Friday, August 24, 2012

Stone Gatherer

                                                            Stone Gatherer

  It was my children who taught me what love is. Children are great teachers. They are also great healers. I do not think they get enough credit for that. At times when I was at my lowest I would pull one of them on my lap and snuggle. I would turn up the radio LOUD and dance around with them. Soon we would be laughing and giggling and I would be centered again. I would have a better focus on what I needed to do. They taught me how to treat others and more importantly, how I should be treated. It was an easy progression really. I simply asked myself, when someone who was supposed to care for me did something hurtful, would I do that to my child? This progressed to would I do that to anyone. And I had to acknowledge that I had settled for far less then I was worth too many times. I, having never experienced love in my home growing up, did not recognize it as an adult. When people extended love to me, I did not trust them. I shied away. I was afraid of them. They must want something from me. This took a long time to overcome. It is not an easy thing to trust. But again, I used my children as the ruler I measured other people's actions by. It was very helpful and gave me a new prospective on people and relationships.

  I had always had difficulty making long term connections with people. I had no experience with it. I marveled at people who had grown up their whole lives together and shared so much. I did not have that. Except with my younger brother. Relationships were fleeting things, where true honesty never lived. I edited so much. Everything. I refashioned my childhood into something more palatable. More normal. This of course gave my mother an opening. If I was going to pull off this fairytale life, I needed her. She was more than willing to play the part. Of course she would always slide back into her old ways. After I had been lulled into the rhythm of this better than life story. And it always shocked me. It brought me right back down to the reality I tried so hard to avoid. To hide, even from myself. Because, the truth is I wanted it. I really did want to deny everything. To make it untrue. But I could never stay in that pretend world long. It was not in me. More questions would be asked. The natural progression of any relationship and there I would be again. Faced with my monsters, dressed up like my parents. With no where to hide from the past. I was going to have to make peace. I had been inching towards it for so long. Through everything I learned this, to accept what was. Exactly as it was. No fancy Hollywood version, the truth. To say this happened. To me. That I was not treated in a way I was WORTHY of. That was a big step for me. Through my parents and husbands I just had not seen or expected that I was valued. Or even that I should be. I lived in another place altogether. Where I went from heart break to heart break. Always surprised at others ability to hurt me, and yet expecting nothing better. I could stand up for my sisters, for my children, but somehow not for myself. That had to change.

   It was easy really. I just substituted one of my children into any situation in which I had a nagging feeling I was not being treated with love. It says a lot as to where I was in my journey,  to admitting that I had value, that I could only do this by placing someone other than myself in the situation. It was baby steps, but I was getting closer to loving myself. I had to stop expecting my mother to change. I had circled around the facts of who she was and what I wanted, what I needed her to be. She was an empty bucket. No matter how many times I went to that vessel looking for water, no matter how thirsty I got, that bucket was always going to be empty. There was a hole in it and it was not repairable. I needed to walk away. To find other sources to quench my need for love. I started once again with my children. They loved me. They showed me I was lovable. I saw my worth in their eyes and it carried me along.

   Now, balance was hard for a person like me. Who had never learned the proper responses to challenges in life. When learning new skills, it is hard to tell what reaction is warranted. And this, is the thing that trips most of us up. Those who have gone through an alternate reality. I was hyper vigilant. I would over react to any slight. I had to defend myself. Everything was an attack. It was exhausting. People were hard for me. Maintaining relationships difficult. I would turn to and fro. First rushing to make friends. To connect and then retreating back into myself again. Surely, I seemed unstable. Running hot and cold as I did. It was my "tell" and I was going to have to find ways to temper it. To learn what a proper response to everyday interactions were. I learned to react slower. To give more thought to my words and actions. It was a good exercise for me. Human interaction was a tricky thing. I of course read books, but mostly I studied other people. I listened as they handled their own quagmires with parents, spouses and children. I used people to pattern my own interactions. I learned to not let one misstep send me hurdling back over the edge. I learned to stop gathering stones.

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