Tag Archives: forgiveness

And the beat goes on…

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Sometimes amongst the monotony of everyday life I find myself taking a deep breath, in awe of the personal growth I recognize in others, in myself.  Today has been one of those days that provide evidence of my own growth.    I sometimes wonder about others life experiences, what event in their life caused the most personal growth?

Things have been “clicking” for me the past few weeks.   I attribute it to the loss of my mother a year ago.   A difficult, strong woman who could plow anyone over with her opinions.   I was very grateful she was on my side!   But more than that, I attribute my growth to living life without her.

I know I was fortunate, and still am to have my dad at 57.   I am grateful for this.    I am also grateful for my own ability to forgive others, to look beyond past hurts or painful times and set myself free of anger, angst or stagnancy.   I don’t forgive another for them, I forgive them for me.  I learned this many many moons ago.  I do know how to forgive, I have gifted myself with this many times.  Others close to me have said “How do you do that?  How do you forget that?”    It really isn’t about forgetting.    It’s about moving forward, putting the unfortunate moments behind, but I never forget.

It’s been a week or two of sorting through feelings, examining relationships, behaviors, and recognizing that, in which I would like to change in myself, to add quality to my life.   Today I’ve been tossing around disappointment.   When someone you love disappoints you.   And when you realize, as you take stock, that this isn’t new behavior, but old, and perhaps the harshness of some everyday life events has exposed in myself an ability to see that which I couldn’t earlier.

Why do I see some people the way I want, with blinders?  Why do I seek accountability from a person who has rarely if ever been accountable?  Is this about the persons behavior or my own?   For me, it’s about my own.   Why look at someone with blinders?  We all know the “love is blind” saying, and yes, I do love the person who disappointed me.  What is it in my psyche, in my minds eye that hasn’t allowed me to see, or more important, just accept without expectation that which I’ve seen throughout my life?

I can’t change anyone else.   I know the pain of trying.   I also know the pain of defending someone I love who wasn’t “pulling their weight”.   I know the difference between helping and enabling, and I know the pain of failed outcome doing both!

I will find my way to forgiveness, because i just don’t have the desire or energy to hold onto the weighted disappointments.   Life has taught me that I cannot have peace without acceptance, and this situation is no different.    So how do you “love” someone, and detach with love?    This is old alanon teachings.   When I was regularly attended AlAnon I learned so much about myself, some things I’d rather have not seen.   But I also learned tools that helped me detach, give the other person the dignity of making their own decisions, even if I think they are heading in a direction that I think is dangerous.

I think sometimes about desensitizing.    Every time i read the news I think of how much I have desensitized, how I HAD TO for survival, and then also to move from survival mode to actual living!  Detachment with love is not desensitizing.  It is releasing expectations (also known as premeditated resentments), quieting my judgement, my fears by offering prayers or good tidings to this person, and then focusing on myself.   Clearly there is a difference for me.

Tomorrow will be an easier day.    I have sat all day with the uncomfortable feelings that I used to “eat” away.   I’m no longer wanting to harm myself (by bingeing or overeating) because someone else has ticked me off or acting like an ass.    For this realization alone, all the feelings of disappointment were well worth the ride to get here.    I am responsible for me, and only me!  I’ve no children, spouses, or dependents.    I will always offer to help those I love who are helping themselves, but I’m going to stick to improving, always, the quality of my thoughts, time, and thus, my life.

 

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One Year Anniversary

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Today has been a hard day.  Although not as hard as it was one year ago this evening,  when my mom took her last breath.  I was blessed with my mom for over 56 years of my life.  While not every moment was hugs and kisses, that long span defined our relationship, mother and daughter, and friends.

For the first time this morning, I sat and read all the comments friends had left on my facebook page one year ago today, about 600 of them.   I knew I didn’t have the strength prior.  Crocodile tears were in abundance.   With some, telling the honest to goodness truth about this “passage of life”, “Donna, you will never get over this, you will  think of her everyday and you will miss her everyday, but I am here to help you”…  They are right.  Never in my life will I stop missing her, and everyday of my life, just like I have with both my sisters, and Jim’s death, I will think of her, and I am very grateful for that.

My mother was quite a character.    People, friends would tell me how strong I was, and then they’d meet my mom and smile “Omg, I can see why, now!”   I am smiling.   My mother’s strength and love had carried me through a lot in my life, and throughout HER life.  You never know what a person is going through, unless they tell you.  My mother kept a lot to herself, as do I.   She never liked that I blogged, because she felt I put too much out for people to read or see.   But writing, sharing for me, is how I get through. “Mom I wouldn’t blog about my sex life, even if I had one!”   She would roll her eyes and shrug her shoulders, head out the door to the gardens that she so lovingly cared for for decades.      How grateful I am, today, that I had my mom as long as I did.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye, and gives it a wink.”   – Gina Carey

My relationship with my mother was strong, complicated, ever changing.   We argued, we made up, we argued some more, we laughed.  We were always “doing something”, because my mom could not sit long.   Unless she wasn’t feeling good, and then you’d find her cozied up with glasses on, nose in a book.   She helped me with my studios past and present, renovating my home, and it didn’t matter the dozen or less times we weren’t speaking, if I needed her, all I had to do was call.   She was amazingly resourceful, I have never known anyone (but my father) who had the talent to fix, repair, replace ANYTHING!  Except of course, addiction and alcoholism.

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”  – Honore de Balzac   

Like many of us, moments from my childhood reared pain in maturity, but I had long since forgiven my mother for the manner in which she treated me, because maturity showed me my own imperfections, and I not only loved my mom, I liked her.   I wanted her in my life.   So in my late 20’s after years of “therapy”, I forgave, and freed myself of the disappointment, harm that I believe only happened because of the hell she had lived through.   I still struggle daily with self defeating behavior, but it’s all mine.  I am the only one who can change that, and someday’s I succeed, other days,  not so much.

My relationship with my mom in my 40’s and 50’s were the best.  Both single, we looked out for each other in a world that wasn’t always easy to exist in.  A therapist once described my relationship with my mom as “spousal”.  I laughed.   Um, no, CLEARLY she was always the mother!   And I smile.   We spent a lot of time together, enough that I know I will for the rest of my life have memories of her, us.   I could go on and on pages long, of the countless things my mother did that helped me, but I’d rather save them for the days ahead when I need to remember them.     In my 40’s and 50’s she was my greatest support, particularly when she gave back the care giving I did for her through her cancers, and she, through my own.

A friend said to me after she passed “Donna, I knew your mother had been through some shit in life, I knew it just by her stance alone “Don’t mess with me!”   I laughed and nodded.   Like mother, like daughter there.    Our lives ran parallel in many ways, both affected by another’s alcoholism, both betrayed in marriage, both creative souls, financial duress, heartache and disappointment.   There were times we laughed so hard I had to go take a shower, because the tears ran down my legs.   One way we did differ was when I would do something REALLY stupid (and that happens a lot) the first thing I would do is call my mom and tell her.  She would say “And don’t go sharing this with everyone either!”.    But of course, I did.   As soon as I hung up the phone I called one of my girlfriends and share my stupidity, because I learned long ago how to laugh at myself, and my many true friends love to laugh as much as I did.  Laughter is healing, and my favorite emotion is laughter through tears.    I had a lot of these with my mom.

There were horrific times in my life, one being when I found out Jim (love) died.  I drove from Watertown, NY, stopped for a 2 hour visit to see his parents outside Albany, and my mom begged me to get a room for the night, I lied to her and said I would.   A few hours later when I arrived home (was bad driving conditions) she was up, waiting for me.  “I knew you wouldn’t do as I asked!”   We sat up that night and talked for hours, and hours, and hours.   We both cried that night.   I was sharing the agony of knowing he had self destructed, Jim was a good person, we had a nice life together, but his alcoholism was a deal breaker.   That night, as I shared about my conversation with his parents, I knew then, my mothers tears weren’t just for me or Jim.   I believe she grieved for her brother, and his children,  to whom they lost to alcohol, too.   It was an area of her life that she rarely spoke of.   It was then the first time I realized, all the times that she watched me walk through the talons of alcoholism, she didn’t offer any advice, only offer to help where she could, and of course, prayers, except the last event when I told her “I need to tell him to leave.”   She then encouraged me to remove myself from the now alcohol ridden relationship,  and did all she could and more, to help me through this difficult time.  How many times did my words or my actions hurt or recall pain from her own life?   But my mom just silently dealt with it on her own.  We spoke usually daily, and it was a rarity when she wasn’t at my house at least once during the week.   She co-owned all 5 of my animals, as she took great care of them (and my home, when I travel taught).

Over a span of 17 years, there were numerous trips, later on to Boston for her surgeries, and trips to chemo, and doctors.  It was very hard to be my moms primary care giver.  Our last trip to Boston was straight out of hell, and I told her on the way home after complete emotional breakdown pulled over on the side of a road at 1am in Boston, “I can’t continue doing this mom”.   For a while I felt guilty about it, because I knew, when I could no longer do the long trips to Boston with her, that the disease would take over, and that is exactly what happened.  That’s a very hard reality for me at times, but I know, I was a good daughter to her, and I did everything I could and then some.   My own health issues needed tending to.   But through it all, today I am nothing but grateful that I was there for her, and I did all that I did for her.   I will carry this with me throughout my life’s time.

I recall being admitted to MGH (Mass General Hospital) for cellulitis.  This happened after an exchange surgery (reconstruction for breast cancer).  I had left the house that morning telling her not to worry, they were going to give me a shot in the ass and send me home with a bottle of bigger pills!    I called her, crying, could barely catch my breath “I’m being admitted”.   You are what?    “I’m being admitted”.    “Omg, okay, are you okay?”   “No, mom, I’m scared”.    “It will be alright, Donna, we will get our prayer warriors right on this”.   Also recalling seeing my doctors face color and expression change as he lanced open my right breast right then and there.  “Am I going to be alright?”    “I don’t know, Donna, but we are going to do our best and you will be in patient for awhile”.    “Mom, I am going to be on Bigelow 9” (Ever seen MGH, HUGE! I was on the 9th floor of Bigelow building).   “Gigolo what, Donna?”  BIGELOW MOM, BIGELOW!

It’s been a challenging year.  When she died the next day, the world felt different.  I no longer felt brave or safe.  How could I?  My greatest protector was no longer here?   A friend asked me if it (grief) was harder than I thought it would be.  “Yes, yes it is”.  Having the sad experience of losing my oldest and youngest sisters to cancer, and Jim to alcoholism, I knew it would be hard.  I just didn’t know exactly how hard it would be.

A few years ago my Uncle, her youngest and only living brother of 3 passed.  We needed to clean out his apartment, and notify next of kin.  We had four cousins we only saw when very small.   We needed to send them paperwork, so I found one cousin on facebook, I will never forget the day we, she learned, that her nephew, Brady had died of cancer.   Her face turned white.   She took a deep breath and sat down at the table in my studio.  Clearly distraught.   We have a couple gene mutations in our family, and are a gene pool you wouldn’t want to swim in.   I knew what was going through her mind was hard for her, like maybe SHE DID give us the mutations.  She uttered some words softly, one being her brother’s name, and her nieces name, and then headed out to the gardens that brought kept her busy and brought her peace.  I will never know what she was thinking, but I knew it was quite painful for her.   This was a really hard night for both of us.   Nor I or my siblings ever asked either parent to be tested, and we certainly didn’t look to them with blame.   They too, were victims.  But I sometimes would find my mom quiet in reflection, and I know she struggled with the idea that she may have passed down her cancers to us.

I know she is with me.   She will always be with me.   I talk to her daily, and while I have received “signs” confirming so.  Today’s sent me to tears yet again.  I am trying to finish the last project we collaborated on, a victorian desk, and somewhere between A – Z, I had lost the front plate for the keyhole.   I looked in my pocketbook 3 times.  Nothing.  I called my girlfriend, it wasn’t in her car.  I was ready to head back out to Home Depot where we had gone and I realized I hadn’t grabbed my phone.   I prayed to St Anthony, and asked my mom to please, please let me find this plate.   Two seconds later I slid my hand into my pocketbook to get my house keys (which were my moms set), and out with them in my hand was the keyhole plate.  For me, that was a sign that she is with me.   I find comfort in that.

“Her damaged petals are what made her more beautiful than all the other flowers”-  a.j. lawless

I was not easy to parent, so I’ve been told.  And she wasn’t an easy mother to parent in later years.  She was stubborn, impatient, hmmmm sounds familiar?

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it”.  – Mark Twain

 

Temporary Insanity

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I have been a bit insane the past few hours.    No, not a Hannibal Lechter persona, but too much sugar, overly stimulated and obnoxiously enthusiastic.     Let me tell you, it really doesn’t make for a great mix.

But what I want to talk about tonight isn’t how crazy I can get, but how I have grown, even around the crazies.  For one, I can sit back, look at my behavior and feel whatever it is I am feeling, and sit with those feelings.    For example, when I realize I’ve been a bit tattered, I recognize that.   And then the “frantic” thinking comes in, how I have to fix, fix, fix whatever it was that I think I did so wrong, or who I offended.  I keep my hands busy as I work my way through the emotions of the moment, not an easy task for a right brained outrageously over sensitive soul!     Then somewhere, in its own time, I forgive myself, I acknowledge what it is that I need to do, many times an apology is in order, but in apologizing, I am not beating myself up, nor am I painting myself as a crazy person or add unnecessary drama to an already cluttered scene.  Once I have calmed myself, I simply apologize for my actions, or reactions, or obnoxious enthusiasm that others sometimes put up defense to.

Sometimes it takes me a while to write the apology, because it has to be sincere, and while I always taint whatever it is I am doing with humor, (and sometimes displaced humor) I am being altruistic with my apology and sense of humor.  Humor that many may think is dark, perverse, or  thwarted towards that “insanity” thing again!  But I swear to you, humor is one, if not THE BIGGEST tool I have in life.     There really isn’t too much I cannot find humor in, and I surround myself with friends who “get me”, and love me just as I am… imperfect.  Perfectly imperfect.   But I was not designed to be perfect, nor NEAR perfect!   That title belongs to a being I cannot ever compare myself to!  Because I don’t believe this “being” will ever compare me to another as well.   It helps me gain perspective, composure, and the ability to laugh at myself is healing.

Now, in order to find humor in others actions, words, I believe we first have to be able to find humor within ourselves, and make fun, or light of that which we do ever so swiftly, and incompetently!   Because that is what I was designed for.   To learn, to grow, to step outside of my safety zone, to forgive myself,  (and others) as I do others (well, for the most part).   Because if i don’t forgive myself then I am inviting the reign of depression, and oppression into my soul, and that is NOT a good place for me to be, nor to subject myself (nor others near me) to!

The next step in this developmental growth is to not only earnestly, honestly apologize with sincerity, but to detach from whatever THEIR (my victim, hmmm that’s too hard of a word, let’s say “the unfortunate receiver  of my craziness!”      Time used to control me.   I am one where learning “delayed gratification” took a few decades to grasp.    Now time helps me cope.  It doesn’t change what has been done, nor give (nor should it) excuses for my ill behavior, but in that time I can center, focus, and release that which used to hold me bondage to.

I do care what the person I’ve made amends to is feeling, but I have to also let that go.   They are on their own journey of discovery, recovery, or plain survival!    So to keep myself and my side of the road clean, I detach from it, from them.    Time will reveal what is meant to be, or not!   I’ve learned that life is like a 100 piece puzzle.   Sometimes I immediately am granted 60 pieces to that puzzle, but the other 40 pieces are only revealed over that four letter word again “TIME”, and I’ve also learned not to expect clarity in all aspects of my life, my puzzle.  That 10-20% of missing pieces can have its own speedy pace of the “why’s” or “how comes”.  Words that are really best used by the adolescent, experiencing whatever it is he or she is seeing for the first time.   I haven’t had much luck at picking up those words or questions.   It just leads me back to the path of bondage and insanity.

So tonight, I’ve made my amends, and when I crawl my tired butt into bed, I will pray that if it is meant to be, please let my apology be accepted.  To also offer whatever it is needed to and for the “receiver of my craziness”!

What a tongue twister this blog has been.   Be well,  be honest, be kind, and if you have inherited a nasty need to beat yourself up…..  Let it go.    Practice self love, practice real love, practice real people and life.    It is amazing what this “self love” stuff can do.     I just want to end with one more platitude, if that’s the word.     Every day I hear people say “Time heals”, particularly around loss.     Well, I disagree.     Time never “makes right” that which has been lost, or passed, but it DOES help us, teaches us how to COEXIST with this loss.   There is a difference!

Sending love and light to whoever is reading this!

 

 

My mother died

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My 80 year old mother died Sunday evening at a local hospital.  Six days before that I had brought her into the hospital via the emergency room, at her requested time – 9pm.  I had been with her earlier for blood work, and the day before I brought her prescription over.  However, before that, I hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of months.   I was really quite hurt and angry with her.  But that wasn’t new, throughout my life we had many times we weren’t talking, what was different this time was, it would be the last fight.

A very intelligent, highly humorous and entertaining and skilled woman, my mother was very strong willed woman.  She rarely spoke of her childhood, and we weren’t close to her brothers or their families.  It was just the way things were.  Her parents both died before I was born, so I never met them.   However, just because we weren’t close with her family didn’t mean we weren’t close to others.  MY MOTHER was awesome at planning family outings.  She and my Aunt Fran always planned the family gatherings.  Both of whom were “inlaws”.   When my Aunt died and my parents divorced, that, of course, stopped.   Pleasantly enough, Facebook has been a way for me to reconnect with cousins and aunts and uncles I lost touch with, and some that I really never got to know.

This blog is not going to be about the things my mother did that upset me.  I will just say, she was a difficult woman to love, and I did love my mother, very much.   I know I was a good daughter, I know what I did for her, and that I was always there for her when she needed me, except for the few scattered months here or there when we weren’t talking.  This blog is also not about pointing my finger at my mother.  I will say to you, as a teenager my grandmother, aunts and friends of my mother would pull me aside and ask me if I was okay.    My sweet grandmother (paternal) once told me she thought my mother treated me the way she did because I was born at a time when my oldest sister became very ill, life altering ill.  I don’t know.  And I don’t need to know.  I have long since accepted her behavior, and learned ways to avoid it, and still be present in her life.  Because I always wanted her in my life, she was fun to be around, helpful, and offered incredible insight and help.

My mother was a hard working woman.  I truly believe  (as does my sister) and know she worked hard to provide her children (my dad too) with more than she (they) had.   Even as an elderly woman, she wanted to do what she could to help improve the quality of her adult children’s life, mine included.   She was a work horse.   When something had to be done, she jumped right in, even if physically she wasn’t feeling well, she stepped right in to help, which she would inevitably take over.  Sometimes that was great, other times not so much.  I have spent a large portion of my life talking very loudly hoping to be heard.  This also happened in relationships I was in, because I repeated this “come close, go away” behavior with partners, husbands, lovers.  I am 56 years old.  I am not blaming anyone for my choices, I am simply pointing out that I have done A LOT of therapy, of self seeking in effort to get beyond frustration, pain, hurt, and a desire to be loved.

My mother loved me.  I know this.   She loved all five of us children, in different ways.   Her love was “fierce”.  (This word was stolen from a post of my sister-in-law who had a love hate relationship with my mom throughout her marriage to my brother).  Even if we weren’t talking, having one of our “bouts”, I knew I could call her if I needed her and she would be there if I asked.   It was the manner in which she conducted herself, and how she got her needs met instead of humbly asking for help that I found disturbing.

In the 80’s when I went to my first “ACAP” 12 step meeting (Adult children of alcoholic parents), my therapist kept pushing and pushing for me to go.   So I finally went.  There I found a list of 20 characteristics of “adult children of alcoholics”.     I remember identifying with 19, in time I learned the one I didn’t identify with was just denial!  “Did your parents drink?”  My therapist would ask on a weekly basis.  “Once a year, New Years Eve” I would reply.   And she would ask me again the following week, in hindsight perhaps wondering if I was in denial of such, too.

My parents are/were both good people.   They were NOT alcoholics.  Though I’ve long suspected that my mother grew up in an alcoholic home, or certainly dysfunctional.  That is not to imply my mother’s issues were the only ones in the childhood house!  I have often wished my mother was raised and was willing to be treated with antidepressants.  I think her life and my whole families lives would’ve been drastically improved upon.  I know this from my own struggles with chemical imbalance, and severe depression.  “Mood stabilization” meds have improved the quality of my life, and allowed me to be present in my moms life for 7/8’s of mine.   12 step groups and therapists helped me learn how to identify feelings, and how to cope amidst these feelings.   Maturity has also brought me a split balance of learning how to deal with such, or the older I get, walking away from it, because I just don’t have the desire or energy to involve myself any longer.

I want to tell you that the day my mother died, I was there with her.  I held her hand, I stroked her head as she took her last breath, and I am so grateful her passing was peaceful, because her life was usually anything but.  Incessant worry, I believe we were actually raised to believe that worry could and would change the outcome of whatever the challenge was.  It doesn’t, nor will it ever do anything but add further injury to my already abused adrenal system.  Years of living in “fight or flight”, dodging the elephant in the middle of my living room, I believe reared me “fibromyalgia” at the young age of 29.  And by that age I already had two hospitalizations for depression.   My 10 year marriage with an alcoholic to my second husband, and 2 year marriage to my first alcoholic husband had both ended.  At 33 I fell madly in love with a guy who was “sober”.  It took only 6 months to learn that his drinking was hidden, that he was a binge drinker.  I can relate to this now because I’ve identified myself as a binge eater.  I painfully ended this decade length relationship 4.5 years before he died of the disease.

When it became clear that my mother was “actively dying”, I had to ask her some difficult questions, many of which I already knew the answer to because frankly, our relationship was one where I shared almost everything with her, everything except for addressing her behavior which I opted to do four months before she died.    In the short time since her death I’ve wondered if I hadn’t done that, if I hadn’t been at my wits end with her and being taken for granted by others close to me, would it had changed the ending?  Would it be easier on me facing her death now?  The answer is, No.   The truth is, I was long since burned out from being my moms primary caregiver in the 17 years which she dealt with five cancers.  My two siblings stepped up to help out a couple years ago when I conveyed that I was just tired, exhausted actually, and needed a break.  That is not to imply they weren’t “willing” before, but 78% of her illnesses I believe I was solely responsible for her care.  Ask me sometime how I came up with that number!

The problem was, I had my own health problems, and challenges.   And it was my mother who was there for me through these.  When I got cancer, (my brother was diagnosed 2 weeks after I was), she moved in and took care of me, going back and forth between my brothers house and mine.   Looking back, I am not sure how she did this.  And when I went through my last severe clinical depression and couldn’t be alone, she came once again to my rescue.  I will always be grateful for how good she was at nursing me (my siblings and her hospice patients) with incredible knowledge, strength, and love.

Let’s talk about the word “Strength”.  I had friends who met my mom and later laughed and said “No wonder you are a strong woman!”     I had no other choice.  And like the long difficult day she died, I was able to be her voice when she couldn’t.  I was able to love her, and ascertain she was being treated with utmost dignity and wasn’t in pain.  She taught me how to do that!   She always taught us about the importance of family, and I love my family, all of them, all of us flawed individuals!   I had a few hours alone with her that day, so I was able to share some things with her (She really didn’t have any choice but to listen! ha), and I had sensed for days that she was going to die, even though her doctors were not saying that, not at all.   So I had asked my facebook friends who had lost their mom “If you had a chance to say something more to her, what would you say?”   I asked this Saturday night.  Contrary to what some may think, I’m not a drama queen.   I ask for prayers from my facebook friends because frankly, it works faster than any other way I know.   I do not belong to a church, but I do have HUNDREDS of friends who pray for me (and I them) when asked.    My painting career has gifted me with quality people, friends, close friends.  I am so grateful for this.

I wish my moms life had been better.  I wish she hadn’t had to deal with the serious illness that stripped my oldest sister of a normal life and forced my parents to make painful, heart wrenching decisions for her care, and for the safety of their other children.  I wish my mom (or dad) didn’t have to bury their oldest and youngest daughters of a disease that one or both of them passed down to their children.   I wished my parents marriage had somehow worked out, because I believe they did love each other, and we could’ve had some nice family time the last few years…if only she would’ve considered treating that which I believe caused so much distress to my family, that to which was “the elephant” in the middle of our living room.

My mother was my friend.   She really was.   We are ALL perfectly flawed.  I have shared a lifetime of memories with her, both good and bad, but always, ALWAYS good when I was sick and needed her.   I think had she not given her life to raising a family, she would’ve made an incredible lawyer, or doctor.  She was passionate, educated herself of things that were important to her, and never failed at anything she put her mind to.  I mean that!   Other than the failed marriage, she had things she started and didn’t finish, for whatever reason, like hair styling school, but that was her choice.  She was a pillar of strength when she made up her mind to do something, and what an example she was for us this way.  “You CAN, and you WILL”, and she would roll up her shirt sleeves, or put on her work clothes, and make it happen.

My mother really did care for others, and she gave particular attention to troubled teens or giving a voice to the elderly or needy.   And that was and will always be honorable.  It’s unfortunate that that she plowed over those closest to her, but I don’t think it was out of anything but love.  A bull in a china shop comes to mind!  But even this has gifted me with my own strength, my own voice, and I, too, plow people over when I feel I’m being silenced.  Perhaps that was her button, too?   Who knows, I will probably never know and that is okay.  Why?

Because my mother had good morals and standards, she knew right from wrong, and she asserted all of these onto her children.  And she loved us.   She loved us with a fierceness that would scare the crap out of others or others who were treating us wrong!   She wanted more for us than she had  or wanted for herself, and she believed we could do or be anything, and she was proud of each of us, but she just couldn’t say that to our face. I’m astounded when friends or people I meet tell me things my mother has said to them about me.  I really had no idea she felt proud of me or my accomplishments.

And I wish my mother had the ability to admit when she was wrong or offer apologies for when she plowed us over.    Her life, our life would’ve been so much easier and better.  But it was what it was, and I’m left with this hole in my chest, with the loss of my mother, my friend, my confidant.  I am going to miss her, I already do.   All the friction that was between us for those few months has been set aside.  I will have to somehow deal with these on my own, and the minute I walked back into her life to be there to help her when I knew she was sick, it became unimportant, and serves now to only help me define and identify areas of my own life that need honing.

I am grateful she was my mom.  And though I hated some of her actions, I was able to share things with her in her final hours, that needed to be said.   And those were NOT about her faults, but about her strengths and her love.    Because you see, I too wasn’t able to tell my mom to her face some things, some good things.   Intimacy was a no no!   So I’m glad I asked the question I did to my facebook friends, and I used them as guidance of things I wanted to say to my mother, knowing from experience that when someone you love dies, the love doesn’t disappear.  It miraculously expands, a true and amazing gift it is!  I made my amends to my mom, and she, with her stoic and ailing self, acknowledged and did the same to me, just before I had to take over her voice for her end of life care.    Everything happened so fast, and my sister was enroute from TX to get to NH, and my brother was in and out,  running to get my sister when she arrived.  We all worked together, via text, to make her last day as painless a day as possible.  I’m trying to work through the aftermath, and second guessing medicating her to a point where she didn’t have a voice, but I did so knowing I was her voice, and with her strength and love and support of my siblings and their love for our mother, we did it, and I’m proud of all of us for that.

I am left exhausted, broken, in a fibromyalgia flare, but very grateful for this difficult woman, difficult mother, my strong willed, flawed mother!    Rest in peace mom.  I love you, I always will, and I know not how to walk this earth without you, but I’m on Day #3 and survived thus far, because of all you taught me.   And as I think about this, I realize, she was also able to teach me how to be humble, how to apologize, even though her own fragile ego didn’t allow it within herself, for whatever reason.      We are ALL flawed.  And a friend said to me something I saved, and this is where I am going in my life.  It isn’t about being “my best” . It is about being at my functional best, without regret, no matter what life throws me!

Self Respect

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I have been in a very uncomfortable space.   I thought it would rectify itself, after all, avoidance works sometimes!  (sarcasm)   But nothing was changing, correcting itself.

I’m going to be cryptic here purposefully.    Because the end result, the important message comes in the the understanding of self, acceptance of self.

Far from perfect, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.   I also, naively at times, look at the good in others.    Here’s where it gets sticky.    But I am REALLY GOOD about looking at the bad in myself!    I once walked this earth apologetic for my existence.  You can imagine how plowed down I found myself, by others.  People close to me took advantage of me, because they could count on my beating the shit out of myself for something, anything I did that may have caused the problem, or at minimal, participated in the problem.  While their bad behaviors went unscathed, unaddressed.

As mentioned above, I have been at odds, and out of sorts.   The first few weeks I ignored and and the next couple weeks I started to look at my part, and today everything came full circle for me.

I can handle a lot of crap, I have, in fact.   I have accepted unacceptable behavior by many, including and most importantly, MYSELF.  But today I realized that I was at odds with MYSELF, not because of something I did or said, but that I was allowing another persons behavior to define how I felt about myself.  I was feeling sad, bad, guilty, and once I realized this, everything came together for me.

It’s called self respect.  No one has the right to make me feel less than (including myself), and I realized today that I was accepting behavior (from another, but more importantly MYSELF),  that I swore I would never do or tolerate again.  I know, I know, be careful saying the “never” part.   But today I realized, it is that I’ve allowed this situation, certain treatment, that was similar to previous experiences, to dictate how I felt about myself in a negative way.  Am I perfect? Nope!  Never will be.  Anyone can think of me what they want to.  I have absolutely no control over this and today I’m finding peace in that reality.  But when I allow anything, something, or someone to alter how I feel about myself, well, it’s a no win, lose lose situation.   It is vital that I look at my own behavior.  It is acceptable for me to tell someone else if their behavior is bothering me, but it is NOT my responsibility to “make anyone see” or “punish” another.       It’s all about keeping my own side of the road clean.  When I err, apologize, do what I can to correct, and then move on.

So now I will sleep.   I will forgive,  as I always do, and tonight I will forgive myself, and now that I’m aware of it, conscious to it,  I will cease involving myself in this behavior.    It’s that simple.

Moving on!  And tomorrow I will practice self discipline!

Like sand through the hourglass

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The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

Karmic justice

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We’ve all been targeted by some unhealthy vindictive person for little if no real reason other than the fact that they need someone to beat on.     When this happened to be I realized, which I guess I always knew anyway, but it reiterated to me that evil does in fact, exist.

The best thing we can do is walk away, though our egos, pride want to strike back.  At least mine does.   I heard something twenty years ago that has stayed with me “The best revenge is no revenge”…to live a good life not missing a beat.   It’s hard sometimes to take the high road but I have learned that I will never “win” by giving up my peace of mind and I could never “win” at the level that these people exist.  It isn’t in me, and for that I am truly grateful.  To understand such hatred and vial actions is to be like that, or on the other end of their tight rope.

For someone to think that they are almighty powerful and important, ignoring them, not even looking at them, acknowledging their existence should be enough.    How dare you or I ignore this person?  This person in which evil resides?

I guess I’m writing this because I am reminding myself of my ego, my pride.     It hurts when someone tells lies about you, and particularly degrading ones.   I have learned however, that it always comes full circle.  Perhaps not in the time lot we want or think it should, but eventually the tracks of karma will be drawn over their face.

Recently the news with the capital punishment case where there was a malfunction caused a 45 minute “delay” for the bastard to die, and many said it wasn’t right.   I’m not going there but I will say that I don’t believe the answer is more suffering.    I’m not qualified to judge another (though I do).   My reply to others regarding this was this:   Was it done on purpose?  Did we (humans) who were responsible for taking the appropriate actions to end this mans life, did they take justice into their own hands?  The answer is No.   Not that I’ve heard anyway.   My fervent belief is that this was karmic justice.  God help me but in many ways I found this reassuring that the evil that preys around us will meet with the good, God will prevail.   How hard it is to remember that when under fire, however.

To harbor or hold resentment only hurts ourselves.   It keeps us from experiencing the good in life while stuck in our anger.   I forgive for me, not for any other.   I am not condoning another’s action, I am simply forgiving to set myself free from the anger, the crap that potentially has the power to consume me.    I don’t have to speak to that person again, I don’t have to even let them know I have forgiven, again, I forgive for me.

For the past 30 years of my life I have prayed for those who have harmed me.  I learned this in a 12 step program and reading every spiritual self help book I could get my hands on.   When I suggest to someone that they pray for those who have mistreated or harmed them, most look at me like I have three heads.   When I do this it reminds me that while I bolster an obvious opinion about this person and their wrongs, but it is not productive, healthy nor is it up to me to “pay them back”.   By praying for them it helps remind me of a higher power, and gets me to the forgiveness stage faster.  I pray for them because it helps ME!    The judgment and resentment harbored potentially have the same, if not more destruction, sabotaging our own lives.   Screw them!  Pray for them and let it go.  Just like this murderer whom had the misfortune of taking 45 very long minutes to die…  how can one not believe in karma?  Thus, the evil that comes around will eventually go around, in fact, it starts immediately if we take the high road, if we not offer this person one second of our lives.   The best revenge is no revenge but to live a good life!

I want to feel peaceful, serene.  I want to be an instrument of peace, not of evil.  Karma exists and I needn’t take action.     If I do it’s like taking the poison I want to give someone else, myself.  I’m only harming myself.

Evil does exist.   Karma does too!  If we are embarking on resentment, dig two graves!

 

 

Happy New Year!

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Shortly we, on the East Coast, will ring in 2014.   2013 has been a good year for me.   Every year brings an assortment of experiences, some that we deem good, some that we deem bad.   One commonality with both is that we have the opportunity to learn, to grow.  Some of the most difficult times of my life have brought much character growth.   Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we are never given more than we can handle, but we are continually given the opportunity to help others, thus becoming part of their healing, their coping.   I hope I will not pass on an opportunity to be compassionate with another, to offer a hand when one is needed, to bring a smile to not only my family and friends, but a stranger.

I have pondered at times, when loss, when difficulties have knocked on my door and tomorrow seemed impossible to hope for, let alone the next hour, that perhaps we are given our pain to teach another, to help another, after all, isn’t that what life is all about?  Is there any better feeling than knowing you have somehow helped another in need?  And better yet, to keep these things between yourself and God?

It isn’t about the possessions (okay, brushes, paint & canvas can be exempt here! ♥) but the love we bring to one another.    Priceless are the moments in time that we shall never forget, that fill our palette with the most beautiful colors, softening the gray.   The gift of youth, the innocence, the beauty, the joy….their little antics, and those of our furry children who bring to us unconditional love.  Wow.  Unconditional love.

2013 came with a gift for me to take better care of myself, to be kinder to myself.    I hope 2014 brings this to all of us.

I have no New Years Resolutions, I am on a constant journey of growth, of change.   I aspire to become the best person I can possibly be.   I’m very aware that this does not happen purely through joy, but through the difficult treks of life.   I aspire to not be so judgmental of others, including myself, but offer a tender smile and quiet moment to find patience, understanding.   To treat others the way I want to be treated, and to treat myself the way I do those I love.

Bringing in a New Year typically brings some anxiety with it for me.   The uncertainties, the unknowns, and what IS known.   But I remind myself that all we have, all any of us have is this moment right now.  Overrated are tomorrows plans when today, in its shine or unpolished existence, is a wonderful gift.   On the rare occasion I listen to my phone messages, I sometimes will not delete those from loved ones, remembering too well past ones long gone, in which I would love the opportunity to hear once more.   I remind myself, this is just hyper vigilance, for all I really need to do is go to a quiet loving place, and the voices, eyes and smiles of those I long for are right there.  Even if my heart is breaking, I can put my hand over my heart and know, there within they reside

Wishing you all, love, peace and a very happy, healthy, human New Year!      ♥♥♥

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Lord, make me a channel of thy peace! 

That where there is hatred, I may bring love

That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness

That where there is discord, I may bring harmony

That where there is error, I may bring truth

That where there is doubt, I may bring faith

That where there is despair, I may bring hope

That where there are shadows, I may bring light

That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather

To comfort than to be comforted

To understand, than to be understood.

To love, than to be loved.

For

It is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

The past is only a chapter, it doesn’t define me

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Last night, well the wee hours of the morning, I started working on my book.    I have steered clear of writing about things that I really feel need to be shared, if only to help another because  some of the things I would like to share would reflect badly on others.   Some things are better left unsaid sort of thing, but last night that changed.    I will not post names, I will not defame another, but I will share my experiences and some…some???   Clearly are by the harsh hand of others.    Perhaps it’s maturity, perhaps it’s part of my healing, perhaps I’m just a frigan bitch who wants to expose them!   🙂  Nah, I decided last night, however, that my loyalty should be to myself.  And if I keep the things that harmed me quiet, untold, that empowers them.  I am totally wanting to extinguish all!   But that cannot be done.   I can, and am, however, finding a proper place for it all.

Anyways, words flowed last night like a trout swimming downstream.   It was great.   I shared some in a blog, but in the contents of my draft I am really digging deep and wrote about some of the trenches I’ve been in.   Not for sympathy, not even for empathy, not for any other reason than to celebrate surviving, celebrate learning, knowledge, celebrate where I am today.   

I recall a moment in an Alanon Chatroom where someone was venting about their  “spouse the souse”, as he called her.   I sat back, listening, many were there listening, just validating his feelings, his thoughts, his frustrations.   I met some incredible people in the confines of that room.  I am still in touch with probably a dozen, and I consider them true friends.    Anyway, I was having a fairly good day, surprisingly but pleasantly.   But I digress….   When he was through venting, he thanked us all, and he felt better, we always feel better to blow off steam.     You know how God gives us what we need?  And when we feel bad, or sorry for ourselves someone is put in our path to help us understand that there are a lot worse off than you?   This is how it works for me anyway.  So a friend asked me how I was feeling, I shared.  The gentlemen who vented asked what I was sick with.  I explained to him that I was going through treatment, radical surgeries, for breast cancer(s).  And that my brother simultaneously was going through treatment for colon and rectal cancers.     I laugh at this now, I actually laughed at it at the time, the gentlemen venter was really quiet for a few minutes and then he writes “I have absolutely nothing to complain about, Thank you for sharing.     Hey, I didn’t want to invalidate his feelings or anyone else’s.  We all have struggles, we all have days where we would like to kill someone but where and how would we hide the body?   I realized that, after hearing what I was going through, it helped him compartmentalize his difficulties….   Oh my god!  I was the one that was worse off and that helped people move forward.  I say this because I found it comical then, and I still do.   Yah, things were pretty difficult then, but I was going through the motions, doing what needed to be done, not having the time nor energy to take it all in.   When in survival mode, it takes everything you have, every ounce of energy to get through the day.    There was no time for self pity, no room for bullshit, and no interest in sharing it with another, things were happening way too fast to conceivably share all that was happening.  I suppose some of it was also denial.  I am one woman who is very grateful for the gift of denial, if it is short term, that is.   When something traumatic happens, that numb period, tears, pain, but numbness I think is a gift.  We aren’t equipped nor can we consume excruciating pain for long periods of time.  Our bodies, our minds protect us from this.   A life of denial, well, that’s another topic entirely, and one that I’m not particularly keen on.   

So I wrote and wrote, the words flew off the tips of my fingers.  I wrote about things that I have rarely if ever revealed.   I wrote about a husband who physically abused me, and the next who verbally abused me.  I wrote about how little I thought of myself, and the feelings of self loathing then.    had and some still have to, forgive myself for.     When my head hit the pillow this morning around 6;30am I slept like a log, solid, uninterrupted for 6 hours.  Apparently it was cathartic!    Today I shared with my therapist some very violent parts of my past.  I have been seeing her for almost 2 years now, and I trust her, I like her, she is helping me.   I shared about what I had written about, the thoughts the memories that came flooding through me while writing, and I was sharing all of this pragmatically, without emotion, without feelings, I was sharing my truth.    How POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     Then she said “I have time open tomorrow, I think we should meet tomorrow because with the holiday we are missing our next session.   I laughed, okay okay….  “We don’t want to lose momentum, Donna”…. so true, so true.   I found this funny.   “LoOk at me, LoOk at all my progress”….. “Yes, now come back tomorrow!”

Following therapy I reluctantly had to go to the Walmart.    I was dreading it, but I knew it would be much worse tomorrow if I put it off.   So in I went.   When I grabbed a cart one of the wheels was really messed up, it was sideways and not working.   A woman and her daughter came in behind me and said “Are there any dry carts?”  I replied “No, and don’t use that one, it’s retarded…”    The minute that word came out of my mouth I knew it was improper and inappropriate.  Seldom do I use this word.   My oldest sister was mentally retarded, I meant no harm, nor disrespect to anyone.  She said to me “What did you say?”  I said “I’m sorry, I was wrong in choosing and speaking those words”.   She said “Well, don’t think I’m lecturing you or upset with you.  Ironically I had just corrected my daughter for using that phrase when we were in the car, and then we walk in and you are using it.”   Between the three of us we decided the best way to describe the cart was a pain in the butt, broken, and unusable!

$180 later, and 10 bags lugged in and put away, I poured some eggnog and decided to read my mail.   The eggnog, settling like a gut bomb has me upset with myself that I chose this when I had healthy juice I could have opted for!   Live and learn, live and learn.

There were a few screaming kids in Walmart.   I always call this “birth control awareness day”.   But for the most part, I roamed around, got what I needed without interruption.   I did run into a neighbor whose husband was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Leukemia.   Ouch.   Cancer really does suck, ya know?

So, what is my message today?  Good question!  I think it is to embrace who we once were, the difficulties, the joyfulness that we have experienced, appreciate who we are today, at this very moment.    Forgiveness is the key to freedom.   I forgive others quickly, I learned years ago that doing so set ME free.  It was forgiving myself that I have had and still do have problems with.   Hey, I made some bad choices, I took some wrong roads, I have sat in shit and swam with stingrays…. I am who I am…  I am more than those experiences.  I am more than my name.  I am a result of 52 years of life, learning, lessons, good times, bad….

The older I get the less I feel the need to impress anyone, and the less I care about what others think of me.    The old adage “Walk a mile in my shoes” rings true, still, today.    Sometimes I forget that I don’t know what another person is going through.   I lose patience with them, if they cut me off in traffic or snap at me on the phone.   I need gentle reminders that we all have our crosses to bear.  We are all trying to find and make our way here, and it surely isn’t all roses.  By the way, I’m allergic to them, so let’s say “sunflowers!”

Today I am forgiving myself for putting myself in harms way.  I am forgiving myself for being in bad relationships, for allowing others to beat me down.   Today I am one with myself, the person I was then is unrecognizable to me now.   That is not a bad thing.  Of course that/those experiences are a chapter in my life, but no longer do they define me, rule me, or are part of my present.   They are compartmentalized, acknowledged but not dwelled upon.   Doing this work is rewarding.  When I can come home from grocery shopping, and still be humming?   Rewarding!  I am participating in making my life better, fuller, richer.   I am participating not only in my own life now, but in the world!

 

 

 

Unpleasantries

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This morning I logged in to find a very unpleasant comment from a reader.  I approved and posted it.    Ironically last night I had written a chapter in my book on “forgiveness”.    As true with what has played out in my life, I am always given tests and opportunities to practice what I have learned from the various experiences of my life, most of which I write about, none of which are embellished.  Of all the blogs I have written I have received two negative comments, suggesting that I was looking for sympathy, attention.  NOT.   I write because I believe it is what I am supposed to do, and also it is my hope to reach others.  If my experiences can help one other person, wonderful!  I write about my experiences because that is what I know best, this is my life, my blog, I share from my heart.   It helps me to heal from the hardships, sadness, and share and celebrate in my triumphs and growth.    

When you open up your life experiences and feelings you make yourself vulnerable to a world of criticism, opinions, and the like, but you also open up yourself to the hearts of people to whoms life you do touch, whom sharing your experiences, your feelings, your challenges helps them with theirs, and that is what its about for me.    When you share your strengths, your successes, your triumphs, it may help someone else who is about to embark on the same or similar journey.  Encouragement is something I have always needed, I like to offer this to others by way of sharing.    I made a decision a few years ago that before I died I wanted others to know who I am, what I stood for, what I am all about.  I am doing just that.    No doubt other readers have fallen by the wayside deciding my blog is not for them, only they didn’t feel so compelled to leave a nasty comment like this woman did.   Thus the title of my book “Take what you like and leave the rest!” 

What I did find comical is that the post that obviously struck a nerve “Princess  Donna” which was entitled with “Princess Leia” in my head.  Anyone who knows me personally would find humor in it.  I had envisioned myself outside shoveling snow with sorrels and a long gown, in my head it was quite funny!  I even had the hairstyle with the two braids bulging out the side of my head!    Do the voices in my head bother you? 

At any rate, last night the wind blew so strong in Vermont that I believed I would wake up in Kansas.  I was relieved to awaken in my own bed, state, snuggled up to my furries and the roof still in tact!

And now, I am off to paint… have a great day all!