February 29, 2012

That which we do not speak of.

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:23 am by openendedcomment

Today the Father of a co-worker is ending his battle with cancer.

I have never witnessed such grace as that which she has shown in the past weeks leading to this very difficult moment.  She has humbled me with her ability to cope, process and to be a peace. She is unshakeable.

And now I know why.

There is nothing left unsaid.

A few weeks ago my DH and I were watching “Oprah’s Next Chapter”.  Me because I love Oprah and he because the subject of that episode was Governor Chris Christie (and I had the remote).  During it, Oprah asked Governor Christie about the day his Mother passed.  He said she had told him to go to work.  He was stunned and told her it could wait.  Her response? “There’s nothing left unsaid between us.”

How wonderful.  How amazing.  How very, very difficult to accomplish.

Now, I’m close to my parents, all three of them.  There are no major riffs and no issues (at least not that I’m aware of.)  BUT…if, God forbid, they were to leave, can I really say that there is nothing left to speak of?   What about my friends and family?  My husband?  My children?  There is so very, very much left unsaid that I’m afraid I would need a year just to get it all out…if I were to find the courage…which I doubt very much I would.  It dawned on me though, as I sit here wondering what that kind of total acceptance of a life lived must feel like…that I ought to at least try.

I want that.  I think I may even need it.

You see, I have pissed people off my life.  Shocked?  You must not know me.  Welcome.  I assure you, it is very true…Its sort of  a bad habit, like biting your nails, but with more problematic consequences.

The issue isn’t that I’m an inherently controversial person; I’m actually quite the opposite.  I really do try to avoid conflict/fights/issues…unfortunately, when faced with them (as is inevitable in anyone’s life) I tend to not back away from speaking my mind.  Again, shocking, I know.

I can’t stand watching someone I care for suffer and doing nothing about it.  As there are many people I care for, I tend to find myself “doing something about it” more often than perhaps I ought to.  I am also Irish.  And a red-head.  A typical one.  This means I use my words (I remember that being a good thing at one point in my life) and in doing so make my point.  Loudly.  Occasionally with venom.

In my family (5 red-heads and a blonde with a red beard), this is how we solved problems.  We spit it all out, worked it all out and then moved on with a  better understanding of where everyone was at.  In the rest of the world, this appears to be how problems get worse.  Who knew?

Me.  That’s who.  I’ve learned.  I have quite the trail of things left unsaid…the apologies I really do need to make (some I’ve made that went unanswered, others I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my pride to utter…untill now.  I think.  I hope.)  I have things to say to friends.  I have things to say to family.  I have things to say to myself.

I have good things and great things to say.  I have questions I need to answer and some I need to ask.  I have tears to shed and pride to swallow.  I have laughs to be shared and lessons to be imparted both on and to…I have other things as well.

I have things I do not speak of.  I have secrets buried deep and hurts which have been ignored.  Despite the bravado I so often portray…I am not a very open person.  There are so many things I do not mention…so much I don’t let be heard.  I married a man much like me…he is like me but better than me…and he too has much that goes unsaid.  I suppose we all do, in some way and on some subjects…to some people…we all have that which we do not wish to address…that which we are afraid of hurting from or causing hurt as a result of.

So much left unsaid.

In the world of blogs, Facebook, twitter, text, email…in the world we live in where communication has never been more abundant, in this world so filled with the noise of chatter and information from every direction…in this world at this moment the things we not speak of are deafening in their silence.

Perhaps, just maybe…just this once, I could make a wee bit of real noise…just one call…one note.  One message that needs to be received could finally be heard.  My co-worker, this woman I am blessed to know, she is not a loud woman. But her courage to be known is heard above the din.

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February 28, 2012

Mean Girls.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , at 4:16 am by openendedcomment

I suppose the title says it all…girls can be mean. Some say “are”…I’ve said “are”…and tonight, it hit me. By saying we “are” or they “are”….we are, collectively, excusing it.

There is no excuse for it.

I have a daughter. This means I have a heart that walks around on the outside of my body. Initially, in her younger years, I could deal with the fears of everyday life…my little heart went to daycare and I worried about her physical safety. But I controlled her environment by spending a full third of my then-single-mom-in-my-early-twenties income (read: small) on her said daycare. The best. The one I had gone to, that had, somehow, become the expensive place in the area. She went anyway. It was worth it. She blossomed.

Years passed. I worried about her first sleep-over…I stayed up all night lest she should call and need me. She didn’t.

More years. Sports. School. A little curly-haired angel turned into a darling little girl with a mind of her own. I worried, but I controlled her world. I kept it small. Safe.

She is twelve now…seventh grade. Each day I am forced by the sheer will of puberty and heart to slowly loosen my grip.  To release her.

What frighten me most as she progresses on this journey is not war, not the economy, not what college she will attend, not what she may or may not choose to be someday, not even boys…what frightens me most are mean girls.

When I think back on my life, on the hurts and the heartbreak…the vast majority were caused by those very creatures.  As a child, as a teen and as an adult.  Yes, there were love-sick moments and love-rage moments (I was divorced once, after all…but that is another post for another day) The real pain, the real words that I still hear from time to time when I’m at my most vulnerable…those are the words of mean girls.

I can’t even really vilify them.  I’d love to…but how do you vilify that which you have done?  Been?  I know that I’m not a truly bad offender.  I had my moments though.  And just as I look to where my pain was; I can also easily identify my greatest shames.

Mean Girls.

Being one, knowing some. Trying to impress others.

Hating them, hurting under them, doubting myself as a result of it all.

I don’t want that for her.  I won’t allow that for her.  The day my heart started walking around in this world…the day my heart decided she wanted to grow up…that was the day I vowed she’d never know pain the way I had.  The way I have since.

I can’t stop every girl from saying anything cruel to her.  It’s already happened.  I can’t prevent what is inside of so many from touching my girl.  Their grip has already been felt.

I CAN and I WILL do everything in my power to empower her.  I can teach her how to rise above it…and barring that, how to plow through to the other side.  I can pray that she hears me when I tell her she is better than all of it…that she shouldn’t and couldn’t look herself in the mirror if she were to become one.  That who she is is precious.  That she can’t afford to loose herself in it.  That there is another way.

I can’t change what I’ve done.  But.

I can try to set an example.  I can pray I’m not too late.  I can hope that other Mothers are also willing and ready and able and driven to end this cycle of abuse perpetrated on members of our own sex.  Yes, I said abuse.  After all, it is…abuse.  An abusive cycle of beating each other down only to come back with apologies and wine to begin again the moment that trust is re-earned be it face to face verbal assults or the behind-the-back rumors and secret-letting so many are so adept at .  A cycle of abuse that, for me, ends now.

Maybe, just maybe if we, as women, call it what it is.. stop excusing it as just “mean girls”…maybe then we will be disgusted enough to Knock. It. Off.

To those that I hurt: I apologize.  To those that hurt me: I’m over it.  To all the Mothers: Let’s end this.