It’s only been two days since I penned this post: http://vintagevicki.com/2012/04/30/have-you-unlocked-lifes-key-to-a-loving-legacy-in-death/ and I’m faced with another challenge to living my life in a non-selfish way.
I keep getting criticized that it’s me – not anybody else. It’s my attitude, my lack of understanding, my inability to listen, my need to just nag and berate and criticize. Well, somebody once told me that if you’ve got more than one person telling you that it’s you, then they must be right.
Ok, fine. I don’t know that I have the power to change someone’s thoughts or not. I do know that I don’t have the time nor the energy. However, in my own defense, since I hear nothing but crickets when I reach out for volunteers, there are a few things – vintage me – that I believe in and cannot apologize for.
FIRST: If you are over 25 years old and you are living in someone else’s home, you have two choices: either pay that person rent and respect their home; or agree to other tasks or expectations in lieu of the rent and respect their home. My father taught me that when I was 16 years old. He enforced rent – only a portion – but it was enough to make me appreciate responsibility. And when I begged him to come back home when my marriage was failing he refused. At the time I was angry at him. But later I realized that it was no longer about the rent. He knew that I could never respect his need for peace in his home. I wish I had learned that lesson a little better.
SECOND: There’s a lot more to giving than just handing out $$$$. I don’t have extra money to give away. Many times I will decline bridal showers, baby showers, birthday celebrations mostly because I just don’t have the money to buy the gift – and showing up without one just doesn’t set well with me. When homeless people ask me for cash for food – I offer to buy them food. If they accept, I walk with them to the nearest place and buy them what they want. When my youngest came home from the ARMY, I told her to concentrate on school and the baby – she doesn’t have to pay rent, or any bills. When her older sister moved in with her two daughters, I didn’t ask for rent money, bill money or any other payment to stay here. Nor have I asked for those things in the past. I wanted to give them as much of an opportunity to live a stress-free life that I could. Those things I thought, should be better than handing out money, food or gifts that I can’t afford. Those things I thought, should show the depth of my heart. Those things I thought should be enough. But they aren’t.
THIRD: I am not perfect as a mother, daughter, sister, friend or wife. I give all of my heart to whatever relationship I’m in. But when I feel it crushing, I snatch it back. And that’s the part that’s not perfect. When I look around at people who’ve been verbally or physically abused by their friends, siblings, offspring and significant others, I admire the ones who have had the stamina to keep dealing with that person until that person acted better. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to keep giving myself away to people who have no respect for me or whatever I’m doing. I don’t know how to keep taking verbal hits and never get an “I’m sorry.” All those hurts just keep building and building. The slate is never wiped clean.
So, I end up shutting down with that person or persons. It’s not easy for me to close off my heart. I do it to protect myself – so that I can keep moving. It’s about distance for me. There are situations in my life that I’ve been dealing with since I was in my 30’s, up through my 40’s and now I’m 50! The same arguments, the same hurts, the same finger-pointing – nothing has changed; no apology, no accepting of responsibility.
Someone shared a poster on Facebook today that talked about blessing people who are mean and selfish to you, rather than being mean and selfish to them back. That might work for me if I didn’t wait until they have crossed my “I’ve had it!” threshold.
I’m still looking for the strength to hold my tongue, forgive and forget, take a licking and keep on ticking. I’m still looking for my cousin Anthony’s secret; my Dad David Townsend’s secret. In my heart I know it’s not really a secret. It’s a level of strength, a depth of patience, love and understanding.
It’s an opening, rather than a closing.
I hope it’s in me too – and that one day I’ll find it.