Forgiveness Does Not Absolve the Other Person

All religions teach forgiveness. My family had its share of anger, resentment, and violence. It was hard for me to understand why God wanted me to worry about my faults when I had deep trauma inside due to the actions of another.

I did not understand what God wanted. I thought I was required to pardon the person who screamed at me daily if I wanted God to forgive me. Children like equal parts. If you give three children candy, they all want each kid to get the same amount. Forgiving a man who beat me did not seem equal when my sin was wishing I had not married him. My thoughts had not hurt anyone, but I was afraid God would not let me into heaven if I did not forgive others for everything they did to me. I had to forgive if I wanted to go to heaven, but none of this seemed fair.

It has taken fifty years, but I am quite sure I understand what God was trying to teach me now! If you are struggling with this idea, keep reading. However, I must tell you that it doesn’t happen quickly.

First, you must unclutter your mind. I think of my brain like an office. It has files in cabinets with stored information. Some of the files are disorganized, fragmented, or just unnecessary. I spend years going through the files trying to shred useless ones, or reorganizing others into useful information. My analogy refers to counseling, self-help books, medication, diet changes, weight loss, exercise, writing, etc. Each time I began to try to change my heart, I became bogged down, depressed, and sad. I gave up each time thinking that I truly was the worthless little girl who would not go to heaven.

Did any of that help me? Yes, it did. I learned a great deal about healing. The most effective tool I took away from all of it was positive thinking. There are a million free sources of positive ideas to ponder. I chose one thought each day and carried it with me on a paper to read and think about throughout the day. The positive thoughts began to root within me much like flowers root in the dirt. Like the petals of a rose opening, I started to feel nice. I began to see the beauty in everyday objects. I planted some ugly iris bulbs someone gave me, and found joy watching them grow and bloom.

When did forgiveness play a part? As I became more positive, I matured and realized that human beings each have a path. We are each filled with a past, a present, and a future. If I could change like this, so could anyone. I began to feel compassion and empathy toward strangers. The beggar, the criminal, the overwhelmed mother, the sassy boss are all just like me, struggling to understand our lives. My children’s father did horrible things to me and my children, but something wonderful drew me to him in the first place. He had good traits, too. As I began to use perspective and look at his life which was much like my own childhood, how could I hate him any longer? The hatred disappeared and understanding took its place. He did not know how to handle his demons any more than I. Finally, one day I realized that I no longer felt badly toward him. Instead, I had peace. This was it! This was what forgiveness feels like!

At that point, I said it aloud. I called his name and then said, “I forgive you.” I did not free him from his responsibility, nor did I trust him again. Instead, I let go of the pain within myself. The resentment and hate caused me pain, and it held me back from happiness and joy.

It was at that moment when I realized that the Sunday School teachers, my parents, some of the ministers, and maybe half the world did not understand the concept of forgiveness as taught in the bible, and other ancient sacred writings. God wants all of his children to have happiness and joy. He is much like any parent except that he is better at it than us. He probably said seventy times seven because it takes at least 490 positive thoughts to root out one negative. He knew it would take a great deal of time to ponder forgiveness and complete the process. He knew that if we have ill feelings in our mind, we will continue to live in pain.

Forgiving those who trespass us means that we stop thinking about the pain they inflicted upon us. We stop thinking of ways to get even. We stop wishing they would get what they deserve in the way of punishment. The focus becomes on ourselves, and we replace the negative with the positive. Young children want wrongs to be righted. They want to see their rival punished. Adults need to learn that as God’s children, we can learn to help ourselves have peace by letting go of the punishment side of right and wrong. Our governments, religions, organizations, and social mores have procedures in place for correction. Body and mind cleansing forgiveness does not need revenge, compensation, nor retribution. It is for the forgiver more than the offender.

My personal experience with the most difficult case of forgiveness was toward my mother. It was fifty-seven years after my birth that I finally became willing and able to break the chains of blame, criticism, and fault that I heaped upon her. Mama was stubborn and she loved hard. She loved me dearly, and in some ways, she was a good mother. However, she made mistakes that no longer matter. It is amazing how much peace I feel NOW as I write about her. I pondered over my raising and my adult relationship with her, I understood that the bad parts didn’t matter. She passed away twenty years ago, yet I allowed her to cause me a great deal of pain. She was no longer here.

I was causing this pain!

Before I tell you what happened, you must understand that I am not associated with any religion, nor am I an emotional woman. I am not too sure about what I believe as far as God is concerned. I accept that God exists, but I don’t need to know more than that. I just live the best way I can, love with all my heart, and laugh as much as possible. I knew that I had to stop obsessing over the past and start living peacefully for my future. Music was my means of finding forgiveness for her. I enjoy Brandon Heath, and one day I had my playlist featuring his songs on while I quilted. Quilting is repetitious, and I wasn’t paying attention to the music. All of a sudden, tears came to my eyes, and I stopped the sewing machine. I felt a powerful urge to talk to my mama and my daddy. They both had passed away, so this is what happened. I began speaking aloud.

Mama and Daddy, I need to talk to y’all. I want you both to know that I am okay. I know you did the best you could raising me, but I have struggled with some unkind feelings toward you for years. I loved y’all with all my heart, and I blamed all the bad parts on you, Mama. I know you and Daddy had your problems, and that it was not all on you. Daddy, I know you weren’t perfect, but I wanted it to be true. All the stuff y’all had going on is for you to work out up there, but for me… I’m good. ( the tears flowed hard) I forgive you both for the bad stuff. I mean it. Mama, I forgive and accept your love unconditionally. Daddy, I always loved you, but I forgive you for your part, too. 

That was all. I cried for an hour. Then I wondered what precipitated the event. I looked up the song lyrics that played thinking they had been profound. Nope. The song wasn’t suggestive for the moment. It was the years of preparation. It was the mindfulness I practiced, deep thought, letting go of the hate, wanting to forgive, awareness of the problem, all of it together came to a climax. At that moment, I let go of my condemnation of my parents. Their faults are theirs to handle. I have plenty of my faults to overcome. I don’t need a backpack full of everyone else’s problems. Since that day, I have not felt one minute of negativity toward my mother again.

I hope you noticed as you read that I did not approve of the actions of the man who beat me and my children. I did not tell my mother it was okay for her to emotionally abuse me. I did not condone my father’s temper. Each of those behaviors belongs to someone else. I didn’t do those things, so I have no business executing judgment over the person who did. I do have my list of bad behaviors to work out, and I am seeking forgiveness from those whom I have offended. That is another piece of writing.

We as human beings are made better by opening our hearts and accepting peace when we forgive other humans for their behavior. Do we need to trust that person again? No. Is it wrong to separate ourselves from that person after we forgive? No. We do not need to punish the other person, but protecting ourselves from further hurt is okay. Kindness, compassion, and love are the keys, and only we can use those keys to start the vehicle that will lead us to a great deal of joy!

5 Skin Problems that Should Send you to a Dermatologist

Television helps pharmaceutical companies inform the public extensively about the current medications available to help those who suffer from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. There are so many new drugs for these two autoimmune diseases, and each one comes with a list of side effects that would scare anyone away from taking them. How do you know if you have psoriasis?

I have had psoriasis since at least third grade. In 4th grade, I sat quietly at my math desk trying to add and subtract fractions. The school nurse popped into the classroom with her long Q-tip sticks and began digging through students’ hair to look for lice. Nervously, I squirmed, knowing they would find white psoriasis flakes and scabs on my scalp. I would be asked to leave the room in front of all the other kids, and they would think I had lice! I hoped the health ladies knew the difference between lice and psoriasis.

They didn’t. As I waited in the hall for further investigation of my head, I cried. This was my experience throughout my life; shame and pain. Itching without scratching, brushing away white flakes quickly as they fell from my head, wearing long sleeves and pants to hide my red circles topped with peeling, bloody white scabs of ugliness. Sometimes I was better, yet most times I was much worse. I did not understand this disease, nor did my parents, or doctors.

The family physician diagnosed me earlier in 3rd grade when Mom asked what the white crusty patch on my elbow was. I constantly picked at it and peeled it revealing a bloody red sore underneath. He immediately replied that it was the “heartbreak of psoriasis”, but Mom did not comprehend what that meant. He explained that he could send me to a dermatologist if it worsened. That winter; my entire body broke out in sores, and my mom thought I had ringworms. It covered 80% of my body. The family doctor referred me to another doctor, and I met Dr. Waller. 

He prescribed various creams, lotions, and shampoos for years.  Office visits consisted of the doctor, a grown man and a stranger to me, looking over my entire NAKED body to determine the level of disease, and then standing me in a small box of tube lights, while I slowly turned in circles, and flipped my arms inward and outward.  This treatment was called UVB Therapy.  The treatment burned my body each time like a sunburn, but it helped the plaques diminish.  I was a developing girl, and ashamed of my body.

Keep in mind that my experience with a dermatologist began in the 60’s. Research has overwhelmingly created a great resource of help for those of us who suffer from psoriasis. I did not know much more about my disease than what I wrote above until I was 50-years-old. Now I know there are several types of psoriasis outbreaks; plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, nail psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and erythrodermic psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis is what I started at age 8. I only had one plaque on my elbow for about a year. I kept picking at it and it got bigger and uglier. It looked like a large red circle with a white crusty scab over the top. The scab can be quite thin or rather thick. I had quarter sized sores all over my body. Scalp psoriasis is usually this type except it grows on the scalp.

Inverse psoriasis grows in moist areas of the body where folds of skin overlap, such as, under the breasts, tummy, or other private areas. It looks like a red shiny area without scabs, and the skin is so thin, it can split and bleed. If you have large breasts, this type is awfully uncomfortable and can grow large in area. Unfortunately for me, I had it with size 36JJ!

Guttate psoriasis looks like small, red, round circles that may or may not have white crust. It tends to group in small clusters. Occasionally when I have been camping and get this type of outbreak, it is hard to determine if it is psoriasis or bug bites at first. On me, they usually start like small mosquito bites and then multiply by the day while growing a small crust.

Nail psoriasis can be mistaken for fungus, but it usually starts with thin or brittle nails marked by lines and pits. As it gets worse, the nail bed thickens and turns yellowish white. The nail begins to pull away from the bed, resulting in a nasty crumble of gunk underneath.

I cannot personally tell about pustular or erythrodermic psoriasis, but the Mayo Clinic has a great slide show depicting the different types of psoriasis. The link below will open a new page on their website. Just scroll down and click on the white arrows in purple boxes below the first slide. I would strongly recommend that you see a dermatologist if you have something similar. There is another disease, psoriatic arthritis, that affects 30% of psoriasis sufferers. If it is not treated early, it can destroy joints beyond repair.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/multimedia/psoriasis-pictures/sls-20076486

My Surprise Calendar

Waking. Sleeping. Working. What is different for me this year?

I saw a little Zen pad calendar with daily sayings for 2018 in Barnes and Noble a couple of years ago. I grabbed it on my way out as a “see it, buy it” purchase. Laughingly, each day I would read each little quote and ponder upon for the day.

Amazingly, it changed my heart. Last December I thought about doing it again for 2019, but I shrugged it off. A few weeks ago, I realized that those little quotes kept me centered for the day. They set my tone.

I am not associated with Buddhism , nor any religion, but I enjoy reading and learning. As a child, I attended a church and I was taught to study scriptures everyday preferably in the morning. I hated it because it was ritualistic and meaningless. I now believe that my small Zen calendar full of quotes for each day has helped center my thoughts on the positive and focus me toward the goal of remaining true to myself.

The recommendation I have for everyone is to read a positive bible verse, or a bit of the Chicken Soup book as part of your morning ritual for a month. There are so many books out there full of positive thoughts. I am starting again tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

The alarm goes off and I open my eyes. I know not to move too quickly because any small movement could be followed by a flare that would last for days. Slowly I turn and reach carefully to deactivate the alarm. Oh my God, my fingers! How could such a small movement, touching my phone alarm, send searing pain throughout my arm? Slowly I move my arm to a better position and allow my fingers to curl again, so the pain will lessen. My body is wrecked. I don’t think there’s one joint that doesn’t ache or hurt. Then the normal morning discomfort of needing to pee attacks. Can I get up? Can I stand the pain?

That is a typical morning for me.  When my feet touch the floor, it feels like a few of the  tiny little bones have been sharpened into knives that send searing pain up into my legs.  The pads of my feet are heavy as if they are iron shoes slamming onto the wood floor.  (I think I’m going to buy some fluffy memory foam slippers!)  Me hobbling into the bathroom cannot be a pretty sight for my husband, but he is very supportive.

Sitting on the toilet is such a relief that occasionally I just stay there for a bit because I can’t tolerate the thought of standing and walking again.  When I finally do stand up, I face the reality of the seven pills and a chew that I get to swallow each morning.  “Hmmm, do I swallow these now and then go eat, or do I go into the kitchen to eat and face the possibility of forgetting my pills this morning?”  (Several of my medications give me memory issues.)  I usually just gobble them down all at once and head to the kitchen for some eggs or cheese so I won’t feel too nauseated fifteen minutes later.

About an hour after I get out of bed, I start to feel alright most days.  Movement helps, and the more movement I can do, the better I feel.  That being a fact, the types of movement that improve my day are limited.  Walking is the best, and a nice andante pace improves my physical wellness and my psychological state.  If I walk too far, too fast, or too long; it can cause a flare.

My days are a balancing act, but there are two thoughts that keep me going: 1. Life could be worse, and 2. It’s me against this disease and I refuse to lose!

Cancer: Battle With Lymphoma

The aging man lay next to the mature woman, his leg wrapped around hers, his arm lying over the top of her body with his fingers gently touching her thigh.  She felt all the emotion of his thoughts as he breathed in and out.  She was transported to a place she never known with another.  Just listening to him breathe was exhilarating.  Her  mind rested as she reveled in his embrace.  The words, “I love you”, were never spoken from his lips; nor did she need to hear them. She simply knew he loved her, and he understood that she knew.

He often watched her, tracking her movements, feelings, thoughts, and well being.  His steady observations comforted her.  It seemed as if they had been in love their whole lives.  Who would have ever known the difficulties each of them had endured?  Their happiness had faded all the failures.

They attended family weddings, birthdays, and funerals together as they slowly became one.  They faced wonderful and uncomfortable moments with adult children as they bonded more.  The grandchildren called him Poppa.  She found herself head over heels in love and hoped he felt it too, but she never asked him.  Little did she know that he had already chosen her forever. After some time, she did confide her love for him and he replied, “I figured it was something like that.”  How perceptive he was, and how joyful she grew.

He told her that her self reliance was sexy.  He respected her and had never had a relationship in which a woman helped him build a future.  He had felt alone in those past failures, and she began to realize that the flowers of their relationship bloomed large and sweet as they formed a deeper understanding.

She thought his gruff tenderness was endearing.  She would do anything for this man who never said, “I love you.”  His actions were the evidence, and she didn’t need the words.  Wonderful days of joy passed while future days would sprinkle sadness into their lives.

After she discovered the lump in her neck; the man had encouraged her to get it checked immediately.  They both shed silent tears as they heard those words the first time.

I’m so sorry, but you have stage 3 CANCER. It is treatable, but not curable.

The first chemotherapy was long.  They watched the bags of fluid drip into her arm for almost 7 hours in between turns of sleep and wakefulness.  The man was told that she had been given an allergen to prevent too terrible of a reaction.  He was told that she would sleep during the treatment.  He left at one point hoping she wouldn’t notice, so that he could bring back a tasty lunch for her to enjoy.  Her beautiful smile indicated that she was pleased.  Indeed, she was thankful for his thoughtful nature.  The big sandwich he brought was shared by the two as they waited for this first round of chemo to be over.  The staff was very surprised because her body accepted the poison with no reaction to it at any point during the hours long process.

The man walked ahead of her to check her out and receive her next appointment.  Near the front counter, he turned and caught her in his arms as she passed out and fell to the floor.  Her blood pressure dropped to seriously low levels from the chemo as she walked through the lobby.  The nurses revived her and he half carried her back to the treatment room.  More reclining and fluids while they waited for the blood pressure to respond.  Finally they were able to go home, but in the middle of the night, the man she loved held her as her body jerked and jolted uncontrollably as rigors from the poison pumped through her veins.  He was terrified, but wrapped her in blankets while she shivered violently as her body tried to regulate its temperature.

The man accompanied her to her treatments as often as she would let him.  The woman didn’t want him to fuss over her.  She thought it was senseless to expect him to sit for six hours and watch her sleep.  The treatment nurses gave her strong doses of several medications for an hour before they began the 5 hour chemotherapy.  The medical ‘cocktail’ caused her to sleep for 2-3 hours during the infusion.

After months of treatment, when her physical strength abandoned her; he became her champion.  When she often couldn’t remember words or phrases, he was her collaborator.  As she lost her self confidence, he encouraged her.

With two years of treatment behind them, and 1,400 days of remission, the man and woman have hope.  There have been many changes in her abilities, but she has adapted, and he supports her.  It is obvious that they only love each other more.  She still forgets now and then, and she isn’t as strong as she used to be.  He is getting older, but only seems more wonderful to her with each new day.

They live simply, and laugh often.

Dancing Leaves

The old woman wrapped herself in the bearskin blanket,

Shivering from cold within the rustic cabin in the woods.

The Big Toothed Aspen rose loftily outside the window.

Thinking of her childhood, her thoughts meandered.aspens

 

Leaves on the aspen danced theatrically with the wind,

Her eyes twinkled with encounters she remembered.

The wind, the leaves, the children partnering whimsically.

A song echoes in the wrinkles of her childhood memory.

 

Something of gratitude for God and his creations.

And she is deeply grateful for each fluttering leaf

As it dances in the serene wind singing its glory.

Finally home, the blooms of truth blossoming…

…throughout her soul.

Finding Me-gitimacy: Episode 1

Me-gitimacy pronunciation & definition:

[mee-jit-uh-muh-see]

noun

the state or quality of me deriving by reasoning, or concluding based on evidence that I am of genuine or authentic character.

The Derivative of the Conversation

“Thank you, sweetheart, for staying with me today during my heart catheter.” I expressed in gratitude to my husband.

Full of compassion and incredulity he replied, “You still do not think someone would do that for you? After all your cancer treatments and everything?”

Nail hit on the head! My eyes watering, I tried to explain that I was just thanking him, but he knew that I didn’t feel worthy of such an act of love. For the next hour we talked about my life, and the tears flowed because he knows everything about me. Lying down with my head in his lap, I listened because…Yes, I still hide my tears even from him!

He has known all along that I have been damaged, but to what extent still surprises him. He exposed my secrets during this talk, but with love and compassion. Afterward, he listened while I expressed my own feelings and thoughts about my framework. I call it a framework because to me it is like software that was pre-installed within my operating system. I want to move beyond it, but I cannot ever seem to delete the malware. For months. I have been seeking to discover what I feel and why. I have known that I was slated for this massive upgrade.

The Evidence That I Ignore

What do people see? Many see an elementary school teacher. They see successful students who show gratitude for helping them learn to read, create music, or succeed in math. My family sees me as Mom, Grammy, Aunt, or Wife. My friends see a kind, wise lady who cracks jokes at every instance. They enjoy that I keep confidences, and support them in times of need. Strangers may see a songwriter, a poet, a blogger, a singer, a homemaker, a cook, or housekeeper. I am told more often than not how wonderful and creative I am, but I lie to myself everyday. Instead of enjoying the compliments and believing in myself, I walk away reminding myself how undeserving I am of these beautiful words.

What do I really see? Well, I have come a long way from where I began, but frequently. I see a program full of source code that reads like pre-installed crapware. I compare my cognition to computer programming because essentially that is what my problem is. All of the human race likes praise and adulation, but some of us delete the positive upgrades and rerun the old soft  ware that gives us those messages of negativity.

The Revelation to be Expounded Upon

My question to my husband was…

How do I delete the old programming?

As I stated before, I have changed so much about my thinking over years of work. It won’t come quickly, so if you are looking for a new you tomorrow, my words will disappoint you. Usually people don’t want to read more than I’ve already written today, so painfully I save the rest for another day.

Stayed tuned for Episode 2.

Finding Me-gitimacy: Episode 2

It IS my dream. MY dream.

epiphany – a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. © 2016 Dictionary.com, LLC.

A few months ago, in my broken state of being, I succumbed to staying at home and feeling miserable too often. I needed help, so I started with my crucial cancer friend. She suggested that I talk to the doctor about antidepressant medication. Wow! I had no idea I was depressed.  But, the shoe fit. No objections here! I went to my doctor and started medication. Three weeks later I was feeling a bit better and asked for a higher dosage. They obliged. I was doing so much better, but there was still a “thing” inside my chest that I couldn’t identify. It consumed my energy, distracted me, and bothered my metacognitive abilities. So…the next step for me was counseling. I have a dear friend who stuck me right into a cancellation spot she had. This is not my first rodeo with medication or counseling. I believe that when your arm is broken, get a cast; likewise, when your thinking is broken, get a mind coach!

I had received useful assistance from an LPC (licensed professional counselor) a few times in my life. The events for which I sought help were serious milestones: spiritual abuse, family violence, and family suicide. My doctor prescribed depression medication to help me continue to work after the death of my father. I am not ashamed to have sought out help, nor surprised to have received needed relief from it.

In one of our sessions, my LPC suggested that I read a book called, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills. Is it a good book? Yes. Did it fix all my problems? No. I have read many books in my adult life. They have all had an influence on my thinking and decision-making skills.

From this book, I learned we can each have the ability and the freedom to create our own reality of life without fear of being “wrong”, “crazy”, “damaged”, or “screwed up”. The author teaches that there are some agreements we can make that will help us to create a heavenly place for ourselves. As I read this book, I found that I was in sync with the tenets of the book because of my long road of reading and learning.

I’ve been giving these agreements a chance for several weeks and finding that my inner me is still in there, but the “thing” inside me is keeping me from joy. My auto-immune diagnosis in the last year, and my treatable but incurable cancer, have led me to a series of side effects that I wasn’t prepared to handle. I tried so beautifully to be positive and happy, but I didn’t allow myself to feel my true feelings because I was hiding them from everyone. I thought others needed me to be upbeat. Grief and sadness are normal feelings during a time of distress.  No individual needed me to be happy about my cancer. No person expected me to show up to work every day. I made those assumptions. I thought about past events and made several incorrect inferences. Self-reliance is part of my world dream, yet a piece of me wanted family and friends to take care of me. However, I refused to ask for help and rejected support when it was offered. I convincingly lied to everyone about my positive attitude, and no one knew I needed mental and emotional assistance.

So, what was my epiphany? What was my intuitive insight into the reality of the “thing” bothering me? And what specific element initiated this insight?

It just happened while I was walking on the elliptical trainer at the gym; where I had not shown up in more than six months. I had neglected everything I enjoy for a long time. This week, my back hurt so badly that I was willing to do anything, and I know that movement actually helps my disease. So, there I was peddling with closed eyes and listening to my music: “Born Again” by Third Day played in my ear.

The epiphany …

The acceptance that I am doing my best!

I am limited now by side effects and medical symptoms. These circumstances are beyond my control. They are challenges that I face that are extremely difficult for me. I can still keep my agreements, though. I am doing my best under the circumstances, but I do not need to do better than my best, and I have definitely been trying to be me before cancer and autoimmune. I may never be that woman again, but I can be the best I AM NOW. It is okay to have difficulty. It is ok to love myself even when my body is sick. I never need to lie to myself about my thoughts and feelings, and certainly will not let myself torture my dream world with old agreements. That old world where “I SHOULD do this”, or “I SHOULD believe that” is gone. I will not let myself sink back into that sea of dead, drowning negativity.

I love going to the gym, closing my eyes while my body moves, and listening to my music. Relaxation without condemnation. Today, I made myself go. Enjoying something I love, I found deep understanding. Our brain is a biological computer more complex and intricate than any human can comprehend. Books I read, metacognition transpiring, and conversations with people who recognize human emotional connection give my mind information to process.  My neural net searches for information and pieces together the bits that I cannot bring into the language of my understanding. Then when I am least expecting a solution, it comes in the simplest form.

Like the song, I understood my pain. I had searched for many years. The deity I saw wasn’t whom I expected. I was lost and broken.

Many authors, songwriters, people, and friends had crossed my path and held me up. I do feel like I’m born again, living for the very first time in my life. I decided to make myself a promise, to reassure my heart that the love that I feel for myself is real. There is a feeling in my soul that the life I have now IS the beginning.

This was no simple moment, yet it was the simplest moment.

It is significant; a life search that will continue. I will make mistakes, but I can move forward with the ability to live in my world and give myself permission to believe what I have discovered. I have the right to be happy.

Finding Me-gitimacy: Episode 3

Me-gitimacy pronunciation & definition:

[mee-jit-uh-muh-see]

noun

the state or quality of me deriving by reasoning, or concluding based on evidence that I am of genuine or authentic character.

Back at the Beginning

From the time each of us was born, we were taught by those around us.  First our parents and siblings, next friends outside the home.  My parents were quite careful to ensure that there were not too many friends to influence me away from their chosen dogma.  Most parents choose to protect their children from harm, and mine defined harm as anything that challenged their moral convictions.  They were faithful followers of a strict religion.  My first interactions among people outside my home were the church people my family knew and loved.  Of course I believed what my parents taught me.  I loved them. They were good parents, and I felt loved.

I think many of us have those beginnings.  My life was quite good with some confusion along the way.  No one grows to adulthood without problems.  Some problems are bigger than others.  I grew up with domestic violence in my home, and I was ashamed.  Little did I know that 20-25% of my friends had grown up with it as well.  No one spoke of it.

Was it society’s dirty little secret?  I think the answer is a lot more complicated than that.  In my opinion, it was a long-standing way of living that was tolerated for many different reasons.  In 1800, when two of my great, great grandfathers were living, life was much different from now.

By the way, that is only five generations ago, even though it is a span of 217 years!  Many families today take five generation pictures with everyone still living.  My family is quite spread out, though.  I didn’t know my grandparents because they had passed away before I was born!

But I digress.  Why was domestic violence ever tolerated?  Americans feel the need to fight and die for personal freedom.  I think people in olden days did not believe the government had the right to legislate family life, and Joe didn’t think that it was his business to tell Bob how to care for his family.  They didn’t trust the government, most people thought that men should govern themselves according to the laws of God.  The thinking was along the lines of this:  “I don’t approve of my neighbor beating his wife and children, but I do not have the right to intervene.”

With these social mores (social norms observed that are considered to have greater moral significance than others), our ancestors may have hated abuse, but they did not believe they had the right to do anything about it.  It was abhorred, but tolerated.  Before long it became epidemic.  Men, women, and children fist fighting over control.

CONTROL.

  • The sole factor that shaped my life.
  • Everyone wanted it.
  • Different ones had it at times.
  • I needed it, but didn’t know how to get it.

From day one in a baby’s life, each person who comes in contact with her thinks HE or SHE knows the best way to:

  • Parent
  • Teach
  • Protect
  • Love
  • Prepare
  • CONTROL!

That was how all of the people I knew helped me become me; my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers, ecclesiastical figures, school teachers, friends, boyfriends, husbands, bosses, and on and on. They all seemed to have my best interests at heart, but every one of them only showed me one way to live. Their way!  They clung to passed down and slightly changed values, and feared anything different.  Their fear of life outside their understanding scared me, and I was never comfortable with the hate of differences.

I wanted to do it right, so I listened, watched, questioned, and mimicked everyone. Through observing, applying, evaluating, and adopting, or abandoning a method, I researched what worked for me and what didn’t.

I am now over 50 years old, and still I am learning about everything. It feels good to know that so much of my life has been about becoming part of something bigger than just me.  I have always felt like some tiny little speck of something much more.  A fabric that becomes the world, the universe, and beyond.  I am stating that I feel insignificant.  On the contrary, I feel so important because my tiny little speck of existence weaves this fabric along with every living thing.  If my existence in this place damages the structure we call life, who will account for that?

So…in finding my genuine character, I have responsibility to everything around me.  Therein is my purpose, if one needs to have a purpose.  In my Me-gitimacy, I believe I have a responsibility to let life control itself, and let me control myself.

As I adopted or abandoned methods of living after realizing what worked for me and what didn’t work for me; I learned so much.  I have had to choose more than once which individuals would be a part of my life…or not.  It is truly a painful experience when those you love force you to choose them or your free agency.  The thing I have learned with certainty is that people will come and go.  They will take a risk or shrink in fear.  It is only because they are not ready to let go and love.  I can wait for all of them because somewhere along our journey through space and time, we will all become Me-gitimate. I am not yet there and most I know are not, but I am learning to give myself and everyone I know the chance to find it.  The key is simple.  Stop trying to control others.  Accept differences.  If someone you love wishes to live differently than you do, it’s ok.  You may have to let them go to live your way, but that’s ok.

Where it gets ugly is when a person is so fearful, that they hurt another in order to part ways.  I’ve been through that too often.  I have been the victim and the perpetrator.  Life is precious and I am just like all of you.  Trying to find a balance in life.  My conclusion so far is to accept differences and leave fear behind.  Fear nothing for we all will end at some point and begin again.  Setting boundaries, and letting others choose to be in or out of our lives is a freeing concept.  Try it.  It is working for me.