Jul 29, 2012

Opportunity Awaits

It all began when I shared a link on facebook showing my support for gay marriage.  I paused before I shared it because I knew that it may spawn a debate, and maybe disappoint some people that I care about to reveal the side I'm on. I have a diverse group of facebook friends.  My extended family and friends from my Evangelical private college, and varied other church affliliations, on the whole, don't support the gay lifestyle.  I italicized because I feel that's an absurd word choice, but it reflects the viewpoint of the religious right. (I saw a funny bumper sticker recently: The Religious Right are Neither.)

Most of the fb friends that I've attracted into my life in the last fifteen years are gay-lovers like me.  So, there was a little heated tit for tat happening between a psychologist friend and my beloved Uncle.  We were accused of holding the popular belief, like some flotsam and jetsom floating along wherever the social current takes us.  Well, it got me thinking about my life and views, and now I have something to say.

In my church and youth fellowships, I was taught that gay people were perverse and icky.  In college, I decided that most gay people were victims of childhood sexual abuse.  Because at that time, most of the gay people I knew were victims of childhood sexual abuse.  A disproportionately large percentage from family members who were also church leaders, I'm behooved to add.

I took a graduate class in multicultural counseling, and took on the topic of GLBT youth populations for my 30 page paper.  I had the opportunity to interview the most precious teenagers.  I fell in love with these kids,  recognizing that, at the age of 14, they were already doing the work of embracing who they were in the face of tidalwaves of external and internal opposition.  They had already stopped trying to be who they were not, and bravely listened to and followed their inner compass.  They had something that I wanted, something that alludes so many of us at any age.  Authenticity.

They sure didn't feel popular for their lifestyle choice.

According to google, GLBT youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than are heterosexual youth.  In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death for gay and lesbian youth.

I have friends who love their faith, who have created beautiful families, but are not welcome to worship in their church of choice.

Christians, we have been given the opportunity to support our fellow humans, to love our neighbor, and instead the opportunity is taken to condemn and ostracize.  Fellow lovers of Christ, this is not what we have been called to do. 

I am not interested at all in the argument of what's wrong and what's right.  Could NOT care less.  I keep plenty busy focussing on my own salvation, and on loving my neighbor.  Plenty busy.

Jul 26, 2012

Anxieties, Blessings, Etc

I was with a dear old friend, talking, like I have been to many people lately, about my feelings of anxiety.  As I described things to her, I listened to my own words like an observer, and heard my thoughts say, "No wonder you have anxiety!  How can anyone not have anxiety?"

I am OK.  My daughter is in Heaven and I'm OK.  My marriage is over and I'm OK.

But, getting to OK can HURT.  Even while connecting with all of the blessings that both of these life events provided, I think there are places within me that are highly motivated to avoid these types of pains.  One of those places is my gaspy breath-drawing part.

Furthermore, I spend all of my time with children. 

One is a screamer.  To live your life in a home with a child who is often screaming or shouting, well, it effects the nervous system.

The other one is in a phase of life in which he is a constant danger to himself.  He is also a constant danger to order, cleanliness, and home structure.  He cares not for folded laundry, the white shirt I'm wearing.  In the moment it takes to reach for a diaper, he pees on the couch.  Currently, he climbs to stand on top of the couch's backrest and leans on the window, pushing out the screen.  Constantly!  I have to wrestle him into his highchair and strap him down so I can fix meals.

And, I've said before that there is a nagging feeling that I should be more worried about money.  I think that nagging feeling is the old, unnecessary pattern that I've repeated all of my life, and it wants to stay.  Even though I don't need it anymore.  My God will provide.  I need to repeat that over and over until the worry goes away.

One of the things maybe I didn't do so well in my marriage was to show appreciation, either publicly or privately.  Well, if I tried, it didn't seem to get through.  So, in my new partnership, one of the things I feel like practicing, is showing my gratitude.  Genuinely. 

And, in the spirit of publicly sharing my appreciation, I want to speak plainly that I am a follower of Jesus.  Not a follower of the judgments and condemnations that churches professing to follow Jesus make.  It makes me sad that there is a difference, but its important to me that you know that I don't wish to be associated with any group thats about anything other than loving thy neighbor.  Even a little bit.  And that I can distinguish between the two and so fully and unashamed enter into a loving relationship with Him.  And share my appreciation for Him without fear of judgment.

I feel I have an opportunity here to share my anxieties and hurts and situations because I have absolute faith that my God will provide, and I will share that part of the story too in hopes of encouraging others.

Jul 20, 2012

Enjoying the Ride

I did something I'm really proud of.  I took my boys on a vacation to Story Land in New Hampshire's White Mountain Region, which is like Mecca for New England children.  I planned it, found discount everything and paid for it with money I still had saved from work that ended months ago. And even though I had anxieties about things going wildly wrong, nothing went wrong.  In fact, some things seemed miraculous   We played in the Ellis River, swam in the pool, drove to McDonalds with a playspace, then played in an outdoor playground, got ice cream and walked the quaint shops of North Conway, got in the car and while Noah napped we drove up the white mountains, got a bumper sticker that said This Car Climbed Mt. Washington (I've always wanted this bumper sticker!), then went to Story Land, got pizza for dinner and drove around at twilight on a self-guided Moose Tour, all in ONE day.

As I drove home last night, the kids sleeping, I got a peaceful feeling.  More than peaceful, inspired.  My anxieties were nullified.  As I go along living my life, I often wonder if I'm doing it OK.  You know, "it", as in everything.  I am constantly putting my actions on a scale, rating, wondering how am I doing ...  driving home, I got a break from that self-judgment.  I am satisfied with how I did for these three days.

This all coming together seems really significant to me.  I did this for us.  All by myself.   This was our very first family vacation.

I just reread this.  True there was no other adult in the car or hotel room with us, but I had a partner with me every step of the way, and I owe one sweet Lord some props.  Thank you, to the most sweetest partner.

Jul 15, 2012

What Crazy

So, I have faith.  Since I've been on my own, and, you know, not "working" I have less money, I guess, but because I am in control of it all, it feels like enough.  I can't remember ever feeling that way about money before.

I have faith about money.  But then, sometimes having faith feels like I'm being lazy.  If I'm not obsessing over it, then I'm not doing my part.  So then I feel guilty for being lazy.  I feel my stress level increase because for some reason feeling like I'm being lazy is just, I can't live with it.  I would rather give myself an ulcer because then at least nobody could say I didn't do anything about it. 

My belly increases from the stress hormone.  My clothes don't fit anymore, so that's another thing to be depressed about.

This is what its like to be completely insane.

Jul 13, 2012

Lightening Up

There are worse parents than me.  No doubt there are better parents than me.  But I don't know of any parent who spends more time and energy thinking about parenting than I do.  This is more a confession of psychosis than a one-upmanship.  I'm still surprised, often, at how hard this shit is.  With all my life-long love and dedication to children, with all my advocacy work, with all my education, I find myself at a loss with the job of parenting.  One of my dearest friends is battling breast cancer.  She's handled chemo, double masectomy, and now radiation.  She told me yesterday that parenting is harder than any of it!

I am working on not taking the battle of wills personally.  I engage in almost constant inner-dialogue to this effect.  "Don't take it personally, he doesn't mean it, he's just a kid, breath, take a break... Oh, you just broke his slingshot in a fit of rage... oh, the downward spiral of guilt and blame, ok try breathing again... forget it, you suck at this."

It occurs to me that all this thought and energy on my improved parenting may not be benefitting the kids one iota.  It occurs to me that the part of me so affected by how my child behaves may be my ego.  I believe in parenting with unconditional love, but I may not have the self-confidence to do that quite yet.

Recently I participated in a guided meditation.  I was following along with the imagery of the field, the sun, and the trees when I received a divine message, which I absolutely needed to receive in my life at this moment.  The Heavens had spoken, and in no uncertain terms proclaimeth unto me this lasting truth:  "You have got to lighten up."

Amen.   I spent the rest of the meditation with a huge grin and tears streaming down.

Jul 9, 2012

Partnering Up

So, I've been kind of obsessed with the idea of not being a victim.  I'm still not sure what it looks like, but I'm leaning in the direction of not taking anything personally and forgiving.  Not being a victim as a parent (yes, I have that problem) for me means staying on top of my emotions.  Remembering that although a behavior might be extremely annoying and ruin things that you love, and you may have addressed this behavior hundreds of times already that morning, that maybe the person involved with the behavior is not in fact trying to hurt you by it.  And if they are trying to hurt me, well it is in my highest and best to keep my confidence up, to stay calm, and to resist acting on my impulses.

In a dialogue about loving self-care recently,  my contributions included, "Sometimes I go to the bathroom by myself,"  and "Sometimes while in the bathroom I brush my teeth."  This is actually my strategy for coping when I'm about to lose it.  So, for all you kidless people who go to the bathroom by yourself without feeling like you may be putting a little person in danger by doing so, or that you are making a little person cry by doing so, let me just state the obvious:  parenting is hard.  Especially at bedtime.  At the moment I realize that both kids are asleep and I'm still awake (sort-of), it feels almost level to giving birth.  Ecstactic at the accomplishment, though still feeling a little beat-up by the labor.

Somehow, this all translates inward-style to feeling unsafe...  I gasp alot.  Like, over small things.  Like I've got my finger over the panic button at all times, looking for any reason to use it.

And since I seem to be rambling about things that don't really go together, here's something else:  actually fits in if you follow it through:  I feel like my culture, my country, my people do not support my values.  I am a mature, educated mother doing it alone, and I CHOOSE to be accessible to my children full time.  It feels like too much entitlement for the world.  I feel an external crowd, shouting, "Get off your ass and get a job, lazy!"

But my truth is this: it is an investment in the future of the world to raise up young people to feel whole, and to be compassionate and empathetic and most importantly loved for who they are, and they are most likely not going to get the latter anywhere I could afford to send them as a single working mother paying for childcare.  I believe strongly that it is in the highest and best for my family that I do the work of parenting full-time.  And if I have energy left over that I use it to create a loving home environment, and last but not least spend some quiet moments listening to my inner leadings.

What's ironic is that I'm not really worried about money, I'm worried about the fact that I'm not worried about money, and that is so unlike me.  And, I understand that not paying for my house is not a long-term solution.

As I lay my head down, I ask God to protect us, and I open myself up to heaven's help.  Recently, I have these thoughts:  The work of raising up and supporting a family is a two-person job.  I don't have a partner.  I am so utterly fulfilled by being with my children, that it does not make sense to me to consider doing it another way.

Here's a message I received:

"Let me be your partner.  And, you need to forgive yourself for the breakdown of your marriage.  You need to let go of the responsibility that you feel for that.  You need to let go of the guilt you feel associated with raising up your children in a single-parent household.  You are leading a quality life here.  Let me be your partner.  Leave the finances to me."