Gratitude…

Lately I’ve really been thinking a lot about gratitude.  I look for it in others to see how it looks on them.  I regularly exercise my own gratitude and stay in a grateful place…

The more I’m aware of gratitude, the more I see a chronic lack of it in so many.  And I wonder, perhaps mine is too large and thus, easily taken for granted and/or manipulated?  Or do I just happen to have regular contact and life dealings with basically ungrateful (selfish?) people?

My ex-husband is a most generous man for the most part.  I would never deem him selfish  in any monetary sense and yet, the man has a perspective that is selfish to such an extreme that I have trouble comprehending his view, much less reconciling it with the man I know who would help me or our children out with money to just about any length we requested, as long as it wasn’t just an obnoxious request… So, I wonder just how a generous man so regularly maintains a perspective of every day dealings quite as” ME, ME, ME!!!” as this man does?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful for his financial generosity and I do understand that’s a rare circumstance and blessing for a divorced, single mother.  I just can’t help but wonder how someone so financially generous can maintain such absolute selfishness?  The two just don’t mesh.  And my petty side, when faced with this realization over and over, wants to say, “My gosh, you are the most unbelievably selfish man I’ve ever known!”  And yet, I could never in good conscience say that given the overall picture of his mostly quite generous nature, which I strive to stay grateful for and feel it’s the utmost of ingratitude to even think such a thing about him!

…there just seems to be a point though, when generosity goes beyond merely being willing to write a check to help.  Or more importantly maybe it’s less about the money and more about the mutual experience and feelings involved.  It’s so much easier to stay grateful toward a person who is full of gratitude in return!  But a person who think his act of financial generosity is so far above and beyond anyone else’s kind gestures that he treats them as though they just don’t count…or as though they are expected…and still don’t quite make the cut of something to be grateful for…

I’m sure I sound like a spoiled brat…and perhaps I am?  No, I’m not able to help many out with much  money compensation or assistance(although I certainly do when I’m able), but I am that person who does any and every thing else I possibly can in order to feel I’m a helpful human being, if only generous with my time, compassion, or other things which don’t hold a price tag of any kind and therefore can never be measured by today’s materialistic standard of “generosity”.  Somehow it just feels frustrating  to stay grateful for every little smidgen of generosity from a person, when that person is completely oblivious to any gifts  of kindness he’s been offered.  Almost as though anything I could ever offer is merely expected, while anything I receive should fill me with gratitude.

I just don’t know.  It isn’t that I DO things for the gratitude.  I prefer to do kindness anonymously actually…but when that’s not possible and the person does know what you’ve done (or at least knows your intentions), a little gratitude goes a long way toward feeling that kindness made any difference in this world or for that person whatsoever.  I think feeling like your best efforts mean nothing just sucks a lot of the momentum to make any attempt at this at all.

And at least when it’s done anonymously, one can always assume and pretend that it was indeed special and a valuable contribution to some person’s life, day, heart, etc,  somewhere.  Even if it’s not appreciated at all, you’re just not so acutely  aware of how useless your kind intentions and attempts were.

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Broken wings

She felt like a child still in so many ways…wondering why the world always seemed to roughly push against her when she tried to stand up for herself and expect to be treated like an equally important member of society…  It was so uncomfortable to stand up for herself against anyone for any reason at all and the slightest resistance or push back and she just crumbled…feeling more and more weak and pathetic. She often wondered why she was so easy to knock down?

As a child, she hadn’t been permitted the luxury of finding her own way, questioning authority, having opinions, or expressing  any type of individuality.  These things simply had not been permitted or tolerated in any form.  What evolved from this was a fearful person; one who fit smoothly into the world and so many lives of others merely because she wasn’t equipped with a backbone to go against the grain, much less, stand up for herself.  Although it sometimes seemed to her that she’d been born without a back bone, a genetic deformity of sorts, logically she understood her mother had removed it entirely over a slow and degrading 17-year-long process. A few times when it seemed  one might be trying to develop in her, it was quickly squashed and eliminated.  One did not question adults, either respectfully or otherwise.  No questions whatsoever.  One liked whatever one was given, one liked what other people liked if one wanted to BE liked or ever hope of being loved.   Always just smile and go along with it.  This made her an easy target for all types of abuse and manipulation. 

So at 5, she didn’t question the teenage boy who insisted she go into his bedroom with him every day.  She didn’t question the other babysitter either, an even older teenage girl  who manipulated her even further.  She didn’t question the elementary school janitor who groped beneath her panties after school.  They were so much older and she desperately wanted to be a “good girl”.  She wanted to be liked and thought well of and maybe if she was ever good enough, someone would come along who could love her.  And anyway, she learned from a very early age that if you didn’t like something, you’d better keep your mouth shut and pretend to or it promised to get far worse.  Plus, she didn’t want to be the fussy, problem child.   God forbid she be an insolent, precocious type child who disgusted the adults with sass or youthful curiosity! She longed for love and acceptance..ached for it actually from her earliest memory on…  Thus, she never questioned or argued, never pushed back against any type of authority…no matter how uncomfortable or wrong it felt.  She didn’t suffer from a lack of identity, inner strength, or sense of righteous indignation, she simply never was permitted to develop any from the beginning.  She was always a chameleon, learning to quickly change colors and quietly blend in with whatever color seemed safest in any given circumstance or moment.  Somewhere buried inside her was envy of those people and children who had no trouble speaking their minds or pushing back against an authority figure if they did something which seemed wrong.  She envied them the security that came from knowing if they just did the right thing for themselves, someone bigger and more powerful would be there to support and protect them.

Ironically, the catch-22  started hitting her early.   She was so hungry for love and affection, any type of acceptance would be welcomed. This must have been obvious and she was often treated cruelly by her peers or friends.  She early on became the common door mat for many to wipe their frustrations and insecurities.  When she was hurt and tried to  discuss this with her mother, desperate for some consolation, compassion and perhaps even just a little sense of support,  mother would yell at her for letting people treat her badly.  This was always so confusing! She wasn’t supposed to expect better, much less demand anything better, right?  Be quiet and content with what you have, or else…it will only get worse.  All she knew for certain is she wanted to feel loved and had to be quietly unassuming and accepting so it  would not get even worse.  

After she left mother’s home and had her very first official boyfriend, she soon realized she had attracted a violent man.  A Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type man who worshipped and adored her more than she’d ever experienced before, but also would get very angry if she upset him intentionally or otherwise.  This was especially hard for her to handle with any self-respect.  There was the back-bone issue of course, mixed with the open affection and love that flowed freely in moments when her boyfriend wasn’t angry with her.  She knew she wanted more of that, in fact she felt a bottomless pit of need for this love.  How could she walk away from the first person who loved her enough to defend her to others, even if he did physically attack her himself?  At least he didn’t allow anyone else treat her badly.  He loved her most of the time and at least this way the cruelty only came from one person, instead of several.  This was better than anything she had ever known before!

After a few years of his random and violent beatings she realized she must escape soon when he started openly threatening her life if she tried to leave.  She turned to her mother for help… scared and begging for a place of refuge.  Mother said, “You’ve let him treat you like this for years now…so you deserve what he dishes out. You must like it to have stayed so long.  Give it a few years and then if I can believe that you’re really not going to go back to him again, maybe I will help you at that point.” 

Give it a few years?   He had recently forced her into his car and kidnapped her for an afternoon and another time recently had threatened her with a gun.  She never once called the police on him (not wanting to get him in any trouble), and when concerned neighbors would hear and called the police, they never helped.  In spite of her obvious busted lips and bloody noses, they would always say something like, “You two need to separate for a while and work this out on your own.” 

Dad would take one look at her black and swollen eyes and say, “Honey, what did you do?  You know how sassy you can be…you must have said or done something to really set him off this time.  You have to learn to watch your mouth, girl.”

Give it a few years?  The violence was escalating amazingly fast.  She had no where safe to run and she didn’t believe she would last another few years.

In this desperation, she did what she had to do to get free and after a few years of counseling later in life, she realized that mother hadn’t allowed her to have a backbone or to develop any self-respect and then punished and criticized her further for being “weak”.   No one was ever going to stand up for her and she didn’t have the strength or self-confidence to ever stand up for herself, she wanted to be loved too much to ever take that chance.  It was a no-win situation.  She was the world’s punching bag, literally and figuratively… and she could never lose the fear that if she didn’t learn to accept this, it could always get worse.

With this innate sense of constant fear and drastic lack of self-respect or entitlement, she set out in life, mostly hoping not to be noticed much and praying someone safe someday would.

The Slut’s conundrum

Slut.

I’m not sure what this means to me anymore…  I once thought that sharing your body intimately with another person should be reserved only for relationships where love was there or at least a potential to love….great admiration, perhaps?

My whole perspective on this has changed in the past 4 years of riding the viciously cruel DK roller coaster.  I haven’t been loved by another in four years, but I’ve loved a man and I’ve had sex with him countless times throughout this period.  And now I might be somewhat free from the painful chains holding me to him, but I do not know my capacity to love any more.  I can’t possibly know if I will ever feel a depth of emotion strong enough for another person in a romantic relationship to label it “love”.  I question my capacity to let myself venture there again at all.

It is painful to think of loving him so much and all we missed out on, as well as all the damage that he has done toying with my heart or four years.  I still can’t be certain I would agree it is better to have loved and lost..but I can finally say with absolute sincerity that the mutual loving experience of that relationship before it turned into something cruel and ugly, was the most beautiful experience I have ever had.  It hurts to think of the beauty of it..because it is gone..but I don’t fully resent it anymore.  I can actually feel a tinge of utter gratitude for having experienced a love that most people will never get the opportunity to know or even comprehend…  And while I still can’t fathom it will ever not hurt at ALL to have that memory and experience, I can qualify that into a category where I see that in some perspective I was truly very blessed and fortunate to have known it.

And now what?  My heart does not (thankfully!) fully reside with DK anymore, but it certainly still is not fully my own either.  Irony is that my capacity to love has diminished and grown overly cautious, but my capacity for compassion and forgiveness has exceeded limits I never would have imagined it could.  And I have always associated compassion and forgiveness with love…at least the deeply sincere kinds of compassion and forgiveness.  How can this be?

And…because of this experience am I now cursed to be what I previously considered a “slut”?  If I cannot love…(will not love?) is it acceptable to sexually connect with others under those circumstances?  When I KNOW I am in those circumstances?  Does this warrant me a life as the stereotypical tramp..the girl everyone uses to satisfy physical desire or fears of self-inadequacy?  I cringe at the thought of being used by so many…or by ANY one really and yet who am I to judge? I have allowed DK to use me to the extent that I feel worth little more than that.    If I cannot/will not (?) love, am I not for all intents and purposes, using others in my own way as well?  No matter how full of compassion and forgiveness my “usings” are…am I any better than anyone else who selfishly uses others for whatever their personal reasons might be.

I have allowed a man to use me to the point that my own self worth has shriveled to nothing… I reside in a place where I can’t even imagine another human being feeling genuine love for me… I am not worthy of that any longer.  I am a body with working pieces, a soul full of compassion and forgiveness, and a heart that is closed.  Who am I?  The slut I never imagined I could be…a monstrous creation formed from a beautiful relationship that went wrong and a love for another that would not subside…which has mutated me into a worthless tramp.  “Self righteous”, “teasing”,” save myself for love only” girl has mutated into its opposite…

And I believe that since the more sex without love you have in your life, the less love you have in general…the more the capacity to love shrivels further and further…then I self-create a continuation of the very thing I never wanted to be…

Or I join an Ashram and swear of all desires and thoughts of romantic love forever…?  Let agape flow from my heart through my outstanding capacity for compassion and forgiveness for humanity, while resigning myself to a life without personal love or selfish satisfactions.

I am a contradiction by definition of my character and spirit… and instead of resolving those contradictions, I, myself(with extraordinary assistance from DK), have dictated my life to expand my contradicting nature….perhaps making me the most unlovable and least respectable human being who has walked the earth…?

Overly dramatic?  Yes, of course!  And still I feel I cannot put precise enough conviction and explanation in my words or thoughts regarding the conundrum I and my life have become…..

Every Little Kiss

3 o’clock in the morning and I wake up with Bruce Hornsby’s Every Little Kiss running through my mind!  Can’t recall the last time I heard that song!!  How on earth did it end up in my head in the wee hours of the morning, waking me up?

Accupuncture yesterday was incredible!!  I had the most beautiful vision of my daughters and I walking along a path with big gorgeous green trees on either side.  The sun shining between them down on us while we held hands.  Shiny ribbons of soft light linked us, light that moved and breathed flexibly.  Confidence and happiness surrounding us like a bubble of protection.  Mark was there too somehow, only not in the vision specifically… maybe just off to the side a little?  It was refreshing and invigorating…comforting.  The ribbons that linked us, the light that surrounded us was love.  It was the strength of our love keeping us safe.  And with all the questions and doubts, wonderings, opportunities and choices, somehow I knew we were taking the right path.  This was the right one for us.  And I think it was leading us to Mark in Vegas maybe…?  Not sure, but that’s what it seemed.  No trees like that in Vegas though and I sure do love the trees – great big woody green yummy trees! Wondrous sources of protection in their own right, I suppose…

Having vivid dreams since returning fron Vegas vacation.  Waking early in the morning again too:-(  Somehow waking at 3 or 4 am in Vegas wasn’t as frustrating.  Maybe since I knew it was actually 6 or 7 am here?  It was peaceful that time of the morning there.  I could sit outside on the patio, watch the stars in quiet reverance and drink in the moonlight, letting it wash over me like a fountain of natural life giving energy.  I didn’t expect the moon to be so bright so close to the city!

Dreamt of BZ the night before last.  It was a nice dream.  I missed her and I told her so, of course.  We were catching up on everything.  I don’t really miss her like that, but in my dream I did?  Wonder why?  Or maybe I just didn’t want to hurt her feelings in my dream because I felt like I’m supposed to miss her?

On my way to accupuncture yesterday, I saw DK.  He was pacing in front of his house on his cell phone, wearing a red hoodie with the hood up.  I stopped to ask if he was okay (gosh!?) and he hung up his phone laughing snidely.  As soon as he said he was okay, just waiting for his “buddy to pick him up for the gym”, I was backing out of his driveway, even as he was speaking.  I did not want him to mistake my stop for anything but a caring for his well being and safety, nor give him the chance to think it was anything else whatsoever.  I would stop like that for  anyone I know in my neighborhood who looked as though they might need some help.  Knowing he was fine, made me kick myself for stopping, even so briefly.  What am I trying to do?  I had such wonderfully happy energy yesterday.  Was I trying to make sure it drained away into misery?  I somehow always feel safe like that; safe to push the limits…  as though he can’t affect me even if he does try.  Yet, I truly know better.  I cannot dance with the devil without the agony of having my spirit manipulated.  Nor does he ever need my help really…at least not the kind of “help” I have to offer.  So, why did I even bother stopping to see that snide, sly smirk on his face. 

I know he got our letters telling him to stay away.  All three of us sent them and I have to hope he might honor that.  I made a subtle threat in mine to call the police if he shows up again.  Not an outright threat, as I know my own limits, but a subtle innuendo that I’m hoping will make him think twice and at least worry a little that I might actually mean it….  Worry enough to stay away, I hope!

Little boy

Spirits in my house, my life…my heart?  I do not think this is crazy.  Ang says, “There’s a little boy.”   And yes, I know.  I do not doubt her or him for a moment. I have been told before of him.   He feels me. When he can’t put words to his feelings,  I can.  Sometimes. 

Who are you little boy?  You are the little boy from the video?  The little angel boy who has been with me always, like in that video?  You are Dave’s good spirit, before he turned to the darkness of resentment and pathology?  You are my little Romeo-soul-lover?  Are you what kept that little girl going on those cold scary nights darkened with abuse?  Are you the reason I lived beyond it?  Are you every kindness that has been extended which kept my momentum going when I felt there was no more?  Are you the kind friends on my blog who read and seem to understand?  Have you saved me from hundreds of “mishaps” that should have killed me but didn’t?  Do you live in my soul?  My heart?  My space?  Do I hope for your story when I ask Dave to tell me a story about the little boy who lost his kite?  Is that you?

Who are you little boy?  Why do you follow me through this life?  You could have found a happier place.  You should have.  You deserve a happier companion, but I am grateful for your presence still. 

I know you are there.  Thank you little boy.

Wow!

I am so bursting with pride at my daughter!  She demonstrated such fantastic strength and self confidence today that it nearly brought tears to my eyes to just know that someone as incredible as she actually comes from a part of me.  I am so proud of her!!

She told me today that she isn’t going to call Dave “Dave” anymore, but he will from now on be referred to as “It”.  A few hours later she told me that all the damage he has done has affected her and her sister too.  I felt horrible and apologized.  She then said she’d like to write him a letter telling him just how she felt about everything he’s done to our family.  I told her she had every right to feel that way and to write whatever letters she wanted.  She was surprised I said that and said,” I’m going to go write it right now then!”

She went in her room and came back awhile later asking me to read her letter.  It was very well written for a 12 year-old!  She didn’t resort to writing anything mean or hateful.  She merely said that what he’s done has affected her and her sister and that she thought he was a much better person than that.  She wrapped it up by writing, “You need to man-up and say you’re sorry to my mom or else leave my family alone!”

She then asked if she could deliver it immediately, she wanted him to get it as soon as possible she said.  I told her of course she could do whatever she wanted with her letter because those are her feelings and she’s entitled to them and to share them with whoever shec chooses.  She marched that letter straight over to his house and left it for him!

Wow!  I’m so delighted and excited to see that she’s so strong and confident with herself, her sense of right and wrong, and her value as a person.  She is a phenomenal girl…  I’m overwhelmed at her confidence and self esteem.  On a selfish note, I feel relieved to see that she’s not at all afraid to stand up for what and who she believes in, regardless of the weakness I’ve unfortunately demonstrated to her at times through this horrible ordeal.   Yayyyyyyyy Lexi!!!!!!  

I’m not that strong sometimes now when dealing with this issue.  I can’t imagine having that kind of self esteem and courage at 12!  She is my hero!

Concrete Angel

My youngest daughter showed me this video yesterday.  I’ve heard the song plenty, but never had seen this.  I did not cry!  There was a hollow-ness inside where the images and the words just bounced around uncomfortably.  I thought of so many different things all at once, rushing around my mind faster than my ability to feel or process them all…

My mother, my teachers, the abused children I’ve met in my work, my own children, Dave as the little angel boy, Dave as the abuser….

They aren’t supposed to run off to play in heaven where he knows her vulnerabilities and her weaknesses.  She trusts him…and feels so grateful she has someone who loves her and cares for a change.  And then he uses them to further hurt her, without ever “intending” to do so, of course.

I can’t help but think is he wounded too?  Is that why he has become this?  At this point, I can’t afford to let myself care, but I wonder what creates this vast discrepancy in his character?  Annyway, it matters not, as he is so strong and so proud, even he would not admit to himself if it were.  So, he has that blanket of strength to protect him and give him the coldness (the sense of entitlement?) to jump on other people to get what he needs to make himself feel better.  Somehow while standing in the line of vulnerabilty, I wasn’t given one of those self-survival blankets of protection.  Sure wish I could buy one of those!