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Who Is the Steel Town Girl?

I was asked in an interview recently, “Who is the Steel Town Girl?”

 

“This is an interesting question because we are just now finding out who we are. As a child, the Steel Town Girl is a vulnerable, confused, silly girl at heart, who just wants to be a kid, and longs to be loved and seen by her family. But, because of dysfunctional family dynamics and abuse, she doesn’t get to have a childhood. She’s a wounded child by night, and an extra, super, do-gooder by day. Many Steel Town Girls are just now, in midlife, waking up to what they really are without all the conditioning of “never good enough,” “who do you think you are?” and confronting the fear caused by being told, “You’d shut your mouth if you knew what was good for you.” Some of us have empty nests now, and others are years into retirement, wondering where our loves and lives have gone? And for as much compassion, time, and energy we’ve given to raise up others, we are left alone to pick up the pieces of our fragmented selves. We’ve given up our lives and our identities to our families who somehow have taken us for granted and look at us as if we are somewhat unhinged. So, we turn to stare at a face we no longer recognize and realize in the end, after all this, we are alone. We pull the capes we wear from under us and sit down at our computers to sew together the pieces of our lives that make us who we are. We read our stories and we can’t believe we are just now realizing that we’ve had empathy for everyone but ourselves. We’ve forgiven everyone but ourselves. And we’ve kept everyone’s secrets for far too long. We’ve stayed strong for so long and the magnitude of staying silent for one more second is crushing us. We’re learning to stand up for ourselves once and for all. And as we do, we weep for the little girls we realize we left, lost, without a voice for their pain. So, we do the work even when we don’t want to, and when we’re done, we show up with our stories in hand and say, “Of course, I look unhinged. This is what my life has been like, I hope you understand why I didn’t tell you this before.” We are the women trying to find the strength to love ourselves through the difficult chapters of our lives all while taking the risk of being judged and ridiculed for feeling anything about it at all.”

 

We’re girls who go on to break the chains of abuse. —Pow! 💥

Girls who Adult Hard because their kids are worth it! —Boom!💥

Girls who Smash Stereotypes! —(Take that!) 💥

Destroy diagnoses! —(Splat!) 💥

Extinguish excuses! —(Zoink!) 💥

And Let go of Labels! —(Pop!) 💥

We needed a hero, so we became one! — Boop! —We’re girls that muscle through and get shit done! And now, we are here to green-light ourselves because no one’s gonna do it for us! We make our own girl-hero figurines because we are just crazy enough to do it. —And, we NOW… have some things to say about our experiences here on planet Earth!

If you’d like to know more about Steel Town Girl as a child, you can buy my memoir in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

 

If you’d like to know more about Steel Town Girl as a woman, stay tuned here on my blog.

#STG Stories Told for Good

 

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Steel Town Girl!

Winners of my Book Give-Away Are…

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LucyLoon96a

@Disney_Bride

&

Stacey Shute

Please contact me via my author’s page on FB: here to send me your addresses. Please allow extra time to arrive in your mailbox during the busy holiday mailing season. And please don’t forget to pass the book along to other memoir lovers and leave your honest review on Amazon.

Thank you so much for participating!

~ Robin Donnelly

Letting Go of Hope to Live Life to The Fullest

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I snapped this photo on my walk a few weeks back. I walked past it at first then did a double take and walked back to re-read what I thought I read the first time.

Are you down there, Hope? 

Something I’ve been since childhood is hopeful. My mother would comment on how quickly I bounced back and how ever-hopeful I was no matter what was happening around us as she shook her head at me in amazement. I mean, I had my own cheerleading outfit for God’s sake! I wore the blue and yellow outfit I got from Sears around the house complete with matching pompoms, as I cheered room to room, encouraging myself and driving my mother crazy. Hahaha! Or should I say Rah! Rah! Rah! I was born an optimist!

But, it’s taken decades to realize that having hope isn’t always a good thing and being naively optimistic isn’t always the best use of our energy. I can’t believe I’m going to say this in black and white, and typing this out ‘almost’ makes me feel apathetic — like I’m somehow giving up, but… having hope in a hopeless situations can make us sick, stuck, depressed, anxiety-ridden, attached, trapped in bad relationships and friendships, and not living our life to the fullest. Ironic huh? Let go of hope, find a life. Weird? It’s like we have to lower our standards just to get by in life sometimes, ya know?

This is an excerpt from my childhood memoir Steel Town Girl:

“I looked out the window at the trees quickly passing by and knew that’s what my life felt like. I smiled a bit at the thought of a new life, a good one this time. But I secretly hated that I could so easily be talked into hope. I hated hope. It wasn’t the thing with wings that perched itself in your soul. It was the thing with horns that clawed your guts out as it laughed in your face for being stupid enough to be hopeful in the first place. And I felt much too old for this. I didn’t have much life left in me. I was worn out.”

I was 14 years old in that scene and I felt eighty. 

I didn’t hate hope. I loved it. I hated the feelings of frustration, sadness, loss, and pain I felt in my heart I was left with when hopeful situations turned hopeless, which was more times than I could count.

At my age now, I have to conserve my energy for other things in situations that won’t change. I’m learning to discern what situations are hopeful and I’m realizing that in order to save myself, I must let go of hope in some situations. I can no longer easily get talked into hope. That doesn’t make me feel hopeless, it makes me feel more self-aware and much smarter than I was before. I’m still here and I’m still learning everyday.

I will still encourage myself and will continue to be my own cheerleader regardless of what’s going on around me. Even when I get really down, I will eventually get back up. After all, I have lots of things I still want to do with my life. And I can’t do any of them when I’m searching storm drains for hope.

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I got up close and personal with my camera just to be sure Hope wasn’t hiding from me.

Hello? Hope? 

Hope didn’t answer.

Well, at least there’s no red balloon down there, I thought as I walked away.

I had to giggle.

I think giggling is full of hope. Don’t you?

My Birthday is Coming and I’m Having a Contest and Give-Away!

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I found this card in a box I bought at a thrift store and I absolutely love it.

I was close to publishing my memoir Steel Town Girl and I was still so close to the trauma of it all and reeling in pain that it made me cry like a baby.

When I look this little girls face, I see someone snuggled up close to good feelings like a snuggly old teddy bear because she doesn’t yet know how to articulate her feelings. But, we can see it in her giddy rosy glow and gooey embarrassment from all the attention. She feels valued, loved and celebrated. Exactly what children should feel. It’s not about decadent cakes, expensive gifts, or parties we can’t afford. It’s about celebrating the person. Yay! I had you and you are a gift to my life! I love you and I want to tell the world I’m happy you’re here!

Children of narcissistic parents rarely feel important or loved and get through life feeling unworthy of anything good, let alone get celebrated. After all, who do we think we are? We’re just a pain in our parent’s backside, and we require way too much. This hurts adult children of narcissistic parents for decades until we process the pain and we learn to celebrate ourselves.

I’ll be 51 soon, so this year I’m celebrating and appreciating my resilience, determination, and an innate ability to survive this plight with a sense of humor and an open heart. I’m feeling as giddy and gooey with excitement for the future as the little girl in the photo. And because of that, I want to give away 5 copies (one book for every decade of my life) in return for your honest review of the book.

Contest rules:

  • Comment below and tell me your best EVER childhood birthday memory!
  • Tell me why you love to read memoirs.
  • I’ll choose five best answers as winners!
  • I’ll contact each winner and ask for an address and send your book!

Simple!

*Contest runs from Nov 30th-Dec 10th. 

I See Light at the end of My Dark Night of the Soul

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Welp, I’ve been on Lexapro now for fifteen days. And I cannot believe the difference in how I feel. My doctor put me on the lowest possible 5 mg dose just to see how I would do because he knows I tend to have side effects. And within four days I noticed I was no longer jumping out of my skin. It became evident it was working that quickly as I was shopping at Tuesday Morning and a woman threw a stack of thick paper pads of watercolor and art papers from the craft isle in her buggy making a metallic slamming noise right next to me. And I didn’t hit the roof. I just looked, and then went back to shopping.

Then, I noticed I was a better passenger in the car. I’m not all anxious when someone gets close and I’m no longer holding onto the handle of the door with a sweaty palm telling my husband to slow down or speed up, or look out! I’m just sitting there on my side minding my business watching out the window enjoying the view.

And, I realized I was singing Christmas carols the other day in my craft room and was making Christmas artist trading cards! So not me because I’ve disliked the holiday ever since my boys left the nest. When I told my therapist this, she said that she thinks the little girl in me is feeling safe enough to sing again and feels free from anxiety enough to come out and play. — Cool huh?

And… then, on Thanksgiving Eve, after that rather hopeful and bright therapy session where my therapist said the little girl in me was feeling safe enough to venture out and play, I got a call from my step-son on the way home. We talked as my husband drove, and eventually, he told me my other son (before he transfers out West for the military) is going to stay with his father. You know, the father that was only around when it was convenient for him, refused visitation if he thought I had plans, and quit jobs left and right for years to get out of paying child support. — That father.

And instead of crying and feeling hurt and just sucking in my pain like I usually do, I finally got pissed. Like beyond livid. But livid in a calm way… seriously.

When I found out, I calmly texted my son.

“Can I ask why you choose to go see your father on your way out West and not come to see us?”

He responded:

“Several reasons, but mostly because it’s on my route, there are a few places I want to visit in Ohio, and Chip is riding with me.” (Chip is his friend. One of the kids that have called me mom and said he wished he had the kind of relationship with his mom that my son has with me. — That Chip.)

And I know how this is going to sound to others, probably petty and immature, but I simply went over to FB and deleted and blocked my own sons. The oldest for his constant verbal abuse, devaluation, and disrespect and my youngest for not saying anything to him about how he treats me. Oh, and I deleted all their friends too. All the kids that considered me their mom. Chip, Caitlin, and Sam. Those I welcomed into my home, fed, let stay overnight, listened to all their problems, paid for them to go places, all who called me mom. Bah-bye! Anyone related to him who doesn’t speak up for how my older son treats me — gone. And I don’t feel sad or bad or even mad about it. I feel it’s about fucking time. And I’m loving it.

I swear my body thanked me the second I hit the block button. 

And the next morning I woke up to this text from my son.

“So may I ask what I did this time to be a narcissistic abuser? Ask you for some photos?” (They do shit like that. Treat you like shit, then magically forget and ask for a favor… this time pictures.) He’s into Ancestry dot com and needed photos of his dead ancestors. Yet treats his mom like garbage and has yet to read my book that tells of his ancestors. How’s that for irony? Glorify the dead, ignore the living. We live in a world that only tells us how great they think we are and how much we are loved when we’re dead. Fuck if I’ll help them do that. 

Anyway, this is what I wrote back, and I’m not sorry.

“No. Not at all. I didn’t mind looking for them for you. I’m just not going to be dissed by you anymore. You’ve made it clear that you’re not interested in having me for your mom or Jeff for your step-dad and that we don’t rate with you. You’ve told me I’m drama, negative and a disappointment to you. You have the family you want; your dad and Sam’s family (his fiance’). You know where we are when you need us. But, I’m not going to sit around in pain and agony watching you on FB visit everyone and their brother and shit all over us.” 

I can’t heal around toxic behaviors that no one will say anything about. My sons and I have always been close. But as I have to heal C/PTSD from a childhood I suppressed in order to be their mother and I can’t sit by and watch him visit his father or spend every holiday with his girlfriend’s families as if we don’t exist, and have the other son not want to discuss anything about it.

I have one overt in-your-face-bully son and one passive-aggressive that cuts you off at the knees when he doesn’t want to discuss something. The fake yawns on the phone when I ask. Saying “People are going to do what they want to do.” Or my favorite: “Yeah, he never mentions anything about you.” It’s not helping me at all try to figure out what happened. It’s painful and causes me extreme grief. And I’m done.

Sadly, my therapist says that over half her clientele are parents being treated like this by a child or children they were once close to. She shook her head with tears in her eyes as she said how disgusted she is that so many people in society think it’s just completely acceptable to say whatever the hell they want without consequences. She said someone in her own family is going through this very thing and it has all but killed her. She no longer resembles the person she once was and it has taken a huge toll on her health as a result.

She assures me that narcissism runs rampant in the military and many of her other patients are veterans now trying to adjust to civilian life without their families there to help. The higher military men and women climb up that ladder of success, the more of a stranger some can become to their families. The power and prestige; the trophies and award after award, go right to their heads. Suddenly the mother that taught them to wipe their ass, or hold spoon is a stupid fucking idiot not worth their time to bother with anymore. And the step-dad that was more of a father to them than their own bio father, is now conveniently forgotten as he puts up a picture of him and his sperm donor clinking beers together on Father’s Day. It’s like adding insult to injury and I couldn’t be sicker of it and I don’t have to subject myself to seeing it anymore. — Enjoy. I’m out.

I’d love to have a talk with his military superiors. I’d tell them just what I thought of them. How dare they forget to tell these impressionable kids that go in right out of high school that it’s their family they will need most when they become civilians again. Pretty sad that we can’t learn to be leaders and be civil.

As for my sons, one is choosing to get out in two years, and the other is eligible to retire from the military in six years, which doesn’t mean he’ll leave. That’s a long time to wait to have my kids back again. There will be lots of damage to repair but hopefully, it starts with them looking inside themselves and to their past like I did in my memoir. I hope they find out who they are without all the conditioning and heal their own wounds from childhood like I had to. I can’t do it for them. And I wish them both well.

As for me — there is light at the end of my dark night of the soul. I’m feeling good and have hope again. I’m doing yoga, sleeping well, making art, eating healthily, exercising, lounging extravagantly, eating dinner in bed, sleeping 14 hours, and laughing again. I plan on living the rest of my life doing just whatever the hell I choose to do without guilt, without second-guessing myself and without needing validation from anyone that I was a good mom. I just don’t care anymore.

If you need me, I’m off planning my 2019 in my new planner. I have shit I want to do.

Thank you, Lexapro— for giving me my balls back.