Conversations

I was sitting across from my mother at her kitchen table.

“B-but Mom,” I said quietly and quizzically, “you know what it was like to live there, we’ve talked about this…” I faded off.

We were talking about when my sister, brother and I were growing up in Portland and she was still married to our father. It seemed that again her version of the facts of that life had been altered in her mind.

“Mom, remember when we talked about how dad had touched me in a way he shouldn’t have? You know that. You know how much you guys fought? How crazy it was there?”

Somehow she could tell bitter stories of how awful our father’s behavior had been if it showed how badly she had been treated, but when it reflected badly on her as a mother who hadn’t protected us? Suddenly her words became wounded and sad and she would say “how could you say those things?”

Our dad had done much more to my sister from a young age, things my sister had tried to tell our mom for years. As an adult my sister confronted our mother about not protecting her, and suddenly Mom acted like it was all news to her.

I don’t bring this up to vilify my parents, though they surely could have made many better choices. I’m bringing it up for two reasons: the effect on relationship when we tell ourselves Lies about the facts staring us in the face, and the effect on a child’s psyche when they aren’t believed or protected.

What happened to any potential my sister and I had to have a healthy relationship with our mother who couldn’t face the truth of the facts of our childhood? Needing those Lies to uphold her view of herself as a parent meant there could never be any “Mistakes were made and I’m sorry for the pain you dealt with” conversations. Any opportunity for repairing the relationship was cut off before it could start.

As the mother of 4 grown children I’ve become more aware of how imperfectly I parented, how many needs I missed, how many times I was too wrapped up in my own misery to see that of my children. It happens. It’s the human factor. But being unwilling to admit it will only get in the way of relationship–we need to be willing to say “I didn’t realize” and “I’m sorry,” to keep dealings with each other clean.

And when a child isn’t heard, believed, or protected, apparently we can grow up to believe there is no safety in the world, and that we don’t have value, because if we did, wouldn’t we have been worth protecting? The great thing–it’s never too late to learn what are Lies and replace them with Truth.

What will I do for myself this week? I think I’ll remind myself as often as needed (plentiful still at 63) that there’s nobody else just like me, and simply because I’m on the planet I have worth.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: For starters, my beverages of the day have been hot tea and hot chocolate. Sense the theme? I’M COLD! At this time of year with Christmas and New Year’s and the matching set of Samsonite luggage most of us generally bring into the season, what are you struggling with? What message of truth and kindness can you shower on yourself?

 

Advertisements

How did I become this person?

…this “dogs in a stroller” person? Here’s how.

Once upon a time it was 2002. You know, the 2002 that came after the world was supposed to end in 2000. That one. Finding ourselves still quite alive those two years later, and my job having been downsized, our family got Barnaby (the smaller dachshund on the right) and in 2003, Morris. These two pups were brighter of coloring and spryer of step back in the day, just as I was younger, spryer, and without a standing every-six-weeks hair coloring appointment. And then…time. Time went by.

I became this stroller-full-of-dogs pushing woman because time marches on and change and even frailty happens. The dogs wear out more easily, and I’m in less of a hurry (and possibly wear out more easily. Ahem.) So we three walk a while, then we sit a while. Then I push them a while, and we sit down a while. Walks with the dogs have become more of a process than they once were, 14 years back. They’re a different thing, not worse, not lesser, just different.

My sister and I used to laugh about the things we could remember from our twenties, for instance, “All thirty-nine of us!” and the things we’d forgotten–like, what joke was that a punchline to anyway? We’d talk about our childhood, and about how this child or that she had babysat was now married with kids, I’d debate when to let my hair go gray, and she, the older sister, would tell me that she Refused To Age Gracefully! Then suddenly she was gone at 62. Did not see that coming. And my life was different, lesser without her in it.

I could go on about embracing the new and the changes and the pain and the joy blah blah blah and yada yada. But if I’m honest, most of life we don’t really see coming. Some of the good things I didn’t see coming years ago? That at this point I’d be less fussed by what other people think of me. And that I’m a good enough friend and mom when I relax and am myself. That walking more slowly with old dogs means I see more of what’s around me.

The Lies are slowly losing their hold.

What will I do for myself today?  Breathe deeply. Today I’m calling that Good Enough.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What lies do you see losing hold in your life? What do you think of me color-coordinating my outfit with the dogs’? KIDDING!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waambulance is on the way

I remember the first time I made a decision to do something for myself and my Fibromyalgia. “Self-care” my therapist called it. Giddily I took a nap with my new body pillow, a great way to be able to lay on my side but avoid the pain of pressure caused by my knees being one on top of the other, and the ache that came with no support for my upper arm and shoulder.

It sounds so simple, this kindness to myself. Somehow gravity had joined in the efforts of my Fibro to make even resting more painful, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Getting a pedicure had been my biggest idea previously for Self-Care, or buying higher quality dark chocolate. But doing something that would directly influence my constant companion in a positive way? This was a new thought! When Invisible even to yourself, it doesn’t come naturally to pay attention to your body enough to think that far. Especially if the main thing you’re feeling toward yourself comes with a big boo-boo lip.

I refuse to admit how many years I lived this way–ignoring my frailties (except for pouting), rather than working toward a nice cushy pillow between our knees. (Okay, decades. Close enough.) It turns out that when I started to See myself I realized how many areas need Self-Care besides  my toes. To name a few:

My Mental/Emotional self,

My Physical self,

My Spiritual self.

I tend to hang out in the Mental/Emotional party room, trying to pick up pointers on how to stay out of the way of oncoming trains, or to accept and love myself flaws and all, yet I need to work on the rest.

While I was perusing the interweb, I found a simple yet profound explanation of these areas on the University of Texas at Dallas student counseling site. I may not know the Texas Two Step, but at 62 I find I’m still a student at this whole life thing.

Here’s their introduction:

Self-care is a necessary and vital part of maintaining emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s more than an occasional manicure or special treat. Self-care is a way of living each day incorporating behaviors that help you feel refreshed, replenish your motivation and help you grow as a person. Building reliable self-care habits now can affect your quality of life now and in the future.

A good way to start is to take an honest look at what you’re doing to manage every day stress. Are your close relationships and daily activities adding to your sense of overall stress? If so, take small, realistic steps toward change to help make a significant difference in your quality of life.

 

Like anything else it takes practice. Here’s the rest of the article listing ideas.

I will do this for myself today: while doing chores I don’t particularly want to do I’ll listen to an audiobook. (I love to read, so I’m thinking this will make the time pass more quickly and pleasantly. Then I won’t be super grumpy after. I hope. I’ll let you know.)

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: what area of your own life is the most difficult to practice self-care? What’s one small thing you could introduce to your day to deal with the stress of this area?

 

 

 

 

Mother Yearnings

I was 17 years old. My mother and I were on a trip to the Oregon coast, a place we both loved. Generally rugged and wild and windy, it was a blue-sky day worthy of summer clothes.

Climbing onto a large, rough rock for a photo-worthy moment, I posed in my bohemian skirt and elasticized neck white blouse. I wore a scarf over my hair, tied under the back of my gypsy-shag haircut. Considering that under the scarf lurked a bad experience at the salon–a far too short cut on top and baby bangs I hadn’t wanted–I felt pretty.

I was posing the heck out of that skirt and scarf when my mother said, “I had a friend when I was your age who looked beautiful no matter what–she could have worn a burlap sack and been striking!”

She reminisced a bit longer about this amazing young woman, and all the while I held my breath. Just like me, please say just like me….

She didn’t. It wasn’t in my mother’s nature to flatter. She was telling a story that had been  inspired by what I’m sure were my own self-deprecating comments about my hair, but not so that she could assure me I still looked pretty. It was just about the memory of her amazing friend.

***

Decades later I was in a conversation when I realized I was subtly posing the heck out of my new outfit and freshly styled hair, waiting for the other person to comment on how good I looked. Suddenly it hit me–I’m still waiting for somebody else to make me feel that I look nice! I’m always waiting for somebody ELSE to give me worth….

Sure, I will always love being on the receiving end of a compliment, but any feeling of real contentment needs to come from inside–from within me. In that moment I realized that I’m the one who needs to love me, I’m the person who needs to feel good about how I look, who needs to rock the new hairstyle. If I wait for someone else to give me the opinion I want to hear I could be waiting a long time–clearly sometimes decades.

TheBringYourOwnBeverage conversation: Validation means to demonstrate or support the truth or value of: recognize or affirm the validity or worth of (a person or their feelings or opinions); cause a person to feel valued or worthwhile. Where do you get your validation, from others or from yourself? Which do you find lasts the longest?

 

 

 

Welcome!

I’m glad you’re here. I do love company. Wish I could get you a beverage.

Thanks for joining me on this road trip to learning self-acceptance and self-love. If you were like me, you somehow got the (LIE of an) Understanding that it would be selfish to take care of yourself and to love yourself. I thought “I’m to love God, then others, then if there’s any time or energy left over I can care about myself.”

Yes, I believe in a Creator who made me and this crazy complicated universe. I even knew at a young age that He loved me better than my parents did, and far better than I loved me since loving myself wasn’t even in the picture. That would just be selfish! (LIE.)

Pretty much my life goal as a small child was to stay out of the way of the angry parents and far away from conflict. If I would be visible I should only be happy (other moods not being well tolerated in my house) and if possible I should make the grown-ups smile or laugh. My anxiety would be soothed if they appeared happy even momentarily. I hid in books, toys and craft projects. I learned to avoid my feelings at all costs. (I still love to make people laugh.)

We each take up our own unique space on this earth. Can we learn to love and accept ourselves with all our unique flaws and frailties?

That’s my older-hopefully-wiser life goal. To love and accept myself. I’m inching in that direction–better in my 60s than never! Consider this an invitation to join me as I explore the hows and whys of it all. Bring a drink of your choice and I’ll bring mine, and we can each do that *CLINK* thing. 🙂

Skimmer’s recap: There’s a lot still to be learned and a lot of LIES to be unlearned–BYOBeverage.

What are a few lies YOU need to unlearn? Thoughts?