Affirmation

Rising from beneath: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day two

Today’s prompt is inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” It’s based on our own personal journeys. What might our experiences be if we took a different path?

No matter how many times I wanted or tried to veer from the path I was on, I wasn’t able to. Having travelled this far, I realize I don’t want to have taken a route other than the one I’ve been on.

Why?

People. My children and my grandchildren might not exist. Or, if they did, they wouldn’t be who they are. I wouldn’t have or know the people in my life, not the way they are now.

My life has always been challenging and full of stress. It’s made who I am. There’s more work to be done. I like who I’m becoming.

Rising from Beneath

I was told I could be anything I wanted…
But I wasn’t taught how and
I never met anyone who was.

I was told that if I had knowledge I would have power.
Helplessness was all I knew…
despite my accumulated information

I was told, “Aim high! Shoot for the stars.”
From my depths my aim was as high as other’s low.
I shot just to see the stars.

Years of climbing, fighting, struggling
Always landing back in the hole
Anchored by the trauma of my past.

Cycles of poverty and neglect,
Generations repeating the past.
Lord, let me be the last.

Breaking through, crawling out
Eyes blinded by daylight
Skin scorched by the sun.

Someone (not Churchill) admonished one and all,
“if you’re going through hell, keep going. It’s no place to stop.”
no longer energized, yet, here I am…still going.

I think it’s a good fight. It’s been a hard one.
Redemption, restoration, rebuilding
Self and relationships once lost.

Constantly feeling weak and lost
Continually infused with life’s breath,
Molded by refining love.

But wait, there’s more…so much more
Five decades to grow up.
Here’s hoping for another 3-5.

New battles rise up,
New fears to face.
The war against self goes on.

More to see, more to be.
My future resides with me.
My path lives in me.

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Finding Truth

Some days, it is hard
Opening my eyes to see
I am good enough

There are times it’s hard
Stopping critical voices
Words I tell myself

Often difficult
Gathering my scattered thoughts
I am herding cats

Easily confused
Feeling all the emotions
My soul overwhelmed

Distinguishing truth
Letting go of the old lies
Settling in what’s real

Giving myself grace
All of me acceptable
I am good enough

To the me I used to be

As many of you may know, yesterday was October 31st. Some cultures celebrate it as a sacred day, others don’t celebrate it at all. In my corner of the world it is celebrated as a fun, commercialized way of being in brief community with neighbors you don’t know, with children in costume knocking on doors and acceptably begging for candy, while caregivers observe from a short distance…aka Halloween. (It’s also a way for those same caregivers to get their own sugar rush when they tax the candy haul.)

Anyway, that only has passing connection to why I’m writing today.

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. For some of us who blog, this is Nano Poblano – “the World’s Least-Official November Blog Challenge”

I won’t be writing a post a day, as I have attempted in other challenges. Instead, I’m committing to 10 posts this month. I’ll also be linking to 10 other posts this month.

Welcome to my first post of the month. Now, back to what I was writing about.

Last night I shared the requisite costume pic of my youngest, who will be 11 in a little over a month.

She looks older, huh? Sooo not ready for that.

When I woke up this morning, there were many “👍” and a few “♥️.” The last “like” was from a guy who had attended the same high school as I did. Just about the only interactions we have are reading and occasionally clicking our reaction to each other’s posts. But, he posts nice pictures of nature and other things I find mildly interesting. We reconnected at our 30 year class reunion a couple of years ago.

He may or may not remember, but, we had previously connected on FB back in 2010 or 2011, when I first joined the ‘book. It ended after a contentious interaction when the world didn’t end according to the 2012 Mayan Calendar predictions.

Depression had its hold on me and I posted some joke about being disappointed that the predictions had been wrong. He took exception to that and expressed his disagreement and disapproval.

That triggered anxiety and activated my defensiveness. I felt attacked. I was shaky and feeling threatened for no apparent reason. That was about the time another h.s. acquaintance and I got in conflict over something else, entirely.

I reactively “purged” my FB account, hoping to deactivate my hypervigilant hypersensitivity of the moment. I remember that I still felt threatened in some vague, amorphous way.

Some of that stemmed from my desire and need to be understood and accepted. However, I equated being understood with being agreed with and being accepted meant being justified and approved of. Anything else felt like I was under attack and unsafe.

I still don’t really understand the root reasons I experience anxiety around feeling rejected and not acceptable. I guess that hearkens back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with a sense of belonging being a basic need.

All I know, is that my gut clenched, my breathing got shallow, and my heart hammered when I saw the guy at our class reunion. Our online disagreement had such an impact on me. I wanted to avoid him and hide, because I was certain he would remember our interaction and be judging me by it.

Chances are he doesn’t remember that interaction. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be connected today. If he does remember, it likely doesn’t matter to him one way or the other. Regardless, the fact is that a molehill had been amplified to seem like a mountain, and, I think it’s possible that interaction will stay with me for a long time.

Part of me looks back on that time and sees the degree and type of reactivity and judges past me harshly. However, there’s a bigger part of me that understands and accepts who I was back then.

So, here’s my message to the me I used to be:

I love you. You’re not ridiculous and never were. You were living with the results of trauma. You were living without knowledge or understanding of the mental illnesses in your brain. I’m proud of you. You knew your reactions were signs you needed help and you paid attention to those signs. You had the courage to ask for help. You put in the work to change, heal and grow. You had the strength of character to own the consequences of your actions and behaviors from then and before. I’m grateful to you. You made me, me. You’re amazing. Thank you.

Contrariness

Despite the fact I stated what I believe to be a soul-deep truth of each of us to my daughter when she asked the question, “What’s wrong with me?,” and my answer was, “Nothing,” I find myself wondering the same thing, “What is wrong with me?”

I have actually been thinking about this particular “wrong” for a couple of months. If I am right, I am not the only one who feels this.

That moment when you are feeling good about yourself and like you have come to the end of a dark tunnel and realize the light is sunlight and not yet another oncoming train. It’s pregnant with hope and possibility that this time your emergence from the dark chrysalis won’t be as painful and that your wings will carry your weight because you’ve finally left the past behind.

The day I wrote and created something to lift someone’s spirits and bolster her courage to face a challenge that would cause anxiety and dread in many of us, was that kind of moment for me.

As I felt prompted to share it with almost all the family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers on my friends list, trying to not let the inner naysayers have their way. With every other name the voices would query and comment as to why it would seem odd, stupid, random, or weird for this person or that one to receive something like this, or anything really, from me. Occasionally, I would listen to the voices and bypass a name. However, a different voice reminded me that everyone needs affirmation and validation and that these people were all on my friend list, so it was good to do this for my friends, regardless of how they choose to receive it. So, I would go back and post it anyway.

The responses I got were beautiful and astounding. There were many of the, “I don’t know how you knew I needed this” variety. Several were touched and gratified to realize that I had created it and it wasn’t just another standard meme thing being passed on. Everyone who did respond expressed gratitude . . . except one.

Of course that one happens to be “family.” She’s one of Jerry’s older sisters. Her response wasn’t even negative, really. It was a simple and straightforward declaration of her beliefs:

“You are all this with God and nothing without Him”

This is where my contrariness seriously went to work.

It wasn’t a negative comment, but it felt like she was kind of criticizing me for not announcing God, by name, in the poem. Since his other sister and several other people who know me for real also had not responded in any way, even though they’ve been active since, I began feeling rejected and hurt. The voices started a chorus of self-criticism for reaching out and taking the risk.

In reality, I risked nothing! I did not do this thing with any hope or expectation other than that people would experience some encouragement and know that for one brief moment at least someone had been thinking specifically of them.

So, it boggles my mind and confuses my sense of self understanding as to why the one, not even negative statement, and silence of a few others would be so much louder and powerful to me than the cascade of gratitude, affirmation and love that poured out to me.

I guess it just means God isn’t finished with me and there are more layers of codependency to be peeled away.

Redefining Friendship

A few days ago I wrote about my struggles with being as good a friend to others as they have been to me.

I received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement. I was blown away by the validation.

I was also struck by the fact a couple of others seemed to really understand what I was saying, because they were feeling it too. This sense that I am not and never have been able to be the things that so many platitudes define as being a “true” friend:
• Constant
• Steady
• Stable
• Reliable
• Consistent
• Available

Hmmm. That list sounds like characteristics and attributes employers look for in job candidates. Not bad qualities to have, for certain, but also not the complete and definitive list of qualities possessed by people.

LaLa has been going through some things, and I was blessed and privileged to be available to listen and counsel her. At one point she made a plaintive cry I have called out myself and heard from others in times of overwhelming distress when every thought, choice, feeling and action we have and take make no rational sense, and seem beyond our ability to alter or control, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!?”

I gave her a response I believe to be the soul deep truth for us all, “There is NOTHING wrong with you.” Of course she scoffed.

I was meeting with our Head Start Home Visitor today and we were discussing the fact that Luna tends to get hyper-focused and seems to ignore anyone and anything that isn’t what she is focused on. She’s been this way ever since she started being able to play independently. It can be as much of a “warning sign” of potential developmental issues as an inability to concentrate or sit still.

I hate that term – warning sign.

Here’s my hypothesis:
With the industrial revolution came the onset of standardization of process to increase efficiency so more goods can be produced in order to generate profit. Somehow, those ideals seeped and slithered their way into and through every other aspect of our society, and we started measuring and quantifying, classifying and segmenting people according to characteristics and traits that achieve the desired outcome of “increase.” Any characteristic that diminished the increase, instead of being acknowledged and accepted as along the spectrum of normalcy, was declared undesirable and classified as abnormal and those who couldn’t or wouldn’t change to meet the desired expectations were then marginalized as incorrigible.

Schools became the factories to produce an improved workforce and to standardize and make efficient people who could subsequently increase the bottom line for employers, corporations and investors.

Now we have reached a point where we come to believe ourselves and others to be fundamentally flawed when we are really just ourselves being human and as unique and non-standard as each snowflake or fingerprint.

The only thing about each of us that is standard is the fact we all share the same God DNA by having been made in the image of God. Everything that we each have in common at it’s most fundamental level are also the very things that separate us in our individual uniqueness. If you don’t believe me, look up and research the harmonic relationship between the earth’s frequency and alpha wave frequencies of the human brain or the Golden Ratio.

Somehow, we have a very difficult time understanding, accepting, and honoring that in as many ways we are the same, we are also different.

What then, does that mean about our relationships with others, especially in what to expect of friendships? I think it might mean there are those who have the characteristics and qualities identified above and there are those who do not. The ones who do not may be flittery, excitable and variable in their attentiveness but still love and care, but show it in their own unique ways.

So, instead of condemning myself for not being the same kind of friend another person is, thereby elevating them above me, I need to figure out what kind of friend I can be and operate from there.

Tasha left me a very good bit of advice about creating and sending ecards to friends to let them know they are on my mind. That resonated with me. So I found a free app and went to work creating several ecard photo images using the tools in the app, photos & their associated apps, and my words and shared them with a few of my loved ones.

Then, early in the day yesterday I read a status update of one of my soul sisters in the blog world, Sara, and was inspired to create and share this:

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After sharing it with her, I felt prompted to share it with just about every other friend on my list on their individual timelines. I was amazed and awed by the response. Several people I barely know and rarely interact with contacted me to let me know how much it had meant for them to receive this bit of encouragement and inspiration. Many of these people are very, very different in their outlook, backgrounds, and life experiences, yet they universally shared an moment of unexpected, unsolicited, and seemingly random bit of much needed encouragement at a time when they needed it.

Please feel free to copy, save, and share this with anyone who’s heart, mind, soul, or spirit needs affirmation, validation, encouragement, or inspiration.

I realized that I am the kind of friend who can utilize my qualities, characteristics, talents, passions and gifts in ways that offer encouragement, insight, inspiration and beauty to others in ways that feed my own soul and energize me.