Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beauty can grow from pain

I learned a very important lesson yesterday: As painful as confrontation can be, when misunderstandings and truths are revealed, something beautiful can grow in its place.

We all have people in our lives who we butt heads with, find annoying, or who hurt us.  Some of these people are in our lives not by choice, but by marriage, neighborhood, co-workers, family, parents of children's friends, etc.  We are forced into situations with these people and have to find a way to co-exist.  I have always thought I was a pretty honest person.  What you see is what you get.  But in reality, that is not true.  When I encounter these people in my life, I hide from them, I put up walls, I even become something I hate....passive aggressive.  I am not even aware of it most of the time.  I do another thing I hate...I talk about them to people I know love me and care for me.  Instead of having the guts to make the first move and try to work out the problems, I let fear of conflict rule my decisions.

Yesterday, one of these relationships in my life was forced to the open.  Years of fear and mistrust were revealed to the public.  At first I was humiliated.  But, fortunately the other person reached out to me.  That reaching out, gave me the courage to take it one step farther and meet with them one on one.  What ensued, was one of the most honest discussions I have had with someone other than my husband.  I owned my own part in the relationship.  I confessed my own misdeeds.  I apologized.  I listened and really heard what she had to say.  We cried together.  She forgave me.  I forgave her.  I left that house feeling euphoric.  A feeling I haven't had in a long time.  I am grateful for her honesty and her grace. 

Looking back on my life, I see several of these relationships.  Some, I have tried to reach out and have an honest discussion, only to be slapped away.  Some, I didn't take the time to sit down and be open.  I regret those relationships, now.  I wonder what good could have come from an honest discussion.  But I also have to realize, I was not at a place in my life that I could be that honest and vulnerable. 

For most of my life, I didn't want anyone to think that I was not perfect.  I one is perfect.  I knew that in my head, but my heart couldn't stand to think that others thought ill of me.  This was paralyzing and extremely hurtful to my psyche.  It has taken years and many friendships to teach me to love myself in spite of my imperfections.  It took others' love to show me I was okay.  Poor Jack has been waiting years for me to see what he sees.  But, I guess I just couldn't do it until now.  I am thankful that I am young enough to live out of this place and didn't go to my grave with these incorrect thoughts and feelings.

I am also thankful for all of my friends who have loved me and tried to teach me that they loved all of me, not the perfections, but the imperfections too.  I am thankful that Jack never gave up on me.  He continued to love me and show me grace. 

I am also proud of myself for taking that difficult step in talking face to face with someone whom I had built up quite a bit of fear towards.  I am thankful for her making it easy for me, for being as vulnerable as I was, and for her grace.

Who do you avoid in your life?  Who do you grit your teeth when you have to be with them?  Is it possible that there is grace there?  I know not all relationships can be confronted and not all people can be vulnerable.  And I realize there are relationships that must just be walked away from.  But from now on, I will try to be more aware of my own part in my relationships, especially the difficult ones.  What about you?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Crossing off things on the List

I am a list maker.  I love having all of my "things to do" written down where I can see them.  I especially need lists when I am overwhelmed or really tired.  Sometimes, though, the length of the list becomes even more paralyzing.  Today, I had a whole new experience with crossing things off my list.

Last week, I sat down and wrote down all the things I needed to get done.  The list was long, but not overwhelming.  I immediately set out to cross off each item.

1.  Call BCBS check about Malaria pills - CHECK - but have to call back on Monday to see if it went through.  (I hate when crossing something off your list makes you add something else!!)

2.  Call State Farm to cancel Allie's car insurance - CHECK

3.  Finish knitting socks - CHECK

4.  Start a new pair of socks - CHECK

5.  Finish Mother/Daughter scrapbook - CHECK

6.  Buy Steripen

Suddenly today as I was crossing off the scrapbook, it dawned on me that the faster I checked things off this list, the sooner Allie was leaving.  I felt sucker punched.   Now, I know that if I don't check things off the list, she is still leaving...but the realization of her impending departure just knocked me out once more.

Readers, I guess if you don't want to hear about empty nest, sadness, etc. you might want to check back in a couple of months.  I am sure by then the joy of doing what I want to do when I want to do it will have taken over...till then...I am in my bed...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

20 days to Empty Nest

In 20 days, I will put my daughter on a plane to Stanford, CA.  Then 10 days later, she will board a plane with 30 or so new friends to Dakar, Senegal.  After 18 years of consuming my life, she will simply board a plane and be off to a whole new world.  18 years.  18 years of day to day worry, concern, laughter, joy, chatter.  I want to use the word GONE!  But I keep being reminded, that it is not gone, it is just changed.  Different.  As a mom, I know that things will change, it will never be the same again.  I have already experienced this with my son.  I know when she finally gets home next May, things will be different.  She will have spent 9 months on her own having experiences without me.  Oh, she will share, she will miss me, she will still love me...but it will be different.

I want the change for her.  Of course I do not want to raise my children to be dependent on me for the rest of their lives.  I have purposefully raised them to be independent and good citizens of this world.  Now it is time to send them off to do so.

I am beginning to feel the loss.  Last week she was at my mom and dad's in Texas.  I missed her terribly.  She texted me every day.  But in the upcoming 9 months, she will not be able to do so.  I will have to rely on her blog, facebook, emails, and maybe skype.  But all of this will be intermittent as she may have no electricity or access to internet cafes. 

For now, though I have 20 days.  I will make the most of these days.  I will listen, laugh and spend as much time as she will allow me.  Then I will cherish these days as I get through the first few weeks of her departure.

Parenting is a series of losses but the gains are so worth it.