Illegitimate

What does it mean to not belong? It never mattered how hard I tried. I didn’t feel I was part of the family. Mine. Two brothers. My middle brother finally admitted to me a couple of years ago that he hated me as a child. From the day I was born. The odd thing- I had felt his resentment as I was growing up. Sadly, it only made me want his attention more. I adored both of my brothers. But I never belonged. I was the outsider.

Feelings

Belonging is a bone-deep craving you never escape. You dress it up or down depending on your personality, but it’s the snark as you reply to your coworker. Do they make more money? Get more time off? You hate. And you don’t know why.

Keep On

It keeps you on your toes, always jumping higher. Or you hide. I’m not an expert on the whole human race with its quirky ways, but I know how I feel when I’m relaxed and authentic. When I’m in my element, I smile from the inside. Finding these pockets of authenticity didn’t come naturally. Most of my life has been a walk through a jungle of emotions I couldn’t name. Confusion. Chaos. They call from the trees above. Tangled vines surrounded me and jungle snakes dropped in front of me, even preventing my progress when I tried to do something different. Stick with the familiar, the snake seemed to whisper. Yesterday’s action might be the answer, but I’d never change and I didn’t want to stay tormented forever. Daily life is difficult. Working through the jungle, untangling the vines was tough. How did I get here?

It’s Complicated

To most people, there are paths. Yes, life has problems, sadness, grief, breakups, and pain. There is a source for that pain. Emotionally healthy people can say, “I had a car accident.” Period. In the jungle of messed up folk, such as me, or those who have feelings of not belonging, a car accident is rarely just a car accident. There are tangled vines of doubt. “Was I speeding?” Guilt and shame. “I can’t face anyone tomorrow. That was stupid to rush this morning. I was going too fast.” This torment continues. In the case of my mom, who is 82, she is still chewing on thoughts from her childhood.

Understand

I created a story in my head as a child. I didn’t know why my brother pushed me away when I was three. Logic was not involved. Only a small child’s fear. And when he ran instead of playing, I didn’t understand it wasn’t about me. I wasn’t an adult who could reason this through. And my adults didn’t know to explain. I learned twisted patterns on how to relate to life, problems, and men. I expected difficulty and avoidance. Vines and snakes. And I got them.

Resolution

There’s a way out of the jungle. The vines have names as well as do the snakes. If you put signs on the trees, you create paths. An amazing thing can happen with this jungle. It might not be the family you were born with, but it becomes a world you create. You belong. Name the emotions you feel when they come to you. Don’t ignore them. Go deep into the jungle. If it’s sorrow, put a big stamp on it. SORROWS! Journal, write, talk to friends, walk in nature, play music, whatever helps you. We are legitimate.

Thank you for being my friend!

You might want to read Belonging or My People or Memories of A Childhood

Painting by Julie Gray

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Rebuilding the Brickwork Of My Mind

We are afraid we’re alone.

I’ve spent years lugging around baggage. I have issues. Pain. I was injured, and I’ve hurt people in return. “Look, everyone. See my pain.” I didn’t do a lot of workshops or therapy sessions, but I donned the clothing of the wounded, shamed warrior. My name badge if you dared get that close read, Unworthy.

Recently, I’ve started to doubt the wounded me story, ripping it away like it was ivy growing unrestrained on the side of my house. But by now shame was buried in my mortared joints. I had so much to learn. And much to unlearn. These are not the renovations you see on HGTV with quick before and after snapshots.

As I told a friend recently, our families in their generation believed they would be safe if they stayed within their safety zone. Their life mottos: Don’t color outside of the lines. Keep your clothes clean. Go to work on time. Follow the rules. Do your duty.

In most lives, there’s a sense that we aren’t doing enough. And we feel that life is complicated. It’s so freakin’ tricky as we think we have to do everything and we are alone. My mental training was built on struggle framed in the guise of independence, strength, endurance, and survival. Go Go NIKE! Just Do It!

As I told a friend recently, our families in their generation believed they would be safe if they stayed within their safety zone. Their life mottos: Don’t color outside of the lines. Keep your clothes clean. Go to work on time. Follow the rules. Do your duty. This was the way of their life, but it can’t work anymore. I cannot conform because it isn’t who I am. And I was shamed, blamed, misunderstood, and told I needed to change because I was broken. I did not fit. Who told me this? The ones who refused to change. The generation who tried to keep me safe. I learned fear and paranoia.

What if I’m not broken? Do I enjoy my day? Could I? These are my new questions for rebuilding my thoughts. Instead of the repairing, I am living.

from Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk

I wouldn’t dream of telling you to believe as I do. I am saying, and you might not be broken. And if I’m not broken and you’re going not to break, we could learn to love our lives.

You are not alone. It appears we are, but there are so many who care. We aren’t isolated from each other. We don’t compete with our coworkers for our meals. There’s no lack. Also, I believe we have access to a collective. Maybe my words fail in the description. It could be a group we belong to, and we draw energy from when necessary, anyway, I imagine a gathering of friends on a beach. We’re sitting around a fire laughing and sharing our experiences. We belong to this family. Someone has our back. Maybe your group meets at the local bar and drinks shots. Or has pie at the cafe.

I honor you. Namaste.

Chasing Cars

Are we chasing cars like a tiny, dog?

I am driving with a friend the other day in this small town. It was one of those places where kids ride their bikes on the streets, so when you drive it’s like playing a video game only it’s real. Cars are parked randomly along the way. We watch for kids, but we aren’t ready for the sudden yap, yap, yap of a dog leaping toward us, chasing the darn car for way too long. All I am thinking is, what parasite has infested this dog?

I know people who continually date. They hop from one relationship to another, not pausing long enough to evaluate why the last one ended. Sometimes there are painful endings but other instances, nope. It’s a thing we do in life. Pursue our goals. Chart the course to Nirvana. Are you chasing cars? Do you have the parasite?

I wonder if I’m unhappy because my job is wrong or if I don’t understand happiness. There’s the song, Chasing Waterfalls, which talks about people who push through life too fast. Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Stick to the rivers you know. Is it possible to have the perfect job or the ideal relationship? Would I know it? There’s no test I can take to tell me YOU ARE HERE, so I am the little creature chasing–something.

“Chasing waterfalls” song

The little dog when he’s chasing cars, is he scaring them away or trying to catch one? Slow down fido! Take a roll in the grass. And go find that chew toy you lost.

Ithaka poem

As you set out for Ithaka, hope your road is a long one. full of adventure, full of discovery…

(for absolutely no reason at all)

Hope your road is a long one. May there be many summer mornings when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

(so many delights you forget why you came on your journey)

….And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(boys and men and relationships will not for chasing. Life will be a pleasure.)

BY C. P. CAVAFY. (parenthesis added for my delight)

The Call of Duty

I’ve had a busy week, with a running-on-empty feeling these last few months. I know you can relate. There’s work we absolutely must do and other chores we let slide.

My cat has been sick for a couple of weeks, and I delayed taking Ms. Kitty to the doctor. I work late. And it is difficult to take time out for anything and taking time off work for a pet, that’s ridiculous. But, infected teeth care none for employer’s opinions. Problems get worse when ignored. This morning I realized this shit was real. We went to the cat doctor.

Tonight I’m chilling with my old girl as she rests. Movie time with Ms. Kitty. Her tooth was already out of her mouth, so no extraction was necessary. She received antibiotics and some temporary pain numbing. All is well.

Thanks, everyone for all of the follows and support!

Love your people!

Ms. Kitty
Ms Kitty

the top image is from Tiny Buddha

Queen of Hearts

I think of winter as silent and cold, a time when nature forgets. In the winter, seeds are dormant. Ever been there? Oh, I have. Silent, still, and unmoving. I was young and didn’t know much about life.

Growing up, I didn’t develop well emotionally. I had been asleep. It sounds cliche. Melodrama really isn’t my thing. But, there was a moment when something inside came alive, and the circuits connected. I awoke. That was when I recognized the brokenness surrounding me. And I wasn’t doing anyone good by living in denial. As it says in Genesis, 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Well, I wasn’t naked, but my family wasn’t as perfect as I thought either.

“Images of the Goddess help to break the hold of “male control” that has shaped our images not only of God, but of all significant power in the universe.”

-Carol P. Christ, from: Rebirth of the Goddess

There’s a shame in my family, and it needs to be cleansed. I’ve been trying to heal through journaling, genealogy, therapy, talking with my family, prayer, and meditation. I sincerely hope to trigger healing in others. Hopefully this is helpful for others because I know I am not alone in this sadness.

We’ve had multiple decades of men in battle. Like bricks stacked upon each other, fathers and then sons have waved goodbye to families who wept for them. Women, whether they were mothers, sisters or wives participated as they could. For a family member, waiting would be agony.

Soldiers gave up personal freedom, hopes, and put their personal wishes aside for the call of duty. With their life on the line, and having to overcome fear every day, all they knew was to be strong. Survival was important. There wasn’t time for hope. It was mud, blood, guns, and keep yourself from freezing to death in the winter. Pay attention to their surroundings. Don’t get killed. Hoping and dreaming, that was for later. So, love was put to sleep. Remember the 1950’s? Duty was Queen. And she had no heart.

Generations of war created a lineage of patriarchy and abuse. Hearts were cold. There’s generational rape, molestation, child abuse, and years of silence. Shame. Try taking this history of pathology and develop a healthy person. Here I am, as well as my parents. I took my underdeveloped self and tried to create a healthy marriage with another. I say underdeveloped since I had no idea what love was. In my family genealogy, love has been asleep for a long time.

We know duty. Survival is our best skill. After that, we start having issues. And as most therapists will tell you, a person will gravitate toward what they know. Which is why people return to the same type of relationships over and over, like a reoccurring nightmare. Or you marry someone like your parents. We’re not only comfortable with the familiar, but it feels right. They fit you. They plug that void you need to fill. We call it love. Funny. Is it really love? Maybe.

I’ve been asking this question for years, what is love? Someday I might know the answer. I know what it’s not. Love is not pain. It is open and giving without holding the other person back from their potential. Love is not bullying, pushy, or brutish in it’s giving. Love is a gift. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. If their “LOVE” comes with strings attached, then it is not loving.

Love your people today.

Arna Baartz -Artist (painting reposted from thegirlgod.com)

Stop! Don’t Make Your Point

It’s alright if you don’t have an agenda sometimes. Relax. It might be healthy.

Too often when we enter a conversation, it’s to make a point. But what if we didn’t. Next time, we could let the unimportant stuff slip away.

Choose your stressors wisely. I pulled this post from psychologist Rick Hanson’s post, Just One Thing. You are free not to do these anymore.

Freedom not to

How?

For one or more of the items just below, imagine what it would feel like for you to have the freedom not to:

• Press your point home

• Struggle to get someone to change his or her mind

• Have a second drink. Or a first one.

• Worry what other people think about you

• React to what is swirling around you

• Act on an impulse

• Get into an argument

• Be swept along by anger

• Identify with a mood or point of view passing through awareness

• Take something personally

• Take responsibility for the experiences of other people

• Criticize yourself for not being able to fit into a pair of jeans

• Resist what’s unpleasant

• Drive toward what’s pleasant

• Cling to what’s heartfelt

For one or more of the items just above, imagine how your greater freedom would help others. Also, let others be freer themselves with you; give them room to breathe, time to think and feel. – Rick Hanson PhD

Have a beautiful day!

Weather Patterns

Try not to take it to heart. It’s a day. Or something a person said, and it was meant to cause you pain, but it doesn’t have to.

Earthquakes shake the ground, leaving rubble and chaos. People react differently to Mother Nature. One person’s bad day might be another’s exhilarating ride.

I love a rainy day, but I know some who won’t leave their house if there’s a mist in the air. A sudden downpour will cause a crowd to scatter. We can panic, or we can let it happen, let the rain pour down our backs. We could also choose to go inside out of the storm.

There will always be storms. Prepare for them. Your house, if it has a strong foundation will weather any storm. #moods

Dare To Be Great

One of the tendencies I find most troubling in contemporary culture is that of mistaking cynicism for critical thinking. – brainpickings.org

It takes effort to be strong. Conscious thought and awareness are needed to bring out the good in others, but if you can do it some of the time, most of the time, try. Because not trying, not even bothering to show up, is inexcusable. And turning bitter is usually the result.

Anger, resentment, sadness, grief are the leftovers of loves unfulfilled. Unplayable songs, words we held inside a moment too long.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat… Roosevelt’s Writings

Scarred But Not Dead

I loved frogs and toads when I was growing up. I’d capture them and hold them in my chubby hands. I loved their exotic skin and long legs, but mostly it was their soft underbelly where I could feel the beat of their tiny hearts.

We’re drawn to babies. Kittens, puppies, and youngsters of all varieties. Kittens pounce and attack, batting at fluff. Their playfulness can make even an old crank of a person smile. Because somewhere inside that cranky person there’s still a child. Life wore him down, and he forgot how to play.

accept yourself

as you were designed

– rupi kaur, Milk and Honey

I was driving home today and stopped at a red light, my hand automatically went to rub my neck. Tight muscles. When my fingers touched my pulse, I jolted with a thought. I’m alive. Corny. But the thrill was the same as touching the tiny animals, the frog’s pulse. I rubbed it again, and yes my response was the same. I’m thrilled to be alive. And to feel my pulse. Is this crazy?

Life is a strange and fragile moment. You can take machines apart and put them back together without causing much damage. Tinker with it until you get it running. But people and critters are not as easy to piece together again. We do surgeries, but we are hesitant because if the life goes out, we haven’t learned how to retrieve it. So, no, I don’t think I’m crazy for being overjoyed or even ecstatic about being alive. Being alive is fantastic and beautiful. And I don’t want to forget about the beating of life in all of us.

You have scars, wounds, and bruises. Don’t let them keep you from living. It’s possible you might need help or therapy, don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let anyone else bring you down. Be your best. Live.

image from Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Neuroticism on Board

I sat at the kitchen table and listened to my mom, the same one who ripped at me since I was a child about my friends and my clothes, were they too big or should I by a size larger because I could shoot up a couple of inches in height this year.

There was a time she’d read the letters from my friend in Wyoming. Janie had moved at the beginning of 9th grade. Her parents divorced, and she’d decided to move north with her dad. Not quite a Twilight story since there were no vampires involved and Wyoming has skiing. Janie and I kept in touch throughout our high school years by writing letters every week. It was the thrill of my day when I’d go to the mailbox and run back with an envelope in my hand. My mom would ask, “Is that a letter from your friend Janie?”

Yep. And being the teenager that I was, I’d go into my room to read it away from prying eyes. Janie would tell me about her classes and friends, about her guys and her after school job. I never thought there was anything different about her. She was me but with different parents. Well, she was able to do things I couldn’t. School dances, dates, and she had a real job. I never thought about it until my mom said one strange comment. “Your friend Janie seems a little wild.”

What? Of course, I was surprised. I never talked about Janie or read the letters aloud. I realized what had happened, and I didn’t have a lot of options. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. She’d read my letters because I had left them out. And I didn’t understand the wild girl accusation. So, I dismissed it and hid them all away and anything else I didn’t want her to find.

The years passed, and many incidents like that one. I’ve put each aside. I didn’t give them a lot of weight other than thinking, Mom is strange, or where does she get these ideas? My mom believed particular women, like Kim with the red hair, were going to steal my husband. Then she felt my mother-in-law was actively plotting to take our money. The list goes on. It’s been a constant battle for me to shield myself from her jabs. They’ve felt like accusations. As if I couldn’t see the evil in others.

Here’s the truth: she stripped me of my self-confidence. I was always defending myself against the person who was supposed to nurture me.

I saw her last night when I was back at the kitchen table. I was doing some financial planning with her, my brother and dad. This time the neuroticism was not directed at me. I saw the blood red eyes of the monster. I saw my mom rip into my older brother, and it disgusted me. It was ugly, and I want nothing to do with it ever again. I’m not toying with it anymore.

No more putting it aside. I call it what it is. My mom is insecure. She is high in neuroticism. It’s a personality trait, yes. Even that can’t be excused, though. I’m glad I saw the monster.