Things I Learned in a Weekend…

February 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

… But will take longer to undo.

CommittedThis is a Part Two post to my review of Committed as well as a response to Codependent No More.

Saying “I am not in control of that” is not the same as being helpless.

Counting is not productive.

Trying harder sometimes doesn’t offer results, but rather drives you a little nuts.

 

codependent_no_moreI am allowed to have contradicting feelings as long as I am honest about both and do not bury the less favorable/ moral one.  A feeling is not a decision.  But bottling feelings and under-reacting to things that hurt your feelings can turn into a very foolish and very public behavioral issue similar to a train wreck or a volcano that kills an entire village.

“What am I to conclude when my grandmother says that the happiest decision of her life was giving up everything for her husband and children but then says – in the very next breath – that she doesn’t want me making the same choice? I’m not really sure how to reconcile this, except to believe that somehow both these statements are true and authentic, even as they seem to utterly contradict on another. I believe that a woman who has lived as long as my grandmother should be allowed some contradictions and mysteries. Like most of us, this woman contains multitudes. Besides, when it comes to the subject of women and marriage, easy conclusions are difficult to come by, and enigmas litter the road in every direction.” – from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed.

I can’t control other peoples’ thoughts and feelings.  Nor, if I’m to be honest do I want to.  What I decide for them takes away from me making healthy decisions for myself.

Other people making a decision I do not like is not a slight on me as a human.  I am still in tact.  I can say my piece in peace without expecting them to bend to my will.  In fact, I want to enjoy the freedom of talking out my feelings knowing that it does not change the outcome of life.  My words won’t make or break the world and the people in it.  I am not that powerful.  I don’t want to be that powerful.  I want other people to feel comfortable making their decisions based on what they need.  Would I like for them to consider my feelings when they choose to follow that decision? Yes.  Do I want my feelings to be the basis of their decision? No.  God, no.

What I want and what I need are allowed to be out of sync sometimes, as long as I take time to process my wants and needs in a calm manner without panic – without drama – and without superfluous descriptions.  As a writer I am apt to take a small situation and find the epic, extraordinary, or devastation in it.  As a survivor I take big things that may actually be epic, extraordinary, or devastating, and belittle them – act as though they are nothing.  (Someone dies, I roll with the punches.  Someone says something irritating, I come out swinging.  It doesn’t make sense.  It has been a long running joke among many of my friends that I’m the girl you need at a funeral.  I’m the girl you need in a physical crisis, on the battlefield even.  Put me in a room of people having a good time, and suddenly I’m twitchy.)

These are things I used to know, and for various reasons, I have lost sight of.  These are things that I need to remind myself daily, if not hourly.

So my newest truth above all – there is no shame in reading self-help books and memoirs by people who have a very different world view from yourself.  There is no shame in believing that, “this woman should not be condemned or judged for wanting what she wants.”  In fact that’s a very beautiful belief.

Finding balance is the hard part.  When does what you want step on what someone else wants and needs?  When does what you want need to be suppressed and when does it warrant being spoken?  My understanding of this balance is erratic at best.

Making a very open attempt to find this balance has been interesting too (I say this as though I’m well seasoned at the effort that I’ve been making for a whole of four days).  I am diving into all this for myself.  Go back a few blog posts and you may notice my sanity attempting to escape me.  Yet, it hasn’t just begun to calm me, it’s helped me stop and smell the roses.

Roses that, though not real physical red petals and thorny stems, are more present than I supposed.

Roses like: I actually get more done when I am busy acting instead of busy reacting.  Roses like: when I attempt to be as direct as I once was my husband attempts to woo me like he once did.  This is nice.  I’ll take that rose.  Yet, I am not being direct so that he will woo me, I am being direct because I need to be, the wooing is just a happy accident.  And, for once, wanting to be wooed doesn’t sound like an act of selfishness – it sounds like an act of being feminine.  Yes, I’ll admit that typing those words were difficult, that in that admission I nearly panicked.

I don’t have all the answers.  In fact, I have pretty much no answers.  The only answer that I do have is that I hope to be less self-destructive this year than last year.  I hope to be more open, but less vulnerable.

This year, I plan to internalize something that’s been hanging in my own Grandmother’s kitchen my whole life…

God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.  And, I’m not done reading this book!

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Love is a Choice

September 24, 2013 at 2:04 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

lovechoiceTitle:Love Is A Choice

Authors: Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minirth, Dr. Paul Meier

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Genre: Psychology/ Self-Help/ Christian Living

Length: 275 pages

Back in college I read Happiness Is A Choice with a few girls I knew.  We went to a Baptist school, but clearly weren’t behaving like the other little Christian girls we knew, so of course we devoured a book that seemingly addressed all that was wrong with us and how to fix it God’s way.  Mostly, it just made us feel better.

Naturally, I spotted this in a giant giveaway pile, knew it was by the same authors, and impulsively picked it up.  Approximately 3 years later (now), I got around to reading it.

It did not make me feel better.

At least not at first anyway.

Reading Love Is A Choice from a parental perspective can be daunting and, to say the least, overwhelming.  The first half of the book had me completely convinced that everyone on the planet has been abused in some form or another… active abuse, passive abuse, this abuse, that abuse.  Unless you’re Jesus, NO ONE IS SAFE.  I am not Jesus, so essentially, all I determined was that my kid was going to grow up to have issues.  NO MATTER WHAT I DID.  For that, I kind of hated it.

However, because all these very human issues and mistakes run rampant in the world – because we are human – it ends up being a good read.  Handy.  Fair warning, so to speak.  Be careful of this, be careful of that, be warned that these kinds of actions effect your children this way or that way into adulthood.   And above all, put God first.

I can get on board with that.

Just remember when looking at this cover and judging whether or not you think this applies to you, codependency probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.  I know I was fooled.  Essentially the core sort of means the same as what I thought, but all the nuances are different.  If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I love a few good nuances!

Anyway, it took up the better part of a week after my kiddo was asleep… when I wasn’t reading a Thomas Jefferson biography or going over homeschooling stuff… and I don’t feel like my time was wasted.  Self-help isn’t typically a genre I care much about, so that means if I mostly like it then it’s probably pretty stellar. Check it out.

Below is a picture of me and my kid, who along with my husband, I choose to love every day – the best I can.  P.S. The first week of October is Banned Books Awareness Week.  BE AWARE! Read a ‘banned book.’  As far as I know, Love is a Choice isn’t banned anywhere and this statement has nothing to do with the review, just my t-shirt.

Photograph by Michael Palmer

Photograph by Michael Palmer

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