When the writers at MotherTalk sent out an email asking for people to read The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here by Felicia Sullivan and blog about it, I jumped at the chance. And who wouldn’t want a free book anyway? That’s one of the perks of reviewing books J From the description of the book, it sounded just like something that I might relate to since I don’t really have a good relationship with my mother. So, I signed up and anxiously awaited my copy.
For those of you who have never heard of it:
From the Publisher: "Felicia Sullivan's mother disappeared on the night
Sullivan graduated from college and has not been seen or heard from in the
ten years since. Sullivan, who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn in
the 1980s, now looks back on her childhood -- lived among drug dealers,
users, substitute fathers, and a host of unsavory characters. Ever the
responsible child, Sullivan became her mother's keeper, taking her to the
hospital when she overdoses, withstanding her narcissistic rages, succombing
to the abuse or indifference of so-called stepfathers, and always wondering
why her mother would never reveal the truth about the father she'd never
met. But then, Sullivan's volatile, beautiful, deceitful, drug-addicted
mother altered the truth in many cruel ways.
"Ashamed of her past, Sullivan invented a persona to show the world. But
keeping up a facade has its price, and before she knew it, she, too, was
snorting coke in nightclubs, throwing back shots of tequila like candy, and
eventually taking a leave of absence from her Ivy League graduate program. In
fact, she had become her mother."A book about secrets and forgiveness, The Sky
Isn't Visible from Here is also the story of a young woman unraveling -- and
then putting her life back together again."
The book is written in such a way that I could almost imagine sitting down with Felicia and her telling me all of the stories about her mother and growing up over a cup of coffee. Her voice in the book is so mesmerizing that it is hard not to forget that you are actually reading. Coming from an alcoholic/drug addict home myself, there were so many times in the book that I could relate to exactly what “Felicia/Lisa” was feeling. All the fear, insecurity, and dread came rushing back to me all over again. When I was growing up, it wasn’t my mother who was the alcoholic and drug user but my father. No, that would come later and I am still dealing with it today. As a child, my father would come home drunk and high all the time. In fact, most of my childhood memories consisted of him terrifying me with his behavior and me being scared to come downstairs because I never knew what I was in store for. Just like Felicia, I was never beaten but I didn’t need to be for I was knocked down almost daily with words. Needless to say, we don’t really have much of a relationship now.
At that time, and up until I met my husband and finally grew up enough to get out from under my mother, my Mom was my best friend and my protector. Much like Gus was to Felicia. When my parents divorced in 1988 after 13 years of marriage, we moved from Ohio to North Carolina to escape that life and start over. And the downward spiral began. Once my mother was free she started dating and put her boyfriends before my happiness and well being on more than one occasion. But she tried hard and she was still everything to me. Nothing made me happier than making her happy and proud. By the time I was in high school, she had changed jobs/gotten fired several times. She was an RN so work was abundant. I would always get the same answer as to why the change. “It just didn’t work out” or “I didn’t get along with my co-workers” etc. I later found out that she was stealing prescription medication. It started out with small things from people who were discharged or died, but then it escalated to narcotics. It has gotten so bad that I have to lock my bedroom door when she comes to visit so that she doesn’t steal out of my medicine cabinet! My mother has severe back pain from an injury she received while working in the early 1980’s and like a lot of nurses she self-prescribed medication to herself. As a result of all the lies and stealing, she ended up getting her nursing license revoked not once but twice.
After the second time of loosing her license, she decided that she should get disability because her back kept her from working. In NC, in order to get disability you have to be unable to work for a specified amount of time. So she lived off of my grandparents money for several years. This in itself has caused a lot of tension within the family that we are still dealing with. Once she got the disability (three years later) she paid my grandparents back, bought a POS truck and moved even farther away to some piece of crap trailer with her dogs, cats, and horses. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to get to her house and I have to look up her phone number if I want to call her. Isn’t that sad?
Over the last ten years or so, my relationship with my mother has deteriorated to the point where I rarely speak to her. I might call her once a month just to make sure she is alive. She is so doped up on medication, that most of the time she is incoherent and doesn’t remember a thing that I say the next day. It breaks my heart to know that my children will probably never really know their grandmother. I just can’t trust her around my kids for fear that something will happen. I know that she is in pain, but that is just an excuse for her to escape reality. I miss my mother dearly, but I can’t deal with the drama and the bullshit anymore. I would rather just not talk to her than be reminded that we no longer have a real relationship. I know that she loves me and is proud of me, but I am mostly ashamed of what she has turned out to be and that makes me incredibly sad. Luckily, I never resorted to drugs and alcohol and always told myself that I would never use drugs to escape my problems. I come from a long line of alcoholics and I vowed to myself that I would never to that to my children. I am determined to break that cycle now.
After reading this book, it made me want to hold my daughter close and show her everyday how special and appreciated she is. I am taking a Positive Parenting class at church and something Pastor John said struck a chord that I think is so eloquently illustrated in this book. Children from abusive homes are survivors. They have to learn to cope with the things around them just to survive. How true it was for Felicia and in many ways for me.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a mother or has grown up in an abusive relationship. Felicia will make you dig deep down into your subconscious and think long and hard about things that you haven’t thought of in a long time. And that is just as good as a day in therapy without spending the $100.
To get everyone up to speed, AM and I visited the new DC together and made a decision. A very hard decision but one that I think (and desperately hope) is the right one. As of February 11th, both DQ and WM will be attending a new day care facility. The DC seems to really have their stuff together as far as daycares go. I popped in unannounced twice and didn't see anything that was alarming. It is an older building and there are probably 85 kids or so total but they are well within the established teacher/student ratio. The director has been there for 15+ years and most of the teachers there have been there for many years as well. I even talked to DSS to check on the reviews & complaints and they stated that there hasn't been anything that I should be concerned about at that location. It is run by a church and occassionally they have an issue with equipment or such, but there have not been any serious violations or abuse reported. And DS's teacher stated that she would start him in underwear when he started coming. YEAH!!! Maybe he will finally catch on and get potty trained. The whole pull up thing isn't working for me or him. I may ask her to hold off for a week or so though so that he can get used to the new place first. I'll have to talk to them about that.
But overall, we are happy with our decision and we told the kids they would start going to school soon and they both seemed really excited. I just hope that the transistion isn't too stressful for them or me :)
OK~ back to the present. Today is their first day. All weekend we talked it up that they were going to start school and they both seemed really excited. I walked them in and it was all a little overwhelming for all of us. The DC Director and the kids' teachers weren't there yet, so it was a little of a shuffle to get them where they needed to go. The looks on their eyes made me want to cry...so wide with amazement and confusion. DQ went right into her room and I didn't hear another peep from her. I did hear the teacher tell someone (who I assumed was her) to put her shoes back on. I forgot to tell her that they don't take their shoes off. I then took WM to his room. All he wanted to do was go play on the slide so he was a little upset. I left him and put his bag and blanket in his room and took a peek at him before I left. He still had his coat on but was standing in the room watching TV and had stopped crying. I was a little sad that I didn't get a chance to hug and kiss them goodbye, but I know that at least for now it is better to keep the goodbyes short and sweet so that they don't get a chance to get upset.
I cried all the way to work and I am trying to keep myself busy so that I don't think about it too much today. I am sure that I am probaby more upset about the whole thing than they are. I just worry. I can't help it. I worry most about WM since he is still so young and used to his old routine. DQ just rolls with the punches. I am sure that I will drive them crazy today and probably for a few more days until we all get used to it. I am going to call them in a few minutes to make sure that they got all settled in and things are going ok. I have thought about going in at lunch time, but I don't want them to see me and get upset when I have to leave again. I might sneak over and peek in the window at nap time to see how they are doing. Obesses much? :)
They say change is a good thing. I am sure it will be, but I don't like change. It gives me too much anxiety.
Last night was one of those nights. Without going into great detail about how it all went down since those that were present already know I will just say that me and no sleep do rotten person make. DQ has had a cold for the last few days, but I was under the impression that she was well on the mend. Boy was I wrong! AM worked almost 28+ hours straight Wednesday into Thursday so needless to say he was exhausted. After he got off work at 2 pm he went home and crashed. This is totally understandable. I picked up the ol’ stand-by Taco Bell and fed the kids dinner. After eating, I loaded them up and took them over to the IL’s so that AM could rest without getting woke up by screaming kids and a barking puppy.
We get home and I get the little angels *grin* into their PJ’s and in bed by 8 pm. I then settle down, fold some clothes, and watch some trash reality rehab TV. About 10:30 pm I hear DQ crying. She says her ear hurts so I give her some numbing ear drops. I should have expected this since every time she gets a cold she also gets an ear infection. A few minutes later she is still crying and I give her some Tylenol. Yet another few minutes later, just as I was lying down, she starts crying again.
I would love to say that I was the loving, doting mother but I wasn’t. By this time I am frustrated, tired, and ready to go to sleep. After two days of being the lone parent I am ready to pass the torch to Daddy. I was ugly and I am ashamed. Reluctantly, I pull on a sweatshirt and sweat pants (which I later found out had a HUGE hole in the inner thigh- sexy) all the while fussing and complaining about having to take her yet again to Urgent Care in the middle of the night. Like I said, not a pretty sight.
By this time AM is awake, and he is like a Mama Bear that has been made to rise from her hibernation when he gets woke up in the middle of the night. Add that to him being exhausted and me being a brat and it does not end well. Since I was already in a snit I decide (like a dumbass) that I need to inform him that we will be hosting my MIL’s “Surprise” Birthday Party the following evening but that if it runs late I will have to leave since it will interfere with my Dog Obedience class. I really shouldn’t have said anything because it had no bearing on anything and I should have know that it would turn ugly, but I was sleep depraved as well and obviously not thinking. I wasn't even mad about the party to be honest. Anyway...To this statement, he tells me that I don’t have to go and I reply that since I am not allowed to make it up any other time that I will be going. That statement was the last straw, and I was told that I would not have to worry about it anymore because I would be giving the puppy to someone else or he would.
I am going to stop right here and provide a little history. You see, AM didn’t ever really want a dog but being the good husband that he is he wants his wife to be happy (and stop nagging him constantly) so he gave in and told me I could get our puppy Max. I don’t think that he (or I) realized how much work he was going to be. But I lurve him so I put up with all the puppy crap because I know that he won’t be like this forever (and I have invested a small fortune for this little furball and DQ lurves him more than I do). I haven’t been the easiest to get along with even on my best of days, and apparently I have been stressed out more than usual and have taken to yelling a. lot. more. I don’t realize it most of the time, but it must be happening because last weekend we had a discussion about the puppy. AM stated in no uncertain terms that I have to stop yelling or the dog is gone. No more yelling at the dog. No more yelling at the kids. No more yelling at the kids about the dog. And I have to work with Max to get him to chill out and leave things alone. Since then I have made a concentrated effort to be better. I have had a few relapses, but overall I have reduced my bellowing and worked more with Max. At least I think I have.
Back to last night. The admonishment of the dog further fueled the flames and it turned into a rather nasty fight. All in front of DQ. I think that was the worst part. After arguing about who was going to take her to the Urgent Care, I grabbed her up (I was already dressed anyway) and took her. After two hours of her screaming in pain the lobby, she was given a prescription for antibiotics, some ear numbing samples, and a OTC Cold Medicine for her ear infection and we were on our way back home at 1:00 am. She slept in our bed until 3:30 am tossing and turning. She finally went to her own bed and slept with the TV on and a heating pad under her pillow case. She will be fine in a few days, but I really am sorry for the way I acted. Now I feel like the most horrible mother in the world.
So now I don’t know where I stand with AM and the dog. I really don’t want to give him away. I am going to stop that bitchyness...NOW. It is ruining my relationship and interfering with my happiness. I have become incredibly attached (so has DQ). I had a momentary huge brain fart and totally regressed and I am really sorry. The crankiness last night really had nothing to do with the dog at all. I was tired. Plain and simple. I don’t do well with no sleep. Not a good excuse, but it is all I have. I was going on being up 20 hours myself and just wanted a bed. Horrible I know.
AM, if you are reading this…I am sorry that I was an ass last night. You work hard and give me everything I ask for. I know that you were exhausted. It was wrong of me to wake you up like that. I know that I mess up a hell of a lot, and you still love me anyway. I may slip up every once in while (ok, I slip up alot), but I am trying I swear. Can we please just pretend it never happened and leave it as a bad night for all? I love you and thanks for everything that you do for me and the kids. I truly do appreciate it.