The Love Dare, Part 3

I know you might not believe me this time, but I still want to do the Love Dare.  I keep telling myself I don’t have time, I’m too exhausted when I get home, anything to keep from adding one more responsibly to my daily To Do List.

Excuses… excuses.  I know.  I’m human.  But like all humans I can do better, I can try harder.  I can, at least, say I’m going to step up to the challenge.

So here, again, is the first day of the Dare for my sons.


Day 1: Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

TODAY’S DARE
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your children at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.


I have a hard time with biting my tongue and patience.  I’m light years better than I used to be, but still not where I’d like to be. I get angry when I’m home from 8 or 12 hours of work, trying to get the house cleaned, straightened, groceries, caring for 4 cats and my sons are sitting on their butts playing on their computers.  They came by this habit honestly.  That was all their Dad did.  Probably all he still does but I’m getting off the point.

Today I will strive not to speak sharply when their chores are left undone, when their only connection with me is ignoring.

Back tomorrow to report on my success or lack thereof.

Invisibility

There’s a funny thing about being invisible. The Invisible Man, Harry Potter and his Invisibility Cloak, One Ring to Rule Them All, The Tempest and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Being invisible has always been a popular item in literature and movies.  When asked what superpower a person might like to possess, invisibility is usually high up on the list. But what if you were really invisible?  Or what if you’d made yourself as invisible as possible all your life but when you decide you want to toss off the invisibility cloak no one sees you even then.

Growing up, I spend all my time trying to be invisible.  I was horribly shy and inwards, mostly because of things that happened and because I’d never not known the feeling of depression. To protect myself, I became invisible, as skill I perfected over the years.

In college, I lived behind the mask of characters, terrified somebody would talk to me, I would freeze and look like an idiot. I didn’t trust anybody. I was afraid of everything and not just in that ‘I’m afraid of spiders’ way. I was drawn so far inward that I couldn’t make connections with the outer world.

And then I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, I was invisible well into adulthood and I liked it that way. It didn’t help that my ex liked me invisible. So, there I was, invisible until I had kids. I couldn’t be invisible with kids.  I learned to speak up, defend them, because I didn’t have any other choice.  The mother bear will protect her cubs even if she doesn’t want to come out of the den.

It took me years to come to the realization I didn’t have to live the life other people wanted for me.  I could live life my way. Visible. I no longer had to be afraid. I was in charge of who I was and who I became. Not my Ex. Not my family.  Not friends or acquaintances or bosses or TV or ads or anything else in the Universe.

I. Was. In. Charge. Of. Me.

Apparently, no one else got the memo.  I learned quickly that once people lose sight of you, you don’t appear just because you’ve decided to appear again.  I’m not talking about people I knew casually, but family.  When I finally separated from my ex, they were glad.  Why had it taken me so long?  When I became my own person, they weren’t happy.  I was no longer the person they expected me to be and they didn’t want that.  They wanted me to stand on my own two feet but only if I stayed the same person I was before.  But I wasn’t the same person.  How could I stay the same and change?  Not possible.

I’ve had to write the remainder of this post several times.  Each former attempt came out bitchy and childish.  I don’t mean to be.  I like taking the higher road, but sometimes I just need to express myself, bitchy or not.  I know what you are going to say.  ‘Are you sure it’s all them?’ Probably not.  I’ve never claimed I was perfect.  I don’t return phone calls in the time frame they expect. Bad? Yes, but I’m not a phone person and when I get overwhelmed by things, I just ‘turtle’ and do nothing. Could I do better?  Yes. Try harder? Yes. Do I want to do better? I used to say yes, but now, I’m not so sure.

Three examples (yes there are so many more but that’s where the bitchy comes in).  One – I wrote and read a short essay at my mother’s funeral.  Except for my Aunt, no one in my family acknowledged I had even spoken.  No ‘thank you,’ no ‘I know this must have been hard for you’. Nothing.  Friends of the family (and even people I didn’t know) came up to say how touched they had been by my words, wanting a copy. Family. Not a word.

Two – After years of cutting my own hair (not pretty I assure you), I got my hair cut and styled at a salon.  Nobody in my family noticed.

Three- I lost a noticeable amount of weight.  Did my family notice?  Nope. Not a word.

Bitch over (maybe).  Truth is I am hurt and angry.  I am willing to do anything they need.  All they need to do is ask.  Do they?  No, they don’t and then are angry that I ‘never’ help.  To hear them, I am selfish and think of nobody but myself.  So sorry for thinking we are all adults and should not expect mind-reading among us.

Perhaps I should accept that I am, and will be, invisible to them.  The sad part is I am almost at the point I don’t care.  Is it worth fighting invisibility in their eyes when I will never be visible for who I am?  How many times am I expected to try to explain who I am and why? It is hard enough to fight depression every day without living up to somebody else’s expectations.

The sad truth is I no longer feel comfortable at family gatherings.

I am the invisible woman.

 

 

 

Writing – A Poem by CS Knotts

Writing

Last night I dreamt
Of the one whom I created
But do not know–
One of many voices
I have never known not having,
Features photographed like ghosts
Layer upon layer on me
Until I am only a Roman mask.
Seeking to create in my own image
For he is me
And with me he can never live.
I hear below
The gentle rattle of the lock,
The invisibility of steps on stairs,
The indrawn breath of creation,
Struggled to create him first
But always he is faceless–
Awake the room rings
With vanished mockery.
He feeds but is starved.
In seven years perhaps
He will go elsewhere,
Become flesh like me,
Without me,
Strigoi spawned in an unknowing moment.
And another. And another.
Creation never ceases.
It is swimming in swift current;
Once you cease to stroke
You are swept away.
And once created how later

To explain
It was not meant to be?

I walk as if blind,
Black dog on one side,
Huge white eyes painted on his forehead,
Vlad on the other
Through my own burning Wallachia.
Somewhere, someday
From a belfry
I will hear their bells
Ringing my name.

The Little Prince On Essential Matters

“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

It seems to me knowing about butterflies, games, and the sound of somebody’s voice are much more important than knowing a weight, an age or even money.  Money doesn’t make friends, at least not the kind of friends I’d want. Frankly, I hate figures, whither it is a math problem or figuring out my checkbook.  Thank goodness for on-line banking so I no longer have to struggle monthly with the hell of balancing; I do much better checking my account daily and keeping the balance in my head.  That way, my math output is limited and that brings me happiness.

I am proud to say I never questioned my sons about their friend’s parents – unless it was to clarify in my mind I was thinking of the right persons. I never asked about weight or height.  I decided once another boy was not the appropriate friend and, covertly, gave my son’s regrets to his birthday party.  Realistically, my son was 7 or 8 and this boy cursed in ever sentence.  Not something I wanted my child around.

I don’t, however, remember asking about those essential matters.  What does essential mean?  According to the dictionary:

: extremely important and necessary

: very basic

We all know this.  The words isn’t unusual or vague.  But looking at the definition in black and white it struck me that essential matters are extremely important and yet very basic.  Food, clothes, shelter. A purposeful life and the ability to find happiness inside. Our health.  Family. Friends. Love. Peace.

It all boils down to balance.  Is my life balanced? Can I somehow find the fine line between my life, my work and my son’s still living at home.  Am I content in my work? Do I care about butterflies and voices and games?

Yes, yes, I believe I do.

 

 

Love Dare Round 2

Last Fall, I started the Love Dare. After the first couple days, however, I stopped, feeling I wasn’t giving it the proper attention.  I decided to start again later.  Now it is later.  A New Year to start anew.

That said, the Love Dare is back.  I am working this program for my sons, not a spouse.  Tomorrow I will be back to report on my success, or lack thereof.

Day 1: Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

TODAY’S DARE
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your children at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret

 

“Is this the reality you wanted?” ― Jonghyun

There are days I wonder about this question.  Is this reality the one I want?  Most times, my answer is a resounding no.  My perfect reality is to have enough money to stay home and write, for both sons to be well and truly on their way to independence (or already there), with the peace and quiet in my days to live the way I want, to contemplate and explore the worlds around me.

The reality I have is no retirement until/unless I inherit some money. a house payment which will last until I’m old, and sons that seem content to live in my house forever.  Between all this, I hardly find time to write.  It’s hard to write when I have little time to give to the characters tramping about in my head.  And I know – you make time for the things important to you.

I have spend years learning how to think abundance – more than – instead of lack  – less than.  I know the world gives back what I put in.  My mantra over the years has been ‘the money will be there.’  Hard to believe when I get paid and only have $30.00 to carry me for two weeks after bills and groceries.  But, somehow the money is always there.  A few years ago, I got a $500 bill with no way to pay.  The next day, I received a check for $500.00.  Like I said, the money is always there; it just takes belief.

Like many people, I have trouble with belief.  I fall into the trap of thinking in the future – where *will* I get the money to buy food – or the past – I never have enough money.  It’s hard to live in the moment, but the moment is the only place where I can achieve the reality I want. So while I still say no more often than yes, at least I am aware and working every day – every moment – on changing my own mind and find my own perfect reality.

What is your perfect reality and how close are you to finding that in your life?

And yet… it’s not the fall that breaks most people. It’s the fear that they’ll never rise up again. – Cristian Mihai

Reading this, my immediate thought was to forward this to my sons.  Both went off to college and came home after a semester.  Both were mortified by their failure.  Both are smart and could have – should have – done well.  But they didn’t.  Mostly because their father figure didn’t teach them how to be men.  Then again, their father is a 53-year-old 5-year-old.  He taught them not to grow up and be responsible for their own lives.

I love my sons deeply, but I wish…. In my perfect world they would both be strong men.  Responsible for their lives.  Stepping out into the world to grow their lives as happy, healthy, adults.  But that is a perfect world and, unfortunately, I don’t live in a perfect world.

My biggest fear is they are so mortified by their fall that neither will rise up again.  How do you convince  a 19 and a 24-year-old it’s not the fall which matters but how you get up afterwards?  It’s a hard lesson and it took me years to learn.  As a mother, I want to spare them my pain.  I want to open up their heads (not literally) and pour all my hard-won knowledge in so they don’t have to make the same mistakes I did; so they don’t have to suffer the heartaches and pains.

I know, realistically, I can’t do this, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing.

And, yes, I know my negative attitude is not helping.  I get so frustrated with the *lumps* sitting on their beds, watching their TVs and playing on their computers.  Yes, they both take classes at the local community college and the older one works part-time, but really?  Would I want to be living at home at their ages?

Ah – no.

In the end, I know this is their fight just as my lessons were mine.  I can’t make these decision for them, as much as I dearly long to toss them out the door and say, “Fly.” So I struggled with teaching them to stand back up and move forward.  There is no shame in falling, just in not getting up again. I struggled to teach them responsibility and how to walk in this world, head high, shoulders back, smiling even in the dark.

The Love Dare

As some of you might have noticed, I haven’t done the Love Dare for several days.  The more I tried, the more I started to feel that I wasn’t doing the Dare justice.  I was responding to the wording of the actual Dare and doing that easily enough, but I started to wonder why I was doing these things.  What was the Dare attempting to show me?  Surely not that I could knock off a Dare a day just like another check on my To-Do List.

Maybe the Dares don’t translate well from SO to children, or maybe I just missed the point.  The point wasn’t, I decided, that I could easily check off each day on my list and feel good about having done so, but instead to think about the challenge, to take the words into my heart and ask my higher power for the understanding to guide my way, forgiveness for forgetting, and the strength to do the work needed to deepen and change my relationship to anybody with whom my relationship has gone astray.

So, I have decided I am going to start the Love Dare over.  This time, instead of just reading the actual ‘Dare’ and responding superficially, I am going to read the article that explains each day in detail.  The what and the why and the how. I am going to let the words live inside me.  I am going to approach each day with the deep-seated faith and knowledge that I can change my relationship with my sons while bringing deeper peace and understanding to my own soul in the process.

Then I will know that I have given everything I am to each and every day’s Dare and that, after all, is all one can give.