Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pictures of You

Walking into my friend’s kitchen tonight, I was welcomed by a picture of myself, my mother, and my friend,  hanging right there on her fridge. It was from last year’s Thanksgiving. It was a moment captured in time, and a time to be cherished. At first, I was startled by the closeness, and how difficult the history was to swallow. Compared to all the turkey and sides I had digested today, this one went down a little slower and heavier. I had no idea that when this picture was taken,that  it would be our last Thanksgiving together.

But the reality is that I’ve felt her by my side all day. My mom – my best friend – has never left me. As my son and I set the tables, and laid out the treats, I felt her. When I hurried to throw my hair up just before family arrived, I felt her. Especially when I took the carving knife to the turkey, for only the second time of my life, I felt her. I heard her even, telling me just how to slice. Her life was just a small slice of time really. But her presence never leaves, and for that I am grateful.

One of my favorite memories is that of a couple of years ago, and the last time my mother hosted Thanksgiving. She gathered us all around the table, and just after the blessing, she asked that we all speak about something for which we were grateful. I remember, in that moment, feeling pure happiness. While my mom had never been a very open person, this was a step in that direction for her. I had a proud daughter moment, and with our glances, she knew that my smile was just for her.

So today, amidst all the turkey and ham, the rolls and potatoes, the sweet potato casserole and green beans, I am thankful for you, mom. Because of you, I have life. Because of you, I know love. For the lessons you shared, the moments we made, and the kindness you were. I thank you.

 

 

 

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Take it or leave it

My greatest strength and lowest weakness are the same. I am loyal. As I said in last night’s post, I will give all of me until I’m at negative 100% and failing. I had no idea that my ex would be reading that the next day (today). I had no clue that a simple little blog post would create so much turmoil, but also so much dialogue. But one always needs to cut through the brush to reach his destination, and so it goes. No hold’s bared. No stone left unturned. No rock can remain buried.

I re-read my post through his eyes, and was shocked by his shock, hurt by his unknowing, and sickened by his lack of awareness, so much so that I am posting yet again.

I fell in love because of his words. He learned why I left because of my words, uninhibited. We’re both writers. We both create. We both dramatize. We both need attention, and we both need to be loved. In truth, I never planned on falling in love again for a long, long, ridiculously long time. I wanted to be at least 50 when that happened. By that point, both kids would be grown and I would have a far stronger grasp on who I was and where I was going. And I wouldn’t need to parent a third child.

But I did. I fell in love. My soul attached itself to his in it’s all-inclusive way. So much so that I had no say in the timing of it all. He is easy to love, but also easy to anger. For a person, like myself, who fears anger, that is threatening. But I can’t let go. Yet again, I cannot walk away. Because I still have love, and love…. breeds hope. Take it or leave it. It just does. Especially when his words are exactly what I need, and when his heart is as true and pure and vulnerable as I need it to be.

If you’re heart is broken, and the one who broke it is standing there with the superglue, it’s hard to walk away, no matter how much your brain tries to convince you. So, take it or leave it. That is the question. That is the dilemma.

And so with my stand, and with my permeable heart, I question everything. My mind disagrees with my heart which also disagrees with my gut. I only wish they could all, just for once, come to one single agreement.

I need a billboard. I need Faith and resolution. This time, I need certainty.

Habitual codependence

In my second marriage, I became codependent. I did everything in my power to keep everything glued together in spite of having a drug addicted husband and a second child who adored his dad and believed he hung the moon, stars, and sun…second only to God himself. I was queen enabler, always trying to keep the peace in the midst of turbulent waters, looming devastation, and impenetrable lies. Like most people, I am not a fan of change. Unlike many, I will give anything my all until I am at negative 100% and failing. 

Eventually, I had to quit that marriage because I had neither trust, nor respect, nor love left for my husband. It took me about 4 years longer than anyone around me accepted.

In my last relationship, I tolerated arguing that I didn’t understand, caused grief and accepted more, and went to bed countless nights angry, weeping and hopeless. We took turns with passive-aggressive, pride-driven behaviors that resembled that of 18 year olds, and yet we loved each other like passionate loved-crazed 20-somethings. That last part resulted in my over-staying my welcome, again remaining in that relationship longer than anyone accepted so that I was well pass the point of happy, and straight to the point of no return. I lost all sanity. Until one day, I realized it and broke up. All sanity came charging back into my life in that moment.

For whatever reason though, two weeks later, I am in worse shape than I was right after I ended it. I remember the good times now. Because for the last year of my life, I grew to be co-dependent once again. My daily routine included constant attention via texts, little shimmerings of humor to take the edge off my daily stresses, and of course, reminders of his love and affection. It’s just plain stupid how I got so caught up in those little reminders and yet truly believed that I wasn’t ‘addicted’ to them, like pills or maybe even crack! He was my crack! So much so that I now find it difficult to crawl out of bed because there are no more ‘good morning’s’, or ‘babes’ to get me through the morning hustle.

In short, I had no idea how much I’ve grown to ‘need’ that attention from him. Is it enough to go back? No, I know it isn’t. I know we weren’t right together because nothing that’s ‘right’ is supposed to be that painful. I believe that my next time around will be the forever kind. It simply has to be. I will not settle for a hundred red flags without raising a white one. I will not settle. Period.

While I’ve posted before about how ‘deserve has nothing to do with it’, I also believe in a kind God who knows that that this chick has learned herself a lesson or two. I am a loving person, but when I feel threatened, scared, or inhibited because of someone’s temper, I cannot show that love. I crawl inside of myself and hide. I take my pride along for warmth and wear it until the coast is clear.

So in a sense, I’m holding myself accountable, right here on a blog. Here for anyone to see. Because my habitual co-dependence needs to finally be replaced and transformed into habitual independence as I learn to crawl again.

Lost ship

It’s been one of those days. I woke up without wanting to. I crawled to the shower, scrubbed, shampooed, shaved, and dried off without singing. Singing just makes it worse sometimes. Going through the motions has to happen. There is no choice in this. I am grateful. Yes. I try that; starting my thank-you’s each day before the first foot hits the cold floor. Mostly that works. It starts the engine and the wheels of gratitude begin to turn. Then there are days when that voice inside shrinks to a whisper.

Missing mom, missing those that are no longer here, is at times unbearable.

Because I run a company that she built, drive a car that she bought, and live in a home that was once hers, means that at every turn I am faced with her memory, or rather her legacy. Today was my first huge challenge as a small business owner. My newest employee was accused of theft and I had to let her go. I wanted to find a nice cool cave somewhere. I wanted to curl up and sleep. I wanted to call mom and ask her what I needed to do. But since none of those things were real possibilities, I handled it.

That doesn’t make me superwoman, it just makes me responsible. I’m responsible for the jobs of 9 girls right now (when it should be 12 girls). I’m responsible for making sure that 130 houses get cleaned every month, and the even bigger challenge of making sure two boys are loved and guided every day. On days like this, that seems like too much.

In truth, however, it’s not too much as long as I realize that I can ask for help. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that I can vent or have a small breakdown on someone’s shoulder. And sometimes that someone is an employee. But employees are like children in the sense that they learn from you, in how you react to adversity, and how you pull yourself together and carry on instead of throwing in the towel.

So as much as I feel like a lost ship sometimes, I learned today that I may be just that. But also that I may be a lost ship with lots of rescue boats surrounding me. I just have to let them know that I’m out there and need help. This isn’t an easy task for onelies because we tend to believe we can take it all on. Pride takes over and sinks us sometimes. But humility, the sheer recognition of our limitations, can rescue us from ourselves, and guide us back to that island where no man (or woman) stands alone.1339301066156

Broken me oh broken me!

The holidays. The loneliest only time of the year. It’s that time of year that is the very white elephant that I would like to scuffle, taze, and shoot right out of my undecorated room. I’m not anti-religious. I am devoutly Catholic. I’m also not anti-animal, or anti-elephant for that matter. But it’s all of this in-your-face with the Santa hat thing that goes on in our ultra-consumeristic society. Buy me! The toy says. Buy me now or forget me tomorrow! Says the latest and greatest electronic gadget. That’s all good and fine, and yes I will take them all, but it’s not going to help. Not this year. I refuse to get filled-up with all the faux meanings of Christmas. No thank you.

Last year I was surrounded by family – my mother, my step-family, my boyfriend, my children – and half of that is gone. The two that held up the adult-end of the bargain; my mom and boyfriend – are absent. My mother because she had to go and pass away, and my boyfriend, because I realized it wasn’t working and made him go away. I didn’t shoot him either by the way. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in self-pity at this time of year. I’m completely tangled! I don’t want to put up the tree on black Friday as I’ve done every year of my adult life. I don’t want lights, decorations, wreaths, ribbons, garland…NO thank you!

But I must chug along, and I know this, because I have two boys that just expect that of mommy. Fake it until I make it? Yes. The old philosophy comes in to play again. When all else fails, and the show must go on, faking it will be the solution. My plan of action is to put up the tree as I promise myself to smile. It’s to put up the village, while imagining I am one of those happy village people (without singing YMCA). I’m going to buy presents and dream of a white Christmas, and lots of deep sleeps where dreams of lost loved ones do not hinder or interfere with good old fashion rest.

I am going to do it all because it’s what ‘they’ expect. And what ‘they’ say counts.

One day, they may too have to experience a bliss-less Christmas, and may also have to fake it. But they will now how, and if they forget, I will be right there to remind them. If they reach outside of themselves when self-pity moves in and takes up residence in their hearts, they are bound to find joy in the legacy of lost love.After-all, if it happens once, it’s bound to happen again. And if you learn from the loss, the victory will be that much sweeter.

So let us dress our sorrows in Santa hats, place the jingle bells on our doubts, and remember that joy isn’t a gift we buy but a gift we give to ourselves because we choose to do so.Image

 

Common chameleon

If you’re an only child, you may have had a relationship or two in your life where you felt a little more like a chameleon and a little less like yourself. Don’t get me wrong, this can happen whether you’re an only or not, I’m sure. But I think it may just be commonplace amongst singletons. There’s a reason for this….

There is endless chatter, rumors, and misconceptions that an only child is self-absorbed, narcissistic, even bossy. I’ve spent a great deal of my life practicing the opposite approach, maybe even in an effort to deflect such evil stereotypes. I’ve been expending so much energy into  that other direction in fact, that some of my biggest flaws include (but are in no way limited to) being under-assertive, passive, and self-sacrificial.

Having been married and divorced twice and also having just ended a difficult relationship has shown me – finally – the err of my ways. I recently told a close friend that I felt like some kind of a universal soul mate because guys tend to see me as the ‘marrying type’, and believe that I must be their magical one. I don’t say this out of vanity, rather I say it out of sheer embarrassment. See, I think that different people bring out different sides of me…to a fault.

While we all feel comforted by relating to one another, I find that everything about me shifts in the direction of ‘him’. So much so that I end up feeling like an over-worked piece of play dough, that after so long of being molded, played with & left out in the cold, finally dries out and breaks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with compromise in a relationship. Just as there is nothing wrong with some sacrificing. But there is a fine line between sacrificing some of one’s self and sacrificing all in an attempt to ‘be loved’ or ‘be accepted’, or even ‘be adored’.

I fully believe that two souls can be inexplicably drawn toward one another, even when there’s very little compatibility, and that those two people can still have a loving relationship as long as one of them caves in. Ultimately, though, that’s not going to work. The caver feels trapped in an image that she herself created, and the powerful leader in the relationship is left feeling confused because he was leading the dance the whole time and she never stepped on his toes. Not once. Everything was perfectly synced! What changed?

What changed is that this ‘strong-willed’ only child became not only a follower, but a martyr as well.  What good is an only if they become a nobody because they’re only self is acting like somebody else?

So my own challenge for this time of solo-spiritual-growth is to become strong enough to let my self-awareness shine; to speak up for what I want; to have a voice in what I do; and to be a full-out ‘only’ – not the vicious meany that everyone expects from a singleton – but a watered down version that also derives happiness from giving to others from a place of strength…. not desperation.

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Deserve has nothing to do with it

I was talking to one of my best friends yesterday, and this thought kept repeating itself until it made its way past my edit button & through my lips. She was questioning God. More specifically, she was questioning her own Faith in God and it’s strength, or maybe she was…just questioning God. She’s had years of pain resulting form lots of life-quality-threatening physical disabilities. She described to me her prayers; her excessive, deeply felt, severely real heart-felt & passionate prayers that she had been praying over the past several days. She also said that she had only prayed to that extent at one other point in her life. In neither of those instances had the prayers been answered in the way that she wanted.

She had even bargained with God, like any child does with her parent, ‘I’ll take on everybody’s hurts, God. I’ll help everybody. I’ll sacrifice me for them. They need me, God. Can’t you see that? You really need to heal me, or let this treatment work….for them!’. She asked if there had been things that she had done to cause her punishment, and then she asked the big question, ‘Do I really deserve all of this suffering?’. That’s when it happened. The statement couldn’t be repressed any longer. ‘Deserve has nothing to do with it’.

And it doesn’t.

Ironically, I believed that yesterday. And I believe it again. But between yesterday, and this moment, I had some grey moments; some moments of questioning the same question myself. I even had moments of saying ‘Really, God?’. I know, I know. We all have bad days. Sometimes, you get up & fall out of bed, spill toothpaste all over your freshly dry cleaned dress, step in doggie poo, argue the kids right out of the door with the militant ‘we’re gonna be late. AGAIN!’ speech. But today was a little worse than most for me because I got bad news, health-wise. I received life insurance test results last week in the mail, and noticed that my liver enzymes were elevated. I freaked. But after talking to my friend, I thought it may be just a fluke. Maybe the lab messed up. Afterall, all of my other levels of everything were perfect. I eat healthy stuff, run all the time, practice yoga, surround myself with love, pets, family, good smells, and fuzzy things. I should be the healthiest 37 year old on the planet!!! But it turns out, it wasn’t a fluke. After running those tests again, different doctor/ different lab, they were only elevated more.

I am going to see a doctor tomorrow to see what more needs to be done, but the waiting is tortuous.

Waiting or not. Torture or peace. The truth is that none of us is entitled to healthiness. No one is promised tomorrow. And though you hear that all the time, it isn’t until you are faced with the stark cold closeness of that truth’s personal and intimate version, that you feel its bite. At first, there’s sadness and self-pity. Then the anger sets in, where you scoff at the injustice, and ask questions like ‘what about my kids?’ and ‘haven’t they been through enough?’, but really….and here goes….deserve has NOTHING to do with it.

Not only do I NOT know if anything even is wrong with me, but if it IS, I should just cross that tightrope when it presents itself. Stop second-guessing, questioning, pointing fingers, asking the ‘why-me’s’ because there’s a reason for every little miniscule thing, so you bet your ass there’s a novel of reasons behind the big stuff. Reserve your deservations for dessert. Life is too short for the wonderment of God’s justice. Let it be. Let it Go. Let him guide.