I cannot begin to count the number of Thursdays I have lived much less the number of Thursdays I’ve been Thankful. Not every one of them, for sure. I think the state of grateful/thankful comes from a conscious decision be grateful. It should be natural, but since we’re imperfect humans, it isn’t something that comes easily sometimes. Trust me, things went terribly wrong for me for many years, and even being happy was hard sometimes. Not because I wasn’t grateful, but because my life wasn’t very secure.
Part of that comes from being codependent from environment and example. It’s all my mom’s family knew, and it’s what I knew growing up. We had to do things a certain way for Mom to be happy. If we didn’t, there was heck to pay. Since she was an adult child of an alcoholic(s), she learned early if she could control the environment around her, she could predict a good outcome. If it was only that easy. She practiced what she though worked for her. She taught her little sisters how to do the same things. It’s all she had, and for a number of years, she was all they had.
I’m not mentioning all this for pity or to point fingers at people and place blame. It’s factual and it’s healthy to recognize what went on and how it affected everyone. I’ve mentioned it before, and still like to check in on myself with a Hazelden Meditations book, “Days of Healing, Days of Joy.” I was freed once I recognized our mom’s alcoholism and how I had patterns of mine that were learned.
One huge area of learning for me was fake ideas about love. Of course, the more precious something is, the more it is imitated. Love is precious. The love I have now is so different than the love I thought was real when I was young. I learned most what love wasn’t. It wasn’t sex. It wasn’t letting someone have their way to win favor. It wasn’t spending every minute only with them. It wasn’t expensive. It isn’t worth compromising your principles for. It isn’t forsaking your children.
If it isn’t all those things, what is it?
It is enjoying each other’s company when the passion can’t be the same as it was in your 20s. It’s being able to trust. Trust was a huge issue for me. Infidelity isn’t in our vocabulary. It never has been. You know that when you are with someone who has principles. High standards. When you learn you deserve better than what you’ve allowed. When you claim your part of the responsibility for prior mistakes. Once you know better, you must choose differently. If you don’t, it’s on you from then on. Once you see how much better living the new way is, there is no going back.
Love isn’t accepting lies for truth. It isn’t lying for you. It isn’t cheating for you. It isn’t looking the other way while you commit terrible acts. It isn’t the deception you want me to buy into. No one but an alcoholic can fool themselves so well. The trouble with that, is they come to believe their own lies. Their own flattery. Their own cheating. They accuse you what they are doing. They gaslight you. They try to place the blame on YOU, instead of on them. You lose who you are and your own integrity helping them live their lie. No more. Don’t participate in their lie. Your life cannot be their lie. Let the chips fall where they may. If they leave, you know you never had them in the first place, and it’s not your fault. It’s all on them.
These are hard truths to learn and apply to our own lives. Being the truth, there is nothing to buffer it and it does hurt. It hurts like hell sometimes. Your mom may not be who you thought she was. Your brother may not be the kind of person you would pick for a friend, once you look past the lies. Your sister may have to hit their bottom before they see what they’ve done. And none of it is caused by you or is your responsibility. It’s theirs.
With all that said, I do love my family. I can look at every bad relationship I had when I was divorced was because of my uniformed, bad choice. Once I learned, oh boy. Never again. But I need to remain vigilant.
I’m looking to share some truths with my writing. Maybe, just maybe, it will spark something in a young person who needs to come to terms with their own family. It’s all hard. Changing is hard. Growing is hard. Outgrowing your life is painful. Speak the truth, and it will set you free.
A couple years ago at Mom’s Birthday dinner @ Piccolo’s. Left to right: Me, Mom, The Babe, and Tim, my baby brother.
While you’re becoming your best, authentic self, learn to take care of yourself, too. Kindness and consideration are great, and being thoughtful is fabulous, and you need to give yourself all of those things, too. You can’t give what you don’t have. Rest up, rejuvenate, and relax. Then give care to others.
One more thing on the topic of trust. As a single mom, I let my kids know, “I will trust you until I find out I can’t.” I think this led to more honesty on their part. They knew if I lost trust in them, it would only hurt them in the long run. Of course, every kid spoofs their parents. Every kid tries to put one over on their parents. I think there were fewer episodes of that because we always talked things over. They weren’t perfect, but they learned trust was very important.
Have a good rest of the day. Wear a mask, wash up, help out. Let’s all be good to each other. It spreads like a California wildfire if you do. Be careful out there, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. Thank you for reading!