Life… It’s Complicated

We’re too much and we’re too little and we wonder if we’ll ever be enough… The struggle is real as we think… and overthink… accept and then reject… It’s complicated.

And so it is… complicated. I learned early on that life was not fair… or kind… or easy. Survival meant being tough. My mantra became “it is what it is”. No social games or sugar coating whatever life brings. Circumstances happen… I am not in control… never was and never will be. Consequences weigh heavy in my mind as I consider what to do… how to be… how to survive… and how I might make life just a bit easier for someone else…

I told myself that I would do whatever it took to be strong… to survive. I shut down and “sucked it up” for years. I was fine…

Faking fine is a much easier way to live than to be real. Answering that everything is fine is more comfortable than being vulnerable… and certainly more socially acceptable. Building walls to protect what was left… necessary for survival. Maintaining the facade that I was fine… had it together while inwardly stuffing brokenness behind pain, insecurity, and mistrust… hidden within myself.

Getting lost in service to others provides both a distraction and a way to justify existence… easier than letting others see my pain and brokenness… This is something I do and do well… Nurturing, caring for others, meeting needs… someone to turn to for support, comfort, and help…

Unfortunately stuffing emotions eventually reaches a point that despite best efforts cracks in the walls begin to appear… It becomes harder and harder to maintain the “I am fine” persona. Reality presses in and emotions break through the facade at the most inopportune times… anger… hurt… broken pieces of life bursting forth. Nightmares, sleeplessness, irritability, emotional meltdowns… tears threatening the “never let them see or know if you cry” attitude… Fear that if you start to cry you will never stop…

I have to redefine myself… acknowledge my vulnerability and brokenness. I can no longer hide behind the walls. I need to heal but don’t know how. I have to make the choice not to go it alone.

The wounds that never heal are always the ones mourned alone.” Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

In the moments I want to just suck it up – to be “stronger” – I am unable to silence my cry. My heartaches are not mine alone…

I am fully aware that this world is not as it should be. Evil exists. Terrible, horrible, awful things happen to the innocent and helpless as readily as to those who aren’t. Tragedy is no respecter of persons. No reason it should not happen to you or  me…

I am learning that when I fake fine, I fake my way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and myself. I become unable to help another when I am unable to interact in truth and openness. Trust is vital in relationships yet so very difficult to find… It is so much easier to continue to fight to maintain the facade… rebuild and patch the cracking walls… hide my pain and grief… refuse to mourn for that which I refuse to acknowledge.

But lament, an honest expression of grief, is a prayer that God never silences nor wastes. It is an authentic prayer that invites God to meet me right where I am, not where I pretend to be. But I have to allow myself to meet… take a risk… be vulnerable… and to be strong.

I must acknowledge that real strength is not pretending that I am fine… living behind a facade… keeping God and others at a safe distance. Real strength is letting others into my brokenness… reaching past my vulnerability to honestly connect… establishing trust… and a new way to cope with life and all it entails…

“It is what it is” a mantra or just another way to cope??? Acceptance of life’s realities or is it simply another brick in my wall… another layer of paint to my facade… I do not know. I simply know that I must be strong… life is not fair… or kind… or easy… It’s complicated…

And… I’m fine… truly…

Wounds… Scars…

     Some wounds are meant to be hidden, buried so deeply that the wounded themselves deny their existence and go to any length to prevent acknowledgement. Denial when exposure is equivalent to ripping the very fibers from your heart and soul… Wounds so ugly that no one can bear to look upon them… the overwhelming guilt that they exist… the knowledge buried in the deepest part of the psyche of lacking and irreparable brokenness…. even with the best repairs the wounds harden and become scars. Scars in which cracks exist and become visible flaws at the most inopportune time… Scars that lack flexibility, prone to rupture and re-emergence of the original wound… A wound that becomes deeper and more painful with each occurrence… And the scars are sensitive with shiny, thin, new baby skin… prone to continuing hurt… a bone jarring pain that may be initiated by simple words that judge… or assume… or damage the knowledge and tentative confidence of what the character is deep within that otherwise wounded psyche… excruciating pain follows words that seek to annihilate the tiny sense of self worth struggling to grow from the wounds and scars… a sense that perhaps, just perhaps there are redeeming character traits looming inside the otherwise broken… a deep sense of honor… integrity… compassion… understanding and tolerance… a soul deep longing to be whole coupled with the knowledge of the impossibility as the wounds and scars have become an integral part of experienced reality… put on the mask… play the role… become the expected all the while hiding within… burying deep those painful things…

On Being “Othered”

It is a common experience to all people that they will at some point in their life be “othered”. It seems to be a frequent occurrence during the school age to young adult years. Often it decreases as maturity increases but not always. Being “othered”… you know what I am talking about? It is that feeling and time when you are different, unaccepted, and not a part of the group. Maybe because you are too tall… or too short…. too fat…. too thin… too light… too dark… too smart…. or not smart enough… too poor… too rich… different culture, beliefs, or practices… The list goes on but what it boils down to is simple: in a given group you are made to feel as “not one of us” therefore you are “othered”. “Othered” does not fit, belong, or have value. “Othered” is not acceptable. It is weird, different, scary, unknown… NOT a part of US. Do you remember such a time in your life? How you felt? What happened? I have many memories of being “othered” for one reason or another but generally it has been for a reason I could understand even if I did not accept it. The hurt of being “othered” persisted regardless.  I will admit I expected the “otherness” to decrease as both myself and my peers/cohorts matured. With maturity comes an acceptance of those who are different but still belong. I never expected the last time I was “othered” to occur. First off… family doesn’t do that to one another… except when they do. Hurtful words… lack of attention to what is being communicated… treating family members unevenly… being an afterthought… or even visiting to see something rather than someone… These all contribute to the process of deeming someone as “othered” and of little or no importance/value. AND it still hurts…. Some may think it is over and okay because of a few spoken words. Their experiences of being “othered” may be quite different and even minimal. Some people are always part of “us”. It is a different type of “othered” if the event occurs because of association rather than the personal “othered” based on the individual. The “othered” may choose to allow the misconception in an effort to avoid further issues. The fact of the matter is the words and feelings remain in the head of the “othered”. This is especially true when no honest conversation… apology… or explanation of why something was said or asked even happens. Miscommunication and a lack of understanding lead to the “othered” phenomenon. May we all learn to deal as adults and work towards being better than we are…

Followers or No???

I look at my blog… most likely not the best way to start writing again but something I do for myself. I am not popular as a blogger… don’t think any one really follows me but I have decided that is okay. It leaves me free to write what I need to express without concern of the judgments of others.There is undoubtedly a freedom here. I find it curious how we hide our true selves from others and they choose to allow us to do so. Tonight as thoughts pass through my mind I shall endeavor to allow them to come forward… be expressed.. no judgement and no filter… I see the Nebraska gymnastics team… always wished I could do those things. I find that I crave the numbness that follows the consumption of a glass or two of wine… Tingling lips are fun until you drool…. I do not wish to dwell on the facts that I face… with Steve at work I am truly alone but for my critters… Sammie, Laci, and Gracie….No one has called all day nor have I reached out save an early morning text. I did go to Elgin and help Mom with a few things but she does not see my anxiety… my worry… my pain. She only sees my competence as I complete the tasks she has set for me. It seems if you smile, verbally respond, and behave in a socially acceptable manner no one really cares what is happening on the inside. I do the things that are required… laundry, feed pets, medicate pets and self on time, clean a bit, or accomplish whatever daily task is due. The world looks on and smiles. Things are fine. Great job. Good person. They do not see the inner speak…. loser… no good…. don’t matter… not good enough… wtf… never gonna change… what’s the point… you do not matter… you are of no value… your are useless… if you died no one would even notice… The thoughts rotate through my mind… never really stopping or offering  a respite.  I love and care about other people… some I know well and some I only know marginally BUT I DO NOT LOVE OR CARE ABOUT MYSELF! How did this happen?? Why am I broken? Why do I accept and expect others to treat me poorly? I find it difficult to accept when others tell me this is not so.. I know what was said… I know… and it hurts… I think of death… of just being done… No more worries no more trying to be good enough no more pain or nightmares… There is a huge temptation to arrange this BUT again.. I FAIL! I remember how it felt when Dad died. Despite my ambivalent feelings, he was my dad. I felt somehow responsible for his choice even though I know he was drunk and it is not my fault in my brain, my emotions say otherwise… I would never want my children to feel these feelings so I will NOT DIE BY CHOICE! I will be there for my kids so they do not feel responsible. SO we all put on our social faces… we do those things we are taught to do and life goes on… but it doesn’t resolve the issue….

Stories

and some stories are meant to be buried… so deep that the mind can pretend to scarce remember, so deep that to tell them would be to pull the very fibers from one’s heart, so deep that they become ingrained in every aspect of one’s being thus affecting the lives of all with whom one interacts though the others remain unaware. The stories that haunt dreams, cripple emotions, and teach one to survive… yes, some stories are meant to be buried deep… and yet regardless of how deeply they are buried they return at the most unexpected times to wreak havoc again… and again…. and again. It might be a smell, a melody, a word, the way someone moves, or even one’s own mind playing traitor to the subconscious bringing the story to the forefront in living color as it plays out much like a movie during the darkest part of night while the world slumbers. Startled awake with heart pounding and covered in sweat, thankful that the screams did not pass the lips to disturb the rest of others. Such nights as these when further sleep is impossible to find for the images remain burned upon the inner eyelids… to close one’s eyes and relax is not an option. So be quiet… read… watch TV… browse the web… pace… run stairs… all the while listening… for a creak that should not be there… a snick as a door opens… a barking dog… anything that does not belong. Perhaps one gains a sense of strength and safety through self-medication… or the closeness of a favorite firearm… or the comforting feel of a beloved dog… Morning does finally arrive… allowing one to once more push past the stories and pick up life as it is expected to be. The stories…. well, some stories are meant to be buried… so deep that the mind can pretend to scarce remember. The ugliness is hidden deep within… life continues… one survives… That which does not kill you only serves to make you stronger or so it is said. Never does one hear what is to be done when one can no longer keep the stories buried…

Beauty… A perspective

I find great beauty in feathers… and nests…. colorful little eggs and pieces of eggs…. Most of all I find beauty in bones… strong yet delicate, protecting the even more delicate inner parts. Bones are smooth… and hard…. and often hollow… producing in their depths the fluid that brings us life, one cell at a time… they allow movement by providing a place for muscles to connect while establishing a framework to produce our form… the variety of which are endless. Bones are present in our earliest beginnings and persist long past our demise. If broken they repair themselves by building new bone cells. They can be manipulated to improve quality of life. Bones can be used as a medium to produce both tools and art. Early man recognized this fact and employed bones as necessary to meet their needs. Bones provide strength as well as something to hold onto… Not only as a part of the physical body but also in those times when we need a hand to grasp or a mental image to sooth or calm… Yes, I am fascinated by the marvelous and natural substance… bones. They are gorgeous!

 

Bones

downsized_1109151131       Ever think about bones? Amazing things, bones…. They provide structure and function for our bodies. They protect our soft innards and provide connection points for our muscles which then allows us to move. Some folks move with more grace and smoothness than others. Some are able to move into extreme positions. Whatever the movement, it is our bones and muscles that allow it. Bones constantly remodel themselves by breaking themselves down and rebuilding. They are also capable of replacing and remodeling where breaks occur. Regeneration of sorts…. Wow! What a blessing. Bones act as a factory to produce blood cells…. so they have a role in making sure our cells get the oxygen they need. They also work to keep us safe from infection, bacterial and viral, by means of white blood cell production. We can share our bone marrow (when harvested from long bones and flat bones) to help others. Bones are pretty amazing!!

For me the thing about bones is that they represent strength. Ever try to break one??? Not an easy quest. When I can feel my bones and their markings it makes me feel strong… like I can get through whatever battle I am fighting. I think bones are beautiful… smooth and white… sun bleached. They tell the story of how their owner passed… Are the bones strewn over a vast area or are they closely located? Did a predator scare them, chase them, take their life or did they just get tired and lie down… going peacefully in their sleep? Bones heal themselves and are stronger afterwards. How cool is that in a world where we are told time heals all wounds yet so many of us don’t experience much healing.

I really like bones… I pick them up when walking if they are on the ground. I clean and keep them if I fill my hunting tags. I will even wander around outside looking for them!  I have bones in my flower beds, supporting plants in my flower pots, in my house on display. I like real bones, X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI’s. They all have a story to tell about the bones.

and when I die…. the bones will be left. What will people discover about me when they see the bones of my life????

Books

I like books, guess I always have. I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. Mama always gave us a new book for Christmas and it was always my favorite gift. I’ll never forget the year she gave me “Christy” by Catherine Marshall. I was twelve. It was different… more adult… than any of the previous gifts. I absolutely adored it! I fell in love with the mountains and their people. I saw human behavior in its characters that mimicked the world around me. A book filled with emotions, situations, and characters… and redemption. Good, evil, love, hate, feuds, kindness, compassion, community, birth, death, and even sex.  At times it was difficult for me to understand and I’d ask my mama. We’d talk about it and then I’d read on. Over the years as I have re-read the book I have seen the nuances and implications that I did not recognize in my first reading. It was so important to re-read and really get to know and understand the words and the story. Even then I had an awareness that not only could I learn from books but that they were also friends… a means of coping with or even escaping my world for a short while within the pages. I enjoy words and putting them together to express ideas and tell stories. Words can be so sharp. succinct, and painful or they can be kind, pretty, and comforting. I like that I get to choose which ones I use when! I dream that I might one day write… books or stories or poems or just notes that have the capacity to influence the lives of others just as many times the words of others have influenced mine. Mike writes as does Jennifer, Nicki, and Margaret. They open themselves up to the vulnerability inherent in their craft. They write well and they touch others with their words. Perhaps some day I will have the strength and ability to do likewise. In the meantime I will continue to read, note, and row… learning new words and new perspectives of this common experience we call life.

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Thoughts…

Lots of things running through my mind today. Maybe I need to journal and not blog. Many times I have thought of things to say but then decided they are too raw… or personal… or politically incorrect. I never thought about how others might feel about my words. I just know that I feel a tremendous pressure to write them down. Perhaps I am looking for understanding from those who read my words or maybe I am just feeling sorry for my self and need to verbalize. I read the things written by my cousins Jennifer and Margaret. They were brought up much more “properly” than my siblings and I. I recall my Aunt getting upset with me for telling Jennifer that her mom was pregnant ( and explained it in great detail) when Margaret was growing… The things they write always sound so thoughtful, beautiful, and proper. I guess I missed that “proper” gene. I never have understood why we, as people, communicate in a less than open and honest manner. The bottom line does not change regardless of how prettily (or not) that we dress it up. So why then do I hesitate to share what is on my mind and heart? Are there not others who share my reality?? On one hand I hope so and on the other I pray not. Life is not easy… never has been. We all have our highs and lows… our triumphs and losses…. our pains and our joys. This is the human condition. If we look past the surface and perhaps even dig a little we will find that we are all more alike than we are different. I am finding I don’t know how to write about all the pretty, perfect reflections on life. Many of them I know nothing about. I do know about love… for God… family… and country. I know about the life long endeavor to make life better for another, even if it is just one person. I know the heartache a mother feels when her children hurt and the joy she encompasses when they find their way. I know intellectually that life is good even though I may emotionally wonder from time to time. I am excited to see my children grow into adulthood, become independent, and eventually find the love of their lives, knowing that my mommy kisses can no longer fix everything. Indeed, life does go on….

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Transitions

Life is full of transitions…. from baby to toddler to school-age to teen to adult and so on. There are many stages between the first and the last breath taken into our lungs. Each stage comes with it’s own joys and sorrows. Each brings about change. Change in its self is not always positive and many times the improvement, or change, brings about more questions and issues than it answers or solves. Yet as a society we tend to embrace change. Perhaps because we desire different. Perhaps because we think things can be better or at least no worse. There are things about change that excite… new tech toys are the best and demand change in order to fully enjoy them. But… traditions are also exciting. Just think of all the traditions celebrated… full of meaning and sentiment. Things done in a certain way because they always have been. As I get older, I find myself drawn to routine and tradition as well as an occasional tech toy. I find myself doing things as my mother and her mother before her did them… cleaning, canning, gardening, quilting, cooking, and raising my children. In my mind I hear the echos,” If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Pretty is as pretty does. Be respectful. Be kind. Be nice. Treat others as you want to be treated.” In turn, I have tried to ingrain these wise words into the minds of my children. At heart, I am my mother’s child… a survivor… a child of faith. I would like to believe that everyone looks for the best in one another even though I know it’s not so. Music feeds the soul. God is in heaven and in control. And me…. I am a singular person getting on in my years who has simple tastes and no need for the limelight… My hope is that one day it will be said of me, “She made a difference. The world is a better place because she was here.”