Friday Fiction #8: Home = Our Beliefs about Love

femmesfatales

It’s Fiction Friday and the last week of romance month.  Every Friday, the Fiction Friday Femmes Fatales post different fictional stories based on the same prompt (see below).  This is episode eight. If you missed the first seven episodes, the links are below.

______________________

Amanda sat down in a chair in her front yard with her laptop and her assignment. Just thinking about her childhood made her both angry and sad, but her counselor gave her online homework. If I want to start feeling better, I need to do this.. She told herself, even though she didn’t want to do it.

“Think about what it was like growing up. Are there specific feelings or situations that come to mind? Write them down and use a word to describe the feeling or situation (ex: mom was always angry: anxious).

Raised by a single mom.  I remember a lot of fighting, frustration, and angst.   Frustration.

Questions to ask yourself:
 Was there lots of affection in your home or was affection withheld?

There was affection from my mom.

Were you frequently criticized?

Yes I was. I felt like I was never doing well enough at anything. My father was Korean and preferred by brother, my mom told me, because of cultural reasons.  He didn’t want me because I’m a girl. And I never lived up to either parents‘ expectations-spiritually or academically.

Were your parents available to take care of you? Were your needs met?

My mom was for the most part, but she was very busy working three jobs to support us. My dad was not available. My physical needs were met, but not my emotional or spiritual needs.

How was anger expressed – or not?

Yelling, throwing things, fighting, crying, threats of suicide from my mom.

Were there addictions?

 Sugar-mom
Smoking-dad

What was your parent’s relationship like?

Non existent. Dad sent a monthly check and visited maybe once a year. They never talked as far as I knew.

Was love freely exchanged?

Same answer as above. We were told we were loved by my mom. Not between me and brother.

Did you feel a sense of stability?

No. I didn’t understand why my dad wasn’t around and other kids had dads. I didn’t understand it when my mom got so mad and sad that she would threaten suicide. I wondered if I would find her dead several times and that it would be my fault because we fought.

Did your family communicate about feelings?

Not very well. My dad was absent. My mom did the best job she could. She would try to reassure me when I was sad about not having my dad. She explained that Koreans favor the first-born son. She tried to love me enough for both of them, but it didn’t work. She didn’t really listen to me about anything I wanted to do when I became a teenager. She said no to everything so I just started lying and doing whatever I wanted anyway.

Did family members support one another?

My mom supported me to be a good student, to keep my eyes Asian and not have plastic surgery. She supported me through college. She supported me financially. Brother never supported me. Not sure that I supported him either.

How about fidelity?

My mom was single so I never had an example of faithful parents. I learned that my dad was cheating on my mom when she was pregnant with me. My mom said not to have sex until marriage because of the bible. But I didn’t listen to her. I cheated on all my boyfriends.

Did you feel “safe” or anxious in your home?

Anxious. I wanted out. I didn’t know why I was born into my family.

Key Words About Home
Write down 6 keywords about your home life growing up.

Chaotic, volatile, critical, rebellious, abandonment, rigid

Positive examples might be:

safe
secure
loving
open
caring
fun
joy-filled
comfortable
inspiring
supportive
Negative examples:

scary
chaotic
critical
dishonest
not available
disregarding
shut down
betrayal
abandonment
violent
Take the six keywords you wrote about home:

Home = Chaotic, volatile, critical, rebellious, abandonment, rigid

Now substitute the word home with LOVE = Chaotic, volatile, critical, rebellious, abandonment, rigid

This may help you understand how you have formed your beliefs about love and relationship. It may also shed light on past or current partners you have chosen as we tend to repeat the familiar until we learn new patterns of relating.” – read more and take the online quiz by clicking here

*************
These were probing questions. The more she thought about it, the more upset she became until for some reason tears started erupting. She never realized how much of an effect her parents’ relationship had on her overall outlook on love. No wonder she had problems inside her own marriage. She didn’t trust the forever part of marriage even though that’s what she wanted more than anything in the whole world.

Her dad taught her to run from her problems, to abandon your children, and that because she was a girl, she was actually worth less than a boy. She spent her adolescence seeking male approval and the intimacy she lacked with her father. She blamed herself unconsciously, blaming herself just for being born. She didn’t know what to do or how to behave to gain his love.

Her mom taught her to be easily overwhelmed, to act out in times of stress. She taught her to be rigid and unreasonable. Amanda constantly fought off critical thoughts about how she didn’t measure up to expectations. Her mom was desperately depressed before Amanda was even born, yet when they fought, she would threaten suicide because Amanda was so cruel and hurtful. Amanda grew up with the irrational belief that she had power over someone else’s will to live. She wondered if she would find her mother dead from suicide and if it would be her fault because they had bad fights.

As a teenager, she started lying to her mother because she said no to everything. There was never an intelligent, rational discussion about life and how to live it. There were just angry lectures full of ‘shoulds’ and the only time she felt free was when she was away from her family.

She didn’t have a good example of marriage, love, or fidelity. To her, it was all pie in the sky. Yet she based her whole life on creating what she never had.

Amanda decided to write them a letter to let it go once and for all.  Perhaps letting it out would be beneficial to her progress.

Dear mom and dad,
Thank you for bringing me into this world. Thank you for my life. I now know why I am alive, and I am changing things in my life from this day forward. Say goodbye to the old Amanda. She’s dead.

I forgive you for abandoning me dad. I accept that your life, your culture, your personality made you behave the way you did, I believe that you loved me even though you didn’t know how to show it. I forgive you for cheating on mom. I forgive you for leaving us. I forgive you for setting me up to believe that all men will act like you did.

Mom, I forgive you for your angry past. I know you’ve had a rough life and have done the best job you could have given the circumstances. I forgive you for criticizing me and for being so angry you threatened to kill yourself. I know it wasn’t my fault that you got so angry. Know that the guilty feeling you gave me still lives inside of me. Two of my kids died because of decisions I made. I really was my fault. It’s ironic that our fighting never resulted in your suicide, but that a momentary lapse in judgement killed my two kids. I can never fix that. And I can never go back in time to fix what you said to me when I was a kid. All I can do now is forgive you and myself for everything that has happened.

Richard loves me. Steven, Brad, and Robert love me.  Richard weathers the storms with me. Richard and I have a life together despite all our ups and downs. We lost two kids, but we still have three who need us to be happy people and parents. I release you into the universe so I can live my life without a heavy cloud from the past hanging over my head. You tried the best you could, and you both really messed up. I refuse to let the past define me. And I refuse to use the past as an excuse not to fully appreciate and trust the relationship I do have.  I believe in love and fidelity, and intend to live my life accordingly.  From this day forward, I am vowing to life my life in a way that when my kids grow up and take this quiz or one like it, they will have different results and healthier beliefs about love.

Love,
Amanda

______________________________

Here is the prompt:  Your character has a certain deep-held belief about love and fidelity. This belief may be based on religion, on something s/he learned from her/his parents, or on her/his own experience. Decide what this belief is and where it came from. In your story, something happens to the character that seems incompatible with this belief. How does your character react? Write the story.

Visit the other  blogs to read what they wrote based on the same prompts:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.itsadomelife.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/
http://the-suds-box.blogspot.ca/
http://www.quirkychrissy.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

Follow us on Twitter:
@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@SusanneNelson1
@ItsADomeLife
@DeBieHive
@MollyFieldTweet
@monsterNbox
@chrissawoj
@Near_Genius

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Advertisements

Life as a Married Mom

Two movies in two days, both with the same lead actress and plots about being married parents. In This is 40, a couple faces middle age, parenthood, and marriage. In the Change Up, a single slacker and a married lawyer switch lives by accident after wishing for each other’s lives. In both movies, the characters learn to appreciate what they have and how to fix problems common in every family.

Let’s face it. Life is hard. Being single is hard. Being married is hard. Having children is hard. Being childless is hard. It’s hard to be a kid. It’s hard to be a student. It’s hard to have a job. It’s hard to be the parent of adult children.

It’s tough having quality time together as a couple and/or family, and its tough finding time to be alone. Meeting our own needs as individuals is difficult, much less meeting the needs of spouses, children, and parents.

Our jobs as parents require us to have all our shit together enough to provide for, care, guide, and nurture the little people we created. We shape and mold them emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially, and psychologically. If we are too busy or unhappy with own own lives, they pick up on it. It affects their sense of self. It affects family dynamics.

As with everything in life, it seems that the answer is always balance. As adults, we need to take care of ourselves first or we are no good to our children. Do we sacrifice for them? Of course we do. But if we don’t take the time to meet our needs first, we won’t be able to give to our children in a quality way. And we won’t be able to be happily married while we raise them.

Both moms and dads work hard to provide financially for families. We have different needs, but it’s important we allow ourselves some down time when we are not working to pursue our interests, socialize, and exercise. It’s important we care about what we eat and how much we sleep so we can feel our best day to day. We need quiet time to reflect and develop ourselves spiritually. We need friends and fun. We also need alone time, both as individuals and alone time as parents.

Holidays together exaggerate family dynamics and intensify expectations and tempers. A college aged kid wants to come home for the comforts but doesn’t want to be treated like a kid. Little kids misbehave when they eat too much sugar, stay up too late, and are bored because adults are talking. We try to give them what they want, yet we try to teach them that Christmas is for giving, not getting. We try to make things special for them, but we also need to be consistent with expectations and consequences.

We have to remember we made these little people and act accordingly. We need to remember that life is precious and we create our realities. A yoga teacher once told me,a “where the feet go, so do the hips.” It’s the same with the mind. The way we think is reflected in the world around all of us. It’s up to us to be strong, balanced, and loving. It’s up to us to communicate. It’s up to us whether our kids have happy memories from childhood. Nobody is perfect, but finding the fine line of balance can make life feel perfect.

20121229-160141.jpg

Life is Short

Love Love Love

Love Love Love (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

This post is really hard to write. I’ve been trying for a while. More and more tragedies keep taking place. I don’t want to rush to writing. I want to make an informed entry. I want to take my time. As the days go by, I feel more and more pressure to post something. So, here is my disclaimer: I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know if I’m right. I just want to write what I feel right now. I started this entry earlier and thought I’d saved it, but apparently it didn’t save right, so I’m starting over again.

“I hope there’s nobody here to shoot people” my son (8) said on Saturday as we parked the car and started walking into the mall to watch my daughter (12) perform with her dance studio.

“I hope so too buddy.” I said confidently as I held his hand and guided him through the maze of cars to the mall entrance. All the while, I held his hand and looked both ways and did everything I could not to get killed on the way into the mall. And then inside the mall, I kept thinking about how crazy that would be if somebody opened fire in that public place.  I took deep steady breaths and decided not to worry and to enjoy my time watching my daughter perform without letting fear of a crazy shooter take that away from me (and all of us).

Thankfully we made it out of there alive.

When I get cranky about doing housework, one way I try to cheer myself up is to start singing (a silly song).  I had some great conversations with other moms about the drudgery of housework and have decided to take a positive attitude towards it (and motherhood in general – don’t get me started on how annoying it is when other moms complain about their kids).

A good friend of mine in Virginia once told me when you’re a stay-home-mom, a good idea is to get up in the morning, shower, put on makeup and nice clothes just like you’re going to “work.”  Because after all, being a mom is work.  It’s my job.  She said it helps to feel better about yourself.  I shared that idea with another mommy-friend who also shares my love-hate relationship with staying home and doing chores.   She wrote a really funny blog piece about the idea of fighting with yourself over such things – making the house look nice, making yourself look nice, having everything ‘just perfect’ as a mom (and she said, “If you’re going to get in a fight with yourself, you might as well look good doing it.”

Since I love singing and I want to bring levity to my daily chores, I’ve started singing a silly song when I do laundry. It goes something like this:  “I love doing laundry. It means I have a family to take care of.  I love washing, drying, and folding clothes for my boys because is means I have a husband and a son.”  My oldest daughter (19) is off at college, so I don’t do her laundry. And my twelve year old daughter does her own laundry. So, when I do laundry, it’s for me, my husband, and my son.

Tonight, as I was folding clothes at the dining room table and singing my song, my son said, “Mommy, you know what makes me sad?  All those mommies of all those kids who died are probably doing their last loads of laundry tonight. And they won’t get to do any more loads for their kids. They won’t have families to take care of.”

If that didn’t hit me right in the heart, I don’t know what would.  It hit me to my core.  He is so right. They probably are doing their kids’ last loads of laundry. They probably are wishing they had their kids back so they could make a mess in the house and dirty up some more dishes and laundry. My heart breaks for them.  I can’t imagine their pain.

The school shootings in Connecticut have rocked me to my  core.  In my forty-four years of life, I’ve experienced way too much loss.  My personal losses deserve a separate entry of their own (another incredibly hard post to write that I’ve started but never finished).

I understand there is good and there is evil in the world. I understand that people act out when they are upset.  But I just cannot understand WHY someone, anyone, would harm innocent children.  They didn’t do anything to anybody.

What was his point?  What was he trying to accomplish?

I’m one of those people who seeks answers and wants to know details of how the tragedy unfolded. I don’t know why, but I do want to know.  Knowing the details can help us piece together the puzzle of what went wrong and how to avoid it again in the future.  There is too much heartache in the world. There are too may killings.  There is too much hate.  Some of it is aimed at children in our country and abroad, and some if it is aimed at other adults.  Either way, enough is enough!!

Death is one reason I don’t understand or agree with religions.  I think we as a human race made up religion to try to answer unanswerable questions like….

Why am I here?

Where did I come from?

Where will I go after I die?

To me, the answer to all of those questions is, “I don’t know” and “You don’t know either.”  And you don’t. You might think you do, but you don’t.  All I know is in the face of evil and hatred, my answer is love and kindness.

We need to love each other and be kind to each other. We need to spread kindness around the world, not hate.

Look around you and see where you can show happiness and bring kindness to someone else’s life.  If someone doesn’t have a smile, give them one of yours.  Let’s replace hatred with love.

I have so much more to say on this topic, but my time is limited.

Nice Things My Kids Say

“Are you playing Moves Like Jagger?” my son asked as I was practicing my guitar (improvising). And no, it wasn’t any song at all, just playing notes in the key of E.

“Did the maids come today?” Why no they didn’t, but thanks for asking! My daughter noticed that I actually got the house to look and smell nice today.

“That’s beautiful, but not as beautiful as mommy, right daddy?”  That little boy has me wrapped around his finger ❤

I love my job as their mom. The rewards are priceless!

30 Days of Truth: Day 9-Someone You Didn’t Want to Let Go but Drifted Apart

The friend who comes to mind is someone I knew from my childhood (middle and high schools) and we reconnected as adults. She was my best friend for years.  Our girls were a year apart, and when I was living at my mom’s house as a single mom, we practically talked and saw each other every single day. We used to stay on the phone for hours and talked about just about everything.  We saw each other at our worst moments and helped each other through some tough times.  We helped each other with our kids since I was single and her significant other wasn’t very involved.  We were friends during her during her second pregnancy, and I was there when her son was born.  I felt honored to be there as a support person.  I moved away and got remarried and had my second daughter then we moved back to Virginia for five years.  My friend and I reconnected, and she was there for me to watch my daughters when I went to the hospital to give birth to my son.  We talked and visited and shared a wonderful friendship for many years. 

Sadly, it came to an end when she got mad at me over a misunderstanding during happy hour with other girlfriends.  I introduced one of my other friends to the hostess’s husband and didn’t introduce her.  She got her feelings hurt and exploded with many things she had been unhappy with me about but had previously kept to herself.  I was surprised and did everything I could to mend the relationship.  She told me she didn’t like how I acted when I got around other girlfriends and we drank wine together.  I was sorry she felt that way and didn’t mean to act differently toward her, but perception is reality, and her feelings were hurt.  Our friendship was never the same.

 I moved away again to Texas, and we visited Virginia in 2008.  I visited with my old friend, and our daughters spent some time together.  Things weren’t the same, but it was nice to see her and talk again.  We had another fight the night before I was flying back to Texas over a bra that my daughter borrowed from her daughter.  She and her daughter called me multiple times that night to try to get the bra back.  I was in an argument with my husband, and it wasn’t a good time to take their calls.  I offered to mail the bra back to her daughter once we got back to Texas as it wasn’t a good time to deliver it back to her house.  Since I was already in a fiery mood because of the argument with my husband, this time I was the sharp one. I expressed frustration that she put zero effort into repairing our friendship, but now this bra was so important that she and her daughter called me over and over again even though I told them it wasn’t a good time for me to talk.  At that point, our friendship ended for good.  Since then, we have totally drifted apart.  I haven’t asked her to forgive me for getting mad at her that night, and she hasn’t made any effort to be my friend.  Her daughter decided to be sassy to me online about her bra, and I decided to report her to her high school cheerleading coach since her parents weren’t going to do anything to discipline her.  I’m pretty sure my ex-friend didn’t appreciate me bringing her daughter’s message to the school’s attention, but as the parent of a high schooler at the time, I knew that frequently schools enforce respectful behavior on behalf of their athletes because how they act represents the school.  I mailed the bra back to her daughter and never heard from her again.  I’ve tried friending her on facebook, but she won’t accept my friendship. 

We always had our differences, but we also had many similarities.  It’s sad that our friendship fell apart, but in this case it seems that our differences tore us apart.   I wish we could be friends again, but I’m not holding my breath.  Once a friendship is broken, it’s really hard to put it back together. 

This Mom Loves Her Job

When I was little, I wanted to be a wife and mommy when I grew up. I think it’s because I grew up with a single mom and a mostly absent father (who came around just enough to tease me with his presence). Christmas and birthdays would come and go without hearing from dad. When I got upset, my mom explained that Koreans favor boys over girls. It was a helpless feeling, and it made me want to build my own family (including a dad) in which all kids felt equally loved.
Fast forward to today. I’m blessed with three of my own children and one stepson. We didn’t find and meet my stepson until he was seventeen, but I love him like he is one of my kids. I was a working mom with both girls, trying to make ends meet while I was a single mom and when Joe went to law school. I decided to stay home with my youngest until he was six and tried going back to work for two years. My middle child was in sixth grade this past year and was coming home alone and being by herself for hours after school. Growing up in VA and teaching there and NV, I’m used to sixth grade being elementary school. But here in Texas it is middle school. There are no after school programs for kids her age, so despite a bad feeling we decided to go with it and let her come home alone. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it didn’t work out. She was too young to be unsupervised all that time. She got bored and lonely, and I worked very demanding hours. I was not able to give my attention to my kids the way I would have liked to.
Since I decided to stay home again full time, there is a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a mom full time. In some ways, middle school is just as important a time to be there for your kids as when they are infants and toddlers. Yes they are separating from parents and peers matter more in their immediate worlds. But I’ve noticed a bigger smile on their faces and how much of the time I had previously spent being ‘too busy’ to talk or play games or go outside.
I work hard to balance me time with kid time, and the kids are learning to give and take in that department. At the same time, I’m modeling self care and also making it a point to do more fun things together with them. We redid our schedule and chore charts for summer. We have structured learning time and relaxed fun times. We brainstormed a list of things to do together.
I’m pretty sure my bucket (of self esteem) might not have been filled to the brim before I became a mom. That’s my focus now, doing a better job of filling my kids’ buckets before they are loose in the world. Mean people are everywhere (even in the adult world) and life is never easy. With enough self-love we can learn to rise above whatever struggles might appear. Being a mom is the best and most important job I will ever have!