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Archive for the ‘Self Acceptance’ Category

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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I found out this week that a woman I know who is 56 is getting a facelift. I know this is nothing new, happens all the time, it’s not like it’s the 1960s when it would have been shocking. But it shocked me. I didn’t see it coming in this person for one. This isn’t a woman I’m close to, but I do know her well, she is my first husband’s wife and therefore one of the grandmothers to our grandchildren, three of which are young girls. So, I am bothered on several fronts and had a multitude of emotional reactions. I have to confess that at first I was just shocked, then had a few jokes, but quickly settled into a sadness for her, disappointment and even being mad about it. I will soon be 60, so I get the whole aging thing. My sadness is from a belief that when we feel a strong enough need to alter our looks because we look in the mirror and no longer like what we see we have much larger issues (short of a traumatic event that altered our looks).
When our self worth is based on our looks, then inevitably our worth will fade with age. We are given many, many years to learn and embrace that our worth is based on our values, principles and passions. And because those are enhanced with age as we come to a deeper understanding of them, our self worth increases with age. So, I am sad that at this point in her life she has not gotten there and it makes me sad that as she starts down this path of seeking to surgically increase her self worth that she will make that arrival all the more difficult.
I am disappointed tinged with mad, that as a significant female in the lives of our three young grand-daughters she is not taking into account what this says to them, or if she is, she is able to justify and dismiss it. In a society and age where our young girls are inundated with the message that the most important thing they have to offer is their looks, the responsibility of strong and positive female role models is all the more crucial. Because these are my grand-daughters, I resent that she is failing them on this and sending the message that if you don’t like how you look, that you aren’t comfortable with aging, then just alter it.
I know we all alter our looks to some extent, as females we put on makeup, we color our hair, we pierce our ears (or God knows what else), but I believe it is fundamentally different when we choose to permanently alter the structure of who we are. How do you feel when you look in the mirror then and no longer see the ‘you’ that you’ve always seen? What is next? How or when do you draw the line? When is it enough to make you ‘happy’? I think the greater peace would have come from getting out of yourself and more focused on others in the world around you whose lives need to be reconstructed. Just another example of too much money, too much time, too much self-focus. I am ever more thankful for the peace I have found in my life and I truly pray that she will continue to seek true peace in her own, and find it, because it won’t happen under anesthetic, waking up with bandages covering you face in a sterile environment with people who don’t know you, other than that you are good for the bill.

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