Tuesday, October 28, 2014

No Longer A Marionette

I feel so happy for how far I have come in evolving as a person. I feel immense pride when I look at who I used to be and who I am now. The changes may not be noticeable to outsiders or to most of my friends and family, but to my close, inner circle (i.e., my husband, children, and best friends) I know they see the new me.

I spent most of my 20’s in a rage. I was angry, bitter, resentful, critical, judgmental, and defensive. I felt that everyone was out to get me. I felt attacked and misunderstood. I hated how my life had turned out and I felt it was so unfair. I was angry that my dad wasn’t who I needed him to be; I was angry I was on my own; working so hard to support myself; I was especially angry and heartbroken that I would never be loved again the way my mom had loved me. Because I knew that that kind of love was one only a mother could give me.

In my 30’s, I still had rage. I was still angry, bitter, resentful, critical, judgmental, and defensive. But the reasons were all different. Most of the negativity revolved around losing my baby and my subsequent infertility, as well as dealing with my own adoption issues. I was angry that God had given me a baby and then took him away; I was resentful of all pregnant women; I was critical of myself for not conceiving; I was judgmental of mothers who I thought didn’t deserve to be mothers.

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of hearing Carolyn Myss speak at a conference. She is a best-selling author and an internationally renowned speaker and educator in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Carolyn was captivating and real.

One of the things she said that really hit a nerve with me was about the power of our wounds. She talked about healing from whatever hell we’ve been through. She said it’s not about forgetting the hell; it’s about taking the wound and saying “You won’t control me anymore.” She said we don’t need to dismiss what we’ve been through, but we also shouldn’t allow it to make us marionettes. Carolyn then went on to say that most people would get on with their healing quickly, but instead they discover the power of their wounds and that is what stops them from healing.

The example she used was something like this: Someone tells you that they don’t like your outfit and walks away. You are appalled at what they just said. You can’t believe they walked away from such a comment. Of course, you immediately have to tell someone what just happened. The person you tell is just as appalled as you. You tell another and another and continue to get the same reactions. By the end of the day, the story has evolved into “I can’t believe she hit me with her car.” The drama escalates and the power of the wound grows and grows.

What I learned was that I gave my wounds a tremendous amount of power in my 20’s and 30’s. I allowed the wounds to control my life and in turn, they kept me stuck in those ugly feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, etc. What I learned in my 40’s is to bounce back and heal quickly from my wounds. I’m still human. I still get my feelings hurt and react with anger, defensiveness, judgment and whatnot, but the difference now is that the wounds no longer make me their puppet.

The party where I went to stalk DJ and check out his new girlfriend was on a Friday night. That entire weekend, I waited for him to call me or visit me, but I didn’t hear from him once. I had grown accustomed to hearing from DJ up to three times a day and seeing him on weekends. Just that Friday we had been together all day from 10:30AM to 5:00PM. It was odd that he had not contacted me at all for two whole days.

That Monday, I went to school and saw him for the first time since Friday. When I walked into class, I didn’t say much but right away, DJ brought up the fact that he hadn’t said hi to me at the party. I started arguing with him (via note-writing) about how rude he had been. When class ended, I said “I’ll talk to you later” and stormed off.

I am unable to deal well with conflict and tension with a friend. It was true then and it’s still true today. So, as soon as I got home that afternoon, I called DJ to clear things up and invited him over so we could talk. When he arrived, I gave him a letter expressing how hurt I had felt that he had ignored me the night of the party but that I didn’t hate him for it and I just wanted us to go back to normal. DJ apologized and I suggested a walk around the neighborhood.

As we walked, we discussed the people we were dating and how we really didn’t have feelings for them. Finally, I said “DJ, why are we going out with people we don’t like?” Neither of us had any idea. My next question was “DJ, do you like me?” Before he could answer me, I worked up the courage to tell him my feelings for him. I was confessing my feelings for him without even knowing myself that I felt as strongly as I felt for him. Because it was right then and there that I realized that I wasn’t just falling in love, I was in fact already very much in love with this boy.

He listened to me and then he sweetly went on to explain that when he had first met me two years prior, he had liked me so much and had wished he could date me, but he thought he never stood a chance. Over time, he had gotten past those feelings and he only saw me as a friend and didn’t feel “that” way about me anymore. (Oh. OK. Thanks for letting me know. Glad I poured my heart out and confessed my feelings first. I don’t feel dumb and foolish at all.) However, he left me feeling like there was a bit of hope that maybe we would be together. He told me he was in shock and just needed time to think things through. (Fair enough. Of course I was sure he’d pick me.)

But two days later, when he called me, I found out he didn’t pick me. He picked the other girl. The one he wasn’t into; the one who was “troubled”; the one who he was already officially her boyfriend. I was so hurt and so angry! Angry! Don’t forget angry! (That was my go-to emotion for the previous four years and would be my go-to emotion for many more years to come.) I went into defense-mode and informed him we could no longer be friends and that we would just see one another in class from now on. I hung up on him because I didn’t want him to hear me cry. I was humiliated and I felt so stupid.

I drove to school the next day wallowing in my sorrow and hopelessness. Just as I was driving in, I saw DJ walking through the parking lot with a female friend (a girl I couldn’t stand). In order to make my presence (and anger) known, I purposely-almost-accidentally ran him over with my car (Rage in action!) But despite the rage, I also felt awfully, terribly sad and lost without my friend. I waited the entire day for him to call or show up but neither happened.

The following day, September 21, 1990, I went to the class I had with him. I wanted to show him that I wasn’t afraid of him. I also wanted him to realize what he was passing up on. I wanted him to feel huge regret and to feel he had made a mistake. I basically wanted a fairytale ending. I wanted the scene from Pretty Woman where Richard Gere shows up at Julia Roberts’ apartment building in a limo with a dozen roses because he regrets letting her go and wants to be with her even if she is hooker (I am not insinuating that I was a hooker). I waited and waited for DJ to walk through the door with my bouquet of roses, but he was nowhere in sight.

About halfway through class, I stepped out and went to a pay phone (remember those?) and what did I do? I called DJ to ask where he was. (Desperation in action!) I acted completely normal; like I didn’t care at all about “us”. DJ told me he was coming to school to give me a letter he wrote me.

When DJ arrived at school, I read his letter. He wrote that he was very sorry that things couldn’t work out between us and that maybe someday in the future, those old feelings he had once had for me would return. He wrote that he cared for me deeply and that he hoped we could still be friends. I cried and hugged him hard and told him that I would still be his friend because he meant so much to me and I couldn’t lose him.

We went to Denny’s for a celebration of “happy to still be friends”. I reached over and picked croutons off his salad. We joked around just like always. It was a fun lunch and I was happy to be with my friend.   When we drove back to school to pick up my car, we hugged good-bye and next thing I knew, we kissed! My head was spinning. My body was shaking. What was happening? I was so confused but so HAPPY! Three days later, we said “I love you”.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the story of how the DJ I met in 1988 became my boyfriend. A few weeks later he would confess that the reason he hadn’t given in to his feelings for me right away was because he knew that I would be the last girl he ever dated. He knew that I would be the girl he married someday and that he felt nervous about being only 19 and making a lifelong commitment at such a young age. Aww…


October 1990
Our first photo together just a couple
of weeks after we started dating.

From the day I turned 40, I have said that I love it. I love being older and wiser. I love being able to say “I’m a grown-ass woman…” and it be true. Because in my 20’s and 30’s I didn’t feel like a grown-ass woman. Deep down inside, I felt like a wounded little girl. The wounds took center stage in my life. I gave them power and allowed them to grow out of control. I am not saying that I was a total mess. I have always been on this path to self-awareness, self-discovery, and a yearning to feel whole. I have always logically known that I was stuck; that I could be happier inside if I just let the past go. I went to therapy off and on over the course of my life, always looking for a way to move past the pain and injustice I felt inside. But I discovered that letting go of the wounds of my past was one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced.

My wounds were my friends. They gave me an identity. I was the girl whose mom died when she was 16 and who went on to miscarry and suffer from infertility. I was the Lifetime movie come to life. It’s easy to stay close to what is familiar and comfortable. The hard part is to make new friends. But eventually I did. I made friends with Courage, Gratitude, Joy, and Forgiveness and they changed my life. My old friends Anger, Bitterness, and Resentment still come to visit once in a while, but they don't stay too long because they know I am no longer their marionette.

DJ's lowered mini-truck was pimped out with 12-inch woofers,
sub-woofers, tweeters, custom wheels, limo lights, curb feelers,
and a racecar-looking leather steering wheel.
It was the bomb-diggity. Word.

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