I’m back…

Back from my crazy weekend, and too tired to write too much tonight, but checking in to say it was a pretty darned good weekend.

I was late to my family reunion in Chillicothe, Ohio, due to first sleeping through my alarm, and then construction and detours turning a five-hour drive in to a 6 1/4-hour one.  Being late is typically one of my triggers – after all, it makes me out of control and imperfect!  Being stuck in traffic is also one of my triggers.  I was, however, able to hang onto my serenity.  Also, I got to see people whom I love and whom I never get to see, such as my big brother, my Grandma, and my sister/niece/nephew.

Later that day, I drove an hour to drop off the boys at their father’s house, but nobody was home!  And nobody was answering their cell phones.  Finally, I thought to ask Jody if he had Katie’s (dad’s girlfriend) number, and he said no, but he had Carlen’s (dad’s girlfriend’s son LOL) so I said call him!  Carlen was with his father, but was able to give Jody his mom’s number and tell us that they were out shopping together.  I talked to dad and agreed to drive yet another 30 minutes north to meet him in the parking lot of a local park to transfer the children.  Also, he still has not done something important regarding residual joint property that I asked him (and he agreed) to do three weeks ago.  All that, and still feeling only mildly annoyed, and still serene.

I said goodbye to the kiddos, and drove to my mother’s house to spend the night.  Talk about your major serenity buster!  If anything was going to ruin my serenity, it was going to be this.  However, while I did catch myself several times saying things calculated to garner her approval, I was not disappointed at all when I did not receive it.  This is definitely progress in my recovery.

I feel the need to add, all this has nothing to do with my mother or her actual behavior.  Mom was actually very loving and attentive.  She fed me, she chatted with me, we exchanged book titles, watched TV, and played with the dog together.  This is not about Mom, it’s about my attitudes and thought patterns about Mom.

I was rewarded for maintaining all this serenity with two stops on the way back to Michigan at lovely antique malls, where I shopped until I was ready to drop.  This is my happy place.  Here is a picture of my haul, in case you’re into such things.

Blue distressed chair (very sturdy), orange plank with coathooks, pyrex casserole in pink daisy, pyrex casserole in flamingo, pyrex chartreuse small mixing bowl, pyrex flamingo round cake pan, pyrex chartreuse square cake pan, ice cream scoop, sieve, cast iron skillet, beautiful and colorful Coca Cola tray.

All that to say…I am, as usual, grateful for my program, grateful for my continued recovery, grateful for my heavenly Father, and grateful for antique malls!

And now, to leave you with a song.  Apropos of nothing.  I just really, really like this song, and have been playing it loud and singing my head off all weekend, whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Enjoy!

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Aging well

I will turn 40 next month.  I don’t know why I’ve been so introspective about this.  After all, I’ve not given other “milestone” birthdays much thought.

I gave birth to my second son twelve days before my 30th birthday.  Caught up in the all-consuming days that were motherhood to a toddler and a newborn, and living with a husband who did not generally give gifts, I am not sure I even noticed my birthday pass.

On my 21st birthday, I was newly divorced, living in a crappy, roach-infested walk-up in Circleville, Ohio, working 8-5 as a receptionist for a plastics factory, and working many nights 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Burger King.  I had no friends in that town, and very few friends, period, as I was in transition from married life to single life, from school at a small-town branch campus to school at the massive Ohio State University, and I honestly worked too much that summer to even consider making a friend.  No one took me out to a bar on my 21st birthday, and I honestly don’t remember the day at all.

The day I turned 18, I packed all my belongings into my boyfriend’s Ford Escort and left my parents’ house while they were at work, walking away from a tuition and room/board scholarship at Capital University, and walking away from my parents and my sisters, ages 15 and 4, whom I would not see for the next two years.  I didn’t know that I was headed for a two-year marriage characterized by abuse, infidelity, and poverty.

None of those birthdays register clearly in my memory, yet as 40 looms closer I ponder.  It feels like a new stage in my life.  It feels like a transition.  A turning point.  A clean slate.

The thing all those birthdays have in common is chaos, the kind of chaos that goes hand-in-hand with codependency.  When I left home at 18, I was ill-equipped to deal with living life, loving people, and chasing Father.  I did not have life skills; instead, I had coping skills – ways to cope with the chaos that living in dysfunction brings.  For years, my adulthood was characterized by chaos, because when there was no chaos, my coping skills were not necessary.  Unwittingly, I created familiar chaos in every situation I encountered.

As my 40th birthday approaches, I can say with certainty that my life is characterized by the opposite of chaos.

My serenity has nothing to do with the circumstances in my life.  Full credit goes to my Father in heaven, who lavishes unmerited favor upon me despite my emotional brokenness, and to the program which is Al-anon.

As a matter of fact my circumstances, at the time of this writing, are not making me happy.  Someone I love very much is not in my life now, and though he is in poor health, I can be neither a comfort nor a help.  I miss him acutely every single day.  Many plans I had for the summer must be altered to exclude him.  Furthermore, I will be attending a family reunion this weekend, and being with my family of origin is always a stressful time for me.  Finally, my children will be spending the next 3 1/2 weeks a state away, visiting their father, and I have the strong, conflicting feelings of both needing the break and dreading it.

No, my circumstances are not all rainbows and unicorns.  Serenity is not synonymous with happiness.  The difference for me, at 40, is that I am no longer subconsciously manufacturing circumstances that damage my serenity.  I am not looking to create chaos or magnify the chaos that already exists.  Serenity flows not from circumstance, but from knowing that my Father is with me despite external circumstances, and from knowing that I can trust him with the things I cannot control.

My friend played her guitar and sang a song for me the other night, and I cried while she sang, because the song’s lyrics reminded me that 40 is coming quickly, and it does not look like I had planned for it to look.  Now, I am choosing to listen to it and instead, allow it to remind me that, as always, Father’s plans for me will turn out better than my own…even when I cannot comprehend how this can be so.

How Important Is It?

Photo Credit DC BasketCases

I have the blessing of eternal perspective, when I remember to use it.  My life here is less than the blink of an eye when compared to eternity.  Father tells us we are eternal beings, whose souls will live on long after our bodies are dead.  When I meditate on that, it humbles me.  It makes me desire to have an eternal impact as I move through this temporal life. Continue reading

Nothing to Fear but Nothing to Fear

What a beautiful, deeply moving, heartfelt, lyrically written entry.  I have nothing to add.  Just go read it, please.

Since the moment I knew I was alive I have never feared death. Through any spiritual incarnation of my beliefs, even when I believed there was a hell, I didn’t fear death. I have been near it, I have sought it, I have wondered about it, and I have never felt a moment’s fear about it.

However, like any proper egomaniac, I have feared life without me.  (Read more from Nikol Hasler)