I Owe My Life To Words. I Won’t Abandon Them Now.

Karma has never been kind. Ever.

I learned in 12-step meetings that if we all got what we deserved, we would all be in trouble. And I come to witness this fundamental truth — that God can take far better care of people than you can.

When you know that you’ve always went above and beyond to try to help;  you’ve always extended a hand when you can;  been giving of  yourself and your resources;  always been nice and you let yourself be mistreated on multiple occasions. And someone takes advantage of a situation and uses it as an excuse to get in your face and belittle you — and it’s not even original, it’s the same verbal abuse you’ve heard many times before — I will never again be down on myself enough to apologize for getting angry.  Because I’m human, and that anger is  loooongg overdue. Hell,  even Jesus got angry in The Garden of Gethsemane. All you have to know when you lie down to sleep at night is you have always done your best.

It’s okay to stand up and say I will not be intimidated, I will not be verbally assaulted, and I will not go through another round of verbal put-downs “everybody is embarrassed of me; everybody hates me; I’ll never amount to anything; my Uncle Chunky wouldn’t speak to me if he was alive because he’d be ashamed of me… blah blah blah” by a grown  man who gets in your face and threatens you — or, on several occasions, tells you to open the door so you they can kick your ass — all because you FINALLY attempt to stop lying for them. Stop covering.

Stop pretending to have an answer to “How is so and so…” and start saying, “I have no clue.  They’re not allowed to speak to me because I have no more money to give or because I’m the only one that can’t be manipulated or that one can try to sway, play, draw to their side.”

I’ve never been a piece on that chessboard.

Because here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have made it through the things I made it through if I cared about having anybody on my side. I wouldn’t have made it through what I made it through if I cared what anybody else thinks. I  learned when I was very small that all I have to live for is me and God. And if I’m okay with my choices,  it doesn’t matter if I stand alone. Because when you stand in truth, you don’t ever stand alone.  You stand with your higher power.

The truth is, life has never been that hard for me, but it’s never been that easy either.

I recently had a conversation with someone I went to school with who has always followed my writing who said, “I never would have known it, but girl,  you’ve been through some shit. I always knew you were tough, but I didn’t know how much.”

I haven’t hung out with this girl since high school. But she had no clue how true those words were.

From a court case that changed the course of my life and went all the way to the state Supreme Court that really shook me to my core. To losing two instrumental people in my life so young. To surviving the suicide of a boyfriend and then the persecution by those who tried to have me arrested and intimidated to cover up for the fact that they were involved in his “suicide” that the TBI would not rule out as a murder. To watching so many friends from Spencer to Red Wing succumb to the disease of addiction and alcoholism. I miss them every day. To learning what it’s like to navigate a life where you may not talk to another person for days at a time except for the woman who takes your coffee order. To learning what it’s like to treat food as food and not just another drug to abuse yourself with. To battling depression. To surviving alcoholism with a genetic disease that wanted alcohol more than it wanted sanity. To overcoming the post-traumatic stress that follows you from an experience that shaped every relationship you have with a man a
for the rest of your life — one you still aren’t ready to talk about. The real reason you bailed on college and that degree. Because you couldn’t go back. You can never go back. Not after something like that.  And the only thing you know to do was work double shifts and two jobs and stay busy and don’t think.  And when that didn’t work, you drank.

Until the drinking stopped working, too.

So, see if you think I care about sides, or you think I care what you say about me, you never really took a good look at me at all — did you? Here’s why I will never be quiet and why I will never stop writing, no matter who wants me to…

because through everything that I went through,  it was always the word of somebody else that helped me. Either the words in a book, either in a meeting, or either the tear stained Dixie Chicks album cover jacket and the words that got me through nineteen.  Whatever the source, I swore that if I ever got to a place in my life where it made sense, and I could use one word or one experience to give somebody else some peace, some hope, or some light — then that would make it all worthwhile. The only point of life is each other. And I am only here because somebody gave to me. Every experience I’ve been through has made me stronger.  Every time I didn’t stand up for myself, I learned something and I had to live with disappointment. When I come out of it on the other side, I realize this:   everything we go through is not about us, it’s about somebody else.   We’re here to share our experiences, to pass on our truth, our lessons, and I will never be quiet about my struggles just because somebody else has appearances to keep up — and God forbid the truth be out there, that people who are miserable abuse, manipulate and hurt others.

And people who are generally just content to hurt themselves — while appearing to be the one with all the “problems” — are generally stronger than all the perfect people together.

I’ve lived the life of one who has earned the right to speak out. I’ve battled for my place in this life, and I fought like hell to keep my head above water while everyone else just stood around and said: “Ha, ha — look! She’s drowning!”

I never fucking drowned. 

And this is my time.  It is my time,  and if you think I need you to be there with me — you don’t know me at all.

I’m just sad that anybody else has to be mistreated for actually standing up for me.  I’m just sorry that someone has to be hurt with the things they love the most in life because they had the audacity to finally stand up for me. It’s beyond wrong. It’s shameful.

I’ve said this to my naysayers all along and I’ll say it again. You better hope that your children have one ounce of my soul in them — because  it would be the best gift you could give them. Life could beat the shit.out of them and they’d still stand.

So while you’re out to get a pizza and you see someone who constantly talks about what a fuck up you are drunk and at the liquor store on a weeknight — and driving —  you remember what you learned that made all the difference.

That God can take faaaar better care of people that I can. Everybody gets their dose of Humble Pie, and I’ve eaten enough that I can tell you  — it’s a taste you won’t ever forget.

Some folks have a big ole helping coming.

I speak from experience:  there’s no amount of success, or shit that you can buy, or liquor you can drink to make that mess taste good when you wash it down once it comes your turn at the table.

Best remember that.

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What’s Done In Secret, God Rewards In Plain Sight

You know, I’ll say this … I’ll say a lot on my blog, but I’ll just say this here.

When you grow up around a bully, you develop a fight or flight mentality. Boyfriends have chased me down, got in front of the car so I can’t leave, because I absolutely hate bickering and verbal abuse and chaos. Boyfriends hate that about me.  I walk away from a fight. My mother hates that about me, too. I had so much of it growing up, that I just don’t. I’ll say what I have to say — usually in print — and I’ll set  down somewhere where you can read it, and then after that, I’m out until you push me to the point that I show up at your house with a ball bat or a broom.  I run.  I escape. Until I can’t and then I’m kill or be killed. That was a coping mechanism. What I don’t do is all that in the middle. I just say what I have to say and let them whirl. When you whirl too much, you’ll see me. But I don’t go back and forth. When you grow up never knowing  what day you’ll say the wrong thing and have to endure getting your ass kicked, you pick your battles, and you only know one escape — away.

When people start jawing, I’m out. I just put my truth out there, you can do what you want with it. That’s the same reason I no longer argue politics. I just say what I think and you’re only job is to like it or not. I don’t give a damn about “arguing” or feelings. That wasn’t exactly a luxury I had. There was just ANGER all the damn time.

That said, as much as I walk away the second somebody starts running me down — no, I will not stand around one more day and listen to abuse — nobody deserves to be shunned. Nobody. I wouldn’t wish the pain of what I’ve had to endure — and ignore — on my worst enemy. Ever.

It’s cruel. It’s manipulative. It’s abusive. And it’s wrong. The world can never strip from me that which my Uncle Chunky gave me, and even in my most alone, even in my most let down, even in my most lonely, I can go visit his grave and know, instantly, that there’s somebody out there that loves me the way that God loves us all. The world can never beat me down enough to make me lose that. But it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean I was immune. And I wouldn’t wish that treatment on a stray dog, let alone a person. Nobody deserves that. Nobody.

My friend Jamie would always tell me that where man has hurt you God will use you. And my Uncle Chunky always said what’s done in the dark eventually comes to light, and that God sees all — and rewards all — even if man never does.

If all of that is true, man — it’s going to be hell of a time when it’s time to cash in on spiritual payday. Karma is ugly. But some of us, we have a huge refund coming.

I’m ready to collect my check. 

Dear Depression: You Can Suck It

I was just talking to somebody about someone and they said, “What if they apologized?” And I said,  “They can shove their apology right up their rectum with that hose that they used to inflate themselves to a pint-sized Michelin Man. The best thing they can do from now till eternity when they’re around me is to keep their head down and not talk. That’s their only salvation.”

And I remembered.

I remembered who I used to be.

I got an email from a college friend a year or so back that said,  “You just don’t sound like the same girl that I knew. What happened to that girl that wouldn’t take anything off anybody?”

I didn’t know. But it’s true. Depression changes you. In college I mostly hung out with all male friends, didn’t take crap from anybody, unintentionally intimidated most of the other girls that came around and routinely got my tab picked up as an incentive to get me to get in verbal fights with Republican men at the bar. I can still hear my college boyfriend, a Republican, saying: “Here she goes,  here she goes, grab a seat — she’s about to crush him!”  Right before I would tear into somebody over Bill Clinton. This was during the impeachment trial, so I got to do that a lot.

I used to operate on that three-strike system and once you got three strikes, neither Jesus nor Bil Clinton could convince me to let you back in my good graces.

I don’t know, perhaps I’ve been taking Cymbalta and running again long enough to get the benefits that I started to remember who I am and what I’m worth.

I just know that I’ve been walking around today with a completely different attitude of “F*ck you,  depression!”  Maybe it comes from standing up for myself. Maybe it comes from the endorphin release from good old fashioned go-till-you-drop exercise. Or maybe it comes from knowing that my lifelong political hero, Hillary Clinton,  is about to take the White House, and in doing so, is going to defeat a bullying, uninformed idiot who belittles women and verbally abuses them when he can’t outwit them. 

I’ve had a lot of experience with those, so perhaps this victory feels personal.

I started out a journal when I was 19, the very first line reading:  “Someone once told me if you leap, you just might find you could fly. So I jumped. And I hit the ground.  But the fall didn’t kill me,  and I saw some pretty incredible things on the way down.”

That was why I always claimed that the title of my memoir was going to be “On The Way Down.” I can’t think of anything else that sums up life, or at least my life, any more beautifully than that.

Of course like everything else I wrote and did nothing with, it’s now the title of a country song making somebody else money, but first penned by me.

C’est La Vie, friends. C’est La Vie.

Which, coincidentally, is the same way I feel about depression. That’s life. But not ALL of life. There’s so much more to me — and you — than that.

I’m Taking My Power Back

I’m going to sleep like a baby for the first time in ages. I haven’t been this mad since I went to the bowling alley, caused a scene, got kicked out,  and tried to fist fight a man stone cold sober. (Dustin. If you’re wondering.)

I went riding around apartment complexes looking for somebody’s very specific ass I was gonna verbally tear into, and I realized I must be madder than hell — because I hadn’t done that since I got jacked up on Maker’s Mark at 3 in the morning and went there looking for my “father.”

That was a showdown of epic proportions that only resulted in me staying out of jail because the cops thought I had every right to tear into that no-count son of a bitch.

Then, I ran a mile around the lake.   I haven’t ran a mile around that lake since I was young enough to still give a shit.

37 is a lot harder than 27.

When I was that age, I ran around it 5 times a day, did 100 crunches, 16 different sets of 16 rep arm weights, and 100 squats. Religiously. I also didn’t eat carbs.

Now, I had to stop and bend over a few times just to make it a mile.

Every time I bent over, I just saying to myself (yes, out loud): “This is your time!”

I have let caring for my grandmother, living on just a few hours of sleep a night on her couch drive me to the breaking point until I’m so exhausted I can’t even get up and go to the twins birthday party because it’s the only day I actually have help with my grandmother and all I want to do is sleep. I can’t even make it through one football game at home without having to get up and go to Burns because I know she’ll be alone.

And she was — as usual — all alone. And full of lies and excuses for the one supposed to be there taking care of her.

I have to go all Benny Cowan (the aforementioned “father”)
with a baseball bat in my backseat to get anything to change.

I’m so completely over it. I dared anybody to say one word to me, let alone get in my way, because I’ve done it alone too long.

I’ve done everything alone too long. That ends right now.

This is my time. That’s what I kept telling myself as sheer anger drove me around that lake.

Hillary is about to take hold of that tangerine-tinted twat tomorrow night and tear him a new one, and  it’s her time.  It’s my time. It’s our time. Let’s seize on it, ladies.

I let a man steal 5 years of my life, locked up in wondering why he married some tall, “kind” girl that — no matter how pretty, let’s be real — won’t ever be me.  Torturing myself over what I did wrong, why I wasn’t enough, when the truth is,God was just doing  me a favor. 
Because I deserve somebody who would smash a grown man in the mouth for disrespecting me, I don’t deserve to be the man myself in all my relationships.  I let that devastating death of a dream and heartbreak overlap into a codependent relationship with a man that got so far in his addiction, he would rather lie when the truth sounds better. Cheating on me with girls that look like the back side of my unwashed ass and outweigh me by a good 150, while I was exercising myself stupid. I let people use me and take advantage of me — from a certain member of my own family to boyfriends — and then when you stand up and demand a little damn respect, they tell you you’re crazy, that it never happened, and throw some verbal abuse your way. I may never physically be able to be in the shape I was when I was 27 because my heart is not so good, but I don’t have to eat my damn feelings and let stress sicken me.  I can stop taking it and I can go the f-ck off.

I’ve been an insomniac for two decades and the only time I’ve ever slept good is after I go the f-ck off. I should do it some more.

I’ve wasted enough of my life making other people more important than me,
That ends now. I’m taking my power back. I’m taking my skinny pants back. And I’m taking my sanity back. One “For Sale” sign is all it takes to start over. And if anybody deserves to start over, it’s me.

And I’m keeping the baseball bat in the back seat.

Nobody takes advantage of this me — ever. And I need to stay her.

It’s time.

Ladies, you relate?

Nice Girls Don’t Get Angry.

Does anybody else have those thoughts you’re not supposed to say out loud?

I know there are women reading this that know exactly what I mean. After all, nice girls don’t get angry.

* smile *

The only thing I remember from criminology in college is that arson is almost always a predominantly white man’s crime. I’d like to test that theory. When I dabbled with writing lyrics for country music, I  always joked that, much like Miranda Lambert, I’m way more homicidal than  I am suicidal. Sometimes I get so angry, I just want to light something on fire just to watch it burn.

* Cue:  Lambert’s ‘Kerosene’ *

I think it’s much better than, say, jumping off a bridge.  Prison can’t be that bad, and I can make friends anywhere. I know now why men knock heads on the gridiron. It has to be a stress reliever. Why don’t we have football, girls?!

Sure, life. I’ll just keep taking your shit! It’s what I do. I’m Candi! I TAKE EVERYBODY’S SHIT and make it my fault.

Because I’m a WOMAN! That’s what we do! That’s our role!

* eye roll *

I need a drink.

Only, I haven’t had one in a decade. So I’ll just eat another piece of cornbread!!

Color me exhausted of it all, y’all. I need a new knee. I could handle shit 24/7  when I could run myself stupid. I think when ladies are little, they ought to pull us aside in elementary school, and teach us a class called “Oh hell, no!”

You know?

Dear Blogger: “Social Media Isn’t The Place For That!”

This the way I feel about Facebook. Everybody wants to use social media to show off what they do, what they buy, how perfect their life is — I don’t. Never have. I use Facebook mostly to write and to link to my writing. It’s why I don’t send friend requests and never have. You come to me, you’re going to know what you get. And when you start telling me you’re offended, I can tell you to piss up a rope.

Everybody in three counties should have tee-tee on their legs now over their inability to be objective  over our nation’s leader.

And they asked for it.

I use social media to write. Period.  I also use Facebook and social media to blast County Commissioners for gay shaming;  rednecks for cowardly online black people hating;  or expose people who mistreat, take advantage of others; those who don’t do what they’re supposed to, or who make your life hell. Especially cheaters — they really get upset about that.

My theory is if you don’t want me to write about things, try doing better. If you’re in my life, or even not in my life, and you feel offended by something I write, maybe it’s your actions and not my writing about them you dislike potentially being exposed. I’ve found that when I truly want change — put it on Facebook! Every nosey-ass busybody with no real life friends sitting around knee deep in a tub of icecream will screen shot that shit and pass it around faster than a case of the clap at Bonnaroo.

It’s the quickest way to get your message out.

You want to change something you don’t like about life — writing about it works.  If you don’t like the way you’re portrayed when someone writes about their life, my advice to you (particularly men) — try doing better in it!

Also, to those who cry “Facebook is not the place to write about stuff like that…”  Once again, I call bullshit.

We use social media to show off everything we’ve bought, every time we go to a sporting event, everytime we go to Walmart and can’t find something on the shelf. We announces deaths, births, promotions, job losses, vacations. There’s NFL players that found out on social media they’re losing their jobs before they got a call in a board room. We post pictures of what we eat, we use social media to announce every time we take a shit. And then we ask for medical advice if that shit doesn’t come out right.

So don’t you dare tell me — or anybody — that they shouldn’t write about the realness of their life because it might offend you. That’s alcoholic-codependent mentality, if you wanna know the truth. That’s Miranda Lambert “Mama’s Broken Heart” behavior.  It’s not my job to not use my skills of writing and blogging to reach out to other people and relate to their situations and make them laugh a little bit, nor is it my job to sugarcoat the truth (my truth) and make sure everybody comes out smelling like a rose in all situations I might write about. It’s my job to write my life. And I will.  Like so many other Mommy bloggers, Trump haters, health care givers, those in recovery, and others who blog through hard stuff — there’s humor in other people’s life shit.

Well, at least for those of us not pretending to have it all together. Because all you need to do is open the city paper any given year to see that I don’t.

And when my grandmother tells me to “get out” and then spends the very next night ALL ALONE because I did, I damn sure will write about it — since it broke my heart. Because the only ones that seem to truly understand are my co-bloggers or online “My Life Is Shit!” friends writing about their frustrations.

If that offends you, I’m sorry. I write. Especially when I hurt. It’s what I do.

The Only Painful Part About Being Single Is Other People’s Stupidity

It always angers me when people act like just because I don’t have a family now that I ‘ll never have one. When you see people and they say, “Won’t you regret not having kids?” or you talk about one day adopting them and they act like, “Oh that’s cute,  but dumb little Candi,  you will never have a family.”  In fact, my brother even told me one day at my Memaw’s, “Oh, you will never get married, you might as well give that up.”  Well, and you’ll never be smarter than me so give that up, too.

I always wanted to be somebody before I was somebody’s wife. Or somebody’s mother. I always wanted to write a book, speak fluent Spanish, before I had kids. And I always wanted to adopt them. Who’s to say I still won’t? I hate it when people treat me like my life is over or my dreams are over — because they’re not to me — just because you hadn’t popped out children by 26.

Which seems to be a small town requirement.

So, stop saying stupid stuff to single people just because they chose a different life than you.

My whole point of this wasn’t to rant at stupid questions asked at Dunkin Donuts, but to make a declaration.  When you get my age, you’ve seen people name  their kids just about every name that you have ever liked. And since people keep having kids in my family, these are my names for my adopted children that you will never ever steal (or I will cut you)  — since you’ve taken so many other ones.

Ahhhm, Kennedy, Katherine — which I’m glad about because they’re perfect.

Since nobody else wants these anyway, I think they’re safe, but still… this is my declaration. You cannot have my names!

Chesney, Manning, Roosevelt, Summitt, Mandela, McNair.

Maybe, Clara or Coretta.

They all have a back story of perseverance behind the name of the inspiration. (Except Clara, it’s family.)  And they are all mine.

Mine!!

As you now were, married people…

Candice Mathis
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Candi is a lifelong reader, writer, Democrat, and kid keeper. She drinks coffee at midnight and schools men on sports. Follow her @CandiMathis on Twitter.