This is going to be a different type of post than you all are used to from me and probably way more personal than most people think I should be posting. I debated even posting this at all. After discussing it at length with my husband, he thought two very positive things could come of it. First, that I can get out there a little more of who I am and what I am about to the people that may have never bothered to get to know me and yet believe icky gossip. And second, and this one was a major talking point between us, would be that through sharing my own experiences and conclusions I could help someone else who has been in my position feel like they are not alone. I have met a person or two along the way who would appreciate my sharing this. Several of those people are fellow writers. With all of that said…
I surprised myself recently. I have never been one to read love stories and yet I found myself bored one night when my husband was traveling and I discovered a new love for Jane Austen. The last time I read any fiction was years ago when my firstborn was only a baby. I believe that book was The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, at the recommendation of my grandmother, since the horror I used to like, such as Koontz and Patterson, no longer appealed to me.
So here I was, sucked into Jane Austen, and from there Charlotte Bronte then George Elliot. My husband and I also started watching Downton Abbey and got so hooked we watched all of the episodes up to the current season in a matter of only a few weeks!! I started wondering what was going on here! I was much more practical than to get swept up into stories like these, yet there I was!! I realized that it wasn't the love stories that I was getting filled with at all. Sure they can be fun but it was that I was missing, and suspect have been missing for a big part of my life, people that have strength of character and resolve in integrity!
To understand this better, something did happen that propelled me on this unintentional path. I am not going to bore you with too many details because you know I prefer to talk about ideas, not people. Several months ago my name was publicly associated with something I had absolutely nothing to do with by someone I had always gone out of my way to support. I even contributed to a pretty pricey Thank You gift awhile back for all of her homeschool support efforts. I truly appreciated how hard it was to organize and drive a homeschool support group because I have done it before. Yet, here goes this announcement that I was associated with some ugliness that I had no knowledge of! The damage was done. A retraction was posted but for some reason taken down within a day and I was left with less subscribers and literally feeling punched in the gut that people would believe nasty gossip. I also discovered plenty of people didn’t even see her retraction and that gossip had been flying about me even before that announcement!
I did what any normal person would do. I pulled back. I felt like I was hit by a truck! For any of my longtime readers, you know this isn't the first time I was attacked like this. I was left, being the responsible grown up I am, wondering how I could have done anything to deserve it or if I could have prevented it. I have been in such a funk about it for months now that I even began to regret moving to this part of the country. This "community" has shown me nastiness to a level I have never seen before. (Did I mention I'm in my early 40s so I have a lot of experience under my belt?)
To me, it's no wonder that I was suddenly satisfying a part of me that needed soothing through the type of fiction I seemingly couldn't get enough of. I was craving people with integrity and loyalty because I was tired of people who presented themselves as people they are not, even going as far as blatantly lying, and yet are still followed around by people who I thought knew better. I'm tired of seeing that when things like what I spoke about above happened, not one single "friend" would step up and stick up for me as they know I would for them, after they know I am not guilty of such ugliness. I'm sick of those same friends embracing those people who were awful to me. I have been left wondering if there is anyone with any strength of will, character or integrity anymore. That is what I respect and that is what I need in my life. Not people who thrive on judgment and gossip because they don't have enough going on in their lives to fill it with anything else.
I am a very busy woman with a very busy family. I homeschool four kids, ages six, ten, twelve and sixteen. Each of them fill up so much of my time, energy and mind-share, as they should, plus my oldest has a very active outer and social life where I need to balance his classes and activities with our family schedule. My husband not only has a full time job where he has some travel but also has a band that he plays with. Since I love doing anything I can to support him, I go to all of his gigs, take photos and videos, and even created the band's website. He is also finishing his MBA. As for me, I write for The Intuitive Parent and Homegrown NH. I am writing a new book called Intuitive Homeschooling. And I am also working on a revision to my first book, The Herbal Beverage Book. I also have an etsy shop. On top of it all, my husband and I have a social life we enjoy. As you can see, I don't have time or energy for anything that will drain me or not support me. My family needs me happy and whole.
So I am going to take responsibility for what I can do and set the best example I can for my kids. I have decided that processing feelings is good and necessary but I need to make a permanent change. I have seen a pattern that has been happening to me since we moved here a few years ago. I am open and giving of myself, then I am taken advantage of, picked at and lied about. I keep getting caught up on forgiveness, taking the high road and being kind and at the same time neglecting myself. I was accepting less than I deserve by letting bygones be bygones and choosing kindness. I wasn't being kind to myself by not keeping standards for how I would allow myself to be treated. It is kind to observe why someone is the way they are and not judge them negatively, but it is very unkind to yourself to be around that person if how they treat you makes you feel awful. I kept defaulting to things not being about me, but how they would treat me as being a reflection of who they are. While this is very true, it doesn't mean that you should stick around to keep subjecting yourself to it.
I am also deciding to fully accept that the old adage of treating others as you want to be treated doesn't apply. Maybe it never has. While this seems a little skeptical or negative, I am finding that it's just reality. Most people put themselves first and many will take what you have to give with a sense of entitlement if they feel that you have more than they do. I haven't kept score so to speak with things like that but have finally stopped to really contemplate my part. I have chosen not to notice when people use me or take advantage of me. It's not in my nature to do anything while expecting any reciprocation but I am slowly learning that a lack of at least a hint of gratitude is a big warning sign. I am choosing not to give myself away to be used up by anyone who doesn't love or appreciate me. I deserve better than that.
I am well aware that the root cause of the pattern that keeps happening is my desire for a sense of belonging. We moved to a different part of the country and have only been here a few years. People already have established friendships and have full lives. Many are also not looking to welcome anyone into their circles. That's just how it is and I need to come to accept that. Don't get me wrong. I have many acquaintances I love to hang out with. It's always superficial and fun and it's about time I'm ok with just that. I need to let go of the fact that I have been hoping to fill a gap in our lives because neither my husband nor I belong to any family but our own that we created.
I am also very aware that my sense of belonging is rooted from a much different place than many people and it can be hard for anyone to understand. I have been told so many times that friends are the family you choose for yourself but to me that's hollow and muttered mostly by people who really don't understand what they are suggesting. Sometimes it's not until someone loses their family that they truly understand what I am talking about. I find it difficult to explain it to people. They sit there and tell me how they have "no family" but I see them going to visit them for holidays, birthdays, etc. Others complain about this or that with their family to the point that I want to shake them and say, "You have someone that loves you enough to drive you crazy." No matter what disconnect you may have, your family still loves you if they choose to be in your life. Period.
Anyone who has lost those close to them knows what I'm talking about here. You know as well as I do how much it hurts to not have other people besides you and your spouse to love your children. With that said, I am fully aware that my own sense of belonging has caused me to invest way too much into my relationships, often with me overestimating the goodness in others. No one will replace the way your family loves you and yet it's hard to resist the urge to fill that gap somehow. I have decided that I need to stop trying to fill that void. It will never be filled and I have to accept that.
I have made a decision to be decisive and break all of these patterns, with no self-judgment. I am choosing to be much more picky with how I spend my time. I believe there SHOULD be such a thing as natural consequences. No more hippy dippy "I still love you even though you keep treating me badly." silliness! And I am only going to focus on people who possess integrity. While I know no one is perfect, I know I'm sure not, I cannot afford to waste my efforts on people who do not understand the basic principles of honesty, loyalty and most importantly, kindness. And do you know something? You shouldn't either!
June 12th - I came across this video, "Lessons from the Mental Hospital" by Glennon Doyle Melton at TEDx, and wanted to add it since I thought it was a very appropriate addition. I refuse to put on any "cape," no matter how uncomfortable it makes anyone feel ;-)
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon or directly on my website. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.