Between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and freedom.
~Viktor E. Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
I keep getting the same message, in short: I need to use my voice and tell my story.
The question I pose isn’t why, but how? Where do you start? Who do you start with?
I’m looking for guidance, friends. Read. Think; and also PLEASE discuss this with me.
The thing that always trips me up is when actions don’t match words.
When I said: “I see you”. I really fucking meant it.
What you deemed “unstable” is what happens when you approach life with vulnerability and dare to love people exactly where they are.
I find it interesting how you cover the intimidation you feel with “logical” opinions.
That’s not alpha male. That’s tyranny. That’s your brain controlling you instead of you controlling your brain. THAT is unstable. It will never be sustainable. It’s not honorable.
Here’s your mirror.
Not everyone is okay with living like an open wound. But the thing about open wounds is that, well, you aren’t ignoring it. You’re healing; the fresh air can get to it. It’s honest. You aren’t hiding who you are. You aren’t rotting. People can give you advice on how to heal without scarring badly. But on the other hand there are some people who’ll feel uncomfortable around you. Some will even point and laugh. But we all have wounds.
Independence was my crutch.
For years, I clung to it, was absorbed in it, and fostered it, refusing to let it go or let anyone in.
Independence defined me, and I was proud of it. I never understood those people who wore their hearts on their sleeves. To me that was weak, and bottling all my emotions, secrets, and inner scars was a sign of strength. Or so I believed.
“Mercy comes with the morning. I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me.”
Independence allowed me to show a strong face to the world after my mom passed—a strong face that, through the grief which lasted long after she was gone, made those around me believe I was OK.
Independence allowed me to sit across from a counselor countless times and still refuse to speak or open up, waiting for the hour to tick away.
I became numb, depressed, anxious, bitter. Many would have called me “a troublemaker.” I was broken. Yet, I was still independent, which was all that mattered to me. And in many ways, that was all I had.
“If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary, then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared.”
I was not living, only surviving, which many know is really no way to “live.” The reality of being overly independent is that it has a way of blocking out love, and as a result, true life.
I hadn’t allowed love to fully enter my life for as long as I could remember. I could just never shake the feeling that anyone who I opened up to or who could potentially love me was going to leave me. I had shared it all with my mom, and then she was gone … Who knew who could be next?
“I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me.”
We are not meant to be so independent that we reject love; we are meant to be loved and give love. We are meant to be open with our struggles, lean on people when we can no longer support ourselves, and cry until our shoulders shake into the embrace of another. We are meant for this kind of love.
Love—not independence—should direct our life. It took me years to come to this realization, and not until I told a group of people my story for the first time. When I chose to shed my secrets and opened up about myself, I was met with compassion. Many who approached me later knew the same trials and heartbreak. They hugged me, loved me, cried with me. And for the first time, I was actually known. I was free, and I was loved.
Something unexpected happened to me afterward. The knot that had always formed in my stomach whenever I talked about my past or struggles dissipated—and I have never felt it since. I used to become physically sick when I would open up about myself, but I am no longer plagued by those pains.
“I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you.”
Now, every day, I choose to love, I choose to be open. Because life is not a road to be navigated alone, but to be shared and experienced with those around you.
—Rachel, Summer 2013 intern
Ive been thinking a lot lately about somebody who hurt me quite deeply but who is also now terminally ill. The latter normally shouldn’t change the way I observe the debacle philosophically, except it does. Not really as it applies to me so much, but as it applies to my children.
I am not the type of person who has ever held a grudge. In fact, I used to be the person, who would do whatever it took to make peace with someone. I just never saw the point in these things. Some years ago though I had a number of incomprehensible arguments with friends and family members that I absolutely did nothing to provoke and it became obvious there was nothing I could do to repair. It hurt like crazy and it drove me mad. What did I do? What could I do? Why was this happening? Why would people do this to me? From that point on I just learned that sometimes it’s not about you and you just have to let people find their own way and let it be. (Love that song – Mental note) Eventually, they worked themselves out and all is well, but as I mentioned…this person is terminally ill so time is quite literally of the essence.
This person is my former mother-in-law. I used* to be really close to her and I used* to really respect her. These items are not past tense simply because she is my former mother-in-law. I have great relationships with my some of my former boyfriends and their parents. I’m just not a petty person. The issues here are a consequence of her not being able to decide things for herself based on information and beliefs she KNOWS is true (i.e. she has witnessed it with her own eyes) and enabling her son, my Ex, to the point that she has disabled him as a man. She loves him unconditionally and as a mother I get it, to an extent, but she doesn’t know how to establish consequences and boundaries and I imagine its been that way for him his whole life. This ended up having disastrous effects for me and my children. I accept responsibility for my own choices in this, that’s not what I’m saying. I was in the relationship with him, procreated with him. I get it. I don’t blame her for any of that.
What I do take issue with is this: There were times in our relationship when he literally was so out of control that he could have killed himself or someone else and when I went to her to help HER SON, she ENABLED him to be more of a moron and turn on me. Thankyou. Much appreciated.
There have been plenty of examples of this through the years but there’s two that stand out:
Example 1: The EX was in a downward spiral and was coming home drinking, Im talking to the point of alcohol poisoning drunk. I had just had the Jedi, my Pickle had just come to live with us and had also just revealed that he was being molested. MIL records a taped message to me and my EX telling him about how I call her complaining (NOT complaining, crying my eyes out – scared, hello? – look at circumstances – help!, help!) about his drinking and making him sound like a drunk and he works everyday and she doesn’t think its a big deal for him to come home from work and catch a buzz. THANKS. That very night, with mother’s permission, he gets wasted. Then he proceeds to decide that he needs more beer and is going to drive, drunk, to go get some more. We argue about how he can’t do that. He tells me he’s going to do it. I can’t leave him with a newborn and 4 year old, drunk – duh. He pushes me down. I let him go. What do I do? Can’t stop him? Can’t call his Mom OBVIOUSLY. Can’t call the cops because then I’d really be seen as MEGABITCH. (Superplot to get him arrested, lose job so we can lose everything for fun! That’s me <— Supervillian. Insert severe eyeroll) No seriously, this is how his family thinks and they never look at him and go ‘Hey dummy – what the hell is your problem, you have kids – time to grow up!’ This is what I’m talking about. Anyways – He goes out in the garage. Starts car. Never opens door. Passes out behind wheel. ALL BAD. For all of us. If I just would have not cared and been asleep in bed, we could have all died.
Example 2: Last October on what would have been our anniversary, I got some really bizarre texts from EX saying he missed us, loved us. I was sympathetic. I know he misses the kids. Anniversary is hard, easy to get nostalgic, but he doesn’t miss me. Then he tells me he made me a CD. Ignore, ignore, ignore. He skips next couple visits….I figure he’s drowning his sorrows. So when his next visitation date comes up, I send him couple texts to check on times, etc. Then as I’m heading home, I give him a call. He’s got an attitude right of the bat. When I ask “What’s wrong?” He starts screaming at me….I mean SCREAMING so loud that his voice cracks…that he hates me and I’ve ruined his life. I just sit there and he hangs up. He calls me back about 10 times in 5 mins, calling me a bitch, a cunt, etc, etc. Finally, when I get a word in edge wise I say to him, “I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re obviously having one helluva bad day, so have a bad day and we’ll see you this weekend. Just take a breather.” And he lost it. He showed up at my house before I got there. I was on the phone with my husband when he pulled in, he was being belligerent, my husband tells me to hang up and called the cops. Fiasco.
Two days later his Mom calls me. She asks if the kids are around and I immediately think something has happened to the EX. Then she starts in telling me that when two people get divorced that the number one priority is to keep normalcy for the kids and I have done absolutely NOTHING to do that for the kids. (Are you fucking kidding me? EX has had 1/2 dozen live-in girlfriends, residences and jobs. His visitations are never consistent. Cant count on him for anything. Ive even loaned him money, which I never got back) She starts yelling I don’t care what happens between you and EX it’s about the kids. OK, then – have you ever bothered to ask them about the stuff his visits with them or what he SAYS to them, maybe you should. So, I start to tell her she has absolutely no idea about how EX showed up at the house and was under the influence trying to pick up the kids and that Im not putting my kids in the car with a drunk. Then she starts yelling at me that I am the meanest, most selfish person she has ever known her entire life. (Even writing that now makes it seem even more preposterous). I inquired how she could even say that to me when here I am having taken on the full responsibility of raising my Pickle and I don’t see EX, or anyone in her family for that matter, stepping up, doing anything to help. She tells me thats my fall back – I always bring up Pickle and what I’ve done for him. (My fallback? WHAT?!?) I just couldn’t take it. I lost it. I told her that her family did nothing but enable him and I was sick of all them and maybe instead of having a restraining order against just EX I needed one for the whole lot of them.
Not only have we not shared a single word since this phone call last November she has not called my children, which I think is ludicrous and THAT is what I take issue with. I’m all fine and dandy with her son making sides and her deciding to take one with her son after a divorce – whatever – but I can’t ever pretend to understand how you take a side that puts you in a position to not visit or telephone your grandchildren. Ever. Maybe thats why I never demanded such loyalty. I already knew.
Now, I know EX and I know that he is not truthful and he is self-serving and I can only imagine the things he has told her so, I know that these actions and words are mostly based on false information, but I think that there has to come a point in life when you can’t blindly, accept all the bullshit a grown man is feeding you further enabling him to continue to act in a horrible manner which hurts innocent children.
Now, she has sent the kids birthday cards and she has sent them a “care package” here and there for St. Patty’s Day for example with green attire and such, pictures of more people in the ‘family’ who the kids never hear from and don’t even know their names. The kids called her and left her a message to say thankyou, she wouldn’t answer, didn’t return the call. I think that’s harsh.
When she was diagnosed as having terminal cancer EX called me and told me to take them to see her. Well, exactly how am I supposed to do that? Remember, I never said she couldn’t see them. They’ve left her messages telling her they want to see her, she doesn’t call them back. I can’t just show up at her house and given that EX has made everyone else in his family choose a side and think that I’m the enemy I can’t use any of them as a go-between. What the hell am I supposed to do? EX created this situation and now I have to muster up all the compassion in my heart to make it all better for her? And exactly how fair is it to give my kids all this information about their Nana dying with no way to process it?
I ended up sitting them down together and talking about the whole situation. They decided collectively that they wanted to send her a “care package” like she has sent them. They sent her a picture of the three of them and Jedi picked out a daily devotional and hand wrote inside “God is always with you” all by himself (he has such a good heart, makes me tear up – so proud of him). We weren’t even sure she had gotten it until a month ago when she wrote them a letter back and she mentioned having the picture next to her bed. That’s just not cool.
None of this has been fair to us. It hurts. So when I think about the lack of compassion my children and I have been shown from this woman, especially given the hell we’ve been put through at the hands of the EX, I think why should I care? Why should I burden myself or my children with her dying without closure on this issue? For all I know maybe she doesn’t even give a rat’s ass. But at the same time…I know she’s been deceived and so she is also being robbed unfairly of the her relationship with her grandchildren. But she also chose to act on that information without any consideration for them, without probing any further. I just can’t believe that she would ever believe such things about me. How could you look at a situation in which a woman takes on a special needs child as her own for anything but what it is? This is what I mean by her not being able to have an opinion of her own. Her opinions are always diluted by information she doesn’t mentally check out. I’m just thinking out loud here. Pondering. Bear with me.
I don’t want to regret not saying or doing something to remedy this situation, especially for the kids. I’m just not sure what that something is and I cannot forget the way she has made me or my children feel.
“There are primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
Your efforts shall shape the future. Whether you fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but your own. You are the force; You can clear any obstacle before you or be lost in the maze. Your choice; your responsibility; win or lose, only YOU hold the key to your destiny.
Hubby was driving home from a side job this evening and saw a sign that said LABS FOR SALE. He passed it and then for some reason he decided to turn around and check them out. They were chocolate lab puppies, EXACTLY the kind I’ve always wanted and so now he keeps talking about getting me one for my birthday.
Now, I love dogs and I would love to have one. Especially a chocolate lab, because that’s the kind of dog I always dreamed I would have when I was all growned up. And the kids want a dog REALLY bad as well. BUT…it’s a puppy. A carpet’s worst nightmare. I also have a problem with breeders and pet stores. I’d rather adopt. Plus it will need all the other dog stuff like food and shots and upkeep. It will be one more thing keeping me tied to the house. I won’t be able to go to Jason’s wedding for sure and then there’s also the fact that Hubby and I are planning a week away ALONE in October since we never got to go on a honeymoon. My parents are watching the kids that week and I can guarantee you that my Mom WILL NOT want to have anything to do with this dog. I’ll hear about it all the time and she’ll tell me I’m gonna have to board it while we’re gone.
But…..they are so damn cute.
See how freakin grown up I am??? I know that I shouldn’t do this right now, yet my inner child is screaming “PUPPY PUPPY!!!” and so I’m still contemplating doing it.
I am feeling MUCH better.
Hubby JUST NOW told me that the Dr. called me back this morning and said my bloodwork came back PERFECT. Pshew…….. (((exhale)))