A Word on Pain & Growth

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I don’t think growth happens without pain.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think pain is something that is prescribed in this life. As a person of Christian faith, I don’t believe that God desires us to go through painful situations, nor do I believe that God causes pain in our lives. I believe that pain is an inevitable part of living because we are human, we are broken and we care.

That being said, it is been my experience that times of growth are painful. Continue reading

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A Word on Forgiveness

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My devotional reflection was on forgiveness this morning. I am reading Radical Grace, a collection of daily meditations by Franciscan contemplative guru Father Richard Rohr. I appreciate his take on so many things and this particular book has been an often used part of my devotional collection. The meditations are divided by church season and for the week after Easter, Rohr writes prayers to be recited by the reader. One such prayer is on forgiveness and the opening line resonates deeply with me:

Lamb of God we ask that we might be defense free people, that we might be able to live a truly disarmed life, that we might be able to be secure enough in your love, Jesus, to be insecure in this world, to let go, Lord.

The overarching theme of this prayer is about learning to forgive ourselves, but I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go and forgiving others recently. And I’m beginning to realize that forgiveness is all about vulnerability. Continue reading

(Not Quite) Daddy’s Little Girl

Unconditional love. Respect. Affirmation. These are the things that I have always wanted from my birth father. For most of my life, I have hitched my self esteem, my self worth and my self identity to his opinions of me. This has definitely been to my peril. What’s ironic about my desire for these things from my father is that he was not a permanent fixture in my life until I was fourteen years old. He didn’t have a track record of giving these things, but for some reason I constantly fantasized about a utopic relationship between us. Why is it that we seem to want the most from those who are least able to give it?

My father and I have a complicated relationship. I am the youngest of his four children by three different women.  My parents were not married when I was conceived and my mother decided to leave him shortly after my birth. I would see him from time to time but I don’t remember him being a steady presence in my life.  My mother met my step-father when I was three and married him when I was six years old. My younger brother was born and we relocated from New York to Texas. This move ended my visits with my birth father. With the exception of a handful of trips to New York, I don’t remember having a substantial relationship with my father before I was a teenager.

As I reflect on our history, it boggles my mind how much his absence affected me and influenced how I engage men in romantic relationships. One might think that I would not be seeking something that I never received but in my mind, I had created a fantasy about what it would be like if my father and I ever reconnected. This fantasy became a reality when my mother and step-father divorced. This was a traumatic time in my life that was overshadowed by the fact that my birth parents were reuniting and would eventually get married. I found myself in a broken state; one where I struggled with the loss of a relationship with my step-father, who had raised me and, at the same time, trying to be happy about the return of my birth father who I really didn’t know. It was a difficult time for everyone involved. I learned very quickly that the life I had envisioned with my birth father would not become a reality.

I had a revelation yesterday. It was actually quite painful but simultaneously liberating. Nothing I could ever become, say or do would engender the affirming and uplifting response that I so desperately seek from my father. And you know what? That’s my issue, not his. I have to come to terms with the fact that I have been looking for that which is life-giving in the wrong place, from the wrong person. For my sanity’s sake, I have to let go of this overwhelming desire to be “approved” of by my father. I am a thirty one year old woman who is finally letting go of something that has not served me well. I am choosing, on this day, that my self worth and identity will not be based on any external factors, particularly those that perpetuate negative and harmful ways of being.

I have never been the proverbial “Daddy’s little girl”. Nor will I ever be. And it’s not necessary that I am. For the first time in my life, I realize how important it is for me to create a new narrative, one that takes into account who I am and have been created to be, first and foremost by God.

I pray that I am able to remember that God created me and simply said, “It is good.”

I pray that my self worth and self esteem will no longer be based on what others think and that I will embrace that I am enough.

I pray that I am able to be in relationship with my father in a way that honors who we both are and leaves room for who we are not.

Love,

Me

A message from my Daddy…

On November 29, 2012 I published a blog post entitled “The Skin I’m In“. I couldn’t imagine the conversation it sparked and the positive feedback that it generated. The most significant thing that happened was that I received a message from my daddy that brought me to tears. You see, we have a very interesting history, one that I will share at another time. Since embarking on this journey of embracing my depression and coming clean with my family, my daddy and I have gotten much closer. We had very different upbringings and he has lived a very hard life. I continue to be in awe of him and his many accomplishments, not even realizing that we had some things in common. I asked if I could share his message with you and he agreed. I am so thankful that my post opened another pathway of communication and understanding between me and my daddy.

My dearest daughter,
I don’t know if I ever told you, but if I did not, I’m telling you now. As a 10 year old kid growing up in Harlem, I was often called little WHITE boy. Even now I am often referred to as WHITE man. However I understood at an early age that people who called and call me names were those who either were intimidated, jealous or unsure of themselves because I spoke better and I was more intelligent than they were. It all started in Harlem because I used to spend time in Queens where I actually spent nights in a house. So you see my darling daughter we have more in common than you might know. I am just happy that I understood this early in life. I am now happy that you have figured it out and that you are happy with the skin that you’re in. Just for the record, I’ve always teased you because I was able to identify. If you want me to stop, forget about it. 🙂

Love,
DaddyDaddy and Roze

On a Day Like This

One of my favorite camp songs is “On a Day Like This”. I love this song because it has fun motions and removes lines from each verse as the community sings it together. By the end, you only see actions that have replaced the verses but the beginning and ending of the song remain…”On a day like this, I need the Lord to help me.”

This song has been playing on repeat in my mind. Recently I had a very difficult day. A couple of things happened at work that brought many emotions to the surface. I went home and lay on my couch with a glass of wine and caught up on my television shows. I went to bed early thinking that after a good night’s sleep I would be up and ready to roll the following morning. But I wasn’t. I was dragging and could feel the tears just beneath the surface that were threatening to spill over. What is that about?

I am a student of awareness. I believe wholeheartedly that paying particular attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and actions provides invaluable insight. That being said, I spent some time sitting with my thoughts to figure out what’s going on…

Work was stressful, but not in a bad way. I commented to one of my colleagues that I appreciate times of crisis because there’s no time to think. There is only time to do and to be. In times like that, I realize not only how gifted I am but more importantly, that God is ever-present and the Spirit goes before me. There were a few situations that tested these theories and I felt confident that the care I provided was not only appropriate but appreciated.

I know that I haven’t fully been present as I continue to reflect upon a recently ended relationship. I keep playing things over in my mind trying to figure out a couple of things: do I really even want this man? What is the attraction? Am I settling? Should I fight for it? Why do I feel this connection to someone who is so different from me? All of these questions provide some insight into how I’m trying to process how relationships begin and end and the patterns that are present in my own behavior.

I also thought about a conversation I had with my father after he read a couple of my blog posts that were able to communicate things that I have never been able to share with him face-to-face. For some reason, my fear was that he would be upset with me, which he wasn’t. He was very compassionate and expressed feelings of sadness and disappointment as he tried to wrap his mind around new knowledge about my childhood and my personal struggles. There were some things he wanted more information about but I couldn’t go there last night. I am a bit relieved though. I feel like I’ve been hiding things from my father my whole life and I was finally able to share pieces of myself that allow him to have a better understanding of who I am.

I think I am also overwhelmed by things that I have been putting off and by doing so, I continue to procrastinate and feel like I am held hostage by my own inertia. The reality of my changing finances, the daunting task of preparing for future opportunities, the risk associated with starting my own business and the ever present fear of failing and not being enough are rearing their ugly heads. But I am aware of these things and valiantly putting one foot in front of the other.

I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed. I feel nervous. I feel confused.

I don’t feel hopeless though. I know that it’s just for today. And for that, I am grateful.

Love,

Me