Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thoughts on Coming Home, Gratitude and Owning Your Life


"People often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life."  -Anonymous


If there is one overwhelming feeling I have in my life these days, it is gratitude.  Gratitude for my wonderful and supportive husband, gratitude for our lively and charismatic son, gratitude for the little life that is growing in my belly, gratitude for our safe and beautiful home that meets all of our needs and lastly, gratitude for my loving family.  

See, it has been about 20 years since I lived near my family.  I have lived thousands of miles away from them in Arizona and Utah for quite a while.  As time has passed, I have yearned to be closer to them.  I realized they are getting older, though they eat well and take good care of their health and are still young in spirit.  I am their only child.  In the almost 20 years I lived away from them, sometimes we were only able to see each other once a year, if that.  We would talk on the phone for hours to catch up here and there, but it was never really a substitute for being able to have an actual dinner with them or a conversation in person.  Holidays were the hardest, as I almost never during the time away got to spend an actual Christmas with them and if I did, it was never on the actual day of Christmas.  Usually we celebrated 'Christmas' sometime between Feb. and Easter, which never really felt the same.

In addition, I had barely seen my Grandma who just turned 93 in January, for the better part of 2 decades.  I learned the hard way that sometimes it is too late to make up for lost time when my Grandpa (who I loved dearly) passed away a few years ago.  I had seen him once in over a decade before his passing, something I had a lot of regret over.

Now, living here, my Grandma is able to coordinate visits here with my parents which allow us and our children to finally spend some precious time with her.  Between that and the luxury of getting to have dinner with my parents 'whenever' we want to and let our young son (their only grandchild) be a part of their lives, it feels like I am living a dream.  It almost doesn't feel real that I have this opportunity, even after a year of being here.

Which brings me back to gratitude.  I am incredibly grateful for my life every day, and so grateful to have a chance to live near my family after all this time.  We have gone through a lot of turmoil to get here.  We have been judged and made to feel bad about our decisions and treated like naughty children by some family members who acted like our move was all about hurting them.  Is that not the epitome of selfishness?  To assume that someone's grown up life decisions are all about you and have nothing to do with what they think is best for them?

We have survived judgements, gossip, and horrible smear campaigns against us made up of very little if any truth all for our adult decision to live somewhere else, to live near my family for a change.  And honestly?  It was completely worth it.  Even going through (and continuing to go through) all of that.  Totally worth it.  This was about us doing something we had talked about doing for a very long time.  Something we had been considering strongly for years.  Finally it felt like the right time to follow through with that option and it was a decision we made because we felt (and still very much feel) it would be a healthier environment for us and our children to live in.  

But the truth is that our decision needs no defending.  It is OUR decision, for our family.  Anyone that doesn't understand why a person would want to live near their family for the first time in 20 years clearly doesn't have the ability to put themselves in someone else's shoes and realize that other people's needs and wants matter just as much as theirs.  They see that person as 'less than' themselves if that person's happiness is less important than theirs.  People that see you as 'less than' are not people you want to be spending a lot of time with if you value your self-worth at all.  And the truth is...fair is fair and we lived somewhere else for the better part of a decade and it was finally time to be near my parents, who only have me.  And I am very grateful for that choice, every single day.

And to anyone else out there who is avoiding doing something they really want to do because they fear the judgements and ire of others....be brave!  Do the thing you have really been wanting to do for a while.  It's your life, live it.  Life is too short to spend playing by someone else's rules.  You matter too.  Don't ever forget that.  Don't let someone else's control of what people think of you limit the quality of life you can have.

Realize that your true friends will take everything with a grain of salt anyway, and anyone that judges you based solely on the opinions of someone else was never really a friend to begin with.  There are two sides to every story and people who listen to only one (which may or may not have any truth to it at all) are purposely choosing to remain ignorant.  Forget about those people.  They are not your tribe.  There are plenty of people out there who ARE your tribe.  Find them.  Find your own path.  Find a way of being that brings you peace and contentment and from there you will have a wonderful life...a life free of chaos and negative feelings and filled instead with enjoyment and gratitude.  You deserve that life.  We all do.

"Do your thing.  Do it unapologetically.  Don't be discouraged by criticism.  You probably already know what they're going to say.  Pay no mind to the fear of failure.  It's far more valuable than success.  Take ownership, take chances and have fun.  And no matter what, don't ever stop doing your thing.  -Asher Roth


"New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings."  -Lao Tzu


"Notice the people who are happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness.  They are the ones that deserve special places in your heart."  -Anonymous







Monday, January 9, 2017

"I'm Ashamed of You"

     In the top 10 list of things never to say to your child, "I'm ashamed of you" is definitely up there.  I read up on shaming recently after I was horrified to learn that a grown adult (we're talking in his mid-30's) I know was recently 'shamed' by his parents for his adult life decisions, none of which were particularly questionable.  "We are ashamed of you", they said, basically trying to make him feel childish and still submissive to their rule and judgement.  "Childish" was another choice term used toward him in this same interaction.  I found it completely unsupportive of his life choices, demeaning and frankly, toxic.  In search of understanding of why parents choose to shame their children (including adult children) and what the repercussions are, I found several informative articles about shaming.

     Firstly, a definition of shaming.  Shaming - The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.  (from http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/shame-shaming)


     According to this same article,

Shaming is a technique used by abusive people to divert attention away from their own behavior and  issues by putting pressure on a victim so they can maintain control. The victim is put into an impossible situation, where they feel they are inherently flawed and so can never measure up to the standards being imposed on them, and therefore must dedicate themselves to attempting to make up for their ‘badness’.  

As a tactic, shaming is often used by Personality Disordered parents who misdirect their anger at their children. Unchosen children and adult children of Personality-Disordered parents are often made to feel worthless, useless, unloved and unappreciated.

Some examples of shaming statements include:

“You were a mistake”

“You could never do what he/she does”

“You’ve ruined my life”

“We are all disappointed in you”

“Shame on You!”- http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/shame-shaming

     So we have uncovered the 'why' of parents shaming their children...that they actually have deep seated, unresolved issues of shame themselves that they project onto their children in an effort to control their children through unhealthy emotional means...but what is the result of shaming children?

     They grow up feeling a lack of love, that they are unwanted and they feel afraid.

"Normal development is interrupted and it sends the wounded child into exile. This is when negative internal messages are developed and why we have so many adults today feeling “not good enough.”"  - https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201209/shaming-children-is-emotionally-abusive

     Fear is especially one of the largest detriments of shaming and humiliating one's children.  These fearful children carry that fear into adulthood where "It becomes a barrier for a healthy emotional life and is difficult to eradicate. If these same children become parents, the possibility also exists that the fear and negativity can be unwittingly passed through the generations."  - from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201209/shaming-children-is-emotionally-abusive

     So what can be done to prevent this type of abuse from tainting our children and future generations and how can adults who have been shamed as children (and are possibly still being shamed as adults) heal and stop the cycle of toxic damage?  One solution is for us to take a good long look at the ideology "respect your parents". Instead of throwing this 'mantra' toward our children from an early age we should be teaching them that respect is a two-way street.  We should be showing them by example that we respect them as people and that they are not 'less than' us just because they are littler and learning things we already know.

     Basically, we can teach them about respect by mirroring respectfulness toward them and letting them know we deserve their respect in turn.  Raising children should be an experience of mutual respect, not a one-way type of adoration and fearful obedience on their part while we treat them as inferiors.  Adults who are confident in their abilities as parents and do everything they do for their children from a place of love should never have to resort to petty fear and shaming tactics to begin with.

     When we talk about disrespectful children, we must look at parenting. Solid parenting shows children respect and empathy. When a parent truly gives respect to a child, they receive it back. When this becomes the norm for the household, we see young people grow up with a loving value system that makes a difference in the world. However, when children are shamed, humiliated and then silenced, it represses the harm that may re-surface later in life. If this happens, it can be in the form of self-destruction or cruelty to others.  - https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201209/shaming-children-is-emotionally-abusive

     Another strategy to stop the cycle of shaming is for adults who have been shamed as children (and are perhaps still being shamed as adults) to find a support network in which they can work on healing these feelings of shame and undo the damage that has been caused to them so they won't repeat it.  Finding other people who have experienced similar traumas in their childhoods or are currently still experiencing it can be a powerful healing tool because it helps the individual feel understood, validated and less alone in what they have gone through.  Also therapy or counseling are great ideas as well.  Any and all efforts taken to heal these wounds and getting space and perspective from the wound inflictors ensure that they will be that much less likely to repeat the cycle and can raise healthy children with good senses of self-worth instead.  Plus they themselves will have a healthier, happier mindset, stronger self-esteem and a much more positive inner monologue which will all lead to a better life.

     A healthy parent-child relationship looks something like this: Young people deserve and are entitled to reach out, attach and bond with their caretakers. It is an expectation that the parent will provide safety, protection, acceptance, understanding and empathy. When this does happen, children grow up knowing their worth and demanding respect from others and themselves.  - from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201209/shaming-children-is-emotionally-abusive

     But just because this ideal situation might not have happened in childhood or is still not happening in adulthood, that doesn't mean it's too late for positive change.  Everyone, no matter what age has the ability to create a better life experience and healthier thought patterns for themselves using some of the above strategies.  Trauma can always be undone, in my honest opinion.

     So I learned a lot about shaming in my research, and the implications were worse than I had expected.  There seems to be a common misconception in society that smacking our children is frowned upon, but verbally and emotionally smacking them is more okay.  Shaming a child is one of the worst verbal/emotional smackings that can be done to a person.  It has recently been shown in scientific studies that ignoring or ostracizing a person actually causes them physical pain (and shaming could be considered a type of rejecting along those lines), so this goes to show that these types of emotional abuse are literally just as unhealthy as actually hitting a person.  ( https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-being-ignored-causes-the-same-chemical-reaction-in-the-brain-as-experiencing-a-physical-injury)

     What I like to do to keep myself acting respectfully toward my young son is to always try to see things through his eyes.  There will be days with toddlers and teenagers where you as a parent are pushed to your limit of patience.  What always seems to help me is to remember that he is a person just like me, an equal person deserving of my love and respect.  Just because he is smaller than me and learning many things that I already know does not make him inferior to me.  He is EQUAL.

     When I try to see through his eyes in situations it brings understanding.  I see that maybe he is in pain with his 2-year-old molars coming in and that's why he might be a bit cranky.  Perhaps I have forgotten to bring his lovie downstairs for him and he misses it.  Maybe he is hungry or thirsty and I should offer him something to eat and drink.  There are REASONS why people (including young people) make the decisions they make and feel the feelings they feel.  Us acting like they are just 'bad' is a way of invalidating their feelings and needs and it is far from respectful.  I make the choice every day to respect my son and myself, even when it sometimes takes seemingly astronomical levels of patience.  It is through this modeling that I know he will learn to respect himself and others in turn.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Right to Self Defense


   

"Pay attention when people react with anger and hostility to your boundaries.  You have found the edge where their respect for you ends."  -Anonymous


     I found this amazing blog today about every person having the fundamental right to defend themselves:  http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2007/09/your-most-fundamental-right.html?m=1

     It really got me thinking about how often we raise our children with the sheer determination that they will be obedient above all else.  We tell them say "hello" to so and so!  Wave!" from an early age on, even when it is clear they don't want to.  Some parents continue pushing even further after their baby or child's initial resistance, urging them to (for politeness sake) do the socially acceptable thing and say hi even though they still really don't want to.  Teaching them that their unique perspective and being is not as important as being a puppet to our desires and making us look like we are raising polite young children.  Basically teaching them that making us look good to others matters more than them being able to choose whether or not they want to greet someone.

     This mentality starts pretty young for a lot of children.  They learn pretty early on that what they may want for themselves is not as important as what we choose for them, from small to large instances like the example above peppered throughout their earliest days.  In some cases this is of course healthy, for instance they may want to touch a hot stove top and we may prevent them from burning themselves.  Boundaries of what is safe for them and what is not must be set.  Rules must be established because rules are part of being a caring parent.  However, there are many situations where I think it is imperative to show them they have the ability and right to make their own choices.  It teaches them that it is okay to say "no" sometimes, which will serve them later in life if someone tries to take advantage of them somehow.

     I try to choose my battles with my young son in a constant dance of balance between making sure I am setting clear rules and expectations for him that will help him develop into the best person he can be all while allowing him to still understand that it is okay to say "no" sometimes and develop his own autonomy.  He is in the toddler stage and currently it is important to his developing identity to explore what it feels like to be "him".  He can't do that if every time he attempts to have a unique opinion on anything I immediately overrule him.  The rules/boundaries part is important for him to have a sense of security and to know that he is cared for, loved and protected while the choosing my battles part and letting him say no sometimes helps him to become independent, find his identity and know that he has the right to defend himself.  I try to support him in being creative too.  When he wants to play with toys in different ways than they are intended (but still safe ways), I applaud him.  He is thinking outside the box.  Telling him he always has to play with a toy the exact way it's 'meant' to be played with or be reprimanded by me shuns his ability to explore his world and think of things in unconventional ways.

When we are out and about and I am talking to someone and they say hi to him I find myself looking at him to see if he will say hi.  I usually encourage him to say hi once, asking him if he would like to say "hi" to so and so, but if I notice he doesn't want to I say something like "no problem, you don't have to".  This is because raising a child isn't all about me and creating some image of being the perfect Mom to the rest of the world.  Raising a child is about supporting another person from the very beginning of their life and helping them to develop a strong foundation of self worth that will serve them for the entirety of their life.

     Children that are taught from an early age that they don't have a fundamental right to defend themselves become adults that end up in often abusive situations, often for huge chunks of their lifetimes.  They are easy fodder for manipulative types of personalities that use them as doormats and know they will come running back for more abuse because they have been taught from an early age that their feelings don't matter.  They don't have the right to say no.

     This is true in some religious situations where "turn the other cheek" is repeated like a mantra and people are taught to basically repress their feelings and 'forgive' all wrongdoing against them (but stay in the situation that allowed the wrongdoing to happen in the first place), allowing the perpetrators to continue the cycle of abusing them.  This is especially true in the name of 'family'.  Our society as a whole accepts a wife leaving her husband (or vice versa) if he or she is physically/emotionally abusive.  We have reached that level of evolution, thankfully.

"Before I am your daughter, your sister, your aunt, niece or cousin, I am my own person, and I will not set fire to myself to keep you warm."  -Anonymous


     However we as a society still struggle with understanding that sometimes a family may create a toxic situation with generations-repeated cycles of abuse that make it truly better for someone to walk away.  Better for their emotional well-being, health and safety and that of their children if they have any.  Our expectations as a society are that at all costs to the quality of life of the victim (often a scape goat of a toxic family) they are expected to forgive and forget abuses repeatedly for the sake of maintaining the status quo of the family.  If anyone else in society were to treat these people this way, be it a stranger, friend or spouse, society's advice would be to "walk away".

But society tells these people that because they are 'family' they should keep returning to these people who have zero respect for them and may cause them anxiety, insomnia and even physical health issues.  The victims' feelings and the traumas they have gone through by their blood-related or through marriage-related abusers are minimized, invalidated and even laughed at.  No one knows of the threats, intimidation, emotional and mental abuse these people suffered behind the scenes (and that is exactly how the perpetrators want it to be).  They have been taught to protect the 'family'.

The true victims usually don't believe in airing their dirty laundry to everyone around them like abusers do (out of respect for privacy), so a situation occurs where the true victims have a smear campaign of lies made up about them by the abusers to everyone that will listen (while the true victims stay silent about what they have endured).  So not only have these people been emotionally, verbally, mentally and sometimes even physically abused and intimidated/threatened, but now they are cut off from any sources of support by the people who did this to them in the first place through gossip.  The sources of support are encouraged to 'shun' the already victims to support the false martyrdom of the abusers.

     If the victims do manage to somehow escape the situation and work on healing themselves, the abusers' friends and other family members are made to believe even more that the abusers are actually the victims because the real victims "cruelly left them" (to protect their own health and well being).  Flipped tales of what really happened, exaggerations and lies are told of the ones who got away in order for the abusers to keep their pristine social images as great people, the loving and generous ones who were 'mistreated' for no reason.  Often the victims are told they 'need help' and are mentally unstable for seeking to leave an emotionally traumatic situation and seek a healthier existence for themselves.  There is never any true accountability for the abusers' actions that made others' lives a living nightmare.

This is especially true of families that have narcissists in them, and ACONS (adult children of narcissists) are particularly vulnerable to feeling they can never escape this abuse because they have been brainwashed from such an early age to believe they don't have the right to defend themselves.  This can happen with groups of friends and coworkers too (usually with one or more narcissists present in the bunch).

Sometimes it takes a while for victims to see what is really going on behind the scenes because a lifetime of conditioning to accept certain situations as 'normal' can make a person's 'normal meter' tolerance for what is acceptable behavior toward them pretty broken.  It's like the slow-boiling frog metaphor where the frog is conditioned to accept slowly raised heat in a pan until it eventually boils.  However, once the level of unhealthiness one is exposing themself to is understood, it becomes not only that person's right to defend themself, but also their responsibility.  In recent months several stories have come to light about in-laws abusing their daughter-in-law and this one was especially troubling:  https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/09/amir-khan-wife-faryal-makhdoom-accuses-in-laws-bullying-abuse

Though this story seems to have some cultural influence, I have noticed that family abuse is definitely not limited to any particular cultural beliefs (though the chances for it happening may be increased among certain cultures).  For every story of family abuse in which a person finally finds the courage to speak out about what happened (which often takes years), there are likely thousands of stories that go unheard.  This keeps abusers protected, victims victimized and society unaware of what sometimes happens in the name of 'family' and encouraging people to 'work things out' with people who are not capable of ever changing for the better.

Narcissistic family members in particular are known for not being able to change, as they are never able to truly see that the problem lies with them.  They avoid therapy at all costs, saying and believing that it is everyone else that has the problem, never them.  And the truth is, they don't actually WANT to ever change because they LIKE living that way, with life being a big socially competitive chess game and everyone around them being their pawns to manipulate.  They like to do things like pit siblings against siblings, using the divide and conquer method to keep themselves dominant leaders of the family.  It makes them feel powerful and provides constant narcissistic supply to live this way, with themselves in complete control, so why would they ever want or need to change?

As they say, roaches run in the light.  I am hoping that the recent stories coming out about this sort of situation happening will continue increasing in number because in time society (which once found it acceptable for a man to hit his wife) can change and we can learn to embrace philosophies of what is acceptable behavior (from anyone toward us, no matter who they happen to be) and what is not acceptable behavior.

When you hear anyone arguing against the right for others to defend themselves from a threat to their person or property you are witnessing the spirit of the tyrant. Resist tyranny. Never attempt to deprive yourself or others of the right to self-defense otherwise you will be playing into the hands of the despot and risk imbibing of the spirit of the despot yourself if you insist on others not exercising their right to self-defense.

If you have scruples against defending yourself, do not feel free to foist your scruples onto someone else. Have your scruples, but leave others alone to theirs. You can decide to be lunch for a predator, but your rights stop there. You have no right to demand others to willingly surrender themselves to be a predator's meal.*Excerpt from:  http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2007/09/your-most-fundamental-right.html?m=1

     No matter what the titles are of the people around us, we must come to realize that anyone who expects us to give up our right to defend ourselves and say "no" to abusive situations is someone that lacks respect for us.  Basically that person or group of people is a tyranny.  Life is too short for people to choose to willingly live under the rule of a tyranny.  We are all equals in this world regardless of the things that make us different from each other.  No one is worth more or less.  Everyone deserves to be treated with basic human respect and being treated in any other manner cannot classify as love.  Everyone has the right to defend themselves and therefore everyone has the right to choose love.  I try every day to teach my son from an early age how to choose love...love for himself, love for others, how to respect and be respected in turn.  Because ultimately respect is a two way street and all of us deserve to be loved and respected completely.


Monday, September 26, 2016

A Wolf Pack in Sheep's Clothing



So I haven't blogged in quite some time now.  I've been busy being an artist, a wife, a mother and a student of life.  I've also gone through some pretty interesting life traumas in recent years.  Through surviving these traumas I have learned a lot about finding one's voice.  We are all equal people in this world and all of our voices matter and deserve to be heard.  Below I will share with you the story of what I have gone through (some names have been changed) and how I was able to survive and thrive following narcissistic abuse.  If this is something you have experienced, please know that you are not alone and things can and will improve for you if you can develop a recognition of what is actually happening.  You may not even know that the people you are dealing with are narcissists.  Honestly it took me a long time to figure that out (as well as a clinical diagnosis of them based on their behavior), but being able to put a name with what was happening in my life finally helped me to understand it.  Hopefully some of the events in my story will ring true to something you have gone through in your own life and through that similarity help you to see what is going on so you can take steps needed to protect yourself and your well-being.  Through that awareness of the toxic behaviors happening around you, you can find ways to set healthy boundaries and stick to them.  Know that you can find a healthier way of being, and hold on to that.  You can create a beautiful life for yourself!  One that is free of drama, chaos, abuse and liars who play the victim.  Everyone deserves to be treated well and you are no exception.  You matter and so do your feelings, as much as the narcissists out there would have you believe otherwise and try to make you feel 'selfish' for standing up for your right to be treated with basic human respect.



The Other Side of the Story:  A True Story of Narcissism, Intimidation, Survival and Freedom 



Part I


You don't ever have to feel guilty for removing toxic people from your life.  It doesn't matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance -- you don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small.  It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change.  But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.
-Daniell Koepke


"Go to your daddy," he said, ushering my little son toward my husband.  I had never once heard him say "go to your mother."  I sometimes wondered if they were even aware that I was in the room.  It seemed like if they had their way, my child would not have a mother at all, or his mother would be their beloved 'Princess'.  I noticed that they only ever said our child looked like his father too, that their "genes were so strong" and all of my son's cuteness was because of their genes.  Other, less biased people seemed to have a different opinion though that our son was a nice blend of both of our attributes.

We were with some people we knew, who we'll call Connie and Dan.  They were 'popular', charming and seemed to be such good people.  Pillars of society, really.  Connie especially had a large following of 'loyals' who believed she was damn near saintly in "always being there" for them.  None of them seemed to have any idea what types of things she said about them as soon as they weren't in the room.

I myself had loved and enjoyed these people for close to 7 years now, always feeling glad that they were part of my life.  I was seemingly blind to the backstabbing and ugly judgements and lies hidden behind their smiling masks.  I thought they truly cared about me.  They seemed so supportive and loving and I remarked to my husband on more than one occasion how they were what 'family' should be.  They had become my surrogate family, since my own family lived far away.  We spent time with them whenever we were able to and even had our wedding at their house as I had always loved their yard.  I felt happy and full of gratitude for these people for years, genuinely enjoying them every time we got together.  But then we decided to have a baby and everything changed.

It all began shortly after we announced our pregnancy to Connie.  She wanted to come over to our house with Princess and her husband to congratulate them on how great they would be with our son, J.  I was very confused.  I thought the congratulations were going to be for my husband and I because we were about to have a baby together, but no.  A box with two cupcakes appeared and written on the top inside of the box was something to the effect of "Congratulations!  You are going to be great with J!"

I felt kind of hurt about this and really didn't understand it.  I know Connie had a tendency to fawn over Princess with lots of attention and to make everything about her (Princess was kind of an extension of Connie's identity it seemed, they looked alike, seemed to have all the same interests, likes, and dislikes etc.).  In fact, it was hard to tell where Connie ended as a person and Princess began.  As soon as you entered Connie's house you were greeted by two nearly life-sized framed photo portraits of Princess with the words "Isn't She Gorgeous?" and "Isn't She Amazing?" above them.  I always found that a bit odd.  This moment was a little odd too.  It was finally supposed to be about the baby my husband and I were having together...and somehow even this sacred moment had been taken away from us and made about Princess.  It seemed that no matter what was happening in the lives of others and no matter how exciting it was for them, Connie always found a way to shine the spotlight back on Princess, the mini version of herself.

Later on during my pregnancy my husband and I were deciding whether or not to circumcize our son.  We did a lot of research on it, wanting to make the best possible decision for our baby.  We eventually came to the conclusion that we would not circumcize him, based on the information we had found (but we completely respect everyones' right to decide for their own children what is best).  During the process of making this decision we reached out to a few people to ask for their opinions.  All of them let us know what they thought was best and left it at that, allowing us to make our own decision like the grown adults we are.  All of them, that is, except for Connie.  When she found out we were not circumcizing our son she balked "well what will people think?  He'll be embarrassed in the boy's locker room!"  My husband responded that he didn't remember people looking at each other's privates much in the locker room when he was growing up.

I thought this would be the one encounter we'd have with Connie about this topic, but I was wrong.  Shortly after she called my husband at work to tell him horror stories of men with bleeding penises because they didn't get circumcized as babies.  She also had her brother call him to tell him about all of the difficulty he'd had with his penis his entire life...because he wasn't circumcized as a baby.  And that wasn't the end of it.  I ended up on the phone with this lady for over an hour later that same week defending our decision.  OUR decision for OUR child.  Her need to control our life decisions for our baby and the audacity of it all astounded me.  We were grown adults....pushing 40 almost.  What the actual...?

This ordeal was just a small preview of what was in store for us and our baby in the future.
I gave birth to our beautiful son, J on a cold late January afternoon.  The c-section took all of 20 minutes and there he was!  From the moment the doctors held him above the little drape so our eyes could meet, he took my breath away.  I couldn't stop smiling.  Looking into his eyes instantly became one of life's greatest treasures.

J seemed really healthy.  He weighed in at 8 lbs 10 oz and was a tall little guy with good coloring to his skin.  Connie was there to meet him right after he was born and went in with my husband when J was getting his first bath.  Connie and Princess came to visit several times during J's first days in the hospital and always took some pictures.  It wasn't until I was home with Shane and J that I realized I wasn't in any of the pictures.  There were pictures of Connie with J and several of Princess and her husband with J, but none of me and my husband...with our child.  I thought she would have wanted pictures of that?  I know I did.  When I looked back through the pictures she had taken I felt a bit gipped that there were none of Shane and I holding J together during his first few days of life, especially since they were the main people visiting us that could have taken them.  But oh well, I told myself, no big deal.

But it didn't change.  From that point on I noticed that at every get together there were pictures taken of my baby...with everyone but me.  Sometimes (rarely) my husband was even included, but I wasn't.  This was unusual, as Connie used to include me in pictures at every gathering I attended with them.  It seemed there was something about me having a baby that changed her attitude toward me.  It seemed like it made her want me not to exist, almost like she secretly wished it was her baby (or Princess's).  It was true that she now had empty nest syndrome happening with all of her children grown.  It seemed kind of unfair for her to be taking out her unresolved issues with it on us though...she'd had her chance to be a mother to 4 children and now it was our turn to be parents to our first.  It was sad that our turn to be new parents felt slightly tainted by her jealousy when she'd had plenty of time to enjoy her own children.  It felt like her opinion of me was that I was just the vessel that had brought the baby into the world to them...and now that I no longer had a 'use' I was being discarded.  Almost like if she ignored me enough my son would become her baby.

I confronted her about the pictures and she instantly gave me a martyr type of response with "Oh well I guess I just can't do anything right!", which I found very confusing as I couldn't remember having ever told her she did something wrong before.  All I knew was...it was hard for my husband and I to take pictures of ourselves holding our child and it would be nice if she would take some for us at family gatherings...like she used to.  It seemed strange and downright rude to include everyone else in pictures...except for me.  I felt that talking to her about the issue was the right thing to do, even if she didn't like it.

At Easter, after confronting her, she finally took pictures of us, but she did it in a very odd way...dramatically snapping 30 or 50 pics of us without stopping and acting shaken up like an abused person while taking them.  I found it odd that she didn't just take a few pictures of us like she normally used to and instead had to turn it into this dramatic martyr type of performance.  No one had yelled at her or was standing over her threatening her, but she took the pictures as if it was physically painful and someone was holding a gun to her head.  I really didn't understand the victim act.  But whatever, I thought, at least we finally had some cute pictures of our little family to enjoy even if it seemed to cause her physical pain to take them.

I'm rewinding a bit to J's first week now.  At about 7 days we took him to the pediatrician for what we were told was a normal checkup, but we were also told "don't wait to make the appointment" by another doctor that had looked in on J during his first 3 days after being born, so that was strange.  At his first appointment, the pediatrician seemed to think J was doing pretty well...until he listened to his heart.  He listened to it for a very long time, which we just figured was normal, but then he frowned.  He told us that J had a gallup in his heartbeat and that we should take him up to Children's Primary for a closer examination.  He told us to take him there right away.  We laughed a bit as we drove, thinking this was silly and our baby was so healthy.  Look at his glowing skin, how can he have something wrong?  We even debated not going, but I'm glad we did.  Had we not gone then, there is a very real chance J would have had to be life-flighted to the hospital.

That night we found ourselves standing in a hospital room filled with many doctors and nurses in scrubs all surrounding our little son on a hospital bed.  The picture was surreal.  We had no idea that what started out as a normal afternoon visit to the pediatrician would turn into this.  And it got worse.  J had a coartic aorta that was very serious and needed surgery as soon as possible for it.  Our baby had open heart surgery at 8 days old...

J's surgery was the most grueling 6 hours of my life.  They would call and give us little updates about what was happening during it, that I almost wished they didn't do.  There was a call letting us know that things were going well and they were proceeding to the part of the surgery where they were shutting off his heart and blood to his brain for a short while.  After hearing that I completely lost it in a hospital hallway and a nice lady grabbed my hand and prayed with me while I sobbed uncontrollably.

We walked in after the surgery  and our baby looked like some sort of a computer.  There were wires and tubes coming out of what seemed like every inch of him.  It was a lot to take in.   Basically we arrived there one Thursday night and didn't get to take our baby for a month.  After his heart surgery he was recovering very well, we thought.

We were ready to go home a week after his surgery when the nurses found blood in his diaper.  A lot of blood.  The doctors were concerned that he might have a condition called 'nec' which involves the disintegration of some of a person's internal organs following heart surgery, due to the time oxygen was not circulating through the blood during the surgery.  Part of their tissues start to die.

We were told that he would not be allowed to have any milk for 7 days.  This was after he had already not had a bottle for 2 days as they were concerned that he might be developing nec.  So basically our newborn baby wasn't allowed to eat for 9 days straight.  This time was probably the hardest Shane and I had ever been through together.  J wasn't allowed to eat any sort of food that would travel through his stomach so he was 'fed' through an iv, which meant that he was receiving nutrients, but felt like he had an empty stomach.

We held J as he cried hungrily, trying anything to comfort him.  He was still attached to the machines with many tubes so we were only allowed to take him so far as we held him.  Sometimes it seemed there wasn't anything I could do to ease his suffering, and I just wished he'd go to sleep so he could at least have a few minutes of peace.  I gently massaged his head and face with my fingers, wanting so much to take away his hunger pangs, trying to sooth him into resting, trying to tell him through my touch that I loved him so much and would do anything to help him feel better.

The month we spent in the hospital was a living nightmare.  We tried to sleep in the hospital room to be with our son at night, but the nurses came in every 2-4 hours to perform vitals and would strip J naked sometime around 4 am every morning to give him a cold antiseptic bath and weigh him on a colder metal scale.  He had to be fed with a feeding tube through his nose (when he wasn't being 'starved') in order to allow his throat and swallow mechanisms time to heal from his heart surgery (they insert things down through the throat during surgery that can cause some damage that takes time to heal).

They made us learn how to insert the feeding tube ourselves, which felt like we were torturing our baby.  We had to put the tube through his nostril and move it down all the way into his stomach.  He screamed absolute bloody murder.  I didn't know a newborn baby was even capable of making noises like that.  I felt like he was never going to trust us again, and I didn't blame him.  The agony of having to do things like that to your newborn baby, helping the nurses scrub his bloody neck wound where yet another tube was inserted that did who knows what while he cried.  And then putting antiseptic on it.  It was almost unbearable.

Shane and I held each other's hands so tight we couldn't feel them as we made the daily treks to and from the hospital cafeteria and back to J's room.  Every day there felt like we were just trying to survive.  We clung to each other, desperate for comfort and trying to find the strength we needed in each other to make it through another day in this 'alternate reality'.

Despite all of the grief I was feeling my appetite was off the charts because I was still pumping and freezing the milk, hoping one day it could help J heal and get good nutrients.  Shane and I held each other and took turns sobbing.  We felt a lot of guilt about being unable to stay in the hospital with little J at night even though we weren't getting any sleep when we did,  but we knew our immune systems could be compromised if that continued and we didn't want to get J sick.  Any sort of germs or illness at this point in his recovery could be life-threatening as his little body was already trying to heal from so much.

It took us about an hour each way to and from the hospital every day.  We tried our best to spend the moments we did have with Jay showing him so much love and comfort, holding him constantly, making him feel protected.  It was all we could do.  It seemed like between all the nurse and doctor and specialist visits and me having to go pump and us needing food ourselves that we barely got to hold him for an hour or 2 a day. We just wanted to be left alone to deal with this situation by ourselves.  We just wanted time alone with our newborn to hold him and show him love instead of all the pain he was constantly experiencing.  We felt like we were still in shock from it all and it felt like we were barely holding on.

Connie didn't get the memo on that though.  After she had come to see J several times we said no to a couple of her requests as we needed time with our baby and needed to be alone to process everything we were going through.  It had been a particularly difficult week.  We were in our own private world of hurt and simply wanted quiet time with our baby as much as we could to try to deal with everything.  As I sat pumping in J's hospital room one night, she randomly appeared with Dan and a bunch of balloons and gifts for J.  I was mortified.  Here I was, pumping, just wanting to spend time with my husband and baby in one of the few moments that none of the hospital staff was in our room...and there they were.  It was embarrassing and it completely violated the boundaries we had set in saying "no" to visitors at that time.

But I felt guilted of course and said "no it's okay come in" even though it was humiliating to me to be pumping and have company that I didn't want there.  I tried to act politely like it was no big deal, but it was actually a very large deal.  It was essentially a metaphor for their entire treatment of us in general...they didn't respect our feelings, boundaries or wishes.  They didn't respect US.  My husband mentioned that they should have called and asked us before showing up, to which Connie replied, "Well it's my RIGHT to see him.  I shouldn't have to schedule an 'appointment' and you would have just said no!".  Which yes, we probably would have said no until we were ready for guests as it was our right in this situation to decide if and when we wanted visitors.  Even with everything we were going through they didn't respect our adult decisions and rights.  They felt entitled to barge in on us and see our baby anytime they wanted, without our consent.  Even our own baby and this messed up situation we were in somehow became all about them.

Of course I didn't realize any of this at the time.  I was too busy going through shock and trauma to really put anything that had happened together yet and I tend to assume the best in people.  I had no idea these experiences were the tiniest shadow of a hulking nightmare that would unveil itself in time...




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Embracing Summer...As Best I Can

So I love the idea of summer.  The warmth, the seemingly endless vacation days I had off with my teacher Mom as a child, our many trips to the pool.  I love that I can go for a walk outside with Shane every night and not need any sort of a hoodie (I am the sort of person that normally carries one everywhere as I'm always cold).  I love eating fresh fruit in the summer, especially strawberries dipped in vanilla bean fruit dip.  Above all else I love, if possible, to be near the ocean in the summer.

But oh this summer....oh man...it is HOT!  Now let me say for the record that I lived in Tucson for the better part of a decade and I am well versed in the ways of the sauna.  Usually I can find a way in my mind to make steaming hot days seem spa-like and somehow luxurious.  But since I moved to Utah my expectations have changed.  I expect it to generally not get much hotter than 90 on any given summer day.  I expect it to cool off to some nice, tepid mid to high 70's at nighttime.  And above all else I expect for my air conditioner to work without question as it is supposed to.

This past week and into the current one it has been above 100 almost every day, even as high as 104-105 some days, and my air conditioner is on strike.  It seems she is ill-equipped to handle anything above 95 with finesse.  In an effort to deal until our air conditioner is looked at I am going to be doing a lot of rainy paintings soon to visually cool myself off.  I may even brave our community pool.  I am also distracting myself with some interesting quotes I recently found:



"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
-Albert Camus


"Tears of joy are like the summer raindrops pierced by sunbeams."
-Hosea Ballou


"Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you."
-Langston Hughes


"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
-John Lubbock


"Summer is a great time to visit art museums, which offer the refreshing rinse of swimming pools - only instead of cool water, you immerse yourself in art."
-Jerry Saltz



Some of my recently painted original paintings:








(sold)






























My Etsy website, Painted Rain Gallery:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaintedRainGallery?ref=si_shop

I hope everyone has a beautiful July!



Monday, December 3, 2012

Enemies Becoming Friends, Christmas Trees, and Life


"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."  -Martin Luther King, Jr.


So it has been an amazing couple of weekends now.  After my last blog on forgiving people who aren't sorry, I was contacted by the author of the novel I mentioned.  She apologized and said she never expected that I would read the book.  I had already started the process of forgiveness at this point before the apology, but after it an amazing healing took place for me.  With her help I have been able to let go of my feelings over the novel completely, and in the process I have made a new friend.  We write each other (novel length lol) e-mails almost daily of late and I have found out we have a lot in common.  It's such a wonderful feeling!  She is working on new books, which I hope to read, and we have found ways to help each other with networking and that sort of thing.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you're harboring resentment toward another person, find a way to let it go somehow.  Find a way to forgive.  Even if you don't end up being friends with the person like I have, forgive so that you can move forward with your life unburdened.  What worked best for me (before the apology) was repeating in my mind "I forgive you and I take back my life".  It's like fake it 'til you make it, like pretending you are a person with confidence until you actually start to believe it.  If you repeat forgiving thoughts toward someone in your head for long enough, the forgiveness will start to actually happen, and over time you will become free of resentment.  Trust me, life shines a little brighter once this crap is gone.

So we had a pretty awesome Thanksgiving with Shane's family.  I especially enjoyed coloring in coloring books with my adorable nieces.  We put up our blue Christmas tree, blue icicle lights outside, blue lights on the bushes, and I have begun wrapping Christmas presents with blue paper and ribbons.  Yes, we are fans of blue.  Here is our Christmas tree flip book if anyone is curious:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200096630521076.2193945.1309437025&type=1  Now we just need a blue wreathe to complete the look.  I promise to take pictures of the blue icicle lights on the balcony soon.  They are neato.


Our Blue Christmas Tree
  

Here are my random card readings for today.  Felt like some guidance and well the cards are really pretty so I wanted to look at them.  Angel card:  Three of Water.  A celebration!  A wedding, graduation, or birth announcement.  The need to have more fun.  Additional meanings of this card:  Community.  Hospitality.  Entertainment.  Good fortune.  Happy conclusions.

Okay this card is uncannily accurate in one sense of my life right now.  The need to have more fun part.  Now don't get me wrong, what I do is inherently fun (being an artist).  But I have been kind of a workaholic lately, forgoing almost all leisure activities to get more things listed, find more avenues to be discovered at, etc.  Pretty much I have been doing this for most of my waking hours for many days now.  So yes, perhaps I need to have more fun.

Goddess card:  The Prince of Staves.  New ideas, communications.  Important communications.  Need to listen to inspiration, new ideas.  However, these should be weighed according to practicality.

Okay, message received.  I will attempt to filter the myriad of new ideas generally streaming through my head according to their practicality.

Well, back to work I go now.  I will try to make some time for fun today too.  :)




The fam on Thanksgiving











Tree finished!  





Our red poinsettia wreathe (needs to be blue)





Blue lights on the bushes yay




Some new paintings I recently finished in all my creating fervor:














http://www.etsy.com/shop/PaintedRainGallery









Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Forgive People Who Aren't Sorry



“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections



“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Mother Teresa



“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince



“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism



“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain



“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice



“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat......Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.........Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.........Forgiveness does not excuse anything.........You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness......”
W. Paul Young, The Shack



“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Martin Luther King Jr.



“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
C.R. Strahan



This blog is dedicated to helping those who have gone through or are experiencing something difficult and having a lot of trouble forgiving someone.  Maybe because that person is not sorry, or even seems to be happy about what they did.  I will be detailing here my recent experience in dealing with something particularly hard to forgive with the intention of helping others who may be in similar situations.  At the end of this blog are some great resources for finding ways to forgive, even when it seems almost impossible.  Remember above all else that forgiveness is for YOU, and your own well being.  It is so you can be free of resentment and live your life to its fullest potential, so you can find your own happiness and be free of their sludge.  Forgiveness has very little to do with the person or people you are forgiving at all.

So I have been going through some things lately.  In addition to my Grandpa dying, I was also incredibly sick physically.  The kind of illness that includes a massively sore throat, pounding headache, nose issues I won't even begin to describe, and being up most of the night along with everyone else in your house since you can't seem to stop coughing loudly.  After all that was over I thought I was home free, but no.  I found myself with not one, but 2 styes in...yup, one in each eye.  One of them went away after a few days but the other one was relentless, puffing my right eye up until I thought it would swell shut.  Painful to touch, practically to even look at.  I considered investing in a stylish pirate eye patch to cover it, honing the style of sexy character Elle (Daryl Hannah) in Kill Bill.  Surely it would have been an improvement.



Elle (Daryl Hannah) in Kill Bill



Luckily the stye is beginning to decrease in size and pain a little bit every day.  It will hopefully soon be completely gone.  But I have been left with questions.  Why have I been plagued with so much pain lately?  For one.  I looked up the metaphysical causes of styes on a lark and found this site:  http://www.speedyremedies.com/metaphysical-causes-of-disease.html where it specifies that the spiritual meaning of an eye stye is suppressed anger and anxiety.  On another site it said styes are caused by looking at someone with angry eyes.

Now I'm pretty much in a zenlike calm state most of the time these days and I'm not sure how much I believe in the validity of those types of definitions but I said "what the heck?" and really asked myself...am I angry with someone about something?

The truth is, yes I am.  It is something I thought I let go of a while ago because it is petty, immature, and all around beneath me.  When it happened I said "wow, that is incredibly lame", and thought I had put it behind me.  But it has been gnawing at me like a hungry little gremlin from behind the scenes.  Gnawing at my self esteem, my faith in humanity, and my ability to trust others.  I have learned that just because something is lame, juvenile, and completely undeserved and you are aware of all of these things, it doesn't mean you are immune from the situation and it's immediate/lasting effects on you.

Here is the lowdown on what happened:  I learned recently that a book was published by someone I was very close to for the better part of 10 years (we'll call him 'T') and his wife.  At first I was genuinely excited for her in publishing a book ("Wow!  You don't hear about that happening every day.") and I was curious about what the subject was, interested possibly even in reading it myself.  

See I had a fairly good opinion of her.  She had messaged me a short while back and said she found some pictures of my parents in 'T's things and would I like them?  I said sure and thanked her for being so kind.  I was really impressed that she selflessly thought of my feelings and thought to give me pictures of my family before they cleaned things out.  I found her to be a uniquely kind person and was happy that T had found himself a companion with such great integrity.  That event even made me feel better about humanity in some small way, and I mentioned to her that I was sure they made great parents to their kids since they seemed to have good values.  I soon discovered what a sucker I had been...

You see at first I was interested in reading the book and perhaps supporting her with a good review (she had been kind to me, after all), so I checked out some existing reviews of the book with hopes of maybe finding out what it was about a little and seeing if I wanted to read it.  Then I saw that an ever so slightly changed version of my nickname was the name of a main character in the book.  Now I was kind of confused.  As I read further reviews I learned with horror that this work of 'fiction' was actually based almost entirely on actual non-fiction events.  Most of them involving me down to every last detail, but of course painted in a horrible light.  My first reaction was one of jaw dropping shock, followed immediately by the out loud question I asked myself..."Really?  Who seriously does that?"  It boggles the mind.

This book, which was coincidentally published around the time of my birthday (hmmmm, drama anyone?) attacked my character, beliefs, passion for art and entrepreneurship, physical appearance, and my mentor in great detail.  Basically every tiny piece of my being from appearance to joys in life to spiritual beliefs was cell scraped onto a slide and placed under a microscope with a few drops of 'negative' dye to convince the world to survey me negatively.  The book also strangely attacked T's own family, who I later learned don't have much to do with him these days.  The only parts of the book that appeared to actually be fictional in nature were the monstrous exaggerations of my character who apparently throws things a lot in anger.  Lol.  Since this has not happened once in the almost 4 years since he has known me, my husband and I have at least had some good laughs about this.  We enjoy play fighting and pretending I'm some psychotic being who is suddenly very angry at him and I say something like "I'm so mad at you now...I think I might have to THROW something!"  Then I pretend to eye the room in a mad fit, looking around the room desperately for something to chuck at him.  Haha.  At least we find amusement in it somehow.

And it all does seem laughable by definition.  Like something you would see happening in a movie, not in reality.  And honestly, I wanted very much to find it hilarious and just laugh it off.  I even thought I had at one point.  But there again was that gremlin gnawing at me.  I was hurt, angry, and above all else confused.  It wasn't going away.  

This was a relationship that had ended amicably, I believed.  I was actually even proud of how we finished things.  There was no yelling, no squabbling over who would get which possessions.  There was just agreement and fair division of the items.  I had even helped him pack up his things and helped bring them over to his new place.  I had carefully folded clothes and packed glassware so it would hopefully be protected and wouldn't break in transit.  I had sent him off with a drawing of an eagle he had asked me to do, which said on the back "Love Always", and my name.  I had meant it too because to me the end of a relationship that lasted so long hadn't meant I was angry with the other person or didn't care about them anymore.  It sure didn't mean I hated him.  It meant we were giving each other the space to move on with our lives and hopefully forward to new places where we could grow as people.  It just meant this was for the best as we tried for a good long time and it just wasn't working.  Sure I might have had reasons to be angry.  It felt like he never particularly tried or gave our relationship much effort.  But I had chalked it up to something like "we both made mistakes, it's time for us both to move on and find our new life chapters, this is an opportunity."

But somehow, after years of respectfully not talking to each other and finding new lives for ourselves by all accounts, after years of silence and me finding happiness in my life and genuinely wishing him the same, here I found myself.  Confused, wounded, and questioning what I initially thought about them being good parents, because good parents wouldn't sit for the time it takes to write a book, rehashing their past and villainizing people they used to know in front of their children.  What kind of model does that set for kids, hearing all that negativity, put downs, and laughter at the expense of others.  I'm not exactly sure but probably not a positive one.  I wondered what happened to T as he never struck me as a person capable of doing something so inhuman.  I thought he was in good hands all this time.  Surely someone who is truly happy with their life wouldn't feel the need to write a book like that, right?  When you are happy you don't generally feel the need to justify it in a book by alienating all the people you have ever known in some way who you feel wronged you somehow and talking about how great your present life is.  If your present life is so great, living it should be enough for you, enjoying it, free of serving up a revenge sandwich.

So what does a person do to deal with the unfairness and strangeness of it all.  Honestly, forgive, genuinely forgive.  You forgive for yourself because it is the only way you can truly let go of something like that and not have to deal with repressed anger in the future.  Thus began my research of how to forgive when it is difficult.  This video is the first thing I found.  It is kind of an extreme example as the person in the video actually forgives the other person for killing someone he loved.  But then again, the person who did the killing actually expresses genuine remorse for what he did too, which I always feel makes forgiveness easier:


After that I decided I should specifically research "how to forgive people who aren't sorry", because that was my real hang up.  It wasn't so much that they did something awful to me.  That I could easily forgive.  People do unthoughtful things sometimes, even extreme ones.  It happens.  That wasn't the problem.  It was that they were trying to make money on that crap.  Hell they were doing speeches about it in schools and stuff.  Basically they seemed very proud of what they had written, and wanted to flaunt it all over the internet like no tomorrow.  *Scratches temple and shakes forehead*.   Really?

So I looked up how to forgive others when they're not sorry and I found some gems.  From Wikianswers.com:

Question:  How do you forgive someone who is not even sorry?

Answer:

Not equipped to apologize.  Understanding that the other person does not possess the tools to offer an apology can help you to forgive them. We all see things from our own perspective and respond based on our own past experiences. Some people are simply not capable of seeing that they have hurt another person. Forgive them for not learning this lesson earlier in their life, and wish them well.
Another problem with not forgiving someone is that it gives them power over you. Think about it. You're upset, maybe even raging about what they did. Probably spending much more time and effort on it than it's worth. Point in fact, you are giving them power over you because you are choosing to devote time and effort to the problem. But... if you forgive them for what they did it's over. Now, I did not say you're supposed to forget what happened, only fools forget. Just forgive them. After all, why should you let them ruin your day any more?
The bottom line to all this is that forgiveness really is a one-way street. Though it's hard to forgive someone who does not show remorse, and may not even feel remorse, it is a decision that we can make regardless. For your own health, '''decide''' to forgive them.


Answer:  Forgiving is unconditional. It nourishes the spirit.



And here is a link to how to Forgive Others: For Your Own Sake, that I found highly valuable: 

http://www.handelgroup.com/coaching/life-coaching/forgive-others-your-own-sake



And I requote again once more, because it's worth repeating:

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”

C.R. Strahan


And that is what I intend to do. In fact consider it done, now:


You know who you are, and you know what you have done. You may read this some day, or you may never read it. It doesn't matter to me either way. You seem to be happy about what you have 'accomplished', unaware of the ugliness of it, trying to profit from the pain you caused me and your own family with your so-called work of self-published 'fiction', and that's okay. Honestly, it doesn't matter one bit either way if you ever read this, if you're happy about what you've done, or if you like to drink Earl Grey tea on Sundays. It doesn't matter at all because this blog is mine, and this forgiveness is for me. So here it is:

I forgive you. You are both excused. I forgive you because I realize for whatever reason you aren't able to understand or care about how you hurt others with what you did and you also aren't able to genuinely apologize for it. I feel for you if you are in a place where you enjoy bringing pain to others who have genuinely wished you well, and I truly hope you can find a better, happier way of being.

I forgive you and in that forgiveness I choose to embrace happiness for myself. I am free of all resentment and anger. I forgive you. I forgive you because for whatever reason you appear to be hurting, or were when you wrote that book. I forgive you and in that forgiveness I set myself free. I forgive you, even though you didn't ask for or want my forgiveness. I choose letting go over drama. I forgive you, I forgive you with all my heart. Let's all just get on with our own lives, as the truth is we have no purpose in each other's anymore, and haven't for a very long time now.

Here I picture placing a carefully folded paper sailboat in a river and watching it drift away until I can no longer see it.


*exhales peacefully*