On the downhill side…

Okay, before some of you young whippersnappers get the wrong idea, I’m not talking about the downhill side of life…I’m talking about the downhill side of the Christmas season as it pertains to the world of retail.  Once we make it through the Thanksgiving weekend it’s all about customer service and keeping the merchandise downstocked (you know, so people can buy it?). 

Finally the Thanksgiving weekend is over.  I know a lot of you were able to spend the weekend with family and friends.  There wasn’t much of that for me this year, just a lot of working…long hours…long, exhausting hours.  But we’re getting there, the end is in sight, the six day work weeks will end (eventually…not as soon as I thought they would, but still…), and I’m looking forward to a long winter’s nap…or at least an afternoon’s nap.

And I think there’s snow in the forecast for Tuesday…seems about right, it is almost December, isn’t it?

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Why do I have self esteem issues?

Abandonment

Image by Shooting Paradise via Flickr

After thinking about how I sometimes get down on myself, think and speak negatively to myself, it occurred to me that I still have some self-esteem issues to work on.  Probably most people have some issues with self-esteem at various times in their lives.  I know I’m better in that regard than I was in the past, but sometimes that little voice is still there whispering in my ear, “You’re not as good as____”, “You’ll never accomplish____”, or whatever else that the little devil on my shoulder decides to say to me.

What causes this?   For me, I think it goes back to my father not being there for me.  He wasn’t there for me in any way that mattered.  He wasn’t there physically and he wasn’t there for me emotionally.  The few times I did see him after the divorce, he never failed to comment on my weight.  And his comments were always negative, of course.  I eventually came to the conclusion (as only kids can do) that he wasn’t there for me because I was fat.  That makes me sad for the little girl that I was.  No kid should have to feel like that, ever.

I allowed that to affect me for way too many years.  After I finally realized that I didn’t cause him to behave the way he did, it was a long time before that really sunk in,  a long time before I finally accepted that he didn’t treat me the way I deserved to be treated.  He didn’t love me unconditionally.  Unconditional love is something that every child should be able to expect from their parents.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who are incapable of providing it.  And the children suffer because of the inadequacies of their parents.  Sad, but true.

Now that I’m in a place where I understand all of that, I guess the next step is giving myself that unconditional love.  I’m working on it, but it’s not something that comes easily.  Ahh…it’s so true that the things that matter most in life are often the things we must work the hardest to achieve. 

Men are better planners and organizers

You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into

Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this post by one of my friends (guy) on Facebook the other day.  Of course, he said he wasn’t trying to offend anyone…why is it, when someone says that, you know you’re about to be offended?  I didn’t respond.  Really, what’s the point?  Nothing I say is going to change his mind.   People believe what they want to believe and there’s not a lot you can do to change their beliefs.  All you end up doing, when you argue about something like that, is end up getting angry, saying some things that you can’t take back, and raising your blood pressure.  Just let it go.

I try not to make sweeping statements about any group of people.  There is no “all _____ are…”  or “no ___can ever…” or “never…” or “always…”  People are  different, with different abilities and talents, different dreams and desires, different interests, and different life situations.  That doesn’t mean that the Wall Street big wig is better than the guy flipping burgers at McDonald’s.  It simply means they are in different places in life.

I’m finally in a place in my life where I no longer compare myself to others.  I’m where I am because of choices I made, some good and some bad, but all mine.  That doesn’t make my life less (or more) important than the CEO of the company where I work. 

 How did we ever get to a place where we allow our work to define us as human beings?  What happened to being a good person?  What happened to developing good character?  What happened to making the world a better place for ourselves and our children?

I’m not particularly concerned with how most people see me, with whether or not they think I’m a success.  There are a few people in my life that I love with all my heart.  How I treat those people is my measure of success. 

Men are better planners and organizers?  My response to that… is that why the world is in such great shape now?  You have to wonder…

Have I ever really loved myself?

Illustration depicting thought.

Image via Wikipedia

Isn’t that a sad question?  Sad for anyone to wonder that about themselves.  What brought that to mind was my daily writing on 750words.com, saying that I want to treat myself like I deserve to be treated.  Then it hit me, maybe that’s always what  I’d been doing…treating myself like I thought I deserved to be treated.  That not doing good things for myself, eating trash, isolating myself from friends and family, not being nice to myself…that this was how I thought I deserved to be treated.  What a kick in the teeth to finally understand that I’d been treating myself  like dirt because that was all I thought I deserved.  Would I ever think that was how anyone else deserved to be treated?  Absolutely not.  So why would I think that was how I deserved to be treated?  Because what?  I’m different from everyone else, that no one else deserves to be disrespected, but I do?  But that’s exactly how I was treating myself, I was being disrespectful to myself.

Why?  Oh gee, I suppose most kids get wrapped up in how their parents love them…or how they don’t love them.  Yes, my mother absolutely loved me, of that I have no doubts.  And I’m thankful that I had her in my life.  My father, on the other hand, who knows?  I suppose he may have loved me in his way, but that way wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t what I needed.  It was not the unconditional love I craved.  It was full of doubt, insecurity, and abandonment.  One of his first comments, after not talking to me for nearly 20 years, was, “Are you still fat?” Seriously?  What kind of father says that to his daughter?  I guess the answer to that would be, the kind of father I got stuck with. 

Have you ever noticed that girls seem to base so much of their self-worth on how their fathers treat them?  That doesn’t speak well for our future when you stop to think about how many fathers are absent in the lives of their kids these days.  I’ve never had good self-esteem.  Now, as an adult, trying to figure things out, trying to make things better, I realize a lot of that has to do with the fact that I felt unlovable simply because I truly believed my father didn’t love me enough to be a part of my life.  Intellectually, I understand that it had everything to do with him and his demons and nothing at all to do with me, but how in the world do you take that understanding and transform it into changed beliefs and behavior?  Simply having the insight into the whys of your behavior isn’t enough to change that behavior…where do I go from here?

Right now, today, I don’t have the answers to that question.  All I know is that I want to reach a place in my life where I can answer the question,
“Have I ever really loved myself?” with a resounding “YES!!”

Your smallest actions can bring joy to others

toddler learning to walk

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes the very simplest things we do can bring great joy to others.  I think it’s often unintentional on our part, but that makes it all the more special.  I checked my emails this morning and had a Facebook message from my step sister about the father’s day blog I had written about her dad (my step dad).  Here’s what she said:

 

 
Kathy 5:28pm Aug 2
just wanted you to know that dad asked me to punch holes in the printout of your blog about Father’s day so he could keep it in a book. Is there any way you could copy and paste it to my email address so I can enlarge it? I left the copy at his house and he told me that he had read it again……said it took him forever, but that’s how much he enjoyed it!!……it’s almost impossible for him to read anything. Thanks again for all your kind words.
 
 

I was so touched by this.  My simple little blog brought joy to this very special man…a man who has brought so much joy to all of those who love him.  All I was trying to do was express my love and gratitude for all that Herald had done for us.  He managed to turn that around and bring joy to me with his simple request.  Funny how life works that way, isn’t it?

My friend deserved a better dad

Broken Heart symbol

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve got one more father’s day blog in me…I didn’t even intend to write this one, but I was doing my morning writing on http://750words.com/ and this came pouring out of me.  One of my best friends, from junior high on, was shortchanged in the dad department.  Really cheated.  No one was deserving of the dad she had.  He  molested his daughters from the time they were tiny little girls…and continued this until they moved away as adults.  There aren’t too many people in this world that I can honestly say I’ve hated, but this man is one of them.  He took my friend’s innocence and caused her to have so many emotional and psychological issues.  And she was never able to overcome this.

What kind of dad does this to his children, the children he has a responsibility to protect?  What possible excuse could he come up with, in his own mind, that made this okay?  Sure, who knows what happened to him as a child?  But he was the adult, the father…and he chose his despicable behavior toward his own daughters.  As cruel as it may sound, I don’t really care what happened to him…whatever it was, it doesn’t excuse what he did as an adult to those little girls.

I couldn’t even stand to be around him.  I know I was rude to him, but that was nothing close to what he deserved.  When my mom first found out who my friend’s father was, she told me to never be alone with him (I hadn’t told her what he’d done to his daughters).  Come to find out, he and my mom had gone to school together in a different southern Indiana town and he’d attempted some type of sexual behavior toward her on the school bus.  One time, I was at the grocery store, and someone came up behind me and grabbed me around the shoulders.  When I turned around and saw who it was, I told him to never touch me again.  My guess is, he probably knew from that moment on, that I knew about him.  Whatever….he never touched me again and had very little to say to me from that time on…fine with me.

As unfair as this may sound, I almost blame my friend’s mother as much as her father.  This woman knew what was happening to her precious little girls and didn’t do anything to stop it!  What kind of mother allows this kind of behavior to go on in her own home and doesn’t do everything possible to put an end to it?  Seriously, if she wasn’t brave enough to force him to stop (through whatever means necessary, and I do mean through WHATEVER means…take that how you will), she could have at least removed her children from the home.  Granted, back in those days, these types of situations weren’t talked about openly, there weren’t all the programs available then that there are now, but still…those were her babies and she allowed this monster she was married to to ruin their lives.

My friend was never able to overcome this.  I tried to get her to see a therapist, but she refused.  I tried repeatedly to get her to go for help in dealing with all that had happened to her, but I was never successful in this.  That’s a regret I’ll live with for the rest of my life.  What could I have done or said that would have made the difference?  I ask myself this question every year on her birthday, but I’ve yet to come up with an answer.  My friend died at the age of 37…weighing over 500 pounds, plagued by an assortment of health issues, depressed…I think she gave up…I think she couldn’t see a brighter future, couldn’t escape the chains her parents had bound her in, decided that dying was preferrable to living the life she’d been dealt.  And as awful as it sounds, that makes me angry with her.  I know I can’t come close to imagining the pain she endured on a daily basis, but, perhaps selfishly, I wanted her to fight it.  I wanted her to win that battle.  I wanted her to be able to shake her fists at her parents and shout at them, “I won!  You no longer control who I am or the life I lead!”  I wanted us to be able to become feisty, little old ladies together, and she gave up.  And that makes me both angry and sad…my friend deserved a better dad than the one she was given…

Happy Father’s Day to the real dads

Fathers Day Card

Yesterday I wrote about my biological father…he was my father, but he wasn’t much of a dad.  Today I want to recognize and express my gratitude to the man who was more of a dad to me than my father ever was.  My mom married Herald when I was maybe 19 years old.  He was, and is, such a good man…honest, reliable, compassionate, giving, fun to be around, wise and most of all, he loved my mom in a way in which she’d never been loved before.  For that alone, I’d be forever grateful to him.

Herald and Mom had so much fun together…they traveled all over the country square dancing (I know, it sounds boring but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves), they’d go out on the motorcycle, work together in the yard and garden, took up wood working together, took trips that I know my mom never imagined she’d be able to take (Hawaii, I think, was probably her favorite).  They brought so much joy into one another’s lives, it was such a good marriage for both of them.

Our families blended seamlessly…we had cook outs and holiday get togethers, we all got along and enjoyed spending time together.  All of the grandchildren were loved by both of their grandparents.  All the grandkids were treated the same by both Mom and Herald, loved equally.  And I know the grandkids loved both of them too.

Herald taught me to drive a car with a stick shift…and he didn’t get mad when I killed it a million times.  He helped me find a car when I needed a new one, taught me some of the basics of car care and house repair and upkeep.  He didn’t have to do those things for me, but I’m so thankful that he did.  He may not realize it, but he also taught me about honesty and committment.  When my mom got so sick, he was there with her the entire time.  He could have easily walked out, but that wasn’t the kind of man he was.  I learned more about what constitutes a good man, a decent human being, by observing Herald than I ever could have learned from my own father. 

When my mom died, Herald was the one who told each of us about it.  Even in his grief, he had the compassion to offer us comfort.  He told me that he had promised my mom he’d be there for us, and he was.  Sometimes step-dad has a negative connotation, but I don’t see it that way at all.  I feel privileged to be able to call Herald my step-dad.  Happy Father’s Day, Herald.  I love you.