Lead Me Not Into False Expectations

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” -Semisonic

It’s another New Year, another time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book. I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact they are usually slightly unrealistic. If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but I had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at the very least an inability to magically transform my commute from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When you think about it, it’s really just a change from one calendar to another; from a Sunday to a Monday. If my resolution is to not drink but I have a full cupboard of alcohol that I see every time I reach for a glass, it will be more difficult to not grab that bottle and have “just one” drink. If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug. Another great reason for my resolutions to fail is that I make them based on what I think I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight, so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me. Making a resolution to start attending mass on a regular basis because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from Heaven. Or even better, so that I can get in God’s good grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative. These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before January 1st.

I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions. They are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2.
MEDICINE
the healing process of a wound.

– Google Search

I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve the healing and recovering from wounds, be it physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but that may take not days, but years. My intention is to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.

I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love. By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested. Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution, but there is much more involved than just not raising a glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you to feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personally responsibility for their role in what happened and own up to it. My dad used to say, “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it.”

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Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is more helpful (in my experience) than making a resolution that is unrealistic.

So, Happy New Year to one and all! May this year bring you comfort when you’re distressed, company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms; the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your dragons and the faith to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic expectations. Peace and love to you all!

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Building Mr. Right

I have been thinking for a while about diving into the waters of the dating world again and as always, I ask myself what kind of man is it that I’m looking for? If I could build Mr. Right what parts and pieces would go into his creation? Kind of like a puzzle but with body parts, personality, moral and ethical laws and whatever form of spirituality he may possess. That led me to thinking about the men in my life; past, present, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sad, bad & everything in between. What was it about the Bad Boy that made me so weak in the knees? What was it about the Desperate to Please that made me so irritated? Why did I immediately like that guy, only to find out that he was a liar, (note to cheating married men – we can go online to see if your “divorce” actually happened, so quit being dumb asses and telling such pathetic, easily verifiable lies) why is it that the perfectly available, ready to settle down, single guy makes me want to jab my eyes out to break the monotony of listening to this safe, clinically sane man who is more in love with himself than he will ever be with any other human being bore me to tears with his painfully dull monologue about how great he is? All these things considered I came up with the following:

My dad, was of course, the first man in my life and to say that we had a complicated relationship would be akin to saying the sinking of the Titanic was an unimportant event in history or that the parting of the Red Seas was a neat trick (ok atheists – settle down over there) neither does them justice or tells the whole truth. At any rate, my dad had some outstanding traits such as he was a “thinking man” who loved the Greek philosophers, debating pretty much anything and had a thirst for knowledge that was unquenchable. He spoke to me as an adult, even when I was a child. He gave me the belief that I had something to offer in any conversation, regardless of content or who the participants were. He never treated me like I was “just a girl” or “little Princess” (thank God!!!!) so I grew up a tomboy, blissfully unaware about gender roles, as they applied to me. I was able to hit the speed bag just as well as my brothers when I needed to blow off some steam; Dad knew that my temper would be my downfall and tried to give me healthy ways to deal with it. However, Dad was also an alcoholic for the first 20-some odd years of my life, was an unhappily married man for most of those years (yeah, my poor choices in men are no longer a mystery) and I’ve been there, done that and have no desire to return. So married would go to the top of my “Non-Desirable/Deal-Breaker Traits” list.

All of my five brothers were the next important men in my life and I could fill a book with what they taught me. But the traits I admire the most are their very unique and individual senses of humor, their tenaciousness and ferocity in protecting those they love. They are good husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and of course, brothers.

My first husband, who taught me that I was worth loving, that there was a man in the world who could look past all the Crazy and see something worthy of love; that man had patience beyond saintly. He was the first man who would have stuck by me through better or worse, in sickness and in health; truly until death do you part. So naturally, I was terrified that I was responsible for yet another person’s happiness and blew that relationship to smithereens. However, all I need to do is look into our son’s eyes to know that it happened for a beautiful reason, a wonderful gift of life and love. He has since remarried and is living happily, hopefully drama-free and enjoying the life he chose to live.

Along with my brothers, my dear friend JJ would be the next hugely important man in my life; because of him I found the courage to seek out sobriety, to see myself in an entirely different way and to appreciate the small, beautiful, everyday things that I’d always taken for granted before meeting him. His friendship was solid gold, true blue and forever; no false platitudes or sugar-coating from him. You never had to ask him what he thought because he would just tell it like it was, the good, the bad and the painful to hear because it was true.

The other men I’m just going to let them remain nameless, to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. One of them, let’s call him Walt, always loved taking off on spontaneous trips (which I would never even consider) to places nearby for a weekend or even just a day. On the down side, he was a freak off his leash, meaning he couldn’t keep “It” in his pants. Another man, who we will call Tom, taught me about living life Post Divorce, how to survive when your kid is in another state, with another woman raising him, who is a complete stranger. This man had infinite patience with me and more love and kindness than I could have ever hoped for. On the down side, he was married, so yeah. You see the pattern, right? Good stuff, not so good stuff. There are more men who taught me to enjoy fine wine, music I had never listened to, books I’d never read, movies I’d never seen. The varied and infinite degrees of love, the different chemistry, the short or long lasting fascination with each other; all different, but all playing important roles in the Story of My Life.

So, to sum it up, I would love to meet a man who is patient, fearless, loyal, kind, generous, not married, hopefully sober with a great sense of humor but doesn’t take himself too seriously, is forgiving, loves and appreciates the small things in life, has some battle scars and war wounds but is a survivor, a fighter fighting the good fight. Of course, he can’t be perfect, so he’ll have some flaws or some issues he’s working on, as we all do. Or he snores, leaves the toilet seat up, turns the toilet paper roll the opposite way I do or doesn’t put a new roll in when the old one runs out and instead sets the new one on top of the empty one? Maybe he has a Man Cave that no cleaning products or vacuum cleaners are allowed in. Maybe he likes gangster rap (hold on; that may be a deal-breaker) or listens to Fox News (ok – maybe another deal-breaker) or maybe he cross-dresses. Who knows? The point is that there is no Mr. Right; there certainly is Mr. Right Now but we’ve met and he’s not for me.

I guess I’m looking for Mr. Right for Me.

My Heroes

As I’ve said in previous posts, I do love my comic book superheroes. I admire their strength, their dedication to fighting crime, protecting the innocent and being extremely awesome, all around. But I also have some real-life heroes that I have always looked up to and loved. I’d like to share with you a little about them and the reasons why I consider them heroes.

My very first hero was my mother. She faced many challenges long before I was born and it wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned of a few of them. She was patient with me, (which was a superhuman feat, considering just how far I tested that patience and how often) gave me unconditional love, tried to educate me about morals and faith; she represented to me what it is to have true faith. Her strength of personality and her dedication to her family was amazing. She has five sons and two daughters and to say she had her hands full would be a gross understatement, but she handled it (I thought) with grace and always with love. I’ll never forget the time that I was freaking out (that’s putting it kindly) having a grand tantrum and she very quietly got up, went to the kitchen and came back with a large pitcher of very cold water, which she proceeded to throw in my face! Exit tantrum and enter shock. It had that effect. Stopped me cold and only then did I look into her eyes and see the anger and frustration. But she never raised a hand to slap my bratty face, though I’m sure the thought crossed her mind. She was the first person to show me love, real love and faith.

My second hero was my father, for altogether different reasons. He treated me like an adult, told me all about computer programming, his day at the office and all sorts of other things I couldn’t understand at my pre-teen age. I inherited my love of books, of logic and of the study of the human condition, as well as my work ethic. I worked for him when I was thirteen and learned data entry, along with how to consume insane amounts of coffee throughout the day. He was a complex man and as with most complex humans, was never truly appreciated for his gifts, as they came with their own set of complications, for lack of a better word. He was a man who was sick with alcoholism, but was somehow able to heal himself and emerge with his True Self in tact, having battled and successfully slayed the beast through his own strength of will and enormous faith.

I have admired all of my six siblings, for different reasons at different times in my life, but they all have one common trait that I am so grateful for; they never gave up on me and to this day, encourage me not only with their words, but with how they live their lives and meet the challenges that Life presents to them.

My sister has been my second mother for all of my life, as well as having to share a room with me when I was an absolute and unadulterated slob. She visited me during my hospitalization and talked to me as if I was a normal person, not in a mental hospital for suicidal idealizations. She has been that kind of mother to not only her three children, but to all of us. I know she had to sacrifice a great deal of her childhood to shoulder the responsibility of watching over her siblings, but she did the impossible, with grace and love.

Brother #1 (birth order, not order of favor) is the most responsible, down to earth, loving man I have ever met. He watched out for me and watched over me all through my childhood and when I first heard the expression “still waters run deep” I immediately thought of my brother. He is father to two gorgeous children, husband to a woman who is his equal in kindness, love and faith. He is the hardest working family man and I still feel like a little kid whenever I’m around him. He is quiet, but his strength is there, always.

Brothers #2 & #3 are the closest in birth, with only 18 months between them, if my math is correct. They are totally different in personality, one quiet and retiring; the other, outgoing, outspoken and in constant motion. Both of them have been great older brothers to me, allowing me to tag along with them and assault them with a barrage of questions and requests, but guardians and partners in mischief. I can’t imagine any of their friends thought it was a treat to have a younger sister constantly showing up, but they never said a word.

Brothers #4 & #5 are also very different in personality, but as my younger brothers, they were alternately tortured and picked on by me, but God help the idiot that tried to mess with them; I would make certain that said idiot would see big a mistake they were making, trying to mess with my little brothers. They have always been there for me and always and without fail, provide support and love to me. They have given me courage to overcome so much and I count them as my “big little brothers” for they look out for me as well as my big brothers.

I could go on and on about my family; I love them all and admire them for their strengths, their ability to survive, adapt and overcome all that they encounter. We are a tough bunch and although we don’t always agree, we never stop loving each other. This is no small feat and is a rarity these days.

My best friend from forever ago has watched me kiss the edge of insanity, come back and then go out again so many times, I would think she’d be able to write a book about that itself. She has been a single mother from a very young age, yet is the best mother to all four of her children and represents the best example of unconditional, unwavering love. She has stood by me through thick and thin, been my partner in many adventures during our younger years and has stayed the truest friend I have to this day. She is my hero for being a strong woman, but also for thinking for herself and not letting ignorant people’s opinions stray her from her chosen path. She is unconventional, unapologetic and the most beautiful woman I know, inside and out. She has dealt with disappointment, heartbreak and obstacles with a determination that makes steel look weak. She has my friendship for always and forever and is my soul sister.

These are a few of my heroes; I have many more and perhaps one day I will write about them. For now, I will have to leave you with this thought:

You are a hero to someone; you may not know it, but by your actions or your words, you have given someone the strength to carry on. By your kindness and praise, you’ve given someone hope for happiness. By your unconditional love, you’ve given life to the realization of someone’s potential. By not walking away when things get tough, you’ve given someone the most precious gift of all, your time and your faith in them.