Monthly Archives: April 2014

For What I’m Worth

We’ve all had those relationships. The ones that begin with fireworks, passion, crazy butterflies and the warmest of explosions. We think that because of those goosebumps, because of those daydreams, and because of those kisses, this one is ‘special’. Maybe the relationship grows, becomes exclusive. Maybe we relate ourselves to that other person and give him the title. He’s ‘mine’. She’s ‘it’. Hopefully, it works out. Oftentimes though, it doesn’t. Where is the line between ‘it’ and ‘isn’t’?

For one of my really good, long term friends, this has been a years-long struggle. She became involved with a man in California, and he had two boys from a previous marriage. He pursued her at a time in her life when she seemed quite capable of standing on her own two feet. He convinced her that he was worth her time, until she believed him. They ended up dating, living together, and eventually she became a mother to his sons, though they never married. 

Three years ago, she made the choice to move back home because of her mother’s illness. At that point, she probably should’ve severed ties with this man. As it were, she had fallen in love with his children, and had accepted them as her own. She could not break free from the three of them, even though she now lived 3,000 miles away. She has had many relationships since, but has kept the ‘dad’ on the back burner all along. A part of me has always encouraged her in this, as I believed if their love was strong enough to survive the distance, maybe it was truly ‘meant to be’. In reality though, the only reason this relationship has endured the distance, the arguments, and the hurts is because of one lone factor. My friend does not feel ‘worthy’ of anything more than this man has to offer.

When she lived with him, she was injured on the job, which led to physical inactivity, which led to weight gain. My friend’s boyfriend ridiculed her, calling her fat and lazy, even though she had become the sole caretaker, maid, cook, and financial planner for their household during her recovery. He became psychologically, emotionally, and even physically abusive. She put up with it because she believed herself unworthy of anything more. She had been raised in a similar environment, and like many people in her position, was doomed to keep repeating the cycle…all because she didn’t know any better. She’s worthy, she just needs to believe that about herself.

Until she does, her path will remain unchanged.

I was just like her. I also believed myself unworthy of full acceptance and support. I wasn’t raised in that environment, though. I was loved and accepted by my parents. There was no abuse or neglect. But I had pretty severe self-esteem issues from an early age, resulting from being a ‘chubby’ child, and getting bullied by neighbor boys & stuck-up classmates. I didn’t get asked to prom, barely dated, and never saw myself as anything beyond a reclusive ’emo-before-it-was-a-thing’ nerd. Even though I was intelligent, well-educated, and somewhat attractive. I had a mother, best friends, and lots of family who constantly told me what I ‘deserved’. It didn’t matter. Until I saw it, believed it, and asked for it, I would never get what I ‘deserved’. And while I always say, ‘deserve has nothing to do with it’ – deeming yourself ‘worthy’ has everything to do with what you actually receive.

My point is this; you will get out of life and out of relationships exactly what you look to find. If you do not see yourself as ‘worthy’, you will receive far less than yourself. If that’s what you want – fine. That’s probably not going to make you happy for very long. All you need is a little bit of vision, a great bit of confidence, and a whole lot of ‘worthy’. Only then will you get your heart’s worth.Image 

 

 

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Crocodile Tears

As I walked in from taking out the trash tonight, I heard a little cry from the top of the stairs. Though I couldn’t make out the words, I knew Ethan was upset. Climbing up the stairs, I gave myself the usual single-mommy pep talk/ prayer – Listen to his pain, feel his hurt, give it to God. This has become my own motto, and greatest relief since my own mother’s passing nearly 9 months ago.

As I reached the top, I noticed that not only was Ethan’s’ whining turning into a sob, but that there were the largest most gut-wrenching crocodile tears erupting from his baby blue eyes. His cheeks were apple red, and his forehead was all squinted as if he had been looking at the sun for too long. ‘What is it baby?’ I asked calmly. ‘I just can’t stop seeing dad’s face when he was walking back to the house. He was so sad. I miss my dad.’.

After a moment of much prayer and pause, I took his chin into my hands, looked him straight in the eye, and said ‘You are sad for daddy, and I understand that because you love daddy, and daddy loves you. You are about to get to spend more time with him this week. You enjoy each other & make each other happy. If daddy is sad tonight, let’s give it to God. God doesn’t want you to hurt because he loves you, just like mommy & daddy do. You don’t like it when mommy cries, do you? No. So, let’s just…give it to God’.

With that, Ethan reflected & took a moment for his own pause. Then, looking at me again, the forehead started to wrinkle once more. And once more, I said ‘Ethan, God wants for you to give him your problems so that he can fix them like a broken toy. If your heart’s broken, he can fix that too. God can do anything, right? Yes. So let’s give it to God so that we can be happy. That’s what God wants.’.

And somehow, that was as good as ‘hocus pocus’.

A huge smile stretched across his face like he had never had a care in the world, and he giggled himself off to sleep.

Amen. Namaste.

 

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‘The only time it’s a good idea to repeat pattern is when we’re trying to learn a new concept. And I repeat. The only time it’s a good idea to repeat a pattern is when we’re trying to learn a new concept.’ -me

We all know this, because most of us have lived it in at least one area of our lives. We’ve heard that ‘the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results’. We’ve heard it more times than we should have to hear it, and that in and of itself is ironic. Obviously, if we need to keep hearing it, there must be an underlying white elephant wearing rose-colored glasses within these four walls that can’t talk because there are no flies on the wall. Cliches are like patterns, because patterns become so routine that they disappear, and this is bad. Very bad. If we can no longer see them, we are doomed to continue such patterns…of patterns.

How many times have you gone to the grocery store hungry? You know better. You’re going to overspend. This is a universal truth, maybe even a universal pattern. Still, if you’re not mindfully avoiding that pattern, it’s bound to happen again. I’m hungry. I have no food at home. I should replenish food at home. I shall go buy food. I want everything I see. I’m hungry. Notice the whole ending-up-where-we-began thing that just happened there? It happens in every aspect of life.

This ‘repetition rule’ is especially true in relationships. For instance, a woman who has been abused as a child will either be the first person to walk out of an abusive relationship (because she recognizes the pattern and refuses to repeat it), or she will actually seek out abusive partners because she believes she can change her pattern or because she has missed the pattern altogether. Men are just as likely to repeat patterns. If a man has grown up with an enabling mom, he tends to seek out an enabler in his relationships. Similarly, if a man has been raised with a more dominant mother, he will seek out a dominate woman. He understands his roles in either of these situations. If he chooses to live within his comfort zone, he also chooses to repeat his patterns.That’s really not so much comfortable as it is ignorant.

These examples are cliche. They are the subject of countless talk shows, soap operas, sitcoms, Hollywood movies, and reality TV shows. They show up within our families, within our own lives, within the lives of our children, friends, neighbors, pastors – really anyone and everyone. Whether or not we choose to repeat patterns depends primarily on one thing; our willingness to change – change our thinking, change our self-images, and change our roles in relationships. Like all concepts, until someone recognizes the pattern, ‘gets it’, and understands that they are only self-destructing by repeating such patterns, nothing will change.

Try eating before you go grocery shopping. Your spending will decrease. If you’ve survived a string of failed relationships, try dating someone completely different. Your appetite for filling your heart up with wrongs will dissipate. What will replace the ‘wrongs’ may surprise you, because you’ve never before experienced a winning relationship. The trick is to make a change. As strange and uncomfortable as that may seem, it’s certainly more rewarding than remaining where you were – disappointed, abandoned, and hopeless. Change is never easy, but for the sake of sanity, it’s worth trying. And hey, at worst, you will have at least learned a new concept in trying something new.

So step out of the box. Look back inside of your own patterns. If you thought you were happy in there, but ended up realizing you were really just stuck inside of your own patterns, constantly complaining about playing the same unhappy roles, make a change. Any change will be for the better. Promise.

National Only Awareness Day

All over Facebook, I’m seeing ‘Happy National Siblings Day!’. Plastered onto my timeline, are beautiful black-in-white photos of three sisters, colorful shots of brothers playing sports together, and brothers & sisters embracing in appreciation. I had no idea that there was a day set aside for brothers and sisters. In all my 37 years, I’ve never heard of such a day. I guess I can put this holiday right up there in my ‘favorites’ now, along with Valentine’s Day (a.k.a. pouring-salt-into-the-wounds-of-singles day), Mother’s Day & Father’s Day (a.k.a. anti-orphan day), and even Grandparents’ Day (a.k.a. those-of-you-without-living-grandparents-shall-cry-all day…day).

All the while, my wheels are turning, attempting to create, invent, explore the idea of my newly made-up holiday. We will call it ‘National Individuals Day’. This is a very special holiday, that absolutely everyone can celebrate. It’s a holiday for each and every person, whether we have family or not, siblings or not, parents or not, grandparents or not, a significant other…or not. This holiday can be celebrated by every living human, because it recognizes the individual as independent from connections. Connections with other human beings are awesome in so many ways. Absolutely. But what about those of us that have lost those connections? Maybe we’ve had them. Maybe we’ve lost them. Maybe we just need a day to sit back, put on our individual party hats, take out a single confetti, and relish in our solitude, while indulging in one tiny cupcake that we can don’t have to share because we can celebrate our ‘party of one’.

 

In Love I Trust

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I ran across this very profound quote today, and it ran through my mind for the rest of the day. So like any crazy person, I know that blogging all about it is the only way I will rest. 

When I was in high school, I met my first untrusting soul. He said that he loved God, quoted Bible verses like a second language, and righteously boasted about his ability to ‘see through’ people and all of their lies. While I respected his insights, and learned from his sermons, I did not feel as though I could trust him who trusted no one. It was at that time that my favorite quote became ‘It is a greater compliment to be trusted than to be loved’. It’s natural to love, to fall in love, to grow to love. It’s like breathing. But trusting is not so easy. I’ve met many people since Mr. Indignant that have declared that they simply don’t trust anyone until they have a million reasons to trust. For those of us who live on the opposite side of the trust debate, that seems a little too unfair. For me, the whole notion of not trusting until given reasons to is like sentencing a defendant before he stands trial.

In adulthood, I’ve continued my blindly trusting ways, and I can’t seem to climb over to the other side no matter how many hurts I experience. I can’t stand on enough shoulders of deception to surmount that wall of pending doom. And the truth is, I don’t want to. If I go to the other side, I know I will become this bitter, cynical, anti-humanitarian that I was never created to be.

Have I experienced losing trust in others? Absolutely. In my second marriage, I learned that not everyone is trust-worthy, that not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, and that not everyone shows their skeletons so willingly. Those were difficult, yet eye-opening experiences that I hope to never again encounter. I almost learned to untrust. Almost. The trust never returned for him, and probably never will, which is why our marriage came to a scary screeching halt. No matter how hard I worked on that car…marriage, it was never going anywhere.

I have also experienced not being trusted myself, which was honestly, even less fun than not trusting. There was nothing I could ever do or fix or change that could cause him to trust me, or make the trust remain in our relationship for more than a few days. He was another untrusting soul. In that relationship, I found that I also began to suspect people. I could feel the disdain for humanity clogging my trust arteries almost to the point of hopelessness. Almost. Until one day, in a heated argument about trust, he left. Lucky for me, he packed up his untrust and took it with him. My sense of trust immediately returned and welcomed me back with an open heart of forgiveness. 

Maybe in some cases, there are more grey areas than were present in my relationships. I know many couples where the wife is ‘trusting to a fault’ while the husband makes everyone ‘serve time’ first,  and questions later. And that works for them. But in every situation, the untrusting soul trusts himself and his wife, even if the world dissappoints him. They have trust, and love, and an understanding that they can be different without sacrificing their own beliefs. 

Where there is no trust, there is no life, and no point in calling a tow truck.