Confessions of a Shiba Inu

I have a few things I would like to get off my furry chest. I’m reading this book my friend Roxy gave me called “Renewing Your Inner Doggie.”  One of the steps to having a happier tail wagging life is to tell five secrets I’ve been holding in. So, here it goes…..

Confessions

  1. I like to sleep with stuffed animals, especially my buddy Hike (pictured here). He helps me sleep better.
  2. I like it when mommy and daddy sing “Soft Kitty” to me….I like it A LOT.
  3. I like to sneak in the kitchen and have mommy trip over me when she is carrying food so I can eat the food that fell on the floor.
  4. I like to pretend I desperately have to go potty when really, I just want mommy and daddy to take me out again.
  5. I like cats. I want to be their friend, but they never want to be mine. I just want to play with those soft little kitties…..

Written by Kota Morrow (6 year old female Shiba Inu)

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Pretty as a Picture

Pretty as a PictureHello, darlings!  Hope everyone had a marvelous Memorial Day weekend! I wore this little number on Saturday to kick off the weekend. I bought this skirt on clearance almost 2 years ago and I am just now wearing it! I don ‘t know what took me so long! I was drawn to the cream color instantly when I saw it hanging on the rack, and then I was taken by surprise to see that the print of the skirt was snakeskin. I instantly had to have it! It’s girly with a fun edge. One of the best things about this cream color skirt is you can pair it with any bright color blouse and it will look amazing! I wanted to go more simple with jewelry and chose earrings and bangles only – to keep focus on the outfit itself. And since I was already wearing snakeskin I thought I should add some leopard print too! Why not, right?  So these heels fit the bill! Lastly, I added a Steve Madden handbag and a pair of oversized sunnies to complete my look.

My outfit: Blouse: Forever 21; Skirt: Target (old – clearance); Shoes: Forever 21; Handbag: Steve Madden (old – gift); Bangles: Forever 21; Earrings: Wet Seal (clearance); Watch: vintage Bulova; Sunnies: Big Lots; Lipstick: Sephora Rouge Shine (in the shade Flashy); Eyeshadow: L’Oreal Infallible 24 HR( in the color Endless Sea); Nails: Wet n Wild Fast Dry (in the color Sagreena the Teenage Witch) and Nars shimmer (in the color Purple Rain).

Let’s Dance

As you get older all the trivial things disappear. You live for the moment, you live in the moment. You realize happiness is yours to take, it’s not something you wait to be given. Little things bring big smiles. The musical sound of laughter is “your favorite song.” Memories you play back in your mind are your “favorite show.” You find tears are cleansing – they wash away your sorrows, renewing you.  You discover you’ll never quite figure yourself out, and that’s okay. You learn beauty comes with flaws – that’s what makes it so beautiful. You learn love doesn’t have to be received to be given. You no longer take yourself so seriously.  You accept your failures and triumph in your victories because you know what it took to achieve them. You live for yourself not for anybody else. And most importantly – you learn life is a celebration, so let’s dance.

Bosom Buddies

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Let’s talk about boobies, shall we? I know, I know, it’s a delicate subject. You can try to push it down, stuff it down, or try to hide it. I’m talking about your feelings on the matter not your actual breasts, although some of us have tried to push, stuff, or hide them! I developed an unhealthy relationship with mine that started the day my innocent ten-year-old self stumbled upon a Playboy magazine lying on the ground in a spot in the woods. I was with my brother and a couple of his friends. They were all over that magazine. I heard them say things like, “Oh wow!” “Oooohhh, look at those!” “Let me see, your ugly head is in the way!” as they pushed each other around laughing like the idiots they were. I began to get curious. I wanted to take a peek, see what the fuss was about…. so I pushed my way in and took a peek. What I saw changed my life forever.

I never claimed to be the brightest child and after I tell you this story I’m sure you’ll agree. I used to watch beauty pageants with my mom. We did this as long as I can remember. We’d make some snacks and watch Miss America on the television in my parents’ bedroom. My dad and brother were downstairs – they wouldn’t be caught watching girly stuff. This was mommy and daughter time and I loved it. We would watch as all the pretty ladies floated around the stage in their beautiful gowns. I couldn’t help but notice their breasts – the way they came together in the middle. I didn’t know what cleavage was then. I thought when I grew up and got breasts they would grow together. As I got older I would try to push mine together wondering when they would start their journey inward and upward – like the girls in those pageants. Now here I was in the woods with a bunch of boys looking at this magazine with naked ladies. “They don’t grow together?!…… Oh, they don’t grow together!!!” In that moment I realized I knew nothing about the body I would soon develop. This newfound revelation only confused me more and the years to follow proved that.

I use to talk to my boobies when I was twelve. My logic was – if you can talk to plants and they grow than breasts must do the same. I came to realize my girls were deaf. I took it hard, really hard. After three solid weeks of talking to them nothing happened. No overnight miracle grow here. I tried to think of ways to get them to grow. My friend across the street already had a nice rack and here I was flat as a board. As we sat outside playing with barbies I asked her, “How did you get your breasts to grow?” She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. “I eat a lot of peanut butter. Oh, and I sleep on my side.” “I sleep on my stomach,” I said, as I continued to fishtail “Totally Hair” barbie’s hair. Well, that’s it,” she said. “Sleep on your side.”                “She was right,” I thought to myself. I was suffocating them. No wonder they wouldn’t grow. That night I started sleeping on my side. I was sure in a few weeks I would have glorious breasts. A few weeks passed and still no breasts. The frustrations mounted (no pun intended), why couldn’t I catch a breast… I mean break!

I had other issues at twelve. I still had baby fat and had not hit my growth spurt. I was an ugly duckling and in my mind having breasts would fix that. Oh, how little we knew at that age. When I was fifteen I was tall and thin. Turn me sideways and I was gone. I had a friend who would visit her dad in the summer and spend a lot of time at my house. She had the biggest breasts I had ever seen! She was proud of them too. When we went to youth functions she would flirt with all the boys telling them that if she flashed them they would faint. I would follow-up with, “If I flashed you guys you’d fall over too… from laughter.” I began to realize God was playing a sick joke on me by giving me friends with huge breasts just to annoy me. I was sure God had forgotten to pack my breasts in the suitcase of life I was given. I come from an Italian heritage and I was waiting on those Sophia Loren breasts. I wanted what was due to me – big Italian breasts. Wrap a bow around them and deliver them to my front doorstep please. As I started to outgrow my teen years I began to deal with it. They weren’t growing – end of story. I even started joking about it saying how I got my mom’s nose and my dad’s boobs.    Soon all the drama of adolescence disappeared into everyday life. My breasts were no longer that big of a deal. Big or small, I was still me. My mom told me not to worry; they would grow, as I got older. She told me our bodies continually change as women. We get fuller, curvier. I rolled my eyes then, but she was right.

Now as I sit here typing this I realize I still think about my breasts a lot… but now for totally different reasons. My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2009. Suddenly all those years of wanting breasts disappeared. Suddenly, I hated my breasts and was scared of them at the same time. The very thing I wanted so badly is the exact thing that took my mom away. It took me years to become friends with my breasts and now they were my enemy. Somehow, that little black dress I was finally able to fill out meant nothing. I went through a lot of emotions when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was sure it couldn’t really kill her. I was in denial all the way up until the disease took her life. The following months and years since her death I still find myself constantly checking for lumps. My doctor told me my risk of getting breast cancer is only slightly higher, as there is no previous history of it in our family, and because my mom was over 50 when she was diagnosed (she was 52). My doctor still recommends I start getting mammograms at the age of 35 as a precautionary measure (I am 32).  I am constantly giving myself breast exams and checking for lumps. Ironically, I’m one of those women who have lumpy breasts – the correct term would be fibrocystic breasts. Basically, it’s like I’m carrying a sack of marbles in each breast. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but some days it feels like it!  It makes it harder to do breast exams, but I just really have to know my breasts and pay attention to any changes that seem out of the normal scope for me. They told me cutting back on my caffeine intake would help with some of the lumpiness, but no matter what I just have lumpy breasts. Really? Well, if I am still going to have marble sack boobs whether or not I cut my caffeine intake then I guess I will have my triple latte thank you very much. In all seriousness though, I am now more concerned about my breast health than how they look in a swimsuit. After my mom’s diagnosis my outlook changed. All the trivial nonsense I had about my breasts in the past was now gone. I now carry myself with the confidence of a woman who knows who she is (the breasts just come along with the package). My breasts don’t define me; they don’t make me sexier. These breasts are mine and I have learned to love them. It was a long journey to get here, but I am no longer concerned with the vanity of it. We have become bosom buddies – my breasts and me. And one day when they start to sag or get lost somewhere behind my armpits, none of that will matter, as long as they’re healthy…. as long as I’m healthy and enjoying this amazing journey called life.

 

Amazing Brownies (Sinner’s Brownies)

Sinner's Brownies

Sinner’s Brownies

Hi, everyone! I wanted to post a quick recipe for the most delicious brownies EVER! Well, at least in my opinion. I am not a cake like brownie person, and a lot of recipes I’ve used in the past have always disappointed (giving me a cake like rather than a fudgy brownie). I wanted a recipe that gave me decadent fudgy brownies. This recipe is it! Please note that these brownies are not for the faint of heart. This is not a healthy brownie recipe. This is the real deal. Yes, you can substitute with apple sauce, pumpkin, or splenda – but why?  These are the brownies you make when you want to be bad, really bad. These are sinner brownies…. oooh, I think I just named my brownies! So, go ahead and give into temptation, just this once. Make these bad boys as directed! You will thank me for it!

IMG_2625Ingredients:

1 cup butter melted
2  1/2 cup sugar (oh, boy – sugar!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs (use large or extra large)
1  1/2 cup flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
 

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8×11 pan. This is the perfect size pan. It makes the brownies at just the right thickness.

Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla into a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.

In another bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, and salt. After dry ingredients are mixed slowly combine with egg mixture until blended.IMG_2629IMG_2631Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks. Take spatula and begin to fold chips into batter. I do not mix right into the batter before I put into the pan because all the chocolate chips usually go right to the bottom. If you sprinkle on top and fold in, they distribute more evenly.IMG_2632Bake in preheated oven (350) for 35-40 minutes. Mine were perfect at 35 minutes. Keep in mind these are fudgy brownies. Don’t keep these in the oven longer than 40 minutes. Once removed from oven, let cool. Cut and serve. Extra yummy when served with vanilla ice cream on top! Enjoy!IMG_2641 IMG_2642

 

Just breathe dammit!

Butt whoopin' time!

I consider myself a healthy person. I watch my sodium intake, fat intake, sugar intake, etc. I am one of the lucky ones who actually enjoy healthy food. I reach for fruit or vegetables over chips. I’d rather have a salad made with spinach, tomato, feta, cucumbers, kalamata olives and avocado than a slice of pizza. But try as I might I am just not athletic. I might even be the most athletically challenged person on the planet! Even as a child I was the one yelling, “Wait up!” because I couldn’t keep up with these speedy Gonazalez’s as they ran ahead of me to play at the playground. The playground in itself presented a challenge for me – the monkey bars. They were my Achilles heel (don’t get me started on my Achilles. I pulled that thing a good half a dozen times trying to run as fast as my little friends). Try as I may, I would grab on to that first bar….and that’s it – I would just hang there…Well, to everyone watching it would appear that way, but inside my head I was willing my arm to move to the next rung (it just wasn’t happening) and then I’d finally fall to the ground. This all occurred within thirty seconds. Thirty seconds of pure torture, but I was a determined little thing. At the time, I would have sworn to you I was hanging there for minutes, but I would have been lying. I’d rather you know the sad pathetic truth.

 

Just last week my friend Fife was telling me about this quick workout routine – You do five exercises (a set of 20 per exercise) 5x a week for the first week – then increasing each week 20 more until you reach 100. Now knowing me I was sure I would die before I could do 100, but I was sure I could do 20 each of 5 exercises. I mean, come on, that’s like a 5-minute workout! I could do this! Day one: I do my first exercise – 20 jumping jacks and I’m feeling good. Now on to the burpees – 1 burpee, 2 burpees, 3 burpees…….4 burpees…..ehhhh…..5 burpees…..good Lord……6 burpees…….help me, Jesus…..wait, how many am I up to now?…..9 burpees?….And I was down for the count, breathing so heavy I was sure my neighbors thought I was shooting a low budget porno in my apartment (hey, this is the valley and it’s conceivable). So, I’m lying there with my dog Kota peering over my heaving body until her cold nose touches my cheek – nudging it. Even she can’t believe how pathetic I am! Even she was trying to push me to get up! There must be a name for my condition – Patheticism? Wimpy Sad Sack Disorder?

I know you are reading this and thinking – “She must be exaggerating,” but I’m not and I’ll prove it to you. I like nature. I enjoy being outdoors, so I enjoy a hike at the Fryman (keeping in mind I try to walk fast/jog when I’m there). For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Fryman, you go up some very steep inclines at times and my body convulses at the mere thought of inclines. Level surfaces are my body’s friend, anything else my body rejects like poison. As I begin my hike I immediately start going uphill and it’s a steady incline for about half a mile or so. Within the first minute and a half I am trying to look chill as other people jog past me, or power walk with their tight little tushies…. By this time my heart is beating like a conga drum exploding into my ears. Now I am up to minute 4 of my hike and I have thrown out my pride as I let my shoulders slump and I begin to huff and puff loudly. Regardless, I am feeling good as I continue my climb. Inwardly I am congratulating myself – giving myself the “You are rocking this Christal,” speech when an older gentleman with a cane passes me. A man with a cane! True story. Talk about an ego deflator.

 

So try as I might I am destined to remain a mushy pool of jello, instead of a hardcore babe. I will continue to workout because I want to be fit and healthy. And to the average onlooker I will appear to be dedicated (like I’ve been working out for an hour when in actuality its only been 5 minutes). My problem is that I concentrate so hard on getting through the workout that I forget to breathe. This realization hits me when I start hearing myself breathing in my ears and I feel I’m about to pass out. This usually happens about 5-10 minutes into a workout and I have to tell myself, “Just breathe dammit!” Still, I refuse to be a wimpy sad sack. I will continue my slow uphill battle to become one of those sassy little tight tushy power walkers. I just have to learn to breathe…. And maybe one day I will be able to do all 20 burpees.

Beauty Experiment

Boscia, Garnier, Victoria's Secret, and Sephora

Boscia, Garnier, Victoria’s Secret, and Sephora

Happy Friday, darlings! I wanted to do a review on some beauty products I purchased over the past few weeks. I will review each product individually and let you know if it holds up to its claims and if it’s worth a repurchase.

The four products that were used in my Beauty Experiment: Boscia “Black Luminizing Black Mask”, Garnier “Radiance Renewer Cleansing Gelee”, Victoria’s Secret “So Sexy Style Body & Hold Volumizing Mousse”, and Sephora “Rogue Shine Lipstick in the shade Flashy”

Boscia “Luminizing Black Mask”: I received a sample of this from Sephora, and after reading it’s claims that it delivers powerful detoxifying, purifying, and brightening effects – I figured I had to try it, instead of letting it collect dust in the back of my makeup drawer with the other samples that have been long forgotten! My initial reaction when I squeezed a tiny sample patch onto my finger was how thick and sticky it was – almost like tar. I immediately decided the best way to apply this mask was with a foundation brush. You can use your fingers, but you will be scrubbing your hands furiously to get it off! I will tell you I was nervous…maybe even a little intimidated by the consistency of it. Would this ever come off my face?! After application I sat on the couch (all the while being laughed at by the hubby) and after a few minutes I began to feel it tighten. I left it on for about 30 minutes. Before peeling it off I patted my face with my fingertips making sure it was completely dry all over. I then started the peeling process. I started at my jaw line and worked my way up. It doesn’t come off in one whole piece. It will come off in big pieces, but rest assured, it will come off! After the mask is removed use a warm cloth to remove any residue. This will come off easily.

Note: Make sure when you apply the mask to avoid your eyes, hairline, eyebrows, and lips -or you will be in for a painful experience.

My verdict: I LOVE this mask! My skin was instantly brighter. My husband who was laughing at me the whole time I wore it said, “Wow, your skin looks brighter,” when he saw the results. My skin was visibly brighter, and my pores were smaller and less visible. My skin felt vibrant and alive. I would highly recommend this product, and will be purchasing it myself when I have some extra $$. You can purchase it online or at your local Sephora store for $34 (2.8 oz).

Garnier “The Radiance Renewer“: I can’t say I was very impressed with this product. It claims that it gently renews & smoothes – for fresh, radiant skin. When I first pumped it into my hand it was very thick and got stuck between my fingers. I learned there was a special trick to using this, (at least for me anyway) I had to wet not only my face, (as I usually did) but also my hands. I had to make sure to pump it directly into the center of my hand, lather, and then apply to my face.

My verdict: After a week of using this product I haven’t noticed a difference. The positives are that it doesn’t leave behind a film, and it does a good job of washing away all traces of dirt and makeup. It’s a good cleanser if that is what your needs are, but if you are looking for a cleanser that makes your skin brighter and renewed – this isn’t it. I will not be repurchasing this product. The number one factor is – the scent. It smells like “Off!” Yes, the insect repellent. I don’t know if the scent of “Off” has changed over the years, but it smells like the same scent my mother would spray on me from head to toe when I was little. I can’t get beyond it. If you are still curious to try it out you can purchase it at most any store for around $6.

Victoria’s Secret So Sexy “Body & Hold Volumizing Mousse“: Who doesn’t want hair with amazing volume?! Who doesn’t want to have Victoria’s Secret status hair?! I know I do! Give me that Bombshell hair! I have fine hair, so I am always looking for ways to give my hair thickness and volume that will not only last through the day, but will not feel sticky and crunchy. After I towel dried my hair I added a golf ball size amount through my hair – concentrating on the crown area. The formula is light-weight. I almost felt like I was putting soap suds in my hair, but once you get the mousse distributed through your stands you will see it really isn’t soap! Then I used a blow dryer and finger combed my hair as I dried it – ending by turning my head upside down and drying for a minute or two. Then I took random pieces of hair around a 1 inch curling iron. and then sprayed with hairspray. Hey, this mousse is good, but you still have to put some work in to give it that sexy hair look.

My verdict: This is an amazing mousse! It gave me the volume I needed and didn’t make my hair sticky or crunchy. I was left with volume and shine. The smell is sweet, after all this is a product from Victoria’s Secret. I didn’t mind the smell, but for those who shy away from scents, please take this into account – Once you put the mousse in your hair and style it, you won’t smell it anymore. The scent softens considerably. By the end of the day I can’t say the volume doesn’t start to fade, but it’s overall a good mousse and I would definitely purchase this product again. You can buy it at your local Victoria’s Secret for $14

Sephora “Rogue Shine Lipstick in the shade Flashy“: I was looking for a red shade for those times I want to add some drama to my look. My problem with a red lip is the bleeding. I can’t stand the bleeding. I end up looking like a deranged clown. This particular shade actually leans toward pink. It’s a light cherry with shimmer. I still want a pinup red shade, but this is a pretty color as well.

My verdict: I love it! It is super moisturizing, and even though it is a lipstick – it goes on like a gloss. The pigmentation is great, very full color. This is a shimmer shade and it gives off a nice shimmery look. There was no bleeding, which I loved (no deranged clown. YAY!). The only thing I would say is a slight negative is that you have to apply quite generously to give even color, (as it is more on the glossy side) but once applied the staying power is good. It’s not a stain, so it does start to fade and reapplication is necessary. I would say I went up to 4 hours without having to reapply. I would definitely repurchase this, and other shades from this line. I still need to get that pinup red! You can find these lipsticks at your local Sephora for $12

Timeless Beauty

Retro BabeHello, dolls! Hope everyone had a great weekend! And to all the lovely mommies, I hope your Mother’s Day was as beautiful as you! It was a scorcher here in LA over the weekend! During this photo shoot it was 98 degrees! My curls didn’t stand a chance when the photo shoot began. We were able to get a few decent shots though. This is an absolute classic style. I am very much a retro babe, and feel most beautiful when I wear vintage looks. I love watching classic movies and musicals, and I am always looking for ways to re-create the fashion. I am a huge Doris Day fan and her beauty and style have always been my inspiration. She is such a timeless beauty (hence the name of this week’s post). I have always been drawn to that era, and it’s fashion – It was so flirty, beautiful, and oozing femininity. Another huge inspiration for me and this classic look is my grandmother. Well into her 80’s she refused to be seen without her lipstick. “Ladies must always wear lipstick.”  She was very much a lady – I miss her everyday, but she passed on her sense of fashion to me, and the vintage Bulova watch you see me wear in almost all my fashion posts? – it was hers. Pearls, Chanel No. 5, lipstick, and a great purse – those wear her staples. And when I am wearing a classic look (like I was this weekend) and glance in the mirror – I realize how much I look like my grandma when she was young. So this week’s post in dedicated to my grandma Ginny.

Today’s vintage style: Top: Wet Seal (clearance); Shorts: Forever 21; Wedges: old Candies (similar styles here); Earring: Forever 21; Ring: Forever 21; Bangle: old (similar styles here); Watch: Vintage Bulova; Sunnies: Big Lots; Tote: Forever 21 (just bought this last month, but can’t find on their website anymore. If you can splurge this is the one to get – Michael Kors; Lipstick: Sephora Shine Rouge in Flashy

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

A few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to make shrimp tacos, instead of our usual traditional tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me a traditional taco, but I am always one to try something new. Yes, I’ve had shrimp tacos at a restaurant, but to make them at home seemed more time consuming than slapping some ground beef in a skillet and browning it up.  But I have to say this was pretty fast, easy, and filled with amazing flavor! I even made my own sauce to put on the tacos! I know, I got pretty fancy!  Since I had decided to make my shrimp sweet and a little spicy (it’s not really that spicy for those who aren’t spicy fans), I made the sauce to compliment the shrimp. This sauce may not be something you will want to dip your finger in, or lick the bowl clean, and that’s because the mix of spices and lime give it a tart flavor (not too tart, but enough).  But when put on top of the tacos it brings everything together. It’s soooo good!  Hope you enjoy these tacos as much as me and my hubby did!

What you will need:

Shrimp (I purchased a bag of frozen salad shrimp)
Corn tortilla shells (the soft ones)
Red and Green cabbage (or just purchase a bag of cole slaw mix – That’s what I did, but prefer to buy fresh and chop it)
Shredded cheese of your choice (I used lite Mexican blend)
Chili Powder
Cumin
Paprika
Light brown sugar
Garlic clove
Coriander
Cayenne pepper
Honey
Cilantro
Mayo (I use light)
Avocado
Lime
To make the shrimp

In a baggie put the following ingredients: ( I halved the below ingredients because there are only 2 of us. The following measurements are for about a pound of shrimp, so adjust to your needs).

2 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

Close and shake bag to mix ingredients – then add in shrimp and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Shake until coated, pouring into a skillet. Sauté until you see the marinade thicken and caramelize slightly.Sauted shrimp

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Reality

Reality. What exactly is reality? My reality, your reality, or the cosmic universe’s reality? When you grow up in a family where reality was a clouded perception of some mystical powers that controlled your every move – you wonder how you came to be who you are today – a sane individual trying hard to make her way in this crazy world. Mental illness is no joke. Being the only sane person in a family is demanding, exhausting, and at times too much to bare. Coming to the harsh reality that you are living with mentally ill people… Well, that revelation in itself is enough to make you want to jump off a bridge. Am I strong enough to handle this? The answer was – I don’t know. This so called reality I was growing up in had now crashed into pieces – itty bitty jagged pieces. How unfair was this? I was going through my own changes – boobs (or lack thereof), periods, boys, makeup, and now this? This was not what I signed up for. All this time I thought this weirdness was normal….well, at least manageable, and now here I am contemplating ending my own life to get away from these tortured souls I called my family. The screaming, breaking of chairs against the back door, the holes in the walls, the bruises on my backside – all these rages of anger fueled by nothing, yet somehow no matter what the circumstance surrounding the outrage, I was always the reason behind it. “The devil was working through me.” That’s what my father always said. The devil and I were somehow planning my father’s demise. Me and Satan were tight like that… No really, just ask my father, he will tell you. According to him I was the reason our family was poor and miserable, the reason my brother was stupid, the reason my mother was fat, and the reason he was always angry – I made him that way. I was an evil child with evil in my eyes.

How do you wake up each day when you know your life brings misery to everyone in your family? Day after day it’s drilled into your head – “You are too loud. Why can’t you be quiet? Don’t usurp my authority,” my father would scream at me. “You are a rebellious girl! You are going to end up sleeping around with every man you meet!” Never mind the fact we were standing in line at a grocery store and I was twelve years old. None of that mattered. It didn’t matter that there was no reason for the outrage – just standing there to buy bread was enough to have him pick me a part in front of the world. I was in constant hell. My brother had now lost touch with reality completely – spending his days living, breathing, and sleeping cartoons. He would go into rages when a Saturday morning cartoon didn’t go the way he wanted. He’d scream and cry, beating himself. I was the only one who could calm him – me, his baby sister. I would talk him off his ledge, following him into his disillusion and bringing him back to a calm state. I’d done it for years – following him into his disillusions and bringing him back from his madness. I had to be strong, but I was tired, so very tired. My mother stayed out of it most the time, but soon she was no better. She would swear I had snuck out my window in the middle of the night to meet boys, when truthfully, most nights it would take everything in me not to go to the bathroom and slit my wrists. I saw myself do it so many times in my head. I could finally be free from the accusations, the yelling, and the tears. I cried from so deep within that death would have been a welcome friend. How could I sneak out the window when that thought never occurred to me? I never thought to run away. I didn’t know there was an escape other than death. Somehow I found the strength to carry on, but secretly I wanted to die. I soon became anorexic. I needed to control something, to feel the high of accomplishing something. As I watched the numbers on the scale drop from triple digits to double digits, I smiled. This was something I could call mine. This was something no one could take from me. Even when my secret was out and my father started beating me with the belt yelling “I’ll beat that anorexic spirit out of you!” I still wouldn’t let him take this away from me. Anorexia was mine. I had control over some part of my life and he couldn’t stop me. Soon the control I had over my body spilled over into my life. I wanted something to call my own outside of the four walls of our home. Soon I was sneaking out, but to get a job. As crazy as that seems I wasn’t allowed to do anything until my older brother did them first. Remember, I always made him feel stupid, so getting a job before him would just make him feel bad. Never mind the fact my brother was always in a maniac rage and refused to socialize with anyone outside of our house. No, I had to wait, but I was tired of watching life pass me by. It was time for me to fix my own broken self and find a way out – to a brighter happier life.

I knew I had a problem with anorexia and started taking baby steps to fixing it. I found getting out – being a part of the world was my therapy. I was like a bird being freed from its cage when I socialized. I felt happy and healthy being around people. I was beginning to realize my family was my poison. If I was going to get better I had to break free. My father had held me down for too long. He had controlled every part of my life – even home schooling us after I finished fourth grade just so he could teach us the ways of God, not the ways of man. I made up my mind it was time to live life – truly live.

I know the ties that bind a family are strong. Whether it’s a dysfunctional family or not, the bonds of family are imprinted on your heart and soul. The feelings are deep – the connection strong. I knew when I decided to embrace a normal life I would leave behind a piece of me, a piece of me no one would ever know or understand. Who I was all those years, my childhood – it would all be left behind to die. I had to let it go, move forward, never look back. It was for the best, but once I made that decision to walk away it meant starting over and finding out who I was apart from the craziness. It wasn’t until I was nineteen years old that I finally “let go” and walked away. Physically I may have “let go” at nineteen, but it took years to “let go” emotionally. It’s an everyday journey to move forward and not look back – not even for a second. It’s not easy. Sometimes as hard as I try to not let it, something takes me back again and I’m swept away into a dark and cold place inside….

But the life I have now, the life I fought to have – it brings me back to the present reality, and I smile because I know what it took to get here.