Friday, December 25th, 2020
“Remember.” Spirit, whispered in my ear. “Remember, everything.” She whispered, again. I found myself, somewhere caught in between being asleep and being awake; fully able to hear her voice. “Remember, Kirsten. Remember.” She spoke a little louder this time. Her voice is soft and sweet but a little raspy. It is deeper than I would have imagined. It startles me awake.
4:44am, on the dot. I have been waking up at this exact time, for weeks now. I could already hear the puppies stirring, ready to nurse on mama and ready to play. “God knew I needed this litter of puppies in my life!” I happily proclaim to myself. They were a whole month old and already developing their own little personalities. Honestly, I did not mind getting up with them at this time in the morning because it gave me some “me time,” before the day starts. Believe it or not my kids are more work than eight, five week old Labradoodle puppies. I looked forward to this time in the morning. Just me and the puppies. We would only have them for a few more weeks, anyhow.
I roll out of bed and head straight to the bathroom to relieve myself and load my morning bowl of marijuana before I make my way out to the garage to my ‘toke space.’ My favorite spot to enjoy some quiet time. Wake and bake; that is how I start each day. It allows me to settle and clear my mind, before attending to my children and their never ending list of needs. It helps me keep my cool; as I am often quick to anger when under stress and pressure. Which is frequent with three children. Two with special needs. I sprinkle a little keef, for a little extra kick. “Today is Christmas, after all” I think to myself, as I take a hit. The smoke is cool and refreshing, thanks to ice cold bong water. Just like I like it. After a few hits, I find myself feeling, what I like to call, “normal.” Marijuana slows down my brain just enough to allow me to complete an entire thought. “I wonder if people without mental illness feel normal, like I do, on weed,” I think silently. The thought is fleeting, as are most.
By the time I get to the puppies they are more than ready to play. I cringe as I get closer to the pin and smell six hours worth of puppy poop. No one talks about the amount of poop that comes out of these adorable fur balls. “Adorable, my ass,” I say out loud to myself, trying not to gag. If I did not love puppies so much the poop would definitely keep me from ever breeding my dog again. But just like with my own children, it is all a part of the job. So, I do it without complaint. I change their disgusting puppy pads and refill their water. This morning though, they are particularly rambunctious. So I grab my phone, throw on my favorite rose-pink fur robe and grab an arm full of puppies to take outside.
Even though it is legitimately freezing outside we all bundle up on the porch under a heavy blanket. The cold always calms them down. And let’s face it; this was more for me than them. I love the puppy snuggles. I grab my favorite puppy. Rosie, named after her mama, Riley Rose. Rosie just so happens to be the runt of the litter. I place her in my lap and stroke her curly black coat of hair. They say you should not play favorites but it is hard not to when the others single her out. Extra love never hurt anyone, anyhow.
I pop in my AirPods, and turn on the Gaia app. It is basically, youtube for those who are going through or are already “spiritually awakened.” I particularly love it because they provide content about all things spiritual, ancestral history, channeling of higher beings and my favorite new subject, aliens. Or, Higher Dimensional Beings. That is what they probably prefer to be called. It is 2020 afterall. You are required to be “politically correct,” these days. Either way, I discovered great content that helped me learn about all things UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, formerly known as UFOs), and even learn about ancient civilizations. Like the Ancient Sumerians, who really fascinate me. They were said to be the first human civilization, on Earth. I wanted to learn as much as possible. As quickly as possible. “Had they taught this stuff in school, maybe I would have enjoyed it more,” I think to myself. I always hated school. As an adult, however, I find learning to be invigorating and something I can not get enough of.
Rosie snuggles into my lap, and warms herself against my body. The warmth from the puppies is calming but the bitter cold still nips at my nose. I look down at my phone to see how much time is left on the video I am watching, because I do not have much time to relax this morning. It is Christmas morning and we have got a full house of children that will be awake any moment. Thirteen minutes and thirty three seconds have played of the video I am watching, so far. I can not stop the spread of the smile across my face as I witness yet another “Angel Number,” in my life. They are literally everywhere. “You are still on the right path,” I tell myself with confidence. They say the repeating numbers you see have meaning behind them. I am not quite sure what I believe just yet. However, I do know they are telling me that my entire “spirit team” is still here with me. They are my personal “angels” that protect me and guide me during my stay here on Earth. They consist of everything from spirit animals, to ancestors and beings from higher realms and dimensions. Some even say your higher or future self are the ones who lead your spirit team. At least this is what I have come to believe. I have always believed in things like evil spirits and ghosts but I have never been one to believe in anything beyond this realm, that may be here for our betterment. I was struggling with the thought that a spirit could be anything other than evil or sent by the Devil himself. Thank you, modern day religion.
I get lost in my thoughts again and lose track of what they are talking about in the video playing on my phone. Just the night before, a woman on Facebook responded to my comment thanking her for sharing her “gifts,” she was providing for free. She was a Starseed, like me. She also is a psychic medium and able to channel connections with spirits from higher realms. But something about her comment changed a little bit of my soul when I read it. The only thing she said was simple. “I know you did not ask for a reading but I want you to know that you have met Jesus.” She replied to my gesture of gratitude. Her single sentence remark was all I could think about. I have MET JESUS? How? When? Where? I had so many questions but I was not even sure where to start. I was not even sure I really believed in Jesus. I find it hard to fathom that one single person could make such an impact on humanity. He was superhuman and we have been taught that that is impossible. Yet, we are supposed to believe the story of Jesus and his ability to heal and use magic. All while telling us that those very things are evil. It made everything in this World so much more confusing than it needed to be. Despite my doubts, I was overcome with excitement for this message that I believed was sent directly by my spirit guides, from Heaven above. “You have met Jesus,” I whisper to myself. “What the fuck does that mean?” I question, half laughing at the insanity that this thought brings. I do not get a reply from Spirit and I am slightly annoyed. It would be much easier if I could just hold an actual conversation with someone and not rely on my thoughts to provide me with answers. The whole thing was overly confusing and new to me. Learning to navigate these interactions with Spirit was beginning to overwhelm me. I pull myself back to reality and glance at the clock on my phone. It reads 5:55. Flustered; I set the puppies off of my lap and stood up quickly. It is already past time for me to get my morning started and I have spent too much time lost in my thoughts. Ryder would be awake any minute, if he was not already. “My early riser,” I yawn, to myself. I take a moment to inhale, hold my space, and exhale slowly; before I enter my house and start my day.
I walk back into the warmth of the home and am hit in the face by the smell of the sausage and potato breakfast casserole cooking in my oven, that I prepared the night before. It was a tradition my Father introduced when I was a small child, but this was the first year I was cooking one myself. I place Rosie and a couple of her litter mates back into their metal pin; that has taken over my formal dining room turned playroom. A soft knock comes from the front door, just feet away. It is still dark outside but my sister and her family are already here. They have jet lag from being seven hours ahead of our schedule and have been awake for hours. So they have decided to join us for “Santa,” and breakfast, before my Father and Stepmother arrive later that morning. I answer the door still in my robe and usher them in quietly. Kimberly lunges towards me and hugs my neck, as if we had not seen each other just the day before. Her long, curly, blonde hair tickles my face as she squeezes me tighter. “Merry Christmas!” she exclaims. I lean in and hug her back, catching a glimpse of myself looking back at me. We were fraternal twins but somehow we still managed to look a lot alike. She was slightly taller and thinner than me. Her hair is long and curly. My hair is even longer but straight as a board. She favored our mother and her side of the family, whereas I favored my Fathers side. Yet somehow, we looked similar. I pull away from my twin sister and stare at her a little longer. It is surreal, having her here for the Holidays. I am thrilled to be spending my favorite day of the year with my sister and her family. “Thank you God, for this time together, you know I needed them here today!” I quietly thank God, as I smile to myself and return to the kitchen to ready everything for the day.
In my house, we have a bit of a “Christmas Day Schedule,” if you will. That is the control freak, in me. It goes a little something like this: Wake up and throw my robe on, wake the kids up, let them see their unwrapped gifts from Santa, and open their stockings from Mom (because I deserve some damn credit for all of this hard work.). I make breakfast while they play with their new toys and Dominik builds what needs to be built. We eat breakfast, I clean up, then we open our gifts from one another. The rest of the day is spent enjoying our new things, and me cleaning the house because I can not stand the untidiness and the clutter. We also have a rule that we do not go anywhere on Christmas day. My childhood was spent being torn between my Moms and my Dads house every Christmas. It was absolute torture. I swore I would never do that again, now that I am old enough to set my own boundaries and create traditions within my own family unit.
My life is literally lived on autopilot. Even down to the damn Holidays and how they are celebrated. But it is what I know and it is comfortable. This morning was already way out of my normal routine for a Christmas morning, because of the puppies. Throw in my sister and her family visiting and I was a little on edge thanks to my anxiety and the change in structure. But I was happy to have the extra chaos in my home, and did my best to focus on the joy of having my family together. In fact, Kimberly had even made a comment about how good and happy I seemed. More so, than my usual self. We only see eachother once a year, at best, but it still meant something to me that she even noticed. Hell, I felt good for the first time in years. It felt even better to have someone else validate those feelings for me. I was the healthiest and most stable I had been in almost twelve years. Both physically and mentally.
There was no sense in making my niece wait for her Santa gifts, even though she was only an infant and likely did not understand what was going on. To avoid any baby meltdowns, I head to each of my kids’ rooms to wake them a little sooner than our usual time. Ryder is already awake in his crib. This is the first year he really understands the idea of Christmas and was eager to be let out and play. Kaden and Piper were quick to rise, as soon as I reminded them it was Christmas morning and that Aunt Kimberly was already here waiting for them. The three of them barrel down the hallway and burst into the living room, anticipating the delight that Christmas morning brings.
The excitement on their faces is worth every second that we had to stay up late to put together their Santa gifts. Honestly, Covid really hurt my Photography business and we rely on it for Christmas gifts each year. Without my usual income due to the Pandemic, I was worried we would not be able to get them the things they wanted. And they did not necessarily get what was on their “list” but we were able to provide gifts for them again this year. Something I am so grateful for. Covid really caused problems for so many families. I knew we were blessed to be one of the few families who only experienced positive things from Covid and all of the drama that came with it. My husband was making more money and he was home with us every day. I know many couples that would do nothing but fight if they had to stay home together one hundred percent of the time. For us though, it was exactly what our marriage needed. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day of taking care of children that you forget to be a wife and husband, too. Covid really allowed me to slow down and focus on my husband a little more; and my husband on me. It was good for us. Both of our careers were fairly demanding in the beginning of our marriage and took a lot of time away from our relationship. Dominik was working his way up in the company he worked for and I was starting a Photography business from the ground up. We were busy, to say the least. It almost felt like we were getting back all of the time we had lost during those years. “I know I have said it a hundred times already, God, “ I prayed silently in my head, “but thank you for Covid. Thank you for giving me more time with my family and less time working. Thank you for all of the blessings that Covid brought for my little family. Truly, I can never thank you enough.” The squeals and laughter from the children opening their presents, brought me back to reality. I often find myself praying to God, when I get lost in my thoughts. God was someone that I could talk to, without judgment .
While the four children are playing with their new toys, I head back to the kitchen to make birthday pancakes to celebrate my niece’s birthday. Her birthday is in four days but they would be back in Germany by then so we chose to celebrate on our last day together. The smell of the breakfast casserole baking in the oven takes me back to my childhood. I can not decide if it is a pleasant smell or if it makes me want to vomit. I have spent the better part of my adulthood trying to forget my childhood. The smell fills my senses, and my whole body reacts with anxiety. “I need to go smoke,” I say to myself. I ask my Sister to watch the casserole, as it is just about done cooking and sneak off to the garage. She is not crazy about my marijuana use but she does not give me any hell about it. Our Husbands are busy entertaining the kids with their new toys and gadgets so I head to get just a few minutes of peace away from the chaos.
I take a deep hit of marijuana and indulge in the stillness in my garage. The smoke is heavy in the air, and the light from my salt lamp illuminates the space around me, dimly. I find that if I stare at the smoke long enough I can see it dancing and twirling around me. As if the smoke were performing just for me. It is bitterly cold still, so the smoke is steamier than usual. The door flies open and it is my oldest son demanding I come in and make him breakfast because he is “starving to DEATH.” Forget the fact that I have told him, at least eight times, that breakfast would be ready when it is done cooking and that he will, in fact, not starve in an hour’s time. Such a “mom” answer. Something that no pre-teen wants to hear. I honestly feel like laughing, but the anxiety overwhelms my body as he slams the door shut, letting me know he is not happy. I light my bowl and take one final hit to calm my nerves. With a deep breath, I exhaled the smoke from my lungs and asked God to grant me the patience I needed today. I was going to have a house full of people all day long. Something I always enjoyed thoroughly, as I love to entertain company. A house full of people, however, is one of the worst things for my anxiety. I craved human interaction but my social anxiety often left me unable to socialize. Having extra people in my personal space, was often a trigger for my anxiety.
By the time we finished up breakfast, I had made a whole mess of things. I had made pancakes specifically to celebrate my niece Hannah’s birthday. I got lost in the madness of the morning and completely forgot to call everyone to breakfast; so we could sing happy birthday to her. Instead I just shoved plates of food in front of the four kids, to keep them quiet and happy. Once they all had plates in front of them, I called the adults to eat. Not even considering that we should all sit down together and eat; much less sing “Happy Birthday.” I had really upset my sister, which just heightened my anxiety.
Kimberly had spent her entire life trying to run away from our unstable situation during childhood. She spent summers at camp and got away, any chance she could get. She eventually moved to another state, and then left the country to start her own family. She was always running and I spent my entire life chasing her. She was only a couple of minutes older than me but she sort of stepped in where my Mother and Father were unable to. She took care of me even. I relied on her in so many ways. To have her upset with me was almost unbearable. I spent the rest of the morning trying not to feel sorry for myself, and battling with my ever growing anxiety, as my thoughts raced uncontrollably. “You have to breathe, Kirsten. You can not let anyone see you struggle,” I scolded myself.
My childhood was anything but normal. My Father and I’s relationship was no where close to what I wanted it to be. This always made me feel a little uneasy and anxious, when being around him. I have always felt out of place, when it comes to my Father. Yet, I have always desired his love and attention despite our lack of a relationship. I was always jealous that Kimberly and my Father, had a closer relationship than we did. When my Sister was around, however, the interactions with my Father were a totally different experience for me. To spend an entire day with them both was something we had not done in several years and I was nervous about how the dynamic would affect me. Both of my parents heavily played favorites with us girls, which just creates conflict. The divorce battle started when we were about four. The bitter fight between my parents drug out for several years, with us right in the middle of it all. By the time we were in first grade, I was living with my Mother on one side of Dallas, and my Sister was living with my Father on the other. It did not help that our parents would bash the other parent and child directly to our faces. It made things like jealousy really prominent in our relationship. At least on my part. I struggled with jealousy in more than one area of my life.
The resentment in my body pulsates through my veins as soon as the doorbell rings, letting me know my Father and Stepmother have arrived. Just three days earlier, we had been celebrating Ryder’s fourth birthday and my Father made a rude comment about “for the second time,” when we sang happy birthday. We had already celebrated his birthday with a party two months earlier, because his birthday is so close to Christmas. My feelings were extremely hurt by it and it caused quite a bit of drama between my Sister, Father and I. So seeing him again was not at the top of my list. Nonetheless, I took a deep breath and prayed to God, to help me get through without taking anything personally.
1:11 in the afternoon. The clock screamed at me from across the room. The angel numbers reminding me that I was never alone, spiritually. Unfortunately, being supported spiritually does not mean you get rid of your anxiety. “Why do I have to feel this way?” I questioned myself angrily. I knew that God was not going to cure my anxiety in an instant, so I grabbed a 150mg THC Hot Cocoa bomb, and dropped it into the milk I had just warmed on the stove. I knew I would not have another chance to go out to the garage so I needed something that would calm my anxiety without having to smoke every couple of hours. “This will help me get through the day,” I sighed to myself as I stirred the melting chocolate on the stove. Praying that there was some truth in that statement.
My Father and I did not say more than a few words to each other but it did not matter. They were only there to visit with my Sister and her family, anyhow. We had not seen my Father for Christmas, in at least two years. Although he does make an appearance for kids’ birthdays, even if only to drop a card off. For Christmas, however, he would have never shown up had Kimberly and her family not been in town visiting. I never could understand why my Father was the way he was. Why he always seemed to love my sister, a little more than me. (In return, my Mother seemed to love me more than my Sister.) But I also have come to accept that I can not do anything to change it. I always joke that I am raising my Father, because he and Kaden are so much alike. For one, they both know exactly how to push all of my buttons. They are blunt and lack empathy for others feelings. Whereas I am overly sensitive and do my best to take other people’s feelings into consideration. We were, in fact, polar opposites. Most of the similarities in my Father and oldest son stem from Autism Spectrum Disorder. Aspergers Syndrome to be exact. They are literal superior genius level IQs, but their emotional maturity level is about half of their actual age. They struggle greatly, with social cues and skills. While my Father is undiagnosed and never will be at this point in his life, I find comfort in knowing that some of these “quirks,” he truly can not help. “He loves you, he just does not know how to show it,” Spirit speaks to me sweetly. I roll my eyes and take a sip of my hot cocoa; unable to accept the fact that anyone could love me. The high is not instant this way, but it lasts all day. And that is exactly what I needed.
Our children excitedly opened their gifts from my Father and Step-Mother. I cringe with jealousy as my Niece opens gift after gift, each more expensive than the last. It is not that my children were not given enough or even less than what Hannah was receiving. It was simply a reminder of the favoritism I witnessed as a child and it instantly brought up old feelings of jealousy and abandonment. I was a Daddy’s girl and when he chose my Sister over me, I was heartbroken. “Here you are being materialistic, jealous and petty, Kirsten.” I say to myself. I hate myself, sometimes. Actually, most times. I tried my best to hide the tears that were welling up in my eyes. Playing favorites is something that has always gotten under my skin because I grew up with it. Even if there was no actual favoritism there, I always expect each person to be treated as equals. That is something that most people are incapable of doing. I see that now, as an adult. It does not make it any less painful to witness, thought. Seeing adults play favorites with their children and grandchildren is one way to get me fired up. And I am a passionate person. You do not want to “fire up,” someone who is passionate without being prepared for their explosion.
My sadness quickly turns into rage, as I storm off to the kitchen to reheat my medicated cocoa bomb. Kimberly follows me into the kitchen. “Everything okay?” She knows I am not okay. As my twin, she can sense it. I do not even have to say anything. Even though we have spent our whole lives living away from one another she still knows me better than anyone. So I did what any good sister would do, and I lied. “Yes, I am fine. Just still mad at Dad, from Ryder’s birthday party.” I could not tell her that I was thirty three years old and still had my feelings hurt as much as I did when I was a child. My ego was getting the best of me and I could not let that show. I knew that this was my Fathers first and quite possibly his last Christmas with Kimberly, Ryan and Hannah. “Quit making this about you, you selfish brat,” I disgustingly reprimanded myself. Kimberly did her best to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. She was the optimist, and I, the pessimist. I spent my entire life trying to fill the cup and she was already happy with it being half full. I wanted to be just like her. I always wondered what it would be like to live a life, free of anxiety and depression. Something she never seemed to struggle with. Another tinge of jealousy fills my soul as I compare myself to my perfect sister.
I spent a moment observing my extended family in the living room, and came to the realization that I come from a very broken home. The dynamic of my original family unit is so dysfunctional. It is something I have always known. The memories of the brokenness were there. But it is nothing I ever acknowledged. And the realization broke me. My life played out in a vision before my eyes. The holidays, spent being torn between two homes. The bashing of the other parent and my sister. The missed events. The pain. The sadness. The bitterness. It all came back, and I realized I would never have the family I wanted. My Sister lives halfway across the World. She wants another baby, which will make it harder to travel.”What if I never see her again?” I ask myself. “You are being selfish,” I remind myself, boldly. My Father is basically non-existent and my Mother and I’s relationship had not been the same, in years. Despite our relationship slowly drifting apart, my Mother was my rock and the only family I ever really had. How confusing this whole dynamic is. My Father spent my childhood trying to make us hate our Mother, and my Mother tried to make us hate our Father. I was not sure who I could rely on anymore. It felt as if I had no one.
I set my cup of hot cocoa on the kitchen counter and headed for the garage. There was only one thing that would make me feel better right now. And that is my closest friend, Mary Jane. I take a hit of marijuana, and the goodness of the smoke fills my entire body. I never get the “head rush,” that some people talk about with weed, but it certainly lifts my spirit and makes me feel a sense of elevation. I smoke and get lost in my high as I can hear everyone inside laughing and having a good time. “Why do you torture yourself?” I think to myself. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” I demanded. “You are acting like a stupid child,” I reminded myself. The defamation of my own character gets the tears flowing and I cry like I have not cried in years. I cried for my lost childhood. I cried for the distance between my sister and I and the weariness from chasing after her all these years. I cried at the realization that I would never have the family I always dreamt of. For what seemed like hours; I cried. I felt the arms of someone embrace me and pull me to their chest, as I wept uncontrollably. But there was nobody there. “God, please take this pain from my heart,” I begged for God to listen.
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