Looking For The Good

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Earlier, I wrote a blog post.  It started off OK, but then, as my writing often does, it began to head in a direction that surprised me.  My angst and frustration was pouring out through my fingertips!   My opinions are often strong.  My feelings are often deep.  That doesn’t mean that I need to throw all of my negativity out here on my poor blog.  I deleted that post, but still… I do feel better.  Writing it all out, pounding away at the keyboard, relieved some of the heaviness I was feeling.  Now, I’m going to concentrate on a few things that will head me in a better direction.  Here is another installment of things that make me happy.  🙂

 

1.  Coming Home!

My son, Andrew is coming home to visit this weekend.  I will be heading to the train station to pick him up in about an hour.  He called me a few minutes ago and told me how much he’s looking forward to riding in a car, seeing Pepper the Wondercat, and playing the piano.  He will only be home for the weekend, but it’s going to be great to have a chance to hang out with him.  He is so excited and happy  about school, and he’s excited for me to read a screenplay that he is working on.  Please keep him in your thoughts.  Send positive energy our way.  I’m so thrilled that it appears that he has found his niche.  I want his happiness and success to continue.  Oh, after all the troubles of this past year, it feels so good to relax and smile over my sweet son.

 

2.  My Trooper

The brakes went out on my car.  While that doesn’t make me happy, I just got a call from the mechanic telling me that she’s all fixed and ready to go.  I love my mechanic.  He is like the “Soup Nazi” of mechanics.  He’s from Israel and speaks with a thick, heavy accent.  He yells at me each time something goes wrong with my car.  My poor Troop has over 100K miles, and this is the first time I have had to fix the brakes.  Yet, he told me this morning, “You have to stop riding the brakes, Pam!”  I love that guy!  He always gives me exactly what I expect.

 

3.  T.  I love T.

He is the most straight-forward and honest man I have ever known.  I sent him a text this morning, “Sorry that I was being bitchy.”  (I was not happy to have to drive his  little peanut of a car to work this morning.)  When an hour went by without a response to my text, I called him.  I asked if he had gotten the text.  Yep.  I asked why he didn’t respond.  He said, “What did you want me to say, ‘Yeah, you really WERE a bitch this morning.'”  We both laughed.  Later, he called me during lunch just to say hello.  When I got back to the office, I saw that he had logged onto our cat’s Facebook account and “poked” me.  Pretty sweet guy.   More and more, I appreciate how simple he is to deal with.  I trust him.  He cares for me and those around him.  Safe and dependable.  While that might sound kind of boring, it sure beats the alternative!

 

4. Pixelmoda Watches!  

Once when I was in Chicago, I saw a woman wearing an amazing watch.  I seriously could not stop looking at it.  I loved the color, my favorite green.  I loved the size and the style.  I went on a mission to find this watch, and I found it online.  I now am the proud owner of a fabulous mint green watch.  I was prepared to pay a lot more money, but it only cost $24.99.  Not bad for an amazing watch!  To make my happy ending even happier, I wore the watch to Chicago on my last visit, and a lady on the train asked me where I had gotten it!  I was so very happy to help her find her way to true “watch love.”

 

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I hope we can all remember to take the time out to SEE the good things around us and to take a deep breath of appreciation.

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Who Am I, and Why Am I Here?

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The Luncheon.

If this LIFE is a play, I’m not sure what part I am supposed to be playing.  I look around me, and everyone else seems pretty clear about their role.  Meanwhile, I feel like I am floundering to figure that big mystery out.

It’s been a weird past week, full of Stepford Wives, lesbians, and religious zealots.  I suppose a weird week is kind of typical for me lately.  Many times, I feel invisible in the midst of it all swirling around me.  I observe.  I watch everyone else.  I wonder where I fit into the whole crazy theme.  What do I feel strongly about?  What is MY passion?  Where am I headed?  I don’t even want to think about where I’ve been…

Before I left on my trip last week, I spoke at a luncheon on a military base.  It was a gathering of the Officers’ Wives Welcome Club.  Many of these women were new to the community.  Most of them have spent their entire married lives following their husbands around from base to base and country to country.  I admire their commitment and their strength, but there was something that was really odd about the gathering.  Most of these women don’t work.  They have not been able to grow their own careers due to the frequency of their husbands’ moves.  That is admirable and understandable.  Nevertheless, I was unprepared for this group of women.  There they were in the middle of a “workday” all dressed up at a luncheon at the Officer’s Club.  Yes, and they WERE dressed up in a strange kind of way.  They didn’t look like the women I normally encounter in the course of a business day.  They looked frilly and girly, lots of lace and floral fabrics, curls, and pearls.  A staff member was with me, and she sent me a text during lunch.  “It smells like my grandma’s closet in here!  Looks like it, too!”  I knew just what she meant.

Earlier that morning, I had briefly planned a speech.  I don’t usually bring note cards or even write notes.  I talk off the cuff about current projects.  As I looked around the room, I wasn’t sure if these ladies would really be interested in my standard economic development speech.  I was suddenly nervous.  The president of the group was talking about a “Home Tour,” a golf tournament, and an upcoming “Fashion Show.”  I felt like I was in a time warp!  I remembered my mother dragging me to tons of events like this luncheon when I was a little girl.  It was how women filled their time.  Back then….it was how women filled their time.  I had no idea it was still going on!

I spoke briefly to the glazed-over crowd.  I talked about our Visitor’s Guide, local merchants and restaurants.  I wanted to run out of there.  The entire experience freaked me out.  We discussed it back at the office.  I wasn’t alone in feeling shaken by the experience.  Why was that?  What was that?

There but by the grace of God go I.  

The Conference

I am home now, and so happy to be back.  The conference was in Charlotte, NC at the convention center.  Other than my organization, there was another large group meeting at the convention center, too, the Eucharistic Congress.  There were hundred of priests and large groups from area churches.  Nuns, people in black robes, others carrying large crosses or statues.  They all seemed to know what they were doing and why they were there.  The seemed purposeful.  There were large rooms labeled “Adoration,” or “Confession,” or “Meditation.”

On the first day I was not feeling well, and headed out to find a pharmacy.  I didn’t know where to go, but thanks to Google Maps and my Droid, some unknown voice guided me to a CVS and back to the conference center before lunch was served.  While I was still marveling about the wonder of having GPS on my phone, I saw a group of ladies wearing bright pink shirts that said, “Jesus Is My GPS.”  Huh…  Not that I don’t believe in Jesus, but I don’t think I would have had much luck if I would have used prayer to find the CVS.  It just tickled me.  I pictured myself down on my knees praying to God to guide me to a pharmacy.

Snobs – or Where are YOU from?  Oh…..   I see….  

When I sat down to lunch that day, I was with a group from the Chicago area.  I vaguely knew most of them.  We all had similar jobs in our respective communities.  We sat wondering/discussing this large religious group sharing the facility.  I related my story to them about the women in the pinks GPS shirts.  The one named Kimberly, not Kim (if anyone calls and asks for Kim, her staff knows NOT to put through the call!) said she had seen the women, too.  She said, “Oh yes, I saw them.  You know, the ones with the big hair and frumpy clothes.  They looked like a bunch of ‘Downstaters.'”  Oh, how I loved telling KIM that I was a ‘Downstater,’ too!

The rest of the meal (and each time I was with these people) was spent posturing for prestige and importance.  Their particular burb or neighborhood was VERY, EXTREMELY important to them.  They wanted to make sure that everyone knew how incredible they were!  Bleh!!!

You’re NOT a Lesbian?  Gross!

Turns out that I am a freak.  Yes, there was the Lesbian Dinner where I was the only one of five women who had ever been married to a man or (God forbid) given birth to a child.  It really freaked them out when they heard how many years I’ve been married.  27 years???  Four kids???  I caught them staring at me curiously (and I hope not hungrily!) for the rest of the conference.

On the last night of the conference, I sat with a group from Canada.  There was a woman about my age, and it turned out that she was also married with children.  By that point in the evening, I was comfortably buzzed from the champagne bar, so I asked her.  “Have you felt like some kind of oddity at this conference?”  She knew just what I meant, and we sat laughing for a long time.  Yes, we were the freaks at this conference.

Alone

The last day of the conference, I was alone.  My friend had flown home a day earlier than me.  I was going to catch a flight out the next morning, but wanted to have an afternoon to explore the city.  I walked miles and miles and truly enjoyed myself.  I sat on benches.  I looked at architecture.  I browsed in shops.  The only thing that disturbed my peace that day were the comments or stares from men.  Trust me, I’m not a looker, but what with the large number of women uninterested in men, I suppose I’m OK.  The comments and behavior was rude, though.  Men can be so damn rude and insincere.

I had dinner in a very nice restaurant that evening.  I dined alone for maybe the first time in my life.  I was OK with it, but it seemed to disrupt and disturb the entire wait staff.  They seemed to want me to eat and get the hell out of there.  The manager came over about four times to talk to me.  “Was I alone?  What brought me to the city?  How long was I staying?”  Well, I thought it was all very nice that he was being  so attentive.  That is, I thought it was nice until he discreetly passed me his card with his cell phone number written on the back.  He said, “Hey, give me a call later.  I’d be glad to show you around the city.”  Oh, I bet he would…  What do you bet he had a wife and kids at home!

Home

It was wonderful to see the girls.  It was good to see T.  We had dinner around our kitchen table last night, and I was happy to be there.  Lola and I watched a few retro-cartoons together.  I’m teaching her about “Wally Gator.”  I loved him as a little kid!  I ran the vacuum.  I unpacked.  I couldn’t have been happier to be a freak at home with my husband and kids.

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

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A day of travel, and then conference Day One is over.  I’m already worn out, and I have three more days of this ahead of me.  Tomorrow, I’m going to be kind to myself mentally and not feel like I have to socialize quite as much…or at all if I don’t feel like it.

The conference is fantastic, and I get re-energized to be around so many people who care about all of this as much as I do.  I read “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” over my solitary breakfast, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Before dinner, I headed down to the bar for a drink before meeting up with everyone, and I read, “The Case For Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail.”  It was gripping!  The United States ranks 8th worldwide in high speed rail investment.  That is shameful.  As you can see, I’m having a WILD time!!!

Tonight I had dinner with four other women.  Three of them were lesbians.  “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  It was strange, though, and although I am most definitely NOT attracted to women, as I sat there, I thought about the merit of not having to deal with men!  (Just kidding, my male friends!)

After dinner, my one non-lesbian friend and I had a nightcap in the hotel bar.  She was upset.  Her boyfriend was on a business trip and had not called or emailed the entire time he had been gone.  As we sat there, she opened up her iPad and looked at Facebook.  Of course, he had been on Facebook.  He’d uploaded pictures, updated his status, and checked into restaurants.  There was something else, a woman he had “mentioned” several times  was commenting and LIKE-ing almost everything on this guy’s page.  My friend asked for my advice, and I said, “DITCH HIM.”  I told her not to even give it a second thought.  She didn’t want to rule the guy, all she really wanted was to be treated with decency and common courtesy.  If he couldn’t manage that, then get rid of the loser!

My friend had sent him a brief email from the airport as she set out on her own trip.  “Have a great time in DC.”  He hadn’t called.  He hadn’t emailed back.  He hadn’t even sent a text.  Is it really asking too much for someone you care about to acknowledge your existence?  She and I sat and discussed it.  We live almost 200 miles apart, and communicate often.  If she emails me, I respond.  She responds to me as well.  I asked her if it would hurt her feelings if I didn’t reply to her.  What if I ignored her if she sent me an email or a text?  What would she think?  She said, “I’d think you were a bitch!”  We laughed about it, but it made us both pause.  Why then, would she even consider continuing a relationship with this man?  Why try to keep him as a friend, let alone sleep with him?  Why do we hang onto toxic relationships?  Why do we try to “teach” or “help” those around us be who or what we need them to be?  If the guy is a jerk, then he is a jerk.  My friend agonizing over it is not going to change a thing.  She is fun, intelligent, and extremely successful.  She would not allow anyone in her life to step all over her, yet when it comes to her “love relationship,” she is vulnerable.  She doesn’t apply the same criteria to that part of her life as she does to all other areas.  Too many of us are guilty of doing that same thing.  I know I am, have been.  We value ourselves less than those around us, and it needs to stop.  Expecting to be treated decently and fairly by those we allow into our heart and our lives is NOT expecting too much.  I reminded my friend that she was not expecting one thing from him that she was not willing to give in return.  She would never treat someone she cared for in such a callous manner.  She should expect no less in return.

I’ve spent a great deal of time lately in quiet observation of those around me.  Common themes, behaviors, and actions are beginning to surface.  I am learning, or I am trying to learn.  I am attempting to concentrate on peace, inner peace.  What I am trying to avoid is becoming brittle or self-righteous.  I want to trust.  I want to love.  I want to continue to have high expectations of those around me.  I want to treat people with care, respect, and love, and I want to receive those same things in return.

Today I stepped outside during lunch and wandered around the area.  I discovered a meditation garden behind the chapel across the street from my hotel.  It was lush, green, and beautiful.  There was a sign that read, “Shhhh…  Peaceful Meditation Area.”  Just seeing those words allowed me to take a deep breath.  I wished to enter the garden, sit, and cry.  I’m not sure why, but that is what I imagined myself doing.  I didn’t have time to indulge in a good cry at that moment.  I had another conference session to attend.  In the morning, though, I am going to take some time for myself and visit the little garden.  I don’t want to cry, but probably though,  I will.  Even if I do, I hope that peace, even a little tiny fraction of peace, awaits me.

 

Boy, You Complete Me!

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“Perfect Two” is a song that plays often in my household.  I have a love/hate relationship with the song.  Musically, it’s a cute song.  It’s sweet.  I love the simplicity of an acoustic song.

My daughters are as funny as can be singing this song together, and usually quite loudly.  The BEST thing about this song is that T sings it!  He learned it word for word as a joke on the girls.  One day, it came on, and he started belting it out.  VERY out of character for T, and he got the results he wanted.  The girls stopped whatever they were doing and looked on in amazement.  “Dad!!!  How do you know this song???”  That’s a sweet memory for me, and I think of it each time I hear the song.

Now the hate part of the song.  I cringe at the lyrics.  You might ask why.  They are sweet and loving.  “You can be the peanut butter to my jelly…”  Yep, that’s pretty sweet.  It’s this line that chills me each time I hear it:  “Don’t know if I could ever be without you, cuz boy you complete me.”  Uh oh…  COMPLETE ME.  Is she missing a piece of herself without him?  An arm, a leg?  Her heart?  Would an internal organ stop functioning if “Boy” were to go away?

It’s the classic Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White/Prince Charming song.  She is not COMPLETE without her man (or boy.)  As little girls, at least in my generation, we were spoon fed this concept.  Someone will one day come along, and our lives will be complete.  I am trying so hard to make sure that my daughters understand this concept is a fairy tale.  They are already complete, capable, competent human beings all on their own.  Someday, they will fall in love, but that love will enhance their lives, not complete them.

So when “Perfect Two” comes on in our household, the first thing the girls do is wait for is their father to start singing.  The next thing, for their mother to once again launch into a discussion about Being Complete.  “Yeah, Mom.  We know…”

 

 

 

 

A Word of Kindness

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the

blind can see.  ~ Mark Twain

I haven’t had much time for blog writing lately, and I’ve missed that.  I’ve been doing a lot of writing, though.  Last week was spent writing pages and pages of a grant narrative.  I was often frustrated as I sat staring at the screen willing the words to flow.  It was so very different from writing in the blog.  When I write HERE, the words flow without much thought.  Often, I don’t know where a blog post is even heading until I’m finished writing.  Last week, though, I was a frustrated writer.  At one point, when someone stepped into my office, they asked me if I was having trouble seeing.  I didn’t understand what they were referring to until I realized that I had a pair of reading glasses on my head, one on my face, and yet another tucked into the front of my shirt.

Eventually, I did complete my writing assignment.  The mass of papers was mailed out, and now I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will be blessed by the powers that be with a grant to fund the project.  By the time my words made it to the Post Office, it felt very much like stuffing my child into a large envelope and hoping for the best.

The boys are doing well away from home.  The girls are busy with their lives, school, and friends.  T and I are finding our way around a much-too-large space that was once occupied by the bustle of four kids.  All around me I feel change and transition.  I’m waiting it out, yet feeling a sense of isolation, melancholy, and loneliness.  Even so, I know that the dust will eventually settle, a new routine will become established, the voids I am experiencing now will be someday soon be filled with new activities and interests.  Still….  I don’t like this in-between time of waiting for all of that to happen.

I have been making a point to acknowledge to myself all of the GOOD things in my life by taking a moment and a deep breath of appreciation when something good comes my way.  Can I call that “cultivating” the good?  I am trying to exorcise the bad experiences, bad memories, harmful thought processes, by redirecting myself toward the good as often as possible.

Today is a busy work day.  I am speaking at a luncheon this afternoon, which means I have to ON.   Bleh…  Don’t feel like being ON.  Tomorrow will be even busier with meetings and my obligation to take my mother to the doctor.  On top of all that, I will be packing to leave for a conference on Friday.  There will be no weekend for me.  I’ll be sitting in conference sessions a thousand miles away from home.  I already miss my daughters at the very thought of leaving them.

A ray of sunshine entered my grouchy morning, though.  I received an email out of the blue, and it was full of kindness.  God Bless this Good Person!  It was a simple act of reaching out and spreading goodwill for NO OTHER REASON THAN TO BE KIND.  How incredibly needed and refreshing that felt.  Someone thought of me.  They thought kindly of me.  They reached out to me.

I know we haven’t seen each other in a while, but I wanted to let you know you are doing a great job.  (Name of my employer)  is lucky to have someone like you.

Thanks for everything you do!

My gosh!  I had tears in my eyes.  This person had no way of knowing what those simple words meant to me.  I will remember that feeling, and I will pass it on.  That’s one reason I’m sharing it here on my blog.  Take a moment today, please, to make someone feel valued.  Take a moment to be kind.  Pass it on!

Create Kindness!

A Decade of Change

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Last Sunday was September 11th, a decade since THE September 11th, but that’s not what this post is about.  In no way do I want to minimize that horrible day, but this post is not about that horror.  Instead, this post is about the passage of time.

Each year, I feel a sense of dread as September 11th approaches.  There was an incredible loss of life and a loss of innocence, trust, and safety.  I didn’t know anyone who died on that tragic day, but still I mourn.  All of our lives changed, and most of us have grown accustomed to the impact of  increased security, awareness, and caution.  Now we take the changes in stride.  A decade later, we don’t give the changes in our lives much thought.

Last Sunday, I didn’t plan on watching the footage that I knew would be playing over and over again on many channels.  It was a beautiful fall day.  For the first time in weeks, I had nothing planned.  It was the first weekend in over a month that I could spend any way I chose.  The boys were moved back to school.  It was one of those perfect Sunday mornings that was filled with relaxation and possibility.

T was in the kitchen frying bacon.  He was making french toast for the girls.  When I walked into the living room, Emily had a news channel on, and I was drawn in to what she was watching.  I couldn’t look away.  Em was on the couch, and I sat down in the red chair.  We sat and watched, remembering  that day a decade ago.  I worked at the grade school back then, and  Emily was in first grade.  I went to work before school started, and she and Luke sat in my office with me until the bell rang.  Luke was in third grade.  Andy was across the street at the middle school in sixth grade.  Lola?  There was no Lola.  There were no plans to even have  Lola!  Emily and I laughed about that, and then we once again turned back to the TV.

Lola came wandering into the room in her jammies.  She snuggled up to me, sat down,  and watched for a little while.  She asked, “Is this real?”  When I said that it was, she asked, “Is it happening right now?”  She was drawn in, too.   She sat still and quiet next to me.

Before long, I had to walk away.  I went upstairs to hide my tears.  I stood in the bathroom shaking and remembering.  Eventually, I calmed down and went back down to the living room.  T was had finished cooking the bacon and was trying to entice the girls to come to the kitchen and eat, but they didn’t want to stop watching TV.  I sat back down with Lola.  T stood by my chair and watched for a little while, too.

T said, “Think of how your life has changed since then, Pam.”  Yes, I agreed.  Things are different now, and he said, “No, think of how YOUR life has changed.  Your whole life is different.”  I sat and thought about what he said.  It was profound, at least to me.  It has been unbelievable and unexpected, this journey of the past decade.  Of all the decades of my life, these past ten years have held more changes than I would have ever imagined possible.  Some of them were wonderful.  Many of them were incredible, impossible.  Others, I would choose to erase if I could.

The boys are gone now.  They’re grown up and pursuing their own dreams.  My little first-grader has become a beautiful young woman and my best friend, full of love and compassion.  These past ten years have flown by, and without even noticing, my three little children have become wonderful adults.  And Lola….  Where did she come from?  She was not even a thought back then, yet here she is, this old-soul full of wisdom.  While so much has changed, the blessings of having these wonderful children in my life has never faltered.

And me?  Not much about my life, or ME, is the same.  I no longer work part-time at the local grade school.  Back then, I had no desire for a “career,” yet life lead me down a different path and to a career that I love.  I knew what T meant when he said that my life has changed.  In the past decade, our family has changed.  Our marriage has changed.  The dust still hasn’t settled from all of the changes.  The direction is still not clear.  We are still in the midst of a journey, not knowing where it will eventually lead us.

People have come in and out of my life.  Some have remained and are now a part of the daily fabric of my life.  Others have chosen not to remain in my life.  Dad is gone.  Mom is now my responsibility.  I am in the process of emptying out my childhood home and preparing it for sale.  Many of the things I had hoped, dreamed, envisioned for my life are not to be.  My focus has changed.  In some cases, I have fought that change, kicking and screaming.   The clear lens that once held my view of life is often cloudy now.  I stretch and strain to see through the lens that is my life, but it is impossible to get a clear view.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ I Corinthians

Excuses and Enabling

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Enabling behavior is born out of our instinct for love.   It’s only natural to want to help someone we love, but when it comes to certain problems — helping is like throwing a match on a pool of gas.

 

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  Addiction runs in my family.  It runs in my husband’s family as well.  While my own father’s drinking problem did not begin until after I was out of the house and married, I was still profoundly affected by his alcoholism.  My late father in law was also an alcoholic.  Our mothers constantly made up excuses for them.  None of us believed the excuses, but our politeness required us to play along.  We enabled the enablers.

It got bad.  Both of our father’s hit their all-time high (or low, depending on how you look at it) when our daughter Grace was in the hospital.  Imagine a drunken grandpa carrying a rocking chair through a large university hospital and arguing with a nurse at the door of the neonatal intensive care unit when he was not allowed to present it to his new granddaughter.  The stress of our dying daughter pushed both of our fathers to the edge.  Our mothers, instead of keeping them away from our already horrible situation, plastered smiles on their faces, rolled their eyes, made excuses, and pretended that our fathers were not sloshed.

Of course, I have forgiven my dad.  That was years ago, and Dad is gone now, too.  He died on the anniversary of little Grace’s death.  I often think of them together now.  I was able to forgive my dad, because he recovered.  He made amends.  He allowed me to vent.  During my dad’s six-weeks of inpatient treatment, almost 20 years ago now, I confronted him about the many ways his drinking had harmed me.  I had refused to attended family therapy with he and my mother.  I had divorced myself from their problems.  I was pregnant and taking care of two little boys at the time.  I wanted/needed to concentrate on my own family, not my parents’ continuing issues.  I didn’t participate in their counselling sessions.  Instead, I wrote my dad a letter and gave it to his therapist.  The therapist didn’t think my dad would recover.  His words:  “Your dad is full of bullshit.  He thinks that he’s more intelligent than everyone here.  He thinks he can bullshit his way through recovery, get back out, and go back to hiding his problem.”  As I have gone through my dad’s belongings, I have expected to find that letter.  So far, though, it has not surfaced.

Thankfully, that therapist was wrong.  My dad did recover.  He helped many, many others find their way to sobriety, too.   One of the happiest-saddest-most profound-most comforting moments of my life was at my dad’s funeral.  As I stood at the head of his casket greeting those who had come to pay their respects, one person after another whispered in my ear, “I knew your dad from Tuesday nights.”  Some of them knew him from his Thursday night meetings.  Some of them showed me their AA coins discreetly as they passed by.  They loved him.  Some said, “Your dad saved my life.”  T and I were moved and overwhelmed as the back two pews of the church filled up with my father’s AA family.   In the midst of my grief, I was so very proud of my dad.  His pain, his addiction, and his recovery had profoundly and positively affected so many people.  I was proud to be proud of my dad.

As for T’s father.  He never recovered.  He has been dead now for over a decade.  I don’t think T has ever forgiven him.  There is much about T’s father that I don’t know.  It was bad.  I do know that much, but it’s something that T won’t discuss.  Even though T was hurt and damaged by his experience of growing up with an alcoholic father, what he took away from those experiences was how NOT to behave.

We are products of our environment.  I am part addict and part enabler.  I have struggled with both sides of my personality.  I have skated too close to the edge of behavior that was not healthy.  I have excused the behavior of others, even when there was no forgivable excuse.  At the root of it all is ENABLING.

When we behave in a way that we know is not healthy, we excuse ourselves.  We enable ourselves.  When we allow those in our lives to “get away” with bad, hurtful, or self-destructive behavior, we are not helping them.  We are hurt them.   We are hurting ourselves.

What if we all called a spade, a spade?  What if T and I had said, “Dad, you’re drunk.  Leave.  Our daughter is dying.  This is inexcusable.”  What would the results of those words have been?

That incident in the hospital so many years ago is my first real memory of being an enabler. I knew that I was hurting myself.  I knew I was perpetuating a lie.  I knew that I was saying, “Oh, it’s OK.  Go ahead and act like an ass.  Go ahead and hurt me.  I’ll pretend not to notice.”  Did I really think I was “being polite” to no confront my father, mother, and in-laws?  I’m not sure how we all justified that hiding their alcoholism was more important than making special the last moments spent with our dying daughter.  It’s sad and sick to think about.  That is what enabling is:  Sad and Sick.

While that incident was my first memory of enabling, it taught me nothing.  My enabling manifested itself in many shapes and many forms in the following years.  Worse than addiction, which is selfish and self-serving, enabling empties us of ourselves.  Enabling takes pieces, bit by bit, until we lose pieces of our own value.

Yes, this is a heavy subject tonight, but I am not feeling heavy as I write this.  Instead, I am feeling a weight lift.  This is a GOOD step.  Identifying a problem is the only way to begin addressing it!  I have a new filter, or I am going to learn to use a new filter.  Is this person being considerate?  Are they acting in my best interest?  Am I ignoring warning signs and red flags?  Tonight, I am feeling invigorated and optimistic.