Readjusting Our Gratefulness


 

I can still get up from a chair without using my hands. But if I am sitting on the ground, forget it! I have to practically get on all fours to get up. And it’s not attractive! Okay, now a lot of you sitting in a chair, just tried to get up without using your hands didn’t you? I’m blessed to be able to. I don’t take it for granted. Especially as the years catch up with me.

The older we get, or at least the older I get, the aha moments seem to hit like darts. Little realizations that would have been handy to “know” a few decades ealier. Perhaps why they refer to the wise “old” owl rather than the wise young owl and so on. Unfortunately, with age and the beginning of loss, also comes losing loved ones, friends, family and mentors that have taught us all that wise stuff.

I am sitting here, early in the morning of the last day of a trip to Oregon. The visit that brought us here was for a Memorial for my husband’s sweet aunt. Recently, we’d bonded more with his aunt and uncle in the last couple of years and I’d gotten to know Carol in a different kind of way than just a part of my husband’s family in another state. They’d moved near us for a couple of years until health issues brought them back to Oregon. But during the time I’ve been part of this family that linked us, and all the stories my mother in law shared with me, the link that bonded us was writing. Carol was a talented writer and it connected us in a way that passions link people.

We talked a lot about attending writing seminars together. She in fact was the one who told me about the two writing magazines I still receive to this day. And the one that made me more serious about writing my book (still waiting to be tweaked and edited and tweaked some more but it’s finished because of Carol) and starting this blog. In fact, she was one of the ones who faithfully read it and usually commented. In all the other important places she has left a gaping hole for everyone else, I feel silly kind of silly saying I notice a great big hole here. But I do.

A large portion of Carol’s memorial was in the reading of excerpts from her writings. And it made me remember a time when my dad died and I scrambled, looking for anything my dad had written. I guess in a way to salvage a piece of his heart. Writing really is a little bit like a glimpse of being able to see inside someone’s soul. Whether just a note that someone wrote, or a blog or a book or a collection of poetry found in a tucked away journal. Though, I kind of cringe at  the thought of anybody reading  my journals.  I’m not sure I’d want ANYBODY to read a few of those

I guess like in life, you can’t help but wonder, or at least it made me wonder as I sat there remembering Carol,  what kind of memories  and stories would I leave behind? Like me, Carol’s life wasn’t always without pain or good and bad choices that effected her children and their memories, but as I stood a little as an observer and on the outside of all the history that came before I knew Carol, and watched everyone come together in honor of this amazing woman, I had no doubt that her love rose above it all. There was no doubt that she loved and touched every life that was there that day.

I know that I made some pretty significant friendships and reconnected with some others and it made me realize that life is this amazing journey. And it really is all about love and making an effort to make a difference. So someday when we are gone our life will make our loved ones reflect and heal old wounds and reconnect in important ways.

I wonder, why does it take us so long to slow us down enough to realize how important some things are, and how unimportant others are? Perhaps, why He has alloted our bodies a certain amount of time to move fast and then slow us down to GET the things we missed along the way? The other day, I watched my granddaughter jump up from down on the ground when I called her, not using her hands to get up, and I thought… I remember when I could get up not using my hands, when life was still so unlived, and my body still almost brand new and how I probably didn’t even appreciate being able to do that when I could.  And how the older we get, we learn to really recognize the little blessings we missed along the way. And sometimes  we readjust our gratefulness and it sticks.

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Learning To Fight Fair


I am trying to post a little more regularly. After I came back from not posting consistently, I almost forgot how. I don’t want that to happen again. WordPress moved a few things around and I had to figure it out all over again. But like going to the gym, I just need to exercise this thing I do… write. My post, The Writing Room, made me realize that I’d pretty much decided that “that book” that I have talked about for the last seven years and re-written a dozen times is not as much of a burden for me to write. I think that I had to go through the process of just telling my story to me. If that makes any sense at all? I didn’t know the ending because it had’nt happened in my heart yet. NOW I think that I know it. It took about a half a dozen years to grasp it. I still think that I have a message that I need to share and I finally can.

In the mean time my story still resonates inside of me. And parts of that young girl that survived that story still hangs on by a thread, fighting for validation and to be heard. And I have come to the conclusion that life is all about fighting fair and sometimes I still feel as if I am that young girl trying to feel validated. In a lot of my experiences, I have gained the wisdom that would allow me to go back to my younger self and say: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, or don’t make this or that so important.” Because I’ve learned a thing or two. But I have never really mastered being able to just “let it go” when I feel attacked. For me, fighting fair is first not raising your voice, and the tone and respect you use when stating your argument.

I think because my story is about abuse in my very first relationship, I am more sensitive to times when I don’t feel heard or validated. And yet on the other hand, when I do feel that affirmation, I will give you the world. To me, it seems so simple. But in all of my years of trying to be heard, the one thing left to my story is learning how to fight fair. As I have been going through the pages, I look back at all the fights that kind of formed me into how I have this crazy need to feel validated now. And out of all the things that I have moved on from… the one thing that has lasted is the need to be understood and not have things twisted. I’ve learned to let go of  a lot of things by this scale I’ve learned to use… I ask myself, from 1 to 10, how important is it to me? And recently, I’ve used it a lot and let a lot go. Even if it is just me who notices. I just know that it is making it better for me. But sometimes… when someone misunderstood something I said or twists how I feel about something or misinterperts something else… I can no longer be that young girl again “just taking it” I can’t back down. I just can’t, because I promised myself long ago that I would never cower in the corner again.

girl sitting in dark hallway

Learning How To Fight Fair

Don’t raise your voice, I can hear you.

Don’t talk to me in that tone.

You always want to be entertained

I’d rather be left alone.

I wonder if you hear me,

cuz it seems as if you are just thinking of what you’re going to say

I wish we could discuss this in some productive kind of way.

You totally misunderstood

but I can only see the anger in your eyes.

If only you could see me on the inside

you might just realize…

That I wasn’t even thinking

what you’re accusing me of…

One moment we were laughing

but now shadows loom above.

What just happened here?

I can’t even begin to guess.

What started out as a joke

is now a crazy mixed up mess.

Sometimes I am confused

how we both are so on the defense.

And once the angry words begin,

nothing makes much sense.

You accuse me of things,

that were never in my head

and twist the things you heard

that I never even said.

You say I’ve made it about me now

making me forget words that never were there

I can’t even begin to understand what just happened

when no one is fighting fair!

Diane Reed© 2017

 

Not Forgotten


I don’t share this a lot. “I” who talk about everything … It is one of those things that not a lot of people want to talk about. It makes them uncomfortable. But it is not something that will ever go away. I am reminded of it when I am made to  mark the box about pregnancies when filling out my medical history. And after all of these years it may not be something I think about everyday now, but it is there often enough, that place in my heart reserved for the two babies I never knew.

The first one, was before I had any children. I could speculate until the cows came home what caused either one of them, but I feel the first one was caused by me. I’d spent the whole weekend in a jacuzzi partying with friends up the street from where my husband and I lived. I was barely 21 and not living the way I should, especially if I wanted to have kids. I was only three months along and though my doctor assured me that many first pregnancies end in miscarriage and he was sure it was just “one of those things”, I blamed myself and turned my life around that day.

Of course I saw every new baby for months and months after that. Until I became pregnant with my son, I feared that I could not have babies. But I did, I had two beautiful healthy ones. A boy and then seven years later,  a girl. The perfect family. Until it wasn’t perfect anymore. I divorced when my daughter was 4 and soon after that, met my husband now. The second baby I lost was his. We’d been married for about a year and didn’t waste any time trying because I was past 35 which doctors deemed risky  back then.

We were so happy when we found out that we were pregnant. I planned in my head and my heart all the things a mother plans. I was sure I felt it kick. And proudly wore maternity clothes and then when I was a little over 4 months, I lost it. Just like “that” it was over. I tried to be so healthy and barely took aspirin. It just wasn’t fair. And it was traumatic. I almost died. My husband went to work and came home right away even though I told him not to. It was good he did, because he saved my life.

It seemed after that, people didn’t know what to say, so they just didn’t. Or they said the wrong thing, like “At least you have two beautiful healthy kids.” Well, I knew that. I knew that I was blessed. But I really wanted that baby too. I don’t think I ever really got a chance to grieve. I still think how old that baby would have been to this day. I wonder why it happened. And it still makes me sad. But I did still have two kids. I just wanted my husband to have one of his own. But he did. He has been an amazing father.  Blood wouldn’t have made it different for him. Someone did say something that I will always remember… when I was talking about how I wished I’d given him one of his own. They said… “He will just have another one  up in heaven too.” That was good to remember. I liked that.

All I know is that in heaven it will all be different. I will have four kids there someday.

You Have Not Been Forgotten

Shadows fall around me,

I don’t allow my heart to even skim my thoughts

or it would break for it’s lost dreams

It’s been over two decades since I lost you

though it seems like a hundred years in-between.

I think of you more than just when I’m filling out medical forms:

4 pregnancies… two births…

But then, my mind travels back to my first baby,

and I’m surprised it still hurts.

Who would you have been?

You who came before all the others,

the first one ever, to make me a mother

It’s been almost 3 decades since I lost you

My stomach was much flatter then.

You have not been forgotten…

You, the two that might have been.

Diane Reed

“The Writing Room”


It was quiet. The morning’s summer sun flooded the staircase as the woman slowly walked up the steps leading to the attic. Imagining the room before she opened the door, she felt happy. She was finally going to start this project that she thought was only in her dreams. She finally set aside time and was determined to begin to make her dream of having a serious place to write come true. In her dreams she saw it all so clearly… The heavy old well oiled desk filled with lots of drawers and dents and hidden compartments that sat in front of the beautiful bay window overlooking the tree tops, as the little brook below sparkled as it jumped over the stones in the creek-bed below. The birds chirped and flew among the branches, dipping down from time to time to splash in the little brook to get a drink.

The floor was refinished with rustic old barn wood and the wall to wall shelves were filled with books. Of all genres, classics, and every other book about writing that you might imagine. The comfy over stuffed leather swivel chair sat in front of the desk. Her laptop, sat open and waiting for her as a fireplace consumed the other side of the room with an overstuffed window seat and throw placed just so.

Her imagination danced as she opened the door. She immediately was met with the musty scent of memories. It wasn’t a bad smell, kind of like when you take a whiff of a very old book, it is hard to explain just how great of a smell that truly is. Eyes still sparkling, she left the door ajar and surveyed her task at hand, only to be met with the reality of what really was behind the door… She did not see her beautiful writing room waiting for her to pen her first novel, instead she was met with boxes and boxes and more boxes, and stacks and stacks of books and old trunks all filled with things her family had accumulated throughout the years. Some marked with  names of her children, others of her and her husband. Some had names written across the tops or sides of them, of what was supposedly inside.

She looked at the place where her daughter had started helping her several years ago when she first shared her idea of making the attic a study to use for writing. Everyone was extremely helpful at first, promising to help clear out their own boxes. But now, several years later, nothing had been cleared out. It did look as if her daughter might have made an attempt at one time, and now it looked like a story standing still, as if her young daughter had been abruptly called away to go live her life. She smiled as she looked at a place where she once started to organize things. One pile might have been a “keep” pile and another, a “throw away” or” give away” pile, she was not sure.

Everyone was happily living their lives, consumed by their own busy schedules which truly made her happy. She side stepped the piles of teddy bears and books and kneeled down to unlatch a trunk among all the others. Not sure what she would find. The woman lifted the lid that she’d written her name on a lifetime ago. She dusted her palm across her name, as she read “Keri” in curvy round cursive that she almost remembered writing all those years ago. All at once, she was transported back into another time as if finding a time capsule. She lifted old loose photographs, and shifted a stack of yearbooks from every year on the floor beside her. She was just ready to thumb through the first one when something caught her eye. It was a box inside the trunk with packing tape securing each end. In big black marker letters it read PRIVATE with warnings of not to open, scrawled in her own youthful handwriting.

She sat with the box in her hands. So unlike the girl, who had packed that box away decades ago. She thoughtfully frowned and then slowly reached for some scissors and snipped through the aged tape easily. Inside, she discovered what she might describe simply as history. On top of everything she found her diary, still locked shut, but how silly, a key hung from the lock. She laughed quietly as she remembered always faithfully locking it and then hiding it with the key still attached.

She took the key and unlatched the little lock. As soon as she saw the familiar handwriting she felt a sadness as she remembered writing and the feelings of love and heartbreak and confusion that consumed her during that time of her life. The time when writing helped her survive, and it inspired her to go through the boxes and finally give herself that place to write, a place to tell her story.

Right?


A fellow blogger posed a conversation starter, basically asking us to reflect on a question that had been on his mind for a while…. “IF our life was over, how would we view it, right NOW at this point in where we each land?” Would we have done everything, we wanted to? Accomplished everything we set out to?

https://kingmidgetramblings.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/8070/

Jewel has a song called Satisfied.                                                                                                     It is probably my most favorite of all of her others.  A few of the lyrics go like this…

The only real pain a heart can know is the sorrow of regret when you don’t let your feelings show…        

 Did you lay it on the line?                                                                                                                                                      Did you make it count?                                                                                                                         Did you look em in the eye?                                                                                                                                                                                                              And did they feel it?                                                                                                                           Did you say it in time?                                        Did you say it out loud?

I think I have, said most of the things that I’ve needed to say that is, and if not I will probaly end up writing it. That is one of the perks about being a writer… you break open your heart and spill it out for all the world to see, whether they want to or not. And I guess they have the option of… the “or not” part and that is fine. At least I did my part.

In my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to say pretty much everything to all of the important people in my life, at least once. So I am satisfied that the people that I love know I love them, regardless of whatever the situation is when I am dead and gone, and if you know me, one of my strong suits has not been in holding back. If I think it, I say it. Though recently I’ve come to reflect on that and just maybe… the smarter you get, the more you learn to speak less. I mean, if you always share every card you  ever held, you would always lose. Right?

I have always been honest. And have come to the conclusion that, that is not necessarily a good thing. Since I expect no less from the people around me. I am just setting myself up for extreme disappointment. I don’t mean to sound like a cynic but expecting less of people is a lot easier than being constantly disappointed. And when someone shows you otherwise, it can be a happy surprise. Right?

I guess that is why I don’t reach out as much anymore. My circle has grown smaller and smaller, admittedly of my own doing. My husband on the other hand, is a people person. He would be at a party everyday if he could be. He is an entertainer and loves to be entertained. I am an observer. I have to force myself to be “on” and sometimes it is painful. And therefore I may just very well have to buy into the fact that I may have a touch of depression. It is hard to admit because I’ve worked in a Psychiatric Ward and been on the other side. The one with the key and the one who does the charting. I’ve transcribed doctor’s plans for his patients and carried out his order for meds for other people.

I don’t  close all the drapes and hide my head under the covers. I get up and cook and clean and work.  My house is the one that normally hosts all the family holidays and even though I am currently unemployed, I am out there trying to survive. I chat with random people and look for whatever opportunity I can find. I  strike up conversations and laugh and cry with my friends. But some days I am just so mad at the world and focus on the wrongs and the evil and hold on to resentments and just can’t seem to muster up the energy to try to let it go and other days I  just move on and don’t think about it all day. I recently had a whole week of fun where I just made myself stay happy and realized it was because I was actually happy.

So… What is depression? Can’t it just be circumstantial?  All I know is that some days I am so blue I just wrap myself in regret. And other days I am glad for all the times that have brought me here because what hasn’t broken me has made me stronger, what I thought I couldn’t get through, has made me a survivor. And when sh*t “stuff” happens to us that we feel is unfair or we run into situations that seem to be driven  by pure evil. It is only normal to feel kicked in the gut and a little more cautious to trust again. Right?

On the other hand, when  someone special (that you really want to see) surprises you with a special visit or you plan a special trip and have things to look forward to, when things are resolved, and you can breathe for a while, or someone pays you a compliment, or you have had a success that validates your efforts, or you just stop and breathe and see things from the eyes of a child and listen quietly in the moment of a prayer while you are down on your knees, and here God whisper ever so slightly…”My Child, it’s all going to be okay.” You lean back on HIS promises and whisper back…. “I know, right?”