I've always loved Halloween, not for the candy since I don't have much of a sweet tooth but for the chance to dress up as someone else, someone people wouldn't recognize. I suppose it was a chance to hide but regardless of the reason, the memories that I hold are dear to me so I wanted to share one with you.
When I was five my grandpa (my dad's dad) came to take us trick-or-treating. Him being there was a treat in itself because my father didn't get along with him well so he rarely made appearances at our house. I remember sitting around the dinner table with anticipation of the moment I could put my ballerina costume on so my grandpa could see I really was his 'little princess'. My mom had made liver for dinner; I hated liver. My father in his futile attempt to remain 'King' of the house told us we couldn't leave the table until every last bit was gone off our plate. I tried to eat it but every bite caused me to gag. I even tried to hide some of the pieces in my napkin until my mother figured out what I was doing and took it away. I dropped pieces down to my dog whom we nicknamed 'Hoover' after his ability to wipe the floor clean of every morsel of food, but even he refused to eat liver. Somehow my brother managed to choke down all of the liver off his plate and my father excused him from the table so he could join his friends 'tricking'. There I sat, alone. When I think back to that moment I think that was the beginning of the long string of events that would leave me feeling exactly the same way. My grandpa was angry at my dad for making such a big deal out of a kid not liking liver. They argued and my father refused to back down so my grandpa sat down at the table with me. He put his hand over mine and winked and somehow I instantly knew that even if I did miss out on trick-or-treating it would all be ok. And then...my father looked away long enough for my grandfather to shove all the nasty liver pieces into his pocket. We sat there for a few more minutes and then he exclaimed, "good job princess, now you can go put that costume on." My dad turned around with a look of satisfaction on his face, he had won - or so he thought. My grandpa and I walked hand in hand to each house in our neighborhood as I collected my 'treats'. I remember coming home when we were done and sorting the candy into piles of 'good, bad, and ok' as I sampled one piece from each. I don't think that candy ever tasted as good as it did that Halloween thanks to the man who was brave enough to pull the wool over my father's eyes.
It's hard to believe that it's been four days since I last posted..I usually try to make here more often but life has been getting in the way. I remember myself being more selfish - in some other lifetime. I used to do things I wanted, things I needed, regardless of whether I actually had other commitments. I suppose that's part of growing up isn't it, giving up things that are important to you without a second thought? I'm not sure that's a good thing but it seems to be inevitable. I have to admit that sometimes I resent the fact that I have no time but resenting something and being able to change it are two different things all together. Hell I've lived with so much resentment in my lifetime that I've finally figured out that it's kind of a useless emotion. Mostly all resentment has ever gotten me are years of being able to hide behind the blame I placed on someone else for the way events unfolded in my life. Once, ok maybe twice, I actually resented myself for being so damn self sufficient. I learned at such an early age to take care of myself, or at least to make it appear that way on the outside. I always thought being 'tough' was a good thing. I didn't need anyone but what I found out is that while I focused on being an 'enigma' the whole world learned how to exist around me. I really resented the world for that. And so I got tougher. The thing about being 'untouchable' is that eventually you lose the ability to feel much of anything. We can't live like that...really we can't. And so I stopped resenting the world since they didn't take much notice anyway, and I started resenting myself. Know where that got me? A new place to hide. It's always amazed me how many really good hiding spots there are in plain view of the rest of the world.
Anyway, I've been having moments of resentment lately, falling back into my old ways of making myself believe I really can do 'everything' on my own. The truth is, I can't. The truth is, I resent the hell out of that fact. There is one fatal flaw in making the rest of the world believe you can handle life without their help - they tend to believe you. So I'm sort of stuck. I've never been good at asking for help. I've never been able to admit that sometimes I just can't do everything. I have to learn rather quickly because I'm growing rather weary.
P.S. I miss all of you and I promise to catch up on all my fav blogs by Monday...I actually took a day off work. Maybe that's a start at letting the world see, I am only one person.
I cannot believe how cold it is. Today will be a high of 46 and can you believe that this morning we actually had to scrape the frost off the car windows? What is this world coming to when it's this cold in October?
On another slightly colder note...I was reading about how the Insurgents in Iraq have claimed a surge in violence in honor of Ramadan. Wow, how special that they celebrate a holy month by killing more innocent people. You know, I don't agree with the war in Iraq but, there is never a justified reason for killing innocent people. I can't imagine growing up in a country where you are taught that as long as you have a good reason and a religious cause to go behind it, it's ok to kill people. Some of you may not know that I'm married to a man who is 1/2 Palestinian. His father is Muslim but my husband is not practicing. It's been a wedge between us every time his father starts babbling about how those suicide bombers are justified because Israel started this whole mess. I always reply, does it really matter who started it when a child loses his/her life? It always shuts him up.
As much as I try not to focus too much attention on what's going on 'over there', it's hard because I've always been a person who is up on politics and world happenings. You know what bothers me the most? It's trying to figure out how I will explain to my children why people feel justified in war. You know when I was a kid I never thought about wars. I was born too late to experience any aftermath of any of the 3 wars this country has been involved in. I think that my parents never knew they should be grateful for that.
Today I want to live some place where war isn't a reality. Does that place exist?
Over the weekend I organized a kid's Halloween party for a bunch of the kids in our neighborhood. I've always been the 'party planner' among my friends, hosting the BBQ's, the Christmas parties, the super bowl Sundays. I guess I like to have people in my house or in my backyard, or maybe it's just that I like to feel like I'm not alone. But putting together a kid's party is more pressure than I ever imagined. With adult parties all you have to do is throw some snacks in a bowl and keep the fridge stocked with booze and everyone is happy but with kid's, well that's a whole different story.
It took me weeks to figure out what sorts of activities would keep toddlers entertained and their parents pacified long enough to keep them both from screaming but I finally nailed down some craft ideas that seemed to be a hit. There seemed to be so many expectations and once again I wasn't entirely sure I could live up to any of them. There I was waddling around with my 8 month belly trying to get everything in place, worrying about if everyone was having a good time when one of the mother's said to me, "Are you a teacher?" "Well no, actually I'm a software developer," I replied. "Oh well you have such insight to what children like I just assumed you were a teacher," she said. I had to laugh because through the years insight is always something I wanted but it rarely had to do with children. Mostly I wanted insight into the men I dated so that I could gain a little more control, or insight into my father so I could figure out why he was the way he was, or sometimes I even prayed for insight into myself so that I could stop wondering who the hell I really was. Everything that I've always done has been to meet someone else's expectations. Do you realize how tiring that is?
I'm starting to believe that being insightful really means closing your eyes instead of opening them. After all, it's when we stop looking at everything around us that we realize the only expectations that matter are the ones we hold for ourselves and that's about as much insight as anyone could ever ask for.
There have been times in my life when I felt 'empty'. Drained from all the expectations and the responsibilities there comes a point when you cry out, "I have no more to give." I've sat alone in my car for hours just to avoid going back into my house; the place where people want and need things from me. A place that most times I love but sometimes despise which leaves me feeling selfish. And then...my daughter runs to me with arms wide open as I walk in the door, "I missed you mommy." Or I lay on a table as they move a wand around my belly and I see "Patrick" there inside of me with his tiny face and hands reaching out to the mother he already loves. And then it happens, I find that secret reserve of strength, of love, of everything I thought I'd lost and somehow it fills me to the brim and allows me to carry on.
I suppose love is like that. It can take all that you have and leave you feeling empty and in a moment's pause, fill you back up again.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
Several times in the not so distant past someone who wishes to remain anonymous leaves comments on my blog which is not the part I mind. It's actually the judgmental words they choose to drop so casually as if words really had no power at all. On this blog I post things about me. Things I do not sugar coat or dress up in ribbons or lace to make prettier than they are just so that whomever happens across my posts gets an image more pleasing to the eye. There are a few people that pass by this space that know me outside of blog land which doesn't bother me in the least. My posts are so real to the truth of who I am that I've even shared this blog with my mother, my husband, and several other friends. I take extreme offense to the 'Anon' comments where they assume to know me better than myself. I don't post things here with the hopes that someone will tell me how great I am. I post my past, my present, my future. I post about the things I've been through that have made me stronger and the ones that still cause me to be weak in the knees. I share my pain not for pity but for comfort or understanding to some other soul that has been in a place similar to mine. This commenter has reduced my 'blog friends' to figments of my imagination or parts of a fairy tale I've spun around myself. I'd like to ensure this commenter that if I were spinning my own fairy tale the story would be written much differently. You see, we don't choose to be 'damaged' or to carry baggage that weighs down our shoulders to the point that we feel broken. We live with the circumstances that life has dealt us and some of us, if we're lucky, examine our flaws with the hopes that someday we'll see them as parts of a whole. Parts we love just as dearly as the characteristics we celebrate.
The friends that I've made here are real to me. I choose not to place their lives under a microscope in which I spend any amount of time trying to determine what parts of their posts are real. I read what they write, I take in what I can, I respond with the goodness that I know resides within my heart. You see, that's all we can do isn't it? We can only take in what life allows. I find it most amazing that although you seem to despise what I write, you still seem to frequent my blog and take time out of your own fairy tale perfect life to leave me comments.
I assure you dear Anonymous commenter, you do not know me. Even if by chance you happen to have made my acquaintance outside of this place, you have never been allowed inside the realms of my world. As for your last comment about the darkness not being able to hide all my flaws, it appears you may be right but I thank God for that reality because each and every day that I walk this earth, my flaws become the reasons I survive.
One last suggestion to this 'Anon' person, maybe if you spent a little more time examining your own life and less time looking at mine, you might find that your hands are quite full of your own baggage.
Have you ever been afraid of the dark? I don't think I'm like most people because it's not the darkness I'm afraid of, it's the light. It's the sun shining down on the parts of me I've kept hidden so that, well, they are not a secret anymore. To me, the darkness has always been my night light, casting shadows on the things that scare me so I don't have to see them. When I turn off the light I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders because when it's 'light outside' the burden of 'appearances' lay heavily upon me. In the light people can see your flaws, the ones you've worked so hard to conceal and no matter how hard you try to flee underground where the light cannot penetrate, somehow your feet can never take you there fast enough.
Someone told me once, "darkness may seem like the only place you can be yourself when really it's the place you pretend not to be yourself." God I've gotten good at pretending.
Maybe tomorrow I'll plug-in that princess night-light. Hey, you have to start small right?
I knew that yesterday was going to be cold. It was splashed all over the news..."Snow Flurries Coming," but for some reason it didn't prompt me to dig out my winter coat. So there I was standing on the El platform freezing my #$@$ off wondering why I do that...procrastinate that is. When I try to remember how I started that nasty bad habit I really have no idea - that's how long I've been doing it. I procrastinate everything and although it ends up causing me a lot more stress in the end, somehow I've convinced myself that if I can put off something that may cause me even a moment of unpleasantness, it's all worth it. I believe that of course until things pile up like a heap of garbage that I'm forced to sort through. I realize not that I not only procrastinate on things like digging out winter clothes or grocery shopping, I am an emotional procrastinator as well. There are so many things in my life that I've shoved to the back of my proverbial closet to allow me a few more brief 'pretend' moments of peace. It's amazing really how long you can actually live in denial or how often you can actually succeed at pushing off the 'bad things' you don't want to deal with. But then one day you'll find yourself standing on an El platform freezing your arse off and you'll realize that no matter how long you procrastinate, eventually the 'bad stuff' comes right back around to you.
I guess I really need to work on changing that about myself, the procrastination thing. I'm not exactly sure where to start but I think a really good place might be digging through that crap in my closet to find my warm winter coat. I'm really tired of being cold.
Have a wonderful weekend!
I want you all to know how much comfort reading your comments brings to me. For so many years I considered myself an enigma. When I began blogging I never realized just how much I had to say and how many people would actually listen. Although I wish none of the pain I've endured on another human being, I must admit that knowing there are so many others who have been through similar things helps me heal. It's sad really, the realization that pain exists no matter what walk of life you come from but it also brings hope because those same wounded souls have found the strength they need to make life better. If we put all of our scars end to end we'd probably be able to cover much more than half the world wouldn't we? Maybe what we really need to do is use that distance that our scars cover, as a bridge to get to some place better.
Every day I wake up there will be scars reminding me where I've been before this moment but when I open my window and look out at the tiny bridges we've built to get to each other - I'll know that scars can fade into something more pleasing to the eye, something you are not afraid to look at.
My father came up to visit for the weekend and we took Alice to the zoo. I love watching the way my dad interacts with her. He talks to her like she's a little adult and she loves the way it makes her feel important. As our day was wrapping up and we were headed back to our car my dad says, "I could sure use a cold beer." Doesn't seem like anything extraordinary does it? Well it wouldn't be if my father were not an alcoholic. In a matter of seconds I felt like I'd traveled back what seems like a million years ago to that scared twelve year old sitting on a bar stool at her father's favorite pub. I remember watching my father tip back beer after beer, occasionally glancing my way to make sure I hadn't moved. I remember feeling abandoned. I remember feeling trapped in a reality I couldn't escape. As I stood there staring at my father as he seemed oblivious that his remarks would bother me at all I responded, "I could have used a father when I was growing up." He didn't respond and now there was this uncomfortable silence surrounding us. We both quickly pretended that the moment hadn't occurred at all just like we've done a hundred times before but denial only comforts you momentarily.
After we got home and Alice went down for a nap we sat in my living room and it was apparent that neither of us knew how to get past the moment we tried to deny existence. "Did you ever forgive me," he asked. I sat there for a moment not knowing what to say. I know I've tried to forgive him and sometimes I think I've actually convinced myself that I have but then the reality of his disease stands firmly in front of me and the pain that's accumulated all these years seems to be the only thing I can acknowledge. "I'm not sure I know how to do that," I responded. Forgiving someone has always been hard for me. People hurt you and sometimes they don't mean to but other times they inflict that pain even when they are fully aware of it. I know he has a disease, one that he cannot control but this huge part of me despises the part of him that has never tried to control it. I think about Lash and how lucky his kids are that their father loves himself and them enough to get sober. Why didn't my dad feel the same? Why even now at the age of 38 do I still feel so 'affected' by his choices? I ask myself if I did to my children what my dad did to me, would I want them to forgive me? It's a hard question to answer because there's this huge part of me that believes that forgiving my father enables him to relinquish his guilt. Maybe there's this twisted little part of me that thinks his guilt is the only thing that allows me any sort of vindication. Maybe I'm afraid that if I forgive him it makes all the pain I've endured meaningless.
So we sat there, a father humbled by his mistakes and a daughter broken by them. So many times I've convinced myself that I'm whole, that I've accepted who and what my father is but the truth is I do not know if I'll ever be able to. I still wonder what he sees at the bottom of that beer bottle and if it's magnificent enough to keep him from looking up at the life he's throwing away.
This post is dedicated to dear Caterpillar's friend. Although he is a stranger to me, the pain he is going through is familiar. It's as familiar as my favorite pair of slippers, the ones with the cracked sole, the faded velvet, the tiny tear around the edge that makes my left foot slip out the side as I walk just...so. As unattractive as those slippers are I cannot seem to let them go. Sometimes pain becomes like that, an old slipper that fits just right. We convince ourselves that it's comfortable enough to keep because letting it go means breaking in another life, more moments, more memories - that may or may not fit as well as what we're wearing right now. But as hard as we try to keep what is, sometimes what we once thought was 'comfortable enough' becomes what causes the blister to form on the back of our heel. We begin to limp and eventually we're caught off balance and if we're lucky someone is there to catch us before we fall into a place where no arms could reach.
One day you'll go to put those old slippers on and you'll realize, they really don't fit at all. You'll pick them up, turn them in your hands as you reminisce about how they once seemed to be the only thing you could stand to wear. But then, you'll see all the cracks in the foundation you've walked on and decide, it's time for a new pair. It may be awhile before you throw them out, they may sit at the back of your closet buried beneath the new things you've tried to replace them with but just as Spring always promises to bring new life, they will make their way back to the top of the pile just in time to make Friday's garbage pick-up. As you toss them out in the back alley trash can a small pang of 'what may have been' will cause you to hesitate. But you'll glance down at your feet and notice how the limp has gone and you'll let them go. You'll close the lid and you'll walk away and next Friday when garbage pick-up rolls around again, you'll be waiting with another pair of 'old sneakers' that no longer fit you.
Empty your closet dear Caterpillar's friend and try on a new pair of shoes.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
Sometimes, we hold on to something that makes us feel 'safe'. We hold it tight and hope that it will 'pacify' us even if it's only for a moment. And sometimes someone comes along and tells you that it's time, time to let it go, time to be brave enough to face the world without that 'security'. It might be something we've held on to for what seems like forever, like pain. Something familiar even if it's painful, is better than not recognizing anything about yourself, isn't it? In a last attempt to hide our 'insecurity' we paint our faces hoping that we'll blend into nothingness and no one will notice, we are still very weak. In our minds we know that no material thing really makes us more 'secure' but we hold on to it anyway. Maybe it's just the mere act of being able to hold it, to own it - that makes life seem a little less out of control. And then one day we wake up and feel strong enough to try. We walk in circles around ourselves before laying down our 'security blanket' and glance over our shoulders a hundred times before actually walking away. But we do, walk away. We straighten up our shoulders, put one foot in front of the other, and we go on and the things we needed before to make us feel 'secure' - become mementos tucked away in a dusty hope chest.
Is it it time now, to throw away the pacifier?
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
Thanks for all your comments on my Friday post and it turns out the book Tab recommended is one my mom already has. I asked her if she'd heard of it and she said 'yes'. "Have you read it," I asked not meaning to sound sarcastic. "I suppose it's time to read it again isn't it," she replied? You see, I learned how not to let go from my mother. She dwells on things, things that have passed, things she has no control over, things that matter less then she thinks they do. I can remember the numerous men in her life that fell into that category "needs saving." Even when I think back to the friends she had, most of them needed saving too. I guess she figured that she couldn't save herself so if she helped someone else it might even out the score. Sound familiar? Isn't it funny how strong we become by saving other people yet when the tables turn and it's us that needs a hero, somehow we're paralyzed?
My last attempt to save a man was about 5 years ago and he was the man I moved to Chicago for. I was desperately in love with him but he needed to be saved from himself before he could love me the way I wanted him to. I still remember the day he broke my heart and the pain that consumed me. It was the moment that the last piece of string that held me together - snapped. As much as I hated him for breaking my heart he was also the reason I sought help. There's something about hitting rock bottom that makes you look up because there's nothing left to look down at. Over the weekend I went into the restaurant that he owns like I've done many times since I've put my heart back together and one of my old friends told me that he just got divorced. I remember when he got married only 8 months after we broke up (we'd dated for 2 1/2 years) and I was devastated once again because I wanted that person to be me. I can't say I ever really got over him. I'm a true believer that you never really get over love you just learn how to live without it or to love someone else. I learned how to ache less, how to trust myself enough to allow love back into my life but at times, I still miss him. When I heard that he just went through a divorce I didn't feel any of the satisfaction that I thought I would from his apparent loss; I felt sadness. As much as he hurt me I still loved him and wanted him to be happy even if it wasn't with me. I'm mostly whole now with only tiny bits still missing but my life doesn't belong to that same broken girl who chased after a man that couldn't love her. I left that girl behind and maybe that was the very first step towards walking away.
I thought that I still couldn't do it, walk away from pain and then some higher power sent me a reminder. Sometimes we cannot see the distance between what was and what is. More times than not we spend so much time convincing ourselves to look forward that we forget to glance back to remember where we started. People always tell you that it's looking to the future that saves you but sometimes it's what's in the rear view mirror that moves you in any direction at all.
P.S. I've added a new artist to my list of favorites and to you he's going to be an unknown. Ryan Star was on RockStar Supernova and he won my support after hearing a few of his originals so I bought his cd "Eye of the Elephant". Some of my favorites can be found here and the song I've chosen for Musical Monday is "So Ordinary" which seems to be fitting. I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.