Weighed, measured and found wanting

We each follow our own unique paths in life. Building, expanding, setting goals, learning and teaching. We take on life head on without an instruction guide, faced with making choices and accepting responsibility for the good and the bad. Each person reassuring themselves they are doing it right. We have families and friendships, close relationships that bring us intimacy, trust, support, advice and so much more. We can communicate so easily with cell phones, internet, social networking. Places like Facebook give us a means to closely follow each other, constantly, with or without interaction or effort. I use this site daily. I see all the complaining, judging, struggle and even joy. I’ve done these things as well. It is so easy to get bored with routine, complain about petty things, or pass judgment on those we know (even those we don’t). It is easy to boast, brag, self indulge and pity our own difficult situations. Despite the readily available means of communication we still often feel alone and disconnected. We fear no one can truly understand how we feel. With a deep seeded need to connect and trust and belong we claim to possess certain traits and seek the same in others. What is unfortunate is that we never really reveal the whole truth. Often we hide it even from ourselves, believing the half-truths. Quietly judging those we care for, never fully trusting, or fully being trusted. With technology taking the place of personal interaction we are able to participate from a distance. In the safety of our homes. With less opportunity to really know someone. Never being able to know their whole story, subtle glimpses in their life. Limited by text, a distant voice, screen names, out dated pictures. Hundreds of “friends” online, all ready to shower us with kind words, sympathy, their own wisdom, advice.

I’ve done my fair share of complaining, judging, advising. Whining about boredom, bitching about things that are either unimportant, out of my control, none of my business or my own doing. It’s hard to realize that repetition in our lives may seem a bit monotonous at times but, really show us a calm time in our life. It’s easy to place blame and feel sorry for ourselves but in reality we are in control of our own happiness or lack of. None of us practice what we preach. After all the complaining I have done, hind sight has slapped me hard in the face. With the hope of the new year bringing good things I have been blind sided by harsh reality, and tragedy I’ve never known. Death of a loved one and potentially losing my first-born due to his grievous lack of sound decision-making. The thought of my 16-year-old facing prison and all the detrimental effects it could have on him is paralyzing. Aside from devastating his future, there is rape, death, becoming a cycle and more. I second guess how I have parented, the morals I’ve instilled, self blame, go through all the “if only’s”, and in the end am left helpless and unsure.

Sometimes having a slightly boring life is not that bad. I wish I could go back to boring, at least I knew what to expect. I am left feeling stupid for taking the small things for granted.

Found wanting

I have always believed I was prepared for anything. Not too many things surprise me, maybe I am a bit cynical, pessimistic even. Mine first line of defense in life is keeping people at a distance. Never revealing too much, expecting the worse, never trusting anyone with totality. Life experience has taught me people lie, they are self-serving, inconsistent, and unreliable. Honesty, loyalty, compassion…these characteristics are greatly important yet rare. Most friendships come at a high price. Friendship should be a gift presented without intention for personal gain. Family is where you go for comfort, love, safety. A place where conditions are void, judgement is no concern, acceptance without question, support beyond measure. Two relationships where you should find sanctuary not question their validity. Friends and family are really not that much different. The one thing separating them, in general, is DNA. Unfortunately blood is often not a guarantee. Many of us make our own family, blood or not.

A deep need to connect, trust, and bond is suppressed and prevented by a more intense need for self-preservation. The ability to effectively keep people at a distance, family or not. The inability to love naturally, instinctual. Love is something that takes consistent effort, constant learning, and attempting to disregard previous experience. I was taught from the beginning not to trust mothers, fathers. As time passed relationships in general proved unworthy as well. Sixteen years as a mother, eleven years as a wife, thirty-three years of life experience; these years have been rocked to their foundation by the last six months. Thirty three years of knowledge, hard work building indestructible walls, devastated by weeks, days. The discovery of deceit and the realisation that I had put my trust in a friendship, someone I’ve known for over twelve years, given more than anyone before or since, was false. A hard lesson to learn. These last months have thrown us so much chaos, financial strain, stress. Testing the durability of our committment to each other.  With my focus on my family, ” the force of nature” threatening to destroy our faith in each other, I was caught off guard. My husband and Mother-in-law snuck in. Finding out your attempts to ward everyone off are not always effective is mildly disconcerting. Though not always a bad thing.

After the passing of my MIL I was hit with the realisation that I loved her. It never dawned on me how important she really was to me. The three of us an unstoppable team. A team that has been broken. A shift in how much I am needed, depended on is much more than I expected. The sadness I feel is unlike me, never having been affected much by death, has caught me off guard. Being expected to maintain, support, and be the glue holding everything together. A job I was once prepared for is now incredibly overwhelming. Needed beyond my capacity to give.

Now a team of two, we have to rebuild. Start over and strengthen each other. So many friends have been dishonest, disloyal. Family is guilty as well. After all that has gone down, things have to change.

I need people in my life who accept me, not agree with everything I do or say. Mutual respect for opinions, thoughts, values. People who like me, my family. Equal effort.

I thought I had it all figured out, thought I was prepared for anything. As it turns out I have been weighed, measured and found wanting.

Reflection

Now that I’m an adult with children of my own I am better able to make sense of the way my parents chose to raise me. They had one biological son and they adopted me. I believe they adopted for the wrong reasons and were totally unprepared for what they were getting themselves into. They did maintain strict rules, taught manners and made sure I wanted for nothing money could buy. My brother was always treated much different. Completely different rules, standards…everything. I had chores that included cleaning each room of the house including my brothers and parents. I did dishes nightly, trash, dusted and vacuumed 3 times a week, wad in charge of laundry and mowed the lawn. My brother had none. As soon as I was old enough I started working in the summers and weekends. I was not allowed to go many places because they pinned me as a trouble maker. I was never in trouble in school or with the authorities. When I was little and would cry and miss my mom, I was told not to feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t the only one in the world going through it. These actions are starkly different from what our church peers saw, or anyone looking in from the outside. It wasn’t till later in life that I had a chance to speak with some people who were close to our family that I finally realized I wasn’t the only one who thought I was being treated unfairly. I don’t think I was treated this way on purpose, but when they were confronted something should have changed. Now as an adult the relationship is hardly recognizable and they have no real interest in mine or their grandchildren. It’s sad but I forgive them.

A decade protected

Spent the ages six to sixteen with an adopted family. Their goal was to protect me from a world I had long since experienced. Instilling well placed morals and ideals. Introducing religion, we would participate in church on Sundays and bible study on Wednesdays. A great family dynamic. Dad was a firefighter, mom worked at the police station. Quiet evenings and a large fenced yard. One older brother, a small dog…story book status really. We did things together like camping, holidays, movies. Summers I spent a lot of time with relatives hanging out with cousins, working, playing on my grandpas farm. Summers were always amazing. After about 4 years we moved to the country. A large house on a hill suiting on four acres. Twenty minutes from any real city. Life was good and quiet. Well it should have been good, but I always craved something else. I grew up in such chaos it had become part of me. My heart never stopped yearning for it, and I would seek it wherever I could. I’m certain my parents thought I was crazy, but they took it in stride. In an attempt to further calm me down I was put in private school. This only made me worse, I immediately attracted the black sheep in the school. Girls who were much worse than I ever was, and they really expanded my mind. I lasted a year and a half in private school, and a month after turning sixteen set off on a new journey.

Under construction, please excuse the mess.

I had my first experience with an actual psychiatrist yesterday. I’ve seen counselors, therapists and the like before, but never a M.D. I was terrified to go in for fear of certain institutionalization. I was sure he’d pick up on all my crazy and lock me up tight. Against my better judgement I proceeded and was let into the room with a leather couch. The experience was nothing like I expected, it was actually positive. The Dr was pleasant and understanding. I really liked him and felt better when I was able to leave of my own free will. The best part is he assured my I was in fact not crazy. News to me. I am relieved to learn this and plan to return. After struggling for over a decade with behavioral uniqueness, I am ready to get it under control. I know people other than me have similar issues and I know how hard it can be to deal with them. Mental health is still largely misunderstood and carries a stigma. I’m passed worrying about that stigma. Let’s just nip this thing in the bud already and get it over with. If I was diabetic I would address it, as I will with this. My mind is under construction and I’m working to make it strong and stable. Please excuse the mess and just set around it and mind your head just in case. After all these years I’m glad to have the hope of gaining control. I’m diagnosed severe depression and anxiety, sometimes it gets the better of me. Some of those who know me don’t understand it. That’s ok though, I’m not sure I do either. I hope the more this type of disorder is talked about and shared, the more people are able to seek comfort and help.

Tending the garden of planted memories.

It’s easy to let yourself be defined by many different things. Other people’s opinions, a turbulent past, your parents ideals, or even keeping up with a normal appearance. Living this way is not only confusing but, exhausting. I’ve let a “bad childhood” rule me for most of my life. “Memories” echoing in my mind affecting me, even as an adult. Regardless of the medications and therapies that have been a part of my life since childhood. As I get older and reflect I’m haunted by one specific thing. These memories I retain are not my own. Planted memories, constantly repeated and reinforced. These things I was fed were the reason I was placed in a new home at six. Boom! I had no idea what was going on, other than what caseworkers, police, therapists, and so on were telling me. From the age of four till I was six I was interviewed, questioned, consoled, and told of all these awful things I was privy to. To this day I have zero working memory of these incidents. Child molestation and witnessing the murder of my brother are things I would assume would stick with me. Not the case. I do not believe they are fact. I am certain the divorce and following custody battle played a huge part in those, among other, stories. My parents were not good people and I think my mother would have said and done anything to keep custody from my father. Including severely corrupting her daughters mind and ultimately tossing me away forever. The result of her selfish and damaging actions sculpted who I would become in later years. My ability to bond, trust, love, even manage a healthy friendship were affected.

We all have a history, a past, things that haunt us. Each of us struggles with something. There comes a time, my time is now, when you let go. Accept the bad and the good. Move forward and grow. I’ve been holding this hot Cole, despite it searing my skin. I have to put it down and heal. I’m tired of who I am being defined by what may have happened over two decades ago. Now make no mistake, this will be a Hell of a challenge, but wouldn’t life be boring without challenges? We are in control, we have free will, we decide our path. I plan to try my damndest to navigate my own journey. Learning and growing. Hopefully my words which reflect my heart can help others too.

Are you on your own journey? Have you begun redefining your life? Have any thoughts, comments, questions? I’d love to share in your story as well.

To defy or define?

Writing has always been something I wanted to do. Poetry, books anything really. Like so many of us life often takes us in another direction. It’s always when there though. It’s brought me here. After living my life with the ferocity of a natural disaster and finally entering the calm of the storm, I feel this may be a great next step. An indefinite biography, a documentation of life experience and inexperience. I’ve experienced a lot in 33 years but, haven’t really done anything I thought I would. Polar opposite actually. Multiple families growing up, teenage pregnancy, addiction, self indulgence, being homeless, employment, college, marriage, children, mental health problems. You name it. I have learned so much but, in great need of more knowledge. I want to better myself. Help others. Share my story. Hopefully someone will listen.
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