Working on me, better late than never… Right?


I have been spending a lot of time with my child. Not my children (though I love my time with them!) The child I am talking about is “me.” My mother in law, a Psychologist, and I have been spending a lot of time together lately as she goes through her “stuff” trying to minimize things ( at exactly the time I am doing a show called Remnants so it’s a win-win for both of us!) And while she has shared her memories of the items she is getting rid of, we have begun talking about life, and family dynamics and it has helped clarify a lot of who I am.

One thing that has come up is how our buttons get pushed and her philosophy is that whatever is triggering a negative reaction is based on something in our childhood, so we need to go back and find that child and figure it out now for them so that they can become unstuck at the place you left them. That has been unusually painful for me. My childhood was pretty great. My mom stayed at home and was always artful, whether it was ceramics or painting, sewing or crocheting , I know I got my artfulness from her. My dad worked at Mattel most of my younger years and give me a break, how could I not have lucked out more than that? I never worried about money, and never really heard my parents fight.

I remember trips to the Mattel Outlet in Hawthorn where their offices were and getting to pick out different things. I grew up in a house overlooking Marineland and the ocean and came home to freshly baked cookies. I know my parents loved me to the moon and back. My dad was the one who took me school clothes shopping at the beginning of every year and who I spent many Saturdays with just hanging out, going to the Barber shop and hardware store and car wash and talking about his childhood and life. And every Sunday my mom taking us to church without my dad most Sundays but faithfully making sure we went to Sunday school.

My childhood was pretty “Leave it To Beaverish.” Except because my dad was up and coming in his career, he had to wine and dine clients and in turn he drank. I am not sure when I really understood it but I remember when  I was nine and my mom woke me up in the middle of the night and said she had to go get my dad out of jail for a DUI. She wanted me to know in case I woke up. I was told to babysit my little sister. It happened again when I was eleven. And as far as I know never again. But that was enough. The damage had been done. My mom shared with me that once they were driving and my dad had been drinking and swerved off the freeway from the left lane to make his off ramp. As an adult, I wonder… Why did I need to know that? Once after a company picnic my dad drove us home drunk and then started talking about wanting to go to a restaurant called Latitude 20. My mom panicked and asked me to try to talk him out of it. I did and he got mad at me but ended up falling asleep. Once again, it was all on me.

My dad used to tell me that if he ever died there were important papers beneath the master bathroom’s drawer, later he’d tell me they were on his computer. I used to get upset. Nobody wants to think that about their parents dying. Especially when you are still in Junior High. But my dad didn’t feel my mom could handle it. My dad did die early. He may have known something was up with his health. Though because he traveled for his job a lot I think that he thought he was going to die in an accident. He had a lot of life insurance but more accident. He did end up dying at 51 of a heart attack. I was married by that time with a 3-year-old son. He was jogging around the block.

My mom just died last year at 83. She was an amazing mom. And a memory making grandma. But also made her share of mistakes. I have realized just recently that I never really got to be a kid. I had so much responsibility heaped on me at a pretty early young age. I didn’t need to know the adult things that were happening in my parent’s life. I think I am angry at both of them. My dad for his alcohol issues and my mom for telling me about them.

I remember asking my dad every single morning when he’d be home that night, and  my mom getting annoyed with me for asking her every single night, if she was worried if my dad wasn’t home when he said he’d be. I remember feeling sad and confused and angry that she was annoyed but feeling that it was my fault and I was just a weird kid that worried too much. I wish I could have understood enough then, to realize it wasn’t my fault and to tell her that she was the reason I was worried. Actually they both were!

Now, I hate the knowing that anyone is annoyed with me, I hate feeling worried and guilty, and today I know exactly what and why I have those buttons and I am working on them. I know that I react more quickly to certain triggers that someone else might just let go.

I wish I could go back to find that little girl and make it okay. I think just by giving myself a break and realizing some of those things have made me really melancholy lately. I wish I’d figured everything out sooner. But better late than never. Right? I guess I could have turned out a lot worse. I guess the message I want to share here is…  If you have worries, and we all do. Share them with another adult. Not your kids. Spare your kids. Let them have their childhood.

 

Advertisements

It Really Does Start At Home


I actually began blogging around this time of year, almost a decade ago when I had a harder time than I expected dealing with my empty nest. It blind-sided me so much that I felt as if I was slowly drowning in a montage of feelings I didn’t understand. I mean, I’d gone through all of the firsts. Leaving  both of my babies on their first day of school and all of the milestones that came after.  Before I experienced it, I’d read a few articles about empty nest syndromes and kind of felt a little judgie when I read about how immobilized some of these parents found themselves and surprised that it was both mother’s and fathers.

I think that in reading the stories of other people’s experiences, I realized that it helped to know that others felt the same way and to learn how they dealt with things. And as I began to find my own ground again, I realized that sharing our hearts in several different circumstances  really helped. And so I began writing about “LIFE” and in turn, started getting messages from people I’d never met, thanking me for making them not feel so alone. I figured that if I could help one person feel better about what they were going through, I would share my stories. I tried several different forums before I landed here on WordPress and when I created this blog, I totally felt at home, almost as if the readers and writers that found their way to my doorstep were like a little family.

I have written about love and heartbreak, faith and depression, appreciation and kids, friends and family, life and death, living in the past, pushing forward to the future, disappointments and blessings and today because it is this time of year that prompted me to start writing, I wanted to write to the parents as they send their kids off to school. There is a saying that I have grown to love:

Teach your sons to be gentlemen and your daughters to accept nothing less.

hugging kids

As a parent of adult children I have really reflected on what this means. Some of us feel that they have succeeded at this, some of us feel that we have failed. Some of us feel that we may have gotten it right with one or a couple of our kids and have a hard time understanding what happened to the other (s). Today I would like to encourage the young moms with kids just starting out and starting new years to really talk to their kids about kindness. Because it really does start at home.

When my daughter was in first grade at a Christian School. The program was amazing. I shake my head at how amazing. The Director of her pre-school and the Principal of her Elementary school as well as staff and some of the moms are still my good friends. Life changing friends. I love them. I think that we were all praying moms with a strong faith and yet, I watched the clicks and the gossiping among the little girls and realized that though we needed to set them free as moms, we also needed to guide and teach them to pray for things together.

It  touched my heart when we moved and my daughter came home from her first day of 4th grade in a public school and said in a horrified voice. “Mom, they DON’T even pray before they eat!”  It brings tears to my eyes now because I liked it when she was protected in that sweet little cocoon at Harbor Church School. But I knew that even there, Though the staff watched out for it as much as they could… there were little bullies. And no matter what, we can’t protect our kids from them.

But we can teach them to be kind and aware. To not judge because someone is not like them or doesn’t have the same clothes or backpacks or whatever the differences are. If they see someone sitting alone or hear someone else not being nice, to try to invite that person to be part of their group. I think we need to teach our kids at a very early age, that it is not okay to leave someone out, or laugh at them or to talk about someone or make fun of them. We need to get to know their stories and where they come from. To look out for the underdogs and be their hero. You never know whose life you may change by being kind.

If every parent and every teacher would make a point of teaching our kids why bullying is wrong. And encouraging their acts of KINDNESS and making it a fun project in every elementary school, just think how different the world would be if the adults took the responsibility of the kids and taught them the true golden rule. Because you know, in the end… Bullies grow up to either be angry adults or gentlemen.

I Didn’t Take Care Of Me Then So I Have To Do It Now


If only we could learn to just expect the best from each other at an early age

I wonder why they say that our childhood affects us so much, and that the years; birth to twenty are our most formative?  So… approximately less than 20% of our life, (considering we live into our eighties) is supposed to be what makes us tick? Do you agree?

When I was seventeen I met a boy that changed everything. I felt so wrapped up in that relationship that I let my friendships suffer and walked away from my values and morals and let that boy become my world. I think that I had insecurities from my childhood that in turn caused me to allow the kind of relationship we had happen. Though I feel that I had a great childhood as childhoods go, my dad traveled and we moved a lot and I was never in one place or school for too long until about seventh grade so maybe that had a lot to do with everything. I was barely seventeen when we met. And in everything that came before that, I do feel that what happened next has made me who I am today.

I’d dated before but I was really swept up this time, like never before. I admired him so much. But there was always this ambivalent feeling deep down inside. Kind of like I felt so lucky to have him and yet wanted to turn and run like the wind to get away pretty early on in our dating. I wonder if it was my child inside me that had a little more spunk trying to give me the strength to hear my inner voice that I ultimately ignored. There were some really good times but some pretty bad times and I wonder why I stayed so long. It makes me want to analyze it more now.

Recently, a young girl I befriended a few years back, shared some abuse in her relationship on Facebook. Several people jumped in sharing how they were also in abusive relationships and how hard it was to leave. Not only was I stunned about what my young friend shared, but also about her friends that shared their experiences.  No one ever guesses what is going on. We all are experts in hiding and protecting our worlds as we know them. And… No one understands unless they are going through it. I’d hid what was going on for so long, I knew once I’d told someone  (like this girl did on Facebook) it would be my exit. Maybe that is why I didn’t tell. I wasn’t ready. I wonder why some people stay and some are carefully looking for the red flags long before they say yes to a first date? Well, I know that in my daughter’s case it was because she had a mom that drilled into her head to never put up with one second of someone with a temper. And she didn’t. She held out for someone who is her partner and best friend. I made sure that she felt valued and loved from the time she was born. So why did I stay? And why did I stay when I finally knew that I wanted to leave?

I asked myself these questions as I pondered writing a book about it. Back forty or so years ago, no one talked about abuse. Especially just dating abuse. Fortunately, I realized that if he treated me so badly before we were married, what would it be like married with kids and stuck? The thing is. YOU can only help you. We were engaged and slightly financially enmeshed but what if I only depended on him? I think that is why I’ve always found it so necessary to always have my own way of making money.

There are parts to this story that are so convoluted. Parts that I can barely believe ever happened. Parts about leaving, & returning and parts about leaving again. Today I have come full circle. I almost lost everything trying to get closure from a place in my life that changed me into who I am today. I had to go and get that part of me back. I don’t regret it. Though I regret hurting anyone in the process. The bottom line is that I didn’t take care of me then so I had to do it now.

Today I am not the same person that I was yesterday. And you know, I think that is what it is all about. To answer my own question… Our formative years are every year we are still alive living life. We don’t stop evolving and learning the lessons. We are a part of the lessons daily. I just needed to find the strength in the process and the tools to realize that I have learned that I don’t have to reside in my past ever again… only refer to it as needed.

IMG_3822

(I am beginning to dust my book off and trying to figure out what I want to say in my synopsis letter. This was just an attempt of the dusting part!)

PS:

Below (in RELATED) there is a link to  two past posts that explain everything much better.

1. Go to:  the click of a key in Facebook

& then

2. Getting Over It. In abusive relationships

(both below in Related) that will take you on this journey that will help you understand more & someday be part of the book I am dusting off & preparing for submission. I just need one week without interruption. 😏 Sigh.

That first Whiff


terri, scott and i                                I’m on the left, Scott is the one on the right

I think we all have them… that file of memories tucked somewhere inside of each of us that snaps us back like a rubber-band. That place when we smell or taste something familiar or hear a song that sends us back to a different time in our memories. I even have a time of day that hits me in a way that I just feel safe. As if someone has just told me that it is all going to be okay. For me it is around two PM.  That time of day must have been about the time when I’d wake up from my daily nap to my mom’s warm welcome back. A time before bills, a time when someone else took care of all my needs.

Whenever I taste chocolate milk, (BOSCO to be exact) I always think of my friend Scott who lived nextdoor. His mom would set up a little table under the tree in his front yard and make us peanut butter and honey sandwiches and chocolate milk. Such a decadent treat back in those simple days. I can still taste it. I remember walking into his kitchen,  and the scent of plums and peaches filling my head. His dad had a grocery store a few block away and every once and a while, I get a whiff of what that grocery store smelled like, and it snaps me back into those carefree wonderful days. It was a combination of the produce and deli departments and the memory of buying pixi stix for a penny each that still can prick my heart.

Bactine and Dippity Doo, Coppertone,  and the smell of tar and asphalt all have the same effect (The tar smell probably because there was a freeway close to our school that they always seemed to be working on. As a kid, I also loved the smell of a restaurant as you walked through the door. You know that first whiff. A combination of cigarettes and coffee. Every now and then I smell it but now that they don’t allow smoking in restaurants, that exact whiff is few and far between.

One of my favorite memories is falling asleep in the car as a kid. Watching the moon follow me home as I drift off and then feel my dad pick me up and carry me inside. As he unlocked the door and that first whiff of “HOME” would hit me. I can’t explain it, nor have I ever been able to duplicate it,  but I can still smell it in my head. And it was the BEST! I think it was a combination of a million things. But most of all, I think it was just  that it was that  time in my life when someone else was in charge of worrying about everything. Maybe there is a special scent for feeling carefree? If not, there should be!

How about you? What do you remember? What are some of your best  memory smells? You know, those first whiffs moments that you will never forget?