Christianity and People, Family and Pets, Writing For The Moment

Do as I Do, Not as I Say

How often do we give an instruction to a child, our child or someone else’s child that we have influence over, that in actuality we do not follow ourselves? I was raised by two Christian parents. Married for over 35 years before they both passed away. They never divorced although they had plenty of reasons that would have satisfied most anyone’s curiosity and conviction as to a justifiable divorce. They stayed true to their vows, at least that is what everyone thought that sat at their funerals, separated by only a matter of months. Many good memories, anecdotes and accolades were shared as guests, friends, family and co-workers, reminisced about each of them at their perspective memorial service.

I sat their listening at my mother’s funeral with tears pouring down my cheeks brought on by the memory of who she was to them, of who I wished she had been for me. Believe me, I loved my mother. I longed for many more years with her. I felt cheated out of time I assumed I would have with her and only her when my father passed. The biggest problem lay in the fact that she passed first and far too soon. The memories shared expressed who my heart knew my mother was, the love she had to give, the attention and generosity of time, talent and compassion. The unconditional understanding she had for those around her. I knew that is who she was, had always known this. And yet, the thought kept creeping into my mind again and again although I tried to brush it off, that they didn’t know her, not all of her.

I sat at my father’s memorial and listened as people spoke about him and the ways he had touched their lives. Most if not all commending him for his tenacious spirit that never quit even under the weight of many health set backs year after year that were debilitating, life changing and never-ending. And all I could think as I sat there was, that they didn’t know him. Not how I knew him.

Even before Facebook my family, like many others I am sure, had mastered the art of putting on a good face. Posting only the happy moments of our life for all to see. Anything else, anything disparaging, anything questionable, of poor taste, that would leave a sour taste in your mouth or worse yet make you vomit, was hidden, left unsaid. On any given Sunday we would dawn our best, put on our freshly shined fake patent leather shoes, and walk into church, mom and dad hand in hand, each of us kids with a smile or at least a smirk on our faces. I should probably note (and commend) my older brothers that there did come a time that they finally refused this ruse. Our parents swayed and allowed them to stay home rather than stir the pot and cause a scene at church. Although I never went to work with my parents, I can imagine the conversations between them and their co-workers as they shared tales of their families. Oh, the webs they must have woven, beautiful and intricate in design to show off the cohesive and loving family they created with their own words.

As a child I was told a magnitude of times enduring countless hours of church, Christian school and conversations at home, to tell the truth.

Thou shalt not lie.

Put on the full armor of God……Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….

You shall not give false testimony [lie] against your neighbor.

For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals with dishonesty.

The truth shall set you free!

Just tell the truth, you will feel better if you do.

Tell the truth…. We may be disappointed but if you lie you will be sinning.

Confession is good for the soul.

On, and on, the teaching went. Tell the truth. And yet, as I sit here and reflect as I have done over and over again, so much of my upbringing and years of my first marriage were nothing more than lies. Outright lies. I was lied to. I was lied about. I listened as lies were told. I listened as my family was told by their Pastor to lie. I listened as the truth was withheld in order to protect the family, the church, anyone they deemed in need of protection by those lies, themselves. I told lies to protect them, him, my daughter, me. I lied to be who others wanted, expected me to be. They taught me well.

Tell the truth, just not about this.

Tell the truth, just not now.

Tell the truth, about other things.

This truth would be better left unsaid.

Confess your sins, but do it in private.

Be honest in everything, except the things that are embarrassing, will hurt the church, will affect yours and our reputation.

Tell the truth….some other time.

Do as I Do, Not as I Say, Tell the truth, Just not today.

 

 

 

 

Life After Cancer

A little less of me.

The year began like any other with me writing goals for the year more so than resolutions. Years ago I wrote a blog about New Year’s resolutions. It came about due to so many people’s posts on Facebook about how they didn’t like New Year’s Resolutions or why they thought they were wrong or a waste of time. I personally felt that New Year’s Resolutions were more like goals you set for yourself. Sometimes we achieve our goals and other times we fail. What would life be like without failure? If we never set goals, never try at something, never fail, then what is the point? Why go about our lives day in and day out, year in and year out do the same thing over and over again? What is that quote….. “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein.  Failure often leads to one trying again or trying something different. At least it can. And so, I firmly believe in setting goals, New Year’s Resolutions, plans, lists, and revising them as needed in order to continue on in life.

I should look back and see what my goals were for 2016. I can’t even imagine what they were. When January 1, 2016 hit I already had three appointments on my calendar. One on January 5th for a biopsy of cells found in my right breast. And one on January 6th for a biopsy of a mass found in my left breast. The third appointment was set for January 11th and it was to find out the results of my biopsies. Although these appointments were in my calendar I set goals for the year. All of which were put on hold come January 11th when we were told I in fact had breast cancer.

The year quickly took on a new agenda which was to do what I needed to do to ensure many more years, decades with my family. As the year went on it continued to take a few turns here and there that were not on our original map. Each turn brought a different treatment, test or procedure. All of which contributed to our ultimate goal of many more years together in the future. I learned many great lessons throughout the year. Some of which included how amazing our friends truly are, how broad and wide our friend circle actually was, how to let others help us rather than us help others, how to receive blessings over and over again, how to allow my body, my mind and my heart time to heal and grieve, and how to accept that just when I thought it was time to go back to work, it wasn’t.

I started off 2016 with a whole body  accept for two small parts that had been removed when I was quite young, my tonsils and my appendix. This year alone I have lost (or had removed) both breasts (complete bilateral skin sparing mastectomy), some lymph nodes, my uterus, my fallopian tubes, my ovaries and my cervix. Just when I was starting to grieve the loss of my breasts and the acceptance of my foobs we found it was necessary for me to undergo a complete and radical hysterectomy. I put my grieving on hold and went into surgery. In 12 short months I have had 4 surgeries, 12 rounds of chemo, and about 19 IV Immunotherapy treatments. I have 6 more immunotherapy treatments to go which should wrap up in April/May of 2017. And now in December I am aware that there is a little less of me. In some ways they are just body parts, as crude as that may sound it is true. In other ways I know that as I reflect on them and on the changes to come I will begin to see and accept that they were more than body parts, they were a part of me. As 2016 comes to a close I find I want to take time to reflect on all of the good that came to us this year. The blessings are many. As I look forward to 2017 I envision time for reflection, time for grieving, time to share all of the changes in my body in hopes of helping others, and time to transition back into ‘normal’ life after treatment as the year progresses. I will once again write down New Year’s Resolutions and look forward to seeing how they play out over the course of the year.

Christianity and People, Family and Pets, Writing Exercises

Once Upon A Time……

There was a time not that long ago that the story I would have written would have been about a person who had been victimized seemingly her entire life only recently finding happiness. And although happy, pain and hurt would continue to be the underlining theme throughout the rest of the story providing a bitter sweet ending. Thankfully the ending has yet to be reached. And even more wonderful is the healing that has begun to take place and my story of pain, neglect, abuse and misery is evolving.

My past is still my past. I cannot change what happened to me and around me. I can however see more than the abuse and the pain. I can see the moments of happiness. I can see  who I was and how and when I began to change. I can see the choices I made that contributed to the paths that I took in life. I am beginning to see the people who abused me in a different light. I can see the circumstances they grew up in. What may have caused them to make some of the choices they made. Not excuses for them and their actions, but explanations of who they were and insight into what I am seeing as their limitations. This new pespective is sheding a whole new light on my past, who I was and who I have become.

Life is but a story. One that doesn’t end until we die. Some would say it doesn’t even end there as our life can still have an effect on others long after we are gone. I hope mine does. I hope when I am gone that things I have done, things I have said may leave a lasting impression on the people I have had contact with. I hope my story continues long after I am gone. I hope it inspires the people I have touched to do good things, to think about others before themselves, to long to make a difference near and far, to also leave a lasting impression when they too are gone. One can hope, right?

I think as I continue this journey of forgiveness my story is going to evolve even more. How I see my childhood and early adult life is going to change drastically. I believe rather than seeing myself as the victim I am beginning to see myself as an overcomer. Rather than holding onto anger, resentment and judgement for those who abused and neglected me I am going to have compassion, empathy and sympathy for them. I believe this change in how I view my past is going to continue to change how I see myself now and who I become. The change has begun and I am encouraged by what is happening.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be loved…………

Family and Pets, Writing Exercises

In the Beginning of Me

In the beginning (of me) there was me. A strong confident red headed, some might say hot headed, little girl ready to take on the world. I think that’s how my mom would have put it. I was brave, strong, persistant, curious, full of laughter and enjoyed life. My hair was wild and at times untamable a little like my personality. And then as time moved forward I evolved to fit the environment around me. The me that I was turned into the me that I am not.

I would say my therapist described it best in our meeting last week. She said, “You were a fish in the wrong pond. You know like there is this pond full of bright orange fish and there you are in the midst of it a solid white fish. You just didn’t belong.” I have spent so many years trying to be like all the other fish in the pond I grew up in. I even found and dated a man that was a lot like the fish that I had called daddy. He looked the same and in many ways acted the same. And yet, he was a little different too. I was drawn in some ways to his likeness and in other ways to his difference. Neither of which were a good thing for me.

One day I left the pond. Clean jumped ship as they say. I packed up my stuff, took all that was of importance to me and hightailed it out of the pond I had called home for 28 years. For a time I was in between ponds. A fish flailing about on dry land in desperate need of water, but not just any water. I wanted to find the right fit. A pond that I could be free to be me in addition to being guided, encouraged and influenced by other fish to explore, grow and become the best me I could be. I was looking for a group of fish that didn’t just take no for an answer. Ones that didn’t believe ‘this is as good as it gets’. What I have learned is I was also looking for fish that didn’t let their past or present circumstances define who they are. A completely different pond with very different fish.

It was only a matter of time when I found my new pond. It wasn’t too difficult to re-enter the water as I had been longing for it. Initaily the water quenched my thirst and fulfilled my need to get my gills wet so to speak. I relaxed a little and got comfortable in my new digs. I begin to flow with the day to day life. A little me, the one I used to be, began to surface. It was then that I would hear people say, “I can’t believe (you ever lived in that kiind of a pond) it! You don’t seem anything like that.” It was then that I would share my story and paint the picture of my former pond. My life as a victim if you will and all that went with it. And just how that pond had ruined the me that I once was. And when they tried to deny it, tried to tell me that I was still me, I would quickly tell them that I was not. I had been tainted by the pond I grew up in and I would never be the same.

After several years in my new pond and telling the story of my past over and over again I begin to realize that although I had left the old pond and moved into this new space in my life, the old pond was consuming me more than it ever had before. The ugliness had settled into the core of who I was. I spent a great deal of time thinking about it, reliving it, wishing it were not so. Inevitably my thoughts would turn to anger and I would be filled with resentment, bitterness and contempt for the ones who had caused me pain. They deserved to be punished and to never forget what they did to me, how they had changed the me that I was. And yet, they were not here anymore. The anger and bitterness was effecting the new people around me. The ones that I love and cherish. The ones that make me happy. Not the ones that had caused me so much pain. My new pond was getting infected by the me I was becoming.

I like my new pond. I like that a little of the me from the beginning was finding a way to be. In fact I think the me that I am supposed to be has been inside waiting for the chance to come out. Over the years I have pushed it down further beneath the pain, anger and bitterness, stifling me to my core. Thankfully it was strong enough to resist and to hold on. Recently I recognized what was happening to my new pond and that I in fact am responsible for it. I have also realized that while I am not to blame for the abuse I endured I am to blame for letting it consume me and for holding onto the pain, hurt, anger, bitterness and desire to punish the perpretrators for all eternity. In letting that go, I am seeing an even better me emerge. The murkiness of my pond is clearing and I like what I see.

Now there is me, a strong seemingly confident red headed, working on not being too hot headed, woman who is excited to continue to evolve in my new pond. I am ready to take on my past. I look forward to once again taking on the world around me as I grow, learn and explore life around me.

I still have a long way to go. There is healing to be done. There are lessons to be learned. I am moving towards but not yet at the place of forgiveness. One thing is very clear. The me that was in the beginning is still here and I am now ready to let her be. I have had a desire over the past few years to begin writing. Some of you read my other blog which is a real estate and family blog. At times I have been hesitant to write on it due to what I wanted to write. I found that I have been holding myself back so as to not offend others. It was brought to my attention that it might be a good idea to have a separate blog to write whatever I want. So this is my little disclaimer that will be reiterated on the blog officially.

This blog is to be a place where I can share whatever comes to my mind to write. I chose the title: Live Think Write, because it encompasses how I feel. I am simply living life and at times I want to write about what is happening in my life and the lives of those around me. I am a thinker. At times I just want to write what I am thinking. Some will agree and others will not. I like to think outloud and process situations. And then there is the strong desire to write. I want to write. Blog posts, poems, children’s books, a book about healing and forgiveness, maybe one about mothers and daughters or about freeing yourself from an abusive cycle or other self help books. And so it is here in this new blog that I will continue to live, think and write.