only with a holiday twist. Every year it was the same cast, same scenery, same lines, except we all just kept getting older and there was a Christmas tree. My father, having Aspergers syndrome, was extremely set in his ways of thinking when it came to "this is how we do things."

So what that looked like was that every Christmas morning, year after year, my father would inevitably get upset with us moments upon our awakening and cancel Christmas. I'm not even kidding. My brothers and I used to take bets as to how far we would make it into the festivities before he canceled the holiday all together. Would it be 9am? 10am? Oh look there he goes,grumbling and yelling and canceling Christmas. The man seemed to be under the impression that if he deemed Christmas to be canceled, then it was. Inevitably Christmas would re-open for business a few hours later once he had calmed down and we would move onto even more ridiculous traditions like the fact that every year he gave us socks.

Not just socks, but SOCKS.

Packages and packages of socks.

My brothers and I were utterly annoyed as children, because "yay, presents!! oh wait, just socks." We were so geared up for the disappointment of our Fruit of The Loom Christmas that we would shake all the packages before we opened them just so we could seek out the socks and open them first. No kid likes to get to their last present and have it be socks.

Then my father got smarter and started messing with us. He would wrap them in different sized boxes and add in a few random household items to throw us off.

"Oooo, this is a nice heavy box! I bet it's....oh wait. It's my mother's curling iron, a two pound weight, a few rocks from the backyard, and socks."

Monday, December 8, 2014

What Is Sex Like After Rape?

As you guys know I’ve been a support group leader for sexual assault and domestic abuse victims for a while now. Aside from running general groups, I specialize in assisting sexual assault victims with regaining their sexuality.

Support groups are fantastic, amazing, wonderful places, but unfortunately they are oftentimes filled with women who have been so beaten down that they are too shy to speak up. They are feeling shame for what happened, shame for their bodies, and embarrassment for a crime that involved such a private act. Compound that with the fact that the leaders of the groups certainly don’t want trigger anyone by bringing up the whole “penis in vagina” topic that brought most of the women there in the first place, it leads to the fact that oftentimes sex after rape is just simply not talked about in many groups.

These women got forced into a sexual act and then no one wants to talk about what the next sexual encounter might be like. How scary to have the most terrifying event in your life take place and then have no one prep you for what might happen the next time you encounter a situation that while totally different, is kind of the same?

It occurred to me one day, while teaching strip class to assault survivors, that here I was assisting these women while they reclaimed their sexuality, and then I was sending them back out into their lives afraid to use that sexuality.

I let all the women know that I would be holding a special group specifically to talk about sex after rape and then left it up to them to decide if it was something they felt like they could benefit from.

They all showed up and then some.

Since this is a subject rarely talked about in most support groups, I’ll ask you, do you know what sex is like after rape?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Send Laundry Detergent

So, we had a lot of fun plans for this weekend, but instead we are doing this:

In case you don't know what that is exactly, I will explain it to you:

The Boy Child is sleeping next to a trashcan while I clean up all the places he marked his three year old territory with the stomach flu.

In other words, we are having a grand old time!

Seriously though, I'm over the germ factory we seem to be running around here. My only hope is that because my kids are in daycare and school that we are just catching everything right away and then will be good for the rest of winter.

A girl can hope, right??


Before I go though I wanted to leave you with two articles that I wrote. Typically I just pop in here and say something to the effect of "oh and hey if you are bored you can also check these out," but this week I feel a little stronger about these articles.

This one in particular "I Didn't Realize My Husband Had Raped Me On Our Wedding Night" was a tough one for me to write. I debated pulling it from my editor several times but in the end decided that if even one woman read it and was able to see what was going on in her own marriage, then it would be worth it. So if you don't mind reading and sharing, let's make it worth it!

Also, do you want to know my biggest pet peeve ever?

I would say that I'm a fairly easy going person but if you want to know a sure fire way to get my blood boiling, this would be it. "Sorry, You're NOT a Single Mom Just Because Your Husband Works A Lot." Seriously, stop claiming my title.

Well, I'm going to head back to washing bedding and cleaning carpet, so have a little fun for me this weekend ok?

In fact, guys in particular, TAKE NOTE.

"9 Really OBVIOUS Things We Wish You Did More Of In Bed."

Alright, I'm procrastinating now.

Laundry, barfy kids, here I come.

Yours Truly,

Very tired and totally grossed out,


Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Met The New Neighbors

So I met the new neighbors.

I was supposed to meet Frisbee Boy's Mom for lunch and she asked me to stop by her house first. When I got there she literally handed me a banana bread and said "I made this for your neighbors so go over there and meet them. Take this with you and don't tell them I made it."

I'm not used to listening to "adults" anymore so this "mom" thing she has going on these days is still new to me. Although, I have watched enough TV to know that at this point I'm supposed to say "ok, will do," and so I did.

That night shortly after I got home, I walked across the yard to my new neighbor's front door and rang the doorbell.

The next thing I know I can hear someone yelling and I, like a total idiot, am looking behind me, above me, and next to me, wondering who is making so much noise.

Then I hear the knocking.

I only then realize that the sound is coming from the window next to the front door, the window where some dude is knocking to get my attention and yelling "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" at me.

"Uh...I live next door, I uh..." and then he cut me off with "HOLD ON."

The door opens and a man with a long pointy beard and an eclectic sense of style is standing in the doorway. "Do you want to come in?" he asks me.

Um no, not really, because I'm a little freaked out now, but you know what? It's 13 degrees outside so I'm willing to risk it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

My Christmas Tree Might Actually Fall Over

The kids and I put up our Christmas tree last night.

It's not the seven and a half foot tall, lush and well lit, sprinkled with "snow" tree that typically adorns my living room. It's not decorated with the expensive Macy's ornaments that my extended family purchased for me year after year (despite me telling them that I don't collect ornaments). Long gone are the "our first Christmas ornaments" that my ex and I got and far away are the hopes and dreams that went with them. It doesn't even have the ornaments on it that I helped my daughter make for her daddy the first three years of her life. It also doesn't have the snowflake on top that the man-that-came-after-my ex and I bought on our first Christmas together.

Nope, this tree is barely four feet tall, fairly sparse in branches, has sporadically placed lights, and the ugliest ornaments that you have ever seen because I set the kids loose in the dollar section of the store with five dollars each and told them to "have at it" and the rest of the ornaments we made ourselves.

I love it.

I've faced a lot since my ex left and for a long time I just pushed through one experience after another, willing myself to face the past and walk through the pain. As I explained in the post "That Post Where I Show You My Ex," it was important to me to stare painful memories in the face of their ugliness and prove to myself that I could not only accept them for what they were, but move beyond them. I needed to revisit those memories, the memories of my pain and my failures and replace them with new memories of my strength and perseverance.

That never happened with my Christmas tree. The first year my ex was gone I didn't even want to pull it down from the attic.

You see there is nothing that a person with a childhood like mine wants more than a Hallmark movie holiday. Sure, I get it, it's probably not realistic, but I wanted it. I wanted it so bad that it hurt. I would spend hours researching the local holiday events; events that we never made it to. Every year I would put on Christmas music, make hot chocolate, pop popcorn, and wait for my husband to get home so we could decorate the tree. Some years, he simply never came home and on the years that he did, well let's just say that it never turned out like I had imagined. In fact the last year he was here, my dreams of a "Hallmark style tree decking" ended when he threw the popcorn bowl (with the popcorn still in it), at me before storming out of the house while screaming "this is why I don't come home to you" simply because I wanted to put Christmas music on. He left me in a pile of tears and hurt feelings while I joined him in berating myself for ruining another holiday.

Year after year I tried, and year after year I was left with nothing more than broken dreams and the sting of failure.