Today, like yesterday, I am re-posting an article originally published in March of 2011. This past summer I removed many of my earlier articles from public viewing until I had a chance to re-read them and revise them. There is nothing in them that was wrong substantially…there were just some things that were too much for some people to handle…as Jack Nicholson says in A FEW GOOD MEN, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” … I am going to give people only what they can handle. It is still REAL – it is just more palatable. And, again, I am not in the same place (literally and figuratively) as I was back then. It is less important to me whether you know or understand my story specifically as it is important to me that you understand that there are injured people in the world that need help and support and love. They are trying to feed and protect and care for their children and at the same time ward of attacks from every angle. My new friend Megan has written important messages in the blog www.cryingoutforjustice.com. Her article “Love Her” sparked me to re-post an article from September 2011 yesterday and this article from March 2011. I hope you will look up Megan’s articles, and read this one as well. Thanks.
Each of us HAS and IS a gift. The ONE Gift that I appreciate the most, especially right now in my life, is the person who has the ability to approach any one… no matter how unapproachable a person seems… or how good or bad a person’s life is going in that moment. It is a Great Gift to be able to treat others with generosity, dignity, respect, concern and LOVE. If there is one lesson I want to learn in this life, it is how to look beyond a person’s circumstances, to remove my own preconceived notions about good/bad or right/wrong and TO SEE the PERSON… not their “problem”. I want to have the confidence to approach that person and still be me… to reach out with a spirit of giving and caring and compassion and let them know that I KNOW that they are more than where they are at the present. They have a past, and they will have a future and that I care for them no matter what. That is really how I want to be…I am not there. And in a perfect world, that is how I wish that people would be with me.
I have been thinking a WHOLE lot lately about people’s responses to me and my family over the past couple of years. I have developed a different perspective, one that I sorely needed because I had always been “on the other side”…. I was always the wife and mother in the nice neighborhood in the nice town with nice friends. I had seen people’s lives fall apart around them, and I usually was at a loss as what was appropriate to do or say…so I understand how people who are in the place where I used to be (happily naive) feel. I am not placing blame… I am not angry or upset at anyone. I really do completely understand. But knowing what I know now, I feel like I need to share with you how it feels to go from “there” where many of you are to “here” where many of my new friends are. Too many people already know what I know now… there are a lot of people who have felt what I am unfortunately had to learn first hand. Hopefully, most of you will never have to experience serious illness, or unemployment, or the sudden death of a loved one, or divorce. My DEEP wish is that you will read this and understand what I, and anyone dealing with a major trauma, need MOST from you, is for you to just be you when you are around us… for you to just treat me like me. If you liked me “before”, like me now… If you trusted me “before”, trust me now…
Yes, there was “before”… and this is “after”. But I am still me… the very same one that makes lists, and posts schedules on the dry erase board. The same one who organizes toys into bins, organizes clothes by color, and likes symmetry, beauty and balance. The same one who wants to learn new things daily, and likes to sprint up hills, and wants desperately not to ever repeat the same mistakes… especially any big ones. The only difference between the “old soul” that I was at 12 and now is… LIFE. It isn’t just about ideals and theory. Everything cannot neatly be placed in a white box or a black box. It is VERY presumptuous for anyone to say what they might do “in theory”…in theory is clean and one dimensional. Reality is messy.
My Grandmomma used to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!” I admit, I am a very trusting, gullible, naive person…if someone wanted to trick me all day everyday they probably could. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt if their excuse seems remotely plausible. Sure, some of us will be fooled forever…but some of us will say enough. My request is that your theory will not presume to be more knowing than someone else’s reality.
Reality is not neat and tidy, and sometimes the breaks and cracks and damage done cannot be easily fixed. For example, slapping on some Scotch tape, even Duct Tape can’t hold together something where integral parts are missing…or two things with intense repelling magnetic charges. Most of us know how hard it is to remove something adhered for years… how messy it can be…how we want to inch it off, pry it off, sometimes we decide we just can’t, so we leave it on for days ,weeks, months, years too long…that doesn’t make to removal easier. But finally it gets too disgusting, foul and rotten … FINALLY it has to be done… “R.I.P.”
When the tape is removed, if it all falls apart, it can remain a shambles…or not. I like to imagine the broken item gathers the parts of its former self together – and understands that the unpleasant place that it must endure is just tempory comparatively speaking. The heat is almost unbearable, but when it is finished, the crack are filled, the layers of grime are burnt away and the result is a creation even stronger that before. I am sound and complete. I AM older and wiser. I am the old me -only stronger. The erroneous criticisms of anyone else is something that I can’t stop. I know well how to grin and bear what people say, and hope and pray that with time the people who think they “know” me or what is best, will see how it is and was for me… but if not, I won’t wring my hands over it. I have to live with myself everyday, not them or anybody who would question me or my motives or what is in the best interest of my children. And I look at myself in the mirror and I can smile BIG, because I am at peace. I have love in my heart and not bitterness and hate. I didn’t even realize what a heavy burden it had been to be angry and sad… to live with disappointment and constant frustration. But the weight is gone. I only have to deal with it occasionally… and I rarely have to hear the voice that tells me what I can’t do every day. Instead I am able to hear my own voice and consider all of the things that I can do!
Lisa Nichols says,”What will you do with the moment? How will you seize the moment? No one else can dance your dance, No one else can sing your song. No one else can write your story. Who you are, what you do, begins right now!” I say, you have THIS moment right now. Will it be wasted or used well. Is your dance to your liking? Is it being led by one who steps on your toes and criticizes your movements, or does it make you feel alive? Is the music a dirge? Is there music at all…if not why not? We don’t have to be able to carry a tune to have a song in our heart! Finally, only you KNOW your story so far and only you know how you want it to end. How will you live from this moment on to ensure to the best of your ability that it says at the final credits…” And they lived Happily Ever After ~ THE END”?
I have been at a loss for words at some of the things that people felt compelled to say to me. It amazes me that people I thought I knew and thought knew me called me in my darkest hour to criticize and advise based on their beliefs and not on actual knowledge. Happily married “friends” who have doting husbands… how exactly can they speak to my divorce? or how could the couple who divorced but reconciled claim to be the example for what I should have done. I am happy for them, but they know nothing of me. I tried to respond kindly and appropriately to the people who told me what they thought about my decisions and my life. Usually I would smile to myself as I quietly listened over the phone, or while I read a letter or e-mail because I knew that the messenger was well-intentioned. They thought that I was like them. But somehow I am not… and it makes them uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, am not uncomfortable. I am just me. But some people wonder how I could “throw away” what they saw as a perfect life… What you see isn’t always what you get.
It isn’t so much the people who are compelled to tell me what they think… In fact, I prefer those people to the ones who just avoid me. I know they aren’t avoiding me because I have a “black cloud” handing over me. I feel “sunnier” and brighter (yes, in body, spirit, and mind) than I have in a REALLY long time. I can only assume that it stems from their discomfort because they think they know things…but they are unsure. It may be that the thought of what I have done makes them think too much about their own marriage…they may not want to evaluate their own circumstances… they may discover something they don’t want to see. Yes, my condition has changed, my status is undeniably different. And conventional wisdom would try to convince the world that I am more vulnerable, emotionally and mentally I am unstable because I have been through so much transition. Many (the one’s living in the world of theory and not reality) would like to tell us that when children are involved it is traumatic and difficult…even harmful. Is it? Really? There is really no purpose in my trying to explain the fallacy of that argument. Those of us who live in reality already know how you believe on topics you know nothing about first hand. You’ve already told us! And we know you won’t understand unless it is you. I hope and pray it is never you.
Illness is not the only thing that carries a suspicion of being contagious… people consciously, unconsciously and often irrationally avoid anything that they presume to be unpleasant. I am sorry that I might make other people uncomfortable… but I am not contagious. My transition has been happening for a very long time. If it makes you feel better for my kids, I got to a place where I was very stable before I made any big decisions. It was in that place of strength and stability that I was finally able to make the hard choices. My children are not babies. They are well-loved and will continued to be. I am just me. I am here. People can take me or leave me. My feelings might be a little bit hurt if they leave me, but I understand that it is their discomfort and not my own that they can’t deal with… and I am sorry about that… for them.
I will leave you with a thought from my favorite inspirational writer Og Mandino from his book The Greatest Salesman in the World.
“I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even thought they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built round their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls…But how will I react to the actions of others? With love. For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger. Adversity and discouragement will beat against my new shield and become as the softest of rains.
“How can I laugh when confronted with man or deed which offends me so as to bring forth my tears or my curses? Four words I will train myself to say until they become a habit so strong and immediate that they appear on my mind whenever good humor threatens to depart from me. These words, passed down from the ancients, will carry me through every adversity and maintain my life in balance. These four words are: This too shall pass.”
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
And “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God…with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:10, 14-15
I will be true to God. He knows all about me anyway. And I will be true to myself… others will either understand or they won’t. And I will try to see you in truth without any preconceived opinions based on what I think I know instead of what is real. Thank be to God for friends who are examples of how to graciously accept people no matter where they are.
You can find me here. Not there. And you are welcome here with me any time. Peace and Love.