Forgiveness

I watched a show the other day that dealt with an alcoholic, drug addicted mother seeking forgiveness from her estranged daughter, only the mother refused to own up to all the things that hurt her daughter which caused the strain on their relationship to begin with. She wanted forgiveness for years of hurt and pain that she inflicted on all of her children, which required her daughter to step in and become the mother to her younger siblings.

I watched with intense interest because I lived that hurt and pain. I also couldn’t understand why it is so hard for some people to admit that they were wrong, acknowledge the pain they caused so everyone involved could move on. The only difference between my situation and the mother and daughter on television is that my mother was never an alcoholic, nor did she suffered with drug addiction. She was a victim of her environment and upbringing – but she also refused to break that cycle (or simply didn’t know how to) for her own children.

My mother has the attitude that she had an awful childhood, so her kids would too. It was like we were being punished for the misery she suffered instead of her protecting us from the  misery she suffered. As a child I couldn’t understand why a parent would want their kids to endure the same pain they did. All I ever heard from my mother was how much she hated how she grew up: Broken home, dirt poor, abusive father, incest, and no one to turn to for help. Yet she marries a man who is verbally and physically abusive to her and her children? Wait, let me correct that. He could verbally and physically abuse her children, but she wouldn’t stand for him doing the same to her. She made sure she protected herself. We, the children, had to take whatever he dished out because “He’s your father. Respect your father.”

I got a little sidetracked there, so please forgive me. (no pun intended) But you get where I’m coming from, right? Till this day, my mother has given poor lip service as to the horrible decisions she’s made in regard to our family and how she allowed her husband, our father, to treat us. Her philosophy is “Leave the past in the past and move on with your life.” She’s the master of ignoring problems instead of addressing them head on. Her reasons for allowing such behavior from our father are all selfish. She was afraid of being alone. She didn’t want to raise her kids by herself. She didn’t want to have a failed marriage like her parents, even though that’s exactly what she and my father have, despite still being married today. They aren’t happy. She’s been living in misery for many, many years with him.

Now that we’re all grown, she wants us to simply let the past be the past and forgive her so life can be rosy…for her. She wants her conscience to be cleared by us for her mistakes that she still refuses to completely own up to. She still refuses to take full responsibility for how messed up her children are because of her decisions. My mother had the power to stop the bleeding and start the healing. She had all the power to do this, but she chose to keep a man in her bed than to do what was in the best interest of her children.

I’ve forgiven her for her poor decisions. It took many, MANY years for me to finally do so, but I have. As a wife and mother I still can’t fathom how one can claim to love their children but put them second fiddle to a man. A no good cheating, abusive man at that. I can’t help but think of how different our lives could have turned out without that demonic cancer torturing us the way he did. It’s pointless to go down the “what if” road, and I know this. We’ll never know, but we will always be left to wonder “what if?”

More importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that I will never get that full on admittance of guilt from her, and I’m okay with that. My mother is who she is, and she hasn’t changed in all these years, nor is she about to. I had to accept this about her in order for me to forgive her and let go of the long held resentment I held toward her. I had to forgive her for my own peace of mind. Are we close? No. And we never will be. But we are cordial toward each other if nothing else. My father on the other hand…that’s a whole other story for a different day.

Forgiveness isn’t something that you can demand. Forgiveness takes time. Forgiveness can be hard, but nothing makes forgiveness harder than a person refusing to admit their wrongs. So if you don’t get the full admittance of guilt, sometimes you’ll have to forgive them anyway. For your own peace of mind.

 

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

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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.

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.