God in a Box

4 11 2009

Did you ever watch I Dream of Jeannie? She was this very powerful little gal who lived in a bottle and was finally found and released after 2000 years by Captain Nelson who was this hot Astronaut. She instantaneously fell in love with him upon meeting and became his genie in a bottle. Hilarity ensues.

There is a point to this. See, I have realized that I created a God when I was little in my head. Like an imaginary friend, like Jeannie. A God who loved me and only me, took great care of me, thought I was special, etc. Who liked my quirks and understood me. Who still loved me when I sinned against him, and thought I was just the best, smartest, funniest, prettiest little girl ever. I really think that God allowed me to think this way, because I needed to believe I was special so I could survive my childhood rejection. He told me that the stuff I did was ok. That I was ok, I was going to be ok.

This was before I believed that Christ came down to redeem my sins. I just made up whatever I thought God was.

Then I met him, and found out that there is a book to get to know him. That there are other people who know him, that he loves JUST AS MUCH AS ME. This is hard for me to swallow. See, in my head he loves me MORE than he loves you. More than he loves anybody. He still loves you, don’t get me wrong, but just not as much as me.

I am telling you this because I just realized how wrong I was and how this viewpoint has totally handicapped me in my faith in God.

I always thought I had great faith because I believed. But my struggles in life all revolve around me not being able to give up control to him. About me having to be perfect and falling short and escaping so I don’t have to realize how completely hopeless my plight is. The trouble about the God that I created is, he’s a lie.

God is so big and so great and so AWESOME, the Creator of the universe. All things that walk and live and breathe. If no one worships him, it is written that the ROCKS will sing his praises. This is how big God is. And I put him in a box, trapped him there where he could love nobody but me. This severely limited the way that I saw him at work in my life. Instead of a God, I created a genie.

The more I read of God and his character and his limitless bounds and his amazing grace, the more separated he becomes from the God of my youth. I am praying right now for him to reveal himself to me, for him to show me how big and how great is his power.

In Deuteronomy 32:3-6 it says, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They have acted corruptly toward him, to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the Lord, oh foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your creator who made you and formed you?”

I am going to let God free in my life, be his child. He is my creator who made me and formed me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I only know a fraction of his character because I thought it was perfectly adequate to keep him where I knew him. “Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is Good.” 1 Peter 2:2. It is time for me to grow up. I’m ready.


Understanding God

30 10 2009

I have been trying to read scripture every day. I am inclined to want to spend a great deal of time and energy and effort and do it perfectly, going over a book, and the Bible and highlighting and taking notes, that stuff really jazzes me. When I do it, which is rarely because it takes such and involved effort to do it perfectly. That is NOT Biblical. God doesn’t care if you do it perfectly, half of it is just showing up. So to avoid my perfectionism I decided to just read proverbs daily, correlating to the day of the month.

It’s been a little scary to be honest with you.

Certain scriptures have been jumping out at me and taking hold of my heart and speaking to me that make me really uncomfortable.

Oct 28th: He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty, Proverbs 28:19

Oct 29th: A man who remains stiff-necked ater many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy. Proverbs 29:1

I am not really sure if it is God or the guilt that lives inside of me for so many wasted gifts and hours that makes these scriptures slap me in the face. It is said in the Bible that ALL scripture is God-breathed. These proverbs make me feel as though God is going to smite the crap out of me tomorrow…SMITE, SMITE, SMITE- Like so much Dragon’s breath. I can just see him with his lightning rod, tossing bolts down from heaven upon me destroying me without remedy, bringing me from my American dream into the depths of poverty.

Now, it is good to have a healthy fear of God. Blessed are those who fear the Lord. But I don’t think that the way I am interpreting these scriptures is correct. He is a God of love and he says that love is patient and kind and is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. THIS is GOD.

It’s hard to get sometimes.

Which brings me to my Proverb today Oct 30th:

I am the most ignorant of men. I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!- Proverbs 30: 2-4

You can hear the author’s desperation in his voice, the fact that he cannot understand God, that the knows that SOMEONE must be up in heaven, SOMEONE must have control over the winds and the waters and the ends of the earth. But he doesn’t know who. How frustrating. I have never really felt this way. I always knew that God was there and that he loved me, from when I was a tiny kid I believed. This is not the case for everybody. Especially analytical people who like numbers and facts and full explanations. For whom a feeling just isn’t enough.

The reason I bring this up, is this is a particularly meaningful scripture to me. It brings me to tears to remember it. In my Bible, in the corner above it in tiny lettering is the writing “K is here- 6/30/03”.  In ’03 I was talking to an old boyfriend again after being broken up for over a year and living in different cities. I was a new believer in Christ and he wasn’t. I told him I was only looking for a husband and only wanted a Christian husband, but we continued talking on the phone anyway.

When I talked to him I could feel his desperate confusion, his knowing that there was SOMETHING greater than himself out there, but not knowing what it was, or how to reach it. He could see the coincidences that were not coincidences, the miracles that were to big to ignore, yet too intangible to be sure. He would go from admitting that there was a God, to being angered at the very thought that he was considering it. He wanted names and places and proof and without a reasonable doubt. And I just couldn’t give it. And it wasn’t my job. So I wished him luck and told him not to call me anymore.

We didn’t talk that whole entire summer which was incredibly hard, because I had been so sure that I would marry him. I prayed fervently and so many other people that I don’t even talk to now did too. I quit smoking in June because he had once told me that he would never marry a smoker and I told him I would never marry an atheist. I decided to prepare for him to return to me. In August he called me up again. Triumphant, he understood he said. He got it. He had started going to a Bible study, and seeking other men and it happened. In January we were engaged, and by the following August, we were married. And he has been the most amazing blessing, and most Godly man I can imagine.

I am reminded that it is not my job to know, that I am human and He is God and he is in charge and I am not.

I don’t get alot of what I read, but if I continue to seek, God will make sure I know what I need to know, when the time is right. I don’t have to worry about being in poverty or being destroyed by God. Because he is with me, he comforts me, he loves me. But I need to heed his warnings, because at the end of it all, I don’t want to have nothing to show him for what he gave me, not because I am scared he’ll hurt me, but because I love him.

Under the Microscope

29 10 2009

I think that this is a good time to tell you why I began this blog. This is not my first blog, but it is the only one I know is going to stick. I own maybe a dozen URLs ranging from being a wife to being a realtor and in college I even made my own vanity site with pictures, etc, but none of those stuck. I’ll tell you why. None of them were true.

Sure they may have had pictures and cute quotes and told true stories, but they weren’t what I thought about on a regular basis, they weren’t who I really was, so they fell off like old skin that I just couldn’t fill up anymore. If you want to read great funny stories and fabulous household tips and see really pretty pictures- This isn’t the site for it. If you feel inadequate, uninspired,  awkward and alone, this is for you, because I am you. And if you see me get better, you will know that you can get better. This is the whole reason for it.  The reason I posted my before and after pictures is because one  lady wrote me this:  “Thanks for posting this, I was too embarrassed to post pics, but my room looks just like yours did, so if you can do it, so can I!!!!”

The reason I share all of my muck and embarrassment is for the same reason. Do I think that airing out garbage is going to make me famous? NO. I won’t be able to run for office and I won’t be able to pretend that I have everything together anymore. Truth is, I haven’t really shared it with many people I know, only people I don’t because they are kinder. Why are we kinder to strangers than we are to people we know? I think it’s a helluva lot easier to pat someone on the back and say, hey I’ve been where you are, or I AM where you are, when we don’t know them, because we don’t have to look at them everyday, and most importantly, they don’t look at us everyday. Scrutinize us and follow our every move waiting for us to fall, waiting for us to fail.

I also share because your testimony is your greatest weapon against the forces of evil. The story of how God has delivered you from the lion’s den lets others know that God is great and can deliver them too. It is hope-giving. And it holds me accountable to the changes I am making. You may not comment all the time, but when I look on my statistics and see 74 people reading, I may not know 74 people that have this address, but I feel the responsibility of keeping my promises to those 74 people. I don’t feel like keeping my promises when it’s just me because I have a bad track record with myself.

The truth: You can hide and be in denial about your life if you want to.

I don’t. I just want to get better.

I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. If you want to follow me just to pick my life apart or feel superior, than I feel sorry for YOU because the brick wall surrounding your heart is tall and that means that no one can get in.

Liar Liar

11 10 2009

It is 4:25 in the morning and I just woke up. Haha. Finally woke up at 4:30! But I had to go to sleep at 6:30 to do it. I digress… Anyway. I had a dream, a bad dream- But at the same time it was extremely insightful. I was friends with this girl Andrea in college. Actually, we have known each other since we were three years old in ballet class. I might call us friends since then, but I was a chubby awkward kid who found it easier to be alone, and she wore Guess and had her hair poufed perfectly and had NKOTB sheets- and knew it. But in college, we were friends because I finally had found my groove. I was friends with a million different walks of life and she was STILL too cool for everyone, so the pickings were kinda slim for her.  I had lots of other people to hang out with and I think that it gave her a new respect for me. Well, I have not spoken to Andrea in seven years, since I left Austin for Boston and told her ex-boyfriend to just get over it, that he was better off without her (he had been obsessing over her for three years!) and she got mad.

OK: The dream: I was in an elevator with Andrea and we were going up. It was some kinda space-agey elevator, that was open from all sides except for the wall with the elevator buttons. There was a button that said, “DO NOT PUSH- IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.” Well, I pushed it very clandestinely. When we reached our floor, Andrea’s half of the elevator stopped to let her off, but my side kept going. I shouted to her as I kept going up, “I don’t know what happened! I didn’t push anything! What’s going on!” I kept climbing higher and higher till I slammed the emergency button again and the elevator sunk back down to the floor where I was supposed to be. I got off, and rather than sheepishly admitting that it was me who pressed the button in the first place, I gestured wildly, “WASN’T THAT INSANE??!!! Can you believe that. Totally terrifying. I wonder what happened! What on earth is going on with that elevator!” She shrugged her shoulders and started walking away while I followed still emoting about my terrifying death-defying elevator rescue. “I should report that! That elevator is dangerous- I could’ve been killed!” Finally she turns to me and says frankly: “I saw you press that button. The first time, before we got off, I know you pressed the emergency button.”

I was humiliated. She had caught me in a lie. Right away, before I even thought about it, I began to deny, deny, deny. Then I stopped a minute and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I lied about that. It was stupid. I should’ve just admitted that I pushed the button.” She shrugged her shoulders again and said, “It’s no big deal. It happens.” I would like to tell you that there was something that went off in my head that said WOW IT’S OK TO TELL THE TRUTH! But no such luck. I woke up feeling embarassed and stupid and so so glad that that never really happened.

The reason this is relevant, is last week during ACOA we were talking about lying and how great we all were at it. A skill, I suppose was picked up from constantly having to lie about the situation we grew up in to appear “normal”. I think that I did really begin lying with little things to look normal, but then it turned into something else. Lying to look better. Lying to look perfect. When I look back at the friends I’ve had and the people I’ve known, I can tell you that I have lied to mostly everyone in my life at one time or another. But they don’t even look like lies to me, once they are construed in my head, they look more like the truth than the truth itself.  I bury the truth so deep within me that even I don’t know the lie is  festering and infecting me and my relationships.

Just recently this happened to my good friend Erika. Almost every week, we are supposed to meet for a book study on the foundations of the Bible, just her, I and another friend of mine. I have not picked up the book yet, and we’ve been meeting for months. The thing is, after our first meeting I told her I had gotten the book and “forgot” it . Now, I told her this with every human intention of ordering and picking up the book and doing the studybefore the next time we met. But the next week. I “got caught up at work and the book is at home” the following week I “left it in my car and it’s in the shop” when we met AT MY HOUSE “I can’t find that damn book anywhere!”  This happened not only three times, these are just the excuses I can remember, sometimes I just didn’t even meet with her because I didn’t want to have to lie. This is what happens. I KNOW that Erika loves me and cares for me and really really really doesn’t care if I get the book, but she is so responsible and always has her stuff together, so I want to be that way too, hence LYING my ass off about getting the book.

Finally, about 110 pages into the book, she is praying for me after our book study and I tell her to stop. I said I was mad at her and didn’t know why. She was a little shocked. Then I asked if I could pray and it came to me WHILE I WAS PRAYING. God told me to tell her about the book. I said NO, and kept praying aloud. Then he said louder and louder till I couldn’t stand it, and in the middle of prayer I stopped and told her that it wasn’t her fault I was mad at her, it was me. I had been lying about buying the book. And lying every single week when I said I couldn’t find it, and now I was mad at her because I felt guilty. I apologized profusely for it and much to my amazement felt a million times better, even though I was scared she would be mad. She looked at me confused, “Why would you lie about that? I don’t care if you get the book.”

It was like a two hundred pound gorilla had been lifted off our friendship after that. I had been harboring all this resentment toward her that I didn’t even KNOW about, then subconsciously BLAMING her for feeling awkward when I was the one who had been lying this whole time. It is amazing how things that you think are even the tiniest of lies, that don’t matter DO matter and turn into huge mountains of deception.Luckily, I have a few people in life I don’t have to lie to, and if I catch myself telling stories to them, I can just back up and say, “hey, I’m sorry, that’s not true,” and they don’t blink an eye because they know and love me. For everyone who isn’t my husband and sister: It’s not that I want to lie to you, it’s just a bad habit and I am trying to change it. I am sorry, even to you Andrea, in my dream. And for everyone who doesn’t know, NKOTB= New Kids on the Block.

Though I stumble, I will not fall

7 10 2009

It has been about a week since I posted last, not because I’ve forgotten and didn’t want to, but my husband was out of town and of course the first thing that happens when he goes out of town, our modem that we’ve had for 4years goes out, so no internet at the house. It takes a while to post something I think is worth talking about, so while I was able to run out several times and use the internet at the office, Barnes and Noble, and even Tom Thumb has free wifi!, I was unable to gather together enough internet minutes and mind power to post. But today I am forcing myself to post in public, because my little sister sent me an encouraging text message.

So, I had this great epiphany on Monday. It may not seem like much to you, but for me this is freedom. I went to Al-anon Monday morning and we read a brochure on despair. In it, it describes the alcoholic as being “sensitive and emotionally immature, excessive in their demands on themselves as well as on others. When they fail to live up to their own standards, they escape from reality by drinking. The habit of escape through alcohol leads to obsessive drinking, a compulsion so powerful that not even the threat of death or insanity seems to break it. One drink sets up an uncontrollable craving that only more drinking can appease.”

I realize now, that I might as well have been an alcoholic, my characteristics and behavioral patterns are the same. I forced myself to never drink in excess, because I’ve always been aware of my father’s addiction. But I didn’t know that even without drinking, I could act the same way.  When the lady who read that aloud spoke on that passage, she was filled with compassion and love and spoke of loving the person and hating the disease. This too, is something I have always heard in church, love the sinner, hate the sin, but I always pinned that on my dad. I have no problem loving him despite his alcoholism. I hate the stupid stuff that he does sometimes, and the immature ways that he acts, but I have a great deal of sorrow and compassion for his disease that he cannot control which allows me to still love him and forgive him.

All this time, I have spent having compassion for his disease, I never had compassion for my own. Or my mothers. When I heard the love in that woman’s voice, the way she was able to look past the disease and strengthen her own life, while still loving the alcoholic, it was an extremely powerful release for me. It was like I saw God, and the way he looks at me, as “sensitive and emotionally immature” as I am. He sees me and hates that I am going through this, that I can spend so many days and weeks in despair and self-hatred and try to escape with food, and internet distractions, and reading and numerous other things that never fill the hole. He sees that my life can be so much better, but he doesn’t look at me and say, “That bitch. Just wasted twenty eight years of the life that I gave her. I will smite her because she doesn’t even respect the gifts I have given her. Life was wasted on her.”

He looks at me the same way that I look at my dad. I am really so sad that he will have to look back on his life and realize that he wasn’t there to watch his son grow up. That he was working or drunk most of his daughters’ childhood. That he never got to heal from his own childhood. I love him and it grieves my heart that he will probably never be able to understand how many people did love him  that he pushed away. How we all still love him. How my mom still fasts for his healing, how even though we don’t talk much because he has a different life we all still think of him and pray for him. How he will never be able to accept that as truth, because in his head nobody loves him, nobody will ever be able to love him because the two people who were supposed to love him the most in the world weren’t able to, so how could anyone else?

I could tell you without a doubt that his way of thinking is wrong. Alot of people love him and care for him and will always. But I always thought that if my mother had been more compassionate, more loving, more of EVERYTHING she could have changed him. She wasn’t an alcoholic, what is her excuse? I took this way of thinking with me when I left home. Thinking that I was going to be everything she wasn’t. I would conquer alcoholism, not let it in my life and be healed. I would be the perfect wife and mother and everything she wasn’t because it was her fault that my dad never got healed. When I realized that she wasn’t going to fix him,  I transferred these hugely “excessive demands” from my mother to myself thinking at least when I grew up I wasn’t going to be like this.

When I “failed to live up to” my own standards I began to escape from reality. I have always had a problem with weight and eating, and I spent my whole childhood buried in a book. While it just looked like I was a smart kid who loved to read, I loved to read because I just wanted to go away from my life, where I had no expectations, no disappointments where I didn’t exist. My drug of choice has manifested itself in different ways over the years, but it’s always the same. I don’t work on my life because I feel better just not existing. I don’t want to be me. Me is not good enough. I was not good enough for my mother to love me. For my father to stop drinking. Then the disappointments mount up, not finishing school, not becoming the things everyone told me I would become, being depressed all the time. Not being able to function in everyday life. Not being able to keep a clean house, happy dogs, have tons of money. All the things I could have been and am not stare me in the face everyday. It is hopeless, so why work on it. God already sees me as a complete failure.

I recognize this viewpoint as a tool that I allow the enemy to use on my over and over again to keep me from moving forward. The TRUTH: GOD does not see me as a failure. HE looks on me with LOVE and COMPASSION and as a WORK IN PROGRESS. HE does not see the mountain of failures I somehow think I have to climb to get to the other side. HE sees a big chasm that he wants to fill with HIS LOVE and GRACE so that I am able to walk across in freedom with complete confidence and ease. Everyday it is going to be a new choice to wallow in the mountain of despair or step forward in faith that there is enough grace to sustain me, that I will not fall. Psalm: 37:23-24 “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

I forgave my mother this week for not being able to change my father. I apologized to her for never realizing that I blamed her so much, and that she never had the power to begin with. Only God can sustain him, NOT my mother. More importantly, I forgave myself for not being able to change a damn thing. I encourage you to walk in faith today and have courage that you will not fall.

Rebuilding Me

2 10 2009

I am a phenomenal starter. I can say that honestly with no doubt. An idea person, I am constantly dreaming up new, fantastic and creative ways to do everything. Strong starter, lousy finisher. Seriously, I am lacking in the follow-through, build your character, perservere through the hard times, walking through the fire, winners never quit- department. I always thought, if I’m not good at it already, why try? That was not a problem because I was good at lots and lots of stuff.  Problem is, my good-at-lots-of-stuff development plateaued at about seventh grade. Turns out you can’t fake out a latin test, or chemistry, or college. That stuff takes some muscle and some drive, not my strong suit.

So, yesterday after a long grueling day (when I have productive days, I usually go overboard to compensate for the sobby-listless-just get through so I can go to sleep-days) while on our way to go pick up my car at the mechanic my husband and I got into a bit of an argument. Nothing major, just one of those frustrating quarrels that blows over as soon as something funny happens. But still, I was mad. I jumped out of his car and into mine with every intention of driving to Barnes and Noble and just staying there till it closed, reading and basically just forgetting everything.

As I was leaving, I realized I had left my GPS in his car, so I flagged him down to get it and put it in my car. When I tried to put it on my windshield, it just flopped over dejectedly. A screwy thing was broken. This was maddening, as we’re a little worried about money and after paying $460 for my car starter, I really didn’t want to have to shell out more dough to pay for a little screwy thingy because I didn’t care for it properly. I wanted to cry. Somedays it feels like no matter what you do, everything is falling apart and there is not a damn thing you can do to stop it. I heard a distinct God-voice in my head tell me to fix it. I didn’t want to fix it, I wanted to throw it on the floor and forget about it. But still, it said fix it. I thought, my husband will fix it later. I am not going to touch it, not even try.

I tossed it on the floor of my car and put the car in reverse. I couldn’t shake the feeling though, that I had to at least try. So, I angrily threw the car back in park, turned the car overhead light on and started fiddling with it in the dark parking lot. I’ll spare you the intricacies of the repair, but it took me all of  two minutes to figure out what had come undone and rescrew it in, but in those two minutes I learned a lifetime. With everything that has been going on, with my emotions, with my recovery, with my depression, hitting my absolute bottom, everything…I am just drained. I feel incapable of even waking up alot of the time, much less getting anything done.

While I was trying to fix the GPS stand, I got a feeling of utter calm, and I heard (not literally, but in the way that you “hear” and understand) God tell me, “This is just you and me, I am going to tear your life down to the ground piece by piece, it could be your car, your house, your marriage, your career, yourself. Everything is coming down, and I am going to give you the privilege and the self esteem that comes with rebuilding it. And you will be whole again.”  The hope and promise that washed over me in that instant was tangible, I could feel it in my entire body.

All of a sudden, I realized that when things start feeling overwhelming, I escape. I may not drink, but I do go online, overeat, go shopping, read magazines, sleep all day- anything to avoid the feelings of complete failure that my soul is buried beneath. Suddenly it was clear, and there was a light at the end of the tunnel of my life. God showed me in that instant, that by listening to him tell me to face this problem, this two minute, nothing problem, it was the beginning of changing my entire life. I did fix it, my husband didn’t do it, I didn’t buy a new one, I didn’t throw it on the floor and forget about it. I fixed it. I didn’t have to deal with the guilt of seeing it the next time I went out to my car, I just did it and it was over, like it had never happened.

God told me to go home, not Barnes and Noble and to fix the fight with my husband. So instead of just forgetting about it, I apologized and it was over. I shared my newfound hope with him and told him everything was going to be ok. The house, the dishes, the laundry, the finances, the dogs, my career, myself. That I’m just being rebuilt. And I thanked him for having the patience of a saint in putting up with the remodeling dust. I feel like I should wear a sign, “Please excuse the dust, I am under construction.” See God says in Philippians 1:6  “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

As a kid, I learned that you were perfect now, or you were nothing. I am not or will ever be perfect, but I can stand on the truth that not I, but God is responsible for completing the good work he started on me. What overwhelming grace is this, where I can screw up everything in my life, and God can guide me to rebuild it. He says that “And I will restore to you the years that the locusts hath eaten” Joel 2:25, and His promises are never broken.

Obey Your Mother

29 09 2009

I spent the weekend in El Paso, my hometown and went to my ten year high school reunion. I can honestly say that no one has changed. I read somewhere that when you go to your ten year reunion no one looks different, just swollen. It was kinda true, although there were too many people that still had cute high-schooler bodies for my liking! But I digress. It was really great to see so many people, lots of pregnant wives and young mothers, I guess we’re at that age.

I of course talked too much about nothing in particular, out of nervousness and tried to summarize my life’s pursuits in two sentences or less. Realtor-married 5 years, No kids, Just Dogs (insert joke). How are you??? No one asked, surprisingly if I graduated college. Which I was kinda glad about. It’s a big sore spot with me. Just because I was one of the “smart kids” in school and it’s embarrassing to see people who were distinctly AVERAGE with advanced degrees because they went the slow n’ steady route and I went the crash and burn route. All or NUTHIN. I’m not jealous, I’m really very happy for alot of them, it just makes you take a good long hard look at your life and what the hell you have been doing for 10 years.

I have concluded that my not finishing school was a big screw you to my parents, especially my mother.

It really is a huge regret of mine, something I wish I hadn’t done, something I wish I could go back and change, something that makes me madder than hell at myself. And also something I will never admit to my mother. I realize that I am constantly trying to get her approval, but not by doing exactly what she wants, which is kinda how my sister operated. But by doing the exact opposite. Challenging her to love me anyway. To prove that she still loves me despite my shortcomings. And she never meets the challenge, but I continue to test her,  just in case.

My mother is someone who withholds affection if you are not doing exactly what she wants you to do. It’s funny, because if one of her children does something wrong, she ignores all of us. EVERYONE is in the doghouse, it’s like just having children disappoints her. My little sister just doesn’t tell my mom if she is doing something that my mom doesn’t agree with. Me, I roll around in her disapproval. I seek it out, it’s masochistic and stupid and I can’t understand why I have this need to put me in a situation where I am just going to be shot down and unloved.

For my fifth wedding anniversary I got my first tattoo ever, a dove (the holy spirit) with a scroll beneath bearing my husband’s name in amharic characters. Mind you, I am twenty eight years old, living on my own and my mother is 700 miles away and it was a tattoo I had been thinking about for YEARS. I think it’s beautiful, it looks great and it really stands for something I believe in and will continue to believe in. Of course, while I am getting stung a hundred million times a second by a humongous needle, all I can think of is how pissed off my mother is going to be. I hear her voice in my head, “Only trashy girls get tattoos. What will your children think of you? This is going to kill your grandparents. Your grandpa might have a heart attack and die when he finds out.”

I do it anyway. This is ok, I believe this is a healthy response. What am I going to do, let my mother control my life from west Texas? Here is the abnormal part, right afterward, while the ink is still wet, I call her up and tell her. My sister told me not to, my husband told me not to, my better judgement told me not to. But I called her up anyway and it went something like this.

Me: “Mom I just wanted to let you know before you found out from anyone else, I got a tattoo.” Silence. “Hello? Are you there?”

Mom: “I’m here I just can’t believe it. Why on earth would you do that to your body?”

Me: “It’s been something I’ve wanted for a really long time.”

Mom: “That’s so stupid. You do these things just to get back at me. You need to stop ruining your life just to get back at me, I told you I was sorry.”

Me: “I don’t know why I tell you these things. I’ve gotta go. Bye. ”

Mom: “I thought you were over that phase in your life. I thought you were more mature than that.”

Me: Ashamed. Beat down. Depressed. Serious case of tattoo remorse. Hating myself. Wondering why the hell I called her in the first place. Worst part is knowing that even if I want to call her in the next week, she’s so mad she won’t take any of my phone calls. The most ironic thing is, she thinks she has changed. She doesn’t see it as withholding love. In her mind if you want love, you won’t do anything that pisses your mother off, if you do do something, then you clearly don’t care what your mother thinks anyway so why do you need love?

I guess that is why it is so hard for me to believe that anyone can love me if I do something they disagree with and I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop when it looks like I’m being loved unconditionally.  Because surely, I cannot keep up this facade, this perfection, eventually they will find something that they don’t like about me, or disagree with me, and everything will be over. So I leave first. I leave jobs and friends, and relationships and family. The minute they start to get too close, I’m gone, so they can’t reject me. It’s a very frustrating and lonely way to live. That is why I really really like going to these meetings. I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend. I can be myself, and they understand, without me even saying a word. And nobody gives a damn if I’m covered head to toe in God-awful tattoos.