search me: seeking acceptance

Does a person’s culture affect or influence the way they display affection or emotions? I know that sounds like a strange question, but I’m curious to know what you think.

Allow me to elaborate. There are some who say that men shouldn’t cry because it shows weakness. Why are men not allowed to show affection and emotion? Who came up with that standard of measuring manliness? Let’s look at this another way; I promise I have a point. I should probably just throw it out there…

When I was growing up, in my family, I spent a lot of time trying to gain acceptance from my father. I was an over achiever, perfectionist and… an emotional basketcase. It seemed like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. He never saw anything good in me. At least, if he did, he never told me about it. I can only remember him saying ‘I’m proud of you’ to me one time in my life. I was thirty two years old. My dad wasn’t affectionate either. I honestly think I blocked out a lot of memories, but I definitely remember a lot of awkward hugs as a kid. As an adult, I remember one-sided hugs. I would put my arms around him and he would just stand there. It sounds strange, I know, it felt worse than strange. Saying ‘I love you’ was even harder for him. I don’t remember hearing that much at all.

My mom was a completely different story. She was extremely affectionate and she wore her emotions on her sleeve. That has to be where I get it from. We were close, always.

My parents come from two different cultures. So, I often wonder, does that have anything to do with their differences regarding the affection or lack there of that they showed me. I tend to think it’s a possibility because I remember the way their parents were. Actually, I only remember my two grandmothers. My paternal grandmother had a hard time being affectionate and my maternal grandmother was the opposite. Are the traits of our parents’ cultures passed on to us? If so and we are raised by parents of different cultures, which traits are dominant? Why did I become an affectionate and emotional person like my mother instead of a cold and unemotional person like my father?

Here’s that honesty thing again… I pose these questions because I still struggle with the fact that I have never and probably will never be good enough for my father. Because this fact hurts so much, I have always distanced myself from him. I have only engaged in contact with him when absolutely necessary. You know, holidays, birthdays, etc. I have only spent time with him two or three times a year for as long as I can remember. A few months ago, we had a disagreement. Since then, I have completely cut off communication with him, along with some other members of my family. I try to pretend that I’m ok with it, but… I guess I’m not. I’m still angry and extremely hurt. And I’m wondering where to go from here…

I’ve discussed this situation with some of my closest friends. They’ve given me some pretty good advice and convinced me to follow it. My idea was to pretend like my dad didn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But what does this solve? I had decided to love him from afar. I’ve forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean I have to allow him to be a part of my life. Not that he’d even want to be, but…

My friends made some good points and that’s why I’ve decided to take their advice. I will reach out to my dad. I will show him love, the same love that my Father in Heaven shows me, even when I do not deserve it. However, I am not completely ready to let my guard down. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to open myself up to that kind of pain again, but he will know I love him. I just cannot allow him to be in my life just yet. It’s possible I may never be ready for that, but at least he will see that I do have love for him.

My dad is always in my prayers. I also pray that God changes my heart towards my dad. I pray that He helps me get over the hurt and pain so that, maybe one day, we can have a relationship again.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

via Daily Prompt: Culture

search me: godly friends

Let’s face it, none of us like to be told we are doing something wrong and unfortunately, we are constantly doing things wrong. Sometimes it’s intentional; other times not. But, we are human and we do make mistakes.

Thank God for friends that love us in spite of those mistakes. I’m blessed to have friends that love me with such vigor that they will tell me the truth when I need to hear it.

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you’ll know that I am struggling with a variety of things. The majority of my struggles are with family members. There are those who have hurt me and I would like to say that I have forgiven them. As a Christian, that’s very important to me. I want to handle every situation as Christ would.  But it’s hard, He was perfect and I am far from it. Fortunately, I have Godly friends that will tell me when I am not doing as God would have me do.

These friends, I consider family more than some blood relatives. I trust them to guide me toward the right path when I tend to stray from it. I know that they will not steer me wrong, I trust them because they are Godly friends. Their constructive criticism is free flowing because they want what’s best for me. There are times I don’t want to hear it, but, what’s that saying?  The truth hurts…  My friends tell me the truth because they care about me, not just my life on earth, but my eternal life.

None of us are perfect. We will have issues in life and face many difficulties. There will be problems that come about, that we don’t have the answers to. Who do you turn to for guidance?  Life is much easier when you have Godly people that want to help you during these times. I, for one, am extremely appreciative to have such friends in my life. I pray that they know I will be here for them, in the same capacity, should they ever need me.

via Daily Prompt: Vigor

search me: a mother’s fear

One of my biggest fears, when it comes to my children, has always been that their past would catch up to them. I know it sounds stupid, how much of a past could they have. I guess I should clarify, when I say past, I mean their biological mom. I’ve always had this fear that her hold on them would be strong enough for her to pull them down to where she is. I used to think that if their father and I raised them up the right way, this wouldn’t be a possibility. I was wrong. Of course, now that it has happened, I can say that it’s not her fault. Our oldest son is now a man. He makes his own choices and will have to deal with the consequences of those choices. And I will have to learn to accept his decisions and the fact that I cannot fix everything for him.

He made the decision to go live with her. I guess it’s for the best. At least for our current household. His brother and sister do not think it’s a good idea for him to move back in. Their father and I completely understand where they are coming from. The house just wasn’t… peaceful once he moved back home. Does this mean it’s God’s plan that he is where he is? Sigh… how do I just walk away?

His brother, sister and I packed up his things this week. Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, he asked us to bring his stuff to his grandfather’s house. The first thing my other kids asked was ‘will she be there?’ They didn’t want to see their mother. We made an agreement that since she had to drive him there, she would not come outside of the house while we were there.

When we pulled up, he came out and I was a little shocked. He looked like a completely different person. We saw him before we even got out of the truck and his brother and sister were just as shocked by his appearance as I was. His hair was long and scraggly an he had a patchy beard. It looked like he hadn’t shaved in a month. The first thought I had was that he looked like a homeless person. Once we unloaded the truck and everything was stacked by the house, we stood outside and talked. I wanted to get an idea of how he’d been. I gave him a hug. Immediately, the first thing I noticed was a pungent odor. It could only be described as marijuana mixed with mildew. I say mildew because that’s what I think of when I imagine wet clothes that have been sitting for days. His brother and sister would later explain that he smelled like the trailer that he is living in. I’m sure I have shared the conditions of his current living space already. If you need a reminder, let me mention the rat infested oven and the fridge sitting on the front porch. I guess I should be thankful because when I asked my son how he was doing, his response was, “I have a place to sleep, a roof over my head and food to eat, what more do I need?” All I could think was ‘Is this all you want out of life?’ A dirty place to live and sleep and fast food and pizza every night.

I found out several things that day. Things I didn’t know about my son’s time in the army. I didn’t realize that there was a lot of alcohol and illegal drugs and girls. I was shocked to discover that he did pretty much the opposite of everything we taught him.

I really feel like he is settling for what he has so that he can be with his mom. Like I’ve said before, I completely understand that want and need. She is, after all, his biological mother. They have about ten years of catching up to do. I believe he would settle for just about anything to maintain that relationship, no matter how unhealthy it is. I just really want more for him, but I cannot make him want more for himself.

I’ll continue to pray for him and her. I have to remember that God has a plan for everyone. If this is His plan, I will trust that something good will come out of it. In the meantime, I will try my best to not worry. I have to let go and let God.

 

 

search me: a childless mother

First of all, I know it’s the day after Thanksgiving and I promise I am not already griping about what I don’t have. I am completely sated with my family life. I have been blessed with an amazing husband, two children that I think are absolutely incredible and a third child that is struggling with life, but I couldn’t love him more. Just in case you’re confused between the title of this post and what I just said, let me remind you that I didn’t give birth to any of my kids, but they are mine in every other sense. I love my family with all my heart!

Let me also remind you, before I continue, that I promised in my ‘search me’ blog that I was going to be completely honest. I believe that by doing this, actually writing/typing out my thought and feelings, I can also be honest with myself. I know that this will make me face some harsh realities and by doing so, will help me grow as a person and a Christian. 

Let’s talk about babies! Remember, when I became a mom, my kids were already past the baby and toddler stage. Since my husband already had three of his own, we talked about whether or not I should or wanted to have one of my own. He was on board with whatever I decided. He told me he thought that I would regret it if I didn’t have one of my own, but back then, I was just adjusting to having the three with us full time. I definitely had my hands full and I’ll admit the thought of having a baby, at that time, was overwhelming. Three years later, we talked about it again. By then, our youngest was ten and I thought that would be a huge age gap and did I want to start all over again? I mean, all our kids would be out of the house or in college in eight years. Again, that thought was a bit overwhelming. Three more years went by and I was finally ready. Our family was doing so well and I had just begun my walk with Jesus. Now, I thought, I’m ready. I went to my doctor for my annual and my diabetes check up and blood work. Five days later, I got my results. I was in peri menopause, this means I was at the end of my reproductive years. Further tests showed I had already gone through premature ovarian failure. There was no way for me to conceive a child. I should probably mention that I was only thirty six years old. I guess that is old to consider having a baby this day and time. 

I went through the normal stages of ‘grief.’ I grieved the loss of possibility. I denied it wasn’t possible for me to have a baby. I thought the doctors or tests were wrong. I grew angry because I couldn’t have a baby. I was a good person, why is God punishing me? I bargained with Him saying ‘If you make this possible, I will do (insert anything I could think of at the time). I was depressed because I knew I would never give birth to a baby of my own. I forgot or was too sad to think about how I already had three wonderful children who loved me. Finally, I accepted the fact that having a child of my own would never happen. Once I accepted it, I remembered how wonderful my life already was. The grieving process took some time, but I finally knew I wasn’t being punished. God has a reason and a plan for everything. If I’m not meant to experience pregnancy and child birth and raising a baby from newborn to adulthood, He has a reason for that. I will trust Him.

Why bring this all up now? Because, like always, when a friend announces a new pregnancy; it reminds me of my situation. It causes a brief pang of sadness for what’s never to be. When this happens, I think about it. I feel sad. I feel guilty for feeling sad when God has blessed me with so much. Finally, I pray. I ask for forgiveness and I give Him praise and thanks for being all He is and blessing me with all He has. 

God has blessed me with awesome friends with incredible children. I am so thankful to have them all in my life. To those friends, I say thank you for allowing me to love your children. And to the three of you who announced pregnancies this week, I say congratulations. I already love the little ones in your tummies and I can’t wait to meet them!

search me: controlled chaos

I am a self admitted control freak. I constantly feel the need to exercise control over just about every situation. I have also been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety and a myriad of other similar issues. It’s just enough to drive any sane person crazy!

How do I handle it? I’ll be honest, some days are better than others. On good days, I lean not on my own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” When I feel like things are out of control, I try to remember that I am not in control of anything, ever. God controls everything and His ways are so much better than mine. Again, these are good days.

If I know this, why are there bad days? Why are there days where I forget that God is in control; days when I think I can fix or control everything myself? Because I’m human.

It’s all about faith. Sometimes it’s strong, other times it wavers. Try to remember that He has a plan for your good, even when times seem hard, He loves you and works everything for your good. Even when times seem chaotic, God is in control of that chaos.

via Daily Prompt: Chaotic

search me: letting go

Let it go, let it go… hard to believe such great advice could come from a character in a Disney movie. Thanks Elsa! Even if it’s just for the holidays, I’m letting it all go!

I want to enjoy this season. I can say that as a kid, I never enjoyed the holiday season. It seemed that every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, something went wrong. It usually, okay… always, involved my parents. Sometimes, the holidays bring families closer and other times; well, they bring out the worst in people. My parents would tend to argue during the holidays. When I was younger, we would divide our time up between my mom’s family and our family (which consisted of mom, dad, me, my brother and my dad’s friends). We would first go to my grandmother’s house where we would spend time with my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom’s side. Then we would go home where we would sit around while my dad’s friends came and went the rest of the day.

The fighting would start when times for leaving home to go to my grandma’s and times that we had to return home to accommodate my dad’s friends were discussed. You see, my mom thought spending time with her family took priority over spending time with my dad’s friends. My dad, well that’s another story. Nothing took precedent over his friends. We would eventually leave the house and go to grandma’s, once mom was in a snit and us kids were just annoyed. My dad would do the pleasantries while he was there, but you could always tell he’d rather be somewhere, anywhere else. We would finally leave and end up home, where there was usually one or two of those friends I mentioned waiting. My dad would finally finish off his perfect holiday by drinking with his friends until they would leave and he’d pass out.

I have vague memories of the holidays I spent with my mom’s family. She has four sisters and three brothers and for some odd reason, none of them ever really got along. Needless to say, there isn’t one memory that doesn’t involve an argument between two or more people. The fight could start over any little thing; and of course, there was often alcohol involved here as well.

When I was old enough to avoid the gatherings at my grandmother’s, I did. I guess it also got so bad as time went on, that even my parents stopped going to my grandma’s for the holidays. The only negative, we missed spending time with my grandma. None of this was her fault.

During my early adulthood, I began to avoid going to my parents for the holidays. It wasn’t too hard considering I had moved to another state. Even after moving back to my hometown, I still avoided it as much as possible. In recent times, we have had a sort of falling out. Tomorrow will be the first holiday that I purposefully will not contact my parents; even to say Happy Thanksgiving.

I have also recently had a falling out of sorts with my oldest son. He believes that his father and I are mad at him because he’s made the choice to live with his bio mom. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are just concerned for his future, that’s all. I did invite him to dinner tomorrow, and though he never really answered; I know where he will be spending his day. I can’t say I blame him. It’s the first holiday he’s been able to spend with his biological mom in almost seven years. I really do get it; I’m just happy that he will be happy.

Tomorrow I will be cooking our first Thanksgiving dinner in our new home (well, we’ve been here ten months). My mother in law and her friend, my brother in law and nephews will be joining us. I am anticipating an amazing time!

With this being said, I am making a choice to let it all go. I know that God says I am to forgive those that have wronged me. I include my parents and my son in that category. Intentional or not, they have wronged me or hurt me over and over again for years. Even though they have never said ‘I’m sorry’ and I may never forget the hurt, I know I must forgive them and move on. If that means not having them in my life, then that must also be part of God’s plan. I will let go and trust Him with all things.

To my readers: I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! Whether spent with family or friends or even alone, I wish you all the best tomorrow.

Happy Writing!

 

second chances: abby

Abby

She usually enjoyed the view from her office window. Today, as she stared down at the crowds of people on the streets, she wondered if their lives were as complicated as hers had just become. An hour ago, she felt content; settled. Now, it seemed as if her entire world had been turned upside down. It’s amazing what can happen in an hour.

She had met Greg at their favorite restaurant for lunch. From the moment she walked in, she felt ill at ease. She could always sense when something wasn’t quite right with him. She walked to the table; he stood and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Hi Abs.” he said in greeting. Nobody called her that, but him. She’d told him a million times how much she hated it.  “Great show this morning.”

“Thanks, “she said and ordered a glass of water when the waiter stopped by.

“Abs,” he said more like a question, “can I ask you a question?”

Oh no, here it comes, she thought. She knew exactly where this was going. They had been dating for almost two years and she knew he was ready to settle down. She knew she wasn’t.

“Greg,” she said with a pained look on her face.

“I just don’t understand why you don’t want to come home with me for Thanksgiving.” He said. “Why don’t you want to meet my parents? Why haven’t I met yours?”

She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she still wasn’t ready. “I just want to take things slow.”

“We’ve been dating for two years, could we possibly go any slower?” he sounded angry. “I just can’t do this anymore.”

“What are you saying?” she asked and didn’t particularly care for the way her voice cracked as she spoke.

“You know how I feel about you and you know I’d marry you tomorrow if you’d say yes.” He paused, thinking maybe this time she would. Her silence devastated him. “I’m sorry, Abby.”

He stood, leaned over and kissed her on her forehead. “I love you.” he whispered and then walked toward the door.

Abby looked down at the table and realized she must be in shock. In the last two years, she had never told Greg that she loved him. She knew he wished his words would elicit the same response from her. But, she had explained that she had never said ‘I love you’ to any man besides her father and brothers. She told Greg that when she said it, she would mean it. I guess he got tired of waiting, she thought; could she blame him? Abby realized she was crying; picked up a napkin and dabbed the corners of her eyes. She left a twenty dollar bill on the table and headed back to work.

Now in her office, she wondered why she cried. Was it because she didn’t love Greg? Was it because he had ended their relationship? Or, could it be that she hated change? She had become so comfortable with him and their routine that she wasn’t sure what to do now.

“What is wrong with me?” she asked herself aloud.

“Where should I start?” a voice came from her open door.

“Ha ha!” she said to her producer and best friend and then she laughed for real.

Samantha walked in and plopped down in her favorite chair. Now here is someone she absolutely did love. They met in college and became fast friends. They had met each others’ families and had become family. Now they were doing what they loved together. Sam was the one person Abby could always rely on.

“So, I have some news.” Sam’s voice pulled Abby from her thoughts. “I got a call from Carl. Seems he owes a favor to a friend and the friend happens to be a publisher and…” she let her words trail off when she saw the horror on Abby’s face. “Sweetie, I would have given you warning if I’d had any. We will get through this; I’ll be with you the entire time.”

Abby slowly sat down in her chair and then immediately stood back up. She started pacing. “You can’t mean… you don’t… Sam! I can’t!”

Sam knew seeing James again would be hard for her friend, but she didn’t know how hard. She knew that Abby had followed his career from the time he moved to New York, but she didn’t know exactly what had happened between the two, just that it had ended badly. She had tried to get out of the interview, but Carl wouldn’t have it and what could she do? He was the station manager. Yes, they had a contract and the show’s final say was made by her and Abby; but there was also a clause stating that Carl could coordinate two shows a year. It was already November and he hadn’t given his input… until now. Sam knew they had no choice. She also knew that interviewing author, James Sinclair, would be an incredible opportunity career wise. But, her first priority was to make sure her friend was okay.

“Abby, I know you and James have a past.”

“A past? A past? Sam, he broke my heart.” Tears sprang to her eyes and immediately ran down her face. Sam handed her a tissue and led her over to the couch at the other end of her office.

“What can I do?” Sam asked as the full severity of the situation sank in. She would do anything to take away the pain she saw in her friend’s eyes. “Tell me about him.”

Abby dried her eyes and looked at her friend. She had never told anyone about that night and she guessed it was about time she did…

via Daily Prompt: Elicit

second chances: james

Prelude: Misconceptions

James

He tossed and turned, reluctant to wake up. He was trying to hold on to the dream just a little longer.He always thought if he had just a little more time, he might actually make his way to her; he might be able to say hello. It was no use. The light shining through the window was too strong. He had fallen asleep on the couch in his office again. He slowly opened his eyes and regretted it immediately, until he remembered he had finished three chapters last night or this morning, considering he had fallen asleep around 4:00 AM.

Half an hour, a shower and two cups of coffee later, James felt somewhat human again. The dream forgotten, he sat down at his computer and began to work. He felt like a machine; the ideas were flowing and he had no doubt he’d make his deadline with time to spare. The phone rang and James didn’t even notice. When he was in ‘the zone,’ he had the uncanny ability to tune everything out. Well, almost everything; he heard his stomach growl and realized he was starving. He glanced at the clock and realized instead of having lunch, he’d be having dinner.

James walked to the kitchen and made himself a sandwich. While he was eating, he grabbed his phone from the charger. His publisher had called and left a message. He hit play.

“Hey James, it’s Cass. Give me a call as soon as you get this, I have amazing news!”

James loved her excitement. They’d been working together since she published his first book seven years ago. He had followed her from her office and arranged an accidental meeting. He introduced himself and explained that he was a writer. She didn’t immediately shoo him away as previous publishers had and he assumed she felt sorry for him. It wasn’t until his first book hit the shelves that he found out the truth. They were celebrating in her office and she had a little too much champagne. She kissed him. After he let her down gently, she admitted that the reason she gave him the time in the first place was because he was “hot“. They both laughed about the entire situation and have been friends ever since. The friendship only enhanced their amazing working relationship.

He dialed her number and waited for her to answer.

“Hey Hot Stuff!” She answered, imagining him wincing at her use of the nickname.

“Hi Beautiful.” He replied. “I got your message, what’s the great news?”

“Great? I said amazing and I meant amazing!”

“Okay, spill it!” he said, his anticipation growing.

“I got you an interview with Abigail Andrews!” She practically screamed with excitement.

He was sure he had heard her wrong. He thought about his dream. It had been almost eight years since he’d seen Abby. The night of her eighteenth birthday party. The night he watched her and realized he would never have her. That was the night he decided to pack up and move to New York to become a famous writer. He thought if he put distance between them it would be less painful. It may have worked, if not for the fact that she graduated college and landed a job hosting her own talk radio show. She always wanted to be in broadcasting and he was happy that she had her dream job and was extremely successful. Abigail Andrews was now a household name. When he wasn’t writing, he listened to her show regularly. When he was writing, he considered it a reprieve from the torture he inflicted on himself. And now he was going to have to see her, face to face, in a radio studio. James wasn’t sure he would be able to do it, he didn’t think he could face her. He thought about the letter he had written her before he left; he thought about the fact that she never replied. He felt embarrassed, just like the lovesick nineteen year old he used to be. How was he going to make it through this?

“Abigail Andrews!” she said again and still no response. “James, are you still there?”

“Umm, yep; I’m here.” he stammered. “Cass, I gotta go. I’ll call you back tomorrow to discuss details.”

“I expected a little more excitement,” she said and he could tell she was disappointed.

“I’m excited, I really am. I just need a little time to process.”

“Oh, okay. I get it, you’re sure you’re alright?” her tone changed from disappointed to concern and he felt a twinge of guilt.

“Yes, I promise, I’m fine. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good, get some rest, will you… in a bed. Stay off the couch tonight!” she knew all his bad habits and that was one of the things about her that he found endearing.

“Night, Cass.” He said and hung up.

James walked to the kitchen and grabbed a beer out of the fridge.

“Abby. Abigail Andrews.” he said aloud and at that moment he realized he would never get over her. He closed his eyes, “God, help me.”

to trust or not to trust, that is the question

 I’ll admit, I’m struggling with a few things right now. Trust would be a major one. Not all of my current friendships have the aromatic of truth to them. As a matter of fact, something smells rotten in the state of Denmark…

Maybe my trust radar is off; I am going through a lot right now. But, if something feels wrong, it usually is. I’ll be completely honest. I feel like I’m being used. I feel like someone is only pursuing a friendship for what information I can provide to them and what things I can help them with. I believe they are using me to further their own agenda.

What makes me think this? The questions they ask when we speak and/or text. It generally starts off as an innocent conversation, but once we settle into a more comfortable flow, the questions start. Maybe I am reading more into it; however, this person has given me reason not to trust them in the past. I thought that issue was resolved, but apparently not.

There is also the fact that I believe this person has lied to me outright. Have you ever heard the saying, “If they will talk to you about others, they will talk to others about you”? I know this person has other “fake” friendships because she talks to me about other friends she’s supposed to be close to. When I ask if she has said anything to anyone about our conversations, she has said no. I know that is a lie. I’ve been told what has been said by her to other parties. Did I believe them at first? No; but they were able to provide information that they would have only been able to find out from her.

Now I am not saying I am perfect. I admit, I’ve done my fair share of gossiping, and it’s not something I am proud of; but if a friend is a true friend, I wouldn’t say anything about them that I wouldn’t say to their face. I know there is a difference between friends and acquaintances. Maybe I should put her in the acquaintance category until I know that I can trust her again. Maybe I should just end contact all together.

Decisions, decisions… the struggle is real, especially when feelings are involved.

via Daily Prompt: Aromatic