"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous page 149 The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
If, like me, you are a fixer of things, people, relationships, and families, then I am going to tell you that the best way to fix everyone else is to mind your own damn business. Literally accept that you are not a fixer, you are a follower. To all of my fixer friends and myself this is some heavy crap to hear. I didn't fix shit, for anybody. I coped. I avoided. I juggled. I hid. I kept out of the way. I triage'd the hell out things. I made excuses. I reacted. I played small.
I did everything but fix. I had an illusion of control that gave me comfort in my world of chaos, but I was never in control. I did everything I could except the one thing that was in my power, which was to leave. I taught my children the dance of abuse and power and dominance rather than risk leaving and fixing my own broken self.
I am a control freak. I have lived so long in chaos, uncertainty, and fear that I crave routine and stability. I do not see wanting to be in control as bad. What sucks is when you come to terms with the fact that while you are presenting a front of wanting control, you aren't doing anything to take control. You aren't using logic or love. You are caught up in the whirl wind of the moment and doing nothing but trying to keep everyone together.
The most difficult lesson I am learning this life time is that I am the only person I can control. I cannot control my ex-husband. I cannot control my children. I cannot control my father. And really I am not all to great at controlling myself. It is way easier for me to jump into the storm with someone else and live in craziness than for me to give them a hug and say, "This is not the life I was put here to live. Thank you for the awesome views from the cyclone, but I am going to let you get back to your insanity."
I can be a good mother, friend, lover, and daughter, but I am only in control of me. I have to accept everyone else as they present themselves and decide how much of their journey I can be a part of and stay true to myself.
I am taking baby steps into A Course In Miracles through various books written about the course and feel in total alignment with the two main concepts I have been working on. #1. Love everyone. We are all God's children and he loves us all. Stop the judging, because you cannot begin to remember (yet) what you were sent here to live through and do. Just love everyone. Send love to everyone. Accept everyone is doing their best. #2. Forgive everyone. Stop choosing to carry the yesterday with you into the future. Forgive and move on. Stop drinking the poison and shed the ugly.
In Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, she speaks of if you are lucky, you have a small handful of people you can share your truth with. She even tells you how to spot the people to stop telling your truth to. I agree that if you are lucky, you find that you have maybe 5 people tops that you can share your whole story too. 5 people who you can say anything to without any worry of their response. I am finding that in my handful of people, there are things that the common ground I have with them allows me to share stuff that I cannot utter around another soul.
Think of the ugliest, darkest, most private part of your being. Don't say it out loud, but think about it. Feel the shame rise up your cheeks and feel your face get hot. Who can you call to share this with? If you do not have one person who you can call, get this book and read it. You have to find your person. You have to make this connection. Your life will be so much greater if you do.
It truly does damage to your soul when you share with people who aren't your safe people. In mere seconds, they can inflict so much unnecessary damage. This is a brilliant book for settling into your own skin, loving and accepting yourself and hugging your big ole shame monster and making him feel welcome at the dinner table.
I also believe that it is best to share slowly. Test the water. Then
"The first time someone shows themselves to you, believe them." Maya Angelou
Believe them. There is no reason not to and you have your own damn life to get back to living. Don't try to fix them and show them they are better than they see themselves. Thank them and move on. Don't get sidetracked on a new people cyclone from hell. Save your friendship for those, who over time, show their worthiness at being a friend.
"It's not about withholding. The withholding posture in any kind of relationship is just nasty and manipulative. Leave that for kidnappers and ransomers. Rather, incremental commitment is about being responsive to reality." page 150
Paddle Your Own Canoe
Some of the best advise my dad ever gave me was to have the key to your own house. It seemed very cool and grown up when I moved into my own apartment and didn't have a roommate. I loved living by myself and like many who live on their own, I spent my time reading, puttering around, and watching tv. It was the most fabulous year and a half of my life. I could sit and read an entire book cover to cover under my covers in my pj's. I could watch back to back foreign films reading subtitles. I could eat mac & cheese as a whole, complete meal.
It has taken me two decades since then to really understand what my dad was trying to tell me. While not having a roommate is still very awesome for the same reasons as it was when I was 20, at 43 it means focus on my self.
Paddle your own canoe, don't sit back, staring up at the clouds and wake up 10 years into the future and not have a freakin clue where you are or how you got there. It sucks when you hear that someone is not happy with their life. How could anyone be happy if they passively sit back not actively moving themselves toward their goals and happiness?
It seems that while I have always considered myself a master fixer, the truth is I am so very comfortable letting someone else paddle my canoe. I am very comfortable going along with the current and someone else's dream. Helping someone else reach their goals is so much easier than attempting my own. It is so much easier to see the faults and mistakes of someone who is actually trying to reach their goals than to risk starting on your own path.
It is easier to stay busy and help than to sit quietly and figure out what you really want. It is also way easier to just go along than to start the argument that you are not enjoying the trip, that the canoe is making your butt hurt and after looking at your own personal compass that you, mid trip have figured out that you are going in the wrong damn direction.
It is way easier to be a "fixer" than to be a "doer".
It is way hard to be in charge of your own life. To actively make decisions, good or bad and too keep moving forward.
It is so easy to leave one relationship and replace it with another of the same "need fixing" sort. It is really hard not to look for distraction. But remember, that if you could not fix the last one (or 5) and have found yourself alone, your whole life in a big heap on the floor. This is your chance to fix you. You are the common denominator in the parts of your life that aren't working. Time to see what being a fixer really entails.
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Step 2: Identify some possible solutions to fix the problem.
Step 3: Collect the tools and items required to fix the problem.
Step 4: Create a written plan.
Step 5: Have it reviewed by either your trusted few or a professional.
Step 6: Do it. Actually fix it.
Anything else is avoidance. Anything else is sitting on the side lines and choosing to let someone else be in control of your life. Anything else is choosing not to live your best life. Anything else is you saying to the world, I am not worthy or deserving.
I was not in charge of most of the first 43 years of life. I went along, smoothed things out, prepped for the next fire and white knucked us all together in some true insanity. In making the selfish choice to divorce, I took the hard steps to start this process. I am not kidding when I state that I have to remind myself daily to paddle my own damn canoe. It is way to easy for me to get sidetracked "helping" someone else. It is terribly difficult to carve out the time and resources to help yourself.
But every couple of days when I start to feel out of sorts and cannot figure out why, I realize that I am not not actively participating in my life. The feeling "out of sorts" is my reminder to take stock of what I am currently doing that is in alignment with me and my goals.
Self-care is the topic of another day.
"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous
I have given my mom a bad rap for decades. She was the focus of my anger that my life was so fucked up. She was obviously supposed to be the damn grown up of the two of them.
Having had to make some difficult choices myself over the past few years, I finally found a place in my heart where I could see her again through my own eyes as a mother. I am blessed life has smacked the shit out of me enough to allow the hole in my heart (& head) to open and really accept her love back into my life. I am very grateful to have reached a place in my life where I am meeting my mom as a grown up and not as an angry teenager.
It has taken most of my life, but now that I am here, it feels really freakin wonderful. Now that I can look back without so much pain and anger. Now that I am learning about emotional pathology I have so many more questions and thoughts about what we share as women.
Here are the ones I needed to get out today:
I think my mom grew up thinking she was going to do something with her life. I wonder if she, like me felt destined for something big?
I wonder who stole that from her?
She was growing up in a time when women started working outside the home. I think she wanted to be something so she could show everyone she was worth it and worthy. I think, like me, she wanted to prove she was enough.
I also think she wanted out of her house and out of that little town.
I don't know what she saw in my dad. From time to time I have known him to be a big dreamer. There is an allure to being with a dreamer & buying into their plan.
I do believe that he was drunk when he proposed to my mom. As this didn't end up being a deal breaker with her, I have to assume she thought she could fix him. Lately, I have begun to wonder how bad her life must have been that my dad looked like the answer to a prayer.
She got pregnant very early in their marriage. They were married Aug. 1, 1970 and I was born Aug. 12, 1971. I feel like she blamed me for keeping her from getting to see the world and get a job and start her life. In some of her worst parenting moments she hurled ugliness to me that she wished I hadn't been born.
I do not think all of us are made for parenting. For far too long I was very pissed that I got two selfish & damaged parents, but then I became a parent and learned how very hard it is to juggle being my own person, being a wife and being a mother. It is exceptionally hard to juggle when you find you do not like one or more of the balls you are juggling. There just isn't enough time to fix your own shit, let alone your spouse's.
How many times in her 20 year marriage did she try to fix her marriage? How many times did she try to just focus on saving herself. When the hell did she carve out time to recharge? How many times did she just want to give up? Just what the hell did she envision old age with him was going to be like? Why didn't she leave him? or did she & I just don't know?
Many days my head is full of questions I want to ask her. I am writing them down in hope of finding time to get to know her, really know her, like I do my girlfriends.
I am very blessed she is alive and hoping she will help me understand who she is.
Yesterday afternoon I stopped by the house to check in on my sick boyfriend & then to do two quick home inspections before calling it a day. As I pulled away from the house, I thought that I should throw the address into to the GPS thing on my phone as I know the general location of the homes, but I can never remember the fastest route there.
I typed it in & she starts talking to me. She, my lovely lime green iPhone, starts taking me in the absurd path that requires me to turn around to get onto 17th, when 16th drops me off at the exact same location. 16th curves right into 17th a half a mile up the road. I do not know why she can't learn that I am just going to take 16th until I get to the main road.
I keep telling her "no". No I won't turn around. No I won't take this left. No I won't wait while she recalculates.
I can't prove it, but there are times when without me touching the phone at all, her voice gets louder, almost yelling at me.
After reaching the point where 16th street dumps me onto 17th street, I negotiate my way onto the main road. Here is where things got a little heavy. My lovely phone tells me to get in the left lane. Easy enough, right?
Not for me. I have plugged in the address & now feel the need to quickly check that it looks like she & I were both talking about the same end location, but she has made me pass the left hand turn I would have made if I were in charge, I am worried maybe she is fucking with me since I blatantly ignored her request for me to make any of the 6 left hand turns that would have put me on 17th street. I pick up my phone & try to make it show me the overview of where she is taking me because the left hand turn she wants me to make now will put me on the highway?!?
Being from Northern Virginia, I have no problem merging onto a highway at a proper speed, nor do I fear highways. However in my little town, it really isn't necessary for me to ever get on the highway?
After checking the "overview" of where she is taking me, I tell her that the highway is not the easiest route to get to these houses. I am telling her that the easiest route was to make the left back on whatever that streets name is and then it just winds over to Garden of the Gods, then you make a right & go over to Centennial and then I think it is just straight from there!
Her reply was dripping with sarcasm. "Melissa," she said, "you are terribly hardheaded. My way will get you where you need to be without having to make the two u-turns that you normally make as you notice too slowly that you passed the street you were looking for. If you weren't so vain, you would get glasses so you could read the street signs in advance of passing them."
She continued her rant with, "Just listen to the sound of my voice with both hands on the wheel instead of blindly grabbing at me trying to get me into overview mode to see where I am taking you. Melissa, you know you plugged in the correct address, so trust me to get you there in the projected time I have displayed."
As I turned onto the familiar road of Centennial, she told me in 1.4 miles to make the left hand turn to my destination. After she verified I moved into the left lane, she finished her psychotherapy session with me by stating, "You never take the easiest, most direct path, ever. Given the choice, which you always seem to think there is a choice, you choose the longest, windiest, most convoluted path to where you think your destination is. I am not certain you even know where you are headed most days. I think you lose focus and are missing the needed signs."
Her voice sounded softer when she said, "Things would be so much easier for you Melissa, if you would just slow down and listen to my direction. I will get you there at the projected time if you would just trust me and follow my directions." Then I heard her sigh and groan.
I thanked her for caring so very much & turned her off so I could go in and perform the house inspections.
Inspections complete, I said my goodbyes and headed to my car. I was going to turn her back on to direct me home, but then I remembered that finding my way back home using side streets and scenic routes, like passing Gardens of the Gods park are not the quickest most direct route home, but the meandering scenic path will always be my choice.
I plugged her in since she had used up so very much energy during her rant and I turned her off so she could recharge for tomorrows barrage of telling me to take a left onto 17th street.
For iPhone users- is there a way to change the voice in the navigation system guidance? Just checking!
Most of you don't know me as a Christian. Many of you know that I haven't gone to church since I was 14, nor do I plan to. I need the safety of my own mind for another decade or two, or three. I do however greatly miss the music.
We had a rough car ride to school this morning. My daughter chose not to eat breakfast since I wanted to limit the number of Girl Scout cookies she could have for breakfast. Mind you there is oatmeal packets, cinnamon rolls, pop tarts, cereal, frozen chocolate chip waffles, eggs, tortillas for quesadillas, cheese sticks, peanut butter & toast. I am listing everything off to ease my mom guilt for letting her go to school on an empty stomach. About 10 minutes into the car ride she asks if I can take her to Starbucks. As we had this conversation at home earlier, I reminded her the answer was "no". She then proceeded in a very sweet & weak voice to let me know in advance she was very sorry if she barfed all over my car. I told her I felt very bad for her in a similar sweet & weak voice. These morning power struggles always make me weary and are so difficult for me to shake off. Today was no exception. I did not make eye contact in the mirror, nor did I initiate any further conversation so it wouldn't escalate into a pissing contest. Massive guilt swarmed me. I try to make my kids happy. However, some days it becomes very clear that I am reaping what I have sown. Catering to their needs and whims is tiring.
We made it to school and while she had to take extra time and effort to get her physical body and school supplies out of the car, she was able to find the strength to get out of the car. She also waved at me twice before entering school. I exhaled. The day stood a chance at being ok. As I was pulling out to head down to work, a song popped into my head. Totally weird and random, but completely normal for me and my angels, now that I listen for them.
To many of you, it is going to seem that I am born again. I am not. I am just settling into my power again where I can relax and believe and explore and breathe again.
My family and my faith were mocked by my husband for our entire marriage, 16 years. This was done openly in front of my children. He doesn't believe, he is a man of science. That is how his children would be raised. He didn't want me to teach our children about God, but I did.
Slowly & quietly along side of Greek fables, children's stories about the Buddha and other classic literature.
Because my ex was absent four to five days a week, I was able to help my son through his Protestant Merit Badge in Cub Scouts without protest. It brought me so much happiness to teach my son about God and share with him the stories of how to be a good person. My son loves reading and loved the bible studies in the workbook. For a while he even borrowed my bible for a time to read on his own. I didn't present it as anything other than a historical collection of stories.
It is fascinating to learn about learned hate and prejudice. Children don't come in to this world with hate and prejudice in their hearts, this is a learned skill, passed down by parents and trusted adults.
For most of the past 3 years of divorce, my son has also opening mocked people of faith. It was hard to hear and hurt my heart to hear him parrot so much of his father's belief's. While I don't feel organized religion is right for me, I want my children to understand there are bad people in walks of life and faiths. Bad people do bad things in the name of religion, they always have.
My daughter has more of her own mind in this area. I believe she has a very strong connection with spirit. She is very receptive to prayer and community.
I have tried to show my faith, more than speak of it for the past two years. I have a strong community of women who share their families with mine. I try to make sure they see us caring for our friends and neighbors in their times of need and lending our prayers and good thoughts to them too. I make them aware of the tribe of people who have taken time out of their busy lives to help us over the past few years as I have struggled to make ends meet. I try to let them know daily how blessed I feel and specifically why. I want them to be able to find something, everyday to recognize as a blessing.
I want them to know about service as more than anything as I believe that service is where our lives come alive. Service provides us opportunities to find out passion and connect.
While I do not ask them to participate in my daily spiritual practice, both of them sit with me in the mornings throughout the week and watch me read, meditate, write and pray. They ask questions and enjoy the calm of the quiet time with me. On weekend, this time has the added benefit of snuggle time too!
While it is understood in my divorce process, that I cannot, on my own start taking the children to church or force religion upon them. I can allow them to see me and my practice everyday I have them. Initially this restriction pissed me off, but then I realized the blessing in showing through my daily life, how these tools help me cope and flex and stand strong in the face of the harshest of tornado's. Every day I have something thrown at me that I am not prepared for. New bills, unexpected bills, regular old bills, school items needed, scout items needed, a quick one, two punch comment from their dad or from my kids in their dad's voice.
While my daily practice is ever changing due to my stress level, it has been a constant in my life since January. I just couldn't take one more day of stress. Stress and illness took me back down to my knees.
This is one of my favorite Oprah stories. It is one of my favorite songs.
This year one of the many struggles I have had to focus on is surrender.
This is way harder than people make it seem. Every day I have to remember to surrender my wants, fears, desires and needs. They are too heavy for me to lug around with all that I have to accomplish each day. I have asked and am daily doing the work that keeps me moving forward.
I know I will receive all that I want because I am actively pursuing my passion.
God can only do for you what God can do through you. Iyanla Vanzat Peace from Broken Pieces page 102
"I realized that I had suffered through many indignities rather than ask for what I needed or wanted, out of fear that if the person got upset, I could get hurt. it was a pattern I learned as a child. It was an ingredient in my pathology. It was, I believe, the reason I stayed for nine years in that physically abusive marriage."
"In medicine, pathology is the study of the causes of disease. In human life, pathology is the disease; the stuff going on beneath the surface, handed down or passed on to you, the family stuff that you can see and feel even though no one ever talks about it." page 24
While my marriage was not physically abusive, it was emotionally abusive and I stayed for 16 years because I didn't recognize that I was continuing to allow myself to be hurt. My pathology was that I was not good enough and thereby didn't deserve happiness or ease.
"...but the mental conditioning about the person I was created a lasting impression. The principle of cause and effect meant if it was happening to me, I somehow caused it. When people treated me badly, somehow I deserved it." page 65-66
I have spent most of my life feeling I deserved to be treated as less. That I wasn't smart enough. I felt I was flawed. I was told I was difficult. That I was too emotional. That I could'n't make a decision. That I made things harder than they needed to be. I grew to believe that every bad thing that happened in my life was my fault. My fault either through my choices or my inaction. This was the expressed opinion of my second husband who was the smartest and most well read man I ever knew. He was another person confirming my worst fear, that I was not good enough.
"Neglect. Physical, emotional, and psychological neglect cripples more children than any hip-hop line notes ever written. It is a form of passive abuse when a person responsible for a child's care and upbringing fails to safeguard the child's emotional and physical well-being." page 66
When you make it to adulthood alive, you tell yourself that you won't end up like your parents. I remember my dad actually telling me when I turned 25 that he never really believed I would live that long.
You won't do to your children, what was done to you. I was 28 years old before I allowed myself to accept that I did want children. The lie I had been telling myself was out of fear that I would end up hurting and neglecting my own children. For most of my teens and twenties, I told myself that the only way to not continue the cycle was not to have children. The cycle ends with me.
It came as quite a surprise when I told my husband of 5 years that while I had told him at 22 that I adamantly did not want children, I had changed my mind. This became a bit of a problem as he was 10 years older than me and already had a child from a previous marriage. He did not want to be that old dad who was like 75 at his kids high school graduation, so he gave me a deal and a deadline; I could have as many children as I could before he turned 40. Two years to have as many children as I could. I had to stop nursing our first child shortly before his first birthday to allow my body to cycle once so I could get pregnant as quickly as possible. I delivered our second child, 58 days before he turned 40!
Then began my love affair with my children.
After giving birth to my second child, I gave my notice at work and became a stay at home mom, then home school mom, who was very devoted to loving and paying attention to my children. I enjoyed my days playing with them, reading to them, listening to their stories of what they were playing or what they were building. I couldn't stop watching them. They were the coolest, neatest little people ever. I didn't know it then, but I also spent my nights protecting them with my very presence. I was and am afraid of things that happen at night. (In some later post, I will address my nocturnal wanderings to verify my children are alone and safe and in their beds peacefully sleeping.) Nothing bad would happen to them if I was there. With every fiber of my body, I wanted them to know they mattered and were plenty good enough.
While this act of looking back and sorting through memories and feelings is hard work and puts me on a roller coaster emotionally, it feels so good to have some of the pieces falling into place in my mind. Each piece that fits into it's place is a little bit more of the fog lifted. Even when the images and feelings are not pretty or happy, just having another puzzle piece fit, it helps me see where I came from.
"I was a neglected child. There was a persistent and consistent ignoring of my need for nurturing, encouragement, education and protection." page 67
I am a child of neglect. I did not feel wanted. I grew up feeling unloved and unloveable. I didn't feel seen, valued or worthy.
My parents were a disaster when they were sober and completely dysfunctional when they were drunk. I remember a few snapshots in my head when my dad was laughing or smiling, but not a lot of them. I remember him singing.
I don't remember my mom being happy except for when she came to my school dressed up as a clown or witch or when she cooked. I also remember her smiling when she watched her shows; Fantasy Island and Hart to Hart. I remember sitting next to her or on her bed while she did her hair and make up in the morning watching tv with her. She had a whole dresser of girl stuff; make up, mirrors, tweezers, hot rollers and hairspray & perfume. She had an awful (and comforting) way of humming and singing the little bits of songs she remembers over and over again while she got made up.
For the most part, however I felt like I was a "problem that needed to be fixed" a "burden to be endured" and a "responsibility to be ignored." page 67
I remember hating my parents. I remember feeling such guilt wishing they would die. I held a fantasy that if they did die, then I would be adopted by a loving family who wanted a daughter. I remember praying they would stop drinking. I remember praying they would love me. I remember feeling very guilty for wanting more than the shitty hand I had been dealt.
"I can also say that I was almost 30 years old before I realized that I was insane, and 50 years old when I actually became sane. I spent 20 years discovering patterns and solving the puzzles that I inherited. Today, I understand that each of my family members contributed to my soul's purpose. It didn't feel good back then, nor did I know it until much later, but who I am is a function of who they were in my life. I realize that my story, my history, was a divine set up to usher me into who I would become." page 67
I have felt slightly insane for the past 15 years trying to deal with all of the emotions and pain being a mother has brought into my life. My children have brought forth all of my fears and worries and memories. Some of my fear and worry has been replaced with calm as I accept that as I learn better, I do better. But I have put a great deal of pressure on myself to do better than my parents did. When you wait until you are in your late 20's and make a conscious decision to bring a child into the world, you can't fuck up. I have felt so much pressure to always do the right thing by my children. To guide them, to urge them, to protect them and to accept them as they are and in their own time.
A big part of the pressure is that I didn't have a good example to turn to.
"I remember confiding my pain and devastation to a friend the first time I broke up with the man who would become my third husband. She tried her best to help me pull myself together. In the midst of our conversation she asked me, "What would your mother say to you? What did she tell you about how to make it through a broken heart." "I realized that not one of the women in my life had ever talked to me about anything I would face as a woman. I had learned about my menstrual cycle from a friend the day it started. No one ever talked to me about boyfriends or for the matter , how to be a friend. I got no instruction at all about my body, my mind or my heart." page 53
I didn't have heart to heart talks with my mom or dad. They didn't prepare me for life at all. Instead, most of what I have learned or read about parenting and relationships was recommended on Oprah or Dr. Phil's show (until 4 years ago when I stopped being able to afford cable tv.). I am grateful that I had a dvr and could wait until my little darlings went down for a nap or to sleep each night and I could steal time to learn to be better.
Now I am blessed to have created a family of women to help guide me through some of life's milestones. I am part of a family of women who share the hard earned wisdom of surviving. I am getting the instruction now on how to be a woman and a grown up. It is interesting when my "not normal" runs into this circle of women. It is fabulous to have a reality check that I am good enough and deserving. It has reinforced in my mind and heart that as parents we must always say the words. Our children may not choose to hear them, believe or accept them, but we must say the words to them. You are a blessing to me. You are strong, capable, smart, caring, worthy, loveable, needed, and a good friend.
I am finding comfort in fitting my broken bits & pieces together and then being able to sit back and realize how brilliantly "textbook" my pathology is. The anger I carried around at my mother's distance and anger and drinking is gone. Replaced with such an overwhelming sense of peace as I come to understand her role in my life. Because of the work she has allowed me to force us to do over the years, I have been able to understand where she came from and why she didn't have more to give me than she did.
The desperate feeling of wanting my father's love & attention is disappearing. I spent so much of my life focused on my anger with my mother, that I didn't see how badly my relationships with men were shaped by my drunk and emotionally & physically absent father. I was a daddy's girl.
I remember hearing from my maternal Grandmother, that my mom was too.
Don't you just love those mornings when the showers are all done, they have been fed, and shoes are on their feet and you find yourself heading out the door just a few minutes early?! I sure do, as they are terribly rare.
Mine morning started off kinda rough. At his request, I have been getting my son up moment before my daughter so he can get into the bathroom to go pee before she takes possession of the bathroom for the next half hour. He doesn't wake up very alert and as he was leaving the bathroom at 5:30 am he opened the door right onto his big toe. Mumbling and almost cursing, I heard him stating that this day was going to suck.
Somehow through rolled eyes and more cursed mumbling everyone got dressed and ready for school. My daughter was packed and ready last night as she has a field trip today. Sunscreen, check; water bottle, check; extra pair of socks in case she falls out of the canoe, check; snack, check.
Seats buckled and before I pull out, I check to see if my ex has responded to my email from last night that our son left his math book at his dad's last week and was unable to do his homework last night without it. Now, please take note that my son see's his dad each & every Monday night at Boy Scouts, but he forgot to pass the request to his dad to drop the math book by the house on his way to work this morning so we could do the math homework tonight and only be one day late. As this much need conversation did not happen, I texted his dad last night at about 9 pm. With no response this morning I sent the text again. Seems the ex did not get the first message and was already at work. Awesome! I explain to my son that he can do his homework at his dad's on Wednesday and turn it in the next day. More eye rolling and huffing about how super it is that he will be super late turning it in. At this I swallow my giggle as he is the boy that has almost failed the past two years of school due to not turning in homework on average of 30 days past due.
Anyhow, we are rockin and rollin right on up the pass when my daughter realizes she was supposed to have a packed lunch. WTF? That was not on the check list she handed me last night. Now I know that it should have dawned on me, but I didn't sleep the night before, so I was really counting on that damn check list from the teacher to be thorough.
Time check, we are still 10 minutes early...I can stop at the Safeway, but what am I going to feed my ever so special picky eater? She agrees with much distress that a turkey sandwich will do. We arrive at Safeway, time check, still 10 minutes early. I run in.
Damn, the deli is closed. The free condiments are not out. The self check out line is not turned on yet and there is only one cashier working. Turkey, bread, mayo, chips, plastic baggies; check!
I ran out to the car and received the huff of get moving woman so I am not late from my son. We slide on into the kiss and go lane and my son jumps out before I have come to a complete stop. We are not late! There is still 8 minutes until school starts and I am going to need at least 4 of them to help my daughter get her lunch into the baggies.
I am the cog in the kiss and go lane this morning. I did not put my car in park, just kept m foot on the brake and made a sandwich while my daughter bagged her chips. With a quick, "I love you," and a wave, she was out of the car unscathed and on time. I was so happy that none of the compliant & militant kiss and go parents honked and yelled at me! I was on the edge and prepared to throw my car in park and jump out and throw down with those bastards, but my daughter and I worked so fast, we went unnoticed.
I spent the 30 minute commute back down into town trying to relax and taking Fear Factor style shots of the kale veggie juice thing to help my poor stressed body and of course giggling at the silliness and stress of being a parent with kids in public school.
Peace From Broken Pieces, by Iyanla Vanzant.
This book was supposed to be one of my summer pool reads. Seems summer passed my reading time by, however this became my first autumn read. I have listened to Iyanla Vanzant live tell parts of her story on YouTube. She is a wonderful writer, but she is an even better speaker. My reading experience was greatly enhanced because I could hear her real voice in my head.
While my life has been very different than hers, the "pathology" she describes is eerily similar.
"My story, like so many other stories, is a demonstration of the generational karma visited upon women..." "What I am offering is that there is this thing--something--that moves through generation after generation of women, affecting how we see ourselves and how that identity often works against our best interest. It is an energy that many of us are born into, live through, and struggle valiantly to live beyond." page 5
"When you have no positive pictures and, are unable to access the feelings those pictures would evoke, you have a tendency to make up what you want the pictures to be. More often than not, the pictures you create are not fully developed, causing you to live life in the blur of false images." page 10
I couldn't have admitted it at the time, but with 25 years behind me now, I can see that although I had no real idea what a healthy & stable family looked like, at 17 I was desperate to create one of my own. I can't say that I had any friends who had great family lives, but from each dinner or stay the night I gathered pieces that I cobbled together to form a picture in my head of what I wanted for a family. I was engaged at 16 to my high school boyfriend and anxious to get out of my family home. I felt lost and neglected and unwanted and unworthy in my family home. My parents were so overwhelmed in their own lives that they had nothing of worth to give me or my sister. There was a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, clothes on our bodies, a carton of cigarettes so we didn't spend our lunch money on smokes and there were feminine products. I don't want to make light of what each of these items meant to me. I was very grateful that my parents provided what they could. They were so wrapped up in their own pain & struggle & overwhelm that they had little other than "things" to give us. At the time I thought they were awful selfish people. I spent so many hours wondering why they had kids if they didn't want us.
Iyanla writes page after page describing her attempts to get the attention of her dad and the people who stood as parents in her life. Prior to reading this book, I didn't realize how many hours of my life I have spent trying, begging, pleading for my parents to notice & love me. I am sure it must have started normal enough; if I get good grades they will be proud of me or if I do what I am told they will see me and love me. But at some point, I like many children of neglect turned to negative attention was better than no attention.
Unfortunately for me, my parents lives were spinning out of control at such a speed that I was sucked into the cyclone. By age 12, I was smoking & drinking with regularity.
At far too early an age, I craved attention from anyone who would see me. Thus began my relationships with boys. I never knew time without a boyfriend. There was three boy friends before I met the boy that would be my first husband. All back to back to back. I didn't like being alone. Right before my 17th birthday I was engaged.
"You simply cannot pay the debts that come along with believing you are unworthy. Unworthiness always puts you in debt to anyone and everyone who shows you the slightest degree of attention or love or energy." pg 55
The first year I dated my soon to be first husband Erik, seemed pretty normal, or normal for me. We went to school during the week and worked several nights a week. On weekends we followed the party scene and drank & partied hard. He graduated from high school and got a full time job. It was during that second year that things started to slowly change and the winds of my personal cyclone started.
This boy didn't want simple teenage sex, this boy wanted to do and try everything, including other people. My heart was crushed that the man I had fallen in love with and was going to marry, didn't think I was enough. Instead he wanted other people and wanted to share me with other people. His love and attention came at a high price, things that made me uncomfortable and made me feel shame. I feel blessed that I did not grow up in a time with the internet and cell phones. Oh the prayers that have been said thanking God that the photos were poorly taken and truly shitty & silent whispered prayers that they never surface. As I was underage it is even more awful. I was terrified that one of the people he sent them to would write him back & end up local & a date would be scheduled. 6 months of worry soon stopped as we got caught up in the final wedding day planning. That consumed most of our free time. Suddenly it was all about us & our new life & moving to Florida so he could start college.
Most or enough of the ugliness was gone & things seemed normal again. My definition of normal had become heavy drinking, sleeping, and normal sex. My parents allowed him to move in with me in the final months. I used to wonder had they not, would I have found the space too breathe and the silence to hear my gut screaming "stop this now while you can."
There were a couple of nights when I just wanted it all to stop, but by that point everything had been purchased and family was on the way. Moments later I was elated at what a beautiful wedding I was going to have & how everyone would see how fabulous & normal my life was going to be. This was me starting & creating my own bright future.
A year later, we returned home. He wasn't going to go to school. We lived in the student ghetto in Gainseville, FL and the drinking and partying continued. I tried very hard to be a normal grown up, but my marriage wasn't normal and my husband didn't see marriage as I did. He saw it filled with other people, games, and porn. In my head all I heard was that I was not enough.
Iyanla describes "a pathology of abandonment and shame; abuse and self abuse; betrayal and guilt; unworthiness and loss. My story is very much like my mother's story. Her story was very much like her mother's..." page 6
It would be a hand full of years later when my mother would let slip that our marriages had been very similar. Many things I had seen as a child, but been told I hadn't seen, were true. I did see my parents with other people. My parents "friends", were way more than normal friends. My parents were in the beginning stages of ending their 20 year marriage, my mom was angry and the information she shared helped me make sense of parts of my childhood that I had been told I was crazy about. I wasn't crazy, they were liars, shutting me up by telling me I wasn't seeing what I thought.
"To be a good fighter, you have to be stripped down to nothing. A fighter is trained to forget what they know and who they are outside the ring. Once a fighter is stripped down, they can be built up by one voice, the trainer's voice. And it is assumed that the trainer has the fighter's best interest in mind." page 46
The voices of my trainers have not had my best interest in mind. They have been predators, abusers, neglectors and the selfish. I am working very hard to hear my own voice. It takes a great deal of strength to peel off the layers and illusion and stand in bright, shiny nakedness! I am ready for the next full moon!!
[This article originally appeared in print as "Trait vs. Fate"]
I have heard many author Dr. Bruce Lipton on Hay House Radio talking about Behavior Epigenetics and then ran upon this article.
"Darwin and Freud walk into a bar. Two alcoholic mice — a mother and her son — sit on two bar stools, lapping gin from two thimbles.
The mother mouse looks up and says, “Hey, geniuses, tell me how my son got into this sorry state.”
“Bad inheritance,” says Darwin.
“Bad mothering,” says Freud."
"Now, at the bar in Madrid, Szyf and Meaney considered a hypothesis as improbable as it was profound: If diet and chemicals can cause epigenetic changes, could certain experiences — child neglect, drug abuse or other severe stresses — also set off epigenetic changes to the DNA inside the neurons of a person’s brain? That question turned out to be the basis of a new field, behavioral epigenetics, now so vibrant it has spawned dozens of studies and suggested profound new treatments to heal the brain."
Love reading this self proclaimed Voodoo Genetics.
“The thing I’ve gained from the work I do is that stress is a big suppressor of maternal behavior,” she says. “We see it in the animal studies, and it’s true in humans. So the best thing you can do is not to worry all the time about whether you’re doing the right thing. Keeping the stress level down is the most important thing. And tactile interaction — that’s certainly what the good mother rats are doing with their babies. That sensory input, the touching, is so important for the developing brain.” Frances Champagn
I haven't written much the past two weeks. I start to, then get pulled in another direction. There has not been a great deal of down time for the past 12 days. Rent week, which is what we call the 5th through the 12th is our most insane busy time. Everyone who is paying late or not paying becomes top priority. 3 Day Demands for payment are posted. We have to pay our vendors & the owners. It is very difficult to pull my head away from the job during this week. Not that I didn't write down many ideas to write about, but by the time I drag my ass home, I want food, a glass of wine, a hot bath & absolute freakin silence.
Add to it my kids were home sick Monday & Tuesday and then my son was home again on Friday. This was a very long week capped off with my daughters first middle school dance and meeting up with the kids friends for a glow in the dark nerf gun game!
I had big plans to sit and write this fabulous post on the books I have been escaping into, but instead I decided to re arrange my living room/dining room. It started as I want to put the Christmas tree in this spot this year, but reality is I wanted to move my recliner back by the picture windows. I had my chair here when I first moved into this house, but decided to move it so I couldn't be seen if someone came knocking at the front door. By someone, I mean my ex-boyfriend. Now, well I am plenty comfortable sitting in my chair & ignoring the front door all together.
I also had a project of personal files, divorce files, the kids school files in a corner hidden by my recliner. I have allowed them to sit there in my daily damn view for 2 years. Today I decided they could live down in the storage area in the basement until I find the energy and where with all to tackle that project. By moving that huge pile of stress and unresolved business out of my sight, I can now sit in my recliner and see people & cars pass by. In two months, I will move my big ass Christmas tree right in front of my recliner & spend the best month ever rocking & watching my twinkly lights!!
It is very selfish, but I have just claimed the best spot in the whole house as my own.
I also picked a spot for my recliner that doesn't have a single electrical outlet in hopes of everyone staying out of my chair.