The bells of freedom ring, and maturity replaces discord when we accept our parents, our family for who they are. I know for me the day I accepted my parents for who they are I realized, I am mature. My parents come from a totally different time, a totally different place. While I believe they always had good intentions, I had always wished they would be proud of me, that I would receive accolades from both them and my siblings for the things I’ve done (or haven’t done!). We all have scars from our childhood, some are fortunate to have very small almost invisible ones, others still have wounds wide open that still exude pain when exposed, and not protected by the use of overeating, alcohol, drugs, over spending…and even these things do not close the wound, they just give us temporary relief, yet they, too cause pain. The many vices we use to free ourselves of the chains that bind us create their own level of problems, thus the vicious cycle.
I remember one day a couple years ago my dad was helping me unload my car from either a convention or travel teaching gig, and I showed him my latest window design. He looked at it and didn’t say anything. I was tired, extremely tired, and when I am in this space I am very vulnerable and very vocal. “Are you ever going to be proud of me? Of anything I have done?” I will never forget the look on his face, his jaw literally fell towards his chest and his face statued a look of confusion. “Donna, I am proud of you every day of my life. I am proud of all my children. Why would you think differently?” I paused for a few moments, fighting back the tears that were falling down my face. He came over and hugged me, told me how beautiful my paintings were, and that he may not say what he feels, that it is hard for him. His silence, lack of accolades wasn’t about me, it was how he was raised.
That night I fell into bed, exhausted, in pain from all the lifting and standing and usual hard work that comes with being a decorative artist. As I closed my eyes to say my prayers, which I try very hard to both start and end with praise, I thanked God for my dad, my mom, my sisters, my brother, and my nieces and nephews. I lay quiet, thinking about the conversation with my dad, feeling like a schmuck that I had presented this “scar” to him in the manner I did. It was that night that I accepted my father for who he was. A man who sacrificed most of his life to give me and my siblings a beautiful home to live in, a life that never knew basic threatened. He was proud of me, he was proud of all of my siblings, he just doesn’t or didn’t express it. I had a similar experience with my mom a year or two before that, where I was rude, snapped at her and blamed her for my problems. Oyy. As I layed there I realized, this wasn’t about what my parents didn’t give me, it was about my own insecurities, my own need to be encouraged or validated because my self confidence and worth were in need of work.
I still struggle when and if someone I love doesn’t “like” my decisions, but all in all, I accept family, siblings, people for who they are, and it would be nice to have that reciprocated. But even of late, I realize, this again isn’t about them or what they don’t give me, this is about me and again, my own self esteem, confidence and worth. The deficiencies that I FEEL, and I am the only one who can change that. It cannot be given to me even if I received daily accolades. It is something I find through my actions, morals, standards. It is found in self love, and being the best person I can be on a daily basis. Performing in a way that I am proud of myself, and if I make mistakes or bad decisions (and I do), to forgive myself. This, too, is something I struggle with. Yet why fret? As I believe life is about growing, learning, loving. If I am doing those things, I will be alright, and I just may be kinder and more patient with others as they, too, move forward in their imperfect life.
As I sit on my couch looking around at my sleeping furry kids, and the material things that I like, but do not define me, I realize, it is my relationsips that I value the most. I have received monetary help from so many of you and friends to help get me through this difficult time…I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I must be doing something right to have so many people who love and care about me.
Life has a way of throwing us off kilter. Every person, thing, every belonging we will eventually have to let go of. We cannot take our material things with us when we go, but we can take with us how we feel about ourselves, how we lived our life, and the love from and for others. Today is the first day in a very long time that I have felt gratitude through the depths and tendrils of this depression. It feels very good, in fact, it feels wonderful.
As I have learned and realized that I forgive others for me… to set ME free of the anguish or misgivings of others, it is time to forgive myself, for the same reason, to be true to myself and the morals & standards that I believe in. Let it begin today……….