Tag Archives: God

Pity Party

We all go there sometimes, with or without hats, streamers, and blow horns. We may have been invited by a disappointment, or we may not even know how we ended up there in the first place, hog-tied and teary eyed. Pity parties are the parties that everyone has gone to at least once. And if you have only attended once, count yourself especially special. We have a million things that make us happy. We have things in our lives that make our hearts smile, people in our lives that are there when everyone else goes to their own pity party and ignores the invite to ours. That’s okay.

That doesn’t mean they’re any less of a friend any more than it means we’re any less of a friend when we can’t step out of our own muck to join in theirs. Which is why reflection, during times of joy, is particularly useful and powerful for all of us. If thinking about what we don’t have can get us into our own pity-party, then maybe thinking about what we do have can get us into our own celebration of gratitude – which is typically much healthier, not to mention good for our spirits.

I spent too much time over the holidays indulging in my own pity party. I even pulled others in, and blocked some out completely. It’s easy for the guilt-ridden part of me to focus on that, to drown in my own stupid selfishness. But now that I’m done with that party and my sunshine has shone its rays across the horizon of life again, I find that I have no interest in going back. Sure, the raccoon bagged red eyes were a beautiful site. The hunched over zombie crawl of going through the motions has its haunting attraction. But maybe it was a little ungrateful and self-indulgent of me to be that version of myself. I don’t have Cancer. I have two amazing kids. I have some of the sweetest friendships, a man who loves me even through my obnoxious moments, and a dog who revolves her days around the comings and goings of her two-legged mommy. Sure, I’ve experienced lots of death & heartbreak. I’m 40.

Still, I have 100 New Years Resolutions, and only one year to make it happen. 365 days of self-pity-free openness to life. That should cover all 100 resolutions. I’m so far from perfect, and I’m not so rose-colored as to think that I won’t struggle with this mission. But like anything else worthwhile and life-changing, I’m taking it one day at a time. My wish is that everyone takes time this year to reflect on the good, take inventory of the blessings, to reach out to those who struggle more than ourselves, and journey toward that ever-changing silver lining. Pity parties after all are so 2016. 2017 is about JOYful gratitude.

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Letter to an Ex X

Dear X,

If I had known what I know now, we wouldn’t have gotten married. We wouldn’t have had an amazing child together. I wouldn’t have stopped trusting so openly and without cause. I wouldn’t have been carrying around baggage. I wouldn’t question myself on every single decision. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have sold the family business. I wouldn’t question my mind.

But it happened. You conned me. You fooled me, my mom, my family, and your step-son. When it comes down to it, you felt unworthy. You started using more routinely. Because, I believe you were already using. You decided that you couldn’t do it without superhuman characteristics. So you sold your soul, and your wife, your ‘sons’, your dreams, for something that made you feel so good at the time.

I have a hard time understanding, because I haven’t been there. I won’t even take antibiotics. But I have been addicted to things. I ‘needed’ cigarettes for many years, and diet coke, and sugar. So that makes me just as ‘bad’, even though I manage to hold a job, pay my bills, pay for our child’s holidays, birthdays, school functions, soccer, karate, church functions, and playdates.

I have accepted that you will never be a part of anything financial in our child’s life. That you will forever disappoint him because you cannot test clean. I’ve watched every episode of Intervention. So has my boyfriend. We have talked in great length and depth about how we will never unburden ourselves or Ethan from this massive web of destruction you have casted upon our lives. I have had nightmares about what you are doing to destroy your life, and how that affects our son. He loves you, but he accepts that you are not here. You cannot be there for yourself, let alone him.

You talk as though everything wrong you have ever done is in the past, yet you have zero proof that you are any closer to that next milestone of where you ‘should’ be. You have clued me into how you cheated on your lab tests. How you used until 3 days prior, and then switched to suboxone – the very drug that now, people are getting hooked on. The very drug that could kill someone like me. I didn’t deserve this, but no one that lives through the cleaning up of an addict does. Why should I be immune?

I shouldn’t. That’s the truth. It was God’s plan for me, and God will continue to see me through. Losing our home, my car, your job, your income, your support, is not the worst of it. In truth, the worst of all of this rests in something much deeper.

Our child has learned that he can only depend upon one of us. Now, he is happy to lean on anyone else. This creates the gang-mentality that I will likely have to always combat. I always dreamed of having the family I didn’t have. That will likley never happen because of the environment your addiction has created within our lives. But as a Christian, I am supposed to forgive you, accept you, and turn the other cheek. And this is the worst part. I hate myself for not being able to do any of that.

You have ruined my life. You have ruined our child’s life. Instead of starting from the bottom and working our way up, I am forced to start in the trenches. Our son is 8. Your addiction, you say, began when I was 5 months pregnant. You are repeating what you knew. I am a workaholic, repeating what she knew.

You had a horrible childhood. Your parents both had serious issues, and were heavily medicated. They spent most of your childhood unemployed because of it. Guess who gets lost in the shuffle?

I refuse to disappoint our child. He deserves a family who shows him love, who teaches him how to love unconditionally. I may not be able to reconcile what you have done, but I can work to improve the future of our child. And while I may have spent the bulk of my life believing that I don’t deserve more, I believe that I absolutely do.

So my plea to you is this – please work on you. With everything you are, and everything you ever wanted, work on you. Make strides in that direction. Go to meetings. Make valuable friendships, based on trust and clean living. Pray. Listen to what God has to offer. Earn a living. Be a grown-up. Show our child what it’s like to be a man.

We will take your recovery seriously when you do the same. When you’re finished with the lies, the manipulation, and the fiction. Our son wants his dad back. You told him the truth. Now live the promise. I refuse to assist in the lying, in the promises, in the fairytale. The work is yours to do. Whether you do it or not, our child will feel loved, with or without you. It’s your call. I cannot do it for you, and I cannot help you anymore.

If anyone out there is contemplating destroying their lives, consider this. When you were a child, you had those lucid, beautiful moments. You will continue to experience those, but not if you are leaning on substances. Those are lies. BE YOU. Naked. Truthful. Genuine. And vulnerable. Beauty is found in solace and serenity. Not in substance.

Fulfillment

On most days, this only needs her ‘alone’ time, outside of the work commute and morning workout. When I was working for myself, I could take time when I absolutely needed to, so of course, I took it for granted. Now that I’m ‘working for the man’, and do not regret selling my business, I do look for those small pockets of time when I’m not taking care of anyone else. When there’s just me, my thoughts, and the bright blue autumn air. Today was one of those days. I spent lunchtime taking a two mile walk. Ears plugged with cello music. Hair blown to a frizzy mess. Still, my mind was as clear as the sky. I prayed, but what was even more satisfying than that – I listened.

The words came into my head like they always do, without a voice. They colored in my thoughts. Today, all I could hear was ‘allow fulfillment’. The wheels started turning, effortlessly, as if I had always known the answer.

More than once during our Ireland trip, my very wise boyfriend told me that our adventure would be a life changer. I whole-heartedly agreed! But what I never seem to understand in the moment is the intensity and profoundness of such a statement. When you step out of your comfort zone, you grow. We hear that everywhere. It’s in our newfeeds, in the news, part of every personal development book, not to mention countless issues of Cosmo. We can’t escape it! But when we step out of more than just our comfort zone, and step into a whole new world entirely, something within us switches. Our mind stretches, and if we happen to travel to a land where we are forced to unplug, where the land itself cradles and nourishes life, where the air is so pure that you can actually smell the rocky burren, and where the silence is so broad and thick that it’s deafening, then we are indeed, changed forever. Why?

Because it’s at that point, when we are emptied of all of the world’s thoughts, opinions, advertisements, and noisiness that we become bowls – in a sense. We are left with just ourselves and our thoughts. If we happen to be fortunate enough to go with someone that we are entirely at ease with, we find the greatest sense of security in such ‘solitude’. It’s not that we become emptied of our own identity, but that after so long, we are emptied of the world itself. The beauty of that is that we are adaptive. We have a need to fill things up, even ourselves. When we have nothing but ourselves to fill up our thoughts, we become very clear, and that spoils us….in a good way.

So on days like today, I close my eyes and go back to Ireland. I clear my mind and empty out the noise. I allow fulfillment. And when I do that, when I empty everything out, God can pour himself into all of those dark corners that leave me conflicted and confused. When we fill ourselves up with distractions, transgressions, and all of the other mucky dust that life constantly splashes on our fresh white thoughts, we have little room left for fulfillment, or love, or God, or peace.

These days I don’t clean houses for a living, but I do clean and cleanse and organize mentally. I need more God and less noise, and the older I get, the more I understand that a quiet mind is a happy mind. Allow fulfillment. Allow peace. Allow God to lead.

Bitter Beginnings

When you know that you’re supposed to be with someone; that there is no one else in the world so perfect for you. When you know that that someone makes you happier than you knew possible. When you sleep more peacefully with that someone than you do alone, because you feel safe, secure, and protected for once. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with circumstances, but that’s also when you know, that as long as it takes, and as long as you need to wait, you absolutely will.

As a single mom of two wonderful boys, I find myself frustrated almost every Friday night. My boyfriend and I had 6 months of every other weekend spent together, bonding, getting to know each other, exploring cities and cultures together. But in light of current circumstances, i.e. one of the dads cannot be trusted to keep my child, we have had to put our ‘alone together’ time on hold. There was no question about that. His safety/ happiness is first.

Where does that leave us – two star-crossed lovers, crazy about each other, and always wanting more? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Faith. Like everything else leading up to ‘us’, this time just makes us appreciate one another more; makes us enjoy time alone together exponentially more, and gives us time to fantasize and daydream about how we want our lives to be…until that fantasy becomes a reality.

Love isn’t ever perfect. There are always obstacles, challenges, and battles.  But when you find you’re one, the peace sets in, and God whispers gently ‘I got this’. The amazing thing is that he truly does.  As for ‘mine and me’, I don’t ever question that. God has been in this relationship the entire time. There has never been just HE and I, and that is how I KNOW this is forever.

Lucky Charms

Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being in a new relationship with an old friend can attest to the butterflies that take up residency in the pit of the stomach; the nerves and anticipation at joining two worlds together; and the crazy infatuation that, if given the right nourishment, can blossom into the deepest and most transcendent of loves. Yet there are so many logistics that play into this major shift in lifestyle that the sheer ‘getting together’ can seem more like a chess game than the organic progression of spirit that falling in love should be. Somehow, if it’s right, the headaches that should logically play into planning seem to dissipate, and the whole world opens itself up to possibility where there once were only tightly locked chamber doors.

This is my life right now, and I simply could not feel more blessed. The only problem lies in the cluttered messes that have resurrected in the lives of people around me. When you’re in the state of unending bliss, it isn’t always easy to come up with solutions for people that aren’t in the same neighborhood. I find myself wanting to wave the magic wand my hand seems to have latched onto, and POOF there lives right into the same worry-free lightness in which I now live. My heart is exploding with a love that is both unconquerable impenetrable. I want to bless everyone and everything around me. While I’ve been in love before, it’s never felt like this. And I know that no two loves feel the same, but I’ve never been in love without worry, without doubt, and without some ominous gut-feeling that something unknown is lurking in the shadows threatening its very existence. Yet now, without that worry, I find myself strong enough to try and save the world from drama, natural disasters, scary scorpions hiding in the dark shadows of my best friend’s bathroom…whatever! But I am helpless.

I absolutely know that I would not be where I am without Faith, but I want that same Faith to quickly rush in and save everyone around me before they give up on God. It’s frustrating to look around and wonder (very quietly) what more can go wrong in peoples’ lives. Can’t I just swoop in with a bowl of lucky charms, four leaf clovers, and rainbows, and promise them that every obstacle is just a stepping stone toward the direction they are meant to travel? Sometimes I do participate in talks with God and actually say, ‘Can’t you just give her an inch? You gave me a mile!’. What I’ve learned is exactly that. I asked for an inch and have been given a mile, or a thousand miles really. My only prayer at this point is gratitude for what I’ve been given, and a large pleading cry for help for those around me that are facing some of their darkest hours.

All I know for sure is that those darkest hours turn into the brightest sunrises. They always do in time. It’s just the waiting that makes us edgy, cranky, hopeless, and (let’s face it) human! God’s time is always right on time, sometimes we just have to wait for it.

Letting Go

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It’s the most difficult thing for us to do as grabby, stubborn, stuck-in-our-way humans, but it’s as necessary and vital as breathing. Letting go means change. Letting go means opening yourself up to growth, but it also means opening yourself up to the the possibility of more hurt. And we don’t like hurt anymore than we like emptiness.

Something that we tend to forget is that letting go can also be liberating. Remember getting rid those helpful training wheels; falling over and over again before you finally – after hours and hours of persistence – gain balance? I will never forget the day I learned to ride without them. My dad was a bit of an extremist. So, he sat me at the top of our very steep driveway, and pushed. I learned maybe a little too quickly, because I had no other choice!

Remember how it felt the first time you coasted on only two wheels, and how once you had it down pat, balance was yours for the keeping? Remember also letting go of the handrails on a roller coaster for the first time, and how freeing that was. I remember thinking, ‘why was I ever even scared?’.

Of course, letting go of people is a bit more difficult. Whether we must let go because of death, or we force ourselves to let go because the relationship is simply unhealthy. The pit of emptiness feels just as empty, and the task feels just as impossible. Just like riding without training wheels, the grieving process is nerve-racking, breathtaking (in the bad way), and even painful at times. There will be scars, scabs, and bruises all over the inside. Sometimes we feel we have it licked; like we’re balancing just right. We feel momentum kicking in, and everything feels manageable again, until we again are confronted with those little speed bumps & potholes. But as time goes on, the road becomes smoother, and the distance between obstacles broadens until one day we barely even notice them.

That’s not to say that the memories are gone, or that we’re completely ‘healed’. I’m not sure ‘healing’ ever really happens completely, at least not while we’re alive. There will always be scars, but those scars remain as reminders of what we’ve learned.  And hopefully, if the coping process was a healthy one, we can chose to hold on to the good memories, and extract from the bad ones only the lessons – letting go of what was to discover that what is left is someone stronger, wiser, and more balanced – and the coasting gets easier.

When I hear people say that ‘time heals all wounds’ is garbage, I am baffled. If we spend our time confronting the pain head-on, then time does its part in the process of letting go. I’ve had my fair share of ‘letting go”. I’ve let go of both parents, all grandparents, and lots of relationships. None of these were easy. Some were more difficult than others. But one underlying theme has remained the same; Time heals the hurt, I mend the memories, and the rest is in God’s hands. In truth, nothing is impossible not matter how much the grieving hurts in the process. I am still here, still recovering, still growing and still learning to ride without training wheels.

Chasing Sunsets

As we were traveling west this evening, making our way home, Jason and I gasped at the sight of an amazing sunset. The sky was clear, except for a few brushstrokes, but the colors moved from an electric blue blanket to corrals and oranges so vibrant and exciting that it was hard to turn away and focus on the drive. With each hill and valley, the sunset revealed itself, and hid, only to return again with a different glow. We chased that sunset for miles, trying to find the perfect perspective to capture it in a picture. But it was elusive, and there were power lines, lights, and cars with which to contend. It became a frustrating adventure, that in the end grew to be more about the chase itself. And we both sighed and laughed at our behavior, knowing that we would never see that sunset again.

In retrospect, I appreciate the chase, savor the adventure, and will forever keep the memory of that picturesque sunset in my heart. Yes, it’s disappointing. But it’s also hopeful, because it existed, even if only for a brief moment.

In church this morning, I remember our priest quoting a verse, saying that our lives were but a blink of an eye. Sunsets are the same. Love is also a blink. Sometimes we can capture it, but usually we only get to experience it momentarily. If a love elludes us, it’s only because it wasn’t ours to keep. It wasn’t ours to capture.

There will be more. There will be more sunsets, more sunrises, more loves. And eventually, one will take. But it’s in the beauty of those loves that we chase and lose that we find our own unique painting – complete with brushstrokes, the right amount of light and happiness, and the understanding that we cannot keep the beauty for ourselves. At least not until it is ours to keep.

Faith is chasing sunsets, and understanding that finding the right perspective has everything to do with timing, and nothing to do with want.

Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.