Ah, the pursuit of happiness and perfection. You ever feel like you have never quite made it? Is there always something missing? Have you looked back over your life so far and you see nothing but unhappiness with a bleak future ahead? Does it feel like life is one big bowl of disappointments with a cherry on top of moments of loss and utter despair? Or do you ever look back and say….what happened to the good old days? Or do you look forward to the day when you will be able to retire or find your soul mate or win a legal battle?
Are you happy right now? No? What is it you are missing? And what do you do when you feel down in the dumps? Do you reach for a drink? Feel you need a cigarette? A bowl of ice cream? All three in no particular order? I’ve been there.
I look back at my teen-age years now thinking how great it was when life was simple and we had time to be self-absorbed. In truth, it wasn’t all great. I think the best part of that time was to be able to eat or drink whatever I wanted without many long lasting consequences. And even if life felt like it was falling apart around me, Mom still had dinner on the table and Dad still paid the bills. I had horrible acne, but I had a home. Emotionally life didn’t feel stable but I had opportunities that were there if I chose to take them. If I had seen them.
And then I think about how many people…not just women…aren’t really sure how to become adults on their own. That is a vulnerable period in life as well, when we begin to become adults and aren’t sure what “adulting” actually means. So many people who don’t even realize what it means to be co-dependent if they have even heard the term at that point, end up with pregnancies or marriages because it feels scary to take that jump into the abyss on your own. Many adults who have been abused by priests end up being abused at that point in their lives because it is an emotionally vulnerable time. We’re venturing away from the herd and beginning to find out who we are. If we have never really learned who we are other than being attached to other people’s needs or crisis, it can be really hard to judge our own value and who we are as individuals. And people who are just coming to terms with their own sexuality perhaps not being the same as how they saw their peers in high school, have that on their plate as well.
I didn’t mean to be a statistic. An unwed mother. I had no idea that instead of pulling things together, an unplanned baby would just end up highlighting things I didn’t yet understand. And that would bring years of struggling to pull away from more unhealthy attachments that got passed along to my children. And yet, even during those horrifically painful years of growth and panic attacks when trying to pull away from the unhealthy safe and familiar, there was good. As much as it may have been uncomfortable to be so tied to my parents’ rules and still needing their help, they were there for me and took care of my children. I could not have done that alone.
That and my own belief that I was not alone helped to get me through.
Whether or not you believe the following is up to you. One night, when I was giving a 3am bottle to my youngest son who would not sleep unless held, I was on the couch in the dark in the living room while my older son and husband slept in the bedrooms.
I was exhausted and fighting sleep. It was then that I felt a sensation. Like an electrical charge of some kind. I looked up to see a figure standing next to me. Just standing to the left of me, between the couch and the coffee table. The figure was completely white and shaped like a human. What I noticed was that he was a being of pure energy. I could actually see the energy within and around him.
As I held my son on my lap and I looked at this being to my left, I saw “him” reach out his right arm and hold out his hand to me. He stayed there like that. I thought…oh, I have to do the same. I looked down at my son and shifted my arms so that I held him against me with one arm. I looked back up to the figure standing there and I reached out to them with my other arm. At that moment, they just vanished.
The memory of that moment….that I was not alone….that someone cared….helped me through some tough times. That and the joyful moments with my kids…who I know needed me. It helped me through.
What I think is ironic is that one of the things I did when times really sucked is I started to write and to send things to magazines to be published. One of the largest markets out there was at the time anyway, the religious market. Religious stories as guidance for children. I did get three things published. And I was drawn to writing for the religious market. God, inspiration and His Holy Church. Yup. For children. I never told kids to go to church or said anything about priests, but it was more of a finding strength within.
Kind of ironic that I now write to connect with others who have gone through abuse by the church. I tell you that I believe that people are groomed by the church itself to be used and abused in the name of God. It’s just so totally sad and disgusting. People who innocently believe in giving and forgiving and that trusting that Godly people are good are the most vulnerable. Those that are the kindest and the most trusting.
And so I looked forward to retirement. I couldn’t wait to retire and to not have to hit that alarm button anymore five days a week.
Then the time came. But along with retirement came my part time job at the diocese which ended badly, a bout with cancer, and the challenges of growing older. So I sometimes look with fondness at the years when I could move freely, slept easily, did not have to handle bills and house repairs, had my future ahead of me, many romantic prospects, never gained weight, ate what I wanted, and had none of the pain that comes with time and the loss of loved ones and a younger physical body. And a time when I still believed that the church and the government had everything under control and cared about my well being.
It is easy to get depressed. Especially this year. It is easy to focus on how people have wronged us and what we don’t have. It’s easy to get angry that after all this B.S., we are still going to die. And to have the news tell us about death and man’s inhumanity towards man every day does not help. It’s understandable to want to give up or to feel sorry for ourselves or to feel hopeless and sad and say….why am I trying not to eat ice cream or why did I quit smoking? Why am I depriving myself of any joy when it could all end tomorrow?
I’ll tell you. I live with someone who watches the news a lot. And he is sick. And he has financial woes. And he gets upset easily. My brother gets upset with my elderly mother and yells at her. My mother gets emotional and there is not much I can do as I cannot really see her and it’s lonely around the holidays. I was texting an old friend yesterday who lives alone and has health issues. She is finding it really tough to quit smoking though she knows she should. And I just found out that I have some more health issues and need some tests.
We are a sad lot right now. But the title of this blog was “Tell me what you want, and I’ll give you what you need”. That is an old Doobie Brothers song. it means more to me today than when it came out in 1975.
To me it means that more than ever, it’s time to tune out the bad news and all of the things that we cannot control in our lives. All of the loss, the health issues, and all of the fun things we can’t do right now.
What is it that we need at this time? To me, that is peace and appreciating what we have. We will never be happy because we will never have everything we want. And we cannot control what other people feel or do. I’m not trying to preach because I am far from perfect. I have great pity parties. Those are the only parties I’m attending right now.
So I’m reminding myself as well as I’m saying this to everyone else. Take time to step away. Do the things that you enjoy and are able to do. I once had a 90 year old aunt who lived alone but I thought she had the best life. She owned her own home, had a dog, watched her soap opera, baked for other people, and loved to read every night. She also had a small, close group of family and friends. But she remained independent up until three months before she passed away when she had to leave her beloved home. She didn’t have a lot, but she loved what she had.
Seek the things that bring you joy. Don’t let this world overwhelm you. Don’t pressure yourself. Be thankful.
If you feel there is nothing to be thankful for….turn it around.
My mother was given six months to live 25 years ago. My brother attempted suicide and is still here. I had cancer and survived. My oldest son is seeing a doctor for his health. I can’t control his family history of early heart attacks, but I am thankful that he is taking care of things before he needs to. My youngest son graduated from college this year and has an 18 month old son. I never thought I’d see the day either one of those things was possible for him. I have contacted my brother’s estranged son and I get to text with him and see pictures of his children. I may have a heart issue, but it was noticed before it was too late.
And finally….this week, I noticed that my book got a rating of one star from someone who did not leave a review….just the one star. Well, Stephen King I am not but to me that means one thing…..I hit a nerve. Someone read the book and got upset. Want to take a guess as to who I think that someone is?
And that is how you flip a bad thing into a good thing.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Take this week’s poll. Remember you can answer more than once.
Happy New Year. Hoping 2021 brings new hope to all.