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A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time

I was challenged by a friend to write a short story about a picture:

I arise to the sound of her melodic voice. I open my windows to find a glorious, sun soaked morning and I peer down to see a swarm of children surrounding an elderly woman along the walkway.

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Barcelona, and am currently awaiting a phone call. But alas at this moment, I shall soak up the warm, inviting sunshine and laughter of children below; I had forgotten what that was like.

She was heavy set, a woman of some 60+ years but her voice…her voice was that of a fine tuned Cello…haunting.

I was 8 years old, with my mother and father visiting here. We came year after year, to this very condo my father bought years ago. By day we were a family, perusing the streets, frequenting the plethora of shops…by night however, it was my mother and I, sitting with each other playing checkers, a puzzle or watching a show. I never knew where he went, until 6 months ago…hence my presence here.

It was 30 years ago today that he vanished; his wedding ring, in plain view on the coffee table. We were out and about that day, a beautiful, sunny afternoon when the wind carried her voice to us…beckoning us. We approached and stood in awe.

Her shiny hair was obsidian. She was stunningly beautiful, and rather intimidating to look at for when her eyes found you, it was as if she saw your soul, and she danced as if the spirit of Carmen Amaya herself was inhabiting her.

Clearing my head I’m brought back to the present with the “clap clap clap” of castanets. The children are dancing and singing around her…much the same way they did 30 years ago on this very corner. She was much younger then, but her eyes are the same, for she looked up at me, grinned, and smiled as the pistol from behind knocked me to the ground.

Identity Theft

No I don’t mean Identity theft in the traditional manner…where your S.S. number is stolen or your credit card. I mean your identity…who you are, or who you think you are, who you want to be, etc.

When you think about your identity, what comes to mind? For me…and this is not in any particular order, I’m a woman, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and….what else?

I’ve had more than one identity crisis, I mean really when I had kids and wound up with a mini-van, honestly I think I’m still suffering from PTSD…minivan, really?

Religion is an identity I’ve struggled with most of my life. I’ve tried to become a Christian but that would mean I’d have to believe everything in the bible right? Now I will admit that I’m ignorant to all of it’s contents though I studied it as a kid. I do however remember in 8th grade that after going through the whole confirmation process, I decided not to follow through and get confirmed simply because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, I had too many unanswered questions. I loved the church I went to, the people were genuinely good people, accepting me for who I was, the path I was on, but the world to me was so big and vast, and frankly not the safest place to be in spite of the good people around me. I had already begun to feel jaded.

Frankly I think there are some really awful “Christian” people out there, but on the flip side of that you know what…there are some really wonderful, inspiring Christians out there. I actually envy the fact that there are those who have this amazing faith that God exists and that Jesus is their savior. Honestly I envy that as they are truly in love with their faith and really is that so bad?  Whether you believe in it…is that really so bad? I may have my questions about religion and where I truly stand with God and Jesus, but I don’t hate Christians for what they believe in. Now how some Christians choose to practice their faith, well that’s a different story, yes the hypocrisy is rampant but humans are fallible are they not? If God exists, he/she/it is separate from religion for religion is a human function. I for one, claim to be agnostic and some may consider that a cop out, but from where I’m sitting, it’s honest. I do feel something is out there beyond us mere humans, I’m just not entirely convinced that it is what I was taught all those years ago.

I’ve been involved with a Mom’s bible group and I have to say I really love those women, they really are wonderful and have accepted me for who I am, imagine that coming from a bunch of women! The church I have attended has also allowed me to be who I am…allowed me to be on my own path, and has even allowed me to sing, about a God that I have so many questions and have so many reservations about. That’s amazing in my opinion so for those of you who are Christian haters…really take note that your negative experience isn’t necessarily the only thing out there, for I’ve had many negative ones, but so many positive experiences too.

All this being said, I have found that I am unable to go any further in my quest to find out what this awesome thing called religion is like. My brain gets in the way and I’m beginning to feel like that 8th grader again in that if I continue on, singing in the church and attending this bible group, that I’m a hypocrite. I was truly searching and felt connected and have enjoyed all aspects of my experience, but I find myself still unable to get beyond the wall that permeates my mind.

I’ve backed off and really went through a depression thinking, what the hell is the matter with me…why does my brain ALWAYS get in the way of things!! Frankly it really does, I overthink, I’m easily distracted (that’s the ADD), I know I have PTSD symptoms that crop up from time to time that I squelch like the rotten cock roach those memories are. So I beat myself up for not becoming what I feel like I was supposed to become, yet when I finally decided to back off…relief, some anyway, has finally settled in realizing that at least I’m honest with myself and others, and since I’ve stopped walking on the path to Christianity…well I feel I can no longer sing or attend these group meetings for again, I’d feel like a hypocrite. It’s a loss though.

Former identities I’ve had include, but are not limited to, a gymnast, diver, fencer, athletic in general, a pianist, French horn player…musical in general but the latter…the athletic identity, has been stolen and I’m finding it very difficult to reclaim a musical identity. Oh get it over it; why yes, I really need to and it would be so much easier if the proverbial brick stopped hitting me in my face. There are many factors that contribute to my disdain.

I had a reprieve last year, for probably about 6 months and I was beginning to feel like, well maybe I could go back to work, work out again, have more fun, etc. So I began working out again, lightly of course; perhaps I shouldn’t have because the curse reared it’s ugly head and took away the identity I was hoping to reclaim. You see I’ve always been defined by my looks…oh yes this is true and this isn’t about me being vain though some might argue the point…feel free but do not judge lest you walk in my shoes and lived the life I’ve lived.

I was always considered attractive…some would say beautiful which is wonderful and hey, what woman doesn’t want to hear this? I would turn heads, get a whistle…wow all these men want to be with me! But then there’s the other side of that coin; sometimes you become a target.

I remember my gymnastic coach when I was 9; I don’t know for sure if he was “grooming me”, but taking me out to dinner, giving me stuffed animals…well nowadays, I think that’d be considered weird at best. By the way…drunk, adult men should not be whistling at an 11 year old walking home from the wedding you’re all attending. 

I remember when I was 12, walking with my 10 year old friend down the median of a highway, coming home from Jewel when we were almost kidnapped by 2 men in a red pickup truck, we had to run for our lives! I can’t tell you how many times, in broad daylight, in an affluent town, that men in dark blue or black vans would stop and ask me to get in.

In high school, the church hired hand said he was a photographer, wanted to take pictures of me and frankly was creeping all the girls out in our church. Ha! I remember when a contractor in his 40s came to our house, I was 17; he asked my mom’s permission to take me out.

Let’s see if I can sleep with her, lying to her, telling her I love her; I consider that rape by the way…lying to someone so you can sleep with them for they wouldn’t have slept with you otherwise and it leaves, well someone like me, absolutely humiliated and I felt disgusted and degraded. I’ve been sexually assaulted, followed, stalked…the world became an unsafe place for me at a very young age.

I still love hearing that I’m attractive, but it shouldn’t define me or my worth as a human being. Somewhere along the line I started believing that I had to look a certain way to be worthy or even interesting.  You see when my life changed abruptly because my physical health took a dive, well I felt like all I had left were my looks; which really isn’t true and those fade, but this is a battle that I’ve had to fight for quite some time. As an almost 45 year old woman I see the changes in my body and working out, well that just isn’t part of my present or my future anymore, well ok I can swim or walk on a treadmill; something I’ll have to get used to no matter how boring it is. I tried to get back into music as that doesn’t necessarily use age to discriminate…but now I feel I can’t sing at the church for fear of being a hypocrite. You see the tangled web I weave? I was taking violin lessons, and picking it up quickly, but physical symptoms strike again, along with financial concerns so I sacrificed my lessons so my daughter could still have hers, no I’m not looking for an atta girl…her need to develop her identity is more important right now. I am however, in a perpetual state of identity confusion. For me, being a parent is not enough.

Then you have my husband’s migraines…fairly predictable, every 16 days or so unless something triggers it sooner, which restarts the timer for the bomb. These migraines last 2-3 days, keeping him away from work, family, and friends. He suffers terribly and I feel powerless to help him as we’ve tried so many things; it gets exhausting and for us, steals away the person we want to be.

These things are not easy things to fix, nor are they easy to sweep under the rug so you’re in this state of perpetual angst that interferes with the essence of who you are. These things change a person, and you have to fight constantly to retain who you are so you don’t get lost in it all. Don’t pity me or my husband…the fight is tiresome but the battle rages on; we don’t give up but sometimes, sometimes you give in to the awesomeness of it all, feeling like it will never end, stealing who you are and can still be.

The answer that is so easy yet so difficult to apply…is love who you are. This is sound advice and I advise you to take it if you can, even though it continues to be a battle for me. At the very least…I hope you can learn from my experiences. Even though I’m really tired of this, I need to re-invent myself to keep from spiraling down into the abyss. The one thing however I’ve been able to retain through it all, is my love for humanity. I may not be perfect, I may screw up and am still way too jaded, but I’m in love with the idea that this world can become a better place, and I strive to be an asset instead of a detriment to society.

 

 

Reflections and Requited Love

My eyes open at the sound of my son’s door being thrown open and the stomping of little feet racing down the hall, and as cute as he is…the first words out of my mouth before he throws open my door is a quiet but distinctive…”shit.” You see…instantaneously I knew that physically, today was going to be a rough one.

I lay there for the briefest of moments and dread having to get up since my body has decided to revolt against my efforts to work out today. My back hurts, my neck, my legs, feet, ankle…I feel like someone snuck into my room while I slept and siphoned my energy.

He thrusts open my door…”mommy, I need to go potty.” “Ok honey, I will too.”

I get up with a heavy sigh and think…”well at least he’ll want to rest with me and watch a show before having to actually get up and get my daughter ready for school.”

He climbs into bed with me and requests Rescue Bots in his most sweet, loving manner. He snuggles up next to me and tells me “I’m right here next to you.” Already I feel better.

We rest together for about a 1/2 an hour which I adore, and not only because I don’t feel well.

It is now 7 AM and it’s time to wake my daughter. I still dread getting up and walking but I know I have to. My joints groan and creak as I dutifully ignore their efforts at sabotage.

I remind myself to me mindful of the fact that my patience is low when I’m not feeling well. It’s not my children’s fault…they don’t deserve the wrath of my grief, and if anyone gets the wrath, it’s my daughter. This morning I succeed in keeping the mommy monster at bay.

I drive my daughter to school and as she gets out of the minivan, I long for closeness…I would love one of her hugs…for her requited love.

I get to the gym in spite of my body’s continual efforts to block the very thing I seek…strength and perseverance. I know today will be a light workout day but something is better than nothing.

My tread mill experience doesn’t feel as productive as it usually does, as working through back, hip, leg, and foot pain makes it all the more challenging. But I’m pleased none the less as I was seriously considering not working out today…again, as Monday and Tuesday I failed to conquer.

I contemplate lifting weights but decide to listen to my body since not listening to it is a perpetual problem of mine.

So again, with a heavy sigh I submit…I yield to my body’s demands…I go to the mat instead to stretch.

My Legs are outstretched on each side of me…and as I attempt to lean towards my left leg, I’m greeted with that jolt of nerve pain I’m all too familiar with. The pain radiates from my hip to my ankle and leaves me in silent, hidden tears of pain and frustration…feeling defeated yet again. Instead of giving up however I instead take the reins and demand compliance from my body as it screams and attempts to defy me. It’s a good thing I’m more oppositional than my body is today.

As my tears of pain and frustration dry, I continue to push through and persevere…reveling in the fact that at least this time…I’ve won the battle though the war rages on.

Finishing my stretches…I gingerly get up and limp to the door, noticing the other eyes watching me…pity…curiosity? I contemplate the idea that my own defiance may very well wreak havoc for me later.

I get my son from daycare and head towards his swimming lesson.

I feel some nostalgia as I watch him and marvel and at the two wonderful lives given to me to love and cherish.

Both pregnancies for me were incredibly difficult, the last…my son…requiring major surgery a yr. later with a required full year long recovery process; it was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through…and that’s having 6 surgeries prior for varying reasons amongst all my other damages athletics and a stupid driver had inflicted upon me. I’m not a victim though grief is the bane of my existence.

When I look upon my son and my daughter I am filled with an absolute love that surpasses mere human existence…it is infinite and immortal. I will do this…I will conquer my body…my nemesis.

We get home, I go upstairs to change and I look in the mirror at the scars I dare say that adorn my body. I feel wrecked, yet knowing deep down I’m not, then I look at my son, who loves me…scars and all; he fills my love tank daily…requited love.

It’s children we should really learn from…they’re requited love needs to be mirrored in how we love ourselves and others for they will wind up mirroring us.

If only we could love ourselves and one another the way an innocent child does. Why does this have to be considered naive? What if the world changed one day and the hate, bigotry, discrimination, and all the terrible isms disappeared?

My son doesn’t care about who is black, white, brown, etc. he doesn’t care if you’re conservative or a liberal, religious or not, nor does he care about my scars, or the emotional baggage I carry…all he wants is to love and be loved…requited love…it’s what we all need, scars and all.

Silent Sufferings Cont. – Cause I’m worth it and so are you

Why is it that we silently suffer? Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to burden others with our problems when they have their own, or maybe it’s because we’re afraid of rejection due to misunderstandings or fear of the unknown. Perhaps it’s even because we don’t feel that there’s really anyone out there who understands or can help us…it can feel like a very lonely existence.

Depression is one of those sufferings that can either be silent, or loud and proud…it depends on the personality of the individual to be honest.

Depression I find is one of the most selfish disorders out there…really it is and I can say this because I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when I was 16 yrs. old; after a 1 month stay in a Psychiatric Unit due to an intentional overdose of antidepressant pills. Of course that came not long after I wound up in the E.R. at 15 with alcohol poisoning…you see I thought if I didn’t feel then I wouldn’t hurt.

I knew at 10 years old that there was something wrong…I felt like I was imprisoned within my own mind, pondering my existence and the meaning of it. I was always too old for my years…I still am.

Though I’ve come through all that with 10 years of therapy…I still find depression creeping into my existence at times…it’s ugly, black tendrils reaching out towards me, attempting to smother me. It’s always an uphill battle, as if I’m swimming upstream getting nowhere.

The perspective of a depressed person is very skewed, which always helps me bring myself back around though the emptiness I feel never completely escapes me. Their perspective of themselves in particular is truly messed up and really not at all legitimate, though if not careful, we can create what we fear. A depressed person can actually wind up continually being rejected due to their own behavior…how they handle social situations, the paranoia they might have regarding how others view them, etc. You see we often project our own insecurities onto others, assuming they feel about us the way we feel about ourselves…so we act according to those feelings and actually can wind up living out that very fear that can sometimes paralyze a person. A tangled web we weave sometimes.

Depressed people often feel unworthy, not loveable, stupid; they often self deprecate and might even wind up taking out the self loathing feelings they have of themselves onto others, or turn it onto themselves, self mutilating; thankfully something I don’t engage in.

I realize the depression within myself and there are times I feel stupid or say self deprecating things however the one thing I’ve come to realize is that my negative perspective regarding myself is not in fact reality, I also don’t take out my own issues onto others because I know what that will do…it’s a fine line I walk.

Depressed people often feel overwhelmed…so much so that sometimes it can even paralyze them into inaction instead of doing what needs to be done. The big picture gets too big, their brain fragments, and so they wind up avoiding, really only perpetuating the problem. It’s a habit that is truly difficult to break. Small successes are the best focus sometimes…at least you have successes instead of doing nothing.

It can be debilitating, bringing you to your knees, praying to whatever might be out there to give you guidance because you feel you have none. To some…they decide to take their own life…something I tried to do at 16…this is the most selfish act of all.

To the severely depressed, suicidal person…suicide is better than making everybody else around you miserable all the time; I mean since you’re not loveable anyway, no one will miss you, you won’t be a burden anymore. No what it really means is that because you’re unable to cope, you hate yourself, and you can’t stand looking in the mirror…you can’t stand the feelings you have and you want to escape them, so you never have to feel them again. You don’t even think about what you’re leaving behind…what you’re doing to others that do in fact love you. You hate yourself so much that you think no one else could possibly love you…it’s the most selfish, hateful act of all…it’s not the answer and it never will be.

Depression makes it difficult to enjoy the things in life that you used to enjoy; it effects you, your children, you significant other, family, friends, job, etc. etc.

I’ve come to realize…well I’ve realized this for a while actually…that I don’t have the fun that I should be having with my children. I get angry, overwhelmed, I’m triggered by things, and it effects our relationship. So go to counseling you might say…easier said than done. I’ve tried a couple of times and the traumas that wind up triggered rear their ugly head to the point where I feel I might burst and not come back…so I stop and reign myself in; I have more control that way, or so I think anyway. I know I suffer from PTSD…the well I’m afraid may overflow if I pursue counseling; it doesn’t help that by trade I’m a Social Worker so I’m like yeah I know that, and that too blah blah blah blah…no what it really is, is that when it comes to my own mind…I need to have complete control over it and I have a lot of difficulty trusting someone else with it. The wounds are deep and though I thought they were taken care of after 10 years of therapy…they are being triggered again by my 8 yr. old daughter…not because she is troubled like I was, but because I don’t want her to struggle like I did and that fear prompts me to overreact to certain things and it’s very hard to find the balance that I need…for I can in fact create what I fear most…which now…is my daughter suffering like I did.

I have to redirect myself all the time; tell myself over and over “you can do this”…dumbass. Yes I still self deprecate but I know the real deal…I’m not dumb, ugly, fat, or un-loveable…I am worthy of the friendships I have, worthy of the love of my family, etc. Regardless of how I feel at times, I am not a doormat for my children, or anyone else for that matter…I demand and deserve respect, regardless of how I feel about myself sometimes.

So I do my best to act differently than how I feel…how I feel at times that is, because I know that my perspective, is not always a valid one…if paranoia creeps in, well I know what that feels like, I know how I behave because I’ve had to take a long, hard look in the mirror and work to retrain my brain to think and perceive differently. I fail, but I reclaim, fail again, only to reclaim caring about who I am yet again.

I’ve gone through more than one identity crisis…I have felt unsafe in this world; perpetrated against by men in particular, almost being kidnapped when I was 12 years old, followed by men in vans in broad daylight as a teen, sexually used, assaulted…it’s amazing I even married…twice. My first husband was abusive, jealous, accusing, threatening, bullying; I remember telling him that if he ever laid a hand on me, he had better knock my ass out or kill me because if I wake up and he’s still there, I just might kill him. He told me he believed me…there was at least some forethought present.

My 2nd husband is the man I’m supposed to be with…my God is he patient. He doesn’t always know the darkness I feel because I don’t always share it with him, frankly I don’t want to, but he knows I struggle and he’s there by my side loving me as I deserve to be.

He’s not abusive, degrading, demanding, or critical…he’s everything a man should be and I’m blessed he is in my life and actually loves me for who I am. He knows I don’t utterly and completely trust him either…some wounds run deep…he’s the only man aside from my father that I’ve ever been able to trust on a high level.

I would do anything to keep my child from experiencing my traumas…I just have to ensure I don’t create them for her, or for my son for that matter.

For any person struggling with depression…it is absolutely imperative that you learn to accept yourself, your limitations…know your strengths and rejoice in them; everyone is gifted in their own way. When you fail…it doesn’t mean that you’re a complete and utter failure, unworthy of all the good things in life. Be real about your struggles…even if you’re silent about them like I usually am…till now as I write this knowing it will be publicized and fearing what will come from it. If I’m going to write a book about life, then I must be prepared to talk about my life…my past, present, future hopes and dreams.

Remember that it’s ok to make mistakes…but own it and don’t divert attention or manipulate…as painful as it can be to acknowledge that you’ve screwed up, you’re more respected when you admit it and at least attempt to do better.

Never give up on yourself…never! Never let a diagnosis rule your life…I was labeled as gifted, ADD, with anxiety, and major depressive disorder…empower yourself…take back the power so that you’re not giving it over to others who have harmed you in the past. Don’t give them that satisfaction…they say living well is the best revenge; that’s a beautiful thing. All these labels I’ve had…wound up troublesome rather than useful growing up…but now, as an adult…I’m continuing to work to make them useful instead.

I was on antidepressants for 10 years…I got myself off of them and never used them again though there are times I think I may need them; but I continue to pray that I won’t have to, that I can reclaim my identity without medicating myself. I’m always a work in progress…always will be, but I’m worth it…yes I am….and so are you.

The Plight of the Square Peg (RANT)

I think it’s a shame that children have to go through school in such a “systematic” way with standardized tests that frankly only show learning potential for a percentage of the population. If you only knew me by my tests scores in high school…you would have thought I was an idiot! I’m not a genius…but I’m no idiot.

It just seems there’s always this pervasive need for our society to try and place a “square peg” into a “round” hole and if you can’t make it fit, then force it to conform.

Social rules and rules in general are necessary…they exist because of some negative experience that perpetuated a need for change. (The example I always gave the kids at the high school I worked at was, “be angry at the kids who put Absolute Vodka in their water bottle, got drunk, and did something stupid instead of being angry at the school”)…epiphany achieved!

Rules are valid and necessary but the U.S. school system in general is too focused on test scores, sit, sit, sit, stand in line (yes they need to learn patience I realize this), etc…however there’s no room for creativity anymore. It’s not what the real world is like on a day to day basis.

Example 1:Take a gifted child who is easily bored in high school, hardly attends, never does any homework, and only comes in for the “tests” and aces them all. Obviously teachers wind up fed up with this student. The Guidance Counselor continually reminds this student he/she is not achieving to his/her potential and at one point tells this student that he/she will probably fail in life and wind up in jail. Nice huh? (Yes I know someone this happened to).

This student’s Geography class had to write a paper…the teacher afforded said student the opportunity to write a paper on the geographical area of choice instead of having to conform…for once this student happily did it and aced it.

Not only is the educational system being systematically destroyed in my opinion, I mean really…$$ is continually taken away, teachers losing their jobs…getting out of the profession altogether because of the constraints put upon them…let’s dumb down our society so they don’t talk so much. We have become complacent and we let the world go by without smelling the flowers.

I used to marvel at how my daughter, when she was very young, would stare, and study a painting…she took in all the beautiful colors and I guess that’s probably why if you ask her today, at almost 8 yrs. old what her favorite color is…she’ll tell you all of them.

For some kids the ability to create and have some freedom of thought and action is more necessary for them to thrive than others.

My piano teachers said I was musically gifted and pushed for greatness. (Enter sarcasm) But don’t allow her to be creative…it’s a “Bach” piece and this is how BACH played it so you have to play it like he did. Learn those scales…it bored me to tears! Ok…so I didn’t like being told what to do…but honestly I felt like I had no will or choices of my own. Music is about expression and I wanted to play it how I wanted to play it. Sorry if this sounds disrespectful but at 8 yrs. old I didn’t give a rats ass how Bach played it…I wasn’t Bach nor was I trying to be.

Now…at 44 yrs. old, my almost 8 yr. old daughter loves listening to the classical music I seemed to love to hate at her age…now I’m finding that I’m enjoying her love in spite of myself, realizing that my regret in withdrawing from the music world runs deep; I’m now searching for ways to return.

A person’s identity unfortunately is often paired up with whatever label they have and a lot of assumptions are made by those not well educated in the subject.

I’m not a conformist (can you tell?)…don’t get me wrong…I’m not against social rules or rules in general that are reasonable and valid. Conforming is a necessary evil in certain areas of our lives…but it just seems that our nation is squelching our ability to be free, creative thinkers. This is not about democratic vs. republican either…there are plenty of morons on both sides of the fence to systematically destroy the educational system.

Many teachers out there do think outside the box and I truly appreciate you, so thank you for that! My daughter being in school definitely triggers my own stuff, but I think she thinks a lot like I do because in Kindergarten she said this: “I am never going to grow up, adults are boring.” I asked her why and she said. “I like who I am, I’m never going to change.” I asked who was trying to change her…and she said, “Everyone!” I will NEVER forget that!

Standardized testing only provides the learning potential of a small percentage of the total population. The rest of us are screwed because it is impossible for a teacher to teach to every style of learning out there. Modifications have to be implemented but they don’t have the resources to do all of that…so it’s one way or the highway…so you’re forced to learn in a style that ISN’T conducive to reaching your “potential” and then you’re tested on it. This promotes a sense of failure, a lack of self-esteem and certainly doesn’t help kids reach their potential. And after all that…I’m going to sit here and tell you that test scores are important for it is the easiest way to determine what a child has learned and how they’ve progressed; test scores also determine which college you go to and how people wind up perceiving you in spite of your true intellectual ability.

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The Bickersons, their “isms”, and I’ll love them forever…even when I’m angry.

There are so many “isms” in the world…racism, sexism, ageism, mannerisms, and so on…but what about child-isms?

On Facebook I began writing down all the wonderful, funny “isms” that my children say because it’s just so entertaining!

I have 2 wonderful, bright, and very precocious children. No one would ever dare say they are shy though but once in a while. No, my children are loud and proud and…did I say loud?

My kids are petite but my daughter, who is about the smallest in her now 3rd grade class, is the loudest kid…I mean seriously, she could raise the dead!

IMG_4526My daughter didn’t speak till after 2 1/2 though I swear at 10 months I heard “Mama and airplane” however I was never positive and she did not speak those words again, not for a while anyway. Now every parent longs to hear their child speak their first word. Typically a child’s first words will be Mommy or Daddy, etc., but no…what was one of my daughter’s first words closing in on 3 yrs. old, after 10 months of speech therapy? “Octagon.” Yes…octagon; we were at a friend’s house, she looked up at the ceiling at an 8 sided light, pointed, and said it. Since then, we are lucky if she takes a breath during a 40 minute car ride, and that’s no joke! My husband and I will give each other that knowing look of…”we love our daughter dearly but dear GOD, can’t she just be quiet…for a minute?” Then we smile and come to the realization at the same time that we would much rather her be a chatter-box than withdraw and clam up…so I hope she never shuts up!

IMG_4825Now our son is 4 years younger and we knew from the get go that he was either going to wind up being passive and not get a word in edgewise, or was going to have to become very assertive to be heard. So yep…now we have two loud and proud children who vie for control over each other, the games they play, and even the conversation they’re trying to have with me; there are times I want to pull my hair out or shove a pencil in my ear so that I will no longer hear their incessant bickering over the most menial things…well menial to me anyway for I’m not in the position of trying to find my place in the family, or attempting to find some semblance of independence.

My daughter, being first born, is the one who of course prompted me to start writing about child-isms. One of my favorite “isms” of hers is when she was 5 years old. She was very proud of her new gym shoes because they were flashy and colorful! We were in the checkout line at the Walgreens and being the shy gal that she is…she said to the nice lady, “See my new gym shoes? Aren’t they stupendous?” If you’ve ever read the books from Beverley Cleary regarding “Ramona”…well have you met my daughter?

YOU DRIVE ME NUTS!

Parents are here to drive their kids nuts…at least that’s what our children think. But if you ponder for a moment how often we use the words no…not right now…quiet please…shhh…etc., I guess I can see why kids think we’re there to make their lives miserable at times. However there are moments when you just have to laugh about it, particularly when the conversation with Ramona, I mean my 5 yr. old daughter, goes like this:

Monster girl

Me – “What’s wrong?”
-G- “I’m mad.”
Me – “Why?”
-G- “Because you’re always right!”
Me – laughs a hearty laugh as I raise my hands in the air and state with exhilaration…”SHE FINALLY GETS IT!”

Yes this really did happen by the way!

Admittedly we’re always telling them to do this, or that, or don’t do this or that…there are loads of “no’s” and we’re always trying to redirect their behavior in hopes to raise them to be happy, well adjusted, successful adults…but often they don’t see it that way, they’re looking through their “kid goggles” and their perspective regarding control might wind up like this:

Me- “Do you want kids one day?”
-G- “Yes”, (pause) yes really she was quiet! “And I’ll be the boss of them right?”
Me- “Yes dear you will be the boss of them.”
-G- “I’m the boss of -J-”
Me- “No Mommy and Daddy are the boss of -J-“…she pauses again…contain yourselves!
-G- “I’m the boss of my stuffed animals!”
Me- “Yes honey, you are the boss of your stuffed animals.” She still has yet to figure out that she’s not the boss of -J- by the way.

Or perhaps their perspective on growing up is this:

-G- “Mommy I’m never going to grow up…grownups are boring…I like who I am and I’m never going to change.”
Me: “Who is trying to change you?”
-G- “Everyone!”

This in particular disturbed me coming out of my 5 yr. old’s mouth for if you think about it…what must be going through her mind on a daily basis in regards to the message she’s receiving from those that love her? I’ve questioned myself often in how I approach discipline in that I talk her to death at times though I don’t mean to. I try so hard to get her to understand the reasons behind things so that life won’t seem so confusing but am I doing more harm than good? It’s an answer I’m not likely going to find as soon as I’d like.

MONEY GROWS ON…

It’s funny too how children view money through their goggles. I recall a quick and funny conversation between one of our favorite waitresses at Denny’s and my daughter. -G- just goes in there as if she owns the place, picks out her own crayons, grabs the coloring paper/menu and waits patiently to be seated. Folks that run and work at the restaurants we frequent know -G- whereas my husband and I are lucky if they remember our name! I won’t even mention the sour looks we get if we actually wind up going in there without them while they’re spending the night at Grammy and Grandpa’s house.

Waitress – “-G-, do you have any money?”
-G- “My Grammy!”

Or let’s travel into the future almost 3 years later where my daughter spontaneously decided to carry a bunch of laundry up the stairs which I felt was very kind and from her heart.

Me- “Wow Thank you, you’re awesome!”
-G- “I did this all by myself…for free, you don’t have to pay me.”
Me- (Pause) “Well that’s very thoughtful if you.”
I finish reading with her and am about to leave so she can go to sleep and my little Ramona says this:
-G- “You can pay me tomorrow if you want to.”

Thoughtful endeavor trumped by greed! Not gettin a dime for that one dear!

THE FACTS OF LIFE

I find it intriguing and entertaining how they perceive conception and caring for infants before they hear about the “Birds and the Bees.”  You see my daughter is offended that she can’t marry her brother…so therefor she re-inserts him into her story like this:

-G- “Well then -J- can be my helper and take me to the hospital.”
Me- “Take you to the hospital why?”
-G- “To get the babies…I’ll meet the father there!”

You won’t be surprised either to hear a year or so later something completely different:

-G- “Mom, I’m not going to have any babies, I don’t want to have to change their diaper (pause)…but I’ll be working anyway as a candy maker and you’ll probably be home, so you can help me change the diaper.”

I believe it’s absolutely imperative that we tell our children the “facts of life” before they hear it from their friends but I am SO not ready to talk about the birds and the bees yet!

OBSESSIONS:

Grace's Clean up the Earth sign

Kids will often have their obsessions and that’s typical…my daughter has a plethora of interests, I dare say she’s eclectic in her tastes, however one thing has remained the same, and that is her love for the earth and her trees. Yes…my girl is a tree hugger and I’m proud of it! She had just turned 6 yrs. old and as we were driving down the road we noticed some trees that had white tape wrapped around them and she says…”Mom they’re trying to make us think those are birch trees but they’re not!” I had to laugh and I’m like…I didn’t know you knew anything about trees! Another cool “ism” that same year: …”Trees need carbon dioxide to live and give off oxygen so we can live.”

Now for someone who appears to love nature so much, she sure isn’t keen on the idea of camping: “Mom, I want to camp near home so I don’t have to pee in the grass!”

THE APPLE(S) AND THE TREE

Messy Me!

I find it funny that even though 2 kids grow up in the same family, they can still be so vastly different! I joke that my daughter, being the “apple”…instead of not falling far from the tree, she didn’t fall at all! My 2 kids however, while having their differences, are indeed similar in so many ways. I suppose having their birthdays 2 days apart didn’t help? Our son has his own obsession at almost 4 years of age…it’s been going on for the better part of a year now, sometimes it makes you wonder if it’ll ever end! Yes…it’s the butt syndrome…anything and everything that has to do with his butt makes him giggle, antagonize, and he really just winds up becoming incredibly annoying yet funny at the same time. Here’s an example of The Bickersons in action:

-J- “-G-…”
-G- “What…”
-J- “I tooted!” (Laughs)
-G- “No you didn’t, I didn’t hear it.”
-J- “Yes I did!”
-G- “Well I didn’t hear it!” (-J- pauses and appears to ponder)
-J- “G-”
-G- “What?!”
-J- “Listen to my butt!”

He totally deadpanned this and I about drove off the road!

MINI-ME…or NOT:

If you don’t have kids already, you will find that sometimes they want to be just like you…and sometimes they want to be the antithesis of you. Again she’s 6 yrs. old and we’re at the Walgreens in the hair color section and she says, “Mom, when I’m a grownup I’m going to color my hair different than yours, and you will think my hair is strange.”

Somehow I don’t doubt this, “Ramona.”

I LOVE YOU – I HATE YOU

It’s easy to forget how much your children need you at times, particularly when you feel like they might even hate you, or perhaps even say it! It’s difficult to know what their need actually is because what you think they need, may be very different than what they actually need. Here is an example:

We laid in bed together and chatted a bit before going to sleep. She likes to tell me her dreams, or make up stories about her favorite characters. I was leaving to let her sleep and this occurs:

Me: “Night honey…time for bed.”
-G- “No…you can’t leave, I’m never letting you go!” (Grabs onto me trying to keep me from leaving).
Me: “I love you I will see you in the morning.”
I leave thinking she was joking around since it seemed that way. I go into -J’s-‘ room to say goodnight and return to -G’s- and I say, “Goodnight snuggle bunny!”…she’s quiet and I walk in to find her crying.
-G- “I cry every night when you leave because I miss you.”

This made me cry, for there are those moments when they act like they could care less about you, when actually they might be trying to tell you something completely different. I’m glad I went back in.

Walking together at Arboretum

Though kids can say the sweetest things, they can also turn around later and completely obliterate it leaving you with the feeling that your heart has been ripped out of your chest. It’s hard not to take things personally sometimes, even though you know that they’re learning to express themselves and comprehend the world around them. Their words can sting more than anything in this world for they are growing, developing their own mind, their own ideas and ideals, and finding their own path…therefor they need to gain independence and as hard as it is to let go…the time will come when you have to lest you destroy that relationship. So I try to remember the sweetness, and though I also remember the stings, there is a deep meaning behind them and it would do a parent well to remember that.

SWEET SORROW

-G- at 5 yrs. old- “Daddy you’re married to Mommy right?”
Daddy – “Yes, I found the most wonderful woman and married her.”
-G-“When I’m a grown up, I’m going to marry you because you’re wonderful, and -J- will marry Mommy because she’s wonderful too.”

-G- at  7 yrs. of age: “Mom I’m not going to marry anyone, I’m not even going to show up. I’ll just have the baby at home with you and you can help me take care of it.”

Umm…really? I had to laugh!

Or they’ll say something sweet like…”Mom I’m never leaving you or this house…I’m going to stay here forever!” Though the staying here forever is not in the plan but it’s cute none the less.

And then a year later you might get…”Mom I’m going to leave and go to my new home 3 days after I become a grown up.” (There’s that sting; I remember when she said that…she had been mad at me and that was her way of telling me that there was a problem. Kind of like when she was 4 and we were playing with her dollhouse and she kept locking the mommy out. I can’t imagine what she was trying to tell me there.

One of the biggest stings was when she stopped wanting me to sing to her. Sometimes I will still ask if she wants a song, but she always says no. I remember when she was just 5 months old, in her exersaucer, and I decided to sing the alphabet. She stopped and stared at me with such awe and adoration, so from then on as an infant I would sing to her and it would be her pacifier; she no longer wanted it by the age of 5. My son is almost 4 now…I wonder when he’ll want me to stop singing.

Mommy & James snugglingMy son, when he wakes up in the morning, will always come into my bedroom to “sleep with me”, which really just means lay with me in bed, snuggle, and watch a cartoon. If he comes in too late and we have to get up to get -G- ready for school or something, he will cry and say…”I just want to sweep with you!” I wind up getting irritated by these tears when they continue for too long, mostly out of guilt along with some irritability due to my ears about to bleed because of his incessant whining…and though I’ve said to him, “I have no control over time”… in reality, my heart breaks that I don’t and that I can’t stop time.

-J- is my little love bug…he loves to cuddle up on the couch with me as we watch “Octonauts” for the umpteenth time, and I love it. So even though there are times that we can’t “sweep” together, and my ears want to bleed because of incessant whining…my heart aches and breaks knowing that this too will end one day.

Our kids’ endearing behavior can simply melt your heart…this past year, at 7 years old, about to turn 8, I admitted to my daughter one of my greatest regrets in life. Due to my own insecurities and fear I turned down an opportunity to play the French Horn in a professional orchestra, and I never did continue on with the piano when I should have. You see my daughter is becoming anxious about performing in front of others though you would never have thought this given her “isms” above. Children change and change can be scary because it’s just not like her…she reminds me of me, which scares me for I’ve had experiences that I need to keep her free from…so I shared my regret with her and this was her sweet response: “Mommy I’ll teach you the violin and we’ll have our own orchestra since you never had a chance to.”

We should always keep their sweet words in our minds and in our hearts…even if it’s just something as simple as my son saying…”Mommy you’re a good singer, but daddy isn’t”…which made me laugh, feel bad for daddy, yet also made my heart sing.

Grr...grr!

We should tell our children we love them for at any time our world can change drastically. Even though we may tell them often how much we love them…sometimes our actions and even words can confuse them and actually make them second guess you. There’s no question that as stated above, I talk too much “at” my kids…I’ve always struggled with talking at their age level…as a clinical social worker I work best with teenagers and adults and though you can’t “therapize” your own children…my nature is to be descriptive, practical, and realistic…to a fault. I see my daughter in particular using my own words and rationale now, attempting to think ahead, etc. which is good and well not so good sometimes, but she’s still talking thank God. I always tell them that even when I’m mad, I always love them and even I make mistakes…mistakes that they shouldn’t copy for just because I do it, it doesn’t always make it a good idea, and I continue to try and yell less and love more but my little “Ramona”, and the male version of “Ramona” drive me bonkers with their strong will, sassy mouth, and their love for antagonizing. I remember asking my daughter when she was 4 if she liked making me mad…her response was this: “Sometimes…just not this much.”

I love my children…even when I’m angry.

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Silent Sufferings

Silent Sufferings

There are a plethora of disorders and diseases that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. People are very visual…myself included…and it’s really hard to fathom chronic pain or illness unless it smacks you in the face by your own unfortunate experience or unless you see someone you care about suffer through it.

I know a guy who admitted not too long ago that he used to roll his eyes and think “get over it” when someone complained from a migraine. Well as he put it…karma has come back to bite him in the ass…hard.

On that note…I’ll start with his migraines as they were described to me. This is a wonderful family man…one who handles his family’s imperfections with grace and kindness. That being said…like any person he has his failings…please refer to the eye rolling, get over it statement above.

Here is a day in a life while having one of his migraines. Day 1…he feels it coming on, he must leave from work because he will start slurring his words, become forgetful, mix words around…driving home would be dangerous with a full blown migraine.

He gets home…as it progresses, so does the disorientation. Often one or both eyes is/are “blown out”, or in other words, very red. His full blown migraine status is as follows: He throws up continually, unable to keep down food or water, lays in bed, almost unresponsive…cannot tolerate light or sound; must be in dark room. His migraines last anywhere from 2-4 days. As his migraine progresses…he refers to a line crossing his vision…I’ve never experienced this line though I have experienced a debilitating migraine where I envisioned a white aura around a student I was trying to have a discussion with while working as a high school social worker….but I digress.

As the migraine progresses to where he is fit for society again…instead of throwing up…well frankly it comes out the other end. Why am I being descriptive about his migraines…because many people cannot identify with what it’s like unless they’ve experienced it themselves or have seen someone else experience it. It’s a silent suffering…it’s information that people seriously need to know about and understand to the best of their capability. No pity party is needed for silent sufferers…compassion people…just compassion. When the migraine is gone…he goes back to work and family life as normal…sort of because the imminent doom of another migraine is always on the horizon. He doesn’t look like he suffers in his life…no one would know.

During all this I have yet to mention how his migraines impact his children as well as his wfie. “Shhhh guys…daddy’s not feeling well.” “Shhh! Daddy’s not feeling well.” “Stop it!” (In a loud wisper), Daddy has a headache! This goes on and on…shushing the children constantly…they can’t play upstairs in their rooms…thankfully he and his family have a basement, or if possible his wife goes on a playdate to get them and her out of the house. She puts them to bed…they don’t get the luxury of having daddy read them a story or kiss them goodnight. So when the Mom and her son are out and about, then they go pick up her daughter and drive home…if they see daddy’s car in the driveway…they say, “Daddy’s not feeling well again.” He misses out on time with his kids and with his wife, he misses out on parties, misses out on his life.

When I was 16 I about obliterated my ankle while performing an aerial on the balance beam…I would’ve been fine however my right foot fell in between 2 mats; they were just far enough apart for it to fit through…my body twisted but my foot stayed stationary. I wound up with the tip of the fibula broken off (wired back on), bone fragments in my foot and ankle joint, the ligaments torn off (sewn back on), and 95% of my cartilage gone. They didn’t think I would walk normally ever again. Within a yr. I had to have a 2nd surgery to take the wires out because they were tearing into the flesh. Within a year of that, my 3rd surgery was because of a neuroma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_neuroma). They took out 3 severed nerves 5 grams of scar tissue.

Within a few years of that…the 4th surgery was a result from all the trauma associated with the initial injurty and consecutive surgeries. I had bone spurs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_spurs), and debris floating around so they took care of that along with trimming the overgrown cartilage. Thankfully I have not had to have a 5th surgery though I still have problems with it, I’m grateful that I can even walk.

I fratured my L5 in my lower back due to consecutive injuries from gymnastics and frankly my parents and I believe I had a stress fracture initially and that a Chiropracter finished the fracture for me. This is not to say that Chiroprators are bad…this was just a bad experience. I went to college (undergraduate) with a plastic back brace formed to fit my body. Since then I’ve had SI joint problems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_joint) that prohibit me from walking long distances and sitting nowadays is an issue…I’m not quite sure yet if it’s my SI joint or the tailbone itself…but anyway I digress again. I went through undergraduate college and my social work, Masters program and though I was limited I was still able to do physical activities such as fencing, kumdo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumdo)…I’ve had many people ask me what it is…lifting weights, dancing, etc.

At 32 I married my wonderful husband and we had fun doing 2 handed sword sparring. At 35 I had the unfortunate experience of being in a car crash…one that if centered a little more into the “head on” position…probably would’ve taken my life. We lived in Sycamore, IL…not a real big town but up and coming. We had 2 lane highways as a means of getting somewhere, and I was driving home on May 13th…yes Friday the 13th…from my job as a high school social worker when I got hit. An elderly woman was driving her husband home from a Dr. appt. in a terrible storm. It was so bad I had to look to my right and keep an eye on the white line so I could stay centered in my lane. Thankfully I noticed her soon enough and avoided a complete head on collision at 50 mph…equaling 100 when two cars are traveling that fast, assuming she was that is. She hit me, a pickup truck almost hit me in the oncoming lane as I spun to the other side of the highway.

Interestingly enough…and I will refer back to my prior note regarding “Human Nature vs. Nurture…the man that almost hit me was an off duty police officer and the woman behind me was an EMT going to work…I’m still intrigued and fascinated at the mere thought of the accident as I am continually amazed that it was that those two individuals who were right there to witness the accident, at that time. Coincidence…maybe, but the idea of fate is not lost. They had to use the jaws of life to get me out of the car. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaws_of_life), in case you’ve never heard of it.

The CT scans and xrays did not show anything major but the pain in my ribs indicated a fracture. My husband and I had been trying for 2 1/2 yrs. to have a child to no avail…we were about to go for infertility testing when I did finally become pregnant…4 mos. after the car accident. I had not fully healed yet as I was in and out of physical therapy due to continual pain so the pregnancy was difficult but I was so grateful for it. I was able to work all the way through the rest of the school year, giving birth to my beautiful daughter on June 20th. via c-section due to my back issues.

From then on…my physical state degenerated…I started having problems with my neck and back, and I had also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia). I didn’t want to believe it then, and still don’t…perhaps it’s true, however I have a lot of physical injuries that would warrant that kind of pain…but regardless…Fibromyalgia is one of those invisible problems people suffer from that others don’t understand…including doctors. Many get the patronizing responses from doctors simply trying to placate them so they’ll be quiet and go away. Others without chornic pain issues sometimes get frustrated and withdrawl because they don’t know how to handle where the person suffering is at in their emotional state. If you’re not careful…chronic illness/pain can not only debilitate you on a physical level…but an emotional one.

I had my son, also in June via c-section, 4 yrs. after my daughter was born…that pregnancy was the most difficult, and I wound up debilitated enough that I couldn’t function at my job…it’s like my body went haywire…I’ve referred to it as an electrical circuit malfunction. I had to quit a job I had for only 6 months.. which was a humiliating experience and the bitch…um…boss I had at the time, had no compassion whatsoever regarding my condition. After the birth of my son, I wound up with 2 large, complex hernias that required surgery and a mesh implant was placed in my abdomin to keep my intestines from falling out. I have to say…that this surgery, was probably the most painful surgery I have ever experienced…no wonder they give it a year to fully heal! I still have some pain now 3 years after the surgery…I thought perhaps that it was another neuroma since it reminds me of the pain I had in my ankle after the 2nd surgery, however my Dr. said that scar tissue continues to form around the mesh implant and that this can cause pain as a result…but there’s nothing that can be done about it…so whatever pain I get from the implant is mine to keep…I’ve heard and read of this before so I wasn’t surprised…admittedly, it is not the worst pain I’ve felt…it comes and goes. The surgery (my 7th now overall), was medically necessary I was told, and though it was horrible…I’m glad they did it as it saved me from a much worse fate.

My physical issues after the birth of my son, and the yr. later abominal surgery had finally progressed enough that I decided to go back to the orthopedic surgeon that did my 3rd surgery on my ankle and diagnosed the fracture in my back years ago. He gave me news I didn’t care to hear though he validated my claims of pain. I was diagnosed with 4 herniated discs in my neck (probably from the car crash), and degenerative disc disease in both my back and neck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerative_disc_disease). I still have a diagnoses of Fibromyalgia.

When I go out I try to look my best…I don’t want to look like the “bag lady”. I always say that if I’m going to feel bad…I might as well look good doing it; it also helps my self esteem frankly, which is something I could use more of…but that’s another story for another time.

My kids want to play with me…they want to spend time with me, have fun. I’ve forgotten how to have fun with my kids…no joke. Chronic pain changes a person, it can make you fatigued, cranky, have issues with sleep, depression, anxiety, etc. It’s a constant battle within yourself to rise above it and claim who you are again.

There are times that I don’t go out…I used to cancel, sometimes on the day of the event, not giving any explanation because I was afraid of judgment from my friends as all too often I’ve received that questioning look of…is all this for real? Frankly I don’t look like I have any problems…thank GOD! But it’s a no win situation…if you don’t look like you have any issues…the expectations from others might be greater than what you can achieve, and if it’s obvious that you’re suffering, then you get pity, pity is different from compassion…or some might refer to you as being overly dramatic which brings on a whole new set of personal and social problems. It’s hard to find a balance between admitting what’s going on, not sounding too dramatic about it, wanting compassion but not pity…allowing friends/family to help you without your pride being injured because let’s face it…being a gymnast for 10 years, a diver, fencer, involved in kumdo, 2 handed sword sparring, weight lifting, etc., well need I say more?

Chronic illiness and/or pain is often associated with depression and anxiety for those who suffer from it. You have to be careful because it can make or break you…it can make you stronger emotionally…or more debilitated and I’m not going to use the term “weak” because those I’ve worked with who wound up in the psychiatric unit because of their pain…aren’t weak…there may be other factors and work within their psyche but they’re not weak.

You also have to be careful with medications…because you can become dependent on and addicted to them…which can also debilitate you and cause psychiatric problems. But then you also have to be careful not to allow your body to get into a cycle of pain that’s hard to break, so sometimes medication is necessary…it’s a hard balance to find. I hardly use medication because, well frankly I’m afraid to become dependent on or addicted though I don’t have an addictive personality. I sometimes use what my Orthopedic surgeon provided me with to help bring down inflammation, but not very often.

The grief surrounding my loss of my physical ability is exponentially worse than anyone realizes. No pity party needed…it’s just a fact and a couple of years ago I decided to talk a bit about what was going on with me because I sensed that people were wondering why I was canceling last minute sometimes, etc. So I decided to take a big risk…big risk for me anyway…and come out with it. Thankfully I found integral friends that allow me the luxury of not feeling well and forgive me for canceling. They don’t pity me or give me that look of “really?”

Chronic illness or pain is invisible because unless you have some outwardly visible item such as a wheelchair (not me thankfully), or a cane (thankfully I don’t have to use that either though I have had to in the past), no one would know…which is fine…till it’s not fine and either you start making excuses for canceling things or just not attending or decide to finally suck it up and risk telling someone.

I want to write more about silent sufferers…people who have conditions that no one can see or usually fathom without their unfortunate own experience or experience through someone else. This is a start in getting others to know about it. There are those whom you should be wary of admittedly due to a non medicated mental/personality disorder, which is a blog for another time, but overall…try to find your compassion for them before judging them.

Compassion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion

Pity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pity

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Human Nature vs. Nurture

Human Nature vs. Nurture

What I realize…is that people have different ideas, feelings, attitudes, etc. about religion, LGBT matters, abortion, and everything else under the sun.

What I don’t understand…is how volatile people sometimes get when promoting their thoughts and feelings about the matter, particularly regarding religious and political issues…which sometimes overlap.

Some who profess to be Christian for example…have admittedly done deplorable (my new fancy word) things…and have basically shown what many feel is the antithesis of what Christianity should be about by bashing others they refer to as those “damn Atheists”, or those within the LGBT community, etc., thereby giving Christians of good character…a bad rap. That being said…those who have been crucified by said Christians (the deplorable ones), go around crucifying Christians in general and behave in the exact way they feel they were treated…thereby turning into the very thing they despise.

I think unwavering faith is a beatiful thing actually and I envy it…I have seen people at such peace and I long for it. There are wonderful, God loving Christians out there who don’t deserve the wrath of those who have had the unfortunate experience of being thumped to death…who actually do behave the way they say Jesus did…to the best of their ability since no human can aver attain a godlike status.

Many people have the idea that since God forgives me it doesn’t matter what I do…whether God exists or not…it does matter becase there are consequences that come with our actions…God induced or not. We can’t control everything that happens to us..but we can control what we do and how we respond…but that’s also another story for another time because we’re not all brought up the same way therefor what we’re taught isn’t exactly the same either.

Now I was one of those people who have been doused with the bible thumper’s version of humanity…think the way I do or suffer the wrath of God and burn in hell. Ok that doesn’t go over well and often turns one away from whatever God it is that you’re praying to.

What has helped me in regards to religion…is separating God from religion since religion is a human function…humans are fallible and therefor screw it up quite frequently. That being said…in the past, I often referred to myself as “agnostic.” Many have assumed that to be a cop out however I always thought of it as I’m human therefor who am I to say what does or doesn’t exist? I’ve always hoped there was a God…but not the God many taught me about…an unkind, unloving God who wasn’t very forgiving, but we forget…that’s a human failing…not a God one. Interesting to note however I remind myself of the question…why would God create such fallible humans…what is it we’re supposed to learn? If God is so “disappointed”, then did God make a mistake…but is God not perfect?

I don’t know what I’d call myself today…I’ve had many experiences that have definitely brought me closer to God…separating God from religion has definitely helped, singing in my church has really helped…and believe it or not…my experiences with the paranomal have brought me closer…think what you will. I’ve been allowd to walk my own path via the Church and the women’s group I’m in and I am eternally grateful for that. For a long time I was challenging the fact that humanity even existed.

I long to have the experience others have had however…that “aha” moment…but even if I did…I don’t think it would change how I feel about people who don’t believe, or are somewhere in between; if there’s a heaven…it isn’t exclusive in my opinion. God supposedly created us in his own image…creating us in this way, born out of sin…God had to know “what” he was creating, that there would be questions, those who believe and who don’t. Nothing should be a surprise I guess is what I’m getting to.

We often over humanize God in my opinion…thinking of him like a father figure which is fine, however God is not human. Humans profess to know what God does or doesn’t want…I suppose I’m like any of them in that I have my own ideas about God. I don’t think God’s grace is exclusive to those who believe since we were all supposedly created by him. Maybe in the end we all get a clue about the real deal and choose to go with him or not…I don’t know since I have yet to experience that kind of thing…though I’ve been close to death. A psychic in a facebook group I’m in once said to me she saw me close to death at one time…I was intrigued as she was right…she had a 50/50 chance…but she was right.

People think they have the answer to everything…we’re brought up with the values our family instilled in us and as adults we either adhere to that and continue on thinking the same way or we somehow come into a new way of knowing…usually based on some experience that provides an epiphany of sorts.

People tend to lump a “group” of people into a category…all Christians are “those bible thumping Christians”, or all Atheists are “those damn Atheists”, or “Those gay people”, etc. etc. We put people into a box and assume they’re all alike. Everybody “bashes” everybody and it becomes a 3 ring circus or something worthy of a Jerry Springer show.

I had a wonderful conversation with a friend today…and she and I don’t see eye to eye all the time, particularly about religion, and you know what…that’s ok with me, and it’s ok with her too. When you seek out connections with other people…instead of lumping them into a category based on the fact that they either don’t have the same opinion as you do, or don’t go to church, or they do, or they’re gay, bi, etc…why not look into what type of person they are…their character so to speak. You can only do that by actually getting to know them on a deeper level, which of course you can’t do with everyone but if you’re finding a connection with someone…try not to let your own negative experiences dictate the value and worth of the other person.

Whether you believe in a God or not…what type of person do you want people to see you as? How is it that you would like to be treated? We all have the right to our own opinion…can we express it without trashing or devalueing another?

I will say as I sit here…after a morning of singing in my church…that every time I attend, which is not every week by the way, I get a feeling of comfort I think due to the fact that I’ve been allowed to walk my own path yet am still able to sing, have insightful, thoughtful discussions with others about religion and spirituality without the feeling that they’re praying for my soul so it’s not damned to hell.

Everyone has an amazing story to tell…do you know your friend’s story? Don’t think that what you see is all there is…the term judging by a book’s cover is there for a reason.

Regrets

Microphone MusicWhen you look back on your life…I’m sure many of us can agree that we have regrets. Regrets about past relationships, past choices, past whatever. Some of my own past that makes me cringe are mostly experiences I can come away with what I would call, a higher level of wisdom. There’s usually something to be learned…even if it’s not smacking you in the face right at that moment.

One of my biggest regrets in life is not furthering my musical interests. I was labeled gifted in both music and athletics, (http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/characteristics.htm), which can mean a lot of things, but I never understood what that meant as a kid…for it really didn’t mean much to me…until I had kids however…but that’s another story.

Labels can be helpful…but they can also be harmful. We need labels to identify something, to hopefully better understand it and if it’s a problem we’re labeling…the hope is to find ways to help either alleviate or at least diminish the issue. However labels can also be problematic…for when others find out about “your label”…sometimes it’s all they see and make that label a person’s identity, which is a big mistake for there are many facets to our lives that make us who we are.

With a label like “gifted”, there comes an expectation…an expectation to perform because there’s an area of your life, whether it be academics, music, athletics, art, etc. where you seem to excel beyond the norm. Some children rise to the challenge…others work against it. What makes a person thrive and rise to the challenge whereas another will turn away form it? It’s hard to say, there are a lot of factors that can contribue to the desire to succeed or the lack thereof.

Parents love to see their children excel at something…they’re proud of them, and frankly they want to show it off…understandably so…I mean what parent wouldn’t want to show off their kid when they and others are amazed at their ability? But that comes from a parent’s perspective…it’s really easy to forget about the child’s perspective because that perspective is certiainly not your own. Children don’t see the world through their parent’s eyes, they have their “kid goggles” on…they haven’t had our experiences, our successes, failure, etc. So often children need to experience their own successes and failures to grow as individuals…even though we try to save them from as many heartaches as we can.

But what happens when being proud and wanting to show off your child’s gift, appears to be detrimental to the child? It’s hard as a parent to decipher what the problem is because in our eyes…all we see is how wonderful our child’s gift is…we love watching them perform these gifts, and simply want to share it with the world…so what could be wrong with that?

From the child’s perspective, well for me anyway…unfortunately I was…well…let’s say a little stubborn; ok let’s say A LOT stubborn! For me it felt like I was a puppet with no will of my own. People wanted to mold me into who they wanted me to be and I had no say in it whatsoever, and that didn’t sit well with me and I fought it tooth and nail. As an adult, I understand a lot more about what they were trying to do…help me succeed…they didn’t know what I needed, nor could I express it.

I was a concert pianist, classically trained and I competed, played in concerts, etc. My parents, and particulary my piano teachers would get very frustrated with me because I was to play the piece a certain way and me being who I was wanted to play it my way. There was no room for creativity and unfortunately it left me angry and sullen, prone to perfectionism because it was never right enough. I never enjoyed practicing those damn scales with pennies on my hands either…I still don’t get the penny thing by the way.

I had a knack for memorizing music, could find the note on the piano to the start of a song and find the rest of the notes; I enjoyed that I could tell whatever phone number someone was dialing since I could match the tone with the number as they pressed it. My mother told me that I used to put my hands over my ears and complain that it was painful whenever there was an instrument out of tune at a concert. I still have that issue though I don’t put my hands over my ears anymore.

I would fight practicing, I didn’t want to do the concerts, play in front of my parent’s friends, I didn’t want to continue playing the piano anymore…one of my regrets. I can still play…hell I still play some songs by heart that I played when I was 10…but I still don’t like to play it in front of others oddy enough…it’s still never good enough. I regret quitting, I regret not going into a different genre…perhaps I would’ve enjoyed it more.

I used to play the French Horn as well in grade school, junior high, and high school. I was good at it…between myself and 2 other boys, we were always the top three in the band and orchestra. I was 16, and had the opportunity to play as an alternate in an orchestra outside of the school…a professional one. They called me to rehearse and because of my own insecurities/fear I declined, never to have another opportunity again. BIG REGRET! I think I could’ve done something with that.

I told myself as a young adult that I would never let another really cool opportunity slip by again because of fear, no matter what it was…I felt that these regrets taught me something, and in many ways they have. I’m unable to be athletic like I always was…but you’re never too old for music. There have been opportunities that have come my way that I’ve been able to take advantage of…others I’ve had to pass by still unfortunately, though not due to any fear, but due to life circumstances that can get in the way of doing what you want to do.

Throughout our lives we continually re-invent ourselves…whether we realize it or not. I’ve been through more than one identity crisis…I have no doubt that there are more to come during my life on this earth. My identity changed when I got married, and particularly when I had children…it’s not just about me anymore, even though I’d like it to be more about me sometimes seeing as I still have needs. I think all parents have feelings like this at one time or another.

Life can sometimes throw you a curve ball and screw your chance at something really cool…it’s something you have to accept sometimes and hope that another opportunity will arise. Regardless however…life is always a balancing act and you do your best to not tip the scales too drastically because even though something cool might have arrived knocking at your door…you have to make sure the sacrifice isn’t too great if you jump at it.

The moral of this story? It’s something I’m still trying to figure out…maybe one day I’ll succeed. Try to use any regrets you might have as a learning experience to make you stronger. We all have choices to make in life…it’s a balancing act and depending on where you’re at in this life depends on how high and how far you can jump at any given opportunity. Try to find a way to get your needs met, but don’t completely sacrifice the needs of others in your midst. My story is still unfolding…it’ll change like the wind I’m sure…I just have to be able to adapt to it since life isn’t as predictable as I’d like it to be.