Good Bye Dad

Friday October 27, 2017

Dear Dad,

It’s been a year today since you killed yourself. The past year has been a long arduous journey. When a parent dies it’s not easy, but when they kill themselves those left behind, as you well know (remember your dad killed himself and your mother too—you always said you’d never repeat that, and you never understood), are left with misunderstanding, remorse, and something a little bit more than sadness.

I realize that your life was difficult. You were abused, not loved, and raised very harshly. And I’m sorry that all those incidences happened to you when you were little that you had no control over. Sometimes in life we are given lemons and it’s up to us to make lemonade.

There’s always another side to every story and if we could get outside of our heads and our own realities we just might see the gray in between. If you make a habit of living life one moment at a time, you start to realize that more of your moments are filled with peace and happiness. We never are living anywhere else but right here and right now in this moment.

My life growing up was awful too. It started when you left my mom. But something inside of me always knew that this life I was forced to live was not my reality. In life if you aren’t careful you can get trapped inside your head and controlled by that little voice that tells you lies. Lies about who you are based on how you were trained. I believe we are all just like Pavlov’s Dog, reacting to stimuli.  At some point it is up to each one of us to challenge that training we received as a child and become who we are regardless of the lies we were told by our parents.

Think about your life like this, remember those merry go rounds that you could hop on and then hang on for dear life while someone else pushed, round and round? We all discovered at some point that all you had to do to stay on and be safe was to brace yourself with body and legs facing inward towards the middle. Eventually, all you could see were the people on that merry go round with you. As long as you stayed there you were fine. But if you wanted to get off that thing you had to jump. Jumping involved scraping your hands and knees to bloody bits; quite painful.

I just wanted to you to know that I jumped off quite some time ago. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t easy. I feel like an explorer on the ocean back before we knew what the world looked like.  I realize that you did not have the strength it takes to jump off the merry go round and in the end you killed yourself like your dad did.

But I want you to know that I changed the craziness. My husband is really kind. My daughter is brilliant in math and music. My sensitive son is great at baseball and math and wants to be an engineer someday. I teach math as you well know. Every young boy that I work with, I think of you and how if someone would have just loved you, understood you, and believed in you, it might have made a difference. I try to make a difference in their lives. I try to love, understand and believe in them.  I know it’s not easy growing up male. I wish I could have helped you to rebuild yourself too—remember I tried. I was ill equipped.

I’m so sorry that our last words were filled with anger. Your family asked me to stop talking to you as it was making you want to come and visit me and causing them problems because you couldn’t afford to make those kind of trips. I wish you could have been stronger and told your dad that you wanted to drop out of high school and work for that bicycle shop. (One of the reasons why I have always taught my kids to trust themselves and do what they want–that think that makes them happy and fulfilled–as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else.) I think that would have been the beginning of you becoming who you really were.

I want to thank you for my life, because without you I wouldn’t be here. I want to thank you for buying me my first racing bike and giving me the love of riding bicycles. I want to thank you for teaching me how to play Go. (I’m starting a Go Club at my school. You would be so proud.) I want to thank you for teaching me to speak the truth, and not cuss, cause if you really want to tell someone what you think, tell them the truth it’s ten time worse than an angry “fuck you!” 

May you rest in peace.

All my love,

Your Daughter

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Children Are People Too

Jasmine

Very spunky and outspoken. Most adults would say she is disrespectful and her behavior and responses are disrespectful. However, an adult must question themselves as to why she has become so defensive. Her behavior to is a defense mechanism.

Yesterday I finally told her that she has bad behavior. It’s not who she is that is bad, but her behavior. One cannot change who they are but they can change and modify that behavior.

The conversation went like this: (and I don’t generally have this telling talks within ear shot of other students) You have disrespectful behavior and you should apologize to INSERT ADULT NAME for your behavior. I script it for them because they cannot do this themselves yet. “ INSERT ADULT NAME I apologize for being disrespectful to you. I promise to try to change my behavior, because inside I am really a good person” She almost cried.

I think she’s a comedian. That’s how she acts, always a quick smart come back. Very on the defensive and prickly, like if you say anything she’s a blow fish and her spines stick out immediately. People don’t just get like this automatically, she’s been trained to respond by being attacked over and over.

Ricardo

He was trying to explain his problems that he redid to me and the class as a whole was being loud and disruptive and he couldn’t stand it anymore. So he said, “I’m going to shoot everyone!” This almost made me cry and I told him that he shouldn’t say things like that because I lost someone close to me last October and that’s how they did it. He said he was sorry and that he understood because he recently lost his uncle who was in prison for selling and possession of Heroine. “I am very sorry for your loss. You should understand then why not to say that every.”

He’s been a changed person from this conversation. He came in the next day and asked to sit alone so that he could focus and get his work done. He sticks up for me now when someone is acting up.

It’s difficult to work with this age because they are at school for each other. Adults at this age they have learned are mostly stupid or crazy. Some of them you have to fear and most of them just want to belittle or embarrass you. None of them like you.

It’s this image that I work to turn around. I understand your bad behavior. It’s been created by the adults in your life who treat you like “kids” and don’t understand you have feelings, ideas, aspirations.

This gets mixed up with my Dad who was raised very harshly, not held as a baby, bottle fed, beat, tied up in the back yard, starved, forced to wear clothes that were too big, left alone to cry. He was very sensitive and probably on the autistic spectrum (highly intelligent) but greatly abused.

We all start from somewhere and that’s the core of who we are. Then it’s built on by our experiences and situations. We learn to cope from our parents or if they are absent from ourselves. Children sometimes have coping mechanisms that work when they are small but when they grow up they stop working. You have to re-figure everything out and if you don’t have someone who understands how to figure it out you will get stuck in the most self destructive loops. That’s how I see my Dad. He got stuck in a loop and couldn’t get out.

In the end, he ended it violently, because he knew no other way. This is what his father did and so he did too.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here except that children are people too, they think and feel and act just like adults but they have no control over the choices being made for them or the people ruling over them.

Thoughts vs Self-Talk

It’s no secret that I struggle with trust.  It’s one of my “core issues”.

Years ago,  my husband said to me–as I was in the midst of a panic attack–“Don’t you have faith in life that everything will be okay?”

Honestly, that was the first time I had ever heard “faith” presented that way.  Usually it was about believing in God and miracles  When I heard that word this scripture chimed in my head.  “If you have faith the grain of a mustard seed, mountains can be moved!”  But I don’t  really want to move mountains.  So how is faith even helpful with my current situation!?

Let me explain why I’m writing today.  I’ve been studying lately for a expensive test that I’d prefer to not fail. I want to PASS.  It’s part of a five year goal I created for myself to better my education and hone my skills to be better at what I do.  Also, it’s part of retrieving the educational opportunities that were taken from me as a teenager.

I’ve been struggling with having faith in my abilities.  Lately, when I run into a difficult problem, I hear the negative self talk.  Sometimes I’m not successful with halting that voice and I believe what it says. Then I get down on myself and feel like I can’t pass. I believe I will fail.

Here’s some of the thoughts that certainly need to be challenged…welcome into my mind.

THOUGHTS: There is so much to learn and know, how can I ever pass this test? I can’t know everything?

MY SELF TALK: You don’t have to know everything.  Just enough to pass.

THOUGHTS: The questions are all going to be so hard and tricky that I’ll never pass.  They want me to fail.  It’s designed to make me fail. 

MY SELF TALK: Oh no! This is true!  I’m not smart enough to pass, I will fail.

It’s been my experience that if you listen and are open there are coincidences (some may think of them as signs) that occur at the exact moment you need them.

I have this little magazine that I picked up to read in an attempt to distract my negativity.  I enjoy it because it’s packed full of positive stories and often I find something uplifting to refocus myself.  I read the following within moments of picking up the magazine:

“Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do.”

Here’s how those words changed my self talk and debunked my belief.

MY SELF TALK: This is true! I stress and over prepare because I’m afraid I don’t know anything.  I’m afraid I’m dumb or stupid, just like my parents and teachers told me. (In my mind floods memories of many adults on many occasions towering over fearful, tiny, young me demanding “What’s wrong with you!?” Those words echo in my mind.)  I suddenly realize I heard those words so much growing up that I internalized them as a core belief that something is wrong with me.  I can’t learn. I’m dumb.  I’m stupid.  I can’t pass.  This isn’t true!  I must trust myself, because I do know more than I think I do!

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do too!

 

 

 

 

 

Suppressing the Troll

So the other day I learned something new about myself.  I was famished, it was past the noon hour and breakfast had been scant.

A sleepover had occurred and the boys were starving.  Or so I told myself.  What was really happening?  They were sitting on the couch, brains plugged into devices. No one was actively begging for food.  They weren’t starving.

If you listen to that voice inside your head, you’ll start to understand your (inner TROLL, in my case) reactions to certain situations on a deeper level.  That little voice propels our lives.  I’ve not always known I had an inner dialogue until recently.  What I used to believe was it was me telling myself stories.  In many instances, horrible stories–that I BELIEVED!  Shocking, I know.

Let me digress. I was the one starving. I was the one needing food immediately.  But what my mind was telling me was that the children were starving and I needed, no I HAD TO make them food immediatelyNot something easy and quick to prepare, no. It must be the whole breakfast deal–even though it was lunch time.  Wouldn’t want to disappoint them by not preparing breakfast.

No.” I told that voice.  “What would happen if I didn’t immediately cook for those children.  What would happen if I sat down and fed myself?  What would the boys do?”

Well I don’t know.” said the voice.

“I’m eatin’,” I told my inner voice, “cause I’m the one starving, not the other way around.”

Lately, I’ve been listening carefully to and questioning my inner voice a lot.

While I was eating, I told myself breakfast–which was really lunch–didn’t have to be complicated.  Why not just make Mac-n-Cheese? Boys love it and it’s easy.

Yeah, I was a hero!  “It was the best!” they said.

Turns out I am the one setting up grandiose expectations for myself.  My family will still love me, even if I don’t make an elaborate breakfast.  Turns out they will love me more, because feeding myself and not expecting myself to make a difficult meal diminishes the inner troll completely.  Yeah, I was able to not screech and yell about them being lazy and not appreciative for all my labor–when they never asked me to do that in the first place…meanwhile I’m starving.

Go ahead, I dare you, listen to and challenge that voice.  What will you discover about your inner TROLL?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needs vs. Wants

There’s a movie that I love to watch over and again that illustrates my “needs vs wants” struggle perfectly.

LeapYear

(Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched it yet!)

Anna grew up with an unpredictable father who chased the next get rich quick scheme until finally one Christmas they lose their home.  Anna is still in high school and has to work two jobs to support them.  After much hard work she lands on her feet in Boston with a cardiologist (MONEY!!!) boyfriend that she very much wants to marry.  She’s been waiting four years for him to ask, and decides when he is on a business convention in Ireland to follow him there and take advantage of the Leap Year day tradition (women propose to men) to propose.  Of course she gets what she wants, but in the struggling she meets a man who can provide for her what she needs.  She doesn’t even know she needs this, but we do.  What she needs is to stop controlling everything in her life, let go, and have peace.

This brings us to my story.  Many times in my life I have struggled to control and fight for what I want, not knowing exactly what I need.  Looking back, I see that many of those struggles resulted not in what I wanted, but in precisely what I needed.

Let me explain.  Last year I really wanted a job, but when I got said job it wasn’t the exact one I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed.  What I wanted wouldn’t have provided the growth (both personal and professional) that I experienced this year.  Leaps and bounds folks!

Right now, once again I am faced with uncertainty and the unknown, which is when I really try to control, because I hate feeling in limbo.  However, what I’ve come to realize, and hopefully internalize, about the unknown is that there are many unknowns. That being said, it is virtually impossible to know with any certainty what outcome would be best in any situation.  How can I possibly know what’s best for me when I don’t even have an awareness of the possibilities?  (Probability)

I am only clearly aware at this exact moment of three possible outcomes for a job next year.  Ah, did I forget to mention, once again, I have lost my job.

Here are the possibilities (that I am aware of):
1. I get the new job I applied for.
2. I get placed in a job where I currently work.
3. I don’t get a job at all and just work day-to-day to keep my employment status.

Here’s what I’m left thinking. There are endless possibilities, many I’m not even aware of that could be just what I need.

You might be asking yourself, “Well what do you need?” I honestly don’t know for certain, but it feels like what I need is peace.

Let me leave you with these last thoughts.  I know that your needs are different from mine and somehow all of our needs work together.  If I could prove this mathematically, I certainly would.  Let me clarify, in case this doesn’t make sense to you.  Every moment of our lives and every movement of our lives are connected.  Humans fit together like pieces of a puzzle sitting on a table waiting for completion.  What a beautiful picture we make when we are complete.

What do you need in your life?

 

 

Depression is a Brain Disease?

DAD
My dad’s full glass
Fa 01-012
One of the few times my father saw his three girls

In October my dad killed himself. At first, I wasn’t fazed, I think I was shocked. It wasn’t a surprise really, he’d tried to kill himself two times prior (that I know of).

It’s April now and I’ve realized his death has affected me a lot.

I really don’t know what to write tonight. I just know that it’s different when someone takes their own life.

If you have a father, keep in touch and don’t leave on bad terms. The last conversation I had with my father wasn’t a good one. I was upset with him and he with me. We never spoke again.

I understand that it’s not my fault. Depression is what really killed him. He suffered so many losses and was never able to grieve them properly. I think. He left no note.

In the picture is also his father, who killed himself and murdered his wife (when I was 14).

The art is some of the things that he said upset him while growing up and some of the things that we know now through research and raising babies will upset some people.

In the end I think he felt unloved, unwanted, and better off dead.  I understand he couldn’t have stayed any longer.  The pain was too great, the losses too large, and life was too painful.

Thank you for reading.

Why Does it Happen?

Okay so I’m on this quest lately  (Actually, for the past 10 years) to discover or realize why things happen the way they do.  I’m always looking for connections.

Although this may not seem like much I believe it’s significant.

Yesterday, I forgot to get something at the store and really struggled with going back inside and getting it.  I mean I had a little battle with myself to NOT go in and just accept that I had forgotten it and get the item later.

So later comes and I have been wanting a hamburger for weeks now.  (I generally DON’T eat hamburgers as I am small and they are big and well it’s a lot of calories that I can’t always consume.)

But I couldn’t bare the craving any longer and decided to run home and get my son, who is exceptionally great at eating and buying hamburgers (he’s in the throws of puberty and eating’s his thing right now)

And now I get to the good part…if I had gone back in that store and got the missing item, it would have put me (time wise) in a different spot.

Of course, we are getting burgers from a fast food joint!  Just as we are ordering my other child texts and says, “Come pick me up.”  The entire day had been spent working, so I’m assuming (without asking) that the child is HUNGRY.  So order more food.

Wala…pick up child and of course starving and yes! I scored major points!  Food.

So the next time you’re freaking, do what you feel…everything happens for a reason.  Accept and go on.

Although I still haven’t learned why good people (really good people) die so young sometimes.

I Understand Why You Are So Angry

Do you think I’m a violent person?

No, I don’t think you’re a violent person, but you believe you are.  So much of what we think we believe becomes true (even if it’s a lie).

Violence stems from anger. To witness such anger in one so young tells me the road traveled has been tough.  Maybe violence is what you’ve learned and all you know.

You’re just sensitive.  (Getting angry)  No I’m not!

Looking now at the other girl across the room.  Taller, prettier, more popular, smarter…I hate her.  (Focused now on the lies that you are telling yourself, so far from the truth.)

Being sensitive is a human trait; an important/vital quality.  A good quality…not one to be shunned or seen as weakness.

I wish I had been able to say today that it’s not sensitivity or violence, but passion that drives you.  You are good, you have so much potential, you can accomplish things you’ve never even dreamed of yet.

I wish I could explain that our past creates who we are today.  It drives our actions, thoughts, decisions, our very lives.  If we are unable to step aside and see the truth, we will believe the lies we’ve been told, as truths.

Here’s who I see when I look at you.

A strong, passionate, driving force, that channeled properly can accomplish anything.  But you must be careful, or you will easily become lost in the lies.

You must learn who you are by seeking the truth, by finding your path.  I will pray for you to find your path.  I will guide you as much as humanly possible.  I thank you for trusting me enough to talk to me.  I wish that we could talk more.  In this writing, I extend my HOPE, my faith, my strength.

Thank you for trying, and caring.  Keep working and moving forward.  I know you can do this.  I understand where you are but I see where you can go.

Dear Lord please bless this child who has crossed my path.  Guide them, hold them when they need you most.  Never leave them, as they will eventually accomplish great things for you.  Amen.

 

Two Wolves-A Cherokee Parable

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”

 

Author Unknown
(possibly a Cherokee parable, and going back probably at least to the 1950’s in print – but unconfirmable

Who Are You?

Our mind lies to us everyday.  Surprisingly we believe those lies.

I’m fat, ugly, worthless, no one loves me.

We think if someone would just love us then we’d be happier or more fulfilled.

Maybe what we think we are missing is the possessions others have.  If we had that car, job, dress, house on the hill,  or any earthly desire, our lives would be complete.

We have regrets, lots of them.  My father’s biggest regrets were that he should’ve dropped out of high school to do an apprenticeship at a bicycle shop and shouldn’t have left my mother.  Maybe you think you should’ve taken that job, or not taken the job or married this person or not married that person. We are always looking back.

We’re always looking outside of ourselves for what we need.  But I think most of us are lost because what we really seek is inside.  We’re looking for ourselves, but no one ever tells us that.

Why? Well we’re jockeying for that position of who we want others to think we are based on what we have, where we travel, what we do, where we live. Everything we strive for is done as a means to end, to benefit ourselves.

It’s the tangible things that we can see that we think we need, but we’re forgetting what’s most important, ourselves.

So much of who we are starts at birth, and like a rock rolling down hill it propels us in a direction, that we don’t get to choose.

During our early years, we end up with tons of data inside our heads we cannot remember. So that when we finally come of age, we are a mystery to ourselves.  Some of us “wake up” in a huge pile of (pardon the expression) shit that we mistakenly accept as our identity.

We begin our lives busily slaying the internal dragon. Ourselves?  We run, dodge, and hide; by staying overly busy, drinking, eating, shopping, self-harming, whatever we can to keep the demons buried deep inside. To avoid the TRUTH.

Most of us are not aware that we’re being triggered,  stand ready to attack the next person who stirs our demons.

I believe that each of us has a core person. I believe that if we were untouched by others untruths we would emerge as the “real” us.  However, that’s not possible because we are born helpless, defenseless, and dependent; their reality, perception, story is ours.

What is our journey, our job?  It’s to get back to that core person, and take all the shit and use it for good.  It’s to make the world a better place.  It’s to rewrite our history.  To retell our stories.  To be at peace.

Dedicated to my father who may I pray has finally found peace.  October 27, 2016 he took his own life.  He was a intelligent, kind, giving, caring person, who just wanted someone to love him. I love you dad.

If you haven’t hugged your father today and told him you love him please do.

The BIG Picture – WHOSE Plan?

Can I just be honest?  I’ve been struggling with TRUST in my higher power, whether that be God or nature or the Universe, I don’t know.  (My mother sort of ruined God for me when she taught me he was this mean and vengeful being that was out to get me. He was all seeing and knowing, and on the look out for my every mistake or wrong doing. Then busily punishing me for them.)

But this is not what my story is about…or is it?

Last year I was laid off and this summer all I wanted was my job back.  Then by some miracle I got the call!  Amazing I was back.  Hugs and high fives all around!

Happily I worked, for 5 weeks.  Then the numbers came in and it wasn’t good.  4 people had to be let go.  Of course, I was one of them.  I got the word on a Friday–the following Wednesday would be my last day.  I sat numbly through the process.  I told my friend only a miracle would ever save me.  I was GONE. I packed up my things.

I only allowed the freak out me to have one day and then I shook my freak out self and told them to stop it and forced myself to keep moving forward. I stayed focused on my goal.  I stayed positive that it would be okay.  I struggled to TRUST, that there was a plan, even if I didn’t know it, there was a PLAN. BUT, BUT…This horrible ordeal was part of the plan. Why?  I didn’t know.

However, I stayed focused on my goal.  I was determined to finish on a positive note.  I kept yelling, when asked why I was leaving (Cause everyone was told! it was a lot of people folks!) “I’M NOT LEAVING!”, but rather was being traded to another team, you know like a Pro Ball player.  Happens all the time, I said. “Everything will be alright.” Even though there was that small part of me kicking and screaming and yelling, it will not be okay–there is NO way that this will be okay!  Nope I said, it WILL be okay, you are wrong small freaking out part of me that I wish would SHUT UP already!

Here comes the MIRACLE.

The following Tuesday I was reinstated.  Apparently, someone made a small math error and the body count to lose was only 2.

So now when I fret or worry or tell myself that this job is too stressful or too hard or think that maybe I’m not smart enough to do it.  I know those are lies, because why would He or the Universe or my higher power put me where I don’t belong?

And why did it all happen?  Well it’s completely obvious isn’t it? To show me, to convince me, that I can TRUST that everything will be okay.  Furthermore, I don’t have control over anything – especially THE PLAN.  Also, maybe mom was wrong.  God isn’t who she said he was after all.  I wonder, is he actually watching out for me? Using me and his ability to know all and see all to put me where I can best be of service and share what I know with those who need it the most.

I hope you realize too that there is a plan for you and your life and if you stay on the path, his path you will find peace.