Recycled Dysfunction

Recycled dysfunction is real. I know because for most of my life I lived in it until I got married and started a family of my own. Recycled dysfunction to me are issues that occur over and over within the family by the same members who refuse to take the necessary steps in order for the cycle of dysfunction to stop. These family members always try to drag in as many people into their dysfunction as possible, disrupting the peace of all involved.

One thing I’ve wholeheartedly embraced is not letting other people’s problems become my own. When I got married my focus was 100% on my marriage. When I had children my focus became split between my children and husband and maintaining a happy, peaceful home for all of us. Whatever outside issues there were be it family feuds or something else didn’t affect me because I refused to allow it to. I’ve been called mean, anti-family, and the black sheep for being this way. If you were raised in total and complete dysfunction like I was you’d understand why I created such distance.

I grew up in a house where every day, there was the possibility of verbal fights, verbal and physical abuse, and overall uneasiness. We never knew what would transpire from one day to the next, and that’s not a good feeling. That’s why when I started my own family, peace, love, and happiness had to be the mainstays in our house. My kids had to be shown love through me and my husbands actions and words. I refused to let them exist in a world of chaos like I did.

Being around positive, encouraging people inspires me and makes me feel good. I love being happy and keeping my family happy. Recycled dysfunction runs very deep in my family and it’s not healthy for anyone. When you have your breaking point, when you finally say “enough” and mean it, then it truly is enough. At least it was for me. It’s not that I’ve stopped loving anyone, I’ve simply eliminated recycled dysfunction from my life.

Do For Others

be-a-blessing-encouraging-quotes1

Lately I’ve been complaining about family, and I don’t want my blog to be full of negative posts. I am a happy person and have a lot of happy moments. I promise! I recognized that I have to be more mindful to post about the happier moments instead of always posting about things that make me angry.

So many of my close friends have lost loved ones or are sick, or caring for sick loved ones. Death seems to making it’s rounds more often than not lately, and it’s taking a toll on so many.

Often times we don’t know what to say or do when someone is sick or have lost a loved one in death. I’m no different. Sometimes giving a strong hug of love and support is all that’s needed. Praying for others always helps, and is something we can all do – and it costs nothing. Bringing a dish to the caregivers, the sick one, or the family who lost a family member in death is often appreciated. Giving caregivers a break so they can rest, have a day or night to themselves is often overlooked.

I wish I could do more for others, and it always bothers me that I can’t do all that I’d like to do for those in need. This is why I keep blank note cards, so I can write personal notes to ones so they know I’m thinking of them. I try to keep cookie ingredients in stock so I can bake a quick basket for someone. Lastly, if I can’t get around to visiting people, I try to remember to call.

I don’t always get to do the things I mentioned above, but I try. People appreciate being thought of and shown kindness, especially when it’s not expected. So many are suffering, grieving, and simply need a kind gesture, hug and endless prayers. Let’s love on each other more, be kind to one another and make an effort to reach out to our friends and loved ones more. We need each other now more than ever.

Talents and Options

Over the years I’ve developed a talent for baking cookies. That evolved into making homemade granola. I also love to write, thus I blog. I’ve been selling my baked goods for about ten plus years now, but not very consistently. I have a Facebook page for my cookies, I have a menu and price list, and I’ve had business cards made. My dream is to have my own little cookie shop. I’m also open to selling my cookies online. I know it’s a lot of work and there’s a lot to running your own business, but circumstances and time is what keeps me from pursuing my dream.

I’ve heard of countless stories of those who made their fortune cooking and selling their goods from their kitchen for years before they branched out to opening a shop or restaurant. I can definitely do that as well, but my dream is still to have my own store front or an online business where I can bake and ship my baked goods all over. I’m 43 years old and am still trying to figure out the best way to utilize my talents and figure out my options. I know I can’t be the only one in this position!

Right now, what I’m thinking about is how volatile the workforce is right now. Nothing is guaranteed, and that includes jobs. The cost of healthcare is steady rising, jobs are downsizing, and entry level jobs now require associate or bachelor degrees. The uncertainty has me more aware than ever for the need of a plan B, C, and D. We all need back-up plans. With my talent for baking cookies, making homemade granola and blogging, it’s time for me to look for ways to put them to use and make money from it.

It’s time for me to put myself and my products out there and be fearless. I can no longer be timid, scared and afraid. I need to network more, do my own research and figure out a way to make an income if something were to happen to my current 9-5 job. Use your talents people. Don’t be afraid to talk about them, showcase them, and use them. Being afraid will not put money in your pockets. If you have a good product, if you have a talent, SHARE IT with the world!

Unappreciated

There is nothing worse than feeling unappreciated, especially by a family member. Nothing says self-centered, selfish, don’t care than doing something for a loved one without a thank you or any type of acknowledgement in return. I’m not the type to throw back what I’ve done for you in your face. I don’t lord it over you, brag to others what I’ve done for you, or expect anything in return from you other than a simple thank you. That’s it. Thank you. Hearing those two words go such a long way! Unfortunately, I’ve been slapped in the face by several family members enough times to last a life time.

Family get taken advantage of and are left feeling unappreciated the most because of the fact that you’re family. We all have family members that feel entitled, who feel you’re supposed to do for them for one reason or another: You make more money, you don’t have any kids or a husband, or you’ve bailed them out in the past so you should do it again. Grown able bodied people will not continue to mooch off of me or take my kindness for weakness. I will not keep listening to the same sob stories which always include blaming everyone but themselves for the pitiful plight that they are in.  I am the mother to four children. I deal with their self importance enough with more years of it to come. I will not accept it from grown siblings or other grown family members.

Recently I tried to help a sibling and never received a thank you, boo, nothing. It was the ultimate “F-you” in my eyes. Part of me want to snap on this person and the other person who initiated it, but the other part of me doesn’t feel like wasting the energy or time because I know it will change nothing. I have to let it go and chalk it up to another lesson learned. I was caught slippin, but it won’t happen again.

When Family…

Drive you crazy, what do you do? There are many variables and levels of crazy with my family, but I always thought that the older we got, the better things would get. WRONG. The older we’ve gotten, the worse our issues have become.

I’m not in a position where I have the energy or time to make other family member’s issues my own. I just can’t. And I won’t. Not when I have four kids of my own and a sickly husband. Not when I have issues of my own that need my attention. Some may call me selfish, uncaring, or hardhearted, and they couldn’t be more wrong. I just know when to step back and let grown people handle their own business.

Some people in my family have such deep issues that only a psychiatrist can help them, but not everyone is open to seeking such therapy, and if they do they don’t keep up with regular visits. In the end, we all have our own issues that we are still trying to deal with in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. I have my own issues that I’ve been trying to deal with on my own since childhood. I love my family and I will always help where I can. But the level of dysfunction in my family is too deep for me to get too close. For my own mental health, I must love my family at a distance.

The Older I Get

A thought came to my mind recently about myself. I often sit and think about things, pondering why I constantly feel that people aren’t treating me with the same kindness that I treat them. What is it that I’m doing that makes me unapproachable? I had to really think about this because I know it’s not everybody else’s fault that I’m feeling this way, this is a two way street. I know I’m as much at fault as the next person; I’m not perfect.

Over the years I’ve gone through a lot. I’ve experienced enough drama to last a lifetime from family, to so-called friends, workmates, schoolmates, you name it. You can definitely say that I’ve become quite jaded in some respects when it comes to people and how genuine they are when it comes to them wanting to get  close to me. My trust level is so low that it’s hard for me to trust anyone outside of my immediate family, and I can’t even trust most of them! My circle of trust is very small, and it includes my husband, my children, my mother and sister in law and about three close friends. That’s it. With that being said, I have put up a wall around me that does not allow for anyone else to get close to me, yet sometimes I find myself wishing I was closer to some people. Sometimes.

I’ve spent so much of my early years trying to fit in, trying to be outgoing, to not caring about fitting in and just doing and being me. Always smiling, always happy, always laughing and trying to put a smile on other people’s faces. Always hugging and kissing people on the cheek, showing affection to all those I cared about. I was always inviting people over, initiating girls night out, get-togethers, and other things. I willingly put myself out there because I still had that belief that people were good, at least the people that I chose to surround myself with. Over time, that changed dramatically; I changed. I had more kids, traumatic things happened in my life, and my focus completely changed. That need to be around people, that need to stay in touch began to fade. Just seeing people in passing became good enough for me. Saying hi and giving a hug and keeping it moving sufficed. My husband and children became my focus. Keeping us afloat, keeping us together despite all the roadblocks, despite all the people wishing hardships upon us is all that mattered to me.

The thing is, I never took that wall down. If anything I made it stronger. I reinforced it over the years to the point where I no longer cared if I saw certain people. It didn’t bother me if I wasn’t invited to go out or to attend a gathering. I was no longer interested in saying hello to certain people or giving hugs. I knew I had become stand-offish, but I didn’t know how bad I had become until my husband pointed out my behavior to me. I couldn’t deny anything he said because I knew it was the truth. I knew that was me.

What I’m dealing with now is how do I change that? More importantly, do I want to change? I know what to do to change my attitude. Small little gestures like reaching out to some of my friends and inviting them over, or inviting them out for a drink. I’ve gotten so used to my life as it is now that it’s become hard to take that step. I love my friends, and I really do care about them, but a part of me often think “Why does it have to be me to make this gesture? What is stopping them from reaching out to me and inviting me somewhere?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting at home stewing over whether or not my friends are going out or having some fun get together at their home without me. I don’t care about that and that doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve never been one of those people who feel they should be invited to every party that happens within my circle. That never bothered me. What does bother me is when it’s always expected of me to initiate or put together a get together.

Let’s face it: We’re all busy. We all have our own lives to live with various problems. I know it’s hard for all of us to make time to do a lot of things, but if we really want to make time we will. That’s just how it goes. My husband keeps encouraging me to have a little get together at the house and invite a few of my friends over. This is odd coming from him because it used to bug him when I was the hostess with the mostess back in the day! It also shows me that he notices a change in his wife, a change that isn’t a positive one, and he wants me to get back to my old self. I kind of miss my old self too, but so much has changed. I’ve changed, and not just because of being burned by people, but because I’ve become older and wiser. My patience is shorter, and that can be a good and bad thing.

Honestly, I’m ok with the new me – flaws and all. I’m not perfect, and I will always have things that I need to work on. I don’t want to continue to isolate myself from my friends, and by isolate I mean seeing them, but not hanging out with them. At the same time I’m not going to let it bother me either. Does that make any sense? I care, but I don’t care. I’m 42 years old, and the fact of the matter is I’ve changed. For better or for worse, who knows. I think it’s a mixture of both, and I’m completely ok with that.

Being In My 40’s

40‘S

Some people have melt downs about aging. They view each milestone as something negative. I’ve never understood it. My mother is the best example of someone who grows old gracefully. She embraces each and every gray hair she receives and has never dyed her hair. She believes in the scripture in the bible at Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of beauty When it is found in the way of righteousness.”  She is very meticulous about caring for her skin. She is now 66 years old and looks like she’s in her late 40’s or early 50’s. She has aged very well. Because of her I have embraced aging. I never had anxiety attacks about turning 25, 30, 35, or 40. Today I am 41 years old and I love it. I’m happy to still be alive.

Being in my 40’s I’ve found that I have more confidence in myself. I’ve accepted my body, my looks and all of my flaws. They don’t define me, they don’t stop life from going on. I no longer waste time worrying about the little things. I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn like I’m someone special because that’s not my intent. I just wanted to share that I enjoy being in my 40’s. My body is once again changing. I’ve got some gray hairs popping up in my hair. I’m starting to see crows feet around my eyes. I definitely need to exercise more and lose some pounds, but I’m working on that.

I love being in a place in my life where I know who I am. I don’t waste time self doubting and second guessing myself the way I did in my 20’s and 30’s. It’s funny because with this confidence I feel sexier now than I did in my 20’s or 30’s. I was so self conscience and shy back then. I don’t want to say that I have a don’t care attitude, but honestly that’s what it is. I don’t sweat the small stuff. People’s opinions don’t matter or bother me anymore. I don’t seek anyone’s approval or acceptance of me other than God, my husband and my kids. My life today, right now, is exactly where it should be and where I want it to be. I’m happy.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any room for improvement because there is plenty room for improvement. I still have a few fears that I need to get over if I’m ever going to reach my goals. Where I am today, however, is a much better place than where I was 10 – 15 years ago, and I have my 40’s to thank for that.

Knowing When It’s Time to Let Go

 

Letting go

We’ve all tried at some point in our lives to hang on to some portion of our past. A childhood friend for instance. I have a friend from my childhood that knew me like no other, and I knew her equally well. We were inseparable until around sophomore/senior year in high school. We grew apart and from that point we eventually lost contact with one another. To say our lives took drastic, opposite paths would be a huge understatement. Years later when we’re both in our 30’s we reconnect.

Despite how much we’ve each changed, our love for each other never wavered. Over time however, I’ve come to see just how much we’ve both changed. I thought despite the different people we’ve become that we could still be friends like we were in the past. It breaks my heart to say this, but I’ve realized that we can’t.

Knowing when to let go doesn’t mean cutting a person off 100% and moving on with your life, at least not in this situation with my childhood friend. I think I have to let go of the dream that we could still be close, tight friends like we were when we were younger. That’s never going to happen. We’ve changed too much and our lives have had some highs and lows – some higher and lower than others. We’ve both experienced the real world and how harsh, cold, and unloving it can be. Our experiences have shaped us into the women we are today, and the women we’ve become are totally different than the girls we were years ago.

As one of my truest and dearest friends from my childhood, I didn’t want to accept how much she changed, how much we both changed. I didn’t want to accept that we couldn’t quite pick up where we left off. I didn’t want to accept that right now today, we barely have anything in common. But I’m a realist, and I can’t keep living a fantasy that isn’t true. Accepting that we have changed makes me feel like I’ve lost a big piece of my heart and childhood.

It was my hope that despite our different views on life, we’d still be able to respect each other and our differences. I think we both tried to some degree, and by try I mean there were things that we simply didn’t discuss, and that didn’t solve anything either. This is when I finally accepted in my heart that it’s time to let go. She’s against everything that I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s not even the fact that she’s against the things I believe in, but how vehemently she speaks out against these things with such venom and disgust. There’s a level of respect that all friendships need to survive and grow, and that respect isn’t there with us. I would never speak about something I knew she cared deeply about in such an offensive and disrespectful way to her, but when on social media this is all I see from her. Everyone has their reasons for feeling the way they do and being passionate about their feelings, but when you don’t care about how your words make those who are supposed to be close and dear to you feel, there’s no respect and there’s no love there. If anything that shows a very selfish attitude. Now that I reflect on our friendship over the years, I realize that her selfish attitude was always there. My love for her and our friendship blinded me to it.

I’m a firm believer in treating people the way you want to be treated. I go out of my way to be kind and respectful towards others regardless of their beliefs. All I ask is for the same in return, and sometimes it’s not always reciprocated. It hurts a bit more when you’re not receiving the same courtesy from someone you hold near and dear to your heart. My eyes are wide open and I’m seeing very clearly now. For the last couple of years I allowed myself to live in a world of denial when it came to my friend, and now those days are over. I’ll always care about you, but it’s time to let go.

Conflicting Feelings

Broken Heart

 

At times I have conflicting feelings, especially when it comes to my family. Coming from a family filled with pain and drama, I reached my “enough is enough” point pretty early in life. I reached this point in my early teens, and then put my foot down completely in my early 20’s. It goes without saying that we all make mistakes, we’re all imperfect. But when you continue to go through life drowning in the same cycle of dysfunction, I cannot and will not be apart of that.

I love my family from a distance, and it’s a necessity that I do so in order to stop that cycle of dysfunction from continuing in my life. This meant distancing myself from my family in many ways and not looking back. Without divulging my families dirty laundry, I’ve found that it’s difficult to move forward with a clean slate if someone refuses to admit their wrongs and make changes in their behavior. Apologies come a dime a dozen. You have to show by your actions that you’re sorry or remorseful. I refuse to let anyone use me as a doormat by their poor treatment of me. Because of the stance I took I quickly became the black sheep of the family, a title I wear with pride to be honest.

The value I place on my own personal peace of mind is extremely high. Having peace within my own family with my husband and our four kids is also extremely important to me. Besides God, nothing else comes before my children and husband. What I regret is not having a great relationship with my family. I hate that we’re so dysfunctional still after all of these years. I hate that I’m not close to either of my parents in any shape or form. I hate that I’m not close to all of my siblings. I hate that because certain people refuse to be accountable for causing so much pain to our family, many are not able to move on with their lives in a healthy way.

This is where my conflicting feelings come into play. While I have these regrets, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’ve made the right decision for ME. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still yearn for a close knit family, or for a close relationship with my parents. Those things will never happen, and I’ve accepted that fact many years ago. This is why I put all of my focus and energy into my own family, making sure that my kids have that close knit family with two parents that love them unconditionally and show it by words and actions. They have two parents that they can talk to about anything, that they can laugh and joke with and have fun with. My husband and I have gone above and beyond to provide a loving environment for our children and to be the best parents we can be to our children. This also includes me being the best wife I can be to my husband, and vice versa.

Despite it all I can’t help but to feel cheated. I feel cheated because I didn’t come from what I consider to be a normal, loving family. I know every family has their issues and suffer from some type of dysfunction, but I wouldn’t wish my families dysfunction on my worst enemy. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about or dwelling on, but every so often certain things will remind me of what I missed out on. A commercial on television with a father and daughter or a mother and daughter sharing quality time together, or being out in public and seeing families together and happy. That’s when I feel that twinge of longing and regret. Then I look at my own family. I listen to my kids laughing and playing and how happy they are without a care in the world, and I’m reminded of how blessed I truly am. Why am I blessed? Because I broke that cycle of dysfunction. Then those conflicting feelings fade to black.

My Love-Hate Relationship With Social Media

In 2008 I joined Facebook and that’s when my love/hate relationship with social media began. The things people post on social media, Facebook in particular, never cease to amaze me. Porn – pictures and foul language,  TMI photos of themselves or someone else, airing out personal and family drama, bad grammar and the overall butchering of the English language, and using text lingo to post messages. I could talk for DAYS about any and all of those subjects, but I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about the various types of people I’ve found on social media that have shortened my patience and get on my last nerve:

The Self Righteous Person

This person always feels the need to point out everyone’s faults while quoting scriptures or sage sayings that they never apply or live by themselves. They’re quick to say how people should and should not live their lives or will preface their soap box rant by saying “I know I’m a sinner and I’ve done my dirt BUT…….” They are more concerned with, and ultimately consumed with, the imperfections of others and will call these people out in their posts. Most of the time their “shaming posts” are done passive aggressively in a long rant. Those who truly know the self righteous person such as family members and close friends, know that this person has a lot of nerve trying to counsel, criticize or give advice when they have the same, if not worse, shortcomings. The self righteous person also feel it’s their duty to say things that don’t need to be said, to “keep it real” and constantly point out the elephant in the room. They like to butt into things that have nothing to do with them, offering their unsolicited advice and are quick to form judgments and opinions without knowing the full story. Most self righteous people also crave attention, which leads me to……..

The Needy Person

The needy person is pretty self explanatory. They need and crave constant attention, and when they don’t get it they lash out. These people are typically very lonely and unhappy with little to no social life. They get upset and take it out on everybody – family, friends, etc. –  for not giving them the attention they want. The needy person will create drama where there is none, or make the smallest thing into a big ordeal. No amount of attention they receive is ever enough for them.

The Know it All

There is absolutely nothing they aren’t an expert on. Religion, politics, pop culture, sports, history. They live to share their “knowledge” while making sure that others feel dumb compared to them. They will butt into a conversation and spout their so-called knowledge and argue you down if you disagree with them, thinking their intellectual prowess will over power you until you see things their way. If you stand up to them they quickly resort to condescension and name calling.

The Debbie Downer

Again, self explanatory. This person is never happy. EVER. Every post they make is highly depressing. They will never post about the good things that happen to them. It’s always doom and gloom. They never try to see the light at the end of the tunnel or the rainbow after the rain. When you share good news or try to be upbeat and positive they are usually the ones to bring you down off your high by stating how just in the last hour, 1 million Ethiopian children starved to death.

Why people use social media to cyber fight/bully each other and air out dirty laundry is beyond me. Social media gives people a lot of false bravado. It’s sad, really. I’ve watched family drama from my own family unfold before my very eyes on Facebook. It’s so embarrassing. What do you gain from doing this? Attention? The satisfaction of putting this person on blast? It’s so childish. I try my best to be upbeat and positive on Facebook at all times. I want to uplift those who read my posts or give them a laugh, not bring them down and depress them. I’ve toyed with deleting my Facebook account because I got tired of the drama and negativity. The whole purpose of me joining was to connect with my family members that live out of state. I’ll be honest – it’s been my family members that make me want to get off of Facebook at times. And yes I do make use of the hide, block and delete options.

With all of that being said, Facebook has been a great tool to connect with old friends and long lost family members. I’ve met new people, swapped great recipes, gotten great advice from other moms, etc. I quickly realized that I need to do a semi monthly cleaning of my friends list to weed out the undesirables. And to be honest, others have deleted me as their Facebook friend too, so it goes both ways! Maybe I’m too positive and upbeat for them, who knows! 😉

Twitter isn’t my thing. Too much time and energy is required for Twitter – and I have neither to devote to keeping up with tweets and followers and hash tags. Twitter beefs – really? Ahhhhh social media. We lived without it for centuries, and we were just fine too. Something to think about.