Thank You….Peace…

Did you notice I went an extra week?  Oh Luanna, can you stop?  I can!  Maybe… I went an extra week because yesterday, the 15th of April, my husband and I started on a raft trip down the Grand Canyon. (two weeks with no internet access?!!)  It’s another challenge to complete!  That’s what blogging for a year was for me: a challenge.  Before I give you some closing thoughts I will tell you what my top 10 blogs were to this date.  It was really interesting to me; was survival as a topic important to you, was it story telling, identifying with my life?

10 & 9.  Tied were You Would Know Four Things About Mom and New Years Resolution. (self explanatory)

8.  If Not Us, If Not You, Then Who?  (Is it our responsibility to talk about our survival to help others?)

6 & 7.  Ties were Motivation? and When You See One, There Are More.  (Why do I feel it’s necessary to blog and my analogy of my abuse)

5.  Let’s Be Honest.  (my defense of others, including gays, and why we shouldn’t judge)

4.  Forgiveness, Slow But Sure.  (self-explanatory)

3.  Quilting Together The Past and Present.  (bringing my life together)

2.  Surviving Divorce.  (self-explanatory

1. It’s Not Your Fault. (overwhelming top read post)

Sometimes blogs are read weeks after they are published; people tend to binge read every once in a while, so a more recent blog might pick up a few additional readers.  It is validating to see the statistics.  It seems a variety of topics was appreciated.  I’m so grateful.

I encourage all of you to write, or video; challenge yourself.   Life is short.  If I can ever help, I will.  A couple of people have reached out to me and asked me to help them write, or get started.  I am so happy to do that, so thankful for the trust.

If you would do one thing for me, as Dave and I raft down the Grand Canyon, please include our safety in your prayers.  If you don’t like us, then forget you know what we are doing.  🙂

I may continue to blog periodically on wordpress.com.  I won’t be publishing on Facebook.  You can certainly follow me there and again if there is anything I can help you with, on your journey, you can always personal message me.

I can’t tell you without crying, what your support has meant to me this last year.  It has helped immensely with my healing.  I have forgiven my Dad and I choose to love the goodness in him.  Sometimes I have to look darn hard, but it’s there! There are some days I still struggle, but they are few and far between.  Thank you, thank you my friends for your support.

Peace….

(I have been asked how to follow my blog. If you go to the WordPress.com site, search lovingandsurviving.blog, you should find my blogs. There will be a place at the beginning or end, where it says, “follow”. I believe you will be asked to put in your e-mail address and then you will get one automatically when I write it.)

 

Wishes for My Grandchildren

I plan to write more to them someday, but for now I have some very simple wishes, hopes and dreams for the little people in my life:

I hope my grandchildren grow up in a better world, a world where men and women are treated equally and paid for their efforts, but also a world where the boys don’t have to carry the burden of the sins that happened before them.  I hope all chips, on all shoulders are filled, and that people learn to stand on their own two feet and not blame someone else when they fail.  I wish that people who have been victimized in the past, don’t try to heal their pain by victimizing others, instead of forgiving and surviving, and that those who feel criticized quell their criticism of others.

I dream that the grandchildren will be happy in love.  I don’t care what color that person is, what sex, or what religion, but I do care that they respect my grandchildren, love them, and hold their feelings in high esteem.  I hope they are challenged in their relationship, yet find away to grow together exploring life and it’s wonder.  I pray that if the relationship is harmful, that they will have the courage to walk away, to hold their heads high, and to move forward.  If a relationship or friendship is toxic and causes you to question your value, or your life, please don’t walk away, run..

I wish them children, if they choose.  If they don’t choose, I wish for them the good sense to use the best birth control out there.  Children are a blessing; they are not the easy route in life, but are gratifying.  I can’t imagine my life without mine.  Don’t have a child, so that you have someone who loves you; if you have a child it’s because you have love to give.  

I hope they have success, as they see it.  If you enjoy art or basketball, do art or basketball, but if it doesn’t pay the bills, get a job that does and do other things  on the weekends, until you are good enough to pay your bills doing it.  Don’t expect any one else to support you, but don’t sell your value in a relationship short as it isn’t always about the dollar.  Whether you are the male or female, in your family, earning the most money, and the other partner is managing home and children, always remember that nannies, prostitutes and housekeepers are expensive.  There is a price to be paid, never think you have more value, only because you make more money, or less value because your paycheck isn’t as big.  

I dream that my grandchildren will be the kind of people who will help someone across the street, buy a meal for a young family anonymously, and support the causes they believe in.  If you watch public TV, donate to it.  Don’t expect others to support your causes, if you don’t.  Always stop and think about how your actions are affecting others, even the people you don’t agree with.  Don’t be them; be you.  Be an advocate but don’t be nasty about it.  Be the best you, you can be.  

I hope with all of my heart that they have faith in a higher power, that they pray, and believe that their God is standing by their side.  Faith has value; God has value; always be grateful for what you have been given. Say thank you often and with fervor.

I wish that they get an education; keep learning, travel, read and have discussions with others to learn their point of view.  It’s how you grow.  Don’t be afraid, and please don’t assume you know everything, when no one does.  🙂

I am writing so that they are sure and that they always know they have a grandma, who would eat people for them, a grandma who loves them, and wishes everything good for them, whether she is in this world or another.  I will always be the voice on your shoulder, so that you will feel safe and loved.  

Peace…

 

 

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….

 

 

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…..

Telling the Truth..

This is a story I wrote for a workshop a few years ago.  It’s a memory that makes me smile, for many reasons.  I raised my children and will still say to the grandchildren, “If you tell the truth, the punishment will be less than if I catch you lying.”  Sometimes it works, sometimes I still get a lie…with a smile…  My parents got it right many times…

I walked into the house, and Mom said, “Are you up to something?”

I looked at her as innocence brushed over my face; “What do you mean?”

“Charlene called me today and said that Brian had taken some paint out of the store and when she confronted him, he wouldn’t say anything. She thinks you’re going to paint on the water tower, “Is that true?”

My mind moved quickly; do I lie; do I tell the truth; how much trouble will I be in? “Yes,” I said defiantly.

“Dad is down summer fallowing on the Blatherwick quarter; you need to go talk to him.”

“Oh my God,” I thought.

“Ok,” and I turned out walked out through the garage, where my yellow Volvo was parked outside. My car, my freedom, was going to take me to talk to Dad, who would imprison me. It was a hot and dusty drive down the gravel road, the three miles south, where Dad was going around in circles, on his big tractor, tilling the earth, with nothing much to think about.. yet.

I turned left off of the road and onto the approach, driving across the freshly tilled field to a place where I could intercept Dad. He saw me and all of my dust coming towards him; stopped the tractor, came down the ladder and stood waiting for me, with his hands on his hips and an expectant look on his face.

“Hi Dad!” I said, with all of the “I just drove down here to say hi friendliness I could muster.”

“What’s up?” he said.

“Umm, Mom just thought I should come down and talk to you about something.”

He waited…

“ Well, four of us decided to go up and paint the water tower tonight and Mom found out, and thought I should come and tell you.”

Painting the year of your high school graduation was a time-honored tradition in my home town. It had been done for years and Marci, Colin, Brian and I had decided it would be us this year.

 I waited; he was thinking and you didn’t want to interrupt him on the wrong side of his thinking. He was going back and forth in his head about what he was going to say, weighing all the possibilities, and how we all would react to his decision. You didn’t want to stop him at the end of the “maybe I should ground her for the rest of the summer” pause in his thoughts (I had learned that one from experience). I was hoping for the “hey, I was a kid once too” place in his thinking.

Finally he said to me, “If I say no, you’re probably just going to do it another night?”

“Yea, probably,” I said honestly.

We were raised to tell the truth. Mom and Dad always told me, if I told the truth the punishment would be less than if I were caught in a lie. It wasn’t the first time, or the last, that I was counting on that being their truth.

He shook his head and thought again, for a while.   “What if we do this; you call me before you go up, and you call me when you come down, so I know you’re safe.” “Can you do that?”

“Yep.” “Thanks Dad.”

“Just be careful up there.”

“We will.”

I picked up Marci and we drove to meet the boys. All of us had last names that ended in H, so we thought it was a great idea for the four of us to take this project upon ourselves. We hadn’t asked anyone else’s opinion on that, but it was going to be our night. We were well prepared. We had silver paint to repaint a huge portion of the water tower to make sure the black H and the 77 would be easily read from the ground below.

I recounted my “visit” with Dad to the rest of them, as we drove up to the water tower. (I had already called the folks from Colin’s house.) The water tower was a typical small town water tower; sitting on four long legs, it was painted silver. There was a cage on the bottom of the ladder, with a lock and chain on it. The boys scouted the tower out ahead of time and had brought along the proper tools to “disengage” the chain from the cage and ladder.

Fortified with a couple of beers to steel our nerves, we one by one, propping, pushing, and pulling, climbed up the ladder to reach the top. There was a small widow’s walk and railing around the perimeter of the storage tank that held the water. We started off by tackling the silver paint first. We deftly covered up the 76 from the year before, about the time we noticed a lot of traffic showing up and driving by. The silver swath widened to cover an area as high up as we could reach and wide enough to give us room for the real artistic work.

We were starting into the black paint, when there were a couple of honks, and hollers from the cars below. The class of 76 hadn’t left for college yet and apparently felt we were usurping their class.

“Fuck them.” One of said and all of us felt.

Word was apparently passing quickly, we hurriedly painted on the 77 and then the H appeared a foot or so away. We looked at it, felt a lot of pride that we were pulling this off, and brazenly decided to paint on our first initials, so a L, M, C, or B appeared in each corner of the H. We stood there and it was decided we needed to celebrate before we went down.

We sat on the walk, our butts on the grate, and our feet swinging in the air. A joint was passed around and we shared a couple of quick beers all the time teasing each other about who had spilled the beans to the others driving around below us, who’s idea was it for me to wear a white sweatshirt, and how cool were we to have pulled this off.

We quickly descended the ladder, jumped in the car and planned what we were going to do next.

“Colin,” I said. “We need to run back to your house quick; I have a call to make.”

“Dad, we are done.”

 

Peace…. 🙂