Last week I asked everyone what they enjoyed doing. The majority of people said that they enjoy playing music. I can relate to that. Music has power to change emotion. When I have been at my lowest, music has raised me up. When I have felt weak and scared, music has helped me to feel stronger and a bit more brave.
This past week the music world lost Helen Reddy, who in the early 70’s sang the anthem, “I am Woman”. I hadn’t internalized what exactly that song meant at the time it came out as I was still in between “The Partridge Family” and Carly Simon and music to me was just about fun and romance. I was really raised in a bubble. From Catholic grade school under my parents’ control to Catholic high school where my guidance counsellor suggested that I become a nun, to Catholic college which had a mostly female enrollment, I had no idea about women’s issues and struggles.
That is, not until I got married and had children and learned that your spouse’s commitment was not a given in marriage and how much that lack of commitment could determine how easy or difficult life could be. And that depending upon someone else for your well being and the well being of your kids was not a good way to enter into a marriage. I also learned that what looked good and attractive outside of marriage….someone who was physically attractive, someone who had a lot of friends, someone who was fun when he was around…..didn’t always translate well when he ended up feeling trapped and obligated and hadn’t the foggiest idea how to nurture a child.
It was then that I began to see how important it was for me to invest in myself in order to not have to depend upon someone else. But not right away. At first I felt bounced like a pinball between my husband and my parents. And then I felt that I just had the wrong man. It took a lot of learning and a lot of mistakes and a lot of accepting help that I didn’t want to have to accept because of emotional obligation…..and a long time….for me to learn to roar.
Even now, I don’t consider myself roaring. It’s more of a….okay I’ll get up and go another day and say a loud “meow”….I’ll get there, give me a minute.
I said last week that my grandchildren don’t speak to me. Well, yesterday was my grandson’s birthday. He’s an adult. He stopped speaking to me suddenly about 2 1/2 years ago. I had seen the signs but chose to ignore them as he was still sending me texts at the time wishing me Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas and I love you. And he would go out for breakfast with me when I was having my infrequent breakfasts with his half-sister and her mother. I told him I thought it was important that they stay in touch and he agreed whole-heartedly. But he told me that he felt that his father had abandoned both of them. I listened to him but said nothing, having to go to court in order to see my grand-daughter, but still staying loyal to my son, who was only half the problem.
The other half of the problem was alienation of affection, which is experienced by many people with children and grandchildren. That is when one parent (and sometimes that parent’s spouse) will turn the child against the other parent and their family. I always thought these kids would be in my life in some way forever….but when my grand-daughter turned 18, her mother said that our relationship was up to her now….and both kids shut me out at that point.
So it was my grandsons birthday yesterday. He is still on Facebook…has not “Unfriended” me, but ignores anything I post or message to him. My feeling….although it goes against everything that is me….is to let them go. I did add to my son’s birthday wish to him on Facebook, but I don’t have his address as he moved out of the state, so I cannot mail him anything. When I have sent anything to his sister, the check gets cashed or I assume. the present will be had….but I will hear nothing. No thank you. Nothing.
So perhaps “roars” can be silent as well. They are my grandchildren. I will always be here for them no matter what. But I have chosen to back away. I will always be in the background, but it hurts me when I expect anything, so I will expect nothing and not be disappointed. And I won’t continue to give anything to anyone who continues to ignore me and cannot say thank you. The same as I hope I would to anyone else who treated me as such.
It’s not so easy, though, is it? How many times in our lives do we have to walk away when we don’t want to….leaving a trail of feelings in our wake? And sometimes it’s not so much walking away but having someone walk away from us….and there may be a part of us that blames ourselves when it happens.
When trying to rationalize or to find peace, I will find myself saying to myself….if they are happy, that is what is important, or….I’m doing what is right by stepping back…or…well, it’s better to let them go if they are going to act like that.
But then I get angry. Why does someone else get to be called “grandma”? Or, why did the person who I got the job for get to keep her job and stop talking to me and I was the one who got fired? Or, why do I have to be the one who always has to understand and forgive and let go when I was not the person who asked for anything in the first place but then got attached?
The thing is, I don’t believe it is anything personal. As my dad always said….”People aren’t against you….they are for themselves.” In other words…..that’s life.
So we let go. I’ve always found that halfway is harder than all the way with something….whether it be relationships or smoking or something else. The only thing that finally gave me perspective about what happened to me at the diocese was getting away from it. It was horrible at first. Horrible. Getting kicked out. Feeling rejected and lost and blaming myself.
But with time, I was able to understand that not only was I not seeing the forest for the trees, but I was set up. And that felt almost as bad as if I had degraded myself feeling that it was something that I had to do or that God had somehow placed me there to do…or that I had failed. Confusion became clearer as I gained distance, to the point where I could actually speak to the bishop. But that took time and understanding and self-forgiveness.
So I do understand fear. And shame. And self-loathing. And not wanting to talk about it. And those are all things that keep you shackled.
I find it frustrating to see what the church gets away with and how it appears to be the one under attack. I find it frustrating to hear people express opinions about how most priests are good and that we are making a big deal out of a few bad ones.
It has to be as frustrating as say, a person who has been victimized hearing about how there are only a few bad cops or that I am a good person who is not prejudiced so don’t blame me. The fact is, if you have not experienced something first hand, you need to stop talking and listen to those who have experienced it. Stop being defensive, and be willing to listen and to learn. Forcing your opinion into things you have no personal knowledge of can feel disrespectful. Because to those who have been victimized, it is not always easy to find a voice. Especially when speaking up can bring about more problems.
Speaking out about something when it has not affected you first-hand….when you think you know what you are talking about, is hurtful to those people who have been through an experience.
Okay….been watching too much Dr. Phil.
It’s frustrating to me also to see people who are too afraid to move. Too paralyzed to speak. I want to tell them please….please attend a meeting. You don’t have to speak. You don’t have to show your face. It can help to listen to others and to know that you are not alone.
Meetings for those abused at the age of 18 or above are now held twice a month on bluejeans. The first and the third Sunday of every month from 7pm to 9pm EST. There is a weekly meeting just for men every Saturday from 1pm to 3pm EST. And there is a weekly meeting for women only as well as other virtual meetings. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask to be a part of a meeting. So many people have found them to be helpful.
Another thing I thought about that might be helpful? A database of priests and those who have hurt us as adults…whether or not they have been deemed credibly accused. If you would like to name your abuser, you may comment on this blog at any time. It will not be published publicly.
Have a good week….please take this week’s poll. And contact me if you would like.