Thursday, December 30, 2004

What to do, what to do?

I am a bit addicted to reading blogs. It's like getting into someone else's head for a moment and satisfies my desire to be a fly on the wall of other people's lives. Sometimes I like to read other people's thoughts because I am too lazy to think for myself. The best times are either when someone else's thoughts challenge me to think outside my paradigm or when someone else puts into words what I couldn't.

My favourite blog thoughts about the catastrophe in Asia
is the December 28th post at my favourite preacher's blog . I don't know what I will do either. Anything I come up with seems lame.

Frozen Rage

I was able to figure out that I have a bit of anger stored up - feelings I have been stuffing down in hopes of them disappearing instead of facing them head on. A friend once described depression as frozen rage and that has often been an apt term for my moods. Somehow just identifying the source of my foul mood made it liveable. I could handle living in my own skin again.

Repressing anger has been my way of coping for longer than I can remember. I can't say that the church has done me any favours in learning to deal with it. The pressure to let go, forgive, buck up, 'be nice', pray a prayer and everything is fixed etc. has at times been huge. In all fairness some of the pressure is of my own making. Mixed up ideas of what a 'good Christian' is clouded my vision. I refuse to play those games anymore but I sure pine for the stamp of approval some days. Most likely on the days when I can't give it to myself or accept it as truth from Christ. Slowly I am learning that Christ has given me his stamp of approval simply because I exist. I show up on a daily basis and he does his thing in me and somehow I get changed in the process. No, I am not a bystander in the process yet I am. It's been very humbling to take a good hard look at me and stand in wonder at how did I get here from there? (And conversely how come I am still here instead of where I thought I was?) I don't mean to imply that the process is easy. It's just that in the process I am unaware of what is being wrought in the inward parts of me....what the refining process is producing. It is pure grace. I can't take any credit for it.

For today the anger is either gone or repressed further down. Most likely I have traded emotional integrity for the image of 'being nice' to someone, rescuing them from themselves or simply rescuing myself from the intensity of my feelings. It won't last forever because I won't let it. The price of my continuing sobriety has been to stop living in the land of denial and face things no matter what. Eventually I do. Otherwise the frozen rage would be permanent.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Foul Mood Be Gone

Oh I am in a foul mood. Thankfully it won't last forever. But until it does go I am not going to indulge it by ranting here.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

God bless us, everyone.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Growing Up

My daughter is home from college and it is forcing me to grow. Up. I told her today that I knew I needed to learn to stop making all her issues about me. She would tell me something about school and how it was affecting her and I would take it as a reflection of my parenting skills. It never ceases to amaze me how the stuff I look down my nose at others for eventually surfaces for me to see with that split second clarity in my own life. This is about the 3rd example since yesterday where I have seen stuff in myself that I have been judging other people for. I think Humble Pie is on the Christmas dinner menu!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

No Turning Back

Some days I wonder if when I am old I will still feel like I am not a grown up yet. It would be so much easier to pretend I feel things I don't and to sound much more together than I am. But doing that doesn't come as easy as it used to. My desire to be as mask free as possible even if I come off looking far too human is just that - my desire. There is no turning back.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Drop the Handful of Stones

There is an interesting discussion here about this

I have too many thoughts to post in the comment section over there so here I am instead.

This is a personal story and somehow in life personal crap cures black and white thinking in such a hurry. It doesn't change what Scripture says. It just makes a person scratch their head and wonder what exactly did God mean in certain verses and who the hell knows what Jesus would do. I know Jesus loves and loves perfectly. What that love looks like in practical terms is a question I ask myself nearly every day.

My brother-in-law Abe lived common law with his partner for 6 years. He came from a faith background which dictated that you followed all the rules of the church or you couldn't be a part of it. I think his parents had the first inkling that he didn't want to be a part of the church when they decided to put him on tranquilizers when he hit adolescence (30 years ago). They just couldn't get him to follow the rules.

Abe got grace. I have never known someone who understood it as well as he did. He knew he was either at the mercy of God's grace or he was screwed big time. He levitated between accepting God's grace and feeling condemned because he couldn't follow church rules. He couldn't get the two to mesh. His personal choice for tranquilizers became booze as he tried over and over again to get what he knew in his heart to mesh with the childhood messages about (lack of saving) grace in his head.

His family didn't know what to do about his lifestyle. In the beginning they wouldn't invite him to family get togethers because to do so was to invite Abe's partner and well, that would be condoning their cohabitation, and they couldn't do that. What would people think? So we went through years of family gatherings without him there. I think eventually they would invite Abe but made it clear his partner wasn't. Would you show up? I wouldn't either. Screw them.

They must have changed the rules somewhere along the way because there was one Christmas family gathering where Abe and his partner showed up. They didn't stay long. It was too uncomfortable. For everyone.

Here is the short story. Eight months ago Abe was tragically killed. One of his drinking buddies ran over him and left him there. Abe's partner left the funeral arrangements to Abe's brothers - all of whom, except my husband, are in "the church". (Years ago my father-in-law's exact words to my husband were "If you were really a committed Christian you would be in the one true church cause you know better.")

It really pisses me off that death somehow absolves crappy behaviour. I mean on the part of the church not Abe. It was a very touchy thing to have a funeral in a church for a man who was not a member. But before his death not one of his family members in that church would have embraced Abe's struggling faith. The fact that he was not a member of their church was enough proof that he truly couldn't be saved. After all if you are, you know better and are a member. But at the funeral one of the preachers got up and said that in his estimation Abe had been right with the Lord. They could extend grace after death but could never do it before death.

His family really struggled with Canadian common law partner legislation after Abe died. Some thought they had every right to Abe's belongings. My husband had to advocate for Abe's partner over and over again because in his family's eyes they weren't married so how could she keep all Abe's stuff? It actually took a phone call from the cops to get that message straightened out in their heads.

So what would I do if there was a couple in my church who was living together, had a baby and were planning on getting married? Embrace the good in the situation. Celebrate the love. Drop the handful of stones.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Snakes and Ladders

When I was a kid I loved playing the game Snakes and Ladders. If I remember right - when a person landed on a ladder you got to take a shortcut to a place higher up on the board and if you landed on a snake down you went on the board. And since it was all about winning in my eyes of course all I wanted was to land on the ladders.

Sometimes in Christianity I get the message that I am judged if I land on a snake and spiral down, so to speak, and congratulated if I land on a ladder. It is ALL up to me. And if I want to be a good witness to the world out there I have to smile like the Christian life is all about landing on ladders. What a joke.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Companions on the Journey

Today I accepted the offer from a friend to come do some Christmas baking for me. It is a rare thing for me to let another woman in my kitchen. That it felt so good and natural for her to be there was a blessing. It is a very vulnerable thing to accept help. I am hoping that I am learning that having limitations is okay. That I don't need to prove anything to myself or others quite so much. It's not that I couldn't have done the baking but the price of doing it would've have been a few days on the couch. It was pure grace today that I was able to receive. Thanks for being a companion on the journey my friend.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

From Darkness To Light

My daughter will be home for the Christmas holidays tomorrow. She left for college in September and this is her first trip back home. I'm sitting here trying to get perspective and face my fears at the same time.

The truth is I am not my mother and my daughter is not me. God help me remember that.

Maybe I need to write some of the differences.

When I left home I was so glad to be as far away from my folks as I could get. My mother had been very controlling - one of my friends likes to joke about the mother's disease of wanting a slice of our kids' brains. My mother wanted the whole thing. The worst is that I thought she had it too. It took awhile but I loved the freedom of my mother not knowing what I was doing unless I told her. I flew 2000 miles away from her just to make sure she couldn't find out about my life unless I told her. I left home determined not to become my mother. In the first month of college I took my first drink and started following in her footsteps.

My daughter is a good 8 hour drive away from us but she left in freedom. She phoned home once and told me how all her classmates were talking about how great it was to be in a setting where they were free to be themselves. She told me that she couldn't identify with them because she had been free to be herself at home and wasn't that the way it was supposed to be? You were free to be yourself with your family first?

I left home with all our family secrets riding around in my head. They had a free ride and I didn't know what to do with them. My mother had actually told me one day point blank "what you hear in this house stays in this house." At 18 I was still scared what would happen if I ever told anyone. It took 7 years for my secrets to come pouring out. Seven years is a long time.

My daughter phoned home one day and said she was supposed to share her journey in her spiritual formation class. She said she knew that even though there were parts of her story that show me in a negative light she knew she had permission to own her story and that I expected her to. She thanked me for that gift.

To this day I have never spoken face to face with my mother about the abuse that happened to me as a child and how it shaped me. I want to tell her I am proof that redemption is possible but I know she wouldn't believe it. Her guilt and shame is too huge.

My daughter and I have spoken openly about the abuse she suffered as a child at my hands. She has no memory of the early stuff but she knows that when it surfaces that I will talk to her face to face and own it. I have spoken often of the choice to have no secrets in our house no matter how hard it has been to face reality some days. We both know what redemption is.

I am not my mother, my daughter is not me. Thank God for redemption.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"Pick me, pick me"

I have a confession to make. I read other people's blogs and start comparing and everything inside me screams "pick me, pick me." Not that I know who 'me' is but I want to be chosen. I hate how that makes me feel. I hate how I don't know how to tap into that place inside me that is 'me' and not 'not me'. Because what I appreciate most in reading other people's blogs is feeling like they exposed their heart for a bit and let me see it. No guard rails. No stop signs. Full exposure for that brief moment in time.

This sounds like stuff I normally would be writing in my journal. So considered this my exposed heart for the moment even though there is that voice inside me that says to polish it all up and make it pretty before I let you see it. hah.

My sister is a writer too. We phone and read each other our stuff. One of us will start by saying "give me your honest opinion". I have to say she is much better at saying "oh, you are right" when I give her honest feedback than I am. There are occasions where we tell each other to 'f off' in a teasing sort of way because what we thought was the next piece of Pulitzer Prize writing just got exposed for what it wasn't. We have become so used to the cadence of each other's 'voice' that our bullshit detectors are going full bore as we listen to one another.

I want to be my own best bullshit detector and I don't know how to get there.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Showing Up

I realized last night as I was going to bed that by writing on here everyday I am finally doing something I said I would do. Write. I have a shelf full of writing books - I'm betting every one of them says that a writer should write every day. I always meant to. Honest. For years I have written in journals. But that is different. That is the place for me to get out every thought, good or bad so that I can get on with my day.

I remember one time listening to my daughter practice her violin. Up and down the strings she went - practicing scales. It was the first thing she did every time she practiced. One day I realized that writing was no different than playing an instrument. You had to practice the fundamentals before you could do anything else. The thought scared me. I have never been very good at commitments. They have always scared me too. Showing up for the page everyday is a commitment that I have avoided for 25 years. I wanted to play in the orchestra without ever practicing scales.

So for today I choose to show up. For me. It's a pleasant surprise that I can do it. The hardest thing has been to let go of not 'playing in the orchestra' from the get-go. To practice the craft in public without even tuning the instrument is a huge step. But if it is the only way I am going to get to the orchestra then so be it. For today I choose to show up. Hurray!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Cocooned By A Chair

My livingroom is my favourite room in my house. If nothing else gets done in a day I like to keep it in order. It is my refuge. And another thing I can thank my friend Ron for.

The day before his funeral there was a small gathering of family for his viewing. I was the only non family member allowed. His extended family didn't seem to fit very well together and it was an uncomfortable experience. I had my own time alone with Ron. It was unsettling.

I wasn't ready to just get in my car afterwards and go home so I called up a friend of mine who lived in town. She was more than understanding. She knew exactly what to do. We settled into her office - her room. She brought me tea and cookies on a tray and we talked. I sat in a chair that gave me a hug. It was her grandma's chair....deep sides, a beautiful red and I felt like I was in a cocoon when I sat in it. The tea and cookies, the chair, the warmth of the friendship were very soothing. God knew I needed cocooning that night.

I had looked at livingroom furniture for a long time - dreaming of one day buying some. Up until that point every stick of livingroom furniture had been someone's cast off. Cast off's can be good but none of them were me. When I sat in my friend's chair I knew I had found the kind of chair I wanted in my own livingroom. I started looking.

A few months later I found a set that was what I wanted. For less than half the price of a new set I bought an antique couch and two chairs. They are about 60 years old. The deep maroon couch has sun kissed shoulders and I know it must have stood watch at the livingroom window for many years to earn those marks. The wood pieces that envelope the arms are worn with worry lines. I often wonder who sat in the furniture and what their lives were like. Were these pieces of furniture a comfort to them?

Most people in our area entertain people around the kitchen table. For me, inviting someone into my livingroom is to invite them into sacred space. This is where I do most of my talking to God. It is the still and quiet place I seek early in the morning and late at night. It cocoons me often. I hope it cocoons them as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Chaotic Spotless Gypsy Dance

Today on Oprah, Martha Beck talked about what our houses reveal about ourselves. There was a time when I would have chalked up her talk to New Age weirdo thinking but not today. She said a person should take the room in their house they wouldn't show to anyone and pick three words to describe it. She said these words will identify things we are not facing in our inner selves. Whoa.

I thought about how I've spent a lifetime finding some kind of balance in my surroundings. On any given day a person could either walk into a total slob enviroment or a perfectly spotless enviroment that was my house. I had such a hard time learning that it was okay to have something in between. You can be sure that the perfectly spotless enviroment was a sign that I felt like my life was out of control and I was doing my damndest to control it whichever way I could.

In this past year when managing a home has become something I have had to relinquish control over (due to health issues) I have had to face a whole new reality. I know I can't handle chaos. If my house is in chaos you can be sure my head is as well. Just give me some order and I will function much better. No longer do I want spotless surroundings. Except for those days when I have an incessant need to find an old toothbrush and scour the baseboards with it. Those days are signs that either I am hormonal to the hilt or every other coping method I had in my arsenal hasn't worked to make me feel secure.

I have so many thoughts about this I don't know where to begin.

I used to be a pastel person. I bought clothes that were pastel coloured. I bought stuff for my house that was pastel coloured. I even wore pastel makeup! Somewhere inside of me was this idea that pastel was safe. Soft pastel colours equalled soft spoken people and I desperately wanted to be known as one of those. If flowers came in pastel colours I would have had a whole symmetrical garden of them!

Then one day I walked into this funky little store filled with unique lamps and knick knacks. And I was drawn as if by a magnet to this lamp that had a brightly coloured mini dresser as a base. I am talking about a base that measured about 10"H x 6"L x 4"W. And every little drawer was a different colour. What came to my mind was that it was a gypsy dresser. And I wanted it. I didn't give myself the freedom to by it. I regret that. And I have to tell you it startled me to be attracted to something that wasn't pastel. If I believed in re incarnation I would have been sure that day that I had been a gypsy in a previous life.

But I did learn from that experience that perhaps my outsides and insides were not matching up. That maybe I truly wasn't a pastel person. And that maybe that was ok.

I have a dream of owning a writer's cabin one day. I have promised myself that nothing will go into that cabin that does not resonate within me. It will be a gypsy cabin of sorts. It is so hard to get to know myself well enough - to get quiet enough to only hear my voice - about what I really like in this life and what I don't. But I am willing to learn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Wildly Perfect Place

Who would have thought I would be comfy with 'shitty first drafts'(kudos to Anne Lamott for that phrase) being posted for anyone to see. Ok, so I am not comfortable with it. But I'm doing it anyway. It's a leap of faith - a leap of faith in myself. I do like to write. I usually spend hours polishing anything I write. I am my harshest critic. I am choosing to believe that showing up here everyday will make the process easier and that at some point in the future I will be ok truly ok, with my own shitty first drafts.

One of the things that kept me from starting a blog in the first place was that I was leary of it taking over my life. The possibility of searching for the perfect word, perfect phrase, perfect sentence consuming me. From where I am sitting I'm having a hard time accepting less than perfect as progress. But it is.

It reminds me of what my ideal flower garden used to look like. I wanted symmetrical. It wouldn't have been beyond me to get out the ruler and place those flowers exactly 6 inches apart. Oooh, I wanted perfection there too. Now that kind of garden doesn't interest me in the least. I still like looking at them but I don't want one in my own front yard. Now I dream of having an English garden. A wildly perfect place. Riots of colour pushing against one another as if they reaching up, cheering me on. The thought of it delights me. I know it is progress for me to go from wanting to get the ruler out to wanting everything to be wild. I know it means something in me has changed. For the better.

Who am I kidding. I wanted perfection in every area of life. Perfect kids, perfect marriage, perfect everything. My identity rested on it. I wanted the white picket fence, pefectly groomed lawn, kids, car, life. I was so sure back then that if only I could attain this view of perfection I would be happy. It was horrible. It was a horrible lie.

This past weekend I was talking with my adult daughter about a man who used to have the answers to everything. She was telling me he had changed. She said, "Mom, his kids went through puberty." We laughed. We both knew that when she went through puberty I changed. For the better. My daughter's puberty was the biggest gift of facing my perfectionistic demons. I remember telling her at one point: "I will not have a rebellious daughter!" She looked at me and very calmly told me that I already did. Oh shit. So much for perfection.

Eventually I was faced with a choice. I could use all my energy trying to keep the facade of perfection alive or I could join her in humanity. We are both grateful for the grace to be human.

One of the dearest people in my life said to me not too long ago, "You are the closest thing to 'Jesus with skin on' in my life. But I know you aren't perfect cause you say words like 'fuck'." It's a wildly perfect place to be.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Time to Take a Breath

Today is one of those days when I need to take a breath trusting that the world will just keep on without my activity. Just taking a shower this morning left me short of breath and that was at the beginning of the day.

But it is night time now and I made it through. Tomorrow has to be a day of no activity at all. Get dressed and sit on the couch. I ran into a friend in town today and she told me that it was more important to be than to do. I am used to being the one telling others that. It was hard to hear it. There is so much in me that screams I will not succumb to doing nothing even if my body demands it. Darn this is hard.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"Ack, Ack"

Last Sunday one of my friends stood up in church and said she felt forsaken by God and had been feeling that way for a long time. Something beautiful unfolded and it was obvious that a "God thing" was happening. Somehow her vulnerability broke open a chasm - her willingness to be human - made it possible for God to work among us. There was a beautiful time of prayer - it felt like agendas were put aside for the moment. It felt like Holy Ground.

This morning the sermon was on feeling forsaken. "Ack, Ack" I wanted to scream. I felt like what the Holy Spirit did last Sunday had been crapped all over. It had become a problem to fix. It became fodder for a sermon. I sat there and thought "oh boy....this alone would make me never stand up in church and be human before the congregation." I don't want to be fodder for a sermon. Not that I am unwilling to be human. The price for my continuing sobriety has been that I learn how to have integrity. That what I think and what I say match up. No more masks. No more pretending. But I tell you sermons like what I heard today made me want me to go underground.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Urge to Delete

I don't know where the post about Ron came from. I started writing about pity pots originally and went off on the tangent about Ron. Part of me is scared that this blog will become nothing more than a lifelong pity party. The urge to delete my thoughts is huge. But I am determined to continue writing. To keep getting these thoughts out there until I am comfortable with myself.

It is a way of reaching out my hand.

Sharing my writing is a scary thing - there is this voice in my head that tells me it has to be polished and perfect(as if any writer thinks anything of theirs is perfect!) before it can be 'out there' and read by anyone else. So just having this blog and being content with progress not perfection is a huge step for me. Sooner or later I will get up enough courage to let more than just one or two people know I have the blog. Geez I hate it when I take this all so seriously. Relax my dear girl, relax.

The Rest of The Story

This is the first time I have ever written the whole of Ron's story in my life. I don't think I have it in my journals. I tend to stop journalling when life gets too stressful - times when I can't handle how hard reality can be.

I realized yesterday that I have blocked from my mind the day and year that Ron died. I am not sure if it is 6 or 7 years ago. I know it was June. That's all.

The campground where Ron parked his camper is along a beautiufl river. A year ago this past fall we borrowed my in-laws camper and spent a weekend there. Although we had driven past the campground and thought of Ron every time we had never spent any time there since his death.

The first night there I had a dream about Ron. In it I could see his impish grin staring back at me from his six year old body. Yes, in my dream Ron was about six. The age he was when his parents dropped him off at a children's home and drove away. That was part of his story - part of the reason for his pain. When I woke from the dream I was able to see that Ron never healed - that he had always remained that six year old child in his head. It helped me let go and forgive him a little. There are times when I am still p.o.'d that he didnt reach out his hand. That what he constantly preached at me he didn't heed. I try to remember that I am not much different. That when I give someone advice I need to be telling it to myself as well.

I need to remember to reach out a hand.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pity Pot - Part Two

Ron was good for me even if I didn't always appreciate it. It was hard to receive what I so easily dished out to others - unsolicited advice. He was always telling me that help was only a hand away. Just reach out my hand and someone would be there. If I had a buck for every time he told me that, well....I'd have a bundle. I'd be lying if I didn't admit every time he told me that I resisted his message to the hilt. I would do this sobriety thing my own way thank you very much. Or at least do it without taking his advice.

On my 7th sobriety celebration he gave me his own medallion from that year. It is the only one I have today even though I have been sober 16 years now. Wow - has it really been nearly 10 years since Ron and I first met? Wow.

Looking back now I can see that Ron suffered from having bi polar disease. He would be way up and then way down. At the time I only concentrated on his way up times. I had my own down times - those I could understand. It was the way up times I judged him harshly for. I tended to think he was a braggart, always scheming up something new - the latest, greatest ticket to wealth. All he really wanted was some stability - a normal life. He worked in an industry that was feast or famine. Today when I see that industry in a continual feasting phase I think of Ron and wish he could have held on to be a part of it today.

The last time I saw Ron alive I was absolutely full of myself and my judgements. So sure that what I saw was reality. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Ron and his wife had had a garage sale that day - his job was in the famine stage and they were unloading what they could to help keep ahead of the wolf at the door. One of the items left over at their garage sale was a juicer. When his wife phoned to talk about how their sale had gone I told her I had always wanted a juicer but didnt have the money, even at garage sale prices, to buy one. Ron piped up in the background that they would give it to me for an early birthday present.

Less than 30 minutes later Ron was on my doorstep with the juicer. The boys were watching Ben Hur and he joined them for a bit - being a boy with my boys. We visited for a while. He told me one of our boys would make it through life just fine but our other son would need to be helped along the whole way through. Strange comments I thought. Especially since I still was not asking his opinion. He finished his coffee and left. I commented to my husband that Ron must be growing up - it was the first time he had been in our house that he hadn't shared his latest get rich quick scheme. I sat there all smug in my interpretation of his behaviour. How little did I know. It wasn't that Ron had grown up (as if I knew what grown up behaviour was). He had lost hope. Completely.

A few weeks later his job started up again for the season and he packed his camper to go to a new job site. He never made it. On purpose. He parked his camper in a campground parking lot - went for a walk and never came back. He never took his own advice. He never reached out a hand.

It took several days for the police to find his body. There are many ways to end a life. Ron was took no chances. He chose three of the ways all at once. He was making sure it was a done deal. The morning his wife called to tell us that he was gone I screamed that scream that needs no words. I felt so betrayed. Reach out your fucking hand Ron. Take your own advice. How could he not do what he was always telling me to do.

My husband and I went to the police station to collect Ron's belongings. God willing, I will never do that kind of thing again. In a tiny police station with walls that echoed every word we were handed a small ziploc bag. It contained Ron's hat, his lighter, his pack of smokes and his wallet. There was a bloody thumbprint on his pack of smokes where he must have opened the pack to have one last smoke before he died. I looked at the bag and wanted to scream at anyone who would listen - is THIS it? One little bag of stuff is supposed to represent all that Ron was? The police man went back to his boss and asked about Ron's clothes.....every word echoed throughout the building as we heard him say that Ron's clothes hadn't been kept because they were too bloody.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Pity Pot - Part One

The pity pot was a friend of mine for most of yesterday. My friend Ron used to tell me to enjoy being on the pity pot while I could, cause it wasn't going to last forever. I wanted to laugh and hit him at the same time. Now I just want to hit him. But that's part two of the story. Ron had an impish grin. His laughter would echo around a room and by the time it got back to him it was even funnier. He got the greatest kick out of playing a trick on someone - especially someone who he cared about. Ron was my self appointed sponsor in AA years ago. He appointed himself as my sponsor. I never asked him. So while I never went to him for advice he gave it to me all the time. My first response to it was usually 'f - you' - not that I said it outloud but he could see it in my eyes and that was a source of humour for him. It was like he was egging me on to say outloud what I thought and I never would give him the satisfaction. We were two stubborn drunks.

It wouldn't have been so bad if his advice had been way off the mark. But normally it was bang on. Was something I needed to hear even if I never could admit that outloud to him. Ron was the first one I saw after my initial step 4 and 5 in AA. It was the best conversation we ever had. My defenses were gone and I had nothing left to hide. It was a meeting of sweet grace between us. We never put it into words that day - we didn't need to - but we both sensed it. He knew the freedom and release of letting the skeletons out of the closet.

I used to have a strong dislike and fear about winter driving. I have Ron to thank for this fear being in the past. Oh, I wanted to sit on the pity pot for the duration but Ron wouldn't let me. He knew if I planned on living in this part of the woods, where winter sometimes squatted for over 6 months of the year, a pity pot wasn't going to do me much good. I wanted him to feel sorry for me. He refused. I wanted to hit him. I nearly killed him instead.

One winter my husband was working out of town for weeks at a time. I had 3 little kids at home when the hot water tank went on the fritz. Where we lived there wasn't the convenience of going next door for a shower. Our nearest neighbours were a quarter mile down the road. The one after that a mile away. I phoned Ron to see if he could fix the water heater. He came over and took a look at the tank. He yelled up from the basement that I needed a new element for it and as soon as I went to town to get a new one he would gladly fix the hot water tank for me. Boy was I steamed at him. He knew I hated winter driving. He knew the roads were icy and snow covered. He knew I needed to learn to get over it. He taught me that self imposed obstacles are just that - self imposed. I just wish he could have taken his own advice.

I had more than a few 'f - you ' thoughts towards him on the way to town. I took an icy back road so that I could drive slow. The fact that I am here now proves I did it. It came as no surprise to Ron. Darn him anyway.

He cheerfully came over to put in the new element. He stayed in the basement working on it while I manned the electrical box upstairs. He would yell up when to flick the switch on and off and I would do it. Except one time I switched when he said not to. Not on purpose. It's just up the stairs and around the corner is a far way to hear instructions. I still don't know how far he flew when I flipped the switch but we both lived to tell about it. He told me later that as he was coming up the stairs he knew he wasn't supposed to get mad at me for it. I could've killed him. We both knew that. I only delayed his death by a year or two and that's what I still want to hit him for today.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Take A Breath When Needed - Ya Right!

Many thanks to my friend Joseph for the title of my blog. It's not that I can even carry a tune or sing very much. One day in conversation Joseph told me that sacred music was 'scored for breathing'.....places in the music where different voices paused for breath while others carried on. He said there were songs that were 'not scored for breathing' and so the singers could choose when to take a breath.

Joseph and I talked about our lives and how we sometimes needed to take a breath and knew it and sometimes we needed to and didnt know it. We talked about faith communities and how we needed others to be willing to keep on while we stopped for breath. We needed to learn where our breathing spaces were and be encouraged to listen to them. We didn't want to hear that others were offended by our choice of breathing spaces or their boasts of not needing them at all.

The startup of this blog comes about in a time in my life where I feel like I am doomed to be in that 'take a breath' state permanently. Recently diagnosed with a disease that requires I figure out my 'breath marks' or suffer the consequences has got me off kilter. It is one thing to know my breathing spaces and do something about it - it is another to feel like I have no choice about it at all. I am hoping that by writing on here on a regular basis I will find my place in a life that has changed directions. Part of me knows it could be a good place to be but there is the other part that just wants to kick and scream and say 'screw the breathing spaces.'