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The Ego . . . Friend or Foe?

compassion-857727_1920One morning my daughter woke up in a panic.  She said she was terrified. She’d had a bad dream and apparently this dream rocked her to her core. Even though she knew it was a dream, and even though she knew the most likely cause of the dream—she’d watched a scary episode of a TV show UniKitty, she was still afraid.  She didn’t want to walk around the house until the sun arose or until I walked around with her. First, I had to make sure that I turned on the lights before we entered a room.  I didn’t get upset with her though.  I happily obliged her.  I understood her fear.  I could remember being a child and being afraid of the toilet flushing.  I would have this overwhelming need to rush to my bed and hide under the covers before the toilet completed its cycle.  And while I knew it wasn’t a logical fear, it was one I held for many years.

But beyond that, I understood because in that moment I felt as if I was able to witness the ego in the flesh.  Many psychoanalysts and psychologists from Freud to present have defined and redefined what the ego is. The ego is essentially our identity that is constructed of the thoughts and beliefs we hold about ourselves.  In the spiritual sector, and other sectors for that matter, the ego can get a bad rep.  Check your ego and humble yourself.  Don’t be so egotistical.  Don’t let your ego rule you.  These are just some examples of the warnings we receive regarding our egos.  We’re sold an image of the ego as a savage dictator and brat, hell bent on feeding its own desires well past satiation.  And sometimes that can be true. Sometimes the ego can operate like a toddler.  It can want what it wants without any regard for the consequences.  It can be bratty.  It can be ruthless in its pursuit to feel better.

But what if it’s more than that?  What if the ego isn’t actually a dictator?  What if the ego is actually just like my daughter this morning? Simply scared and asking for attention? What if our ego is actually asking us to shed some light in the darkness to illuminate those shadow parts of ourselves?  We tend to look at ourselves through cloudy lenses. We grade ourselves with high marks when we do those things which are pleasing to us or when we feel good.  When we don’t feel as good, or we feel we’ve misstepped, we tend to fail ourselves.  Perhaps our ego is our loving friend who is guiding us to look beyond the surface of what we see and to see ourselves fully as we are, without judgment.  But since we humans can be more than a bit stubborn, we don’t always take heed at its first nudging so it has to work harder to get our attention. It has to get louder. It has to start kicking and screaming.  Those are the moments where we are at what we deem to be our worst.  Those are the moments we look as if we are out of control. We’re fearful, angry, short-tempered, arrogant, and maybe even more than a bit selfish.  Those are the moments that in spite of knowing the fear is illogical, we refuse to walk around our familiar home until our mom walks with us and turns on all the lights.  But instead of it being about us getting out of control, perhaps we can consider that it’s more than that and that’s just the moment when we have the opportunity to gain control and begin to take the steps to accept ourselves. It’s the moment we get to turn on the lights to see things and ourselves as they truly are and not as they simply exist in our minds, which gives us a chance to accept ourselves and grow.  That’s a pretty radical thought, isn’t it?

Ego, just a three-letter word and yet so interesting. If we did not have an ego, we would be lost. Feeding it too much we would also be lost.

Lida van Bers

 

What I’ll Tell My Daughter About Love

When I was of what my dad considered an appropriate age, he began talking to me about what to look for in men.  He gave me a lot of advice:  Look at his nails and hands, pay attention to his oral hygiene, make sure I don’t have to depend on him for anything.  He also advised me that when I was ready to make a commitment to a man to make sure that I liked him.  He warned me that “love” or the feeling of love at least can come and go, but liking the person would ensure that I’d be more likely to work on the relationship as people tend to be more kind to those they like.

Well, The Fizzle isn’t actually of dating age just yet. She’s only 10.  However, she is of age where she is able to bear witness to relationships and she has already formed the foundations of what she’ll carry with her when she forges down that road.  Of course there are more things I will tell her about romantic relationships based on what I’ve learned over the years.

  1. I’ll add a caveat to her grandfather’s advice of making sure to like the person.  I’d say pay attention to what liking someone means.  Don’t settle for someone you find likeable because there is a distinct difference between finding one likeable vs. liking said person.  A likeable person is one who you like well enough but not entirely. You have a list of a few traits you like about them but you have an equally long list, or longer, of all the things you don’t really like. But instead of being honest about the things you don’t like, you sweep them under the rug and tell yourself you can live with them.  Well he makes me laugh. I like how he dressesHe’s really good with kids. Or some other such trait.  Instead, ask yourself: Do I truly like this man as a person?  If the answer is no, then Simon Cowell him.
  2. Choose someone whose values are in agreement with yours.  So many people look for surface agreements. We love the same movies. We have the same taste in music. We both love pizza. Sure those things are wonderful, but they aren’t necessary.  What you want is someone whose view of the world is in alignment with your own.  You want someone whose values are compatible with yours and that takes more than having the same tastes in food or music.
  3. Instead of focusing on how much you agree, pay more attention to how well you disagree.  So many place a high emphasis on how many things they can agree upon.  While agreeing is great, differences are inevitable. You’re not going to ever live in the world by yourself. Choose someone with whom you can agreeably disagree with and who can do the same with you. That will be a better measure of how well you can get along than agreeing upon things.
  4. Ask yourself, if this person never changes can I accept him?  If this person never changes can I accept him? And you have to ask yourself these questions because when you sign up for a relationship, you sign up to be with the person as they are.  That means you can’t sign up based on the potential of who you think he may become. There may be things you want to change about him, but you have to be able to accept him as he is because he’s not going to change for you.  He’s going to be exactly who he is.  However, at the same time, we are constantly evolving as human beings.  So you have to be prepared for the change you either wanted or didn’t want.  Sometimes we ask for things and we find ourselves ill-prepared for them once we receive them.  You may find that you wanted your mate to become someone only to find you don’t like what he’s become once he actualizes that.  Or he may actualize into someone else that you weren’t expecting and you may find you don’t like it.  Either way, you have to make space for him to be who he is and to become who he will become.
  5. When considering attraction, don’t make a snap decision. So many people base attraction solely on the first impression of physical looks.  That’s such a tiny part of attraction.  Attraction wanes or increases the more time you spend with someone. You can meet someone who you deem to be a 10 based on his looks, only to find that he’s a 5 or less in every other area.  On the other hand, a modest looking gentleman can easily become a 10 if he has other qualities you find attractive.  Also, don’t listen to your friends or others about his attractiveness.  You are the only one who has to find him attractive.
  6. Don’t go for the “good” guy.  So many pass themselves off as good because they get good grades, make good money, or dress nicely.  Good is an arbitrary term. You have to get specific about what good means to you.  Women settle constantly for the good guy without getting specific about what that means.  Does it mean kind, compassionate, intelligent, hard-working, assertive, etc.  Do you want someone good with kids? Good with explaining things you don’t understand?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Also, understand that whatever it is you want him to possess, it needs to be compatible with you.  You both must complement one another.
  7. This should be an add-on to number 6. Please, please, please don’t go for the nice guy!  Whatever you do, avoid getting with a man simply because he’s nice.  So many people place a high emphasis on being nice.  But don’t confuse nice for kind.  Nice isn’t actually admirable.  It isn’t authentic. Nice is what people do so that others think well of them.  Nice guys are the ones who are insecure and do things to seek approval from others.  The nice guy is the guy who does things he really doesn’t want to do and later resents you for it. Instead, seek out the kind guy.  The kind guy is the one who is confident in who he is and gives of himself because it’s simply in his nature. He respects himself and others and expects to be respected in return.  He doesn’t need you to make him feel better about himself.  Yeah, go for that guy. But make sure you’re that kind woman first so that you’re not the nice girl he fell for.
  8. Be clear about your expectations. And your wants. Don’t hold back. At all!  Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want from your mate or the relationship.  That way, the person can tell you yay or nay on whether or not they can deliver or if they’re willing to.  And you are then free to decide how you’d like to proceed from there.
  9. Don’t take it personal when a person can’t or is unwilling to give you what you want. Sometimes people love and give the best they have but their best isn’t good enough for us.  You absolutely get to say what’s good enough for you. But you don’t get to assess the true nature of the person’s heart for you.  There’s a lot of advice that says when someone loves you they’ll do whatever it takes to be what you want/need. That sounds wonderful, but it’s so untrue.  We meet people at different stages of their lives and sometimes no matter how much someone loves you, they just may not be ready or capable to give you what you want/need. Doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have though.  It also doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
  10. No matter what happens in the relationship, don’t ever be ashamed or guilty for being yourself, for caring about the person or for showing how much you cared. Oftentimes, when a relationship ends, or when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, or when someone is unable/unwilling to give us what we need/want, there is an emphasis of blame.  People tend to tell the hurt person it was their fault for choosing that person or that the hurt person should not have done all the wonderful things they did in the relationship.  That’s a tit-for-tat mentality that is a relationship killer.  Please know that you never ever have to feel any shame for loving someone with all you have and showing them that.  You’re only responsible for you.  What they do with your love is on them.

And of course, I’ll tell her to look at his nails and his teeth too cause her grandfather was on to something with that. But again, she’s only 10.  I’m sure there’s going to be more to come.  Now that I look at this list, I think I need to remind myself of these things.  What will you tell your children, or friends, or yourself for that matter about love?

Acceptance is the Way

I actually had no intentions of writing about this ever.  But for some reason, this issue kept showing up in conversations with others who were struggling with something similar and I felt the nudging to share.  I’ve said before that I’m a firm believer that we are not meant to hold our lessons in. We bring healing when we give our voices to share with one another.  We bring healing to others and ourselves.  I believe this unpleasant moment in my life brought forth some healing for me.  It wasn’t actually painful either. However, it was surely an Aha moment.

I have been divorced for 9 years.  I’ve said before how in spite of the trials of that relationship, my ex-husband has served as one of my greatest teachers because I’ve learned a lot about myself.  He didn’t fail to teach me yet again.  During the summer, we had a significant blow up that resulted in me having to call my cousin who happens to be a Seargeant for CPD and also me making the decision that it is best that he and I no longer speak.  It’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I actually hoped that by this point we’d have transitioned into co-parenting bliss. You know, we get along so well cause we’re actually friends.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and I doubt it ever will be.  Good thing for me is that I’d have been devastated if this had happened years ago. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher (and the lesson and test) appears.  And so did the test appear, hand delivered by the teacher, my ex-husband, and I was ready so I was not devastated.  I instead accepted it as it is.

While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that his behavior was unacceptable. From my point of view, it was a simple miscommunication.  However, judging from my ex’s behavior, it was about more than the particular miscommunication.  I probably will never know the full reason(s) behind it, nor do I need to.  Suffice it to say that he became aggressive–unnecessarily and unacceptably so.  He did so in front of our daughter and his other children.  It’s important to note that my point of this blog isn’t actually about him or his behavior. This is actually about me and what I took away from that.  I could easily point my finger at him and say he is horrible and call him names. But he’s not.  He’s just a mere man, going through life just as I am. His path is full of lessons for him just as mine is filled with my own lessons.  We have served our purposes in one another’s life and created a beautiful soul in the process. We have gotten all that we needed from one another and our time has come to an end.

Let me say that I’m one of those people who has no problem being friends with exes. I have actually never understood why one wouldn’t want to remain friends with an ex–bar there is no abuse or severe mistreatment.  I’ve always been of the belief that if you were a huge part of my life, I can’t understand why you can’t remain in a different capacity.  Suffice it to say that I don’t let go nearly as often as I should.  But that logic stayed with me through my divorce. As far as I was concerned, I had no major beef with my ex husband other than the fact that he was my husband. Once he ceased to be my husband, I was cool.  But that was selfish on my part because I didn’t give space for him to feel whatever he feels. Now he has never actually said it in words, but I fully believe the man hates me. And you know what? That’s ok.  Problem is, I wasn’t giving him the space for that. In my mind, we are parents and we are tied together for life (and we actually are). Since we are, we may as well be friends. But he doesn’t want to be my friend. I’m not even sure he actually wants to co-parent with me. And again, that’s ok.

Over the years, I have done what I thought I could to mend the bridge between us. I would offer olive branches. I would ask for talks to get to the bottom of things and clear the air.  He would have a list of grievances and even though I didn’t agree, I would agree with him to make peace. My logic was that he needed the win and if I gave it to him we would be that much closer to getting along.  Well, I was wrong. The moment I found myself standing in his doorway 9 years after our divorce having to walk away from his aggression is the moment I finally accepted that it just is not meant to be.  That’s when it hit me.  Aha! It took me 9 years to finally let our relationship go–even though I knew before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding that we were not a good fit.  And now it has taken me 9 years to fully accept that we are not and will not be friends or cordial co-parents.  And that’s ok.  Let me say  now that it will not take me another 9 years to get any other memo from this dead relationship. Lesson is learned.

Honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d accepted this years ago. Now please let me be clear. I am in no way assuming responsibility for his behavior on that night in July.  I’m taking responsibility for my role in not accepting things as they were prior to that night.  And to be honest, it has always been about me and not him.  I struggled greatly with choosing to end our marriage–even though I knew it was the best thing for us.  We just did not fit.  There was a big part of me who felt like a failure.  I failed at holding my marriage together.  Actually, I felt like a failure before that because I chose to marry a man whom I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold down a marriage with for long.  So as far as I was concerned, the least I could do was successfully co-parent with him.  It was bad enough our daughter wouldn’t be from a two-parent household. I owed it to her to show her parents who were mature enough to get along and work together.  I was especially charged about this because when I was growing up I saw my parents argue frequently over two things: money and me.  They disagreed often about the best course for me and I vowed I would never have that problem.  We’ve all heard about saying never, right?  In my mind, the least I could do is get the co-parenting right.  It was not acceptable to fail at both marriage and co-parenting. I wasn’t making space for the fact that doing what was best for everyone involved–including (and especially) myself isn’t actually a fail.

The other thing I struggled with is accepting that my ex does not like me. To be honest, I always felt like he didn’t like me–even during our marriage.  But that’s something that I hoped would change after our divorce and it hasn’t.  I actually think it has intensified.  There are people in life with whom you disagree regarding values and views on life, but you find you still like them.  There are those with whom you disagree and you don’t necessarily like them, but you do find them tolerable.  And then there are those with whom disagree and what’s more, you just cannot stand them. Their views and who they are just gets on your nerves and you do not like them. I believe I fall in that final category with my ex.  Who I am and my way of being bothers him.  The fact that I bother him so much has bothered me.  Can you say co-dependency? I was like a 6 year-old who just kept offering toys to get him to be my friend.  And it never worked.  And I never understood, nor would accept that it wouldn’t work.   My ex and I are fundamentally different and that’s ok. But I had to learn how to  allow it to be ok that we will not get along because of that.  But here’s what I finally get.  Because we are so fundamentally different, my ex sees me through a lens that is veiled by his own perceptions.  He sees a completely inaccurate intent from me when I do things.  No matter how many times I explain my logic and point of view, he sees what he sees and there is no changing his mind. That bothered me a lot.  It finally got to a point where I had to ask myself why it bothers me so much.  The truth is that it bothered me because on some level I still cared what he thought of me–not necessarily as a person, but as co-parents.  I told him when we divorced that I would never intentionally stand in the way of his relationship with our daughter and I meant that.  I have done my best over the course of our daughter’s life to uphold that bargain. I take that seriously. Our daughter is entitled and deserves to have a relationship with her father, no matter what is going on between us. So it bothered me to know that he sees me as intentionally doing things to undermine or disrespect that.  I had to come to accept that he is just one of those people who will never see me as I am.  And that’s ok.  He doesn’t get me. He never did.  But what’s more important is that I understand that how he sees me is not the truth of who I am.  It may be his truth.  But again, his truth is veiled by his experiences and his being and in no way does it dictate the truth to who I am.  And I can’t say enough that this is ok.

The other thing that I realized is that I just had to let go of control.  I’m a pretty laid back person and don’t think of myself as a control freak. However, in some ways, my inability to accept things was a form of me trying to control the outcome.  I’m not sure how long I was willing to go on this crazy ride with my ex, but I know I have gone for far too long and I was willing to do it to make sure that I got the picture that I wanted.  The picture consisted of peace and harmony. After all, wasn’t that in the best interest of our child? I was unwilling to accept that the peace and harmony would come from me letting things go. It has been several months now since that night and I haven’t spoken to my ex since. Frankly, it has been quite peaceful ever since. I can’t speak for him, but I’m willing to bet the same has been true for him.  I certainly hope it is.  And who knows? Maybe now that I’ve stopped fighting against things, some day in the distant future we’ll evolve into the picture I held for so long.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it’s ok.

If there is anyone out there going through turmoil in your divorce or post-divorce relationship, I encourage you to accept things as they are. Release whatever picture you have in your head of how things should or could be.   And for the love of all that is sacred, please don’t take anything personal!  You are reacting from your stuff just as your ex is reacting from their own stuff.  No one is actually right or wrong.  Instead, you are both doing the best you can–at least I hope you are.  I’m not saying you have to like it because you don’t.  But I do believe accepting things will bring you so much closer to peace.  I know it has for me.

Moving on to Peace

Hey! How ya doing? Good to see ya.  Glad to be here.  Sorry it’s been so long.  And let’s not forget, Happy Friday!  I know it’s been a long time.  And honestly, I really want to get better at being more consistent.  It’s been an interesting journey through life thus far.  I keep finding myself in these stages of growth and when that happens, I need to take steps back and process.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  But I had to share this video because I got a lot of feedback (unexpected feedback at that) about something I said on Wednesday.  Wednesday was the 9th anniversary of the day my dad died and I said something about that day and people really seemed to resonate with it so I felt led to share this.  I hope it helps whoever needs to hear it.  Enjoy your day and your weekend!

This Is Us Really Is Us

So can we talk about last night’s episode of This Is Us?  I have long since become a huge fan of the show and I am not ashamed to admit that I cry at every single episode. Every. Single. One. Each episode touches me in a way that makes me think they can’t possibly make me cry any harder than I did on the previous one.  Yet, they prove me wrong each time.  They did not fail to up the ante yet again with last night’s episode titled, Memphis.

In this episode, we found our beloved Randall taking a cross-country trip (even though he’d told his wife it wasn’t a cross-country trip) to take his ailing biological father William to his old stomping ground of Memphis.  It was significant for both of them because William was dying of Stage 4 stomach cancer and this is on the heels of Randall’s nervous breakdown from the previous week.  If you follow the show, you know that Randall was adopted by Jack and Rebecca because William and Randall’s mother were drug addicts, so William left baby Randall at a fire station.  They reunited in the first episode when adult Randall showed up unannounced on William’s door step.  Since then, we’ve watched their relationship evolve from strangers to a more intimate father/son relationship.

Last night’s episode was so moving for many different reasons but for me, it was a beautiful vision of what I wish I could have had to experience with my father.  Death is an interesting part of life.  We all know it’s going to happen, yet we are ill prepared when it does occur.  I loved that Randall was able to spend his father’s dying days with him, learning about him, growing with him, and even usher him into his dying breath.  It was so beautiful.  And it brought me to tears.  I was a blubbering mess in my bed.  I cried sad tears for Randall because he was losing another dad, and right when the getting was getting good.  I cried for William because he got to end his life on a happy note.  At the end, he told Randall that he didn’t have a happy life, yet the two things that were good to him were the person at the beginning and the person at the end.

And through all of my tears, I couldn’t miss that there was a part of me crying for myself. Entertainment can provide us with such a gift, and that is the ability to shine a light on some of the realest, most intimate parts of life.  I can think of no more intimate part of life than death and dealing with the death of a loved one–particularly a parent.  The writer of This Is Us gave us all (well let me speak for myself) me such a gift because it provided a glimpse into a real  moment of a relationship.  We got to see a father and a son have honest, yet difficult dialogue about life and death.  It can be so difficult to have those conversations, but I truly believe that they are so worthwhile.

While watching, I recalled the moment my father died and I wished I could have had those moments with my dad. For a long time, I felt that I was robbed of that moment.  My dad was feeling under the weather one day, went to the doctor and next thing I know I was getting a call that he was on a ventilator after going through sepsis.  He remained on that ventilator for three weeks.  He was sedated for the duration of those three weeks as well.  We never got a chance to talk.  I didn’t get to ask him questions or tell him how I felt.  The closest we came to that was during week 3 when he awoke for a moment.  He was still on the ventilator, so he couldn’t speak, but he mouthed the words to me, “I’m dead.”  I didn’t take him seriously because he would speak like that when he was sick.  I brushed it off, but he shook his head No and mouthed the words again.  He even went limp to show me what it would look like.  I laughed because I didn’t want it to be true.  While I always say I didn’t realize he was warning me, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I knew he was telling the truth.  But I wasn’t ready then to admit that so I dismissed him and hoped he was wrong.  He died two days later. He didn’t get to die surrounded by mom and me.  No, instead he died alone in a room with doctors.  He didn’t get the peaceful transition that William received.  He crashed several times, was revived each time, until that final one where he just would not return.  That haunted me for years.  I wanted closure. I wanted to have been able to hold his hand, kiss his cheek, and tell him it’s ok.  Since I never got the chance, I have envisioned how our final conversation would have gone if we’d been given the chance.  I feel like it would have gone something like this . . .

Dad:  Well Boops, it’s been real. But I gotta go.

Me:  Wait, don’t go yet!  There’s still so much more I want to talk to you about.

Dad:  Now what did I tell you? Be strong. I’ll always be with you.  You’re going to be fine. Take care of my granddaughter. Watch your back and be strong for your mama.  I’m counting on you.

Me:  Wait, you’re dying and THIS is what you have to say to me?  Not I love you.  Not I’m proud, but be strong?

Dad: I just can’t do right by you. Can I, Je’Niece?  I’m dying and  I still just can’t do right by you.  I told you before, I’m a hard man and I don’t make no bones about that.  Now I said I gotta go.   

Me:  Well dang, fine!  But don’t be a stranger.  And since you won’t say it, I will.  I love you, Man.  

Dad: I love you more.  

But I never got that moment. So I’ll have to live vicariously through Randall and William. It was a beautiful moment so I can live with that.  Thank you to the writers of This Is Us.  I cried some of the ugliest tears I’ve ever cried, but you gave me such a gift with each tear.

Sensitivity is the New Strong

I love the way the Universe works.  Pay attention and you’re sure to get a message or confirmation of something that’s been making itself known to you.  That happened to me yesterday.  I wrote this post some days ago.  I’d been mulling it around for a while and finally got around to writing it.  But once I wrote it, I just left it sitting in the drafts.  I didn’t want to share it.   I was resisting it for some reason.  But I saw a post from my mentor, Namaste Moore, as I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and it spoke exactly to what this post is about. So I took that as a loving nudge from The Universe to get out of my own way, and so here I am sharing it. Ok, on with the show.

I’ve been telling you since the beginning of the year how the past year has been all about me unpacking my past. I’m still in the process of unpacking. I’ve got a lot of stuff to purge. 30 plus years of issues. And because they’re so layered, once I purge one thing, I find another beneath it. As I’ve been unpacking a lot of my issues that I’ve tagged onto my dad, I recognized that I need to accept my sensitivity. I’ve always been an extremely sensitive person.  It was problematic for me because my father taught me that it was a problem. I wasn’t supposed to be sensitive. Sensitivity was weakness. Sensitivity meant I was a punk. And I needed to be tough because my father wasn’t raising any punks and the world wasn’t going to be kind to a punk. According to my father, the world was cold and unrelenting, full of people wanting to hurt me and if I didn’t get myself together it was going to chew me up and spit me out.  So I needed to be strong, independent, and able to take care of myself and others. Also according to my father, I wasn’t going to be able to do any of those things carrying my sensitivity around. So I had to get to getting with the business of toughening up.

silhouette-1564372_640          My sensitivity displayed itself in ways that seemed to get under my father’s skin. One of my worst offenses was that I cried. A lot. Actually I still do. I cried if I was happy. I cried if I was sad. Or mad. I even cried if I saw another in pain. But that was unacceptable for my father.  Crying was for punks and I needed to stop crying all of the time.  I remember one such episode when I was 9 years old.  A boy on my school bus punched me in the eye.  While my dad did defend me once he found out, he was also quite upset with me for not fighting the way he thought I should have.  He became incredibly upset when he asked me, What did you do after he punched you? only to hear me say in response, I cried. I thought it was a ridiculous question.  It hurt. Crying when hurt is a normal response, correct?  What was I supposed to do?  My father thought it a ridiculous response. Who in the hell cries when they get hurt?  Hell naw that ain’t normal!  I was supposed to kick the boy’s ass!  That’s what I was supposed to do.  So he told me that I needed to kick his ass the next day, otherwise he would kick mine. Now to some, this probably seems like a reasonable order from a parent.  It certainly was based on my dad’s own upbringing.  He was old school.  Old school wasn’t about being a punk.  Punks jumped up to get beat down, so you best not be a punk.  That meant you didn’t let anybody hurt you.  If you got hurt, it was your fault.  I didn’t know at the time, but for my father that applied to my emotional self as well as my physical self.  As far as he was concerned, he was doing it for my own good.  He would even lament about how hard it was to raise a daughter because he couldn’t be as hard on me as he wanted to be–certainly not as hard as he could be with a boy.  He hated how soft he had to be with me.  I, on the other hand, was perplexed as to how he could possibly think he was soft at all.

The thing about the way my father raised me was that it didn’t work for me.  As he lamented, I wasn’t a boy. I was, indeed a girl.  That meant that I was soft. But softness didn’t mean weakness.  It was just my make up. I was (and still am) sensitive.  I was compassionate. I didn’t physically fight. But I also wasn’t a pushover.  Actually, his harshness caused me to shrink more than my sensitivity ever did.  And the effects of his harshness lasted well into my adulthood.  I struggled with my sensitivity.  I hated myself for feeling all of my feelings–especially hurt.  I hated myself for crying.  I actually still hate to cry in front of people.  I felt like I was going against everything my father stood for whenever I would and even though I would never admit it to him, I desperately wanted his approval–and even to be just like him.  I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to be all he wanted because I was his only child.  I hated myself whenever I didn’t do what I thought he would do–even if I didn’t agree with him! What I now know is that I was (and still am) a lot like my father–sensitivity and all.  When he was chastising me about my sensitivity, he was actually chastising himself.  He didn’t like that he was sensitive (and believe me, he was).  He saw it as weakness so he developed a bark so loud that no fool ever dare test him. While I, on the other hand, didn’t feel the need to bark. I was content being me. I felt like whomever didn’t like it would leave me alone and those who did would fall in line with me.  But because he didn’t know better, he taught me that I was wrong to feel that way.  And because I didn’t know better, I learned to believe him.  So I packed that gem and have been carrying it around with me ever since.  Until today.

What I know today is that my sensitivity (and my father’s for that matter) is not a weakness.  It’s actually a strength.  And the audacity to be as sensitive as I am without attempting to cover it–to allow myself to be vulnerable–is an even greater strength. I’m embracing my sensitivity and softness.  I’m embracing being vulnerable.  I also know that my father did the best he could with what he had so I don’t need to be angry with him for teaching me as he did.  I know that I also did the best I could, so I don’t need to be angry with myself for carrying the burden as long as I have.  I’m learning to be gentle with myself.  And while he didn’t necessarily directly do it, my father taught me that. And for that I’m grateful.  So as Forrest Gump said, that’s good, one less thing.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I might have been awfully uncomfortable last year when having to face the contents of my baggage, but these days post unpacking have been quite enlightening.  I believe Erykah Badu said it best when she instructed in her song, Bag Lady to pack light. So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m packing light.  And I gotta say, I like it.  A lot.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly AndThe World Will Adjust

Happy Magical Friday to you!  I’m recuperating from my busy weekend at Key Lime Cove, celebrating my Fizzle.  She had a wonderful time and that’s all that matters. But her Momma?  Her Momma was, and still is, very tired.  But this here show of life must go on, so onward we go.  I had a conversation with my Fizzle’s teacher this week and I must say, I walked away with a lot on my mind.  It brought up some issues for me–issues surrounding acceptance and being free to be oneself.  Take a looksy at the video and tell me what you think.  All my love to you!

 

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