Bullies and Immaturity

So, last night was rough.  We had a – well, I guess it was a run-in, with an acquaintance.  Although, it was she that began it.  And she that ended it.  See, her son had threatened my life a couple of years ago.  He was only maybe 10 or 11, but he was a bully.  A terrible bully to my sweet 2nd grade daughter.  And his bullying culminated with the threat of killing me in my sleep.   He told her he had a gun, knew where I lived and wasn’t afraid to sneak out and do it.  I did what any rational mother would do.  I called the cops.  On a 10 year old.  BUT, the cops called his parents and scared the living shit out of them.  And they reacted.

Then, I put an ad out for somebody to drive my daughter home from school and she answered.  Yep, same daughter.  She realized who it was and she cried and apologized. This is a good family, I thought.  That was a fluke.  And the kids started playing together.  It wasn’t all a bed of roses, but it was fine.  Life happened.  His mother had back surgery and we made her dinner.  She picked my daughter up and I bought her gifts.  The bully watched my puppy and I paid him for his services.  All seemed great.  Until last night.  I got a call from her after my kids had gone to jump on her trampoline.  She said that my kids had come over when nobody was allowed over.  All were welcome she repeated conspicuously about 18 times.  All are always welcome – they are so laid back and easygoing – but when my girls came over, they called her boys names.  Assholes, to be specific.  I was livid.  I apologized to her and hung up the phone, ready to raise some hell with the girls.

But the girls had a different version of the story – a much more sinister version.  They had gone down innocently enough to jump on the trampoline and the boys had said they weren’t welcome.  Go home, they said – the others can stay, but not you.  Why, they inquired?  What do you mean?  They were blindsided…..flabbergasted.  They were told – my mom and dad said you’re not invited, that they hate you and that you are annoying.  They were told that multiple, many times.  Until it brought my youngest (the same one previously bullied by them) to tears.  Her sister, God bless her sweet heart, stood up for her and called them assholes and walked away.  That’s all I heard from this mom.  That my girls called her boys assholes, and all they did was call Julia annoying once.  Yeah.  Ok.

So, I texted her to say that we needed to talk – that the actual story was very different and I summarized the differences for her, notably including that she and her husband had been calling my girls annoying and saying they hated them?  Hmmmmm….what happened to “everybody’s welcome!”?  Well, what came next was truly unbelievable.  She lashed out ferociously.  And I mean FEROCIOUSLY.  Told me she would NOT talk to me.  Told me to keep my girls away from her boys and vice versa.  The insults were fast and furious and relentless.  Had I discovered a vein of truth?  A secret?  She was relentless and unforgiving, even bringing into the texts something that I told her in strict confidence and vulnerability.  Wow.  Here it was – the turn.  Once I hit that vein, she never turned back.  She threw insults at me like dodgeballs during a particularly heated dodgeball match.  Only I wasn’t throwing them back.  I tactfully avoided the pitfalls of retaliation.  While she threw and threw and threw.  I dodged and dodged and dodged.  And she threw some zingers.  Said she understood why I had “so many” damaged relationships.  Hmmmm…….this woman that knows absolutely nothing about me.  What an interesting comment.  What was she referring to?  It wasn’t about me.  It was about her.

She said that she was glad she finally saw my “true colors” – to which I replied that if my “true colors” were to stand up for my kids with abusive people – hell, yeah.  She saw them.  And I was PROUD of that.  Super proud.  I am not going to let these abusive people damage my kids.  It’s sad enough that they’re damaging their own.  AND I refrained from making that comment – what I wanted to say – the child in me wanted to say – was that this explained a lot about why her son had bullied my 2nd-grader so relentlessly a few years ago.  This is a toxic, damaging home.  And I’m privileged to realize that now.  Before damage is done to my kids.

But then I began to wonder – how many of these people would I have to encounter in this world?  In this lifetime?  And why?  I asked her to meet with us – she said no.  She had been found out.  Discovered.  Busted.  And she was running.  She had been bad-mouthing children.  She was ashamed, but unable to admit it.  She was trashing around in defense.  And so hurling daggers.  Ouch.  They hurt.  They really hurt.  i didn’t want them to.  Where was my shield?  Ouch.

So, what is this about?  She refused to have a conversation – a dead giveaway to the immaturity level of her life and her surroundings, and therefore her children.  She was busted.  Amy had done the same thing.  She was busted.  And she ran away.  I busted her on being just as negative as she was accusing me of being.  Now that I see it more clearly, she was projecting.  And I popped that bubble and she couldn’t face it, so she ran.  Those people are not MORE than me, they are less than me.  I want peace.  Badly.  But I don’t want peace at the expense of integrity.

Integrity is first.  And I am doing my very best.  Yes, failing, but still trying my heart out.

Selfish and Self-Centered

I’ve been doing a bunch of soul work and as part of that – examining myself and the prevailing dynamics in my life.  Through a series of revelations, I have just realized something exciting!

I AM SELFISH AND SELF-CENTERED!!!!

I am.   I spend SO MUCH TIME trying to prove that I’m not.  And I don’t have to anymore.  I actually am!  What a relief.  I know this sounds crazy.  But I spend so much time being annoyed by others for being selfish and/or self-centered.  Hello!?!?!?  It all makes sense now!  I’ve been wasting my time.  I can accept it in me and so I can accept it in them!

It likely all started with a selfish or self-centered mom and THAT’S OK!

Big sigh of relief…….you are, so stop trying to prove that you aren’t.  You are.  Just be.

Sunday Afternoon and Wisdom

So, just to follow up…..I did not drink that beer as it did not even sound good to me and I was busy doing things and drinking didn’t seem either natural or necessary.  Then later that evening, I opted for a manhattan.  And you know what?  It didn’t even taste good.  So, I drank half.  And I had a lovely, if not somewhat tension-filled night, but the tension was induced by me.  Not by a lack of alcohol.  Not at all.  And I woke up Saturday morning feeling great!

Then Saturday night my amazing fiance and I attended a party – we drank nothing at that party – we weren’t there long.  When we got home, we opened a bottle of wine and drank only about 1/2 of it between the two of us.  Again, slept great and feel good today!

That’s my update as far as drinking goes.  AND, I keep thinking of things to write – topics to explore – wisdom to practice with.

So, I’ve been feeling this turbulence.  The turbulence of crossing over, for lack of a better term.  The turbulence of going from chaos to peace.  And in that crossing over, what is emerging for me is wisdom.  I feel wisdom.  I am becoming wise.  I read in Falling Upward that “God comes to you disguised as your life” and so believe that.  I also believe that I have spent a lifetime (almost 1/2 a century) labeling myself.  Labeling myself is both good and bad ways, but feeling labeled, even by self, can alter one’s life trajectory.  Here are some examples of words I have used: smart, dramatic, over-reacting, methodical, non-creative, boring, prudish.

Well, having those labels has caused possibly a handful of good things, but also a plethora of bad things – for instance, my feeling boring and prudish created in my some rebellion.  That feeling led me to do things I should never have done.  Be places I should never have been.  And say things I should never have said.  All in an attempt to throw off a label that I never needed to put on to begin with.  When I was a little girl, I was surely told some version of these things.  No doubt the label-maker used different words that to them meant something positive – but to me, after having dutifully taken the “label”, the descriptor, the simple adjective, through my filter, the result was something very deeply insulting to me.  I was an injured little girl – most of us have injuries from somewhere – and the injured part of me clung to that label.  And then tried to shake it off.  What I didn’t fully realize is that I willingly attached that label, and just to make sure it didn’t fall off, I used super-glue.  I then tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to shake  it off.  I tugged, I pulled, I tried seemingly everything.  But that label held fast, as I had ensured it would.

We all have injuries.  Injuries of different shapes and sizes and severities.  We all have filters.  Some of our filters take one thing as input and spit it out the other side practically unrecognizable.  We never realize that we have control over these filters.  We can clean the filters.  We can make them new again.  The filters are choices.  They have been given to us over a lifetime, but they are not permanently affixed.  Just like the labels generated out of those filters are not actually permanently affixed.  Yes, they are stuck on with superglue and cannot be removed from the shirt we are wearing, BUT we can change our shirts and shed the labels.  Why don’t we think of that?

So, wisdom.  The dictionary definition of wisdom is:

a : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships insight
b good sense judgment
c generally accepted belief
d accumulated philosophical or scientific learning knowledge
2a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3the teachings of the ancient wise men
One of my labels that I have been attempting to peel off for a very long time now is “ARROGANCE” and the closely-related “SELF-CENTERED.”  Oh, how I have struggled with those particular labels.  They have kept me from feeling wise.  I certainly don’t want to be arrogant!  How self-centered can I be to think that I, little old me, has wisdom?  The words run through my head – “Don’t flatter yourself.  You are NOT that great.  You have nothing to give.  Wisdom, YOU?”  Some of those words sound like people I’ve known and some of them are just me – after the filters and with all of the inner knowledge I have of myself.  I am just a simple person who has spent a lot of time anxious and flailing around trying to figure out the simplest of things.  Along the way, though, I have surprisingly gained some wisdom.  Time and study and suffering and joy have all led me to a level of wisdom that now surprises me.  And I find that when I trust myself rather than judging myself; when I stop squelching what I have to offer and see it as a gift, I know that I am wise.  We all are.
I do have the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.  I haven’t always believed that I had that ability, but I see my daughters able to do those things and I only now realize that I too have always had that ability.  And it gets more pronounced and refined over time.
I do have good sense.  Even if others don’t think it is good sense, there is quite literally no reason for me to believe that I have particularly bad sense.  I have looked around me and thought that others around me are knowing and strong and that I have only things to gain from them.  I would like to know, though, why I don’t give myself the same credit.  Because it’s arrogant?  Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of arrogant:
1: exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner 
2showing an offensive attitude of superiority proceeding from or characterized by arrogance 
And now let’s re-examine:  am I arrogant?  Do I exaggerate my worth at all, or in an overbearing manner?  No.  I am finally bringing myself back up to the level line with all other humans as far as worth goes.  Do I show an offensive attitude of superiority?  Do I feel superior at all?  No – my wisdom came from long years of struggle and feeling extremely insecure and sad and less than.  What I want right now is the ability to help others through what I have already struggled through.  I want to share.  I empathize.  I feel others’ pain and I want to give back.  I want to reach across the line and offer wisdom.  I want to reach even one person.  Offer one person love and acceptance and the knowledge that they are valuable.  No labels required.  Change those shirts.
The other definitions of wisdom point to commonly accepted teachings and those that teach them.  In many ways, what my wisdom is an amalgam of all of the teachings I have so voraciously consumed over a lifetime of searching and struggle.  I have taken in a lot of raw data.  I have struggled to ingest as much as I could.  I have focused on quantity, quality and just grasping, grasping, grasping at finding the answer.  So,  now, my brain is finally synthesizing it all.  And I hope that I can become a source of wisdom for my children, my friends, my fiance, my neighbors, my coworkers, even strangers.  I pray that I never become arrogant, as arrogance kills wisdom and crosses it over into judgment.
The only as of yet unaddressed definition of wisdom is a wise attitude or belief.  I think I would be extremely repetitive if I addressed this.  And I hope with all of my heart that what I impart is wise.  It does require me throwing off the label and reminding myself continually that while I can still seek and still should seek, I have shifted into a more relaxed mode of also providing.
For many years (26 years) I was phobic of dogs, and I only got over it after deciding I could not live that way anymore.  But then I spent the next decade having those same old familiar gut reactions to the sound of a dog collar before I would remind myself that I was no longer scared.  That label was gone.
Remembering my wisdom is no different.  When faced with fear, I will fall back to the familiar – the flailing, the seeking, until I remind myself  that that label is gone.  I can look inside.  I have wisdom to offer.
And last, but not least, the source of my wisdom is of the utmost importance.  I am wise because I am listening to God.  I have spent a lifetime listening outside of myself, screaming out for help, desperate to find the answers to my problems.  What I didn’t realize is that God is here, inside of me, with me.  It is He that provides the wisdom and it is my job to listen and then to pass it on.  Not arrogant.  Just right.

Friday Night

So, here I am.  It’s Friday after work.  I know I should be celebrating, but I’m a bit worried for the evening.  Wait – when I say it that way, I realize its absurdity.  I am not worried for the weekend.  I know exactly what I want.  Good catch, me.

OK, so I have been listening to a ton of books about not drinking.  And it’s had the desired “brainwashing” effect.  And that isn’t bad.  But listening to these books has made me feel like I need to follow the same path as these people or I am failing.  Yet, I know, without a shadow of a doubt (or is it beyond a shadow of a doubt?) that that is not true.  I know that failure is relative.  And I know also that change, successful change, comes from incremental changes.  I know that I am able to successfully accomplish incremental changes.  I know it.  I am beyond certain that I am able to become a minimal drinker.  So, I know it.  And I’m writing it here.

So, right now.  Tonight.  I will tell you what I did – got home, thinking about having a drink.  Blah.  I did NOT have a drink, but instead I had a piece of toast (OK, that was in order to take the probiotics I forgot to take this morning – and it required food), a handful of stale tortilla chips and two bites of peanut butter.  Sinful?  No.  Kinda sad.  Sure.  And now, I’m writing this blog.  And I am planning my drinks for this evening.  So, what does this mean for my success as a minimalist drinker?  Well, interesting thought.

I know that I don’t have to fit a mold to be healthy, but I know that I need to change some things.

  1. First change required is to enjoy myself regardless of the drinks.  For many, many years, I adhered to the philosophy of no more than 2 drinks on any given night.  And that seemed extremely reasonable to me.  Extremely reasonable.  So, how did I reach a point where 2 drinks would be my warmup, followed by about half a dozen more?  I mean, I maintained my 2 drink limit, give or take a very few rare occasions, for a decade.  And my fall into the abyss of drinking was abnormal.

I’m sure this sounds like a rationality and, trust me, I’m onto myself.  However, another very important fact that I know about myself is this:  If I go drastic, it will not stick for long.  The real world calls.  I do know that if I feel forbidden, then I will rebel.  If I think that I’m picking, then I will pick wisely.  My concern, as I remind myself, is to pick wisely even when my fiance does not.    And that is why I started this blog to begin with.  I do not want to end up in the middle of marriage number 2 realizing that I can’t stand all the drinking.  That was the root of this blog – thanks for the reminder, me. 🙂

You know, now that I consider it, that is a big first change.  Enjoy myself regardless of drinks – meaning enjoy myself without drinking.  This is life.  And life is more than drinking.  I will enjoy myself immensely tonight and I will have exactly 2 drinks.  One beer right now?  Hmmmm…….should I?  And one margarita later on in the evening.  After dinner.  I actually would probably prefer two margaritas tonight, but I think it’s wiser to do this now.  Or would it be better to just have that one single margarita?  Or nothing?  Why plan everything?  I could leave it to chance.  OK, so here goes #2:

2.  I will not spend all of my time thinking about drinking.  I will enjoy my life immensely and if drinking is taking up too much of it, then I will zap it.  I do see a lot of non-drinkers thinking about it a lot.  I desperately want the positive effects of not drinking – enough so, that that is worth it.  Trust me, this is a new phase for me.  A time of transition.  A time of growth.  And to that end, I will not spend my time constantly writing (whining) about drinking.  I will not do that.  I will enjoy all that I have to enjoy.  And enjoy the amazing growth that I’m experiencing right now.  Being pickled in alcohol not only kills it for tonight, but it also kills it for tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that.

I am not much of a drinker.  So, it might not be true right now, but it will be with time.  Mark my words.

And off I go to my night.

 

 

Control and Pimples

So, here I am.  On a business trip.  With a customer.  And I have this giant pimple on my chin.  This has been a lifelong struggle for me at different times.  And I’ll be damned if I can’t figure out why.  But this time.  This time is different.  Back to that control thing.  I cannot control the occasional pimple from invading my face.  Now, you might think that I can.  And maybe I can.  Is it a hormone imbalance?  Is it a nutrition deficiency?  Sugar overload?  Reaction to nuts?  I. don’t. know.  And that is the problem.  I don’t know.  Because I don’t know, I have no actual control.  I can flail around and try a million things.  But I am not likely to determine the exact reason for it.  So, I am not in control.  Stop flailing.

But, what I do know is that I have gratitude and here’s what i am grateful for:

  • I am grateful that we don’t all have control over everything in life – sounds good, but would actually be horrible.
  • I am grateful that I have this giant pimple on this business trip and that it isn’t my daughter having it on her class trip last week.
  • I am grateful for my daughter’s experience last week with her giant outbreak that turned out to be staph so that i can have the perspective of gratitude for this one giant pimple – ok, so there are a few little ones as well. 🙂
  • I am grateful that we caught her infection in time before her trip so she was cured by the time of her trip.
  • I am grateful to her for modeling how to have a single pimple on her face without freaking out.
  • I am grateful to my other daughter for also modeling that pimples do not affect a person’s worth.
  • I am grateful that I made it safely to my destination.
  • I am grateful that I am here and not wanting to drink, anesthetize the lonely night away, which is what I might have done in the past.
  • I am grateful for a movie I want to watch tonight.  (The Netflix Movie – Happy Anniversary – maybe cheesy, but I’m looking forward to a good movie in bed all snuggled up.)
  • I am grateful that I am going home tomorrow!  🙂
  • I am grateful that today’s meetings are over.
  • I am grateful that I was able to make a dermatology appointment for Thursday – just two day away!
  • I am grateful that I don’t have hotel bathroom lighting at my house.
  • So, for all of these things, I am grateful.

I am feeling secure and comfortable in myself, even despite the pimple.  I can almost laugh at it.  The only reason I can’t is that I’m choosing to just simply act like it isn’t there.  Oh…..

  • I’m grateful that I haven’t picked at it so much that it’s a giant crater on my face that is not coverable – it might be huge, but it’s clean.  Gross, I know.

So, I was planning on posting something amazing and profound about labels and throwing them off, but now that will wait until tomorrow.  Today was superficial, or was it? 🙂

 

Control and Gratitude

To some it might seem like my life, especially my inner life, is chaotic and busy.   I might agree, but I also know that a lot of good growth is happening and I’ve found journaling (specifically morning pages – thank you, Julia Cameron!) to be extremely useful in clarifying things.  So, what I have on my mind today is control, but also gratitude.

I have always desperately wanted to be in control.  Desperately.  i have tried my hardest to make life cooperate over and over again.  I am constantly and repeatedly shown that life is not going to cooperate.  Why?  Because I don’t get to be in control.  I am not the puppeteer.  I am learning.  Maybe slowly.  Maybe I’ve lost friends over time because of my needing to be in control.  And I can see it so much more clearly now.  It’s desperately hard to admit that I’ve been a control freak.  But as I slowly start to let go, I realize that even though it feels too late, like I should have done this decades ago, I realize in my head, if not in my heart, that yes, this might be late, but waiting longer would only perpetuate the problem.  I am not in control – primarily of others actions, feelings, opinions of me or anything else about them.  In a way, I wish I was and in a way, what a relief!!!!

So, today I received an email from a friend – quite an angry one.  He has recently reunited with his girlfriend.   There were some hurtful things said in this letter that did not describe me at all.  Hurtful things that sounded very much like they were coming straight from the mouth of the girlfriend – things that are not true about me.  So, I got my virtual shield out and reminded myself – this is not about me, it is about somebody else – somebody’s fear, somebody’s hurt.  Immediately, though, I find my inner voice telling me that I cannot be fully absolved of responsibility – I am culpable in some way – whether it’s big or little.  And that’s true.  I cannot deny some responsibility.  So, I own that piece of the puzzle and then firmly reject the pieces that are about somebody else’s hurts and fears.  Yet, they have been said and I doubt.  I doubt not only myself, but I doubt all previous relationships – family relationships, friendships, marriage, etc.  Has it been me all along?  And no matter how much I know about myself and my struggles and my weaknesses, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it isn’t all about me.  Hasn’t all been my fault.  I have been willing to accept blame – blame even for things that I haven’t done.  I have accepted being labeled and generally scapegoated.  And it’s ok to stop that.  I will not agree with everyone.  I will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t make me a certain type of person.  I will continue to do my very best to live with integrity.  To own my pieces of the puzzle.

So, how does this have to do with control?  I think this girlfriend is in the same place I was even just a few years ago – she is trying to control.  She needs to control.    Maybe not me, but maybe her boyfriend, my friend.  I pray that she finds freedom from this, for that is a very sad and lonely place to be.  And then I turn my thoughts inward and I pray the same for myself.  What a journey of freedom I’m embarking on.  Freedom from controlling, freedom from alcohol and debt.

And as part of that I feel deep gratitude – for even the little things.  So, today, I’m grateful for so much.  I’d like to find a place to document all of my gratitude, so will start a separate post containing everything I’m grateful for.

I’m grateful for this blog – for having the courage to write in it.

I’m grateful for the many, many wonderful memoirs that are out there.

I’m grateful for a clear head today.

I’m grateful for a new month and the ability to plan out paying off my loans, while still saving for retirement.

I’m grateful for the generosity of my fiance.

I’m grateful for having found an amazing church in Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colorado.

I’m grateful for my relationship with my children.

I’m grateful to not be afraid of dogs anymore.

I’m grateful to be gluten free and to feel so much better than I did for so long.

I’m grateful for beautiful sunsets.

I’m grateful for cool breezes.

I’m grateful for music.

I’m grateful for wind chimes.

I am truly just grateful.

The list goes on and on and on.

Oh, and since this is a continued blog, I will say that I asked my beloved fiance last night on a walk during sunset how much of his love for me is related to alcohol and he said….0%.  He said he will love me drinking or not drinking.  That he loves me no matter what.  And I believe him.  I still am intrigued by the experiment of the next year.

The beginning – not the end

Last week, I got engaged to a wonderful man.  He really is a wonderful man.  He is loving, romantic, generous, thoughtful, smart, talented, handsome, sexy.  Really everything I could want.  I have two concerns.  Alcohol and money.  See, we both drink too much and we both spend too much.  While everything else seems amazing, these two things are concerning.  Except that I’ve been bringing them up and I have started to feel that we can conquer these two things.  If we both want to.  So, I’ve been reading books like This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and Kick the Drink, Easily by Jason Vale lately and I have wanted to quit – even have had the thought that I would quit if I weren’t dating him.  I feel like we have to do it together.  So, I keep letting myself slip back into it.

Then this morning, it hit me.  Now is the time.  It has to be the time.  I can save money and I can quit drinking.  I can do it.  I think a daily blog feels quite indulgent and quite selfish of me – perhaps a bit self-aggrandizing, but trust me, it is none of those things.  I have used writing as a way of clearing my head for years – since I was a little girl.  In fact, cleaning out some old boxes yesterday (while listening to a memoir about a woman who stopped drinking), I came upon some of my old diaries and poems.  Have I lost myself that severely?  I like memoirs, I like movies, I like organizing, I have a great job and a great man.  I don’t want to be cloudy anymore, nor do I have to be.  I have been given the gift of a great  brain.  A smart brain and I am keeping myself dull-witted with alcohol.  All for the sake of peer pressure?  Yes.  But it is the peer pressure partially of the man I just said yes to.  And that got me thinking. Now’s the time to stop.

If I think this change is afoot, I must do it now – see how our relationship thrives or doesn’t with clear heads and clear bodies.  I don’t know what he will do.  I don’t know how this will go.  But I do know that I want to be the best version of myself that I can be.  I want to be amazing.  It’s not too late – I feel in the back of my head that I should just throw in the towel – try again with life #2.  I’m 48 years old, have already been married once.  And divorced once.  I said yes to this man, but now is the time to live free of the drugs that I’ve been indulging in for years.  I am a drug addict?  Maybe.  We all are – well, most of us.

So, I think this is going to be something I work on – I’m reading Jason’s book today and this week and I’m going to see what happens.  I felt great.  I want to see how this will affect us if I do it and he doesn’t.  I want to see how things will feel.  I need to find out now.  Not after I’m remarried.  And this makes sense.  I’m excited.  I’m not stopping drinking as a chore, but as a gift to myself.  I gave up gluten years ago and discovered a whole new way of living.  I still feel grateful for that each and every day, now it’s time to give this up and rediscover who I was meant to be.  Who God wanted me to be.

I am NOT an alcoholic.  I am a person who wants to feel clearheaded and good about my life.  Not live in fear.  Live in faith and joy and excitement.

I want to live my life in fearless excitement.  And that’s what I intend to do.