Saturday, May 30, 2015

Writing Through the Pain

Memorial Day weekend I decided to participate in a contest titled How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life (in 1000 words or less). Below is my attempt to answer the question.

Journaling, poetry and short stories were haphazard as a child. Expressing myself on paper continued into adulthood. My graceful attempt to write flowed more like me tripping on a threshold, stubbing my toe and slamming into the doorway, only to wonder two days later how I got the huge bruise on my leg.

One by one friends suggested, “You should write about your abusive upbringing.”

“Write a book.”

“Tell your story.”

“Me, write? A writer I am not.”

“And anyway, child abuse isn’t original. Who wants to hear another story about that?”

Besides, I get tense trying to understand a pretense, never mind suppositions, oppositions, I mean, prepositions, thees, thous and those. I mean thou art. Oh God, forgive me and help me at the same time.

Dad was a walking time bomb. Self-pity of his disability didn’t bode well with the bitterness and anger he mixed with Darvon and alcohol. Mom? Well she appeared absent in her presence and didn't defend us. Me, the oldest of three, the lightening rod of his wrath, or so it seemed, was not having a fun childhood.

Growing up I had this sense of feeling stupid. Dad would call us stunods. It was funny then because backwards it spelled donuts. But comments such as those weren't balanced with love, encouragement or support.

By junior high Dad came home drunk more frequently and would send me and my sister to bed without finishing our homework. Mom shared, "I could only come up with so many family crisis," as she sent us to school with another excused-note explaining to the teachers why our homework was incomplete … again.

In 1992 Dad was hospitalized. We hadn’t spoken for six years so I wasn’t sure what to do with the news. In the meantime my sister had the chutzpah to make one last attempt to contact him.

Shortly before he died in 1992, she reported his death-bed blessing for his three children, 
"...You kids are no good and stupid and you can all go to hell."

This was his final answer to who I was in his eyes and who I had to overcome.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fighting the Fight

Do you sometimes feel like you're in a battle?
Do you find yourself asking, "Why do I keep doing the same stupid thing over and over?"
"Why are some days harder than others?"
Maybe you've heard, "Well, change what you're doing and maybe you'll get different results."

Sometimes the battle is: stopping an addiction; food, shopping, eating, TV, drinking, attitude, old habits, etc. Sometimes the battle might be gravitating to the negative rather than thinking positive and thankful thoughts. Sometimes we want to break tradition after 30 years and have the Thanksgiving meal at our home or a restaurant. "Oh my!"

You're response might be:
  • You're not in my shoes
  • It's not my fault 
  • Somebody hurt me
  • How do I change? 
  • Change what? 
  • What battle? It's how our family is.
  • It's part of our family history 
  • Even my grandparents are like this 
  • It's in my DNA 

Maybe you don't think you're in a battle but wonder why you're frustrated.

Often I ask, "Am I getting it?" "Have I changed?" "Why am I going around the same Mountain ... again!"

On a bad-battle day I can feel like I've regressed and nothing has improved. But if I let the battle-dust settle for a minute, stop and pause, the backwards barometer encourages me as I reflect and realize my attitude is changing, my pity parties are getting shorter, I didn't cry this time, or I didn't cry for two-hours, or I didn't stay mad for 6-months, 5-days, 3-hours (well I'm still working on the 3-hours one :-). 

Are you one of those people wanting "something" to be different, but say, "I don't know what to change?" 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Healing with Mom

Through the five plus years of trying to conceive, there’d been many tears and many prayers. During the peak of our infertility process, a time when emotions were raw and tears flowed like rivers, it seemed every time I turned around I was invited to a baby shower.

In addition to these peaks and valleys, Mother’s Day at church became a dreaded man-made holiday for me. During this time of infertility, several proud parents lined the front of the sanctuary eager to have their newborns dedicated on Mother’s Day. One by one, their babies were held up for the congregation to see. The new mothers glowed. I shut down.

Mother’s Day has been awkward for me to celebrate. If this man-made Hallmark occasion put undue pressure on me, who else felt this way? I imagine there is a population of women who, for personal reasons, have emotional scars in need of healing that well up in their heart come the month of May. 

There are some women who:
· lost their mothers
· never knew their mother
· don’t want to know their mother
· their mother’s never knew them
· live far from their mother
· don’t want to be a mother
· could never conceive a child
· had an abortion
· lost their child
· children were taken away
· and the list goes on

My upbringing offered no peace, rather verbal and physical abuse from my father, and neglect of our situation from my mother. I certainly didn’t grow up in a Christian environment regardless of our claimed beliefs. The mother and daughter relationship, Hallmark style, didn’t exist.