Before I saw this quote the other day, I received a phone call from someone and they were telling me about something very important they misplaced. This person misplaces numerous things on a regular basis. As I began to try to have a conversation about them needing to slow down, pay attention, which is something even strangers have said to them, they did what they usually do to me and a few others they don’t “seem” to value much, they got offensive.
I continued to make my case in a non-threatening, caring way and I got off the phone. I almost became irritated. I almost took it personal, but I remembered what I have been drilling in my head for the past year, “It’ not me, it’s them.” “They have the problem. I can honestly say I didn’t do anything wrong. I am going to continue with my pleasant morning.” Sometimes it is personal. Sometimes it’s not. You just have to know when and decide what your response will be. I read this quote over and over until something else stood out, “compulsion to react.” I’ve been compulsively reacting to this person’s madness, with madness, ever since I realized I was old enough to do so. I reacted with madness and anger because that is all I knew. It is what I was taught to do by this person. (I didn’t even know that until therapy). You hurt me with words, I hurt you with words. Especially, since no one can stop me or I can’t be punished for talking back. In that moment when the person became defensive, I could have became offensive, but I didn’t. I didn’t compulsively react. THIS IS SOMETHING I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO PRACTICE and it was effective that day for me. In other attempts, this person would get more and more belligerent and obnoxious. And I would explode!
As I navigate this complex family dynamic, with more knowledge and practice, I hope to gain for myself the peace I have so rightly deserve from childhood until the present moment. I hope to be able to not compulsively respond, not take it all personal, to rightly respond, to insist on my boundaries, to protect my peace, and to not beat myself if I don’t “always” get it right (another burden placed on me by the same authoritative figure).
For the past 3 years I have been struggling, wrestling with life and gaining this invaluable wisdom. I often have to create happiness and it doesn’t come easy in the trenches of this journey. However, something about 43 seems promising and that in itself makes me feel effortlessly really, really good about 43. I feel this easy optimism concerning my life. There has always been a light at the end of the tunnel and as I say I am the light in the tunnel. I think I am just closer and I can feel fresh wind. I can breathe fresh air. Soon, I will have a 360 degree view of a better life and more work to do as I build something new.
And what I also feel about 43 is the fullness of the responsibility and freedom of this is my life. I choose. You don’t choose. My religion doesn’t choose. I choose. I get to boldly live it. I get to boldly do it. Psalms 43 talks about a vindication by God. I am feeling I just may very well be vindicated by God and if I can be vindicated by God then what would I need with anyone’s approval? Whew….
43. This odd number. This oddly refreshing stage. This reset. This work of manifest destiny. This optimism. This love by design and choice. This freestyle. This get all back and make some more. This nope, I don’t want that. This nope, I don’t want to do that. This nope, I change my mind. This yes, above all things I prosper and be in peace.
I call 43-“The Journey is Well Within.” Enough soul work has been done so that I might LIVE peacefully among myself. Yet, until we leave this realm there will be more to do.
Some of us grew up in loving and caring environments and some of us did not. Some of us grew up in loving and caring environments that were flawed on some level. Sometimes deeply flawed or sometimes tumultuous depending on the problems the parent or parents had. It could have been an ill parent, an unfaithful parent, it could have been arguing all the time, or the parent could be one that came and went. Today I want to speak to those that grew up with the Critic Parent. The one that ALWAYS had something negative to say or critiqued everything you did or every choice you made.
I grew up with one. Every choice you made, there was a better one. When you did your chores, there was always something you could have did better or forgot. When you did things to try to impress that parent, they were not all that impressed. Each time you did your hair or got dressed, they would frown up at your attire or choice and I am not talking about the typical parent-child disagreement about clothes and hair. This is beyond that. This is a tear down of the child. A ripping of their power to make choices and to feel good about their choices and themselves. All of this is about that and the child needing to be supported, guided, and free to be an individual. I felt singled out from all of my siblings. The boys in the family didn’t have this problem, but the only sister I had said she would experience it from time to time, but as soon as she was able to she left the house.
The constant stares, criticism, correction, and questioning of everything I did, said, or chose literally destroyed my self esteem. I was already an outsider with my red hair as an African American child, my brainy self, my extreme shyness, and artys personality. I wasn’t accepted in many circles and to be home and not accepted was traumatic to my sensitive soul. Did you know, that those who are artists and creative types have a spectrum on the emotional scale as more sensitive than normal and that can swing to more depressed than normal? I had no idea until I started seeing a psychologist. My mother always said “If you just look at me, I would start crying.” I wonder if she created that insecurity within me or fostered it. I don’t know.
I second guess everything I did, said, and every choice I made as a young adult. It caused me to be paralyzed with fear. I had no confidence. If this is normal mines was twice as bad. Even after choices were made I worried that I was wrong, I didn’t know what I was doing, there you go again…not getting it right. I was surprised when things worked out. An even then, I was not sure that things would be okay.
Many things contributed to my bouts of depression and need to want to escape this world by suicide. I know this was one of them. I equated a wrong choice in anything I did as a reflection of how I could never and would never get it right. Even the simplest things. I was beyond self conscious and not just in the way I look, but in the work I did. Even now I have to say “Hey, it’s good enough. You did your best.” I also had to learn to not do what was did to me to others and when I had my daughter, I vowed to not utilize that aspect of my parent. I did take all of the good from that parent, which was a lot, and use it.
I believe there are many reasons a parent does this. I think we expect parents to be perfect or to know better, but the truth is they are not perfect and they do not know “how to” always do better. Hurting people hurt other people. When we are children we don’t know or think about the fact our parents have lived some type of life before us and has experienced some type of childhood…both of these things either good, bad, or traumatic. These things have an effect on the parent as a child, as an adult, and as your parent. Many hurt parents have know idea of the psychological effects of their behavior on their children and we grow up to think many of the things we experienced were normal and acceptable until we meet other children and other adults. If you can’t recognize the signs of your behavior as detrimental to the shaping of the child, then you as the parent continue to do what you do. The generation before me were not privy to psychology or child psychology. They were too busy trying to make a living. The way they dealt with things were to not talk about them. But, guess what? Buried feelings and events of our lives are still alive if they are not dead. However, we as the children who grew up in some sort of tainted or warped environment, now have the privilege of that knowledge that we may be better parents and better human beings. We also have the work of healing ourselves from these scars.
I am now realizing that I survived by learning through trial and error, my commitment to not repeat those mistakes by taking different actions, some education about parenting, my relationship with God, the wisdom of the Spirit, other wise souls, and yes, therapy. I survived by accepting the relationship I have with that parent, sometimes calling them on their behavior and holding them accountable, and other times letting it go. I survived by releasing my anger and hurt. I survived with knowledge of the effects of trauma on people who never admit or talk about what’s really going on, but instead choose to respond with some outward action or to remain silent and bottled up.
However, for this leg of my journey at 42, I am here to be liberated this year and to be legendary in my doings. I need to THRIVE and not just survive. I thrive by forgiving and by forgiving I am free (liberated). I thrive by realizing that parent may never seek counseling, deliverance, or healing, but my choice to not feed into it or to have some compassion for the hurt child inside that parent, is liberating my emotions to choose happiness even if they are miserable. And all of that is a legendary step for my soul’s journey.
Patience, beloved. Every piece of the puzzle will be put into its place. This is the message that came to me as I dreamed about 1000 and 3000 piece puzzles I saw laying on the table. Before this, I’d visited with our second family in Iowa. We went there to pick up my nephew from college. In the home was a big puzzle laying on a table. I sat down and tried to match pieces and quickly was reminded how tedious this could be.
Well, all week long I’d been anxious, irritable, not feeling my best, and just ready for things to smooth out in my life. It was a Thursday night and I dreamed about puzzles on a table. I heard a voice in the dream saying, “Patience, patience.” As I saw a second puzzles in progress, the words were repeated again. This was a simple message. I want to rush a particular process I am going through. I am ready for it to be over so I can move on with my life. I am ready for it to be over so I can build and have more independence. This part of my life is the biggest stressor!
So, there it was. God, the Divine, sending out a message to my psyche. “Patience, beloved. Every piece of the puzzle will be put in its place.”
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and not do it. -James 4:17
Even if you are not a Christian, and I say this because some can’t respond to truth unless it’s under their faith, you could read this scripture and understand it. Recently, when correcting someone about doing something wrong, I was told by them that they were grown and could do what they wanted to do. I immediately noted the immaturity in this statement because grown as in size and age, is no indication to grown as in maturity. We use all kinds of excuses to continue to do the things we want to do whether it is breaking our own spiritual laws or the laws of the land in which we live. I guess for some it is the only way they can feel powerful, but in reality the need to violate spiritual laws or laws of the land to feel powerful is a sure sign you are not. At the end of the day, per my religion, when we have full knowledge of right and wrong, and do not do what is right…it is a sin.
This week I battled a robin that wanted to build her nest on the rafters of my carport. When I first saw the formation of the nest, I knew it had to come down before it was complete. So, the maintenance guy got it down. The reason that it could not be built there is because if the bird lays eggs it’s illegal to remove the nest and if it builds it where I park my car my daughter and I would be in danger of an attack from a bird protecting her young. And I guess you can say, I was protecting my young as well. It was sort of a woman to bird, mother to mother, type of situation.
Within an hour she was back building again. I was back to stop her. This went on for hours. The night came and when I woke up the next morning…she had started again. We went at it for about an hour and a half. I realized as my arms begin to hurt and my shoulder swelled, I couldn’t keep doing this but, I couldn’t let her build there. Also, the stress elevated my blood pressure. At physical therapy, the PT said “Hey I had that happen to me. I read up on it just like you and I put a plastic owl where the bird wanted to build and it never came back.” So, I thought about the creepy owl I bought for winter decor and when I got home I put it in the rafters. Since Friday, I have not seen the bird. I pray she has found somewhere to build and lay her eggs. I am assured by the wisdom of Matthew in the Bible: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…”
When it comes to problems in our lives, whether it be an illness that turns your life upside down or financial choices, a work situation or a life situation, somewhere in the daunting task of persistence there is a solution. There is a happy medium. There is a method to the madness. And as I trudge through one of the most difficult times of my life, if God takes care of the birds of the air, feeds them and clothes the flowers of the field…how much more will he take care of us? Our angels sends advice, we look up a solution, we try different things, we realize what is not working and soon the solution surfaces. The outcome may not always be what we want at the time, a temporary solution until the a permanent one arises.