beliefs

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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Right to be wrong or wrong to be right?

Why is it we feel the need to invalidate and disregard others who don’t think and have the same preferences as we do? I ask this using the inclusive because I realize I do it too.

When I posted the movie review about Daybreakers, there were several comments made that it wasn’t the kind of movie some would ever watch due to the gore and violence. I understand that, I really do. I am not a fan of that myself. However, and maybe this is just a flawed perception on my part, some of the comments seemed to have a subtle hint of disapproval or disdain regarding these kinds of movies and those who watch them.

I’ve seen it play out over and over again, sometimes participating. One person’s preference, opinion, belief, or method is taunted, ridiculed, rejected, or shunned, treated as invalid because it goes against what another or group of others think or are accustomed to.

A friend of mine posted an article that highlighted this very thing. It was regarding one family’s history of having a lot of children with the eldest son and his wife carrying that choice forward and having a third child. Apparently there is or has been a reality show about the family, although, I’ve never seen it. The article stated that our society has a “My body, my choice,” attitude of acceptance and normality for a woman’s right to choose abortion, but not if a woman chooses to mother a large family, especially if her religious beliefs factor into her decision. Apparently, there were a lot of horrific comments made to the original article announcing the family’s expansion. Name calling, vilification, and death wishes were the message of the day.

On the flip side, we’ve all witnessed at one point or another the open hatefulness that has been displayed toward staff and clients braving the picket lines of pro-life protesters.

I don’t have the answer to the pro-choice/pro-life debate – and it isn’t the topic at hand – but I will say this: I am both pro-choice and pro-life. I believe that each and every person has the right to decide for themselves what actions they are going to take. I believe that each person’s body is their own and no one has the right to impose or determine their will over another person. I believe in the sanctity of life and that life happens for a reason. The decision to end a life, regardless of how valid or senseless the reasoning is, has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the one making that decision and ripples into the lives and psyches of those connected to both the life that is taken and the one doing the taking.

Moving on.

I saw a post from a group of introverts who were frustrated and upset by an article stating that in order for introverts to be happier, they need to act like extroverts. Some of their responses were as denigrating to extroverts as they were accusing the article’s author of being toward them.

Drivers vs bicyclists

Horror vs drama

Vegan/vegetarian vs carnivore

Male vs female

Generation vs generation

Rich vs poor

Science vs religion

Religion vs religion

Race vs race

The list goes on and on and on. There are a lot of prejudices and isms in our world.

We use words and phrases that could have been sung by the character, Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Even if we don’t say it, we think it:

Those poor, unfortunate souls are mistaken, misguided, brainwashed, deceived, evil because they don’t think/look/act as we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable and somehow threatened that if their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perspective are valid, then we are invalidated.

I am learning that right, wrong, or somewhere on the multi-colored spectrum between white and black, every human being has validity and the right to be wrong, as well as the right to believe they are right. Someone else being right only means I’m wrong if I said two plus two was anything other than four.

Even if I disagree and think someone else is wrong, I’m learning to let go of my need to be vindicated and validated by having them agree with me and tell me I’m right. I’m learning to try to understand how they arrived at their conclusions and why they believe as they do.

I am teaching, or trying to teach, Luna that how she feels is how she feels, but feeling a certain way doesn’t give her the right to treat others badly when they don’t accommodate her feelings or say and do what she thinks they should. It’s a difficult lesson to teach a four year old. It’s especially difficult to teach when confronted with the reality that it’s one I’m still learning myself.

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Character: Values and Beliefs

Our values and beliefs, both conscious and unconcious, are at the root and are illuminated by the choices and actions we take.  How do we come to hold the values and beliefs we do?  Mine are still being formed and changed, even as others seem to be set into the stone of my being and psyche.

I think one of the reasons I am not willing to write anyone off, just because they are “difficult” people, is because I have been written off by others who felt I was too difficult for them to be around.  I have experienced and witnessed the pain and bewilderment that happens when, for whatever reason (valid or not), someone you care about decides you are no longer worth the effort.  Sometimes it was because I was genuinely clueless to what I was doing that was wrong and no one felt it was important enough to let me know what the problem was.  Occasionally it was because I was too intent on what I knew to be true and mine was the only voice I would hear. Other times it was because they only had part of the story and assumed they knew the rest of the story and just didn’t want to listen.  The most painful times were when I understood exactly what the problem was and had done everything I knew how to do to grow, change, or be different and I was still stuck inside of myself and the attitudes and actions that were problematic for the other person and they just cut me off.

To my way of thinking we are a bunch of rocks that have all kinds of dirt and sharp, rough edges to us and we are in this big rock tumbler, all jumbled together.  We are being tossed and turned up against each other in various ways, all the while we are hitting and bumping into each other’s sharp edges and brushing up against each other’s dirt.  By the time we get out of it, we are going to be beautifully smooth and polished.  If we avoid the process and don’t let others and their sharp edges touch us, then we stay rough and dirty.

As long as there have been people and society, there has been change: for the better and for the worse.  It works on a pendulum.  When people in a society see an injustice and decide that it’s wrong and something needs to be done about it, then there is a catalyst for change.  Sometimes, it generates a catalyst so big and so strong that the perpetrators of the wrong, then become the victims of the next generation.

This is how I viewed my family of origin, for a time.  They were the perpetrators of great wrong.  I needed to cut them out and cut them off.  If they hadn’t done this, then that wouldn’t have happened in my life and I would have been able to stay in school, move into college, and become “successful.”  Because the adults in my life didn’t act in the caring and responsible way they should have, I had to grow up too soon and fend for myself.

What I have come to understand, through my own journey and efforts with my children, is that I was less than equipped to be the caring and responsible adult they needed.  I tried as hard as I could and am continuing to try, but because there are things inside of me that I haven’t changed or can’t change, and my rough edges and dirt are still there, I have done and may do things that bring them sorrow and pain, despite my efforts to also bring them love and caring.  So it was/is with my family of origin.

I’ve recognized the family patterns of addiction: substances and relationships, as well as the patterns of depression.  What I’m beginning to see are the patterns of lack of attachment and disconnectedness.  There are patterns and histories that point to something beneath the surface of the addictions and depression.  Something that is undefined or undiagnosed because it is unrecognized.  Our world looks at people who have these kinds of issues and judges them for being weak, lazy, stupid, ignorant, etc. We look at people who on the outside looking in seem to be “whole” and “healthy” and decide they are choosing to be the way they are.

If someone is depressed, they should “choose” to count their blessings and look on the bright side.  They should just get out and enjoy the moment and enjoy the day for what it is.  I’ve got to tell you, I am blessed beyond belief.  I am in the process of having good relationships with both of my adult children, that I wasn’t sure I would ever have.  I have a bright, beautiful, happy and healthy three year old who is engaging, curious and brightens the room just by being there.  I have a man who, despite our issues, problems, and history, is doing his best to provide for our family, even if it means he’s away from home and the light of his life for a month or more at a time.  We have all of our basic needs met and I know there are people who love and care about me, outside of those things.  Yet, none of that penetrates beneath the surface of the depression.  I ache and just want to cry.  I hurt and just want to hide.  I can’t think and remember and remind and appreciate myself out of the depression.

Recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating these beautiful things in my life does benefit me, because it keeps me from going into a deep and suicidal depression.  Taking care of Luna means that I do leave the house, if only to get her to and from her school program and that I make some kind of effort to maintain the most basic of nutritional standards and sanitary conditions…well, the sanitation definitely needs work today.  Knowing that Marco is letting me back into his life and including me in it means that I make more of an effort to stay present and available so I can be responsive if he calls.  Getting the random opportunity to hang out with LaLa, means that I take advantage of the opportunity to get out of my head and listen to what is relevant to her and what’s happening in her world.  Knowing that Jerry is going to video call in order to see and talk to both Luna and me, means that I stay connected to the passing of time throughout the day and to do my best to pay attention to the little things that she says and does so I can share those things with him. Every one of these things requires effort on my part and is only possible because these people are engaging with me in my life.

So, I value human interaction, even with difficult people, and I believe that if I didn’t, I would sink to the bottom and continue to remain in a dirty, rough and sharp state.  I also believe that by persevering on the path to stay in relationships, that perhaps, I’m helping others in the ways I’m being helped.