Personalizing

One of the books I read a while back, that really hit home with me and I felt the need to recently re-visit was “My Parents’ Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Disturbed (Paperback)”.  I bought it shortly before I started this blog back in 2006…   and before that point, I never heard of an ACMIP (Adult Child of a Mentally Ill Parent).

Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to look Read the rest of this entry »

To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =)

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father.

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… Read the rest of this entry »

Is Disney evil??

A friend of mine emailed me today regarding being worried that her brother in law has gone over the deep end with religion.  This is interesting, since this friend is a fairly new convert to Christianity herself.  Yet, even she see’s there’s something not right here… She said that she came back from a visit with her family for the holidays.  And, that her brother in law is becoming more and more religious.  She said she couldn’t help to think about all the stories I had told her  Read the rest of this entry »

To cry… or NOT to cry…

There’s another interesting read over on “The Naked Soul” blog, called “Pain and Suffering – Human VS Spiritual “.   Do we create our own pain?  Or chose to suffer? I started to reply to it…  but, felt my reply turning into a book – so, decided to make a post here instead.  I often think of my father when I think of people who overcame and dealt with pain.  (He almost died in a fire when he was 12 – more details on that posted here).  He was never one to complain, though.   

When we were kids, we never even realized how much he had gone through, or still dealt with.  Pain was a constant for him.  He flinched with every step he took… but, he was too tough, and proud, to admit his pain, or to complain about it.  Even when he got really sick his last days on this earth… and had even more trouble walking…  he refused to let me push him in a wheel chair through the hospital to his appointments.  He said he was never going back in another wheel chair…  he walked… stopping every so many feet until we got there.  This frustrated me as I knew he was in pain, and felt it was “needless”.  It also inspired the hell out of me, and made me admire his will power and strength. 

As I got older, and saw him more as a human, and not just my Dad – I realized that much of his “toughness” was a big act.  He was a big softie on the inside…. but, you wouldn’t have known it.  I still have to respect him and admire his strength….  he sure was a tough old goat :).  He had to be to make it through everythig he  did. 

However, I do think his “strength”, and prideful commitment to it, probably went a little overboard sometimes.   He was so strong… yet he was afraid to express his real emotions/feelings. He was so afraid to look “weak”, that he didn’t/wouldn’t seek help that was often readily available –  and suffered more in the process because of that.  He taught us to do the same.  Is that really a good quality?

My brothers and I were strongly encouraged to hide any pain and negative feelings. Crying or showing weakness was shameful and flat out ridiculed.  I remember my father telling my brothers that they were “sissies”… or “crying like a little girl” when/if they cried (the words “little girl” said with a sneer of disgust, as if something terrible to be).  So, I didn’t want to cry… OR act like a “little girl” either.  Even though I WAS one! LOL  Nope, I wanted to be tough… and one of the guys.  And, I was.  To this day, most of my friends and family all perceive me as being much stronger than I think I really am.  I talk about that a little in my other post about here.  

We were taught to hide or repress our tears…  That it was shameful to feel sorry for ourselves…  or to act weak.  We were told to not make excuses for ourselves…  To accept responsibility… to look on the bright side… to not complain – even if we had something legitimate to complain about…  And we were taught that most things were not worth complaining about.  I can still hear my father’s voice saying, “If that is all you have to complain about, than you shouldn’t be complaining!”.  Much of this logic… I still completely agree with.   However, I know it went too far.  I have to take a step back and watch how I treat my own boys…   I remember being afraid of the dark when I was very young… but also being petrified to seek comfort and admit I was afraid.  I was more afraid to go to my parents and say I was afraid, than I was afraid of the dark.   I don’t ever want my boys to fee like that.  I want them to run to my bed in the middle of the night and know they will find protection from whatever bad dreams or darkness they fear. 

I remember being teased by my brothers, and really being upset… and running to the bathroom and dabbing tears so as not to let them fall from my eyes…  making sure there were no signs of a tear before facing them again.  

I remember physically getting hurt, and being able to choke back the tears… and then be rewarded for doing that.  (what a brave girl!)   If I did cry… I felt like a big cry baby… and didn’t want anyone to see. 

I remember  a lot worse things that I care not to write about that I never told anyone.   Even things that I knew then were “wrong” or not fair to me, I still kept to myself because I somehow thought it was “my own fault”.  I blamed myself… and didn’t want to admit it to anything… even if it wasn’t really my fault.  .Better to suffer and hide it, then to have anyone else know how “weak” I was.    I know I applied this in many areas of my life…  blaming myself… and repressing negative feelings… putting on a good front.

I remember the first time I cried in front of a best friend… we were 18… and had been best friends since 3rd grade.   She had never once seen me cry and she was utterly shocked.  She didn’t know how to respond to me.  Matter of fact, she said “Oh my God!  I’ve never seen you cry.  Please don’t cry.  You can’t cry!  Don’t cry!”.  ??  As if I wasn’t allowed to.  ?! I  still hate to cry in front of anyone… but, I’m not as bad as I use to be.  On of the best friends I have now, is one who I can cry with occassionally.  (When we are not too busy laughing our asses off, that is 😉 )  I actually am a person who usually has fun no matter what… who always looks on the bright side…  makes others laugh… see’s humor in most things… and I am glad I am like that. 

So, anyway… I’m not trying to whine here…  (sorry! LOL) , but rather state that regarding the whole “people should be responsible for their own pain” issue… ??  Well, like many things, I have mixed feelings on this topic.  While I don’t want to dwell on the negatives… or let pain or suffering consume me… I also am fairly recently learning that it’s okay to acknowledge pain,  or mourn or grieve for oneself, and to cry.   Sometimes, pain (physical or spiritual) is very real… and very deserving of those tears. 

Matter of fact, I am reading a book that rather insists that one NEEDS  to do this (acknowledge your pain and suffering, and grieve) rather than live in denial of it, and rationalize things from your past (or present).  It claims that until you do so, you can never really understand yourself and grow…  That you need to do feel sorry for yourself.. grieve… mourn whatever it was you never had or lost, or what you are dealing with…  so that you can then move on.  I suppose that’s the trick, right?  Knowing when to “move on”… and then actually being able to do it, right? 

~smj

Processing Guilt (a cross-post)

I recently made a post on this blog called “Forgive me, so I can forgive myself“.   Right after I wrote that, I was blog surfing the subject and came across a blog by John Shore called “Suddenly Christian”. His writing style is hilarious, and refreshingly non-judegmental from a Christian point of view.  (who knew?)  The post I stumbled into there is called, “An Honest Question: Atheists, How Do You Process Your Guilt?” . Great read if you’re interested (albeit VERY long).  I sort of caught on to the tail end of it and threw in my answer.  I hardly ever re-post my comments – but, I wanted to share here, what I wrote there, since it’s so relevant to so much other crap going I’ve been talking about lately.  (And, so I don’t feel the need to have to write anything else interesting today. =)
This was my post to that thread:

by samanthamj – September 24, 2007

Wow… this is a great thread! And I haven’t even read it all yet. Still, I felt compelled to scroll on down to the bottom and add my 2 cents. =)I have been on a bit of a guilt trip most of my life… and have even been recognizing that fact and asking a lot of questions myself about it these days. I was JUST posting on guilt, and similiar questions actually earlier today. Then I stumbled into here from the tags. (Cool site, btw.=)

So, how do *I* process my guilt?? Truthfully? Pretty poorly.  🙂 
I don’t think I do handle guilt or deal with it very well at all. I tend to prefer to let it gnaw at me in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. And, I can feel guilty over just about anything… even things that aren’t my fault. So, I am just soaking up all the ideas on this thread on ways to better process it. (Except for the idea to “apologize and be humble”. As if?!  That will never work!)
(jussssst kidding! I apologize all the time! I’m sorry I’m sorry!).

Now, the thing is, I’m probably what you’d call “agnostic”… but, I use to be Christian.  I don’t think I processed my guilt well either way. Even when I believed whole-heartedly in God, and confessed and prayed away… there just seemed to be too much guilt for even God to deal with. I picture him rolling his eyes every time he saw me kneeling down.

So, really, I don’t know that I ever really felt truly forgiven or “guilt-free”.  Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone here. I gotta think there are many Christians that want to believe they are forgiven, but have a hard time really really believing that. I think, there are many good Christians that still question whether they will make it into heaven, even.

Then again, maybe it’s just me. I guess I’ll go have a glass of wine (that’s always a good way to start dealing with it), and hit the sack!

=)
~smj

My teen life in a musical youtube nutshell…

I was mulling over my last post…. and, my teenage years in my head. 

My teen years marked the beginning of my dual lifestyle…

One one hand…  I was starting to doubt and reject a lot of what I was being taught by mom and church in general.. but, I was still going to church 2-5 times a week and singing in the choir, where I’d basically be partaking in a lof of this:


(“Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow” )

Then, on the days I wasn’t playing the part of the good little Christian girl, I was skipping school, jumping out my window, and staying over my heathen friends houses a lot in order to sneak to rock concerts and parties, and banging my head to the likes of this:

(“Running with the Devil” – VanHalen)

Explains a lot, doesn’t it???

=)
~smj

Forgive me Father, so I can forgive myself…

(Do we NEED to believe in God in order to forgive ourselves?  I hope not…  but, maybe we do? Or at least, maybe MANY of us do???)

Christ and the AdultressSo, I mentioned that I had been going back and forth with a friend about religion, etc… 

One of the many links/articles she sent me was a link to this article called “The Adulteress: A Stone’s Throw from Grace” (found here:              http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/2007/julaug/4.58.html?start=2)

Now, she sent this, because she was trying to explain how she is NOT judging gay people, or ANYONE… and, how GOD doesn’t want to condemn people to hell… how Jesus Saves, etc.   As in the story, Jesus didn’t condemn the adulteress but says the old “let he who has not sin cast the first stone”.  Now… of course I’ve heard this story, and this message a million times.  Well, I finally read the article she sent me anyway…  and, one part, towards the end, struck me.  I felt a light bulb “ah-HA moment”. 

It was this part:

“We hear you, Lord. What a relief to know that because of your grace, we can leave behind the past, as this woman did, and walk in a whole new direction.”

Now, like I said, this message is nothing new.  What clicked was how it pertained to judging, and guilt… and “forgiveness”. 

What suddenly became really clear to me, is that many people feel awful guilty about some past mistakes.  People beat themselves  up over things  – for years.  People want to change…   desperately sometimes.  They might not want to “be” that person that made those mistakes.   They try to say, “that wasn’t even really me”….  “I wasn’t myself then”.   They don’t want to accept it WAS themselves that did whatever it was they feel guilty about.  But,  no matter they try, they can’t shake it.  They can’t accept that the “good person” they want to be,  would make the “bad” mistakes they’ve made. 

I think, finding “God”, and believing that he could love them… in spite of their sins… allows people to love themselves again.  Forgiveness, gives back respect…. allows us to start over for real… and believe we can to do it… that we are worthy of it.  Just like the adulteress in that story.  After all, if GOD could forgive her and love her… of course we can forgive her, or ourselves too, right? 

I don’t know why this is all so interesting to me all of  a sudden.  I’ve heard countless stories from folks with very checkered pasts, who become born again… starting their lives over… the new and improved versions of themselves.  They can go from the biggest axe-murderer low-life – to being a preacher – just like that – because they found God, and he forgave them.  It actually was a pet peeve of mine when I was a teen.  Heck, my teen leader was one of them (and he was pretty creepy).  I didn’t think I should listen to him when a month ago he was a big drug addict and loser, just because now he’d “found God”. 

I’ve also realized for years that religion helped people cope… period.  With whatever.  And, maybe they needed it, for whatever reasons. In my mom’s case, because of her illness and to deal with how she grew up.  Or to deal with loss… grief.  I’ve even envied others at times because I couldn’t seem to get any comfort myself from religion with all my skeptical views.   So, the “needing” religion isn’t a new idea to me either.

But, I am getting a different side of this now…  I’m having trouble explaining what I mean, though.  I‘m not even sure it’s the forgiving ourselves aspect that I’m finding so interesting here.  Surely, this is not a new concept either?  But,  I’m seeing it with a new twist.  Maybe people need religion in order to live with themselves?   Maybe, it really does  “save”  us, but not from hell… but, from our own guilt?

Maybe sometimes, we just can’t accept mistakes we’ve made.   Maybe we can’t except the fact that we are HUMAN and WILL make mistakes?  We create our own prison…  Trapped in our own personal hell…  And, then, maybe we need God, or the idea of God, to be able to forgive ourselves and find the strength to free ourselves of guilt so we can move on.  ?

Is it so bad to admit that we are just human?  Can we not admit when we make a mistake… and say, “yeah, I fucked up. Bad!”, and just try to learn from it?  I don’t mean shrug it off, and not care.  I’m all for owning up and accepting responsibility.  But, can’t we do that and try to understand how it happened?  Try not to let it happen again? and, try to move on?  Of course we all make mistakes.  Do we need to have a God to forgive us and love us, in order to love ourselves??  Maybe some of us doMaybe all of us do

Which leads me to my bigger light-bulb feeling. 

Do I need this???
Is that part of my problem? 
That I can’t forgive myself for whatever terrible things I’ve done?  Including things that were not even my fault??  And, I don’t have enough faith to believe in a God that can forgive me either?  

 Would *I*, or any of us,  even have felt THAT kind of guilt if we didn’t have religion and God shoved down our throats in the first place???  

I don’t know… 

Talk about vicious circles…

This is not really coming out right and I’m having trouble explaining my “ah-HA moment”.  Sorry if I’m rambling incoherently.  😉  

I am going to have to mull this one over a bit…

~smj