Friday, August 26, 2016

Competitive By Nature

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 

I called my mother the other evening, like I always do every night and twice on Saturday and Sunday, but this time it went to the answering machine as she waited to hear my voice and then pick it up. 

I asked, “Why the machine. You have caller ID?”
She retorted, “Why all the questions, you writing a book?”
I sarcastically replied, “Well yes, yes I am.”

I could tell right away she was in ‘a mood’ the kind I tolerate since my dad has passed and she clings to so much bitterness, for his death and for her being left alive, alone. I just try and be the relief pitcher and comfort her in any way I can. Since I’m the only child of six who talks to her on a daily basis, I take the brunt of her moods from a distance. 

To be honest, I cherish these phone calls to my mother because I know there will come a day when I don’t hear her voice on the other end and I’ll be alone without any communication from the family I once had. I don’t miss my family like I do my mother because we were never really a family in any sense of the word; we were competitors in the field.

You see, when I was born, I was the sixth child of a family all vying for a prize, the prize being the attention of my mother and father. My sister had held the baby position for three years and here I come into the fray as the fresh living competitor baby, the new attention getter, the new baby with a nickname, the baby that would, in her mind, replace the love my parents gave to her, and so she set out my demise from the day I was born. 

I can tell it was a bitter competition to her from the stories she’s told all of her life, I guess in a way to make me feel guilty for being alive? A way for maybe getting me to go far away from the family so she could take her position as the center of attention? I don’t know, I just surmise an intuitive guess. And yes, my writing will hold the story whether they ever see it or not, this is MY story, not theirs; my truth, not their jumbled mess of perception.

Granted I was a tattle-tale brat but I did not deserve, at three-years-old to be pushed on a swing so high that I’d fear for my life and jump off the swing to be caught by a chain link fence, the kind with the barbed-wire looking top? Yes, I have the ugly memory and nasty scar to prove it and over the years my sister vehemently denied it was her doing the pushing but my brother. Gee, that didn’t make me feel any better.

She gave me my first cigarette at eight, my first joint of marijuana at I don’t know what age, the damage is real though, it was young. My first beer, my first jump in a raging river, my first kiss from some boy she set me up with. Also the first voice I overheard whispering when I was sixteen, “She should’ve just had an abortion.”

This was a real competition, not some contrived imagination of my overly drugged mind that went right into my twenties when at the time I was closer to my brother and she wanted that position but he didn’t want a relationship with her. My entire family fought with the battle of Dad loved me more, mother liked you best, neither of them liked me and there I was the baby, the relief pitcher who would try to bring a broken vase to the table and try to glue the pieces back together. And it bled into my late thirties when I finally left home and left all the bad memories behind and never looked back.

While the world is busy bustling with sharing all the beautiful moments of their family, pictures abounding of happy times, I often wonder when people say that they too had a hard life or trying times where are THOSE images? Mine are either in a box somewhere or lost in the portals of time. I understand it though when people aren’t as ready and willing to share their trying times as I am. It’s okay, we all have our own way of healing or hiding behind masks.

People are not willing to share the ugly times, that’s ‘their little secret’ that they’ll carry with them to the grave. Sometimes they’d rather people only see the good and happy posts spread out on Instagram and Facebook so that people visually see the good life they had or have when deep down the pain and hurt comes out in snide remarks.

I myself sometimes use humor to hide my pain but really it doesn’t hide it too well, I think humor, to ME, is just a form of medicine I use to help with my healing. I love to laugh, I love to see people laugh, I love to share my pain and most of all my GROWTH, through smiles and laughter. Some may see it as me letting too many skeletons dance freely out of the closet but hey, we all need to let them free some time or another, I’d rather do it sooner rather than later when they decide to jump out of the closet as regrets. 

It all boiled to a steep head last year in October when my father passed away. I no longer wanted to be the relief pitcher. The last straw was the poem that I wrote for my father to hear on his deathbed since I couldn’t be there for one of the hardest days in my life. My sister held the poem in her hand and withheld reading it, a scar that singes burning hot to this day at just the thought. 

Don’t say I’m mean and unforgiving for not sharing any love for a lost family. Respect me for the forgiveness I HAVE shown and chose to move on from it all, in a healing place for ME! The best thing I carry with me from my past is my son! And I will continue to give him the best part of me and we’ll have our very own memories, good ones that outweigh the bad ones. He said to me this morning, "You're not a phony like everybody else, you lay things out in the open."

Wow! Thank you, son. Not only does he see the real me, YOU see the real me too! Nothing phony or fake here, people!  

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