Facebook Feeds My Ulcers

Have you ever wronged anyone?  I mean reaaaaallly wronged them.  Not just a little bit, but a LOT.  I have.  Thanks to Facebook, I can periodically search for said people.  Most of the time, thankfully, I can never find them.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I can.

When Jon and I were first married we lived in an apartment complex in Florida.  One day at the pool, I struck up a conversation with a lovely gal who was there with her two year old daughter.  Her son might have been there too, I don’t remember.  Our husbands had both been in the Navy, liked to fish, etc.  We began to hang out, have dinner, watch football.  It was fun.  Yeah, until Jon and I ruined it.

It was like a sick coordinated attack.  They were smart people, it didn’t take long for them to figure out that Jon had a major drinking problem.  They felt sorry for me and did their best to include us in their lives, despite Jon’s erratic behavior.  One evening she and I hung out while the guys went fishing.  I decided to head home with Jacob when it got dark.  On the walk back, I noticed that Jon’s truck was home.  Hmmm, I must have just missed them, I thought.  I headed upstairs, assuming her husband was already home, and maybe Jon would be sitting in the living room ready to share his fishing tales.  Um, no.  What I walked into was quite opposite.  Let’s just leave it at that.

Now, understand, that I had seen Jon go from drinking and quite awake to passed out in less than five minutes.  The bathroom was still steamy and wet.  I chalked the whole thing up to him being so drunk when he got home he had showered and promptly passed out on the bed.  Jacob and I went through our normal bedtime routine and put an end to that night.  During the night, our goofy loud neighbors had someone pounding on the door.  They were partiers and made a lot of noise.  I woke up and thought maybe this time I should call the police.  Soon enough it stopped and I drifted back to sleep.

The next morning, Jon woke up and had NO memory of the night before.  He did not remember coming home.  Nothing.  Now, either the phone rang early, or my friend met me outside, I don’t remember, but she had PLENTY to fill me in on.  Jon had left her husband and drove off. Left him.  By a river.  In Florida.  With wild beasts.  Her husband had to hitch hike home.  It had been them pounding on the door the night before.  The sheer embarrassment and disbelief on my face, might have been the only thing keeping her from believing I had a part in it.  I’ll never know.  Needless to say, her husband removed himself from any further participation with Jon.  With anything.  I didn’t blame him.  Neither did Jon.  It was awful.

She and I managed to still be friends, but it was different after that.  How could it not be?  We both started working at the same place.  Some of the women there treated her really crappy.  She tried so hard to be perky, friendly, and vivacious, only to be met with sarcasm and scorn.  I watched as she suffered silently at home as well.  She wanted everything to be perfect, and to show that she was good enough.  It was a tough veneer to crack.  At one point, I got after her about it.  I told her she needed to stand up for herself and not be such a Pollyanna.  Oh, she so needed to hear that from me.  Right.  I couldn’t even keep my own life straight.  How dare I be so self righteous?

After noticing that her husband was saying jerky things to her and how it tore her down to a tiny nub, I decided to do her one of my special favors.  I was going to SHOW her how this pursuit of perfection would affect her daughter.  I wanted to hit her hard so that she would wake up before it was “too late”.  I sat down and I wrote her an email from the futuristic view point of her daughter .  It was absolutely wretched.  I sent it to their joint email account.  Her husband read it first.  (Which was part of my plan.  He needed to wake up too.)  He fired back with an explosive email, then he let her read it.  She was extremely hurt.  Instead of waking her up to the peace of not having to be so perfect, I basically called her the worst mother in the world.  Shame. On. Me.

We never really spoke again.  She has probably forgotten about me.  At least, I hope she has.  We were jerks.  Incapable of doing anything but injecting drama into everything we did.  What the heck?  Did I go to the soap opera school of friendships?  I would like to say I should have known better, but I didn’t.  I do now, but that doesn’t keep from occasionally getting into hot water with my writing.

I have dreamed about her.  In the dreams I apologize profusely, then I find out she has lived down the street from us for years.  Sometimes, I think of her in passing and wonder what she’s been up to.  Yesterday, one of the names of her kids popped into my head.  I looked him up and there he was.  From there, I found her and saw her face after ten years.  Should I tell her I’m sorry?  Should I leave it alone?  As usual, I want to fix this.  I’m not a very good fixer.



Alabama…It Could’ve Been Great. Oh Well.

When the family and I arrived in Alabama, I had such high hopes.  After seven years of rain, I was dazzled by the sun, sunsets, clouds, blue skies, rolling hills, flora and fauna.  I loved the smell of the dirt.  It reminded me of my Grandpa’s farm.  Grass under my bare feet, wonderful nature on the breeze, I thought I had found everything  I could want in a home.  Really, it is everything one could ever want.  My dog can run free.  He loves it.  I have chickens.  The kids have room to run and I can homeschool them.  Not to mention the rent is dirt cheap.  Oh and I absolutely love my church.

There is a dark side that has nothing to do with Alabama.  I am lonely.  The kids have been sick since we set foot into this house.  And the house?  There is so much that needs to be done but we can’t afford it.  The Teenager holes up in his room and doesn’t want to meet anyone.  Extended family is barely anywhere to be found.  We have had certain family members put their feet on the property, but they don’t come over to interact with us or the kids.  When Jon had his first relapse they disappeared into the wood work.  I guess the fear is that if one persons drinking problem will come to light, everyone else will have to explain theirs too.  He has had a couple of relapses since then and we are more isolated than ever.  (To those who don’t think I should write about these “deeply personal things” …buzz off.)  I long for the days when other men in the community would keep fathers and husbands accountable.  These days, families are left to suffer in silence and are encouraged through the actions of others to just keep quiet and not upset anyone.

I have not lived near my family in years.  Decades.  When I was young, I just did not want to be in California.  I had a wandering spirit that wanted to experience other places.  Oh, and  I had ZERO desire to run into any of the jerks I went to high school with.  I felt comfortable to be me only when I was thousands of miles away.  That, coupled with being involved with The Teenager’s grandparents who never wanted me to be around my family at all.  They were always afraid that if I went back home to visit, I would want to stay.  What a bunch of mind controlling sociopaths!  Of course I would want to stay.  They were my family!  My dad worked blue collar jobs and my mom worked for a title company.  We lived in a pretty conservative town.  According to my dreaded ex in laws, that made them anti-education cave people who should be avoided at all costs.  What a stupid waste of years trying to maintain peace with those people.  Good riddance.

I had just made the break with THEM and moved home when I met Jon.  We got married and we’ve been gone ever since.  I’m tired.  I don’t want to be away from people who love me anymore.  I’m so tired of missing weddings, birthdays, holidays, baby showers, and funerals of the people I love.  I don’t care if they live in Syria.  I want to go home.  I want a place to go when my husband stumbles.  I want people to talk to, in PERSON, when I am lonely.  I want a family dynamic that is settled, calm and caring.  Sometimes, I really wonder if I am not being kept away from my family AGAIN.  I can’t blame my husband for avoiding people who might call him to the carpet on his drinking.  Lord knows, NO ONE has done it here.

I know that we gave Florida three years, and Washington seven years, so it seems unfair to give Alabama only a year.  I am getting older.  The sands in my hourglass are precious to me.  I have gone above and beyond, done everything I can do to be a good wife.   I have put up with more than most people would bear.  I have honored my covenant with my husband and I plan to continue doing so, but I can’t do it here.  Unless I get a direct message from God.  And I mean direct.  Like burning bush direct.  I need to go back to my people.  I don’t want to die alone and forgotten.  Yeah, it does seem that bad.  Sometimes.

Motivating People-The Right Way

“Fools have no interest in understanding, they only want to air their own opinions” Proverbs 18:2 NLT

Yikes.   This post gets right under my fingernails and lifts without a care.  Ouch.  Double ouch.

I am kind of jumping off from a sermon I heard in church this past Sunday.  I’m all about the application, so I am reeeeeaaaallly trying to apply this to my life and become a better human being.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s hard.  I am going against a grain that was set in the wood many moons ago.  Fighting nature, folks.

I want to motivate people God’s way. The way I want things and the way I do things are not married together.  Heck, they aren’t even third cousins.  Through the years I have learned several ways to get loved ones and friends to see the light.

Bullying, manipulating, passive aggressive behavior modification through social media, crying, and tattling.  Those are just a few.  I am sure if I sat down and really thought about it, I could come up with hundreds.  The worst way I have ever tried to motivate someone is to shame them into changing.  Ever tried that?

Example:  Susie So and So is not living right.  If there were a list of things to do wrong in ones twenties, she is doing them all.  (We can use our imaginations, or let us just reflect on our own twenties.) Me, having lived through a Susie type mess, comes in with all kinds of advice, feelings and expectations.  Susie takes my advice, feelings and expectations and promptly throws them out the window.  I get offended and write Susie off as a hopeless case.  But, I am not so cruel that I would not open my arms wide to let her back in my life for an “I told you so.”  In the meantime, I have a good ole time discussing my “concerns” about Susie with family, friends, co-workers, the garbage man, the mail man, the lady at the check out counter, the telemarketer, and door to door salesmen. (Kidding, but it could have easily grown into that.)

“What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening the the facts!” Proverbs 18:13 NLT

In my case, Susie’s naysayers were coming to me.  A lot.  I would hear out the complaints and then come up with a list of things we should do to show her that we loved her, but were not going to enable her.  Sounds great on the surface.  But I would often find myself examining my motivation.  Was the goal actually to lift up this person and get her on a path to self-sufficiency?  Or was there a drill instructor mentality that said we should tear this person down and build them back up in our own image?  I kept getting a nudge that it was the latter.   That left me scratching my head and wondering how do you challenge someone?  When someone is down in the dumps, how do you teach them to get themselves out without doing all the work for them?  What if the person acts like they want everyone to do it for them?

“Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight.” Proverbs 18:17

Okay, so that’s a yield sign.  Do I know the whole story?  When a person is faltering, should my immediate assumption be that they are “up to no good”?  And, if they are up to no good, does that mean that I should close the door on them until they straighten out?  Or should I carefully, and lovingly encourage them without allowing them to walk all over me?  Well, I still think both options are  something to think about prayerfully, and cautiously.  But, and it’s a big one, Jesus chose to meet me just where I am.  Warts and all.  He met me with open arms.  He said to love one another.  So how can I not do the same for a loved one who is hurting?  I need to close my mouth and open my arms.

“But then God our Savior showed us His kindness and love.  He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:4

“But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help-how can God’s love be in that person?”  1 John 3:17

“Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord,” 1 John 3:18-19

From that, I get that we are to show our love in our actions toward others.  What the person does with that help is their business.  If they want to smile and rub their hands about how they can manipulate people, so be it.  I must also be careful after helping to not picture them rubbing their hands and laughing an evil laugh.  I can’t see straight into their heart.  Only God can.