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The fact The past few years have taken a toll. Life is like that, not ‘funny that way’, just like that. But I feel myself slowly emerging, like when a bullfrog first peers from the waters brim before rising up. Though comparing myself to a bullfrog is not what I was going for here.

The past few years have seen tests to my spirit and identity with the heart wrenching placement of my father into a “memory care center”, because we were not allowed to use the word Alzheimer’s per our mother, though this had been diagnosed years before. His placement was premature, but my mother was “done” and ready to go on with her life. Then suffering through his slow horrible decline and 4 relocations as he fought being confined, and then his death this past year. The previously written about divisive unraveling of my family. The two rounds of treatment my husband endured for Hep C as the first one failed. The change in my relationships with my precious daughters as they grew into the appreciation of the lifestyle their father’s (my first husband) money could bring them and slowly being relegated to a corner spot. The past few years tested me.

But I am not without the resolve of enduring testing. My father instilled that in me, taught us the differences between ‘mountains and molehills’.  Quitting was never an option with my father, it was always “if there’s a will there’s a way”.  The challenge is not to lose the will. And for me, it was redefining the will. 

My will was no longer about being the best mother, holding on to my father, having my husband back to his former self. Even as I write this I realize anew the common thread of accepting a new me in the midst of new relations with old relationships. No, my will fluctuated, redefined, focused in and out like those automatic occular testing devices.  First I focused on getting through each day. I focused on not snapping at people, on my moods, on not crying, on not thinking, on  not over engaging in difficult conversations.  It was The Will of Not! The Will of Not is the story of defense.

This shifted into  a will to understand why my mother would/could seem to so easily dismiss my father, two of her four daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, the community my parents had lived in for 30+ years and close friends…to just walk away and start over.  To understand how my husband’s treatment changed who he was and live with this at times cold man it created which is a stated side effect and how long it would last. To try and wrap my head around how my daughters were so pulled into a lifestyle I could not begin to appreciate, relate to or respect with the private jets, fancy vacations and materialism that came with their fathers wealth. And how this pushed all of the other grandparents to a corner in the square and out of the inner circle.  This is not to say they are not loving. If something was wrong and I called they would certainly be available to lend an ear. But their lives are busy and I do not have much to offer but babysitting services, which is my greatest joy.  This is the part you think will never happen to you when your children are growing up and depend so much on your love and guidance. Then have their own busy families and you realize you are now a spare part. I can not fault them for the power I gave them. But it is a power they are probably bewildered by me taking back. Yes, this was the period of The Will to Understand, because understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power and I was desperately seeking power in my life. Understanding allows acceptance.

I have forgotten to skip.  Who did not learn the joyous movement of skipping as a child!? Just thinking about it creates a sense of freedom and abandonment. Why do we teach these things to children when we don’t practice them as adults?  To move our bodies, which moves our minds, in abandoned freedom.  To focus so purely on the here and now and allow the worry of tomorrow to slip away, to relearn how to skip. This emerging process is a cherishingly slow process. I am stunned when I reflect back on how hard I worked for my daughters approval and acceptance, in a constant state of anxiety if I had irritated them. I’m afraid that pendulum has swung, without my even realizing it except in reflective comparison.  Only today did I realize I have this past month forgotten both of my son-in-laws birthdays! Not where I want to be! And yet after 10 solid seconds of panic I moved quickly to ‘oh well’, done now. And added the dates back to my calendar as they evidently dropped off with the last update. Another sip of coffee.  I am learning. Learning finally to shrug, skip, forgive ME, hold onto what my father taught me above all ‘live fearless, live honest’, to keep my eyes open. “Was blind but now I see”.  I am willing to learn! Yes, this is the period of The Will to Learn!

Learning my limitations, embracing my limitations! Both limitations that are natural to my humanity and limitations I choose, and understanding the difference. Not allowing one to be an excuse for the other. Staying the path of being open to fearlessly looking forward, there lies the peace. Knowing I’m allowed to take care of me and not apologize for it. 

~peace~

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This is the thing when you are a mom with grown daughters who have a stepmother, though not one that was a part of their growing up. As your children grow up and become themselves and their own adults they start reflecting back on you as a parent and become more and more aware of your faults and get more tired and inpatient with you for not fixing them. Because after all, now that they are grown women you should’ve figured everything out with yourself by now and be past any issues they figure. But stepmom, she has not been there for the history, and the long haul so her faults become irrelevant because they do not tie in to who your daughters have become. So she is not to blame. So as you grow older your daughters become more exasperated with you and more involved and closer to her. Which intern hurts you, and you overreact, which just confirms their views of all your faults. Such an exasperating cycle.

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Driving home from work this evening, 45 minute commute going on 90 minutes. Awful traffic, tired of the bad news I turned to classic rock, grinned at the fond memories John Mellencamp’s ‘Pink Houses’ brought. Waiting at the lo-o-ongest red light, or maybe just my impatience to be home. I wanted to take my contacts out and get out of my work clothes…though I had already maneuvered my bra off as I resent wearing it, when I glanced in the rearview mirror.
At first I couldn’t make out a person in the car behind me, then I realized that was because there was no one in the driver’s seat, no one in the passenger seat. Instead there were two people above the console. Because I had my sunglasses on I couldn’t see them as clearly, but it allowed me to stare at them without them seeing me and ruining their moment, and I believe Moments Matter Most.                                                                                                                                        Though I doubt they were aware of anyone or where they were. But it allowed me to witness adoration.

ad⋅o⋅ra⋅tion /ædəreɪʃən/
noun: a feeling of profound love and admiration

They were not going at it full on kissing. Rather it was so gentle, he stroked her cheek, she placed her hand on his, they kissed gently and barely pulled away from one another.  I found myself unwilling and unable to look away, caught by this couple in the middle of traffic who needed a moment to share their love…were they married? newly dating?  The cynical part of me wanted to smirk and knowingly give voice to the doubt that this adoration would stand the test of time was stamped out for the time being, just appreciating that this evidence of caring and yearning is what makes life sustainable, the search as much as the discovery.

Then the car behind them honked at both of us and it was over. But it was a sweet moment to draw from in the midst of everyday tragedies and inhumanities we suffer from. A sweet reminder of the gentleness of love that is adoring and moments we steal with offered opportunities both with each other and from each other. A reminder of what we all search for, whether we acknowledge it or not, to be cherished.

Look for your moments that you can let others know they are cherished and hold on longer to the moments you feel cherished.  Is there truth in “All You Need Is Love”?

Wishing you Peace~

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Have you ever noticed the slow curve on the conversation road when wine and a close friend are driving? As I have commented in a previous post, Old Love Old Story, I rediscovered a manuscript that I wrote twenty years ago and am tinkering with reworking…a look at how women grieve as seen through the eyes of my own divorce after an 18 year marriage, and then twenty years later.

So I was having dinner with a friend the other night, beautiful warm Spring evening. We had found a wonderful little patio at a new wine bar, and ordered our first glass of a subtle Pinot Noir.

Her: “So how is the manuscript going?”
Me: “I’m really excited about having it in front of me again, just getting myself geared up to start on it. It’s so cool to have it again, it will be such a trip to pick up in a ’20 years later’ mode!”

We chatted for a little while, laughing at some of the memories brought up in discussing the manuscript as she was my best friend and mainstay through that difficult time. We ordered our second glass of wine.
Her: “So when do you think you’ll really get started on it, seems like you’re avoiding it.”
Me: “No, just not in a hurry, (pause) I’m just waiting for the right mood, to be in the right frame of mind. There’s so much to think about and I want to get the right angle on where I was and where I’m at now, it’s been such a long time. (pause) I’ll probably start soon though.”

The conversation becomes less jovial, more dramatic, more nostalgic reflecting on both of our divorces and takes on a ‘WTF’ tone as we order our third glass of wine.
Her: “Why do you even want to open that can of worms again?”
Me: “Seriously! What am I thinking?! I should just put it away for another twenty! It’s just a fricking manuscript! What is the point after all? Even if it got published what would that matter? Why do people even bother writing?”

Why do we become so conflicted with our decisions the more we discuss them. Our thought process talks us into and then back out of things. Or is it our mind and heart at odds with each other. Or our fears and confidence sparing over our desires. Or our past experiences arguing with our dreams. OR maybe they are all really the same, because after all, we are a totality of all of those.

We are who we have been, who we are and who we aspire to be, and sometimes all those players have different opinions. And that’s okay. That very conversation within us is what moves us forward. Think about it, if those confounding conversations didn’t occur, how would we evolve meaningfully? And sometimes what opens up those conversations is a relaxed and safe environment, it’s the third glass that takes it into crazy!
Wishing you Peace with the voices in your head!

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Let me just make a recommendation right off the bat, if you adore your mother, if you love mother’s day, this may not be the blog for you…or it might. Personally, every year I struggle with mother’s day, can’t even bring myself to capitalize it. It is by far my least favorite holiday/celebratory day of the whole year. I prefer Groundhogs Day, Presidents Day, Humiliation Day (Jan. 3rd), National Bubba Day (June 2nd), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th) and Marooned Without a Compass Day (November 6th), all to mother’s day.

I no longer struggle (much) with this day, I mainly just quietly ignore and wait for it to pass. And just so you know, I am a mother of two adorable grown daughters, who do not know I do not like mother’s day to the extent I dislike it, because what they do know is I LOVE being their mother.

See, I have learned over the years, many years, that there is a huge difference between being a mother and a parent, a father and a parent. My ‘mother’ is still living, so I do not speak of this unknowingly or lightly. As you may be aware from previous posts, my father is still living also and in an Alzheimer’s facility.

When I was blogging in my head earlier today I knew I had to write about it. I do that, blog in my head. A past acquaintance referred to it as ‘mind %#$@ing’. He didn’t get it, and it was before blogging.

My mother/parent, gave it what she had. She simply was not equipped to be a mother to me, but was able to parent me, and for that I am grateful. She met all of my basic needs wonderfully, faultlessly. But she wasn’t able to mother me. This was not unique to my mother, it was the relationship she had with her mother, her mother had with her mother, and I don’t know beyond that but probably went back more generations. It took therapy to get to a point of first recognizing it, accepting it, forgiving it and letting go of it…except on mother’s day. This was complicated early on by the fact that growing up my father had very high expectations of myself and my siblings on just how mother’s day would go, and it required excellent behavior and big displays of love and affection from us. I couldn’t muster either so I remember mother’s day as always being a struggle.

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Then I became a mother, a young mother, and my husband was determined to override my mother’s day wiring by spoiling me, having the girls spoil me and doing his damnedest to make me feel loved and appreciated. And it helped for a while, but always those feelings of “will this day never end?!” hung on. You see, when you know you didn’t get to have a mother and you watch everywhere around you and see what it is like to have a mother, even in your own home as you are mothering, you have a hard time embracing the celebration of it. My mother made it very clear very young that she did not want me, confirmed this to me when I was a young adult and saw no problem with it. Again, she parented well, and provided for me. But there have been so many, many times in my life that I have struggled with how to react to something because it was never modeled for me. It was not only up to me to figure out, she resented my ability to figure it out. My mother was emotionally abusive from the time she found out she was pregnant, details don’t matter here. I learned to mother myself, and from that learned to mother my children. My children were my saving grace as I was able to feel the love of a mother by being a mother. I was also able to feel the pain of what I missed by what they received. I feel mainly just pity for her at this point, long gone are the days of anger or need.

At some point many of us, for various reasons have to make a decision between leaving our past and choosing our future. Sometimes that choice is forced on us, sometimes it is a long slow process and if you are lucky, it never happens, you are able to mesh the two. For me, it became clearer and clearer that to own my life and live forward, I could not stay engaged with her. It was the final step in truly letting go and accepting that ours was a relationship not made of choice, not wanted and not necessary. I learned that I needed peace in my life more than I needed a ‘mother’ and that ship had sailed. I felt free for the first time when I came to that realization and realized it didn’t even matter to her.

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My greatest reward for mother’s day is watching my daughters enjoy it with their children, knowing that cycle has been broken. Watching them joke about it and detecting no stress or anxiety about it, makes it all worth it.

In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law the resolution unanimously adopted by the U. S. Congress establishing the fourth Sunday of every July as Parents Day. This I can get behind, because sometimes that is all that is possible. Sometimes a parent just isn’t equipped to be a father or mother, but they do their best to be a parent, to meet those basic needs.

And it isn’t about all the hugging and kissing or sitting up late at night talking through things. It’s just about being there. What makes my father, my father, is not any of that, he traveled much of the time I was growing up, he left the parenting to my mother. He was the disciplinarian. But he was also the teacher of principles, the one who though was wrongfully hard on us, was equally hard on us. I think each one of us felt we had a special relationship with him. He wanted so badly for us to be independent, strong, happy women, and it was his mission in life to accomplish that. That is what made him a father, not because he did it all right, because he did not.

Parenting is not for the weak of heart, mothering is not for everybody. And sometimes the two just don’t go together, and that is what keeps therapists employed! I hope that if you struggle with mother’ss day, that you are able to find peace in the ability to mother yourself, and know, it was never about you not deserving a mother.

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Last night I was watching one of the singing competitions, yes I’m one of the few that is still suffering through it, and mainly for this reason ~ there is a woman on there named Candice, and when she opens her mouth to sing I am transformed by her voice. Last night she sang one of my favorite Billie Holiday songs, “You’ve Changed”.

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Others have also sang this song such as the great Ella Fitzgerald, but I love Billie Holiday, there is such a raw emotion in her.

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And Candice did not dissapoint, she sent it soaring.

What struck me is I’ve heard this song many, many times before, but last night I heard it different. Instead of hearing the song from not only the heartbreak of the person who is being left, I heard it from a point of saddness for the person who ‘changed’. Maybe this is simply a reflection from my own experiences and distance from them.

I realize that when a relationship ends, and one of the people, though typically both to some extent, have ‘changed’, there is a lingering malaise. It seems that the person who ‘changed’ not only disconnects with the person in the relationship, but all too often disconnects with themself.

Sometimes this is short term, but it seems at times it is ongoing. You look at that person that has changed and see a loss of not only the connection they had, but a loss of who they were, the very spirit they had. The lingering questions in their eyes that over time turn into a certain acceptance of being lost. In the phrase from the song “That sparkle in your eyes is gone; your smile is just a careless yawn” there is a warning. I can tell you from being on both ends, I would rather be left than lose myself. I have watched that struggle in others as they struggle to regain who they were and what they had, and still see the sparkle missing that has been replaced by weariness.

Now the good news is, it makes for great song material and Candice nailed it which brought me great delight and thoughts to write about!
Peace to all going through change or to someone who has changed!

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Why is it the old and familiar is what we go back to, even when we know there is better out there?

I’m sitting at my desk at work this morning, on hold, cradling the phone receiver on my shoulder, trying to multi-task, when I think “can’t believe I’m cradling this big, old bulky phone receiver.” Then I smile at the nice old comfortable feeling of it.

First thing to know is that if you aren’t over 40 you probably won’t appreciate the ‘nice old comfortable feeling’ part.
But I became aware of the weight, the size and the way it fit my ear so well. Such are the thoughts when I’m on hold.

I know today it’s all about the sleek, thin, light weight cell phone. But for some reason I felt a certain kinship with this old relic that you only rarely see, typically in offices. And I started to think of the things in life we hold on to because they are familiar, comfortable and don’t require us to learn something new or refigure them into our lives…clothing/styles, cars, a multitude of technology thingy magiggies…and people.

How many relationships do we keep because it’s ‘just easier’. We know they don’t function well, or at all, or are horribly dysfunctional, but we keep them. They present known, understood challenges vs. all new challenges. We don’t have to face moving forward to unknown new relationships when we just hang on, and on, and on.

All relationships of length present challenges I know, but those challenges should be balanced with rewards. When we stay in relationships that are not only empty, but sap our emotional strength and deplete our resolve to evolve, then aren’t we creating more work than we’re avoiding?

Fear is a powerful barrier to change.

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