The Things We Leave Out

“What an odd thing a diary is; the things you omit are more important than those you put in.” Simone de Beauvoir

I have four blogs left to write; when I saw this quote, I really stopped to think about what I hadn’t written about yet.

There are lots of near death stories: swimming topless in Lake Sakakawea with a bunch of girls, while our friend (as a joke) drove the boat away, as I dog paddled frantically to stay afloat.  Jumping off of the catwalk into the middle of the river because my boyfriend told me he would hold my hand and then let go. Was it an omen for the marriage? Riding with same boyfriend in his car, spinning “cookies” on the lake as the ice made cracking sounds below us…. I survived those times.

I have always loved to hostess parties and there were a couple of great ones, including my friends 16th birthday (the friend who drove the boat away in the above paragraph), which I talked my folks into letting me have at the farm. When the bars closed, adults joined us, going into the house to visit with my parents. Finally at 2:00 Mom asked me to tell everyone to leave. My parents didn’t drink; I don’t know what they were thinking. I got up the next morning and my sister Lisa was out with a garbage bag, picking up the beer cans. I went out to help and she said she had found one sock and one pair of underwear underneath the grain truck.

My 16th was really fun. I took all of my birthday money (sorry Grandma) and talked my cousin into buying a keg. It fit perfectly in my car where the spare tire was supposed to go. It was an old station wagon my Dad was letting me drive, after I rolled my first car. The party was a huge success.  The police raided it, but I don’t think they really expected us to leave; they just enjoyed watching us run. Some of us girls camped out in the station wagon. Our friend Clyde, showed us a safe place to park, where he didn’t think anyone would bother us. I shudder to think of our naiveté; It never occurred to me that someone would think of bothering us. The next morning, we went in to town early to have breakfast. I remember the looks on the early risers, as we crawled out of that car. We looked wild; we really weren’t.

I have left out many stories that I could use to prove a point or validate a decision I made, but they involve other people, so I hold those back, from you my diary.

I haven’t shared, in much detail at all until now, how incredibly much it has hurt me, that there are friends and family members whose disapproval of my blog sometimes weighs me down like a layer of dirt guilt. The violation of my youth is enough; the missing support adds to the pain and is harder to put away when it is current. Don’t ever doubt that those of you, who have supported me with your kindness, will ever be forgotten by me.

Some of my greatest disappointments were women in my life who betrayed me. Men I was trained to expect it from, but not the girlfriends I trusted. I wished women were more supportive of each other, more honest and less bitchy. We tend to be our own worst enemies sometimes. It is hard to fight the peer pressures and spousal pressures, but I’m hopeful we are learning. Loyalty is priceless; let’s keep learning.

There are other things I wouldn’t put in a diary and wouldn’t write to you; moments of bad decisions, shame, and things that don’t need to be remembered. Posterity, how do we want to be remembered? I told my oldest son one day, “When you get up to do my eulogy, don’t put me on a pedestal and make me sound like someone I’m not. Tell the truth.” He grinned and said, “Don’t worry Mom, I won’t, and I will tell the truth” Now I am worried.! 🙂

I don’t know if anything I have left out is more important than anything I’ve said. What’s important is the outcome: a life well lived, a family well loved, gratefulness for friends, and hopefully a dog, or granddogs, and a bottle of wine.

Peace….

 

 

The Will to Survive

Why does one person survive and another struggle?  Two people can have similar things happen to them, abuse, service in the armed forces, an accident, a disease? One seems to deal with it and put it away, some may put it away and let it fester, and in some it festers continuously, with no relief in sight.

We all know friends who struggle to quit a bad habit like smoking, eating, swearing etc.  One will decide to change a behavior and it’s done.  Another will try over and over again with no satisfaction.  The Rolling Stones lamented about their lack of satisfaction.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
When I’m watchin’ my tv and a man comes on and tell me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me
I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say
We could make our own lyrics, with whatever issue we have.

 

“When I’m sitting at the table and a cookie comes sliding across

I don’t think about my A1C, I listen to the cookie say, “listen to me.

”I can’t get no, I can’t get no”  🙂

 

Talking about the will to survive fired up my thoughts this past week.  I have a couple of friends with cancer, another with health issues that are surmountable while challenging, a family member who seems never to be able to move past her past, and a parent who swears he’s ready to die, sitting in a chair apparently waiting for it, while it never comes..

I have been asked many times what helped me.  I have to tell you I don’t know.  I think my strength and determination helped a lot and not being able to hide from it, because of the close family ties.  Maybe some of the genetics, of being the older child in the family, have helped?   I have always said that I truly believe that I made a decision to “flip the switch” in my head.  It would be horrendous to say that someone will cure their disease by making that decision, but statistics say that the will to live matters.  I’ve seen it make a difference, am seeing it now in friends.  Your determination, stubbornness, desire, drive….whatever you want to call it, can make a difference on longevity, if you use it to look for other treatments, to drive you to make dietary and emotional changes that may help.  I exercise not to lose weight and not because I always enjoy it, but to keep my A1C in check.  I have learned to like more salad… (I’m a good farm girl though and bread and cookies are my temptation.)

I have the will to survive; I believe I do. Every situation will tell a different story, and while I hope that I’m not tested, I know it’s coming; some challenge that will push me farther than any other has. I will do my best to survive; I know you will too…

Peace…..

Surviving Divorce.

Writing about divorce is as personal to me as writing about abuse or death.  It sends a weight to the pit of my stomach.  I don’t write other people’s stories and that’s why I’m cautious about this subject.  There wasn’t just me.  There was a spouse and there were children.  Little children who deserved better.

When we pick spouses, we base that decision on many things, love, lust, need, fear, compatibility, escape, ambition, life goals, family suitability… When you are young, I had just turned 19, you don’t know yourself and you certainly are clueless about who you will become.  The newsflash is your intended spouse has the same feelings.  You start out with plans and they go awry, you fight, and pout and beg; there are a few good weeks, and the cycle starts over again.  Eventually someone says enough, or one or both of you make decisions that most people can’t come back from.

When my first marriage ended, I told the children.  One was very young, one was happy go lucky, and one cried and told me it was his fault.  When I assured him that it wasn’t, he said, “Mom, I’ve been praying to God, that you and Dad would get divorced.”  I knew that I didn’t have a choice, no child should bare that kind of responsibility, to want to protect his family so much that he should be pushed to pray for a divorce, in order to have peace.

No one starts out in a marriage planning on a divorce. We all start out wide eyed and innocent, hoping.. no planning…. on the best.  We bring children into it and sometimes we fail.  Typically it’s not just one spouse who fails, both play a part,  I firmly believe though that one person can’t make a marriage work by themselves, not year after year.  There has to be a commitment by both to the marriage, to the family and to the commitment.  In a bad marriage there is no  50/50, it’s 75/20 or sometimes even 90/10, but that isn’t sustainable without someone’s hurt getting too deep.

When I moved to Williston, after my divorce, I started dating and eventually remarried.  I remember distinctly, a couple of women in town who had been divorced twice.  It had been and I’m sure continues to be challenging to be a divorce’ once, let alone twice.  The stigma, even in this day and age, continues to suggest a harlot, a red letter A, plastered firmly on your forehead.  I smile when I write this because it’s archaic, but yet sadly in small towns, it’s true.  I looked at those women and said to myself, “That will never be me.”  You know how God loves that when you make ludicrous statements like that.  God says, “Watch this.”

Well watch I did, not just watch, but I experienced my second divorce.  I was one of “them.”  I had joined a club unwillingly; oh I had initiated the divorce, because I had apparently finessed the talent of poor decision making.  I dated a bit and frankly I lost my appetite for it quickly.  I had learned a lot and was still learning, wanted to learn, wanted to and had decided that being single could be great.  I learned to enjoy being single; the freedom was something I hadn’t experienced before.  I learned to survive divorce.

Do the children survive?  They do, some more quickly than the rest.  My children’s father and I were decent divorced parents; we kept the kids out of most things.  Children are smart though and they always know more and see more than you think.  If my mother had divorced my father, would my life have been better?  Sometimes the damage is already done and it’s hard to know.  I bare full responsibility for my poor decisions.  In a world where everyone likes to shirk their faults and shift the blame to their pasts, or abusers, I won’t.  I could have done better.  I have done better. 🙂

Peace…..

Close to the end…

When I started blogging, my goal was to be disciplined enough to write one years worth, 52 weeks, of blogs on surviving.  I jump in and out of my own sexual abuse survival experiences; while trying to find something that is humorous or will interest you the next.  What was I hoping to gain through this process?  I had many initial thoughts, but now I think it was my voice, and while I was finding my voice, so were millions of women in the “Me Too” movement across the United States and even other parts of the world.

The “Me Too” movement is part of a pendulum motion that has left some men afraid of flirting, not knowing exactly where the boundaries are, afraid of missing a cue and adding to the unsureness of their place.  Rest assured the pendulum will swing back into a place that most of us will find comfort…we will have found our voices…hopefully people will listen to them and if they don’t we can only get louder.  The movement is important, as uncomfortable as we sometimes feel dealing with it.  My blog has made people uncomfortable too.  My sense of knowing it was right comes from you who read it.  I have men and women read it; people from many different countries (Australia, China, Philippines, Spain, Germany, South Africa etc. ) have read it and that is exciting to me, not because those people make me think differently about my purpose of writing, but because I know we are the same..what matters to us is the same.   When we get past the rhetoric and fear, we are more similar than not, regardless  of color, religion, sexual orientation etc.

I have 8 weeks left to write; to share my thoughts and continue to finesse my voice.  I’m going to stay honest and keep myself vulnerable.  When I’m done with my blog, I may continue to blog periodically but won’t post on Facebook.  If you are interested after that point, you can “follow” the post, which means whenever I write something, it will show up in your e-mail box, like a bad penny.  🙂 I have several book ideas roaming around in my head.  I started one years ago, but lacked the discipline, and to be fair, the time to finish it.  My priority first will be to write about my mother’s death.

When Mom was given the sentence of Lung Cancer; it happened so fast we were unprepared.  That’s how cancer works; it snaps up with no apparent provocation and slams the victim into the wall with its severity and the fear it so generously provides.  I don’t believe anyone can be prepared for it.  It also is a horrifying experience for the family.  I’m not going to say in any uncertain terms that when you are fighting for your life and fearful of losing it, that your families feelings are as important…….or are they?  They would be to me, but as my husband tells me, “You don’t know until you experience it.”  The hospice pamphlet we were provided with was helpful, but it didn’t help any of us prepare for what was coming, until the dying process that occurred at the very end.

I hate very little and very few.  I don’t want to give my power and energy away to anyone, or anything that doesn’t deserve it, but I have a strong feeling about cancer, and my way to work through that feeling is to give it a voice.  I hope you will continue my journey of survival with me the next few weeks.  If you are willing to personal message me any insight or thoughts you might have, please feel free to send them to me.  If you have a favorite blog of mine, feel free to share it, or PM me and let me know.  We have been in partnership the last year and I hope it has meant a fraction to you, what it has meant to me..

Peace…..

I Could Teach Classes in Prison, and Start a Book Group.

Sometimes raising kids is challenging.  No one really trains us how to raise our children; of course there was Dr. Spock, and then someone else and then someone else who disagreed with them.  In the 70’s we didn’t swaddle our babies, much to our mother-in-laws chagrin, and now my grandson is swaddled!  Who knew?!  We learned from our parents, who did the best they could based on their parents.  It was either good, or bad or somewhere in between.  We all do our best and hopefully our children survive the job we do.

If we are really lucky, the prize for surviving parenthood is when you get to be a grandparent.  Could we love any one person any more?  I think it’s because they are our second chance; to soften, to say yes more, to hug more, and for a moment of time  to slip back into silliness.

Grandparents tend to be ferociously protective, because we are older and most likely don’t care as much what others think-or maybe it’s because we are wiser and more aware of the dangers that are out there.  I have made it perfectly clear what would happen if someone tried to hurt a grandchild.  I don’t mean helicopter parent protectiveness, where children aren’t allowed to feel loss, heartbreak, or failure.  I mean if someone is stupid enough to try and hurt them physically.

My oldest grandson was having a bit of anxiety and decided to talk to me about it.  He was probably nine.  His mom was newly divorced and for some reason, he was worried someone would come in to the house and take him.  He said, “Grandma, what would you do if someone kidnapped me?”  I said, “I would take every cent I have to hunt them down; we would get you back and then Grandma would kill them.”

He nodded his head, “That’s what Mom said you would say.”

“Feel better now?”

“Yep,” and off he went to play.

What a great feeling for a child to think his grandma would protect him at any cost.  I don’t know if he thought my comment was metaphorical or literal, but I know and so do you.

I would do fine in prison; I could teach classes, start a book group, discuss feelings……

Peace…

Quilting Together the Past and the Present

The handprint quilted into the quilt above is mine.  Surrounding it are the handprints of my husband and grandchildren.  Twenty-seven years ago, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a pick-up truck headed to Wyoming.  We were delivering some oilfield supplies.  My children’s father was driving; it was late at night; the marriage was failing and I was thinking about my friend who was dying of cancer.  The idea for the quilt came to me; I don’t know how or why, but it did, and I started it the next week.  Different shapes, of different colors, were hand appliquéd onto a white piece of fabric.  I bought the thread intending to hand quilt it, with the different colors running through the quilt, an alternating triangle border pulling it together.

I often wondered why, when you would hear the stories of quilts, uncompleted, “discovered” in an attic, or box in a closet, they weren’t finished.  I learned, and understand now, life has it’s own plan sometimes, and it might not include finishing a quilt.  I carried the quilt, and it’s thread, from home to home, town to town, from the end of one marriage, through the failing of another, until now.  Children grew up and had children of their own; I found a good marriage, a happy place and decided I was ready to finish it.

The quilt like my life, metamorphised a bit; I needed to find a couple of replacement triangles that almost match; a couple spools of thread disappeared and had to be replaced; the stitches are bigger, and there were stains from the colored fabric bleeding onto the white.  My quilt and I have aged.  The colors match others I have chosen for our house, it will still keep a child, or grandchild warm, and if my husband wants to snuggle under it, while the fireplace warms up the house, it will keep us warm as well, while reminding us of the love of the handprints-the best warmth of all.

Our pasts never really leave us.  We can modify them, redirect them and flat out lie about them, but they are still our pasts.  Bring your past into your future, embrace it and quilt it together with your future.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with many things to be thankful for, both past and present.

Peace…