Tag Archives: forgiveness

Love Is A Choice

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I’ll take that one step further and say that UNCONDITIONAL Love is the choice. If it’s not unconditional, it’s not really love. It’s the unconditional part that buries us. We live in a disposable culture, if it’s not convenient, easy, and cheap we don’t want it..unless it’s designer. That may work in retail but what about in friendships, marriage, families? It’s a tough one because love isn’t always black and white… either,or. There are a million shades of gray with a zillion reasons for bailing. It’s about comfort isn’t it? Not wanting to be uncomfortable?

I heard a man sharing today about deciding to ask his twenty year old son to move out and find a place of his own. It was obvious he loved his son very much and it was a painful decision. This wasn’t a punishment, he made the choice because he wanted to be a better dad. He knew if he let his son stay at home, he would never learn what he needed to. This dad also admitted that he was part of the reason his son wasn’t living up to his potential and he made the choice because it was best for his son. How brave that dad was, to risk the possible loss of his son’s love.

Loving someone no matter what isn’t always about the touchy-feely stuff we see on Hallmark. I love the term “tough love” because it sums up what it’s like. It is the hardest thing you will ever be called to do and it is excruciating uncomfortable at times. I really never knew what unconditional love was until I had my first child. It was never modeled in my family so I had no way of identifying it. I wanted to raise my children differently, so I got into therapy. I realized that I only knew what not to do instead of what I needed to replace it with. One of the most valuable things I learned was that my children were not put into my life to fix things with my parents, or anything for that matter. My children didn’t have to make up for anything. They deserved to be special in their own right. I treasure them.

When my daughter was born I had a whole script worked out in my head, what our relationship would be like, what she would be like. Thankfully for my daughter I got help before I could do too much damage. She turned every expectation I had on it’s ear and I learned she was to teach me and not the other way around. She taught me what it was to be a child. I never got to be one in my family. I learned  patience, forgiveness, compassion and ultimately acceptance from her. Acceptance that my daughter was her own person and not a clone to redo my fractured relationship with my mom. It was what it was and I didn’t need to sacrifice my daughter, or myself for that matter, at it’s altar. I had to grow up.

It’s easy to love someone on the surface, and to even say the words. But what if they hurt you? Disappointed you over and over? What if they abuse you or emotionally abandon you? What if they blame you for things they don’t want to look at? What if?

My children, former husband and my Fairy Godmothers were my greatest teachers and helped put this broken soul back together. They made me want to be a better human being, something I strive for everyday. I’m not always successful but I TRY.

I don’t have to necessarily like the people I choose to love unconditionally. Sometimes it isn’t possible. Forgiveness is the result.

I wish I could say it came easy but it didn’t. Lots and lots of anger, rage, sadness and grief for a long time. I went through all the stages of someone dying. It all came back to that broken little girl, that sweet baby who felt from the moment she was conceived… she was alone. I still struggle with that wounded part of me, it comes out either in too much self-confidence…or not enough. When my marriage ended I discovered bags and bags of emotional debris and insecurities that I had covered up with… well, marriage.

I am feeling grateful today. I am finally growing into my own skin. I am living one day at a time and trying not to scare myself by guessing the future. I have already proven that I truly do HATE working retail and I intend to never have to do it again. It is purgatory and hell rolled into one, and the pay is an insult.

So on this Thanksgiving week of Black Friday insanity, be extra kind and patient to the person waiting on you. They hate retail too. The other night I asked an elderly gentlemen (shopping with his wife) if I could help him, he leaned in and twinkled “Yes, can you help me get my wife out of here”?! They were married 67 unconditional years.

Thursday starts my holiday movie countdown. I will do short journal entries on one movie choice a day. I’m getting excited about the holidays,  I’ve decided to lighten up. It’s time.

 

Motherless Woman

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I didn’t like the way I was mothered. My mom disagreed with my assessment. Come to think of it, isn’t that the definition of denial? She passed away in October after years of estrangement. I’ve had years of therapy to patch the holes she made in my heart. Sadly, I know I put some in hers. I learned more than I wanted from the experience, screamed uncle more than once, but it shaped me into a much better mom. The price of admission.

On a scale of crummy she would rate somewhere on the left side of middle. Bad enough to leave scars. Good at some things, horrible at others. I never felt she connected to me. In order to move past my momma-pain I had to look at my whole family. It is like putting together a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. You have to accept it will never be complete.

She grew up amidst alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty and misogyny. Not a good foundation for marriage let alone parenthood. My surviving dad, sister and brother have lead chaotic, rage-filled lives. Uh, they would disagree with that too. I was the lucky one chosen (or did I choose?) to escape. I got out.

I am more grateful than you can imagine. I spent years grieving the loss of my family and wondered why I had a different outcome than my siblings. I realize now they didn’t choose Fairy Godmothers like I did. I CRAVED mothering. Something that has taken me decades to admit, because there is nothing I find more distasteful than being needy. You know…to have NEEDS. I was ripe for divine intervention and I was smart enough, (or needy enough depending on your definition), to open my heart to it.

When God gave me the opportunity to choose a new family he supplied the cream of the crop. I was gifted with six of the most amazing women that ever walked the earth. Are they crisp, sharp, examples of perfection? Nope. God DOES have a sense of humor, and they all became close friends.

Alice, Toni, Sandy, Bev, Alma, and Marian are smart, noisy, quiet, feisty, determined, sassy, outgoing, introverted, funny AMAZON women who modeled for me what it is to be a wife, mom and friend. In the beginning I only saw their magic. I was dazzled and hungry for it. With time and experience I began to observe from them what it truly means to be a success, accepting that life isn’t fair, that all we really have is love.

They are experts in the field of love. Unconditional, messy, fragile, enduring, unbreakable bonds of love. P.H.D.’s at love!

I have decided to profile their stories here in the next two blogs. Stories that are funny (my wedding dress saga is a classic still told today) and inspiring. When ever I leave their company my heart is full of joy. I’ll share (some of them read my blogs so I’ll respect their more personal details…I’m NOT stupid FGM’s!) what I learned from them and how I was able to forgive my mom for not being like them.

They chose to see me through, my mom chose to quit. I can’t fathom giving up on my kids. I want to be a Fairy Godmother! What that means? Next.

Unconditional Love

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I had  a delightful afternoon with an old friend yesterday. We were both young mothers together and my family frequently house sat for them and their Bichon, Zippy. Yep, I have a long history with this breed. My love of dogs goes back to early childhood when I fell in love with Betty Boop’s dog “Pudgy”. Every afternoon after school I would watch black and white cartoons of Betty and Pudgy. Pudgy got into all sorts of trouble but Betty knew it was worth it in the end.

Zippy is now thirteen but still has the same zip he always has, he just can’t jump up like he used to. I am amazed at the resiliency of this breed and how well they age. It made me miss Bianca though. They are such affectionate dogs and Zippy greeted me if I had never been away.Pudgy had that same precociousness that I see in the bottomless, brown eyes of both Zippy and Bianca. They are forever young and have a fathomless heart for the people they love. How lucky are we to be on the receiving end?!

I still adore Betty Boop to this day. She was the first role model for an independent woman living on her own. I never got the suggestive clothing or garter until I was much older (she was originally a flapper of the 20’s and drawn by Max Fleischer) but it didn’t matter. Betty and Pudgy would forever be a permanent fixture in my heart. Just like Bianca and Zippy.

My time here has been bitter sweet. Looking back at youthful folly, measuring mistakes and growth, trying to let go of the past and forgive my human frailties. It’s not easy. The important ones, the ones that taught me the most, are those who  modeled love and acceptance. I realize now that the “be  like me club” was never going to issue me an invitation. Looking honestly at who we are and being accountable for that is difficult. I try every day.

I’ve been talking with my son about his childhood memories and they weren’t always flattering to me. I tried so hard, juggled so much and wanted to be a perfect parent. That was my first big mistake. I told him his feelings are more important than my ego. When truly listening, there is no right and wrong. I knew this day would come and I fortunately have had enough trust in God’s grace (and therapy) to know this was a good thing. I could never have this conversation with my own parents and am deeply grateful my son doesn’t have to carry around the baggage that I carried around for mine. He deeply loves and respects me and we can talk about anything. Love, forgiveness, acceptance. Unconditionally! I guess I didn’t do so bad after all. Do you want to change enough to hear the truth?