Selfishness looks bad on me

Something I learned, a while ago, and recently remembered:
*When I’m afraid, it’s because I might not get something that I want or think that I need.
*When I’m angry, it’s because I’m not getting what I want or think that I need.
*When I’m carrying a resentment, it’s because I didn’t get what I wanted or thought I needed.

The commonality here, is ME.

All of those emotions come from my selfish and self-centered nature. I suppose others have found ways to manage the destructive actions that can occasionally accompany those feelings, but I find it’s best to focus, instead of on Myself, on Father God, and the example set by His Son, Jesus.
Finding a way to demonstrate the love of God – outside of “religion” (No preaching, please)- is the most gratifying way to turn my day around.
How difficult is it, really, to simply smile at someone, randomly?

Of course, “looking out for number one” is a natural behavior. Self-preservation is to some degree necessary. These things may be true, but it feels like my NATURAL default is a lot more greedy and egotistical (*EGO* Easing God Out) than ANYONE actually needs to be, to survive.

Making some adjustments, now.

I am getting back to the business of learning to be less of me and more of Him. However slowly, I am determined to progress in a positive direction.

When I am able be less self-centered, I am less apt to be offended, or feel hurt, or try to manipulate people or circumstances.

What can it hurt, besides my EGO, to show some compassion, especially for someone who’s not like me? Maybe instead of falling into the judgmentalism of which the world is so saturated, I can remember that that person was someone’s baby, or is someone’s parent or relative, that they LOVE? Maybe the mask they wear is their way of trying to feel safe. Maybe they would love to be my friend.

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That automatically makes the day a better one.

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On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.

Hurting.

I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.

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So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.

………………………………………………………..

This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg

 

 

 

A beautiful day to be drink and drug-free

About a week ago, it was typical winter weather, bitter cold and windy. Here, in Virginia, schools were closed and then had a 2-hour delay. We even had a few inches of snow!

Then, a couple of days ago, the temperature rose to 70°! Bizarre, even for Virginia.

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Today, my husband and I went out to run errands together, and it was a pleasant enough day.

Last night I was sitting in a meeting and a friend disclosed that about a week ago his child had completed suicide.

Yeah.

He has not chosen to relapse.

This is a beautiful example of the power of the spiritual program of recovery found in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have so many things to say, and I need to say them. However, I feel like I just don’t have the words, right now. Maybe I should do an inventory to decipher what it is that I’m feeling.

Of late, my feelings are ever-changing, like quicksand…sucking me down…

In the desperate attempt to keep from feeling the emotional battery, I bob and weave furiously, dancing to avoid the right hook of pain and sorrow. More often than not, the punches land squarely.

I feel like there are a thousand emotional land mines all around me. I don’t know, maybe the death of my son was the impetus…I begin to recover from the devastation of stepping directly on a HUGE mine, then have a few days of comparable peace. Then out of the blue I step close enough to another mine, to set it off. The personal damage is much less, of course, but it ensures that my mind stays keenly on alert for any further, life-threatening  explosions.

Perhaps that’s why my verbiage is at such an all-time low. 95 days in. Part of the process, I remind myself.

I am walking in the dark now, gingerly, with arms outstretched, feet carefully searching for a safe spot on which to step. Whether or not such a place exists for me, now, I cannot say.

Moving forward, I am sure to encounter more death, pain, and plenty of other things over which I am powerless. My hope is to find a place where I can focus more on the births, and the healing, and laughter. Sooner would be better than later, but it’s in God’s hands.

I am reluctant to write while my days are more painful than not. Whether or not I will continue, only time will tell.

I shall remain…looking for reasons to smile, looking for His face.

“How’ve you been?”, she asked. Then quickly apologised.

Last night I saw a friend that I hadn’t seen for a few months. Naturally, she asked about me, then remembered my new normal. I’m positive I would have done the same. I let her know that I get it, and thanked her for not giving me the “oh, look it’s Poor Abbie” greeting.

I don’t know how I would be if I encountered a woman who’d recently lost her child to death. I imagine searching her face for cues, how to appropriately proceed in the most compassionate, least hurtful way.

No easy task, I’m sure.

At any given moment, 94 days a.d., I may have my “happy and functional” mask on, or I might be struggling to keep my focus on the here and now.

I understand, now, why older folks often have watery eyes. I’m getting to where I can almost keep the rest of my face from giving my heart away.

Sometimes I can ALMOST hear his laughter. Other times I am standing beside his hospital bed as he gasps his last breaths.

I remember when my Dad died, many years ago, in his bed at home. When the last breath left his body, I heard a wail that I’d never heard before. Because we were at his house, it wasn’t a consideration, to be quiet. The sound that came out of me, was other-worldly. It was the sound of my heart shattering, my spirit felt like it had momentarily expired, with him.

When Benjamin left the bondage of his mortal shell, I was aware of the others there. My younger son. Benjamin’s wife. Our sobs were subdued, but not the agony.

I suppose on a purely spiritual level, our hearts’ cries exploded together, a blood curdling protest. The weeping was only beginning that day. I suppose it will end when our lives here are over.

I know when I see his face again my eyes will be flooded with tears of joy. I will see him again. Each day brings me closer to that glorious moment…

Anyway. I found this image somewhere online. It’s the artist’s conception of a parent, having lost a child.

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I guess it’s different for those who lost a young child, adolescent, teenager. For me, I am eternally grateful to have been given Ben’s presence through his 25th year. I am so happy that he found his soulmate, Tisha, and made sure that she had a beautiful wedding. He left behind a life of laughter and compassion, touching so many people with his own, delightful, eclectic love.

Nonetheless. That hole will never go away. I’m willing to accept that.

God has promised to be near to the broken hearted. I can assure you, it’s true. I hope you never need to know.

I can’t be anything but grateful for how long Benjamin lived. His life was miraculous from the beginning and throughout. I can’t help but thank God for the joy Ben brought me, even praying for a brother who has been a constant delight, as well.

My story may seem to be remarkable to some, but the stories of my children and their lives are really the amazing and beautiful ones.

God bless you. Thank you for reading.