Making Peace With my Inner Child Again

My inner child has been screaming at me all summer. Have you ever been there? Every once in a while she needs positive attention and words of love and forgiveness and acceptance. – Think The Ring only far less creepy. She will not leave me alone until I listen to her. If I don’t listen to her, she’ll act out.

I went to Nashville in June with a few of my comic friends.  Christian comics from all over the country converged on a small church for three days where we loved on each other, laughed and cried with each other and helped each other as best we could. Several of us wish we were still there. Re-entry into the real world was a little rough.

One night, a group of us were sitting around the table talking about using humor to help convey certain truths.  We also spoke about the importance of telling the truth. That caused a few people to shrink in their chairs. Yours truly included. Being the new kid on the block, I assure you that did not go unnoticed.

“Tell me one thing you’ve done in your life that you don’t want me to know.”

HELL TO THE NO! I’m here to tell jokes, not play truth or dare.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, if I want to throw people off the scent of my personal fear and shame, I throw them the Johnny Cole bone.. “I went to a concert when I was 21. We stalked the band and beat them back to their hotel. I met Johnny and he invited me to the after party. It’s okay though because I didn’t go. Huey spotted me and sent me home because he didn’t believe I was over 18.” The end.

Nothing wakes up my inner child like being lied about. She wanted to know why I didn’t answer his question honestly. I don’t care who knows about Johnny, I do care who knows about Plano and she knows that.

Now, I’m a Christian. We’re supposed to believe that our past has been forgiven and redeemed of God. I have no reason to shrink down, blush, or look at the ground. Right?

We should believe that. We should be able to hold our heads up and not be afraid or filled with shame. And usually we are until something reminds us of that one story –

You know the one I mean.

The one that if anyone found out I’d die a thousand deaths because I just know that I’ll be abandoned, branded, and left for dead by the side of the road.

THAT story.

I have one of those.

Or two or three.

Mostly the one though.

Having been in a 12 step program before I have shared my life story all over the United States. And I’ve never told this one – to anyone ever. Which is a problem really. Things fester in the dark. It’s getting moldy and stinks to high heaven.

Which is probably why that one story has come back to me time and time again all summer.

Being as I can’t shake it and since I have menopause induced insomnia, I’ve been writing about it all summer. My journal begins with

“The statute of limitations on my personal rights to be a dumb a$$ expired the night I found myself….”

Thought I was gonna tell you, didn’t you?

Nope.

I’m not going to tell you, because you have your stories and if you see mine, you’ll weigh it and decide – for better or worse – how yours matches up. I don’t want you to do that. I want you to own your own stories and learn how to release them as well.

I will admit there is just something about getting it down on black and white that takes the power out of the sting. I had to do some grieving and some owning up to my part. This is a 23-year-old secret. That is a looong time to be buried. I needed to let the woman I used to be cry and heal.

I’ve already talked to God about it and He’s already forgiven it. The problem is, I haven’t forgiven myself so I added a letter to that young girl and mothered her like I wish someone had mothered me then. I gave her permission to be human, to make bad choices and good choices (she did the right thing in the end) and I gave her permission to forgive herself because the woman I am today forgives her.

Forgiving her has been wonderful and for some reason my menopause induced insomnia is gone.

HMMMM

This weekend we are at our cabin. Hopefully fishing and jamming out on the guitar and banjo. If the burn ban is lifted, I’ll be placing that journal in a kettle and burning it. My last step in letting it go. Hopefully now I can get back to the fun stuff of writing jokes.

Have a great weekend you guys.

Let’s Talk About it: Guarding Your Heart

“I’m tired of trusting men I should be able to trust.”

I actually said that to a friend last week. I hate being lied to and yet, I allow it in certain people over and over again until I just can’t stand it anymore and I blow up. I continue at times to open my heart because it feels like I should. My friend proved to be a wonderful ear and full of wisdom. “Guard your heart.”

He didn’t say build a wall around it so that I’ll never get hurt again. It simply said to guard it. That’s a different animal completely.

It’s not that I don’t trust men. Somewhere along the line, I stopped trusting my gut. While wandering through the world completely unafraid is  naive and dangerous, fearing everything and everyone is not a viable solution. I need to learn how to listen to my gut and trust it again.

I’ve had many jobs in my life; waitress, machine shop worker, female telecom technician to name a few. I’ve worked with great men and not so great men. Basically, I’ve been felt up every way but Tuesday. While a lot of things may have changed for women since my Mother’s generation, a lot of things haven’t. When I was younger, I just considered it the price I had to pay. When I got older, I got wiser.

I had the miss-fortunate experience of working in a Not For Profit organization that was less than scrupulous. Short version, the laws that are in place to protect women do not apply to non profits and I found myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually raped by a man I should have been able to trust. He blamed me for his actions and for a while, I believed him. That will mess a woman up.

I responded to said circumstance by crumbling into myself and giving up on ever trusting men again. Fortunately for me I meet some of the most wonderful, trustworthy and patient people who grab me from my own emotional pit and pull me back into the land of the living. I don’t believe him anymore and while this is not been an easy climb, it’s a worthwhile climb.

I tend to shake sometimes and act like I have PTSD. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. I don’t know. I do know I’m willing to shake until I stop shaking. I’m willing to be neurotic and I’m willing to set boundaries when I need to. I’m willing to walk through whatever it is I need to walk through in order to trust myself again.

Yes, I do make men prove I can trust them today. I set strange boundaries like you can’t be my friend on Facebook unless your wife knows I exist and do not touch me without my permission.

I’m also learning to stop being responsible for other people’s choices.

My misplaced sense of personal responsibility is what caused last week’s lament.

Yes, there are people I should be able to trust and yet because of their own brokenness I can’t. That’s not my fault. I can learn how to guard my heart.

I don’t have answers right now on how to guard our hearts, I’m afraid I’m still learning. I do however want to introduce you to one of the people I get learn from in this area. His name is Michael Hyatt. I’ve seen him with his wife and daughters. He’s a good man.

THREE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GUARD YOUR HEART - By Michael Hyatt

THE FOUR DISCIPLINES OF THE HEART - By Michael Hyatt

You can read these two articles if you want: Also I’d love to hear from you. Has anyone ever hurt your heart so badly you thought you’d never recover? How did you over come it? How do you guard your heart?

Cherokee Proverb, Our Highest Calling

 From: The Great Spirit Facebook Page

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of an independent female with a very strong “I so got this” mentality. Over the past few days, I have found myself at the end of myself. I don’t “got this.” Someone is trying to take advantage of me and I have to set painful boundaries. I am at the moment surrounded by some great female friends as well as some wonderful male friends who are standing around me in a figurative way – and keeping me safe. I awoke this morning feeling loved, and feeling safe. That does not suck.

Friday Funny: I am up a Creek

Yes, I play the banjo. Ever since I opened my book and saw Cripple Creek, I couldn’t wait to get there.

I’m ready for slides, pull offs and hammers. I do not read music, I pick out songs – granted I have tabs but still…

I’ve been singing all week –

When I get off of this mountain
You know where I want to go
Straight down the Mississippi river
To the Gulf of Mexico

I just figured out that THIS is the song I thought I was learning:

THIS is the song I am supposed to be playing:

Which in truth leaves me here at the moment.

Our Engagement Photo from 1990, Looks straight out of John Hughes Casting, doesn't it?

Talk Dirty To Me: 22 Years and Dating…

Me: My oldest just left for college and it’s killing me. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my youngest leaves.

Her: Oh honey, you’ll do just fine. I’ll never forget the day my youngest moved out.

Me: What did you do?

Her: I came home from work, parked my car in the garage, took off my clothes, opened a beer and sat on the couch buck naked, because I could.

Me: What did your husband do?

Her: Grabbed himself a beer and helped me break in the couch.

BLUSH. 

I sat there and stared at this women who is ten years my senior, in utter shock and frankly envious admiration.

I hear about marriages going south after the kids leave more than I do about getting to know each other again.

“According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall divorce rate declined by 1.4 percent between 1981 and 1991, the Arps said in their book, The Second Half of Marriage: Facing the Eight Challenges of the Empty-Nest Years. However, during those same years, the divorce rate grew 16% for couples married 30 years or more.” – citation Marriage Missions International

I’ll be honest you guys, I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t have all of the answers. I may very well wake up single one day and if I do it won’t be without a fight. I believe some things are worth fighting for, marriage especially.

Our youngest has chosen to live at home and attend Jr College rather than move away so unless I want to pay for therapy on top of college tuition, breaking in the couch might not be an option just yet. I do, however, think it’s possible to learn how to date again.

I know all marriage seminars and books tell you to date while you still have kids. Seriously? Who has the time? Or the energy. My husband traveled almost constantly through out our marriage. He could have pursued music and chose to keep his corporate job instead. That was a huge sacrifice. He did so in order to provide a living and a home for us. I’m immensely grateful for that. While I regret greatly that we didn’t date like they tell you to in those marriage advice things, it is possible to re-learn how to connect.  While we were raising kids, because he traveled, I made sure I took time out for myself when I could and I focused on exclusively female friendships.

I say exclusively and I mean it. No men. My reason for that was simple. Being home alone with children all day for days at a time can be lonely. So lonely in fact that the smelly homeless guy who smiles at me can start to look attractive. Every parenting book I ever read warned about that and they were right.

Can I be totally honest with you? I cannot begin to tell you the number of creepy guys who went out of their way to make sure I knew they were there for me if I needed them. Not nice guys, I’m talking the sidled up alongside me, give me a sideways hug so they could cop a feel rejects. Jeff used to like watching me untangle from these guys and run straight to him. Sorry if I seem blunt, but that happens to both men and women.

I will openly admit, refusing to allow men into my life while I was raising our kids might not have been the best tactic. I may have missed out on more than just learning how to set appropriate boundaries with them. (Something I do struggle with at 46.) and I may have missed out on some great growth opportunities so please don’t send me letters about how y’all had male and female friends and it never interfered with your marriage – if you did that’s great. I personally chose not to that’s all. For better or for worse, I can’t change that. The male friends I do have are friends we have together and they are great friends.

There you have it, two confessions, I don’t know how to be friends with men and I didn’t do a great job dating my husband while we were raising kids. We were busy and we were tired. We also knew that the day was coming when we’d wake up and think, “Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?” and so we started planning.

My plan was to sell our house in the suburbs, move to mid-town and go to concerts and such in River Parks like we did when we were dating in Chicago and I wanted to travel the world.

His plan was to buy a bigger boat and fish more.

We neither live in midtown nor own a big boat.

We needed to learn how to compromise.

Sometimes we do things he likes, like fishing or golf, and sometimes we do things I like such as concerts, or plays. One of the things I love best about our marriage is we make each other laugh and we put each other first.

Most of the time it works out. In June we saw Barry Manilow and he didn’t die and in July we saw James Taylor which was amazingly awesome. I’ve even started watching him play again on Saturday nights, something I gave up when the boys were in high school because I was just too busy. And he comes to watch me when I perform comedy. We support each others dreams.

Which brings me to a crucial point, developing myself as a woman so that I have something more substantial to lean upon than just his arm if you know what I mean is very important during this season of my life otherwise I run the risk of running away to find myself. Well that and boring him to tears.  So I took up banjo, started riding a bike, and started comedy and acting. I’m becoming informed about politics, and music and world affairs. I became a Democrat which didn’t thrill him, but it does interest him. It’s a lot easier to date a man – or a woman for that matter – when you know who you are and can bring something to the table, otherwise the burden in on one person and nobody likes that.

Jeff and I will be celebrating 22 years of marriage this Saturday. Parts of it have been wonderful and parts of it have been hard. I come from a divorced family, full of fear and baggage as do a lot of people. We’ve had to work through our stuff together. I love hearing the compliments of how people perceive us, and yet I’m afraid we do at times give the wrong impression. Yes, we are happily married. Is it always happy? No. Sometimes it’s work. I need you to understand that – behind every happy marriage is a ton of work.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore this man however staying married is the hardest thing either of us have ever done in our lives. I don’t want to mislead anybody. In today’s age when people bail at the first sign of trouble we didn’t. We have a very real marriage. There are days where we drive each other to absolute distraction and there are days when we click on all six cylinders and we stick it out and we fight for each other. We think it’s worth it. While we do not have the money for a big celebration this month due to college bills, we’ll find something. And it will be fun.

So married readers: Do you date your spouse? Would you like to share your dating secrets with us?

For my Tulsa readers: One of the things I loved the most when we dated 25 years ago was going to clubs and seeing bands. It’s taken us a while to find that scene in Tulsa. Sometimes we find a really fun band and sometimes it’s a bust. Jeff was playing at a local church on Saturday night and an acquaintance of mine was playing with his band in a local tavern later. I went to see Jeff play first (always a good thing) and after that we went out together to the Tavern on Main Street in Broken Arrow to catch a new to us band called The Rear View Mirror Band. Jeff and I thought it was going to be Blue Grass and Jeff isn’t a fan really. Even though he wasn’t a fan and thought he was making this great sacrifice in order to spend time with me, we were both wonderfully surprised. Halfway through this song my husband leaned over and whispered something so dirty it made me laugh out loud and blush. I pretended to be shocked and offended, but the truth is, I loved every minute of it.
Watch the video to find out what I mean – and if you see this band playing somewhere, go see them. They Rawk! As always no goods or services have been given in exchange for this endorsement, I’m simply sharing a resource I believe you will enjoy. Shared with permission. 

Thought for the day: Are we there yet?

I’m a redhead again. My year of hair repentance is over. (Some of you may remember the great blonde fiasco of 2011). There is much rejoicing in my house as I got the green light to cut my hair and go back to my truest self. I cannot tell you how much I missed my hair. Learning patience is not an easy journey.

Raised an only child by a single mother who worked two jobs when she needed in order to make ends meet, I had to learn how to wait for things.

Today I live in a world where I no longer have to worry about what I’m going to eat, if I’m going to eat, and where I get to live. Lulled by a false sense of security, I’ve forgotten how to wait.

I am safe.

I am in many ways, the exception rather than the rule.

I am impatient and a perfectionist.

In this season of my life, I catch myself wanting it now instead of later and get impatient with the journey.

I still wait for the day when I can finally say “I’ve arrived.” only I read in Fully Alive that arriving is death. Once I arrive it means I’m out of things to learn and mountains to climb. Arriving means I get to relax. I’m ADD, if I relax I’ll get bored. When I get bored, I forget who I am and make stupid choices.

It’s the valleys of life that teach me compassion and it’s the mountains I conquer that teach me bravery. Without those two crucial things in my life, my spirit withers. I lose touch with who I am created to be and I lose touch with others.

I want to race through the valley, and be on the mountain top already. I forget that the journey is the life. Whether I’m in a valley, climbing a hill on my bike, or standing on top of the mountain, I’m breathing. I’m alive.

I used to dream of the day when I would no longer be neurotic until I realized it’s that place of living in the raw, stuck between the shitty first draft (As Anne Lamott would call it) and the clean up that gives breadth, depth and meaning to all of my relationships and experiences. It’s here in the middle where the oxygen is most abundant and I am at my most truest self. It is here where I am free.

Living in the middle means I get to be bad at something until I become good at it.

Living in the middle means I get to feel pain, know hunger, and suffering on occasion and learn that this too shall pass.

Living in the middle lets my eyes scan the horizon for the next goal, and the next opportunity to push myself beyond my perceived limitations and experience the joy of real accomplishment.

Jeff and I took a new path while riding bikes yesterday. This one has more hills than flat lands and I wasn’t prepared. I wound up walking the first hill and dug down into myself for the rest. I decided that I could stop and catch my breath if needed but I was not coming off my bike again no matter what. I knew that hill was waiting for me on the return trip. I knew I was going to have to dig in if I wanted to climb it.

I watched my pace and kept close to his. I shifted gears, pushed through the pain and refused to stop. I made it to where he was waiting and then…

…………………………………………………………………I threw up.

I am living in the middle of the consequences of throwing a temper tantrum and gaining 50 pounds hoping to assure that I’d never get hit on again. I’m living in the middle of learning boundaries, facing fears and finding myself. Sometimes living in the middle means doing the right thing even if it means I have to throw up afterwards. (Fellow scardy cats will understand that one)

Living in the middle is messy. It means I don’t get to have all the answers. It means I get to make mistakes and be imperfect. It means I get to try again until I get it right.

I don’t know what middle you are living in right now. Maybe it’s the middle of a storm, the middle age of life, the middle of a climb or the middle of a descent and you keep waiting for the day when you can finally say “I’ve arrived.”

Don’t settle for arriving. Don’t waste time wishing you were there, when you could be living in the here and in the now.

Strive to live.

Dig down.

Get messy.

Make mistakes.

Be neurotic.

Throw up if you have to.

Choose joy.

Believe in yourself.