Not Behind On Life

Man alone in auditorium with spotlight shining down onto him

So you know a lot about me and my life.  Some of you may even remember that I have a son.  He is 25 now.  Like me, he thinks too much for his own good.  Like me, and a huge percentage of the world, he has a false narrative about himself.  And, like me, he finds it very difficult to show himself grace.

grace (noun):
\ ˈgrās \
Definition of grace:
1a:  unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
2b: archaic: Mercy, Pardon
2d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
2e: a temporary exemption: Reprieve

Yes, I cherry-picked the definitions I wanted, the ones most relevant to this post.  It comes from Merriam-Webster.  You see, most people do not know what forgiveness is, and they especially do not understand how to give it to themselves.  Our human brains want to focus on the negatives because if we are hyper-aware of the negatives about our lives and circumstances, then maybe we can fix them, and survive longer.  It is the oldest part of our brains, the reptilian-brain programming, making some of us miserable, all because our brains, our bodies want to go on living, no matter what.

I am NOT saying my son is unhappy, miserable, or suffering from a mental illness.  I am just saying he is human, doing what humans do.  And, at 25, he has been watching his friends move into stages of their lives that he has not yet reached, specifically:  marriages, houses, and babies.  We older individuals understand that is, in the long run, perhaps, a lucky thing for him.  He has more time for doing the things he wants to do before putting his personal needs and desires to the side for a partner and an eventual family.  He may have greater success at being a parent and a partner.  And, as his mother, I certainly want him to have a happy, healthy, well-adjusted family life.  I want his children to have a better childhood than he had, and that I had, and that my mother before me had.

But to him, he sees everyone around him as “succeeding,” while he views himself as being “behind on life” — his words, not mine.  And it does cause him anxiety.  It sometimes makes him question why he has not yet found a partner because he mistakenly believes he is uniquely situated.  And likely that is my fault. 

I have always felt that I was uniquely unloveable and undeserving and, as a consequence, the world kept proving me correct, at least to my mind.  I was a terrible role model in that sense, and I see him slowly turning in that same direction.  The direction I turned and the direction my mother turned before me — some would call it a “legacy,” others would harken it to “sins of the father,” while still others debate nature vs. nurture, environmental vs. societal, and then you’ve also got the chemical, nutritional, heredity debate raging on.  No matter the causation, it is something that can be worked on and improved.  And my son does understand that.

He doesn’t let any of that push him down, destroy him or his future.  Not yet at least.  He uses it as a motivator for change.  He is constantly trying to better himself.  He works hard.  He plays hard.  And he studies… everything.  He challenges himself to grow and he embraces life to the fullest.  He is working hard to create a path to the life he wants, and when the time is right he will find the right woman for him.  He plays hard, which is good because once he marries and has kids, he likely won’t have the time, energy, or money to do so.

I have so much pride for who he is, and when given a chance I try to share with him those things that I see that make him uniquely special, the things about him (not what he does but who he is) that I respect so much.  I don’t know, maybe that’s wrong too.  I just want him to see himself as I see him, and like others experience him.  Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, being grown-up is hard.  Being a parent is harder.  And I just want every one of you to know, wherever you are emotionally in your life, right now, it is okay.  Show yourself some grace.  Forgive yourself for the things that make you hate yourself.  What you carry is likely false shame* not true shame.  And you do not deserve to do that to yourself, regardless of your past, regardless of what anyone tells you (including yourself!), just as my son does not deserve to do it to himself.  Each day, if only for a moment, try to step out of fear and into courage.  God made us for love not hate and he doesn’t want us to hate ourselves.  God loves us despite our flaws and despite our sins.  He shows us grace every single day, forgiving our sins even though we do not deserve it.

Remember, forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves, not for those that hurt us.  Once you understand that as the truth and begin putting it into practice, you will be so much happier with your life because you will understand that you are special, you are deserving, and you are capable of being happy.  And so you will be!

And, as an added benefit, you’ll be able to teach your sons and your daughters to do it as well.  And what a gift that will be, ending a legacy of self-incrimination, teaching our beloved children to have understanding, patience, and grace for themselves as well as others, effectively breaking the chains of the past, the family legacies, the “sins of the fathers,” and creating an environment where our children get to begin anew, with a fresh pallet, a new storyline that they can pass down to future descendants!  I wish I’d grown up with that and even more than that, I wish my son had grown up with that.  I wish I’d understood all of this decades sooner, not for me but for him.2

I forgive myself.  Now, hopefully, as I am growing to practice love and forgiveness in my own life, he will see the changes in me and learn it for himself.  I hope you’ll do the same.  Again, we forgive for our own peace and well-being.  So don’t fight it.  Work on it, for one incident by the one person that means the most to you (it doesn’t have to be a big incident,) every single day, until, at last, a day will come and you’ll realize you did it!  You forgave that grievance made against you.  They do not even have to know, because it is NOT about them, it is about You!

Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, and within the same oil.  And yet, the kernels do not pop at the same time.  Show yourself grace; you will pop in the moment that is perfectly timed for you!

2Doesn’t it always seem easier to do things for others than to do them for ourselves!

*
Shame and guilt are NOT the same thing.  Guilt is a feeling for an action that has been taken.  Shame is a feeling about who you perceive yourself to be, true or not.    For more information and understanding about the two emotions please see the excellent article on the Psychology Today online magazine’s website by Dr. Joseph Burgo entitled: The Difference Between Guilt and Shame.  

***** NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR*****
Though he likely will never see it, this post is dedicated to my inspiring, beloved son, DBL.  You’re gonna be a star, baby, all you gotta do is POP!  

The wonderful photograph used to create the meme was taken by Amir Geshani and the featured photo was taken by Angel Origgi, both were acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!
© MemeesMusings/B.L. Memee, 2020. All rights reserved.

Growing into Political Awareness

Growing Into Political Awareness | Memee's Musings
Photo courtesy of Madi Robson

This beautiful piece of writing is by Demetra Szatkowski. This is a coming-of-age story about politics, belief systems, and being female. Everything except for the title above and the photograph is credited to her. She posted this on Facebook and said we could share it. I am happy she is allowing us to share it because that is what I wanted to do as I read it, share it far and wide with every woman I know. I hope you will enjoy it.

☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀

I am 12. My family is on vacation in South Carolina.
“I don’t think a woman should be president,” I say contentedly, walking alongside my parents.
They both disagree.
“No, women are too emotional,” I say. “And I can say that, because I am one.”
***
I am 14.
I have decided that I’m not a feminist. “Feminism is stupid,” I say to anyone who brings it up.
It’s not even a real thing. I get things out of this system too. I know how to work the system. If I can manipulate men to get what I want, then that means I win. Men are not smarter than me. I have already discovered that I can flirt to get out of things, and that if I wear a low-cut shirt and bend over, it is distracting. I like having these advantages.
***
I am 16. I have just started driving, and I have a NOBAMA sticker on my car.
I know nothing about politics, but I was raised with Republican grandparents and parents who followed suit. I know that my grandfather is smart and so he must be right. I know that Republicans are for the people who work, and Democrats make the way for lazy people who want the government to hand things to them.
I argue with the people in my class who make fun of me. “Obama shouldn’t get to be president just because he’s black,” I say. Black people aren’t a big deal to me. I don’t even see color.
***
I am 18.
I like being cat-called. I smile and wave back at the men who do it. I laugh at other women who say they don’t feel safe. I feel safe, because I know how to handle myself. Anyway, it’s just boys being boys. That’s just how men are. It just means I’m attractive. Other women should face reality and deal with life.
***
I am 19. I am teaching yoga. I think politics are stupid. I don’t see why everybody can’t see that we’re all one. I think that if we could all just live in the woods everything would be fine. Politics have nothing to do with who I am as a person.
I read an article about yoga and cultural appropriation. I decide it isn’t real, because I’m doing a good job and helping people by teaching.
***
I am 19. It is fall, and I have started school in Vermont. My roommate is from New Jersey. The election is happening in November, and this is the first time I’ll get to vote. I still think politics are stupid, but being able to vote is exciting, plus my teachers always said I should. I am going to vote Republican, because I know my family is smart.
But my roommate is also very smart, and her family has a lot of money. And yet she is a Democrat. And when I ask her questions, she has an answer for all of them. And when she explains different policies, I realize that my actual values align more with hers than with the Republicans. I feel a bit ripped off. We watch the debates. And I love Obama. And I vote for Obama.
And he wins, and it’s like a fun game, and I happily move along with my life.
***
I am 20. I read stories about girls who have been raped. I have friends who have been sexually assaulted. I remember boys grabbing my butt without asking in high school. I start to wonder if it’s all connected. I learn what “rape culture” is.
I am 20. I stop wearing makeup. I stop caring so much about what my appearance looks like. This process is extremely difficult for me, and takes me months of anxiety and tears to get used to. I am angry that it is so difficult. I am angry for the 12-year-old girl that felt she needed to start wearing makeup in the first place. I am angry for the 12-year-old girl who wrote lists about how she could make herself more attractive. I realize that people are still nice to me even when I don’t look “pretty.” I realize that it is society who has been telling me I need to look put-together, I need to wear bras, I need to shave all parts of myself.
I am really fucking angry when I realize how much the ideas of powerful men have controlled my life. I am really fucking angry when I realize how much my teenage thoughts were taken from me by society.
***
I am 21.
I am in San Francisco. I am walking alone, and I get cat-called the most I ever have in my life. At least once per block. It is unbearable, the comments are disgusting, and it is irritating. I am mad. Sometimes I tell them to stop. Most of the time I feel too unsafe to say anything back, so I have to ignore it.
I feel angry that I live in a world where I feel too unsafe to even be able to defend myself.
***
I am 22.
I own a yoga studio. It has been 10 months of owning a yoga studio.
I become disillusioned with the drama-filled community. I google, “I don’t want to teach yoga anymore.” Up pops an article about cultural appropriation.
This time, I understand it. This time, I research for hours and days upon end. I read everything. I am uncomfortable about everything. I do not like it. But I understand it. I recognize the truth in it.
Research leads to topics about social justice in general. Dreadlocks are appropriation too? I watch videos and read articles written by people who are not white.
I am upset. I don’t know what to do with this knowledge, because no one around me wants to hear it.
***
I am 22. While my internal world is crashing down, my outer world is opening up.
I read about the refugee crisis in Greece. I decide to go.
I am scared. I am met with resistance and fear from people around me. But I have found a group of volunteers online who are actually there, who are able to calm my fears. I trust them, the people who are actually there.
When I tell my parents I’m leaving, my mom says, “Well, that’s noble.”
My dad says, “Watch out for the Muslim men, because they will want to hurt you.”
***
I turn 23 while I am in Greece, in a camp full of single Muslim men. A camp I had been terrified to go to because my entire life I have been taught by the world that Middle Eastern men want to rape blonde girls like me.
But bigger than my fear is my conviction that I do not want to live in a world where that is true. I feel that I would rather die than have to live in a world where I am always afraid. A world where I hope that stereotypes aren’t true, but am too scared to go find out and know for sure.
I think that the comments about Muslim men are based in racism, but part of me is afraid that I am wrong. I think, those beliefs had to come from somewhere, right? I am afraid that society is right and that I am wrong.
And I am not wrong. I am so fucking not wrong that I want to scream it from the rooftops and yell at every single person who had the nerve to say that I was. BECAUSE I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE WORLD.
I meet the people that negative articles have been written about. I hear first-hand the stories of tragedy and war. I hear the other side of the story. I begin to understand, truly, how the media shapes our views.
The newspaper writes an article about me where I say that America is partially to blame and people from home attack me in the comments in ways I didn’t even know were possible. And I do not care, because they are not there. They do not see what I see.
And I come home and I am upset because how do you convey that experience to people?
***
I am 23 and I am laying on the couch at my best friend’s apartment while he tells me the history of the Middle East, that he majored in in college but I had never learned about before.
I start crying as I begin to understand the layers upon layers of the history of the world, and how different events have impacted each other, the mistakes people have made. I can relate the history to the stories of people I have met in real life.
All of a sudden politics feel extremely important.
***
I am 23.
It is before the primaries.
“I just don’t like Hillary Clinton,” I say. “We should have a woman president, but not her. I don’t trust her.”
Someone I respect a lot shares an article about how sexism has shaped our views about Hillary.
I read it and am not sure. The whole country says Hillary is a criminal. At least some of that must be based in fact, right?
I talk to people who confirm my views. Then I talk to other people, and they say, you’re wrong.
***
I am 23.
I have decided to travel, by myself. I am in Vietnam. I adore Vietnam. I buy a book on the history of Vietnam and start to read it while I am in the country and it is like magic, to be able to see things in front of me as I read about them.
I take a tour of areas of war by a war veteran.
I go to the Vietnam War museum and I have to stop over and over again to sit quietly with tears running down my face as I try to absorb everything my country did to that country. History I have never learned, not in this way.
I realize that politics not only are important – they are a matter of life and death.
***
I am 23. I start reading books from perspectives of people who are not like me. I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which makes me inconsolable for hours. I read the autobiography of Malcolm X. I understand what he means, about knowledge being the most powerful thing. I read article after article after article on racism, on sexism. Articles written by people of color, and articles written by other white people who say “I have been there too, and this is what you need to work through.”
***
I am 23. I am with people from other countries. “We quite like Hillary,” they say. “Our leaders like dealing with her, she is really intelligent. We don’t get why people from your country hate her.”
I am 23. I watch as an unqualified man gets to run for president because he has a ton of money. I watch as he is excused from his racism. I watch as he gets to say anything he wants because people are tired of political correctness. I watch as he brags about sexual assault.
I watch as men excuse his actions away. I watch as women excuse them away, and I see my 14-year-old self explaining why I’m not a feminist. I feel incapable of describing how this is the same. How oppression can be so deeply rooted that we do not even know it’s there.
***
I am 23.
At least a quarter of my country thought this man would be a good president. Around half of the country didn’t think he was bad enough to get out and vote against him.
I am 23 and am told that I’ll grow out of being so upset about this one day. I am told that when I’m older, I’ll understand that this is just democracy. I am told that because I am 23, I’m not able to see that everything will really be okay.
I am 23. I am told to be more positive, that I should not be so angry, that I should really be getting over myself so that we can move forward as one.
I am told that I am too vocal. I am told that I am not being vocal enough.
***
Next week I turn 24.
I am not putting up with this any longer.
________________________________________

*inspiration for this comes from Lauren Hayes. Her article was featured on The Codex and was entitled Stoking Fires and Poking Bears: The Evolution of a Nasty Woman. You can follow both The Codex and Lauren Hayes, separately, by clicking on their links above and then clicking on the follow buttons for each.

Agonizing Turmoil

Agonizing Turmoil | Memee's Musings
Gorgeous painting, Turmoil, by Michael Lang

Memee’s Poetry Party was once again a success. I always enjoy reading the poems that you create and post based on the theme I offer. For March we wrote about New Beginnings. I choose it becuase of the circumstances surrounding my friends’ life, but now it is my turn.

I have decided that I can no longer live as persona non grata (actually things have grown much worse since that article). I’ve spent much time looking for work that would afford me the ability to rent my own place but it just doesn’t seem meant to be. And so today I face the agony of leaving the man I have been falling in love with, walking away from the sunshine that has vastly improved my ability to maintain an emotional balance, and dread tomorrow, when I will tell my hosts that I intend to leave ASAP, goal: this upcoming weekend. I fear the turmoil and open hostility that could create, but I cannot live my life on these eggshells. I need stability and kindness not fear and anxiety.

My goals remain the same, I do intend to return to CA, but I will be better prepared the next time I come here.

Washington, be ready, I’m coming home… at least for now.

Placed in the Middle

Placed in the Middle | Memee's Musings

So it is 2:00 a.m. and finally I am compelled to write something. This is not a post about me and the struggles I’ve been going through for the past month. This is about someone else’s struggles, two people’s actually. My oldest, dearest friend and his wife.

Around eleven a.m. I got on Facebook and found that she had made a post which was very out of character for her. It wasn’t up for long so I cannot quote it, however it said something like, I am totally heartbroken. Sometimes there’s just nothing more you can do.

The women who responded all interpreted it the same way as I did, uh-oh big time marital problems. I didn’t know what to say and I certainly didn’t want to be having a discussion on Facebook. So I said nothing in the hopes that I could get away with “not having seen it.” The fact that she later removed the post certainly helps me with that little pretend.

Tonight however she private messaged me. We don’t text or call each other so this was unusual as well. When we get together we eat, drink wine, and share like sisters… though honestly, I am much more upfront and revealing about my world than she is with hers. We click. We click like we’ve known each other our entire lives although we’ve only known each other in person for just under a year. Her husband on the other hand I’ve been friends with for 32 years. We click too. And in the same way, like we’ve known each other our entire lives. No, actually, that’s not true. it’s like we’ve known each other for a millennium of lifetimes. It’s always been that way. Even when we were fifteen.

We would come together and click. And then, as life does, we’d turn and go our separate ways, but life would inevitable put us back in each other’s paths unexpectedly and without intention on our parts. It has happened four times so far. Needless to say I love them both and want them to be happy.

And so I found myself having this online chat about the marriage problems of two very close friends who I love. I don’t want to be involved or put in the middle of it. And I was confused about her deciding I was the person she wanted to make her confidante, after all I have much lengthier history with her husband. I listened. I’m good at it. People open up to me. Even strangers will tell me their woes, especially on days when I really don’t want to talk to anyone (lol,it’s something I’m trying to learn to accept and embrace as the gift God meant for it to be.) I listened because I didn’t want to turn a friend in crisis away when a friend was needed more than ever.

I listened. I encouraged her to continue trying, and to not beat herself up for the mistakes she has played in the collapse of her marriage, and I reminded her that no matter what happens she is a strong woman and will indeed survive. I believe I did right by her in the conversation as a friend and as a “sister.” When she seemed to begin wallowing in the “I can’t live without him. He’s my life. He’s my soulmate.” I put her in check with that. Meaning, I told her I felt she was throwing salt on her wounds (but I was much, much gentler than that).

And now we come to the reason for this post. I told her the truth as I see it: This is a learning lesson and an opportunity for growth for both of them. They will either come out the other side of it stronger individuals or stronger as a couple… whatever is God’s will. Here’s the thing though. I’ve been witness to the workings of the marriage during this past year, and privy to the problems for several years. She is mentally abusive to her husband and she does not recognize it or take responsibility for it. In my book that there tells me they are not soulmates. If someone is your soulmate hurting them would hurt you just as much, if not more. You just couldn’t be abusive to a soulmate, no matter who you are or how fucked up you are mentally. Of course that’s just my opinion. I’m wondering do you agree with that idea? But then on the other side of the coin perhaps the three of us are soulmates to each other, manifesting relationships with one another in different life bodies and roles.

I know it seems odd that I claim to be a Christian and then I talk about past lives. I just don’t think we living humans have it all figured out yet. I think we agree to a contract before we are born of the lessons we will endure because with each life manifestation we become closer and closer to our god-like selves we are meant to be. I don’t know. I also believe in Heaven. I also believe that when we die our souls sleep and sometimes our souls dream too.

Life is complicated and while living it we never truly figure it out. My views expressed in the preceding paragraph are very dialectical. But you know what, so is life. I both believe I am unworthy of friendships and loving relationships while at the same time believe in equal measure that I am a great catch and wonderful friend. And so I say if I can hold two equal beliefs at the same time in life so too can I for “religion or faith.” God knows me, loves me and accepts me even if I happen to be wrong and even if I am a sinner. And you know what, He loves and accepts you too!

Sorry, I got off track there. I am a stream-of-consciousness writer so it happens frequently. Anyway, I’d like to conclude by saying that I definitely do not want to be counselor to either of them. I tried to make it clear to her, but she kept on and I was patient and kind. Please pray for me that this does not become a pattern for her to come to me. It really puts me in an awkward place. Likewise, I don’t intend to counsel him. I doubt he’ll come to me anyway… this is so much more complicated than past conversations. However, if he does I will tell him what I told her… “Shouldn’t you be telling [her] these things?” Marriage is tough enough and when people begin to drown inside of it, adding an untrained person to the mix is the worst idea ever! Thankfully, at his request, she will begin counselling soon. I honestly hope she learns to see and accept some of her behavior for what it is. There are things he has done as well. No one is blameless and no one is perfect and if they both want to fix it, then I believe it can be fixed by taking one step at a time and having patience and not relying on a non-professional’s advice aka interference to dictate your behaviors.

I pray that the outcome, whatever it may be, is ultimately in the best interest of both of them.

p.s. It is interesting that my entire life seems to be coming full circle. This blog began with my own heartbreak and crisis. If I can survive, she can too (she’s actually much stronger than I.) I have another longtime friend who says his life is coming full circle. Is yours also? If so, let me know… I’m curious to see if this is a universal pattern.

This wonderful photograph was taken by Josh Pepper and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!

I have two blogs. This one is Lovely!

one lovely blog-award
One of my favorite people in all the blogging kingdom worldwide is Carlos.  I didn’t think he could do anything more to make me cherish him as a friend any deeper than I already do. But now look at what he has gone and done… he nominated me, ME as being the hostess of a lovely blog and I am really touched. I don’t get a lot of comments from people on my site and awards are a rarity so getting nominated is big, but being nominated by one of the people who I admire and respect and who inspires me as a human being, well… that’s so swell my heart is now bound even tighter to him!  Please visit Carlos and listen to his Thoughts of a Trainwrecked Pineapple. You won’t regret it, I promise!


The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Display the award on your post of the award.
  4. List seven facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

 

Seven New Facts About Memee:

  1. I am the kind of person that when walking down a sidewalk or across a parking lot or street, will stop to pick up earthworms and return them to safety, in the dirt, beneath a bush where cars and people won’t crush them and birds won’t eat them.
  2. I am the kind of person who instead of screaming at the sight of spiders, runs and gets a drinking glass to take it outside.  (It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I realized the spiders are in the house for a reason… they’ll die of exposure, they’re inside spiders as opposed to outside spiders!  My bad.  Still, they cannot stay so I continue the practice, just adding a scant prayer/hope they’ll find a warm place to shelter (a wood pile perhaps?)
  3. I am the kind of person who will scream at the sight of a tiny mouse scurrying across my path yet at the same time will own, hold and cuddle a pet mouse or rat. They’re very social and affectionate not to mention cute.  It’s just that their movements are so sudden and so erratic it is always startling!
  4. I am the kind of person who will inform your children that they are doing wrong when you are not there to correct them.  I believe as adults it is all of our responsibility to make the world a better, happier, safer place and that the only way to do that is to treat each other with respect, dignity and patience.  I am not disrespecting you by helping your children find their way. I am respecting that your children’s lives matter, their futures matter and helping them find their way is respecting your great love for these little humans.
  5. I am the kind of person that will bend over backwards to encourage you and build you up, and help you see in yourself everything wonderful that I see about you.
  6. I am the kind of person who loves others unconditionally, warts and all, because it is those warts, those flaws that make you the unique and beautiful perfection that you are.
  7. I am the kind of person who is very lonely in this world.

Not the ending you expected? Sorry about that, but this world needs attention. Each and every one of us needs to do more for others and less for ourselves. Our world is changing every moment of every day and I do not like the direction we’ve been heading in. Please make the decision to do better, be better. Everything we do as adults is watched by the younger people in and around us. If you think that because you don’t have children or younger siblings that you’re not a role model you are wrong! Very, very wrong. Every word that you speak, every action that you take, what you post online, what you do in public, how you behave towards others, and how you allow others to treat you, everything, EVERYTHING is being watched, studied and absorbed for future reference by whatever child is within range of you. Even if you do not know that they are there you are teaching them by example. So please choose to be a better example today and tomorrow than you have been every moment before this moment. You will be rewarded.  We all win.  It’s what they call a win-win-win-win-win situation all the way around!

(I will nominate in a follow up post and link it up.)