I have sat down to write this post with both sadness and rejoicing in my heart. I do not make a habit of pushing my religious beliefs on you guys but, today a message has been put on my heart that I need to share. As some of you know, my life the past few years has been quite the challenge and, on many occasions, I lost the battle; but, from where I stand today, I have won the war.
I was reminded today about a time in my life when all was right with the world. This was one of the rare times when I was sure of myself, I knew who I was and what I stood for. I was a child that attended church anytime the doors were open with my parents and sister, I was an active participant in Bible Drill and often received recognition at the state level for my achievements (along with many other children and youth at our church), my father played guitar with the worship team, my mother (with the help of “Aunt” Rachel) was in charge of the children’s church and all the events that tied to it from VBS to the Christmas program, she and our cousin Kay (sister to the pastor) taught the youth bible drill (boy, I couldn’t wait to be with them), this church was pastored by our cousin Robert Toney, “Aunt” Ann played the piano and “Uncle” Charlie played the bass, Cody was on drums, and every pew was filled with family (some blood and some not) but, we were all one giant family. This little church that sat on a hilltop, Zion Hill Baptist Church, was HOME.
To this day I don’t think that I have felt God as closely as I did on those church grounds; it had nothing to do with the size of the building, the color of the walls, or the size of the steeple, people are who make the church.
Some days that I feel hopeless like I am not worthy of even speaking the name of God. Today, was one of those days. I was angry with my daughter, overwhelmed with housework, my youngest is not feeling well, the oldest had homework and I was not handling any of it with grace. I felt unworthy of love, I felt useless, I felt lonely and powerless. I was talking to mom who is having roughly the same sort of kick the life out of you kind of day, we talked for a while and she told me about a show she had watched where a church was singing “Victory Is Mine” and we began to reminisce on the days when WE sang those hymns at Zion Hill. Pretty soon, even the baby was singing along!
Robert and Aunt Ann are both enjoying their Mansions on the Hilltop and taking A Walk with Jesus, they are both in rejoicing with the Savior but, are still missed very much! The sadness that was on my heart was not for them, it was for me missing them. There have been plenty of times that I wanted to call Robert and ask advice or just talk about things (he usually gave advice whether you asked or not HA!) As much as I miss him and Aunt Ann (who would beat my tail if she could) I know that I will see them again one day.
I truly believe that God put these memories on my heart today to remind of something.That something is the message that I wish to share with you all.
That message is this,
No matter how lonely or beaten you may feel, no matter what you have done or how far you have strayed, YOU are ALWAYS worthy of God’s love. God sent His Son to die for each one of us so that WE may sit beside Him one day.
If Robert could share the gospel to inmates at Angola that sat on death row and give THEM hope, who am I to feel hopeless?! I have my family, my children and MY LIFE to be thankful for, it took reminiscing on days past and singing songs of praise for me to feel the Spirit move through me again–a feeling that I haven’t felt in a long-long while.
Like Adam in the Garden, who was ashamed, I cannot hide from God. He knew exactly how and when to touch my heart. I want you to know that God sees you and He sees your heart, He knows what you have done and where you have been, but, most of all He knows what you WILL do and where you WILL go all you have to do is open your heart to Him; He wants to see you succeed, He has plans to prosper you, not to harm you; just listen.
Tonight, I have mixed emotions, about myself and the life that has gotten me here.
I feel like I was robbed, robbed of the childhood that I deserved—the childhood that I almost had. I didn’t have two happy parents; I am the product of a broken home. I do not place my blame on either unit, more so to all those involved. The signs were there, the cries for help, yet everyone turned a blind eye until it was all too late, the damage was done, I no longer wanted to be saved.
I have spent an entire decade trying to go back and save the little girl that was left all alone to fend for herself because no one wanted to hear her cries. No amount of effort can change her hurt, the only parts of her that are left will be with me forever; I will always hear her cries.
That little girl just wanted to be happy, nothing more, that was all; but unfortunately, that was too much to ask. Life dealt her cards that many would have folded but she, she stayed and fought.
She played with the hand that she dealt, and she came out the other side. I picture that girl, so full of life, so innocent and sweet, yet so much had already been taken from her that her memory is bittersweet. I remember her laugh, her smile, the gleeful happiness that she had; yet not long after those sweet years her smile would be forever changed.
I’m here today because of her, because she knew that there had to be more, misery couldn’t be her story; after all, she wanted to be happy and damnit she would hang on until she was. Drugs and depression almost killed me, but she wouldn’t let me quit. That little girl that wanted more out of life was the voice that kept me here; when every fiber of my being was telling me to just give in, “it’s so easy don’t you see?”
She screamed and yelled and through a fit, she wouldn’t let me go. That part me that held on tight when I wanted to let go; I see her in my children—in myself sometimes too. She never gave up hope, that WE could be happy and even though she didn’t get the life that she should have had, she made sure that I stuck around give my children the life that was taken from her—the life that they deserve.
Through every pill, drink, depressive episode and drug, she held on tight and saved my life and that little girl—that little girl, she is finally happy; and now I’m not so sad, because I know we’ve won the battle and this war is ours to have.
“as mean as a snake,” “as tough as nails,” “not afraid of the devil himself,” “angry all the time,” “cold-hearted,” “blunt,” “vindictive,” “a bitch.”
All of those (plus some I am sure) and still, the one phrase that ‘gets me’
EVERY SINGLE TIME that I hear it is, “That’s just Kathryn.”
That phrase, is what I want to talk about.
I have learned just to smile when I hear it because, very few people—if any—know every single life-changing, personality altering, coping mechanism developing, event that has gone into making me into, “Just Kathryn.”
I will start with the early years. I was an only child, the first grandchild on both sides of my family, the first girl of my generation to be born on my dad’s paternal side of family (the Jelks’), the baby on my maternal grandmother’s side (the Boykins) and have always been known to them as ‘Baby Kathryn,’ my maternal grandfather’s side (the Toney’s)—mostly cousins (also boys) once or twice removed, but family all the same—with whom I spent most of time and, for the longest time even at my babysitter’s (Mrs. Ruthie’s), it was just me and then eventually Christopher. I was never a ‘girly-girl’ by any means (even though all of ‘the boys’ still looked out for and protected me) I thought that I was one of them. It didn’t matter what side of the family I was with, if I was at church or at school, I learned to hold my own and hang in with them. I can remember playing cowboys and Indians, trucks and dinosaurs, building forts in the woods, throwing footballs, riding four-wheelers and dirt-bikes, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees. I had babies and Barbie dolls, but I preferred Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks. I hated anything pink (I don’t mind it now) and I despised trying on clothes or shopping (I still do). I was never “treated” like a girl. I won beauty pageants and played baseball, I wore frilly clothes and shot BB guns, I was never told that I couldn’t do something because “it was for boys” or made to do something else because “it was for girls.”
I could be, Me.
As I got older (6th grade stands out the most), I would ‘trade licks,’ arm wrestle (and win most to most), play quarters, and compete with the boys; I was friends with all of the girls, I was on the cheerleading squad and had a boyfriend but, still found myself being ‘one of the boys’ at certain times. One day, my cousin (on the Jelks side) and I were trading licks in the hallway on the way to P.E. and a teacher reprimanded him and said, “We don’t hit girls!” I will never forget the look of bewilderment on his face when he looked at her and said, “That’s not a girl Mrs. Kim, that’s just Kathryn.” That was the day I realized that to him (and many others) I wasn’t a girl or a classmate or ‘one of the boys,’ I was just, Kathryn. I was okay with that.
What I didn’t realize at the time was, that by embracing that role I would become a target for both sides of the isle and not ever belong to either one. I was ridiculed by the girls and picked on boys; I never truly belonged. The 6th grade was the first year that I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, I was ashamed of who I was, and embarrassed by how I looked. For the first time in my life, I felt alone. The friends that I did have, were fair weather at best; they would talk about me, call me names, reassure me that an outfit (that they picked or helped pick) was cute that I should totally wear it (when really, I looked a mess and they knew it) or one friend purposefully cut my bangs too short (on purpose–I heard her bragging) just so they could laugh behind my back or watch as other’s made fun of me.
I know what you must be thinking, “Why did you let them do that?”
Well, you see, the thing about being 13 (or close to it) is, that everything is new and scary, the girls are becoming meaner, the boys are becoming vulgar, the adults are less attentive, the consequences of mistakes are much more severe and all around, the stakes are higher. I wanted so badly to fit in–or at least not stand out; standing out meant being a target and if you were one person’s target, you became a target to everyone (everyone that wanted to fit in and not run the risk of becoming a target themselves that is.)
Very few people ever took up for or defended me; most of the time I was on my own. I began to adapt; I learned to hit back (metaphorically speaking—it was mainly verbal confrontation, though there were a couple physical altercations). It was slow going at first, I got my feelings hurt quite often and found myself being the butt of most jokes.
Eventually, my responses got faster, and my comebacks got meaner. It wasn’t until after my high school graduation that I stopped retaliating and began striking first. Even in college—I had no true friends; I was always the first to be thrown under the bus or even targeted in hopes that I would get in trouble because it “was funny” to them.
I can count on one hand (and have fingers to spare) the people that would have my back no matter what the circumstances were.
I have been ridiculed, bullied, stabbed in the back, betrayed, stolen from, abandoned, called names, cheated on, lied to, slapped in the face, taken advantage of, victimized, humiliated, and even raped. The worst part of this whole list isn’t the things that I listed or even the fact that I endured them all; the worst part of it is, each action was executed someone that I trusted—some that I even called friend.
I learned a long time ago how to hold my own and how to turn off my emotions when things began getting too bad. I taught myself how to get back up after being knocked down, I got used to the pain of being kicked while I was down, I allowed people to treat me terribly most of the time and held on to the few moments of kindness or affection that they so sparingly offered. I sat and watched while “my friends” flirted with my boyfriends and I always forgave them. I thought it was my fault; if I were prettier, or skinnier, or maybe if I put out that they would actually love me. I believed that other’s trespasses against me were due to faults within myself.
By 14 years old, I could go shot for shot with people twice my age. I thought that if I couldn’t be accepted by my age group, that I could rise above them and fit in with an older crowd. I never really looked my age, I always looked older than I was and carried myself like I was older still. Before 16, I could pass as a college sophomore and by 17, I could walk into bars without being questioned. I could confidentially pass for 24 on any given day. As a result, I, of course, drew the attention of guys older than me and some men looking to snag a younger woman. I accepted the terrible things that happened to me as being “part of the territory” and a small part of me questioned whether I “asked for it,” if I had in some way caused them to think it was okay. I have learned to live with what happened but, I promise, that I have not forgotten.
I would party way too hard and not remember large portions of my nights or even know how I got home. I realized that I liked not feeling anything, I liked having fun, and I liked being free from my own self-doubt of only for a little while. This began to happen more frequently and in larger quantities. After a while, alcohol wasn’t enough so I would take a few pills (someone always had pills) and continue drinking. I didn’t see an issue; I was just having fun. I began needing over the counter “energy pills” to shake the hangovers and those worked so well that I kept some on stand-by if I ever needed an extra “boost”. Again, no flags—they were sold at the gas station so, how bad could they really be? I did all of this while maintaining a 3.6 GPA and graduated with honors.
Since graduation and a short stint in junior college, I have lived with friends, began dating the man that i eventually married, went to Hawaii on an all expenses paid trip with a man that I soon convinced into helping get my boyfriend (now husband) back, I lived and worked on a ranch in Tombstone, AZ. I got married, lived on an Army base in California where my husband was stationed for 3 years, had a daughter, suffered miscarriages, my husband and I took over raising my stepson. I joined the Army and got out of the Army on a bum shoulder. I have over come suicidal ideations, battled addiction, learned the hard way who my friends were, and had a son on my Dad’s birthday (he turned1 in August). I have put my marriage through the ringer, my mental health is always an uphill battle, I am attempting to complete an English degree online, and I am happily a housewife/stay at home mom.
I have become extremely outspoken and opinionated in recent months (some thought that it couldn’t get worse–they were wrong.) I have no qualms about calling someone out if they need it and I have stopped sitting back while people are rude or ugly to me and my family.
By no means am I perfect nor do 3i blame my past for my shortcomings. Everything that I have done, I have chosen to do; I have never had a gun to head forcing me to do anything. There are plenty of situations that I could have handled with more grace but chose not to, I guess that makes me blunt; there have been confrontations that I could have walked away from but opted to stay and fight, I guess that makes me spiteful; there are words that I have said that served no other purpose than to be hurtful, I guess that makes me mean; and, there have been times that I knew that I was wrong and frankly, I didn’t care–I guess that means that I have no self control. I have my faults like everyone else (maybe even a few more than most). I am quick to anger and often impatient. I don’t do well with forgiving and forgetting, I can hold on to a grudge like it is my job, I guess that makes me vengeful. I have learned to detach myself from hurtful situations and from the people that continue to cause them, I guess that makes me cold-hearted; But, on the flip side of all of these flaws are good qualities that are often overlooked.
I have acquaintances, friends and even family members that think I am just a mouthy bitch with little to no self-control, that I am just mean for the hell of it, that I enjoy confrontation and drama, that I am just bi-polar and throw fits to get my way; they shrug it off, “oh, that’s just Kathryn.”
What doesn’t get talked about, are the times that I have defended those that wouldn’t do the same for me; the times when I have squared up to grown men to protect women that looked the other way when it was me that was being hurt; the fact that I have been loyal to those that were busy betraying me; I have carried crosses for people that helped to build mine. And still, I am constantly reminded that I am “just a bitch.” If I happen to raise hell about something that matters to me or if I lash out because I have finally had enough of something then, I’m just throwing a fit.
Maybe it IS just me being crazy; But, it has taken years of mistreatment and abuse for me to finally find the strength to speak out against what is wrong and to stand up for what is right.
I did not get this way yesterday; I made me into who I am.
I have barely survived the majority of my life.
Yet, instead of feeling accomplished about the battles that I have won, I am shamed for the person that I became.
I have to smile a little bit every time I hear the phrase,
Trust me. I should know. I’m one of them. And if you are someone easily offended by foul, vulgar, profane language, this essay might not be for you. There is an amazing essay written by Jordan Schneider in The Chronicle of Higher Education that covers why swearing in class isn’t that big of a deal; […]
Do any of you have trouble keeping everything in your house clean and up to date? I do. My mom, mother-in-law, and grandmothers always seem to have it together. It is crazy how everything always seems to be exactly where it is suppose to be.
I am interested in hearing how you all tackle the dreaded “to-do list”. I always feel behind no matter how much I do, something is left undone. Moms and grandmas out there PLEASE weigh in! How the heck do you do it? Is there a checklist, a system, a certain order to things?
I will make a follow up post to this next Wednesday; that will allow me time to read, respond and compare all of the tips and tricks that you guys submit.
Please, let me know how YOU get things done. *Go to contact, put in your name and email, send me a comment. I know its a pain. . . I’m working on it. Sorry guys.
Before I was a mom, I had this idea of what type of mom I would be. I thought that my children would listen to me and follow my instruction. I would be the awesome classroom mom that always brought the best cookies and hosted the most epic parties. My house would have all the awesome toys and there would be an infinite amount of the newest, coolest snacks. I would cook three meals a day, do laundry daily, and I was going to make healthy snacks and pack healthy lunches every single day. It would be amazing. I would be amazing.
As a first-time mom, I washed my daughter’s pacifier every time it fell from her mouth. I cleaned EVERYTHING, and I cleaned it all EVERYDAY. I thought this was how things were “supposed” to be. I stressed over every tiny thing. I was so worried about making sure she was reaching her next mile stone that I did not enjoy the trivial things that she did every day. I wanted to make certain that I was not “spoiling” her, that she was sleeping in her own bed, that I was not holding her too often or for too long. I was so concerned with meeting expectations set by others that I set myself up to feel like a failure. For the longest time, I did not think of myself as a “first-time mom”, I was a “fail at every turn mom”.
When my step son came to live with us, my daughter was only 9 months old and we lived in a tiny 2-bedroom apartment. I kid you not, the apartment was approx. 900 square feet. My kitchen had 2.5’ x 6’ of walk space and if the refrigerator door was open it blocked the doorway. It was an extremely small apartment but, we managed to squeeze two adults, one school-aged child, one baby, and a 50 lb. dog. I thought, “this is just what I need, another child to fail”. Things were super tense.
I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted my step son to transition smoothly and to thrive in his new school. Well, eventually happened it just took 2 years. He hated me. I did not think I was qualified to be raising a 6-year-old. What did I know? I was struggling with a 9-month-old. I was dealing with milestones and obstacles that I had otherwise thought I had years to prepare for. Suddenly, I was a first-time mom with two children.
I got the hang of things-well, sort of. Things were going okay, but I wanted to move into a bigger place. We found a house for a great price and it was big enough. It was old, but we did not care. How soon can we move in? Within 32 days we had packed up and moved. That was 3 years ago. In August, our family grew again. I gave birth to a perfect baby boy! Our oldest plays every sport and our daughter is an aspiring ballet dancer/brain surgeon. HA! My husband and I are both attending Troy University. Life is good, but busy.
If I could meet “before mom” me, I would laugh in the face of that naive child. I am certain that version of myself would cringe at the baggy, food stained sweater and boxers that I have worn since yesterday. She would scoff at my floors and faint at the sight of my laundry room. However, as shocking as this may be, children are messy and being a mom is hard.
I still have lofty goals of organized closets, fantasize about uncluttered counter tops, and dread the thought of turning off the ceiling fans-the dust bunnies would invade. Guess what though? The world did not explode, my children are healthy, my husband is happy, and I still have a sliver of sanity left. It is okay to not be perfect. The sun will still rise, the laundry will be there and getting the dishes out of the dishwasher as needed has not ever killed anyone-to my knowledge. Start enjoying being a mom and stop stressing over being the best mom.
I’m just Kathryn. I am the mother of 3 amazing kiddos and the wife to a pretty awesome man. Adams, party of 5. I am hopping on the “blog-wagon”, so to speak. I plan to share my projects, recipes, quirky stories and everything in-between. I have never been great at composing ‘bios’, they always seem so awkward. I never know what to say, how much is too much or have I written too little. Knowing just the right amount of personal details, and making sure not to over share is not easy. I also don’t want to sound like a robot with no emotions. The best way to get to know me will be to follow my blog and watch my story unfold. There you have it. That was my thought process while trying to type an ‘about me’.Maybe you will enjoy my ramblings; If you do and would like to know when I have made a post, follow “That’s Just Kathryn” via email and you can receive updates when new content has been added.