Am I a product of Reverse Psychology?

Is it possible I get nothing from my family but reverse psychology? Is it possible that every lesson I have learned in how to be who I am — was solely by watching them be who they should not have been?

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Do you ever feel as if you do not have a place, a place of origin, a true place to call home, an explanation to the whys and who’s of what made the person you have become? That is me.

At my son’s baseball try-outs he was incredible, he is naturally athletic – and I thought to myself, I wonder where he gets that? My last name is James, but I know nothing of my origin. How can that be possible, for a name, a history – the ins and outs of who I am – to mean nothing? I guess that is something I am still figuring out.

My kids, they know where they come from – who they get certain things from, or who they learn it from. My son is built just as I was as a child. My daughter is built like her father, she is beautiful – not just the beautiful that every mother says, but the truly takes your breath away beautiful. My son gets his sensitivity from me, and my daughter gets her attitude from me. They both are direct results of the people around them.

There are some key aspects I give credit to my grandparents for teaching me – the old school values like, Sundays are family days, Church, family dinner at the table every night, praying before every meal, never invite yourself, or eat in front of someone, don’t call a house during dinner time — all things our fast paced society could care less about anymore. However, who I am, whose nose I have, or laugh I have, I couldn’t tell you.

What I know about myself is how I feel about things, what makes me who I am, my reactions, my instincts, my abilities and strengths — those are mine, built by me, and God. Do I know where my insecurities come from? Absolutely! But, could I tell you where I get my writing abilities from, or my love for Literature? No. Do I know why I love my children more than life itself, and I will make sure they know they can do anything they want, and they are important, intelligent, and loved? Yes — But, do I know who I get that from? No.

What I learned from my parents was that for my mother, drugs, alcohol and random men – were more important than me. And, from my Father, was that the wind blowing through my hair on the way to bus stop was not okay and made me appear beautiful – therefore it was chopped off like my brothers. My father said I talked too much, so sent me to school with an entire roll of duck tape on my mouth. Apparently, I get nothing from him, because I would NEVER do that to my children.

Do you see what I have to work with here? My father has since passed and I find myself internally giving him some slack due to some medical issues and what-not, however I just don’t think I can ever bring myself to ever like that man – or see that I am anything like him.

What perplexes me is that I believe God gives us our parents for a reason, and so far I am missing what good it has done for me to have such shitty parents. It has done wonders for my children, which I guess is for me, I don’t know. Don’t get  me wrong, God has blessed me in many ways, and if the only blessings I have from here on out are my children I am perfectly content with that. But, I would sure love to know, for it to all make sense, as to why I have no place to call home — before the home I built with my children.

Packing my bags when I need to stay…

“I’d be packing my bags when I need to stay, I’d be chasing every breeze that blows my way” Toby Mac

For years, I was a strong believer in “If you aren’t happy get out” – so much so in fact that I did just that. If things weren’t the way I had expected, or something else was better, easier, or just less work I could throw that whole relationship in the trash and move on. It used to piss me off to no end, when I would hear girlfriends say, “I can’t leave because of the kids”, or ” when the kids are 18 or move out, I will leave then”. That was always a crock of really stinky crap to me, and I would fight back with advice like ” What about you, you don’t deserve to be happy now?” or “do you think your kids should live a lie thinking your life was great for 18 years than, all of sudden you get divorced?” Or, how about “your kids need to see you happy, they need to see two people who love each other, don’t you think they know you are not happy right now?” And, while those are all still great points, valid points, and should really be considered – I know see where that comes from.

Admitting I was wrong, or possibly, slightly, part way incorrect – maybe is well, the truth. I was wrong. Truth is, if you are scared, not dedicated, maybe didn’t really mean your vows or many variances of lacking in the commitment to the marriage, your spouse and yourself – leaving makes sense and will most likely happen.

My friends used to say I was in love with falling in love. That all relationships go stale and become work, that is normal. For me, I thought when it stopped being fun, all the lovey-dovey stuff went away – and lies and skeletons in the closet came out to play and REAL LIFE came into account – the relationship was over, done, finito – adios – buh-bye! Although in my defense, cheating, abuse and drugs and alcoholism all are valid reasons to end a relationship – but only if you really need to use that excuse. There are many marriages who have made it through that and much worse, my guess is that they were fully committed. My other guess is that the love and the respect for the other person were genuine.

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My heart is an odd heart, it backfires, misfires, gets overheated and freezes over faster than that Frozone’s snow boots! When I shouldn’t have loved, I did – and too much. When I should have loved, I didn’t – or not enough. Being thirty-three I can tell you I have been in love only two times – which is odd because there have been four “main” men in my life that I spent years saying the daily I love you’s, the promises of every tomorrow, the I Do’s which turned to I Don’t, I Didn’t or I won’t do that. One relationship which produced my beautiful children – my true loves of my life – but looking back now, wasn’t real – no love.

Then as with any broken or failed relationship you tuck a little piece of “baggage” into a deep dark little hole, and move on to the next. And so on…so that when you settle down with the right person there is just enough unpacking, sorting, and repairing to drive you crazy – but without driving you away.

My husband and I do not have the perfect marriage, we are not that couple that never fights, I am not the perfect wife, and he is not the perfect husband. Our marriage is WORK, literally getting down and dirty, elbow grease and all – WORK. There are days where he can do no right by me, there are days that he irritates me, hurts my feelings, pushes my buttons and my limits making me feel like at any moment I could bust through the barrier of wonderful married-ville, and strangle him. AND, there are days when its reversed and I am all those thing to him. We are not easy to be married to, to live with – but damn it if we don’t find a way to always find a way. We do that, because we finally found the person, the commitment, the relationship that is worth all the WORK.

If someone were to ask us, how come you don’t just give up, or how much more are you gonna take? Our answer would be because of our family, because we love each other, for the kids, the extended family, our life – etc. Before, my kids weren’t a reason to stay in a relationship – now I am not saying that you should stay solely for the kids, but what I am saying is that it makes sense what I heard my girlfriends saying all those failed relationships of mine ago. It makes sense why our grandparents and great-grandparents were married 40, 50 and 60 years to the same person. Dedication and Commitment. My grandfather made some bad choices, and I am sure so did his father, and his father’s father. They may not have been the same bad choice, but you can bet your tush they weren’t perfect – and neither was their marriage.

There are those select few, the elite married couples who just really do have it perfectly figured out, they never fight, no one gets jealous, they are always kind, considerate, thoughtful, selfless – no baggage, no dramatic issues or life altering problems and just are HAPPY. If that is you, you had better go in and find your spouse – lay a big smooch right on them and take a minute to realize that you are lucky. Not everyone has that, and not necessarily because they can’t – but because they won’t.

There is a quote by Marilyn Monroe that was me exactly. It says:

“A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love ;
Listens but doesn’t believe ; and leaves
before she is left”

What it should say is a wise girl is a lonely girl too….

If I truly loved the people in my past, the way I do my husband – I would still be there. If I valued my relationships then as much as I value my marriage now, I’d still be there. It’s the same with cheating – I used to think that you can cheat on someone you love – because to be honest I cheated – and I thought I loved the person I cheated on. Truth is, I didn’t – because if I did, I wouldn’t have stepped over that line. Cheating is a choice, it is a premeditated, thoughtful process that you either decide to follow through with because you don’t care or you don’t love the person you are with. We all could cheat, we all could fall into that bottomless pit of deceit and have great affairs that are pleasing for the moment, that will only be detrimental internally, and externally for those we let down.

The saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” isn’t true. The truth is, when you find something and someone who you could or would never risk the chance of losing, you won’t cheat. When you think to yourself, that would be “fun” but it would ruin my family or its “new and exciting” but how new would it be, if you got stuck with it forever? The new and exciting, the fun, is in having those “trying” moments and not failing – but instead making it through them. It’s seeing your family and knowing that they are not dispensable, that you are valuable to them and to yourself.

This may sound like a bunch of soap box talking – but truth is, it’s just a couple of things I learned from messing up. Before my husband, before this marriage, I was packing my bags when I needed to stay, I was chasing any breeze that blew my way…luckily it led me to where I should be. Now my bags are staying unpacked and the breeze will blow me closer to my family, not away.

Excuse me, do I know you?

Its incredible how the mind and heart can build up a moment before its about to happen. Its as if a protective shield starts to encase you, or reminders of what to say or not say, how to act, or not to act run wild in your brain. This didn’t happen with me, maybe I was too numb to feel it. 

Climbing into the car my brother said “Moms waiting for us, she called while you were in the bank”. Swallowing hard, I responded with “Us? does she know I am here?” and he replied with yes, she is waiting to see us. Driving to where she lived, I was terrified – questions about where she lived, her lifestyle, what kind of people would be there, could I get shot?? These were all the crazy things running through my mind. The neighborhood where we were, was less than favorable, and not knowing which color clothes I should be wearing to ensure my safety – scared the shit our of me, I am not even going to try and lie and say other words.

You have to remember, I do not know this woman. What I know of her, is her name, and that I stopped seeing her after I was four following my parents divorce. In the following twenty-nine years, I have seen her maybe four times and the last one was fifteen years ago. So, this car ride – this visit was a BIG deal and ended up being a BIG nothing.

The only picture I have of my mother and IPulling up to a rundown house, with about three different trailers, weeds, and piles of junk everywhere, out walked a woman about 5’9, with a purplish-pinkish-redish type color of short curly hair, wearing a mans flannel, dated jeans and slippers. Her face was swollen due to having Graves disease, something I learned that day, and her over all appearance was that she had obviously had a hard life. She walked up and hugged me, a hug that I am sure I dreamed of for years, a hug that now felt uncomfortable and empty.

Walking us into her backyard, she sat in a chair while my brother and I shared a porch swing. Swinging back and forth, I talked with my brother, but was finding difficulty in what to say to her, or even to look at her, because part of me wanted to study this woman. You know – like look at the details of her face, her eyes, her hands, were they mine? Listening to the way she talked, she sounded the same, her laugh was the same although it wasn’t mine. Nothing about her was me, and nothing about me is her – it was an odd feeling. It was as if, I was meeting  a friends mom for the first time, there was that lack of knowledge between us – no bond at all.

Talking with my brother, she expressed concern over her grandsons moving here to Oregon, and teared up at the thought of not seeing them. She reminisced about my brother and it was obvious they had some sort of a relationship, even though my brother puts forth all the effort. When I would talk, she would study me, I felt her looking me over – maybe doing the same thing I was doing to her – I don’t know. She laughed when I would say something funny, and would talk to me in a round about manner.

When my brother would stop talking, it was quiet. When he left to pee behind a tree, it was silent until his return. This woman and I were strangers. There wasn’t anything we shared the same, except our blood, and for me that is not enough. I suppose I could have thanked her for giving birth to me, but I didn’t.

She didn’t ask how I was, or what I did for a living, or anything for that matter. She didn’t ask about my children, her grandchildren at all – it was if they didn’t exist. In a sense, I guess to her they don’t – she has never met any of them and most likely never will. Sitting there within arms reach of her, part of me want to scream at her – shake her even, anything to make her wake up. Questions that I had like, do you not love me, do you not care about me,  or getting to know your grandchildren, does nothing exist beyond drugs, pool tables and the men in your life? Release my anger of the years of being let down, not important enough, of growing up without a mother – but looking at her – I realized something bigger. That didn’t matter anymore.

Growing up I always held out hope that my mom would come riding in on whatever moms ride in on, and play with my hair, talk to me about boys, teach me about the birds and the bees, to tell me I was beautiful or smart just once – just once I wanted to hear that from her. But, today that hope didn’t exist. Being angry with her would do no good, and hating her was pointless. I don’t hate her, in fact I honestly don’t feel anything for her oddly enough. Obviously, I am affected by the visit enough to write about it – but not out of heartache – more out of self-discovery.

She gave birth to me, but I am not her. My children are my world, their days, new skills, sports, hobbies, snuggling with them, the pride that fills me when they do anything they are excited about, that’s me. Being their mother is a privilege, and one I take seriously and with the highest regard. My daughter is me, her attitude, her humor and smart ass remarks. My son’s kind heart, his shy personality, his need to be loved and snuggled, that’s me. None of that is her, and I am far more blessed because of it.

I’m not going to say that the visit didn’t hurt somewhere inside of me, and maybe it won’t hit me till she dies or something tragic happens, I don’t know. What I can say though, is that I must have known the visit would go this way, because I had no expectations, I didn’t daydream up the possibilities of what may or may not happen. Which is not me, I over-think, and over-worry about anything – but for some thankful reason, I did not with her. If you don’t want to be let down, lower your expectations, I read that somewhere and it is true – it works.

Finishing up our twenty-five minute visit, she walked us out to my car, something of which she doesn’t have. She hugged my brother, and although I tried to avoid it, she hugged me. She kissed me on my cheek, and with her voice cracking she told me she loved me, without thinking I said it back – shocked at myself, and feeling like a fraud. Those words meant nothing to me, and towards her they were just an automated response, and nothing more. She teared up, and I got in the car with her standing there looking at us, I never looked at her again, just backed out of the driveway and out of her life.

Its natural I suppose to wonder what she was thinking of in that moment, what exactly it was she was crying about – Could it be that she had every opportunity to get to know me, and chose not to? Or, that she knew that she would never see me again? Who knows maybe she was crying because my brother was leaving – either way it doesn’t matter.

Driving away from her home made me love my children and my husband more. An overwhelming feeling of being blessed with our life came over me – truth is it doesn’t matter where I came from or whether they loved me or wanted me even – because today I am loved, today I am wanted and today I have broken the cycle my parents created.

Getting home that night, it was close to midnight, I had promised the kids I would come in to kiss them goodnight. My daughter laid in her bed with her beautiful long blond hair strewn on her pillow, eyes closed and sleeping peacefully. Kissing her cheek, part of me wanted to swoop her up in my arms and tell her a million times over that I loved her, was proud of her and that she is so beautiful and smart. Instead, I just turned out her light and moved on to the boys room. My oldest son slept among toys, I swear he can sleep on anything – he sat up in his sleep and gave me a hug, I removed the toys and covered him up with a blanket. The youngest was laying there with a big smile, sat up and was extra excited to see me, giving me hugs and kisses and telling me he missed me. Tucking them both in, I walked back to my room, where my husband was half asleep on my side of the bed, trying to wait up for me, and happy I was now home, so he could sleep. Crawling into to bed, I realized if I never did anything more in my life than just being a mom and a wife, then I had already made it big!

What matters to you most?

See you next blog ~ Jess

Nothing like you…

Today, is one of those days when I find myself wondering what exactly was done to me to make me the way I am. Afraid to trust, needing control, terrified to lose love, to gain it, undeserving of it even. I know it stems from him, and it makes me hate him, and it makes me wonder what the hell he was thinking, what he thought he would gain from it. Did he treat me the way he did, because he thought it was best and would benefit me? Did he realize he was ruining me, setting me up for constant failure and heartbreak? Would a father really purposely do that to his daughter? Does he see me from wherever it is he is spending eternity, and feel remorseful for knowing he was behind it all, has he asked for forgiveness, or even received it?

I’m glad he died, maybe more than glad, but in a small place somewhere, I suppose there is this tiniest part that is sad. Not because I want him alive, or to have a relationship with him, but more so to have him see me, to see that I made it regardless of his purposeful setbacks. I struggle with my inner demands, but I am mother, a wife, an employee, a friend, a sister and am loved by many. Does that bother him, or make him proud, or does it not register at all? I will never know. Dad, wherever you are,this is for you;

I’m still angry, I am still hurt, and I hate you and all you did to me. You killed me internally, you have made me reject love, you made me question myself, my worth. You were not a father to me, you were a monster. You hurt me, physically, but even more mentally. You made me ugly, and made me feel ugly, you set me up, you made me fail, you never supported me, you were never there for me, you never held me when I was sad, or protected me when I was scared. You never brushed my knees off when I fell, and told me I can do it, just try again. You humiliated me, you shared my private life with the world, only to embarrass me. You lied, cheated, stole, and had me do the same for you- to earn your love, which I never got. And the day I had enough, when I was 17, and I tried to take my life to get away from you – instead of being scared and thankful I was alive, you told me to do it again – to try harder to die this time. Who does that? Who wants their child to die? Who hates their own child like that? What did I ever do to deserve it?

Because of you, I will hug my children too much, I will listen to their cares and concerns, I will nurse every scrape, and broken heart. I will never gain joy from their pain, or failures, and I will do everything within my power to help them succeed. Because of you, everyday I will tell my daughter I love her, and that she is beautiful and smart, and capable of anything her heart wants. I will tell my son, he is my world, that he is important, that he is kind, with a big heart, and that he too can accomplish whatever goals he sets in life. I will show them they can count on me, that they can always call me, that they can trust me, and that no matter what circumstances they face, I will always stand behind them, and support them and love them unconditionally. Because of you, I care more, I love deeper, and I fight harder, to be nothing like you!