Thursday, February 27, 2014
"Either be a sheep or be a wolf...just wear it" RM
Often in this blog I dance on the line between sharing too much of my personal life and sharing what I feel others can benefit from reading. I don't always get the dance right, especially when it involves other people, and I apologize now if anyone involved feels this was too much sharing. But when I started this blog I had one goal, share the parts of my life that I have struggled with, that have helped me grow, and that I think others can find comfort in, merely by hearing they are not alone. And after a lot of soul searching this fits all those! So here goes.
The last seven days have been some of the most emotional of my life (and for those that know my history that is hard to accomplish). My life is never boring and often out does those bizarre "made for tv" movies. More than once I have looked at what goes on and thought 'if someone else told me this story I would question if they were making it up'. But it's all true....it is my life, and I try to embrace that.
If I had to sum up the last week there is no better phrase I could use than the title of this blog..."Totally Predictable Unpredictability". The crazy is expected even though it still hits me from left field, especially when it comes to family.
For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning, much of the history behind this story is in previous posts. But I thought a summary was in order for those who haven't or who haven't kept a flowchart *smile*.
I am 43 years old, I grew up in a home with a mother, a father, and a younger brother and sister. Our home was less than happy on a good day and down right abusive on a normal day. But for the first 14 or so years of my life I thought were your average abusive, dysfunction family. To the outside world we put on great facades, at home we lived in hell and it was what it was. Then when I was around 14 I stumbled across a cassette tape that would change my world forever. My father had recorded some of his most deep dark secrets....previous marriages and families, children out of wedlock, a name change (or two as I now believe). I kept that knowledge to myself for a long long time, but also kept my eyes open. I found a will with previous children's names, I found out his true age (he was 30 years older than my mother). Despite me asking both my parents for answers they never gave them. Many secrets and lies went to his grave with my father in 1997.
Through all that time, and even into my early adulthood I blamed my father solely for everything. He was the monster. And he was don't get me wrong. But I saw my mom as more a patsy, a victim by choice. As far as I could see, she did nothing per se wrong, but she never had the backbone to stand up and make things right either. She preferred to be seen by everyone as the victim, the one to pity, she still embraces that role.
Thinking back maybe this is why I struggle so much when people want to feel bad for me, to show my sympathy or pity. I hated how she relished that role and I avoid it. I want people in my life to know what is going on with me, to understand what I am going through, for me to not be alone it, to have support. But the minute that turns to pity or sympathy I find myself running away, hiding what is going on to try to prevent that. Even when the sympathy is valid or warranted, it makes me feel too close to who I don't want to be, even. But that is another blog for another day. Back to the warped history lesson...
My view of who was responsible for our lives being the way they were changed drastically in 1991. I learned that year that I had an older sister (4 years old than me who my parents had had while my dad was still married to someone else, that they had opted to put up for adoption. Julie finding us opened up more questions than answers about both my parents. But over time I made peace with it, mistakes happen, we make decisions in life. My strongest morals tell me no one is perfect, but what matters is when we make a mistake we stand up, take responsibility for it and try to make it right as best we can. Neither of my parents had this same moral leaning. But even that I came to terms with. I thought.
I have always kept looking to try to find the children my father had with previous marriages and women before my mother (there may be many of them the more I learn) as much to try to understand my own past as anything. And I have always expected that one of them might find us, especially in the age of Ancestory.com. But I hadn't expected what went on this week.
Somewhat accidentally (via FB) last Saturday I asked my brother I grew up with, Thom, who someone on his FB page was. Thinking I knew the answer already he told me this was our brother, from both our parents. Born between Julie and I, while my parents were still not yet married. Once again put up for adoption. Predictable Predictability! Part of me was shocked, part of me thought "another day in our family".
Since then I have gone through EVERY emotion in the book. At this point, a week in I am emotionally exhausted, I feel very empty and drained. Learning about Greg has been a blessing, he is the kind of person I would love to know even if we weren't related. Smart, Sarcastic, Blunt. I have only known him a week, but have to say so far he seems the most like me of any of my siblings, well the ones I know about. But it has also come with a lot of knowledge that has been hard emotionally. Greg has also been on the hunt for information about my mother and father. He has helped me find some puzzle pieces I couldn't. And he has given me an ally in continuing the search. But the answers I have gotten have been hard. Learning that my mother fabricated lies as well as my father, learning my mother refuses to step up and acknowledge her choices, learning that my father's secrets and lies go even deeper than I knew. Finding the name of one of his other potential children (now deceased). Another sister. It has left me very very tired and drained. I have gotten through little this week besides work (thank god I a great at my job and can do that in the worst of times). I feel very empty and adrift over it all.
I will not soften any of what I feel, I find my parents' behaviors morally vile. They are not people I would want to know if I wasnt related to them. They are no one I would ever want to be. Yes I get it, I didn't walk in their shoes, I cant understand what they went through, but despite that I morally can not condone their lies, and that today they do not take responsibility for their actions....to go back to the quote I opened with, that they wont wear it. And that I can not be ok with or forgive. I can forgive their actions, or at least make peace with what they did, it is what it is, but their lack of ownership is not something I can set aside. It is too core to how I see the world.
And I want to hate them both! I want to be angry at them! I want to be bitter! Logically it is the emotion I feel like I should feel. Part of me thinks if I was there this tired and empty would go away. But I can't go there. I can't hate them for the lives they treated with total disregard, because I have seen the impact of those lives. And there is no way I can say those lives shouldn't have happened, and to hate my father's inability to control himself and all the children that resulted (at least 10 or 11 if not more) would require me to say that.
In finding out about Greg this week, I also got to talk to his adoptive mother. A sweet amazing lady who loves him with all her heart. He has a wife and children who adore him. He served our country for decades, he serves now as a minister. How can I say any of that is wrong. Julie has 3 children, she works in a nursing home, she helps those in need. How can I say that is wrong. The obituary I saw for the possible sister said she was a teacher, she had a family. She changed lives. To hate how she came into the world would mean I have to say the world would have been better off and I can't say that. Even for me and Thom and Candi (that grew up with my parents). We have people who loves us, we have made a difference. We have all had amazing lives despite my parents...there is no way I can say that it would have been better if it hadn't happened. And bitterness would mean all of us, those I know about and those I don't, were mistakes that shouldn't have happened, that we are part of their evil and lies and secrets. I can't do that to any of us.
That has been the big life lesson for me in the last week. The lesson my life always seems to come back to, EVERYTHING, good, bad, right, wrong, evil or magical. It is all for a reason. That we may never understand it, we may not like it, it may hurt, it may cause tears, it make break our hearts. But it is still for a reason, it still has good in it. And it is our choice which we choose to see. I cant hate my parents, because to hate those of us that are the result is giving in to their patterns, and I will never be that person!
Welcome to the family Greg, watch out for Fridays and Cats *smile*
Thursday, February 13, 2014
"Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them"
Let's see where did I leave off....Jasmine had moved to Minnesota and we were starting our journey together. In a lot of ways we are still at that point. As everyone is way too well aware this winter has been cold, snowy and long. Even though the barn has an indoor arena, we don't ride if it is zero or below, and MN just came off the longest streak of below zero weather in recorded history (just saw that lovely statistic this morning). That combined with my work travel and some health issues (mine not hers) have limited us riding much (think I have about 6 rides in over the last 10 weeks). But in its own way it has been a gift too, we have had a lot of time to just hang out, bond, groom and chat.
Despite much time in the saddle I am 100% confident I found the right horse. I could not be happier with her. She is sweet, dedicated, she loves people (and cookies) and she enjoys the attention I give her. Funny moment the other night when I went to answer a text on my phone (which required stopping petting her) she repeatedly kept trying to grab my sleeve to put my hand back on her. She knows I am her person, and that makes my heart smile. Of the 4 horses I have primarily had in my life (Cheyenne, Joker, B and now Jasmine) she is the one who seems to want the attention the most. Joker put up with it well, but Jas wants it. And that works for me!
For the little riding we have done I can also say she is the most talented horse I have ridden. She knows her job, she doesn't cheat and she wants to do it well. She also learned very quickly that I needed her to help me when I am in the saddle. She does a great job staying under me and that was something B' and I never really clicked on. She is patient with me learning her cues, and that is proving to be a steep curve for me. In a lot of ways I feel like I am learning to ride all over again. Some days I am totally ok with that, some days I feel frustrated with myself over it. But it is reality. And with reality comes decisions and I am spinning on some, which of course is what lead me to writing.
I am struggling, as I have my whole life, with giving myself permission to take things at a pace I am comfortable with, vs worrying about what others will think of me. A battle I have fought my whole life. Growing up there was a lot of expectations to have the highest grades, to be the smartest and to have the best. And if you couldn't reach those goals you were expected to pretend you were. Image above all else. Getting a B was never good enough, why wasn't it an A, if you came in second what did you do wrong that you weren't first. What little positive support there was in our home was withheld unless you were meeting that ideal standard. And if you fell below that you were discarded. I have carried that fear of being abandoned for being imperfect with me my whole life. It has gotten better with age, and as I have narrowed my circle of whose view of me really matters. But it is never far from sight. And right now I can feel it on my heels.
Show season is getting here, I am watching more and more FB posts of friends in warmer climates who are heading to shows. The first big MN show is in March and most shows start in May. Three months that will go by in a flash. And I am struggling with my feelings on it.
I have shown the last two years, on two different horses, and I did it because I wanted to, I never felt forced, but part of me also did it before I was really ready (skills wise) because I feared not meeting what I thought others expected of me. I had a good horse, I was taking lessons, I could ride, I should be showing. The result was mixed. Joker and I did better than I thought, but never beyond walk/trot. And that success looking back came at a price to me. I was so busy rushing through my learning to meet this goal I had set of showing that I never fully learned what I needed to. I could get by, I could do it, but I never really got it, it never became natural.
Now I find myself at a similar cross roads, as I said in a previous post, life gave me a "do-over" when I found Jasmine. A chance to do it right. But at the end of the day I have to decide whether to take that gift or not. And at the moment that decision comes down to showing this year. I know it is expected of me by many, especially having just bought a world class horse and I fear the reactions if I don't go down that path, if we take a year off to learn each other the right now. But I don't feel ready, my heart isn't in it and maybe it is selfish but I want to take this at my pace. If I need 6 months for us to figure each other out at the walk, then I want it to be ok to do that. I want it to be ok to just enjoy my horse and not feel like I am going to be looked down on for making that choice. But that little girl inside me isn't sure I can handle when the looks and comments do come.
And when I stand and watch my friends show this summer and feel I didn't measure up. The voices are already there talking at me "you bought a show horse, you bought an expensive show horse, you could have bought any horse if you were going to just stay home and ride, what will the people who helped you find her think, they put a lot of effort into finding you a great show horse that now you don't want to show this year". I beat myself up as well as anyone.
But as I was mulling this over the other night sitting in the corner of Jasmine's stall, I had a realization. She truly could care less if she was riding around at home or in the Justin Arena in Fort Worth. She is happy being a horse, chasing her paddock mates away from "her" round bale, having her human come and love on her and bring cookies (never ever forget the cookies, mom!) and taking care of me. She didn't complain last night that we only walked and didn't trot or lope, she wanted to be loved on afterwards just the same. And realizing that made the picture a lot clearer.
I don't know what will end up happening, no show season this year, a limited only a ground class or two season, or trying to do it all. Ask me on any given day and the answer changes. How much permission I give myself just to be myself changes.
But in the end I know whatever I decide I am going into it with a partner who has no expectations of me other than to love her and bring those cookies! I can easily meet that goal!