Sunday, December 31, 2017

For me, 2017 started in a very stressful, dark way. The photos I posted of the party with my friends is only what I put out there. It was not the whole truth of the night... not even remotely. You see, I was in an abusive relationship. I had made it clear I wanted to spend that time with the guy I was seeing, but when he refused, I decided to spend time with my friends. So in return, he was blowing up my phone with absurd, wildly inaccurate accusations, insults, and shaming for enjoying a night without him, and more so, a night with people other than him. I was miserable. And yet I allowed it to continue.

A month later, in February, I lost the job I loved as a Veterinary Assistant. I had finally been able to get to the cause for my chronic hip pain, and a diagnosis of a permanent and progressive condition (hip dysplasia) was enough for my boss to fire me. Legal? Probly not. It was discrimination for a disability. Especially since I had requested a very reasonable and possible accommodation and was refused. But the fact was, I couldn't do the job the same anymore. I couldn't be on my feet for 8 hours, and so I was let go to pursue other avenues.

At the end March I had my first skin removal surgery, my Panniculectomy, followed by a 6-week recovery period. During my healing process I was actively looking for a job, including attending several interviews. All I could really find where I didn't have to be on my feet all day was office work. Tele-sales, mostly. I interviewed at 3 or 4 different places and none of them offered me a job, saying I needed direct sales experience. After just so long, and so many refusals, I started widening my options. I started applying at places I'd have to stand but could be accommodated. Pizza Hut was one of those places. I figured being a delivery driver, not only would I be able to sit (driving) most of the time, but I could also be outside, and not have to stay in a stuffy building day after day.

In June I was hired by Pizza Hut as a driver, which is where I'm still working today. It's a fun, laid-back atmosphere most days. The management isn't too strict, and the majority of the customers are pretty chill. I definitely have the flexibility to accommodate the hip pain and still earn a paycheck, and that's what matters to me.

In July, after months of persuading him, I was allowed to go to the Freedom Rally with the guy I was seeing. The rally itself was a blast, but it was then I finally realized I needed to get away. Why it took me nearly a year for that to actually click in my head, I'm not sure. But it was then that it did. I deeply enjoyed the weekend - the atmosphere, the bikes, the concerts, and everything else the rally had to offer. But I knew that when the weekend was over, it was time to start planning the end of that relationship. It took me a few weeks to finally build up the nerve to do it because I knew he would be very harsh, loud, threatening, and insulting.... but one night in August I told him it was over, and that he needed to move out. It was a very dramatic 3-4 days, but once all of his stuff was moved out, I was free to be myself again, and my boys were free to be themselves again. A big sigh of relief.

The next day, I confessed my attraction to a co-worker of mine.... one I had been talking to and building a very strong friendship with. That co-worker just happened to be Jarrod - so as you can see, that turned out well! :-) In less than 10 days of non-stop texting and spending every waking moment together (which was a lot because we couldn't shut up long enough to sleep much), we ran off to Colorado and got married. Our families and friends really didn't get it, and they likely still don't, but we both KNEW within the first 48 hours that we were meant to be together. We've never been so sure of anything in our lives.

When we got back from Colorado, I had another skin removal surgery. This time a revision of my Panniculectomy and a breast reduction. And then Jarrod and his 3 daughters moved in with me and my 3 sons. Over the last 4 months its been an interesting set of challenges blending our families. And though there will likely always be some sort of "us vs. them" mentality between the boys and the girls, it is certain all 6 of the kids can see the love and respect Jarrod and I have for one another, and that has brought about a level of acceptance that has made everyone settle in pretty well.

Our families have now celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together. Blended. Successfully, with very little opposition. No big arguments. No family feuds. And now we are about to end 2017, and begin 2018 together. A new year. New challenges and goals. A new chapter.

The year started off dark and hopeless, and has ended completely the opposite - bright and hopeful! My family has doubled in size, and the man I am sharing my life with is my best friend. We laugh together, dream together, complain about the same stuff together, plan for our future together, and spend every waking (and sleeping) moment by each other's side. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Other happenings in 2017:

• Surgery on my back to remove a lump

• Traveled to St. Augustine, FL, and back home north through Ohio and back west to Iowa, hitting 14 states en route.

• Attended a Pop Evil Concert

• Got my voodoo doll tattoo (by Barron @ Hot Rod's in Newton, IA)

• Moved back to Newton out of Otley

• My friend Amber got veeery sick, but then got better after a couple months.

• I had a Panniculectomy (tummy tuck)

• Attended a Highly Suspect concert

• Attended a Def Leppart / Tesla / Poison concert

• Threw Andy a birthday party - age 15!

• Attended a Stone Sour concert

• Got hired at Pizza Hut

• Attended the Freedom Rally

• Threw Evan a birthday party - age 13!

• Took the boys to Adventureland

• Set off our own fireworks legally on the 4th of July

• Threw a birthday party for Cory - age 12!

• Witnessed a solar eclipse.

• Ended a very bad relationship.

• Attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show reunion

• Traveled to Colorado and saw the Rockies for the first time AND...

• Fell madly in love and got married to the best man ever!

• Became a grandma!

• I had a Panniculectomy revision (tummy tuck again), and a breast reduction

• Went to Chicago with Jarrod for an entire weekend for RiotFest

• Also in Chicago, visited the Gallagher house (Shameless)

• Got matching tattoos with Jarrod

• Started dreadlocks

• Took Evan to his first concert to see Hollywood Undead

• Got a Halloween tattoo (and so did Jarrod)

• Took all the kids trick-or-treating

• Went to a Highly Suspect concert again. :-)

• Hosting a very LARGE family Thanksgiving

• Attended a Seether concert

• Spent weeks planning Christmas gifts for the family and making the purchases.

• Started this joint blog with my dear hubby

• Celebrated not only one, but TWO successful Christmases with our whole family

• I got my lip pierced twice (snakebites)

• And finally.... NYE at home with the family!