Begining of a memoir
|Who Raised Me?
Who raised me? Maybe I am still being raised, as I struggle to learn how to have healthy relationships and put thought and emotion into their proper perspectives. For example, by raising children, I have learned I will not always like their behaviors but I can love them unconditionally. They are my children and will be, whether they are three, five, twenty, or ninety-two. I have learned that life is not all or nothing, black or white, or simple. There are many grays and the glass is half full, versus half empty. I have also learned the importance of not throwing stones when I too live in a glass house, and about the story of when Jesus drew lines in the sand. These are perspectives that make me a healthier and happier person, for which I am glad.
Or maybe my kids have helped raise me. I learned such skills as how to have fun, as I taught them how to stomp mud puddles the “right way.” One must stomp sort of sideways and away from them self so others get wet but the individual doing the stomping does not. There were times we rode the carousel in front of K-mart together. And we even had water balloon and shaving cream fights. All of these were things I did not experience as a child.
At other times I grew as I thought about what I did or did not want my children to do. Often I had to look at my own behaviors and adjust accordingly. For example, I remember when I began learning about and practicing healthier communication skills. I worked hard at passing these lessons onto my children because I did not want them to have to wait as long as I had to learn these skills or go through difficult times like I did. David, James, and Kristina were little and riding in the back seat of the car. Suddenly I heard David say, “You make me mad!” James replied, “I don’t make you anything. You choose how you feel.” How much of that they really understood at the time, I do not know, but I had all I could do to hold back a hearty laugh as I thought, “Yeah! You got it!” Often I have thought of that incident while going through experiences in my own life, trying to sort my feelings and own them.
Sorry kids, raising me was not your burden, and it was not my intent. But, I can’t tell you I see this as all bad either. Some things, like play and fun, you helped me learn through example and it was a joy. Other things I was able to teach you as I learned and by having you in my life it held me accountable. I had to practice what I taught. I would have loved to have had parents who raised me- but I can tell you ho didn’t….. THEM! Skills I should have learned from my parents, like unconditional love and how to enjoy life and have fun, they didn’t teach me. They didn’t teach me the difference between a healthy sense of ownership for behaviors, and blame and guilt that is unhealthy and can crush one’s mind and spirit. I had to learn along the road I traveled, becoming the person I am today.
For the most part, I raised myself, with God’s help, and the angels he sent to watch over me. God taught me to look for role models, I could learn good and right from. Even negative role models, like my parents, taught me powerful lessons. I learned what I didn’t want to do or who I didn’t want to be. God has a plan for me and I am still watching it play out. I tell friends, “Life is an adventure, and I just need to hang on for the ride.”
Although I feel bitter at times, having had to struggle to learn things I should have been taught early in life, like unconditional love and healthy communication skills, my struggles have made me who I am today, as well as good at what I do for my life’s work. I use my experiences to have compassion for others and to help strengthen them, instilling hope that they too can overcome life’s challenges. I am not perfect, nor would I want to be. I am human and I understand what it is to make mistakes and to pick myself up, like a baby learning to walk, trying to find supports on my own because the ones that were suppose to be there weren’t. This helps me to have compassion and understanding with others. In understanding their plight, I share my belief that they too can grow and mature in spite of what they may have experienced.
This book began to form in the dawn of my years. As a teenager, writing was my safe haven in the midst of a storm. It was used to express feelings which could not safely be shared with others. Poetry and journal writing were my mediums. Several times my private domain was invaded. Sadly, I destroyed much of what I had written.
As time passed, instead of writing, it was my decision to keep things locked in my head and heart. Feelings built up and boiled within me. I trusted no one. My pain and anger grew.
At the beginning of my first marriage I decided to again write, trusting my husband to honor my privacy, a trust that did not bare fruit. Peter read my journals and I felt violated and betrayed. Again, I destroyed more of my work, but the damage was already done, I had been emotionally raped. What I had written was repeatedly used against me. This means I had found most helpful for self-exploration and self-expression was no longer my safe haven.
Upon entering the Adult Degree Program at Vermont College, I was required to write a minimum of 120 pages per term. Writing was considered an important part of the learning process. Because of my love for the written word, this idea appealed to me. I was glad to be back to writing, but scared as well. My studies took me toward exploring topics, which repeatedly touched my life, relating to issues I dealt with on a daily basis. I was careful what I wrote about, as I had learned a powerful lesson and feared my words would again be used against me once again. Unable to stop myself, my work took on a life of it’s own.
The process of earning my master’s degree brought me to do a self-study. Little did I realize the impact this would have on my life. Nor did I realize how part of the study would grow into a being of it’s own, bursting forth, demanding to be written and shared. This work, entitled, “Through Adult Eyes”, was and is a combination of growth, self-exploration, pain, healing, change, and the beginnings of my book. My writing was true. The sharing was limited. Many times there were writings not showing or expressing the feelings I had spilling forth with an intensity which scared me. My study opened up for me the desire to be able to share my experiences truthfully and more fully, without fear. I wanted to look at my life, with as clear a lens as I possibly could, making changes necessary for a healthier life, so I would be living a life of example. Major change were to occur in order for this to happen. My faith has helped me through a lot.
Often, as I give thought to various incidents tht have occurred in my life, I find myself wondering: “Did I imagine or exaggerate this?” and “What really happened?” After growing past denial, I explore my feelings, both with and without guilt. Some of the memories still hold elements of sadness and pain. Others hold happiness and anticipation of what is to come. I tell my story with the hope of providing encouragement, strength and hope to others. It is my desire that they too grow beyond the pain and view their experience “Through Adult Eyes,” re-framing their life experiences in a different light.
The term “Through Adult Eyes,” for me means viewing the world with a more mature and healthier perspective. This includes taking into account all of one’s experiences and exploring perception and options with more mature approaches, recognizing one no longer needs to be a victim to circumstance. With newly found skills and attitudes, we can succeed and have a happier life. No one will view the world or experiences exactly as the individual living them. All we can do is find our own truths and our own happiness.
A child’s perspective is limited due to lack of knowledge and experience. As growth occurs, views change. Hind sight can give us a chance to learn and can be used as a catalyst for change. Writing and self-exploration can help that learning process. It is a very personal choice as to how one chooses to view and use life’s experiences. There was a time during all of this when self-destruction seemed a very real option for me. What I found is that it takes courage to face difficulties head on and to ask for help. We need always remember that we are not alone. God planed a seed early on, the seed of faith, and within me it grew. Through my pain I became strengthened. It is my hope and prayer, that by sharing my story, others will be helped to find the courage to begin or continue their own healing. It is not an easy journey and I applaud those who have the courage to do so.
Remember as you read, there are many people out there willing to help. Please do not hesitate to contact your local counseling agency, doctor, clergy person, or self-help groups. Asking for help can be the biggest sign of growth and a huge step toward healing. Do not let yourself become discouraged. Remember, healing takes time and denial can be a heavy burden to carry.
Good luck and God Bless you.