Profound Lyrics

Over the past few weeks I’ve had to do some soul-searching and self-evaluating.  It’s a difficult and painful process. There are aspects that bring a smile to my face, others that trigger the tears to fall, and still others that give the warm fuzzies.  I’d like to be able to say there have been more warm fuzzies but I would be lying.

As a parent,  I  bought all the books from What to Expect When You are Expecting (An absolute must for the soon to be mom), to Dare to Discipline, The 5 Love Languages of Children, The Ultimate Parenting Guide,  to Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child.  OH, there were many others. My home library looked like a child psychologist’s office combined with a day care resource center with craft magazines and ideas to entertain my children, develop their fine motor skills, creativity, and pique their imaginations.

We became parents  a little late in life.  While many of my former classmates were fawning over preschool and school aged children, my husband and I were working in our chosen careers.

To be perfectly honest,  I would not have made a good mother in my 20’s.  I didn’t have the patience, or the where-with-all to be responsible for  raising a child.  Heck, I thought I was doing good to  keep myself healthy! When I turned 30 and became pregnant, I seriously doubted my abilities to parent.  I was terrified of being  like my mom.  I was terrified of damaging my kids.  I was terrified that I wasn’t fit for parenting! When my first  was born –  from the moment they suctioned her and she took her first breath I would have died for her.  I would defend her with my dying breath,  do anything for her, move heaven and hell to see that she was well taken care of.  She was a Gerber baby from the very beginning!  No stork-bites, no cradle cap, no splotchy skin – just sheer perfection!

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Then, they sent her home with me from the hospital – no instruction manual, no guidance other than a few instructions on how to nurse her  correctly. Welcome to parenthood 101. It’s sink or swim with a live guinea pig only they didn’t give me a guinea pig – they let us  do trial and error on a live baby!  Why didn’t I take those home Ec. classes?

I know you all are thinking what’s the big deal? We eventually figure it out and our kids survived.  To me it was a very big deal. For over a year I thought I couldn’t get pregnant and would break down and dry every month that I wasn’t pregnant.  Then when it happened the reality  that I was responsible for this tiny bundle of joy  became my soul focus.  I was determined to be the very best parent I could.

I made many mistakes along the way, but I think I did many things right as well.  At the end of this week, my first baby will be 20 years old.  It will be her first birthday away from home without her family around her to celebrate.  I’m so proud of her I can hardly contain it.

But now it’s time to let her spread her own wings. And I thought the early years were difficult!

So what does this have to do with my intro? EVERYTHING!  I was determined to be the best mom I could, part of that based on the less than stellar parenting of my own mother.  I’ve been attending this counseling course.  I’ve been meeting with this counselor. I have issues many of which stem from my early formative years. I am the youngest of 5 children, and was a  change of life baby.  My mother never  let me forget that I was unnecessary, that I was a burden, and that I was unwanted. I have 2 older sisters and 2 older brothers – so it’s not like  she finally got her girl.  They were strapped for cash trying to feed  4 kids already. She thought she had moved on through the change and didn’t have to worry about pregnancy anymore and 6 months later found out she was pregnant with me.  She pointed out to me on several occasions how I screwed things up, that by the time she figured out she was pregnant with me it was too late to do anything about it.   Yeah, I have issues.  Rejection being one of them.

During my formative years it was made clear that I was unwanted. It created in me a lack of self-worth. Don’t get me wrong – I am not blaming my mother for all my issues.  She contributed to them, but I’ve been an adult for quite some time. I’m just trying to work through things to keep my sanity.  I never wanted either of my girls to feel like this,  to feel that they were unwanted unloved, or unworthy! It has been the driving force behind everything I’ve done as a parent.

A friend and writing associate has criticized my parenting on several occasions.  It cut deeply.  I know I’m not going to be mom of the year.  I know that I have a lot of room for improvement, but is it anyone else’s place to critique your parenting when they don’t live  with your family? They aren’t there to make those snap decisions.  They aren’t there to see the temper tantrums, the poutfests, the attitude, or smart mouth come-backs that your children give you.  They weren’t there experiencing my childhood. So in all fairness, does anyone ever have the right to criticize your parenting skills?  Well ok, if you are abusive, neglectful, or somehow causing detriment to your child’s well-being or survival then yes.

I’m working through this week’s lesson and homework for this course.  I have to evaluate some of these issues and how it has affected me, trying to determine the root problems with my own bad behavior.  I  think I’ve done a pretty damn good job at parenting. I didn’t always make the best choice, but it was the best choice I knew at the time. I mentioned my oldest one, we are just as proud of our younger daughter as well.

Another Gerber baby!

Another Gerber baby!

Both are intelligent, beautiful girls with good morals and sense of self-worth.  I don’t  think any parent is perfect – we have to make snap decisions on the fly, come up with solutions RIGHT NOW, provide conflict resolution, be master chef with limited ingredients ( I don’t like green beans, corn peas, fish, peanut butter, fill in the blank), provide star quality entertainment, instruct  them in appropriate dress codes (I had to set a rule with my youngest that no more than 5 colors were to be worn at one time.  The oldest was forced to wear colors with her black.), and make sure they get to enjoy  some fun in their childhood.  All in all,  I think every mom that  manages to raise their children to adulthood is more qualified to be a CEO of major corporations, or even run congress. I certainly think we’d make better decisions. (You speak to your mother with that mouth senator?)

My two angels grown into beautiful young ladies!

My two angels grown into beautiful young ladies!

We are all on different stages along life’s highway. While examining my own troubles, as part of  this section I had to come up with music, movies, and tv shows that  impacted me as a child and explain why.   TV was my babysitter when I was pretty young so there are a whole bunch of ideas that stemmed from Leave it to Beaver,  I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters, Dark Shadows and even Hogan’s Heroes. TV was an escape.  It provided laughter and comedic relief to the day-to-day existence.

Music on the other hand was invaluable to me.  From the first little hand-held radio (AM) that looked like a white stuffed poodle – music was essential.  I learned a variety of  styles during my piano lessons.  My older siblings exposed me to many artists. One sister loved Elvis Presley, the other loved the Beatles.  My brothers contributed Tubular Bells, Inagoddadavita by Iron butterfly. One thing that stood out in my memories though, were Simon and Garfunkel’s album that my sister used to put on the turntable while doing housework and chores.

I still find those tunes comforting and soothing.  Strong lyrics that have personal meaning to me.  The counselor didn’t like the fact that I lifted the lyrics for my responses, but why reinvent the wheel when Paul Simon expressed it so well?

 I Am A Rock”

by Simon & Garfunkel

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

It’s how I coped.  I built walls, didn’t let anyone in.  I am shielded in my armor. I’ve  created such a tough shell exterior that very few people really see beyond that to the why’s. Sadly, I know there are many more people who have done the same.  The demons may be different but the symptoms are the same.

I think these lyrics sum things up astutely.  Now is the hard part, to fix me.

How about you?  What are your personal struggles?  Is there a song that has meaning to you?

Write on my friends, write on! And as my friend Misty says – L.O.L. (live it – own it – love it)

And So It Begins

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First off – I know  you are waiting for a full report from Penned Con. It’s coming, but I want to give it the full attention it deserves.  I am  assessing my notes, making some new notes,evaluating the event,  and processing a whirlwind couple of days. I promise to give my full report soon. Just not today.

Today, I am asking something of my readers.  Something that I wouldn’t normally ask.  Tonight I begin a journey of exploration into my psyche as part of a counseling course, to deal with root issues in my life that stem from  abuse, rejection, living with an alcoholic parent, living with a self-absorbed parent,  and a variety of other issues that a lifetime of living has brought.

I’ve not made any secrets about my past,  about the skeletons in my closet.  I’ve not candy coated or diluted much of anything. NO, I haven’t divulged nitty-gritty details, this isn’t a horror story. I am not blaming anyone else for my problems.  They may have begun way back there but I have been a responsible adult for some time now and my decisions are my own.  My reactions to things are my own. Some of those reactions have become a real issue in  my relationship with my husband. He’s been an absolute amazing guy  and  if there is anything I can do to fix me, I will. I have caused him  a tremendous amount of pain, and  I feel horrible for the pain that I have caused.

So, I start this class tonight and for the next 12 weeks. It is going to be intense. It is going to be emotional.  It is going to force me to deal with issues that I’ve pushed under the rug for years. I have to face my demons full on. That’s where you, my readers come in. Patience, hang in there with me, and  maybe a word of encouragement now and again by leaving a comment.

Today, before the first counseling session – which lasted an hour and a half – I started an online course that I have to pass in order to renew my mortgage license.  Last several years when I took the course, I’ve passed with a 92 to 100%.  You can imagine my shock when after the first section of the course I failed that module with a 62%.  Yeah, my mojo is definitely off. My ability to focus  has dropped off the bottom of the chart and still plummeting.

I have deadlines looming for work projects, the first of which is passing this course to renew my license by a deadline that has always been December 31, but has been moved up to October 1.  Nothing like a little extra pressure, right?   I have a technical writing gig that the deadline has been extended  for two weeks because of a variety of things on my end and theirs. Thank goodness they gave me an extension.

Family issues, financial burdens, emotional baggage all combined to a cumulative of  off the chart stress.

So, hang with me please.  I haven’t completely given up and I haven’t lost very last brain cell.  It’s just a stressful time, and I have to make some hard choices about self-evaluation.  Cyberhugs accepted! Sometimes you just have to yell: ” Jane! Stop this crazy thing!” and get off for a while.

How do you handle stress?  How do you face your demons, or do you? Have you ever sought counseling for your issues? Do you view people who seek counseling as broken? Damaged?

That’s it in a nutshell.  I shall follow-up soon with a full report on Penned Con.  It was an awesome 2 days that opened my eyes to numerous possibilities and shattered a few ideologies I had built up in my mind. But life presses in and demands my full attention in other areas.

So while I am undergoing psycho-analysis, and battling demons –  write on and remember to tune back in for Penned Con updates soon.


A Learned Skill

Isn’t it amazing the things that you find out when you just listen?   Listening is a true talent.  Too many people apparently like the sound of their own voice much too much to listen to others.

It’s a rare treat when you find someone who actually listens to you.  Hence, people are willing to pay their therapists big money to listen to their woes.  Likewise, when you find good friends that are willing to actually listen. those are the friends you want to keep around because you know they listen and they care.

But are you a listener?  Do you hear what people say?  A good listener is patient, and doesn’t cut you off in the middle of what you are saying.  They don’t necessarily offer advice, but understand why you are upset.  A good listener lets you rant, or think things out,  or however you work through your troubles.  We all know eventually we end up figuring out on our own over ninety percent of the time anyway, we just needed a sounding board.   Having said that, however, as a good friend you should be able to reciprocate that.

There are a large percentage of the people  that just want to dump on you.  They want to unload all their woes on you like you are their personal psychologist.  If it gets to be a regular habit – charge them or take it in trade.

Ah, but then there are the group of people of which this post is about. The ones that speak with forked tongues, or speak out of both sides of their face.  Only a good listener will hear  what they are really saying.  ( Can I get a witness from one of my girls?)

For example, the ex girlfriend who is now your ” friend” because she wants to keep the peace.  First of all, don’t believe it.  If it involves the same man forget about it until you are an ex also.  THEN  the two of you can be friends and “friend” the current Ms. thing.  How many of you know right from the start that setup is a one way ticket to the cat-fight?

Then there are the ones that flattery oozes out of their mouth, but if you listen closely you will hear the hissing in the air as the hidden words and their true meanings singe your nose hairs.  Take cover for these can be venomous, and will strike just as soon as you let them get close.

Yet the one that always trips me up is the one that says a lot, but never says what they truly think.  They may make ” innocent” comments comparing hair.  They listen well enough to learn  where the chinks in your armor are.   Many women are self-conscious about their bodies, so she may say something about  her workout being easy, or that she’s lost weight or somehow topping what you said the last time.  There may be a discussion about hair, and since you expressed last time that your hair grows slow  she says that her hair grows really fast and that she needs to get it trimmed again.  Underneath all this  are the embers of rage,  The truth of the matter is, for whatever reason – usually a man –  she’s decided to be catty and  make you pay for her own  personal hell.

Now, you may think I exaggerate but I don’t.  Men get into it, they race cars, play sports, get in the boxing ring and have it out.  Women are never so blatant.   Women when spurned can be vengeful wicked creatures.   The expression hell hath no fury like a woman spurned is true.  Here’s the tricky part:  it doesn’t even have to be you that has  caused the spurning!  In fact, if there is any connection in her mind made that you are associated with the object of her revenge, that makes you a  relevant target to practice on.

You may think I  am a bit  paranoid or delusional.  Think what you want but I am still being cautious with certain individuals.  Especially when they are sugary sweet.  ( Dead giveaway.  You don’t know when they will strike – just that they will.)  Think I’m crazy?  A woman drove to Florida wearing  an adult diaper to kill her lover’s ex, and you think I’m making this stuff up?  Trust me,  there are some real whackos out there.

Luckily, most of us are relatively sane.  I think.

Stay safe and keep writing.  Some of this stuff is good for characters, just be careful to change the names and places to avoid lawsuits.

Write on my friends, write on!