I Forgive You. Forgive Me.

Admission: I’m not feeling too great today, and this UU Lent prompt, forgiveness, didn’t help. I shall now indulge in some wallowing in self pity. You know, sometimes you just have to do it for a while, pick yourself up, and get going again. I promise, I’ll get going again. So forgive this post. I just need to say it.

I had absolutely no clue how to parent.

With the pandemic going on, it’s just killing me that forgiveness hasn’t happened in important parts of my life. Mostly, I just want to tell Kynan that if he did anything that led him to disappear from my life, I will forgive it, because I love him. And I so dearly want to be able to ask his forgiveness for anything I did that led him to desert his mother.

I tried really hard to be a good parent. Obviously I wasn’t perfect, because there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. I know I gave them too many presents, because I’m totally clear now that my love language is gifts. Oops. That’s okay, all the kids left most of the things I gave them at home when they moved out <insert smiley face>.

Memories! What a bright little kid he was.

So today, I officially ask forgiveness of my kids, people who I felt maternal toward, and anyone who I may have hurt when they were young and vulnerable.

I also want everyone who’s hurt me that I forgive them. People mess up. People get angry and do things they wouldn’t normally do. Mental illness can color people’s interpretations of others’ motives and actions, and I know that. If I love you, I love you, warts and all. Even if I don’t forget things that happen, I can forgive you and accept you.

I will always care for these three, no matter what happens in our lives.

That was all really hard to write. Today I’m still reeling from some terrible dreams I had about Kynan a couple of nights ago. He was there, which felt great, but he kept reminding me we’re really apart. At one point, he rejected an outreached hand and said, “You know, we never really did like each other.”

No, son. I adored you and thought you were the most amazing creature on earth. I only want happiness, growth, and love for you.

Interestingly, I am wearing that same shirt today.
Equal opportunity baby picture of Declan.

Hey, I know I’m not alone. Estrangements are more common than I once realized, and I am sending virtual hugs out to anyone going through this along with me. I’d just like to know why I’m estranged, but until then, I’ll go on living and hope to heck I get to see my children and all my loved ones again, and that we all make it through this disease.

Forgive someone. Forgive me. Life’s short.

End of self-indulgent wallowing. Supportive comments will be appreciated.

I’ve Had a Rough Relationship with Love

Oh, who hasn’t had a rough relationship with love? (Not a surprising UU Lent word, is it?) If you haven’t, count yourself as fortunate and give yourself a big hug. Wait, everyone else, also give yourselves big hugs. And now for some brutal honesty.

My issue, like so many of us, has been with romantic love. I was always a big fan. And boy oh boy was I full of it. Those happy hormones it kept pumping into me were my drug of choice. I kept seeking it out, even when I had perfectly good relationships. This here was my biggest failing, because I repeatedly did really inappropriate things in my quest for my love drug.

No, I do not blame my parents for how I came out. They did their best.

And, what did that do to me? It made me love myself less. And that led to the feeling that I was worthless if nobody loved me, so I did more unhelpful things to try to get the people I loved to love me or continue to love me. I worked way too hard for my Dad’s love, which spilled out to romantic relationships.

That led me to like myself less and less. My inner monologue consisted of, “No one likes you…you have no friends…you are so fat…you are a failure…” I’m surprised I could get up every morning and go to work, take care of my kids, or volunteer constantly.

Do you see a downward spiral looming? I sure do, in retrospect. I ended up with the pathetic tendency to do just about anything to get love, romantic or otherwise. I was one of those people you read about who change themselves to try to be the person their object of affection wanted.

Note: That does not work.

It never occurred to me that it’s very hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, and I certainly didn’t love myself. I needed to learn about other types of love than romantic love, obsession, and sex hormones.

I did it! Was it easy? Nope. I had to admit a lot of icky things about myself (see above) but thanks to a good therapist, I was able to figure out what led me to end up the way I was, and forgive my past self. I was able to see that all those past actions were leading me to current wisdom and peace.

Loving myself just as I am. Pink hair is all faded, too.

Learning to love myself has let me love others in so many ways without having to have all that hormonal stuff mess with my mind (I still have hormones; I just recognize them for what they are).

What I Can Do Now

I can love my family without expecting anything in return (thank goodness, since one of them seems to not love me back at the moment). And I can appreciate their love without basing my self esteem on it.

Shine on, Suna.

I can love my friends and be okay if they go away or have a problem with me. If they want to work it out, I’m there to do so. If not, I’ll love them from a distance.

I can love people I don’t know. For all I know, my loving vibes may be helping in some way I can’t be consciously aware of.

I can love all my animal companions and enjoy their love back.

I can love my planet.

Will I have bad moments? Will I get jealous or envious of someone else’s relationship, or hurt when things don’t work out? Yep. But I’ll pick myself back up and keep going.

Gratitude

I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever loved and hope you got some good out of it. And I’m sorry for those I hurt.

My favorite picture of my spouse. Thank goodness for his love.

I’m grateful for my spouse, his patience, and his ability to love me as I am.

I’m grateful to Victoria.

I’m grateful to Brené Brown. Even if I generally find self-help books annoying, her conversational style and repetition of the same point in different ways helped me break through and shut my inner voice up. Go read a Brené Brown book.

“I know something about love.”

Little Yellow Puffs of Cheer

Thanks, Folks

Here’s what I have for my supportive friends, readers, and even critics: Love.

I got great comfort from all the people who came up to me in person or wrote on Facebook to say “Wow” about my post from yesterday. I’m really grateful to the original author of the explanation of political liberalism in the US, Lori Gallagher Witt, who wrote it a couple of years ago. It just struck a nerve in me yesterday. I just want to be clear that the part at the bottom of my post was not written by me. And no, it was not written to convey any implication that if you have different beliefs from mine, you are a bad person. If it made you feel that way, examine your belief system.

Welcome Rain

You can’t keep a happy person down, though, and yesterday brought me many reminders that all is not gloom and doom. The best thing was that we finally got a GOOD rain, after many days of fog, drizzle, and damp. I can’t wait to see how the tanks/ponds at the ranch are looking.

Our bird tree now is full of Valentine hearts, which brightened up the rainy day!

Yellow Puffs

And during a long day at work, filled with meetings, brainstorming, and thinking, I looked out the window. I had to mute my microphone and tell Craig, sitting next to me, to look out. There, in the bare cedar elm trees, was a flock of goldfinches. It’s not a huge surprise, given that this is the time of year we see them in Cameron, and I happen to know the area where I work is right on a migration path. But still.

Thanks, Jason, for the happy, if wet, birds!

Those yellow males and their flitting green-gray female companions literally brought puffs of sunshine to a rainy, rainy day. We watched them jumping around and fluffing their feathers for a long time (though I did go back to concentrating on my call). I looked a lot in iNaturalist for what exactly these could be, and I think it’s lesser goldfinches, due to the amount of black on the males. I’ll upload a photo and see.

Jen wondered if they could be yellow-bellied siskins, but they live mostly in South America. Goldfinches are siskins, also.

I’m sharing my coworker Jason’s photos, since his came out better than mine. That courtyard is just a whirlwind of bird action!

Ending on a Good Note

Last night we were the hosts of the neighborhood book club, in which we discussed Ragtime. It was great to see the neighbors who weren’t sick or out of town (about half of them). We’re all different, of course, but so supportive of each other’s ups and downs.

Vlassic had been cuddling with Ruth, but when the camera showed up, he had to show us his little tooth.

In addition to the book, we talked about how being “old” just creeps up on us, then suddenly doctors are taking your age into account before procedures, you’re needing to get things replaced or lifted. Everyone was in agreement that they weren’t old in their heads!

To me, community is what will hold me together during the hard times we’re experiencing. That’s probably what held our ancestors together for tens of thousands of years, too. Our neighborhood never wants anyone to move, even though we know some of us must. It feels good to feel a part of something warm and loving.

Bright Beginnings

And get this! Today dawned bright and beautiful. It was as nice to see the sun this morning as it was to welcome the rain yesterday. It’s all got its place. As I left to take Vlassic on his morning walk, I was enthralled by shining droplets of water on the “cedar” trees by the deck.

Beauty in the dreaded ashe juniper!

I hope you enjoy my pictures. Of course, by the time I got out the phone to take them, the sun had moved. But, it was still a shiny greeting for the day.

The view from the Bobcat Lair deck is always nice.

Go thank a member of YOUR community for keeping you sane!

Love, Peace, Happiness. The Big Letdown

Many times, I write about how the passage of time and the learning opportunities I’ve taken advantage of have led me to be more content. And it’s true. I’m handling life’s ups and downs fairly well right now. That doesn’t mean I don’t notice what’s wrong in the world, though.

Frosty sunrise.

All day today, I’ve been reading about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the things he said and did. (His actual birthday was last week, but the US loves Monday holidays.) I also listened to a lovely song imploring us to listen to what John Lennon said, give peace a chance and all that. Today, I’m reminded that King said:

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

 Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.

I came of age in the 1970s. It wasn’t a perfect time, but to me it seemed like things were going in the right direction. Women were working toward equal rights in all ways. Black people could marry white people. Gay friends were emerging hesitantly from their closets. People talked so much about peace, love, and equality.

Now that I’m over here, looking back from over 60 years wandering our poor beleaguered planet, I think I was quite wrong. By surrounding myself with my “tribe” of people like me, I was blissfully ignorant of much of US society, and certainly VERY naive about how businesses and capitalism worked.

I know there are still people out there like me, working to improve the environment, feed the hungry, bring peace and understanding among our fellow humans, and all that. I see that in my volunteer work every day. But, I no longer have confidence that we have the numbers or the strength to accomplish much. (I’ll still keep doing my part.)

Really, stop reading if rants bore you like they do me.

Here’s Why (Or Stop Reading Now)

The heart of my sadness is this: I once believed people were basically good and kind, just sometimes they were confused or misled. I now see too many people taking pleasure out of harming others, spurred on by their own “tribes.”

Continue reading “Love, Peace, Happiness. The Big Letdown”

What’s Wrong with My Age?

Sometimes an article floats by on Facebook that really makes me think. Yesterday, this article on the perks of aging that no one talks about did that. The article talks about a woman named Ashton Applewhite, who has been writing about aging and ageism for a while. She spends a lot of time blogging, writing books, and speaking about what is and isn’t ageist. I guess someone has to do this, especially in these times when it’s considered a good idea to point out every instance of every -ism that you come across and try to make whoever made the mistake feel very, very bad for their ignorance or innocence (I may have issues with this, but it’s off topic).

That’s right. 61. Not 16.

In between lots of ads, the article makes points that may be new to my youngr friends, but are obvious to me. For example, my favorite: when you get to a certain age, the amount of f***s you give about other people’s opinions of you diminishes greatly.

Continue reading “What’s Wrong with My Age?”

Shouting Out in Love

A couple of things lead me to today’s post. First, the combination of Valentine’s Day and the Parkland shooting combine in a weird way to remind all of us to treasure our loved ones, tell them and show them how much we care, and to help out our friends facing mental health challenges (and thereby keep our schools, workplaces, and gathering spots safe).

And you, and you.

Second, there have been some big ole challenges (not blog-eligible) in my personal circle lately, so I have had to be the one to reach out for support while also giving it. I’ve talked to friends from far away (this means YOU friends and family in Michigan and North Carolina) and near. Yesterday, after spilling my guts in a blog post that I didn’t actually post, I found myself repeatedly telling a small group of friends, ranging from young adults to people my age that I loved them. My heart was so full from the support we were giving each other.

And that’s a key to happiness, friends, at least according to Gretchen Rubin, of the Happiness Project: having close relationships. Here’s what she said in her online newsletter yesterday:

Appreciation for important relationships is important for all bonds, not just romance. We need close, long-term relationships of all kinds. We need to be able to confide, and we need to belong. In fact, people who claim to have at least five friends with whom they can discuss important problems are 60% more likely to describe themselves as “very happy.”

Gretchen Rubin – click to subscribe to her newsletter

My close circle of friends in Austin includes people from my church, who I rarely see anymore, friends I’ve met through my kids, work friends, wise counselors, and neighbors. In Cameron I have our little “community” out in Walker’s Creek by the ranch. And online I have a couple of close communities who support each other. They are all important to me. Even when I’m not saying anything, I’m thinking about so many people and sending good thoughts their way (like many of you would do in your prayers).

I added this one just because it made me cringe. I almost spelled you’re wrong yesterday, myself. I know my dear friends would forgive me.

I need to say it more, like I’ve been doing this week. Knowing you all are there helps keep me going, no matter what. You have my back. I have yours.

Everybody: use today as an excuse to tell your support network how much they mean to you. Pick a few to say something specific to. That’s my plan for today. And days to come.

Let’s tell people we care about how much we do care! Every day.