Unconditional love…what a concept!

Hello dear reader.

It’s been a bit, I know.  Between headaches, CASA, and wedding plans, I’m sure you’ll excuse my absence.  Soooo, the day after tomorrow I will be a married woman.  I’m SO excited.  The last few weeks have been insane trying to make sure everything is set up and ready for Saturday.  I have worked my butt off!  Finally, everything is in place and ready and I can relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors.  I try to be  unpredictable when I write, but today I’m going to (predictably) talk about this man I’m going to marry and how much I love him.  

How do I know marrying him is the right thing to do, that it will work?  The really simple answer to that is that Tim and I have been to hell and back…a FEW times…and we still like each other.  Yes, I said LIKE.  I think like is even more important than love.  I have loved people that I didn’t like at all, and it was miserable.  We are best friends.  I look forward to spending time with him.  I laugh with him.  I tell him things I won’t tell most people, things you can only tell a very close friend.  Quick story – Not long ago, when Tim was between jobs, we were SO broke!  We were getting food from the church, were behind on ALL the bills, the bank account was overdrawn, and we didn’t know when any of that would change.  We were sitting together holding hands while watching the dogs playing and looking at a spectacular sunrise.  Both of us said, “I love our life!”  How crazy is that?  Logically we probably should have been completely stressed out.  But we both felt happy and contented just being together.  THAT’s how I know.

I’ve learned with Tim what love is supposed to be like.  He loves me simply for who I am.  He supports and encourages my dreams and aspirations.  He makes me feel smart and pretty.  He considers it his mission to make me laugh at  least once a day.  Okay, some of you are probably saying, “Okay, and the big deal is….?”  If so, you’re a very fortunate person. The big deal is I have never in my life had anyone love me like that, unconditionally and completely.  All the way back to my childhood, any love I got from anyone  was conditional.  I was loved if I did this or that and did it this way or that way.  I was loved only if I was willing to give up what I wanted and felt to do and feel what someone else wanted me to.  My dreams were to be a good mother or wife or daughter, to make someone else happy so that they would love me.  My aspirations were to do things well enough to earn someone’s love.  You know, I think that’s actually the core of it….I don’t have to earn Tim’s love.  He gives it to me…a gift, not as payment for something.  That is the big deal.  It’s something which was extremely difficult for me to learn to accept and trust.

I honestly think I’ve always tried to love that way, unconditionally.   I can’t say I’ve always been able to.  I’m not making excuses for that, but I have learned why I failed at it.  When two people give to each other freely and gladly, both of their hearts stay full because they’re being given at least as much as they are giving.  When one person is giving and the other is taking, the giver’s heart grows cold and empty eventually because there’s nothing to fill it up.  As I said, nobody ever gave me unconditional love, so there was nothing to keep my heart full and I eventually gave up. 

Don’t get me wrong…I’m nowhere near perfect,  I came into every relationship I’ve ever been in (besides the one with my parents) with a lot of my own baggage and misconceptions.  I had a horrible view of myself.  I thought I could never do or give enough to really deserve love from someone else.  I was only partially right.  I could never do enough to earn someone’s love.  All I can do is give my love freely and accept Tim’s love in return.  But I do deserve love.  It’s ironic when I think about it.  Only after I took the time to learn to love myself simply for who I was (am) was I able to trust and accept that anyone else could.

Okay, I’m getting mushy here.  But in less than 48 hours I will marry a wonderful, loving, compassionate, funny, giving, and VERY good looking man.  I think a little mushy is allowed,  :-}

Until next time…

Hot Coals

Hello dear reader.

My last couple of posts have been a bit different from what I usually write about, but they’ve been things I’m very passionate about…domestic violence and giving children a voice when they need one.  Today, however, will be a little calmer.  I promise.

I found a quote the other day that really stuck with me.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned”
Buddha

I’ve believed for a long time now that holding on to anger and refusing to forgive, gives the person who wronged you power over you. It hurts you, not them. Buddha just says it better. No matter how it’s said, it’s a truth that a lot of people never grasp.

When I was a child, I wanted more than anything to be grown so my abusive mother and step-father would no longer have control over me. When I was 15, I simply could not deal with it any longer. I was literally losing my mind. So I left. The police found me after a week or so. They gave me a choice between going to Juvie or going home. I thought about it and decided, better the devil you know……right? So I went back. Nothing got better. Things actually got worse. So when I left again a few months later, I had a plan. The plan worked. Instead of sending the police after me, they told me that they would call the police on me if I showed up there. I was free! At least, I thought I was.

Many years went by while I hung on to hurt, anger, hatred, and guilt. Why guilt? Because I had left my four siblings in that hell hole. When I left, I planned to get them out as soon as I could. But I was living in an abandoned car out in a field. In Louisiana. In the summer. I knew I couldn’t take custody of them while I was living like that. It was four years later by the time I had a home of my own, not staying at someone else’s house, and a steady job. By then…..anyway, that’s where the guilt came from.

I went from bad relationship to bad relationship to worse relationship. I was angry, depressed, and felt like a victim. But I didn’t have a clue how to change things. I had gotten away. But I wasn’t FREE. My life still felt the same. I changed geography and who was abusing me, but other than that it was the same life. I’d reach a point where I simply could not deal with it any longer and I’d run, over and over again.

The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 10 years old. I knew that it was dangerous to take more Tylenol than it said to on the bottle, so I swallowed an entire bottle of Tylenol before I went to bed. I completely expected to die during the night. Boy was I mad when I woke up in the morning! That was the first of many attempts throughout my life. I simply could not deal with my life any longer and I tried to run.

It’s a funny thing about running. No matter how fast or how far you run, you are still there with all the pain and anger you try to escape. It took me more than 40 years to figure that out. But I still didn’t know how to change it. I couldn’t erase all that had happened to me. I had tried to forget, but that never worked. I had to let go of it. I didn’t know how to do that.

When I had my first surgery for the Chiari, I truly didn’t know if I would survive the surgery. I wasn’t scared of dying, but if I was going to, I needed to do it with a clean slate. I had to forgive so that I could be forgiven. It wasn’t about letting them off the hook, or in any way condoning what had been done. It was about me being able to die with a clear conscience. So I started calling people…my mother, my ex-husband….people who had hurt me the worst. I called and told them that I was sorry. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better daughter. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better wife. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better person, a better sibling, friend, mother….so many things.

I was shocked at what happened. My pain and anger toward people went away as I apologized for my failures in the relationship. I was able to let go of my hurt. With every person I talked to, a little bit of light shined into places in my heart that had never been anything but dark. It was incredible! They didn’t have any more power over me. What they had done to me no longer controlled my life.

Let me be very clear about one thing here. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. I would never leave my daughters alone with my parents because I knew what could happen. I let go of the pain they had caused me. I didn’t become stupid. What I did was for me, not for them.

I did survive the surgery….obviously. But I had my clean conscious. My past no longer ruled my future. I’ve worked hard every day since then to try to be more forgiving. The things that happened to me are still a part of my life, but now I try to use them for good. I work with children who have been abused or neglected. I work with victims of domestic violence. I am very passionate about those things. But I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.

That hot coal did a lot of damage to me while I tried to throw it. I still burn my fingertips from time to time when I reach to pick it back up. But now I’ve learned to drop it.

I truly hope that I (and Buddha) have given you something to think about today. Put something in comments at the bottom of this page and let me know. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like. Please feel free to pass this on. It’s truly life changing.

Until next time…