Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Saran Wrapped

If a person could caress a house that is what I would do. Wrap my arms wide around the whole house and caress it. Thank it for being such a healing haven. Thank it for the journey.

I just came back from saying a final goodbye to the house we lived in for the past 5 years. Tomorrow is the possession date for the new owners and I wanted one last chance to go and say goodbye. I feel a profound sadness. I am having a hard time wrapping myself around the reality that this is home now and that place isn't. I think about my son, when he was three years old, after we had moved 750 miles across the land...he used to sit on the front steps of the new place and tell me it would be okay if only we had brought the old house with us. Sixteen years later I understand that. Finally have allowed my feelings to surface long enough so that I can say, "I feel that way too,son."

I start to tell myself all the 'grateful' things I should be focussing on instead and this time I just can't follow through. I have done that so many times in a row that I've lost count. Shoved all the real feelings down in order to make life more manageable for me and those around me. I won't do it anymore. Not that I will never be grateful for the miracle that this new place is, but I know I need the freedom to feel the pain filled thoughts first. I need to let them be until I can let go of them in due time - instead of prematurely like so many times before. Funny (not really) how the Bible is so full of the whole range of human emotions and somehow I think to be a good example of what it means to follow Christ that I have to distance myself from those feelings I classify as 'bad.'

I've so rarely given myself permission to let my feelings just be. I need to do this before I can think on the gratitude. For the pain is real. It makes me wonder if gratitude - real gratitude -is a much scarcer commodity than people make it out to be. And I COULD write you out a list of things I am grateful for but I haven't learned yet how to feel both the pain and gratitude without feeling like a fraud.

My daughter told me last night that living this journey is really simple and really hard. All she needs to do is be honest and honesty is the hardest thing to do. That the journey isn't about rules and regulations. It isn't about measuring up or looking good. It's about being honest.

I walked around the house and thought about why it is so hard to let go. I thought about people and how no matter how much 'better' the new place might be it's the emotional ties to what was that make a person feel like they have saran wrapped themselves to the very house itself. Trying to unwrap that stuff can look like a real mess.

My daughter is right. It's not easy to be honest. Not about this kind of stuff anyway. I just mistyped the word 'way' as 'wary' and smiled as I realize, "Yes, wary. That is how it feels to be honest sometimes. This time." As I type all I can hear echoing in my brain are platitudes about gratitude. It makes me feel ungrateful because I am being honest.

I can feel those around me tensing up because I am feeling the pain. I realize today that I need to step back and let them own their feelings. How often have I stuffed my pain so that - on the surface - life looks normal. People heave a sigh of relief when I do. I can easily think it is my job to make it so. But it's not. It's my job to be honest.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"And They Gave Me No Comfort At All"

There are days when I say bring back the paper and pens and write the old fashioned way. Ban the keyboard. Kill the idiot whose sole job it is to go around cyberspace and steal the written word. Today is one of those days. Argh. Earlier I had written a post - pushed the button to save it as a draft, so I could mull it over before I posted it, - and *poof* it was gone into cyberspace - it's out there being held hostage.

Then I read in my current book courtesy Ragamuffin Diva :"I died in my opinions. And they gave me no comfort at all." I had to laugh at myself. I DO like my opinions. In the seclusion of my head they oft give me the greatest comfort. Like a horse, despite the bit in its mouth, I try to run away with them. I try not to spout them from my soapbox (what exactly is a blog for then?) but I still have them and caress them and keep them company. I'm not saying having opinions is wrong - it's a real good thing to know what a person thinks and believes. But I do like (need) a reminder every now and again not to take my opinions so seriously. I think I'll hit the "publish post" button now!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Be Mine

I hope I never get over the surprise. I hope I never take it for granted and I hope I never assume that when it happens it somehow means I am 'better than.' I can take just about any gift given by God and preen. I am such a fickle and fallen human being. I can rest in that Truth. It's okay. Every time that I feel God (speaks) to my heart I am surprised. Every single time. Maybe because there is no rhyme or reason to it. No magic formula that makes it happen. It always feels like one of those shocks I used to practice in sixth grade - I would rub my feet really hard over the carpet in the school library and then reach out my finger to touch some unsuspecting soul. A jolt. I am sure there are times I nearly jump in the pew. I struggle with thinking who am I that He would speak to me? Jeepers just about deleted the previous sentence. When I do sense His word spoken into my heart I am most often reduced to tears.

Tonight at Mass I was kneeling and praying and as soon as I told God I was here, speak to me - the words, "Be Mine" came into my head. And with it came the picture of a rocky hillside. I thought to myself that the road ahead is hard and I shrunk a bit inside from it. A tiny footpath wound its way through the white rocks with Jesus ahead of me. When I stumbled and cried out He turned and held out His hand to me. A little while later the words "You are Mine" came into my head and I got the distinct impression that there is a difference between the two phrases. That yes, I am His but 'Being His' is my choice.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Cheery Perspective

I spent most of my day cleaning at the old place. After I have washed walls and cleared the house of everything it never fails to make me wish that I could just move back in and start new in the old place. Never mind that all my stuff is at the new place - strewn hither and yon. Order will come together there but not yet. As I washed walls today I thanked God for the years of healing that had happened in that house. We moved there five years ago in the midst of my recovery from a nervous breakdown. There is a beautiful view from the livingroom and kitchen - a healing view of a valley and on some sunset evenings, on the distant horizon, I could make out the outline of a mountain. I now live down the hill from that view and look up to small hills covered with trees or tilled fields - a different view but a beautiful one too. Seems like that is what life is like - we all need to take a different view now and then. To see the same scenery from a different perspective. I am coming to appreciate it.

I came home muscle sore and weary to walk in the garden. Several hundred, if not five hundred(I kid you not) violets with their cheery faces greeted me like long lost friends. Just before this move fell into place I bought myself a tea set that had violets on it. The violets in the garden always have their faces towards the south. I stand there and just grin back at their cheery faces. Some days I stand behind them and see what they see. Differing perspectives are healing too.

Yesterday I spent most of the day pulling weeds in the flower garden. Ten wheelbarrow loads later it looked much better.(The boys hauled the weeds away - no way I could pull weeds AND push wheelbarrows!) The soil was so damp from an inch of rain earlier in the week that the grass and dandelions pulled up with little effort. I sat on a stool in the garden knowing I would pay big time physically for working so hard but at the same time I was doing something I love in a healing surrounding. Later it took pain killers to move me from supper table to couch but it was so worth it. Flowers have always been a healing thing for me. Nourishing to my soul. My grandparents had flowers galore and their home was a haven for me as a child. A safe place in my otherwise unstable life. Tea at 10 and 3 - flowers and birds and tidbits of their day often the topic of conversation. My grandma had evening scented stocks in her flower garden one year and every year for more than I can remember I have planted a package of these flowers in memory of her.

These past two years I haven't been able to do much with flowers. I told my husband earlier this spring that if all I could manage this summer was to putter in my flowers - if it took up all my spoons every day - that it would be worth it because I need to be doing something that nourishes my soul.

The summer I had my nervous breakdown I let every last one of my flowers die. I have come to know since then that when I let the plants die around me that something is dying inside me too. After my breakdown one of my close friends told me she knew something was seriously wrong when I let my flowers die. Despite my physical limitations I am thrilled this year the urge to putter in my flowers is so strong. It is a good, good thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Moving Day

My thoughts these days are on moving and how hard it is to relocate even if it is only 2 miles down the road. I told my daughter today that I felt like a visitor in someone else's home except all my stuff was there. LOL Aren't I glad I don't get visitors like that! I wonder if moving is harder the older one gets. Makes me think of people who move from home to a nursing home or places like that. Especially if they have lived somewhere their whole life. It must be doubly hard.

We won't have phone or internet at the new place until the 20th so my posts will be few. My thoughts, however, never shut off. Not sure if that is a good thing or not!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wading Through The Waters

I am still wading through the waters of learning to think for myself. Some days it feels like I am wearing hip waders full of water while I slog through a waist high stream. But I am learning to delve deep and find out how I feel about things. Even when it might make me look stupid and ill informed. For so many years (well nearly all 42 of them so far)I took the temperature of the crowd around me and tried to figure out what the right thing to think and feel was and followed suit. Well, okay, I could only do that so long before I didn't fit the crowd anymore and I went looking for a new crowd to fit into. Maybe not physically but mentally at least. I was always looking for the winning team. It seemed much easier than stopping long enough to think for myself.

The desire to own my beliefs has been strong for several years now. How DO I see things? I find myself with the freedom to change my mind these days. Instead of having answers that are wrought in steel I have questions that are written on the wind. I'd like to say I am always comfortable with the status quo but that would be lying. That much I know about how I feel and what I think. It's awful darn tempting to go back to the old way of living life. Except it wasn't much living.

That reminds me of a friend whose mom once said to her grandchildren while they were playing dolls on her livingroom floor: "Girls, this is a livingroom. You can't play here. This is a LIVINGroom." I remember sitting in her prissy perfect livingroom and wondering just what kind of living was going on there if children weren't even allowed to play.

Somehow I think that paints a picture of my journey. So scared of what it might mean to really live that I squelch anything that resembles life. So scared of not having the right answer when it comes to things controverial. So scared of not being right. About it all.

For example, for years I equated the word feminism with being bad or wrong. I heard that word and I immediately put up my walls and shut out the person brandishing the feminism sign. Never engaged my brain in the equation. Just blocked out the whole thing. For fear of being wrong or looking stupid. Or being attacked verbally for not supporting the party line. In my head there was this picture of tough broads who didn't need a man in their life. Who didn't want to appear to be feminine in any way. Who would fight for their rights even if it meant stomping on the dignity of men. Then I figured out that feminism, in its original form, was the freedom to be what you were created to be. Instead of having a certain answer about the way it should be, it was more answering the call of YOUR life. Including the call to motherhood and domesticity. Understanding that feminism meant to honour each other in our calling made me much less afraid of the word. I hate how we continue to make enemies of those who could be our pals simply because we are threatened by their playground.

And now I find that creeping into my thinking about just about anything Christian. It tempts me to tiptoe on the outside of the crowd to take the temperature again and skip the thinking for myself and take someone else's word for it. I don't want to be an outsider and yet I struggle so mightily with being inclusive myself. I get jittery when a new kind of 'right thinking' gets touted as the best thing going at the expense of how others might see it differently. I have played leap frog, jumping from one "right thinking" bandwagon to the next throughout my journey.

What I really mean is that I get uncomfortable these days when anyone in any setting has to be right at the expense of the dignity of others seen or unseen. I get most uncomfortable when I am the guilty party. A warning bell goes off in my head as a reminder that being right can never be THE answer to everything. I keep getting this picture in my head of Jesus asking "Do you love?" For so long I thought He was demanding that I have it all figured out. Be ready to have an answer to everything. Ya right.

It makes me want to put down my weapons and learn what it really means to live and love. I don't want to be keeper of right answers anymore. Don't get me wrong it doesn't mean I don't think there are any right answers. Just the older I get the list gets shorter and shorter. I keep dropping long held, fiercely fought answers like ticker tape out the window.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I have always hated Mother's Day. Every year it's been a reminder of what I didn't have in a mother and also what I haven't been as a mother. As I type this I realize I don't dread tomorrow. I didn't know that until just right now. Wow - that is a first. A good thing. Healing sneaks in sometimes unawares. I can face tomorrow and be okay with where I am as a mother. I can be okay with my own mother. Wow and double wow.

Motherhood has so often felt like such an icky thing. There's just no perfection to it. I read a statement this past week that just delights me though. It said: "You don't have to be perfect to be wonderful." It still makes me grin to read that statement. I think I am beginning to believe that truth for my very own self. I hope one day I can look at own mother and believe it for her too.

I grew up with an abusive mother. For so many reasons she was what she was. Raised by a mother who wasn't nurtured - who then found it easier to nurture animals than children. Married so young and a mother so soon. Breast cancer with 5 children at home, the youngest only three. Disillusionment. Babies close together. Babies dying. Babies born too soon. She wanted to be a perfect mother. She wanted to be wonderful. I know that. She gave me the impression that she was perfect. How confusing as an abused child to be given the message that your own mother thinks she is mothering so well. She was doing it better than her own mother. She wasn't perfect. She wasn't wonderful either though. Darn, I want to write that she was wonderful, but in crucial ways that I needed her to be wonderful she wasn't.

Every year picking out a card for her on this day is really hard. I read all the sappy cards and wonder if there is a mother alive who lives up to the drivel. Does every mother read their cards and want to put up their hand and say, "yes, but..."? Or is it only me? I grew up wondering if my mom loved me. Stood outside her bedroom door too scared to knock and ask her if she loved me cause I couldn't take the chance that her answer would be 'no'. She betrayed me. She was the queen of double bind statements. I know she is harder on herself than I could ever be about her mistakes.

And I wonder if I am growing more merciful towards her because my own day of reckoning as a mother is coming. That sounds so shallow and self serving. As if I must hurry up and forgive her and say all is well quick before my own kids hold my mistakes against me. As if working through it all and arriving at 'perfection' will be any kind of insurance. I did, after all, follow in her footsteps. I was an alcoholic and abusive mother too. Part of me wants to protest and say that at least I got help. Sobered up. Changed. Did the hard work of healing. But the reality is that I inflicted wounds. Deep ones. In my own mothering and the mothering I received as a child I hold up to the Light that God is bigger than it all.

There is no easy way to tie up this post. And maybe that is simply the tension that mothering brings. It is so normal to want it all wrapped up in a pretty package. I want the pretty package. I want it all held up to the Light and dealt with. But I don't necessarily want the purifying process that goes along with it. To live with the tension between intention and reality is hard. But it must be. Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Different Paths

Sometimes on this journey I feel like I am slow to 'get it'. It's probably no different than any other stage of the journey, it's just I've never been 'here' before. Knowing others have been sometimes has me wanting to know it all before going through it. I'm working on how unrealistic that is.

Today I was helping my daughter get her belongings from her dorm room to the van. She was right behind me when we took two separate paths across the lawn to the van. Into my head popped this sentence, "We are on two different paths." That thought stopped me in my tracks for a bit. It was about so much more than belongings getting from one place to another.