Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Feel the fear and face it anyway

(Disclaimer - as with most of my post they are written from a raw standpoint with little or no editing)

Imagine strolling along life thinking everything in your world is real and known to you. Then imagine a world where you have this unknowing knowledge that your life isn’t completely as real as you’ve imagined it to be.

There were various times throughout my entire life when I had this sense that something was amiss. Imagine as a kid feeling like you were adopted or at best unwanted by your mom. I can remember specifically asking my mom at different ages in my life if I was adopted to which she would admittedly say, “why would you ask that? Of course you’re not adopted”. Although I heard these words there was always something deeper inside me that didn’t entirely believe this. Maybe it was because my mom and I throughout my life had a tumultuous relationship. Some would describe it as a ‘normal’ mother/daughter relationship and maybe that’s true. I loved my mom dearly and wanted nothing more than to please her and make her proud.

I believe we were great friends and could talk about many things, but I would not describe our relationship as one with overly motherly love and physical affection. Really, it wasn’t until nearly the end of my mom’s life that I learned from her own words that she loved me and was so proud of me. She admired my strength and didn’t know how I managed to get through what I’d gotten through. Waiting what seemed like a lifetime to hear such words was bittersweet. In one since I had already formed an opinion of myself based on what I had been told, and to hear those words didn’t seem real to me at the time. On the other hand, I chastised myself for having such ‘negative’ thoughts because after all wasn’t this what I wanted---my mom’s love and approval? I did. I so desperately needed it, and yet my self-sabotaging self, that part of myself that wouldn’t allow me to receive this information, would say, “but why couldn’t she tell me long ago when I needed it?” But the facts remain, I needed it even the moment she told me and yet somehow my wounded self in some ways felt like it was a little too late. Was it? I don’t think so. How many people have wanted to receive such love and confirmation from someone who meant the world to them, only to have them leave this planet and never hear them when they were living. I was blessed.

Why the walk down memory lane? I’m being faced with something that I never thought I’d have to face and a part of me feels a bit miffed that I have to deal with something that was someone else’s decision from soooooo long ago.

Upon returning from a great vacation/dad’s birthday celebration/family reunion with a broken leg, I receive a letter from my aunt (mom’s sister) with an additional letter attached to it. Upon reading my aunt’s letter, I was a bit confused because she was referring to someone I didn’t know.

My dad and I were sitting at my kitchen table when I read the enclosed letter my aunt had sent. The second letter was a letter from my half sister. Yep, you read that correctly, my half sister.

When my mom was 18 or 19 years old, she was engaged, and became pregnant. When she advised her betrothed, he did like so many men, he fled the scene. Without going into so many details, she decided she wanted to give this child a chance at life, so she found an educated family who desired to adopt her child. I’m sure this had to be one of or if not the hardest decision she ever made in her life.

It was agreed upon by all the parties involved to never discuss this situation. However, I can’t help but believe on some levels my mom either questioned her decision or at least mourned the situation as there were certain times during the year where she’d become really melancholy, and when we’d ask her what was wrong she'd tell us, ‘nothing’.

Yesterday was the day. Yesterday was the day Clint and I would walk through a door that would possibly change our world forever. Yesterday was the day Clint and I would make a decision that would ultimately change the lives of our children as well. Our dad was fully behind our decision to face this long family secret. All three of us (Dad, Clint and I) agreed that our half sister, Teri, should know the truth as we knew it, for we all could not imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes looking for her family for almost 30 years. According to the letter I read, she had established a relationship with our Grandma some years back, but was only given snippets of information about us out of respect for my mom.

According to this letter, Teri even knew mom had died a couple of years ago. Although, at this point Clint and I didn’t know how she knew that, we agreed I would initiate contact with her after receiving the letter from our aunt. I can only imagine what she must have felt upon first initial contact, as we were a little nervous and curious as well.

The exchange of emails and information seemed to flow easily between Teri, Clint and I, and then one fateful email came from Teri suggesting she fly to Sacramento to meet us. My first line of defense is to ALWAYS retreat because I wasn’t sure I was ready. Ready for what I’m not sure; I have no doubt all my insecurities and fears were taking over. I even addressed my fears, which I felt so proud for actually verbalizing my fears rather than just ignoring them and feeling like crap inside. Teri shared she was also very scared but excited at the possibility.

Yesterday, Teri was scheduled to fly into Sacramento and informed us where she’d be staying. She invited both Clint and I along with our families, should we choose, to meet her for dinner.

Clint and I agreed we’d go together along with our families. I asked my dad if he wanted to go, and he said that he didn’t……then paused for a second and looked me in the eyes and said, “do you need me to go with you?” I so love this man and his innate sensitivity. I told him I didn’t need him to go, but that I didn’t want him to feel excluded.

Yesterday seemed like a long day filled with too many overflowing emotions and past memories running through the forefront on my mind like the fountain in my backyard……continually running.

Was I afraid to meet Teri? No. Was I afraid we wouldn’t get along? No. Then, what was I afraid of? I was afraid she’d be disappointed in me. I had found out from my own prior research, she was a successful businesswoman, lived in an affluent part of Scottsdale in an enormous size home. Doing what so many of us humans do, I compared it to my own life.

Sitting in my backyard yesterday, where I find so much solitude and peace, I began journaling my thoughts to process the feelings that were causing pain and fear, and as I did, the tears just seemed to flow. At one point, I found Amira next to me hugging me asking me if everything was ok. I immediately collected myself, as parents always feel they have to put on a brave front for their children……silly really, and looked into her angelic face. I told her I was ok, but that I was just processing some feelings. She said, “is it because of meeting your sister?” I told her it was, and then we spent the next thirty minutes or so exchanging our thoughts and feelings about many things. We talked about her nervousness of having to give oral book reports at school and what that feels like for her. I shared that sometimes I don’t feel very good about myself because my mom use to tell me I was fat and ugly, to which she said, “That’s not very nice”. I told her she was right. I then went on to explain to her that the reason I tell her, maybe more than she’d like to hear, how much I love her, how proud I am of her, and how much I think she is beautiful and amazing is because I didn’t hear these words much, and certainly not all of them, when I was growing up. At the end of our conversation, she hugged me and told me, “don’t worry I’ll be there with you today”, which spilled more tears but in a good way.

We both spent extra time primping and pampering ourselves to get ready for our meeting with Teri as the email had came she was in town.

We drove to our designated location and met Clint, Claudia and Anthony. On the way, as I had been most of the day, I prayed for God’s presence to be with all of us on this journey, as well as mom's presence. So began the final steps of life, as we knew it. We reached the door, and all insisted Clint go first. He knocked and backed up towards us. The door opened, and a beautiful tall blonde with a welcoming smile greeted us…………it was like looking in a mirror with the exception of her slender stature. We each took turns walking forward and embracing her. None of us cried, as we each shared later we thought we would. For the next 5 hours we spent sharing stories and laughing. It seemed to flow effortlessly. She kept staring at me and saying, “oh my God, it’s like looking in a mirror seeing you”. She joked that over her lifetime people would ask her, “do you have a sister, to which she would say I sure do and she looks just like me, I just don’t know where she is”. She told us she had a 10-year relationship with our grandma. She described grandma’s house in exact detail. She said the very first time grandma showed her Clint and I’s picture she couldn’t take her eyes off them. She couldn’t believe she was looking at someone that looked like her. She described exchanging phone calls, letters, holiday cards and such with grandma over all these years. Clint and I were shocked because our grandma never had that type of relationship with us. Grandma had that type of relationship with my aunt and her family, but not us.

The evening ended, as we had to get our kids home and ready for school the next day. We all hugged and agreed to meet again today. She hugged me one last time and whispered in my ear, “You make me feel like I can breath”.

I received an email from her this morning saying, “Thank you for yesterday. I love you already.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Processing Random Raw Thoughts

Why do I remain so closed off? Or why do I remain so strong as to not ask for assistance? For some, asking for assistance does not seem to be such a struggle, so why do I?

Fear of being weak?
Fear of bothering someone with my troubles?

These two also keep me from being approachable.  Meaning: giving the impression to others that I don’t need anyone.

Fear is one’s pride or ego, not their heart or true essence.  One’s heart or true essence doesn’t reflect such thoughts, feelings or images to the world.

How does one open up?  How does one also attract someone with a willingness to have his or her heart open too? (Again, random raw thoughts--the answers are seemingly obvious.)

I could probably be a Mensa Member, yet I lack the fortitude to allow myself to be vulnerable enough to open up to attract a partner.  Letting go of any kind of fear has to be the most challenging thing on earth.

I understand the reason, logic and even psychology behind it and even counsel my clients on it, and yet it remains my biggest obstacle in life.

Fear limits all reason and logic.  Even knowing isn’t enough to do anything…..one’s choice to take action is what is required…….feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

There are so many of us that I hear say (self included), “I never want to hurt anyone” or “it would kill me if I hurt someone”, yet in the process we never realize or acknowledge we are sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process which is ultimately hurting us.  Somehow in our justified reasoning we say, “I’d rather hurt myself than someone else” or “I’d rather take their pain for them so they don’t have to go through that”. Why? Why do we choose to do that?  It’s as if somehow we are being self-less.  Are we?  Is this really being self-less or are we just being self-sabotaging along the way for the sake of others?

In the end, isn’t it their pain they have to deal with or not? 

I don’t think the majority of us intentionally plan to hurt someone, but somehow we do because we don’t take ownership of our own hurts and pains.  We don’t learn to process them, and therefore end up projecting them onto others, thus creating a vicious cycle.

This is not about brow beating one’s self for not acknowledging the obvious; this is a gentle reminder of what one needs to be consciously be aware of in order to change the cycle----should one desire something different.