The Oddity of Dreams

Last week I had a dream I still don’t know how to interpret. My dreams are often prophetic or informative. This felt different in a way I had not experienced.

When my father died over a year ago, I spent the next six months having nightmares. Each one reliving the days after my mother died. Each one reliving the abuse at his hands. Each one in perfect detail and recollection. And they hurt. Yet the dreams stopped as abruptly as they started and I breathed a sigh in relief.

Been almost over a year and then I had a dream about my father.  In my dream, I returned to the family home and saw on the door a child’s drawing and pictures taped to the side of the house. The fury and rage that coursed through me should have sizzled me awake or at least into awareness that this was a dream. I opened the front door to see my father alive, healthy and in good spirits. He was surrounded by other people, unknown people as kids ran around, in and out of the house. Even the home was different- bigger, more alive, farm like. There were even goats there in the back yard.

This wasn’t the same man. It was as if I was given a glimpse in the multiverse and saw a version of my father that had made all the right choices and was rewarded for them. Family, love, life, grandchildren, laughter all surrounded him. And I, I was a stranger.

In this dream, I didn’t exist. I nor my sisters were born to him. And I went out to pet the goats, bemused. I was drained of anger. That man was not the one I was angry at. Yet I live and am alive due to his wrong choices.  We don’t get to choose the why of things in life. We do get to choose what to do with the choices we have.

And the goats. Never forget about the goats. I used to dream of taking care of goats once upon a time. They are so cute! And my father had the stock phrase of someone “getting his goat.” I guess in that universe he kept all his goats after all.

The word of the day is: vulnerability.

I’m the drill sergeant of the house. I bring order and strictness and I strive to do so fairly. But I’ve stayed away, peaking in only when things reach intolerable levels. Mostly because lying in the past are huge issues between me and my husband. It’s hard for me to get past the idea that he hates me. I haven’t given him a chance to prove otherwise.

Last night I took my little ones back to school for the student-led parent teacher conference. I was just sitting on Isa’s shoulder listening in, chiming in with a comment now an’ then. My littlest was excited and exuberant to show off her work. But my oldest was solemn and already hiding things. Turns out she’s been having a very rough time of things. Because of the way her rough times showed, it was clear to me that this one responded better when I was fronting!

This really brought me up short. I have a lot of emotions just hidden under the surface. I talked to my husband about this. He understands and he also understands this is needed for her and has nothing to do with Us and him.

I have to bare my vulnerabilities openly now. And I pray, I hope and I wish my husband and my girls can accept me, even this part of me without rejection.

No One is an Island

Gratitude Friday

I’ve been thinking about how much this blog doesn’t cover religious topics often and it occurred to me I’ve actually been sharing one of my spiritual practices with everyone. Before I didn’t consider practicing gratitude to be a spiritual practice. I started doing this more as a self-corrective mechanism. I was drowning in overwhelming negativity in my life, to the point, everything was seen with a negative view even when it wasn’t intended that way.

I had fallen into a bad physiological habit. What’s the phrase; negative sentiment override, and that behavior just about destroyed my marriage. It was clear to me that I needed to make the effort to find things that were positive, daily. Gosh, looking back I recall how hard it was. I had to stretch it out to a week just to list five things. Now I can rattle off five things every day.

Sticking with this, I learned a great deal more about myself and the nature of happiness. It even helped me deal with compliments. Before I would squirm and be embarrassed about it, just about run from any situation that would end with a compliment. Now I can say with heartfelt meaning, thank you.

So at the end of this week, I have some broader based thank you’s that’s been a long time in coming.

Thank You Drs. John and Julie Gottman. Your book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, I found just in the nick of time and saved my marriage. Yours explained why things were they way they were. Out of all the self-help relationship books I read, yours was the only one that gave a thread of hope.

Thank you, my husband. When things were at the bleakest, you never quit. We tied our lives together out of sheer stubbornness and when tested, it held tight.

Thank you to my in-laws, in particular ,my father-in-law. The phrase “it’s not over till the fat lady sings” will always bring a chuckle for you saw more than you let on. I appreciate you had my back even then.

Thank you Dreamwalker. You’re quite a pain in my ass. Infuriating, puzzling and down right madding most of the time. And I get the feeling now our paths are diverging. You’ve been a mentor to me for a while now. When I needed my nose forced into the grindstone, you were there to do so and you didn’t do it kid gloves on! I appreciate that.

And Thank You, my readers. I’ve had the pleasure to share with you parts of my life and hear your thoughts as well.

Oh, one last Thank You, I get my girls back from the grandparents tomorrow! I miss my babies. They had a month of hanging out with the grandparents and I am grateful and happy that soon they will be back.

May you find joy and happiness; for life is best lived with joy!

Back to My Core

Ah shit, where do I want to start this one? I’m going to be very naughty. I’m jumping into my time ship and rolling back the clock. I’m going back to the past to have a chat with a little girl.

I keep getting told to let go of the past, to stop looking back, to stop focusing on it. I think that’s wrong. At least it’s a misunderstanding of why I look back. Or maybe they feel threatened by my searching in the past. Whatever it is, this is what has worked for me.

I look back to find the scars that need healing. I look back for myself, not to find shit to bring back with me and smear all over my future. I look back to bring understanding and love to the child I left behind there. I’m in the business of loving and growing the child I was.

There is a lot I want to tell her. Most of it, she already knew but kept forgetting as she got lost along the way.

There is no doubt that I’m the child of flawed, damaged and hurting human beings. I have no doubts that my father was a narcissist and that my mother shared some traits of narcissism as well. I know my mother was a product of childhood sexual abuse, dysfunctional family and a good chance a daughter of a narcissist as well. Out of my two parents, there was only one who believed in change, my mother. She had hope and it was this single element she passed on to me. I believe this alone has made all the difference in my life; hope for positive change, to always be growing, to stand when one has fallen, to keep going no matter the odds.

I can trot out various clinical terms to address my condition but what’s the point? Labeling it only helps explain it and lets me know I’m not the only one to go through this. I’m more interested it fixing it, not with band-aids but with lasting positive change.

wee wee wee Let’s slide back into time, all the way to when I was six months old. Yes, I have a single memory at six months. It’s only identified as six months because of a long conversation with my father in which he was able to identify the home I was in from my memory.

Kurcha kurcha did the spring clank, turning it’s handle as I rock in the swing. I’m looking up watching the handle and the sound, staring at it for a long time. It’s remarkable. It’s the only sound to be heard. The light coming in is warm, the colors of the room are soft. I’m comfortable and yet not. But it’s often like this, the kurcha kurcha kurcha rocking me, lulling the cries from me. I’m alone.

Just a serious of complex emotions, that now I can put into words. I was utterly Alone. No expectations forth coming, just the awareness of how alone I was. Where was mom?

I’ve wondered this many times. I don’t have many memories of mom before I was four. There are a few but mostly it’s other people, other family. I don’t recall a caregiver. When I look back, I kinda feel like I sprung up like a fully formed adult in a child’s body. How is that possible?

I do wonder how much I was neglected as an infant. Even my mom recorded that I slept through the night and every night thereafter from the first day home from the hospital. I’ve got two kids and they have never slept through the night, at least not till after they were six months old. My kids have been demanding. They want food, a clean hinny, to be held, to be cooed at, to explore, to hear my voice, they want to be a part of it all and then they sleep just to wake and do it all over again. How could I have been so different?

What if I was the same, wanting that interaction and found it not forthcoming? What would happen to that infant? Is that what happened to me?

I need to cuddle up and pull the me that I was out of the swing and cuddle her close and tell her, she’ll never be alone and that she’s loved.

The Week That Was

Gratitude Friday

Oh goodness. It’s been a heck of a week! If a lifetime can be packed into seven days, this was the week that was. I’m not sure where to even start a recap. I’ve been on G+ way too much! The outpouring of poetry that’s spilling out of my soul has swamped my G+ wall. I need to copy all of it to my poetry blog. I’m really glad I’m writing poetry again. It’s been over a decade since I’ve had this much coming out. It’s taken a bit of following in other’s footsteps to get that muscle working again. But it worked and now I’ve got a flood just pouring out. No way am I sticking the stopper in it again!

With my girls visiting with grandparents, I’ve worked on a lot of internal projects. In the process, I’ve lost myself, found myself, deeply felt every emotion, cried my eyes out and found something I wasn’t even looking for. That was actually last week. Much of it continued through this week too. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a nutter, okay, never mind, I know I’m a nutter; I had an experience that I can only describe as mystical touching of the Divine.

The hard part to accepting this experience is I want to share this so much. To share the joy of this and I found I could not. Not because of fear, I have lost that but because my loved ones lack understanding of me and well just me. The only person I desperately wanted to share this with, well, was not receptive is an understatement. It is a worthy lesson.

However, I refuse to let other’s actions diminish the joy and happiness I found. I am happier than I have been in a very long time. I’m smiling so much my cheeks hurt. I am laughing and cracking jokes with my husband. I can feel the twinkle in my eyes! My heart feels so much lighter. It’s left me dancing!

Oh, joy abundant and overflowing!

So, onward to the joys of thankfulness;

Thank You for leaving the footsteps I followed. I may have been miles behind but each step brought me closer to me and taught me lessons along the way.

Thank You for my insanity. I know, that’s odd. Yet It’s me and I’m really glad to be just me, not some other mask that’s worn, not some pale shadow of a woman, not some appendage of another’s personality.

Thank You for all of life’s joys. Oh, these joy’s make all the pickles of life worthwhile.

Thank You for Music! Oh, yes, music. To get lost in the sounds and words that move the soul brings me a joy, a happiness.

Thank You for my Men in my life. I know, oh I know how difficult I am to live with. I’m stuck in my own head 99% of the time. Yet all of you have stood by me, held my hand when I needed it, offered comfort when I asked and have continued to prove your love for me just by being you. You are all my safe harbors when my ship blows into your ports. Thank you for being what I’ve needed. I am loved, so very much loved. I love you all.

grins Now as I end this, let me encourage all of you to go out there and love. Take a risk and love.

Oops, one more thing. Check out this artist, Aurora.

The Meaning of Lies

I have been a liar.

I can chalk it up to those things in my past, my childhood, or for any number of valid reasons. The person I’ve been lying to all this time has been myself. It struck me the other day when I mentioned my favourite colour about how much I lie to myself.

So odd that I would lie to the world and myself what my favourite colour is. Come walk with me down into memory. She was a little four-year-old girl, pampered, dressed and styled according to her mother’s desires. She was a living baby doll. And on a magical day, she was allowed a choice. Oh, what magic to be given a choice, a say in things to be! Lavender, she adored the colour lavender above any others. Thus her bedroom was painted lavender.

Happiness flowed all around her, her room, her colour, her choice! Yet under the surface of things, of family lurked deep unhappiness. Her colour, her choice was hated and thus removed. And her parents worked to erase her choice, her happiness, even she had to work to cover it. The white of paint struggled to cover the brilliance of her beloved lavender. Little ears took in the grumbles and complaints and learned a strange lesson that day. Her desires would be for nought. So much white paint used to cover, to erase a pleasure, a joy that was hers and hers alone. The want’s that what escaped that white day defeated those who lacked understanding. Lavender splotches  peaked at the edges of the room, like her soul, diminished yet undefeated. It was a comfort to see even the bits that peaked and escaped the drowning of white.

This lesson would not have been enough to be set in stone if there had not been so many others before and after. Your desires mean nothing. Your choices mean nothing. What you want means nothing. Each one hammered home again and again.

The ingeniousness of childhood protects the core budding personality against occasional harm that parenthood brings to it. Yet when the child is an extension of the parent, not only does the child absorb the parents hurts, they have to buffer their own core in hope of a day they can bloom. I have no measure of how well I succeed in this task. Let me tell you another story.

Pigtailed seven year old who loved words and worlds only found between the pages ran up to her mother a late spring evening. In her hands, her pride, her joy, her accomplishment; a written story. Beaming with joy she hands it to her mother and begs her to read it. As she watched her mother’s eyes float across the pages of work, sudden horror dawned in her mind. As the frown marred her mother’s face, she took back the pages from her mother’s hand. No questions were needed. She realised this joy trespassed on a rule. Quickly moving away as her shoulders slumped, grateful her mother said nothing. Passing by a trashcan, she let drop from her fingertips the first bits of her soul.

See, the rule broke here was fiction. I had written a story, a work of fiction. Just a year earlier, all books of fiction were removed from the house. There was no television. Radio was set only for gospel stations. What books that remained were those considered to be true, truth and religiously approved materials. And I had failed to include my own self in what was not allowed. It still puzzles me, how could the things I write be anything but truth?

In my defiance, I found a way to nurture my soul. With a teacher’s encouragement, I focused on poetry. Though poetry I could write and dance with words. With poetry, I could express my soul. As long as I was careful, I could write as I desired. My words had to be true, not something one sees as fiction. Poetry has been a wellspring, a lifeline and a much-needed love in my life.

I have many more soul damaged tales. The point is, I was taught from an early age that what I want, that my joys have no value. And nothing but religion and god was put in front of me instead. I was taught to sacrifice everything that made me, me, to that goal. These ideas, these lessons left a wake of damage across my life.

I know now children raised by damaged adults end up needing to unravel not only their damage but their parent’s damage as well. My mother’s damage was deep and she didn’t make it out of the hole that it left in her. But she knew enough that sometimes saying nothing was a blessing in disguise.

It feels odd now having no reason to lie. It feels odd I have no cause to protect my core as I had before. And it feels good.

The Question of Forgiveness

This has sat in my draft box since 30 May 2016. It’s a very angry response to the issue of forgiveness after my father’s death. It raises the hair on my arms reading this, feeling the anger roll off in waves. Time has passed and with distance, some perspective gained. At this moment in time, I’m still working on the idea of forgiveness in my head. For what I demand of others, I shall be held to account in myself.

I find it infuriating being told over and over that I need to forgive my abusers. I’ve heard many good-natured people tell me this bit of homely advice over the years. As if it’s for my own good that I should heed their advice. Well, let me tell you something, Fuck No!

I’m not sure where they get off, thinking they can pass on this tidbit of advice as if it’s the right thing to do when facing someone who absolutely refuses to forgive this crime.

It’s divine to forgive.
It’s for you that you forgive him.
You forgive so that you can move on.

Blah blah blah. It’s a crock of shit, that’s what it is. Not everything is forgivable nor should it ever be. Some things are so horrible that forgiveness is unattainable. And what is this phantom damage done to me if I don’t forgive? Oh, the old train of being able to move on with my life, the whole letting it go portion that is a part of recovery. I have moved on with my life. I don’t live in the past mixing in on my present. That’s what I’ve gained for myself, not him.

None of you get to the right to tell me or any abuse survivor that we need to forgive. It’s bullshit. It takes away our anger. It takes away the right to our anger and you don’t get to do that. I have every right to be angry and I am. As should any person who as lived with the shit I endured.

I have a right to my anger. And I have the right to not forgive him. This isn’t about being a good person and letting go of the past from a spiritual perspective. It’s about setting boundaries and standing firm.

Saying, ‘I forgive you’, is letting the other person know everything is okay, that it’s something that can be worked through and moved past. It’s something said for many things and rightfully so.

I choose to draw the line. It was my choice, my boundary. What was done to me is unforgivable. So why would I ever forgive him, either in life or in death? I will not.

And those who promote forgiveness carelessly do harm. I do not expect everyone to accept my choice. It’s been made clear to me that forgiveness is a very touchy issue.

Forgiveness isn’t acceptance. Forgiveness isn’t for yourself. It is rather the outcome of a conversation that makes restitution to the one who’s been wronged.

Say someone stole some sentimental things from me. And in the silence of this person’s actions, I become angry and upset. Is there any reason for me not to be? Say this anger upsets me so much I can’t confront this person over what they have done. Is this where forgiveness is given? Too many people I’ve met say yes. I could choose to let it go, let go of the anger. That is not the same as forgiveness. Letting it go is something done for myself, not for the other person. And let’s say this hypothetical thief, later on, confronts me and asks for my forgiveness. Now I have a choice. Have they been repetitive? Have they never stole from anyone else? Have they confessed their crimes? Have they tried to make things right with me? If the answer to each of those questions is a no, tell me why I should forgive them?

I wouldn’t be looking to restore a relationship with them. I wouldn’t be wanting to act like a friend around them. It’s not a matter of seeking revenge by withholding forgiveness. It is a statement of redemption or in this case, their lack of it. I would not forgive them. Forgiveness is wiping the slate clean, a pardon of past crimes. Restoring them to a condition of innocence, of not holding their past crimes against them. It would not be right to forgive a person who’s done nothing to earn forgiveness. To forgive carelessly opens up more doors to your own abuse. Forgive the thief in silence and he may again steal more. Forgive again, and even more is lost. Get angry. Stand your ground. Demand things change for if they do not change, no further relationship can be had with them.

Forgiveness is about relationships, you and the person who did you wrong but they must seek to repair that relationship that they broke due to their actions. Some relationships are permanently broken. Some things are simply unforgivable.

Additional Reading:

To Forgive or Not Forgive: That is the Question

Forgiveness Is Good, Up to a Point

Does “Forgiveness” Make Sense?

Why Forgiveness is Overrated

Why Being Unable To Forgive Makes You Smart, Not Weak

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture