Friday, 29 August 2014

Now Said To Then

Now said to Then, "Don't worry. It will change. Really." Now knew how utterly impossible those words sounded. Now remembered how terribly deep and unimaginable the pain was daily. 

Then asked, "Do you truly remember? Can you empathize any more? Do you recall how all-encompassing the pain felt?"

How could Now forget?

She reluctantly walked down the hall. Her head painfully pounded in fear as she felt completely ignored by the crowd in her invisibility. Yet she simultaneously felt mocked by each set of eyes that happened to look her way. Shoulders slumped, she shyly kept her eyes gazed on the bare floor, avoiding any contact. But longing so much for some positive connection. 

She looked disdainfully at her clothes. Embarrassed at their lack of contributing to any acceptable status and hoping that nothing would bring her any attention. Attention that brought hot blood flowing to her face and made her dizzy and confused.

Why couldn't she appreciate any acknowledgement? Why couldn't a smile or question pierce the loneliness and bring her out into the moment in her crowded surroundings? Instead she was left behind this huge wall that blinded her from seeing any relational opportunity. It suffocated her. Her every muscle ached. 

She bit her lip to keep away the tears. Her stomach continued to cramp as always. She could think of many excuses to leave. She had run away so many times. But where would she go? The solace from one pain would only bring her face to face with another. Then, she would ultimately be expected to return again.

She realized at that moment she wasn't breathing. She felt faint. Every sound shamefully accused her. Every laugh felt directed at her miserable presence. She couldn't take it any more. 

What if she didn't come back? Would anyone notice? Would the daily routine followed by any other human being have to be adjusted for her absence? 

No. Their lives would only continue. Oblivious to those who's eyes desperately cried out in pain for fellowship. Who's hands mortified her as they again trembled in self doubt. Who's feet plodded forward despite the distraction of anguish that never left.

Then knew it would never go away. The tormenting shadow followed her every moment, clouding her eyes and pushing weight onto her shoulders with every thought of mistakes made and assumptions proven and heartache cemented and embarrassments endured.

She piled on the shame with every effort to cope. Every attempt to drink away the timidity. Every effort to puff out the inner turmoil. Every trampish grasp for affection. 

Why was it like this? How could she stop caring? Stop thinking? Stop failing? Stop worrying? Stop snowballing? 

There appeared only one solution. It lingered in the back of her mind always. A permanent solution. The accusations would be gone. The misunderstandings would become unnecessary. The pain would disappear. 

Or would it? What if the anguish remained for eternity? If it followed her to the other side?

"No!" Screamed Now. "It will change! The pain will lessen. The heartache will fade. The doubt will decrease. The confusion will subside.

"And in their place hope will grow. Love will bloom. Appreciation will creep in. Faith will strengthen. Joy will present itself. Healing will begin."

But Then could not hear. Would not hear. Instead, she had to discover the new life slowly. She had to actually attempt her escape. She had to cry her tears. She had to call out in desperation. She had to learn to forgive bit by bit by bit. One impossible step forward and two difficult steps back. 

Your Later sees your Today. Trying to dry your tears. Attempting to give you a glimpse of what will be. Cheering you on in your battle. 

You don't hear Later. Just like my Then didn't hear my Now.

Just believe it exists. That will be enough to help you keep going. You are heading toward something.

There is a future. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Because I Told You So

"Why, mommy?"
"Because I told you so!"

It is the easiest answer in frustration. It is the quickest answer when busy. It is the simplest answer when we don't want to reveal our own insecurities or weaknesses. It is the finite answer when there are just too many questions.  

But what does it really say? It says not to ask questions. It says not to seek understanding. It says to never try to persuade or debate. 

Of course, I don't think it's right for a child to push continuously when they've been told something. And questions can easily turn into an argument that a child shouldn't have with an adult. (I remember my mom telling me I argued too much. We'll see how I feel faced with the same resistance.) I know in some situations an explanation is not needed and in other situations our tone should get prompt obedience because of safety issues.

But "because I told you so" is a very closing response. 

Fast forward to adulthood. Why do you do what you do? Work the way you work? Believe what you believe? Because someone told you to. 

The last thing l want is for my child to go along with something she doesn't agree with and not question whether it is right or wrong. I want her to be open to thinking about what she is doing and why she is doing it. 

I don't want her to be afraid to seek understanding. To open up a dialogue and talk about anything.

You could think that as a result she would be less likely to successfully work under authority. But I think it would do the very opposite. It would be easier to respect leaders if one has confidence in their own ability to be informed on making a decision. I am more comfortable working under someone if I know I can clarify instructions. It is stressful to work under someone when this kind of dialogue is not permitted.

There are many who struggle to do what they are told because they had no freedom. Sometimes people stick to something because it is the opposite of what was forced on them previously. I don't really like to wear slippers because my step dad insisted, saying that I would ruin my socks. I figure there are other acceptable options. Like cheap socks. 

In my current household it appears that stalling is a growing tactic. Getting from the car to the house or vice versa is taking so much longer. But as I have my agenda in my mind and it is halted by an inquisitive follower, I'm hoping to be able to recognize those opportunities in which I can take a moment longer and help her expand in her discernment of her world and it's never ceasing "why". 

Now, "Get in the truck!"
"Because we are running late. Again."

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Of Course You Want Food

Everyone handles stress in their own way. We can try to understand someone else and how they cope. But we can't fully empathize because of our separate experiences. Our childhoods. Our focus. Our mistakes. Our hopes. It all uniquely conglomerates and creates an individual path to dealing with pain, stress, regret, exhaustion, or whatever else is weighing us down.

My main coping mechanism is avoidance. Just what I'm doing now. I feel overwhelmed with what I have to do so I won't do it. Unfortunately, I also married someone who, round about in his own way, over-busies himself so he has no time for certain things. Put us together and it means some things just aren't getting done. 

But another coping method we do not jive in at all is the idea of food for comfort. The worse my sleep, the heartier the breakfast I crave. The more things on my mind, the more chocolate calls my name. A rough day is made better with a nice homecooked meal. Or butter chicken. And after dark my stress turns into a gluttonous attempt to fill myself with joy through my pie hole.  

I figure the way to the heart is through the taste buds. But my husband doesn't want to eat under stress. What?! How could that be? I am unable to comprehend. 

He can't eat when he's busy. He can't eat rushing out the door. He can't eat when he's stressed. He can't eat when there are calls to make or arguments to settle. He can't eat when discussing anything. The last thing on his mind in a bad mood is taking time to stuff his face.

I'm sure if you go into any home there will be some sort of argument that seems absurd. There will be some situation that has grown over time in a way that those not involved could never truly comprehend. And in our house, it's food. 

I beg him to eat when he doesn't want to have anything. I tell him how important a consistent diet is for his health. All because it makes sense to me. My solution will make him feel better. He'd realize it if he would cooperate. 

Or not. 

Maybe, just maybe, it's not going to change. Just like the friend who doesn't like to talk about her problems probably never will open right up. Just like the coworker who can't face his actions probably never will be honest with himself. Just like the family member who will never feel close no matter how much anyone tries. Just like the introvert won't become a social butterfly. Or the overly expressive person won't be able to hold it in. 

We're not all created to make it through with the same crutches. The same outs. The same revelations. 

What I need isn't what the next person needs. When I need dark chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudge, the next person might just need a hug. I don't get it. My coping came out of a childhood restriction from chocolate and a severe shyness. But for them, imagine if in response to their need no one would ever give them a hug? If they were offered chips and cheezies and milkshakes and cake, when they just longed for affection. 

When I need a nice juicy burger with cheese and bacon, the next person just might need a nap. I'm not on board. I recall my mom taking me out for burgers after a night out or the stress of a breakup. But for them, imagine if in response to their need no one ever let them rest? If they were dragged out for fries or hot wings or pie and ice cream, when they just needed to be alone. 

Often, it just isn't better until we take that moment to go back to our comforts. Whether or not they match the needs or wants of those around us. Yes, we all need to learn to deal with things properly. Especially when a five dollar ice cap isn't going to help financial burden. Or a long book isn't going to erase the extensive to-do list.

But when we have to face things together we have to remember that we might not always want to go in the same direction. This requires a bit of observing and listening and being patient and letting go. 

Now, I'm exhausted. My daughter fell asleep, but I didn't. So I'm going to go to the fridge and find some energy. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

My Undone List

Often we have a set of tasks we decisively set on completing. A list of things we need to have done. And this is good. Lists are good. Goals are good. 

But sometimes life comes in and says, no way, that is not what is going to happen. This is quite a pet peeve of mine. Especially when it is what life says to other people. I get so annoyed when friends or family fall through on plans. When they don't do what they said they would do.

I think I get more aggravated because I question how much is life really getting in the way and how much is just excuse. If it really mattered, would they have done it anyway?

It seems life is intent on teaching me that sometimes, I can't just means I can't.

My husband is returning in a few days from a job away. While he was gone I had huge overhaul plans. I was going to get rid of things not used. I was going to amaze him with my hard work. And it started okay. 

I cleared out of a bunch of stuff. I washed the siding by the entrance. I searched and destroyed a dozen wasps nests. I cleaned out and organized the pantry and the storage room and the fridge and freezer. I was checking things off the list. And I had another whole three days off, and a few evenings, to hit 'er hard and get 'er done. 

But then on Wednesday I started to feel unwell. By Thursday I felt horrid. I left work and went home. But a few hours later I was up in the hospital severely nauseous with excruciating stomach pains. They determined it was probably viral and sent me home to bed. I was useless but hopefully by the end of the weekend I would be able to get a little bit more work done.  

But it was not so. Sunday morning I went back up when it became very clear that I was not getting better. I'll spare you the details. 

So my diagnosis was changed from viral, and run it's course, to bacterial, and requiring treatment. But tests had to be done to determine which bacteria, and that may take days. 

So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, getting nothing checked off my list. All my energy must be used to feed my toddler and try to convince her I'm not a Jungle Gym. To wipe her bum and make sure she washes her hands. Other than that, it's been sleep, books, movies, watching her play (which is quite entertaining), Facebook and Pinterest. Nothing productive. 

No weed eating. No moving the lawn. No emptying out the shed to organize. No dump run. No cleaning the fish tank. 

Not only will my self imposed list not be done, but my husband may just return to laundry piled up, dirty dishes, and a layer of grit on the floor. 

My first thought was, would he have stopped working feeling like this? He is a hard worker. He pushes through everything. I feel he may not be aware of how awful I feel. Not that he would actually judge me. He wasn't the one who made the list. I think I may have to let go of some pride as well. I intended to have my man in awe. I wanted him to be proud of me. And I wanted him to learn something. I wanted to show him a list that got done.

But it appears I just have to trust he loves me and he's happy that I'm okay and he won't be excited to see what I did. He'll be excited to see me.

And I'll be happy to see him to be with him and enjoy his company and watch him with his daughter. Not to show him my amazingly accomplished list. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

She Is Not Me.

As the freckles start to dot the bridge of my daughter's adorable nose I see more of myself in her face. (Well, somewhat, as I don't find my nose adorable). As she hungers for more and more books I find pride in her familiar curiosity. As she desires to greet strange animals I recognize her mutual connection to nature. I smile as she tidies up and points out things out of place, hoping that this will help her instead of hindering her future by stressing her out. I laugh as her request for a snack or meal often reflects my most desired nourishment, chocolate. 

Day by day I notice myself in her expressions and preferences. There is one area, though, in which I cannot relate. 

It wasn't until I was at least a quarter of a century in age before I was even close to comfortable inviting someone new into my world. Even then, it was a big step for me. 

A while ago my daughter was at a party with a group of familiar people when she invited a little boy at the next table in the park to play. It seemed if anyone came along that she didn't know, she would eagerly invite them in.

I've seen her approach many strangers at the park. Even asking teenagers to play tag. She constantly asks people their names. 

And it baffles me. It is so different than my own actions as a child. My shyness was already quite strong by two years of age. Eye contact was difficult. Asking any questions was torture. 

As I watch her grow and learn I have to remember something important. I can't let my stained view of past events and situations determine how those same situations would effect my confident child. 

Because she is not me. 

Yes, when the little boy refused to talk to her and she questioned why, she was confused and curious. But that doesn't mean she was feeling the pain of rejection that tormented me for years. She doesn't know the deep sorrow of feeling like no one is actually truly there. And I don't want my face and my reaction to tell her it should bother her more than it does. 

Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was grumpy from being tired or hungry. Maybe his parents told him not to talk to people he didn't know. Maybe he just found her too cute. Or too confident. 

Yes, when the friend played with her well until a closer friend came along, she didn't understand the sudden change. She just wanted to keep having fun. But that doesn't mean she spiraled into a snow-ball of thoughts of why she wasn't good enough. She doesn't have the constant worry that she is failing in her actions. And I don't want to be over concerned for her and make her surmise that it is her fault. 

Maybe she is a good enough friend but the other friend needs more attention. Maybe they had plans to get together and were excited to see each other. Maybe people take turns with their affections and it would come back again.

Maybe, just maybe, we need not over analyze. Imagine that! Imagine the freedom in just letting it go. Moving on. Enjoying the next opportunity.

My tendency to overthink can lead to a habit of over explaining. But sometimes an in depth explanation is unnecessary. Life is too short. And full of opportunity. Opportunity I missed when too busy questioning why or why not.  

I am certain as she ages it will bring up more issues from my past. Her world is not my world and I'm heading into the unknown but I know there are certainties. Rejection. Misunderstanding. Heartache. Failure. 

But she doesn't have to be ruled by these things as she comes across them. She doesn't have to let them disable her. She doesn't have to let them direct her future. 

Life is a stressful place. But looking at my daughter as she enjoys getting out, enjoys new things, enjoys people, enjoys life, I must remember that growing up I missed out on many opportunities to live. Just because I didn't experience life like that myself does not mean that I can't accommodate a treasured childhood in my offspring.  

She's freckled and tall. Creative and curious. Observant and analytical. In touch with animals and nature.

But she is not me.