In Your Language

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Embracing the tension

I'm talking about the inner friction we feel when we experience things in life that aren't so black and white. My psychology book refers to cognitive dissonance; when we're driven to do something that is out of character or out of line with our goals.

It's the clue that we are on the brink of being hypocrites. It should be that internal trigger that makes us wait a minute before we make an unwise move. Take a pre-preemptive strike on regret or remorse.

The other day, I felt that inner friction as I was trying to help my husband find a popular coffee store on our drive home from picking up my daughter. I could see that he was visibly tired, he wouldn't let me drive, and he said he wanted some of that coffee. But he also said that he would only go in if it were on the right side of the road. Of course, the only ones that I remembered were on the left side of the road. I felt he was being too picky, plus we still had school work to do and hopefully couple time later that night. I foresaw him being wrecked for the whole night. So I playfully said "Well, I guess you're too picky to get coffee then."

And then husband got quiet (angry). I didn't catch on for a few minutes. I said "Oh man, did I hurt your feelings?" Then I had to spend a few minutes backpedaling and patching up my error. I had no intention of hurting him at all. I wanted to help him and he wouldn't let me and I was led astray by that inner tension. I should have allowed him the space to choose tiredness. I used to do that a lot more earlier in our relationship.

My relief comes from the fact that at least with my daughter, she calls me on my vices. She does not elevate me to be perfect and I do my best to cop to my mistakes. I do have many moments that I intentionally say things to repair faults or to address the obvious. I don't think people should have incorrect understanding of me and at the same time I welcome them to speak the truth. (Why else do we think a high percentage of abuse and crimes don't get reported?) I hope when I clarify things, people will adjust their understanding of my words and actions. I don't care to censor people unless they misunderstood me... and that is the only area I feel qualified to speak into their life experience.

My husband righteously pointed out to me that I needed to give him emotional freedom to feel what he feels and to get through it in his time and only help if he asks. At the same time, it is healthy to have a loved one point out the positive as an option but not as an expectation. We need to accept each other and our emotional extensions of ourselves (outside of abuse). We need to accept each other's weighed words and not impose emotional or verbal censorship. We need to accept that we can feel the opposite things at the same time and it is completely O.K.

I don't think that our tension with these opposites are necessarily of evil origins, but more of our compulsion to make things more simple. I disagree when only one thought process is "accepted" and the rest are thrown out. What happened to "free speech", "freedom of press", "and freedom of censorship"? Did the people who were convinced the world was flat get lynched when they were found out to be wrong? When does solidarity get higher priority over being truth based or purely subjective? If I'm (or you're) only speaking about myself (or yourself), what business does anyone else have to speak about it at all?

I read an article on the groupthink theory as an explanation of the Challenger disaster in 1986. I think the fear of censorship, not voicing the same as others, was enough to lead to the unfortunate explosion. In that situation, don't you wish that person didn't feel censored or pressured- and had just presented his evaluation that there was a critical fault that should be fixed before liftoff.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reassurance in being under scrutiny...

People who are under scrutiny are more likely to act righteously than people who act without discretion.

Accountability is usually connected to our level of conscience. The amount of accountability we allow upon ourselves usually corresponds with how much we are driven by our conscience and morals and religious standards. When someone scrutinizes you, consider it God's sign that you are not the hypocrite. The one UNDER scrutiny is usually able to course correct if they need to, but many times- they are scrutinized because they have offended others- and not necessarily maliciously. It is something to be expected in the life of a God fearing person or otherwise.

Scrutiny is something we should invite into our lives especially if we feel we are doing what is right and being truthful. The aim is not to get people's approval- we need God's blessing most of all. If anything we have full right to claim the truth in our subjective experiences - philosophers have argued on this for all time. Objective truth is an illusion altogether. There are many variations of the truth to be experienced by us all.

There is the philosophical Kantian stance of "categorical imperative" (wiki-Kant; moral philosophy) where we should only do things that we should do to everyone at all times. This is an extremely high standard of living with a huge emphasis on striving to do things out of moral obligation. This is beyond the Golden Rule. I also appreciate that Kant was a God-fearing and defending philosopher. Basically, I see Kant as saying- there is never a time that our actions shouldn't be weighed. To say that a person never, always anything- is quite preposterous. Most people are NOT categorically anything especially if they interact with other people. And to claim such things is to blatantly exaggerate. I have faith that people can spot exaggerations.

There is a fallacy that we must say things or believe things that are pleasing to most or all others. We must construct our worlds to where we can be comfortable to defend our actions and beliefs. There is really no such thing as complete solidarity. There is no way to completely avoid conflict. Ultimately, why do we want to impress earthly fallen people who will have no bearing on your eternal life? If I'm a hypocrite, chances are, many other people are too- that is the nature of being a sinner. If I'm going to try to live up to anyone else's standards- it will be those of my Almighty God. In other words- are there ANY eternal rewards for pleasing earthly people?

I'm okay with the dualities that people project. I can accept that people can love me and also hurt my feelings. I understand that I can be someone's friend but maybe not BEST friend. I understand that I am called to love my biological family, adoptive family and eternal family. I understand that I am called to live righteously and also repent of my mistakes. I understand where I correct my bad habits, I'll have other ones to weed out of my life- with the accountability of my trusted friends and of God.

And most of all, I can understand feeling utter love drown out any roots of relational pain. Yes, I said it- p.a.i.n.

God Bless you all...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Make sure you know precisely what and who you are angry about.

Don't let innocent people take the brunt of your unfinished business... I learned too late.

When people disappoint each other, usually the reaction is the emotion of anger. And once we get past the anger, we usually replace it with fear of being disappointed or hurt in the same way again. These fears are the triggers for anger in our present life.

I am not a fan of giving in to triggers or using them as an excuse to "blow off steam" in the present. I do think they can provide useful indicators of the things that we need to work on. If we can confront the issue with the other person, confront it and put it to rest. If we can't confront it, we need to place boundaries for ourselves so we don't damage our present relationships.

Sometimes things are so painful and shameful to talk about that it precludes the sufferer from communicating their struggle with the triggers. For instance, I know someone who grew to hate cats because the person they lived with collected cats and wouldn't clean up after them. I could have an issue with that PERSON knowing that I personally adore cats. Or I could tenderly see that they could use support in this sensitive area and give them grace.

For me, I have a hard time sharing with others my sensitivity about money spent on me and my daughter. I started out poor, got poorer in the orphanage and then was whisked into a wealthy lifestyle. For some reason I triggered anger in my father about his provision that he used to accuse me of being ungrateful and undeserving. This birthed my own trigger of feeling like my worth was stolen from me.

Looking back, I think the core of my father issues were mainly unspoken and had roots in my father's past with his own father. It made me think that my father's issues with me weren't with me at all but his weird way of dealing with unfinished business with HIS father. And- my issues with my adoptive dad were colliding with his problems and also my biological father problems. It's as though we expected each other to solve problems that didn't even involve the other person. It was a complicated and doomed expectation that we had for each other.

Now that my father has passed away, I lament his pain. People in pain cause pain. I feel sorry that he never heard from me- "Hey Dad, I wish I could have understood you more so that I could have been closer to you." My guess is that his own father said those things to him and I just triggered that feeling of worthlessness in him unbeknownst to me at those ages.

At least for me- understanding changes everything; it doesn't EXCUSE, but it puts me on the express lane to giving others grace. I guess the uber level of grace giving would be to not require explanations for the dispense of grace. I still have many years to work up to that (God willing).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The argument that revolved around wanting to please each other... and revisiting it years later

The turkey picking argument on our first Thanksgiving together!

So, after enjoying a nice dinner with my then boyfriend he started to pull the meat off the turkey. I mentioned to him that he didn't have to do it all the way- that I wouldn't mind finishing it up for him. Now in my history- I've picked lobsters and poultry carcasses clean because I was good at it and as a service to my family and a way to show appreciation for an expensive meal (of lobster).

Robert actually hates picking the carcasses (he never told me this until two years later!) and so his picking the turkey was his gesture to me of helping out with the holiday routine.

I don't remember the specifics, but it turns out that Robert mistakenly thought I wanted to do the other part of turkey picking so I could eat the meat. I was getting annoyed because he left a lot of meat on the bone and I was like,well why did you even bother doing it if you were going to do it half-ass (pardon my French). I figured that I could have done it from the get-go if he was going to ditch it half way through.

LOL! So we fought over this mis-communication and our hidden attempts to please/serve each other. I wondered why he thought I'd want to eat so much turkey AFTER the large meal. LOL. Looking back on it, I could have kept my mouth shut and "cleaned" the remaining meat off the carcass when he was done and not worried about my 2nd round of eating. hehehe.

And thankfully, I've found that a lot of our mis-communications have been in attempts to impress/please/serve each other.

Now, our biggest fights are over parenting (which is pretty universal for blended families). Technically, we have very good stances with great motivations. I like to be in-volved because I appreciated what my father taught me and I hated feeling neglected by my mother. And Robert emulates his parents at being more pleasing and laid back. Neither of us are wrong other than acknowledging the fact that perhaps our children don't need what we are prescribing them as parents. So far Jasmin has fared very pleasantly with my attention and occasional sternness. Robert is not used to a lot of parent/child interaction and so he feels threatened when I interact with the other children while I try to parent them all the same. To me, attention is love. He prefers me to parent like him; and I wish he could see my loving intentions with all the kids. Neither of us are right or wrong... we just understand parenting differently coming from different households.

Our assumption is that we are the only ones that have parenting disputes. I'm interested to see how we can mesh our parenting techniques for the baby boy. And I'm hoping that that experience will let us relax on stressing our differences as an expression of bias regarding the children and more as just a historical part of our comfort with parenting.

I guess this goes back to my post about... are we wronging each other, or are we just rebelling against our differences?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Things that I wish he heard me say...

To My Dad

* I thank you for all of your smiles... I think we smiled the same

* Thank you for being the best nap buddy... you were just the right size for comfort.

* Thank you for your tears when you first met me. It took me 30 years to believe you truly loved me and now it just overwhelms me.

* Thank you for working so hard... wearing on your health, to provide for me a beautiful life.

* Thank you for involving me in the things you enjoyed most: golfing, boating, birds, church.

* Thank you for being my favorite... I missed you while you worked and now as an adult I see how much I grew to be like you... I'm glad I have you stamped on my character.

*Thank you for letting Mom and I go on great vacations while you worked hard to send us around the world.

* Thank you for telling me I was beautiful... I know that your other daughter would have loved to hear it.

* Thank you for struggling in front of me and for never claiming to be perfect. I think it only made me want to honor you more as your child.

* Thank you for bringing me up Catholic. I'm not Catholic anymore, but I never gave up on God.

* Thank you for spoiling my mother with gifts and jewels. It was really nice to see such lavish love.

* Thank you for showing me that we can mess up and do it better the in the future. I am so proud that you stuck to the marriage true to your vows... 34 years. I never should have doubted you.

* Thank you for being the only dad in my heart. I should have given you so much more credit. Your choosing to love me means the world to me.

* Thank you for teaching me how to clam with my toes and how to eat lobster down to the exoskeleton. I still love lobster.

Even after 13 years of not seeing you, it startles me to realize how much I remember about you. I startles me how much I was in denial. I wonder what advice you still had to give me. You did alright up until then.

* I remember that you liked soft boiled eggs, egg salad and grilled cheese sandwiches.
* You drank Michelob Light
* You had a Navy tattoo on your arm that you got lasered off.
* You played the Beatles on record at home
* You had the classic books: Poe, Cicero, Plato
* We watched Star Trek together
* We went to St. John's three times in a row... the only three vacations I remember with you... I loved all three of us being together.
* You were so proud of that big stupid car phone you had in your Mercedes.
* You always seemed like you had something to prove to everyone else... but never to me. You were just fine to me, Daddy.
* I don't remember you ever badmouthing mom to me. You had wise restraint... and look at how long you were married. =)
* I remember hitting golf balls with you and hunting for them in the woods.
* I remember how peaceful you were tending to our garden... and I never understood the love and heart I was nourishing myself with as a child.
* I remember how you didn't say anything to me about hitting the side of the garage with the side mirror of our Jeep Wagoneer when I was 15. I made a bad decision and you trusted me enough not to do it again.
* I remember you not being good with talking, but great with writing letters in business and to me. Maybe that's why I love to write.
* I remember that you were the one who named me...

Isn't it weird that the day I find out you passed on I wrote about another person who passed on. Isn't it weird that the day I found out you passed on, a student did a presentation on Edgar Allen Poe. And a light came on that your Anniversary was in April... I hope you made it this year.


My main regret is that I never saw you as a person with their own wounds and struggles. I guess it's a childlike thing to "idolize" the father and that obscures the fact that you were still just a normal person. I feel like I should have given you more grace and mercy. I now see that I had you in the palm of my hands; that I had the power to make you feel loved and successful... to make you think the best of yourself. I am left to cry over your pain by myself where I should have cried WITH you. It breaks my heart how quickly I am willing to overlook everyone else's faults, but I never did that with you. I feel a Heavenly finger pointed at myself. I should have ignored your speck when I was a child.

And the last thing I can remember is singing "Wind beneath my Wings" three times during your 50th Birthday party. And now I see that you really were my hero and I'm glad you've flown high... into Heaven. May your pain be forgotten and may you know the purest love for the rest of eternity. I thank God for you. Love, Meredith

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We have a responsibility to each other...

to judge our lifestyles... to convict each other of unrighteous and unhealthy behaviors. What if our words are the catalyst to their healing?

I had a friend pass away who was a widow in her thirties and had four kids to raise on her own. She appeared to be a very devoted mother. She sent her kids to an "academy." Her kids always had restaurant food, clean clothes, new toys, good grades. Even when her oldest daughter went through chemo, she always "appeared" to have it "together."

I met this friend while I was working at a Taekwondo school. She became the best attending student with her kiddos. They practically lived at the "dojang", church and whatever restaurant du jour. She appeared to be in good spirits and made some friends with the other students. She eventually became a black belt and started instructing.

She talked about her deceased husband like they had the love story of the century. He tragically died from cancer 7 years before she also passed away from two forms of cancer. I loved her for the mother and wife she seemed to be and for the holidays we spent together as "single mothers." She loved my daughter and I watched after her kids. We were the "village" to each other.

When I moved away to VA, I learned that my friend had 6 months (very little time left).  I was floored. I perceived her to be the ultimate single mom. She was my "if she can do it, then I should be able to do it also" person. She said she had a dream that I had triplets. She didn't want many people to help her- her pride was evident in her last moments. Only 2-3 friends were allowed to help her in her last days.

Her "passing away" story is just breathtaking the way our mutual friend described it. She floated off into "another consciousness" and was talking to her husband. She said to him that she didn't want to leave the kids and he said it's ok to "let go." And in that moment, she passed on into the spiritual arms of her true love. She had already arranged for her husband's sister to take guardianship of the children. Tearing up yet?


As much as her story was very controlled into being something of triumph and love, there was a part of the story I only learned about after she passed. And while I still love her and choose not to change my perception about her; I see that she had a prideful spirit that was not very genuine. Her friends were there to pick up the shambles that were left in the house... the house that people rarely visited... hidden with secrets.

Behind her lavish restaurant life, her kitchen had rotting food and dirty dishes. The clean clothes were purchased to give the facade that she did laundry; the laundry was backed up. New toys replaced the ones that were in huge disarray. There was trash everywhere. They literally avoided their home due to the horrible condition. It also turned out that my friend was talking for hours on the phone and perhaps not attending to her kids.

If she had just trusted us as friends to help her out... If she had just an ounce less of pride. We understood how large of an undertaking she had to manage as a widow but she didn't give us the opportunity to bless her and her kids with the help so her house could truly be a home and a refuge. If she had just trusted us to graceful in our conviction of her life in shambles.Maybe we could have helped her come up with a chore chart. Her kids were all 7 and older by the time she went into her own chemotherapy- old enough to pull some weight.

Sometimes we must invite people into our lives - the good and the ugly - so that they can help us with a loving touch and a gentle hand. So what if someone saw the house like that- she had four kids on her own and I'm assuming a huge house. Even in my personal life, I struggle to keep my large house clean as we've quadrupled our living space since we started living together. We all have our limits and should be able to sequester appropriate reinforcements.

It turns out that her kids weren't as happy as she wanted them to appear. They are happy that the are out of that rat hole mansion and with family that really pays attention to them rather than running away from problems and avoiding getting down dirty. And of course they still love her dearly...

When I go over to my single mom friends homes, I try to do one household cleaning task for them. I feel driven to do those things knowing what my dear friend battled in her widowhood. I think- if this gives her a few more quality minutes with her children and gives her some more smiles, then I am happy to help. Let people see your dirt so they know WHERE to help. If they love you, they won't beat you up about it- they will give you a hand.

As a former single parent, I want to shout out to the single mother friends that I have been blessed to know. Our bond is something that transcends blood- it's a motherhood sisterhood. Keep fighting the good fight and I pray that people will pour into your and your kids' lives to bless you and rejuvenate you. Thank you for being there for me. I'm so glad that God doled a little less pride to me to give me room to be blessed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tired of being on the receiving end...

I know a well meaning adoptive mother who is just having such a hard time with her high needs adopted child. As an adoptee, I have no doubt she loves him fiercely. Perhaps she loves him too much... perhaps she gives him too much.

This boy is a troubled child: he has substance abuse issues as a 15 yr old, truancy, emotional disabilities and is in trouble with the law. Being that he was adopted as a baby I wondered why he struggles so much at this age. I was adopted as a kindergarten age, and I'm surprised that my troubles were less than his.

The pattern of behavior is that people try to help him and he keeps failing and when he gets caught failing, he does things even worse. I know most people would be driven to say that he is just a "bad child", I see something different.

My guess is that he feels so guilty and unworthy of all that he's been given in love, chances, guidance and advocacy where he doesn't even feel worth it. I think he feels so astronomically indebted to all the people in his life and it is hard for him to deal with not feeling worth and at the same time knowing he will never be able to "pay them back."

Adoptees are acutely aware of their time, energy and financial "impact." Though there are exceptions, I am confident enough to say that they are so far off the grateful end that they don't cultivate the feeling of worth-it-ness. They tire of feeling like the charity case as it really takes away from dignity.

My suggestion to this mother was to find a position for him to be a light in someone else's life (A Big Brother, in a children's sports program). Ultimately, he wants to find a place to feel intrinsic value.  He needs to know  what it's like to give. People who have something worth giving are worth something.

I say, give the kids a chance to earn some of their stuff. Don't try to control their money, but teach them how to manage it. I remember, that as an adoptee, I felt tremendous pride for every penny I earned and I carefully spent and saved my money. The biggest insult I ever got was when my adoptive parents chided me for spending money (like $140) on a guitar and lesson book from my hard earned money. They acted like it was "their" money to decide what to do with it. And while I would have respectfully listened to their advice; they had none to give.

The only way a beggar knows that they are no longer is when they can give; the only way a blind person is no longer blind is when they can see; the large way an adopted child can control their own worth is by being able to earn money as well as esteem from the people around them.

Ultimately, God values us equally despite our bank accounts or social standing. But I also believe that he wants us to feel uniquely gifted as his beloved children. Help those orphans find their "gifts."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I still want to share...

I know my other blog was accidently erased and I wish I had copies of my posts. But alas, all I can do is continue with another name... as close to it as I could come. I still humbly feel like I have things to share that can help others evolve in their own thinking and perspectives as the writing is evidence of my own changes.


This past week my family participated in a church drive called "Stop Hunger Now" based in Arizona. I greatly suggest that you make a donation or volunteer. I'm a former orphan who went through abandonment, living in an orphanage and foster care and ending up in international adoption. I don't take for granted that I did not become a statistic that succumbed to starvation and death. I've found non-profit agencies to give my last few dollars through my working years. I take surveys that donate money to my chosen charity. I'm not money bags- but I do want to make an impact. I cannot figure out why I beat the odds, so I am aware that I should be so thankful and spread the opportunities as well.

I am officially 35 weeks along in my pregnancy. I am hoping to last at least another 2 weeks of hippo-status to meet my unborn son. Jasmin is ecstatic and Alex helped put the stroller together. It is getting more and more real.

I am finishing my spring semester of college. I have 5 more classes before I can get my associates of science in psychology and switch to a more expensive (waaaaaaaaaaaaah!) educational institution for bachelors and masters. Excited to get this part of my life behind me.

My son Alex is participating in the Special Olympics soccer team. He is a star for sure and I've never seen him so proud of himself. I suggest that you witness a Special Olympics event- it is so inspiring. It makes you challenge your idea of what you are and are not able to do.

My current books are: 52 Devotions to enhance your spiritual intimacy (Associated with Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage) and Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. I spend a good 30-60 minutes a day in my spiritual pursuits. It helps me have a more well rounded life when I can easily be bogged down by school and parenting.

My marriage is the star of my life as it has been for years now. Despite our normal challenges (and some not normal, LOL) I love being married to my man and working through things that life throws at us. There have been many things that we've weathered that have made many other relationships crumble. I'm excited to know what parenting WITH my spouse will feel like with this new baby. I love experiencing new things.

My husband and I have a helicopter tour of Denver in the works as a "first". I love that despite the fact that we are older and have experienced marriage before, that there are so many "firsts" that we've been able to share. Earlier this month- we had another first of staying at the 5-star hotel, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

I want to shout out to my friend Samantha for treating me and my family to a baby celebration at Dave n Busters this past weekend (which was a first for Robert!). It was a blast and I especially appreciate that she would drive all the way up to see us. She is certainly a friend who will go the distance. 

So the main reason for this post is to say that I'm back and thank you for your support! God Bless you!

Here I am Again

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