The Drama Pool

Every young girl has taken more than a few dips in the drama pool. Compared yet opposite to the spiritual awakening of the Ganges River, it is a ritual for our teen girls to go in and dip themselves like sacrifices to untruth; bathing in the pond of gossipy proliferation. Our male youth is not immune to the drama pool,however, their swims are less lengthy yet the gossip clings to them as heavily.

Fast forward to adulthood and there are those who truly understand the damage the spoken word can cause, be it true or not. God lets us know that the tongue is like a two-edged sword, and His people often use the edge most damaging in His name. There are many who never get out.

Gossip is the storm which causes so many to be swept up by the enticement of knowing something “juicy.” Gossip takes on a life of its own, and if some of the pieces are missing, they are then created to fit the picture perfectly, showing no doubt the story is true. I have experienced a whole town, small yet powerful, take a few items of information and turn on an individual like the town that came after Frankenstein: holding their torches high and chanting for his death. Or, like Little House on the Prairie, but with no denouement of Michael Landon’s character chastising the community from the church pulpit or school board meeting for their behaviors, resulting in hung heads and softened hearts. What I have witnessed is the opposite. The town wins and judgment and hatred rule the land which retreats after a victory then lies in waiting for the next attack.

I have been attacked recently, my character judged by a round table of those who have never once had a conversation with me, yet deemed me prejudiced and of unworthy character. I was mortified. How could ANYONE judge me and stamp me with a ruling which makes no sense? I was given the recommendation to introduce one of my accusers to my fiance which would really deflect, in his opinion, the unjust prejudice label, but stupid cannot be reasoned with, even with illustrated examples. Judging someone as prejudice is saying that person is full of hate and that hate is compartmentalized toward a race due to whatever reason. I may be a work in progress, but my progress in race relations is better than my accusers, and that is a fact. Do people not see that when they yell prejudice, they may just be blurting out their own shadowy belief system?

Lucky me to have been a part of a town whose residents (not all but a very vocal aspect) will think the worst of others due to what they hear from others. Am I naive? Maybe, but I honestly cannot come up with conclusions about people that are negative. Once I had a student in my class who was arrested for drug use and sent to re-habilitation. She came back and was a bright-eyed teenager who had life and seemed so happy. She told me she had been stoned every day in my class. “Couldn’t you tell” she asked? I replied honestly, “No, I thought you were not getting enough sleep, and possibly you were a bit depressed; not uncommon in teen girls.” I never go to the labels: drug abuser, liar, thief, philanderer, prejudice, first. I believe it is because I do not have these applications downloaded in my system and they are not there to access for blame.

I am learning to take the news that someone is lying, cheating, stealing with less of an affront on my psyche. I really want to live in peace, love and light. Because of that, I refuse to jade my belief system about others and use a negative source for how I perceive them. I am no saint in my perceptions. I do still stereotype, and I work on that. The difference I believe, is I am open to truth, and realize my eyes may deceive me. Close-minded, judgmental behavior is the epitome of stupid and also a state of complete self-UNAWARENESS. I am given a full body check when I step out of line with my behavior, with what I say and when messages I am transmitting to others is not healthy. I do sometimes fall in the drama-pool, and when I do, I am sickened. Healing waters of tears are sometimes needed to begin rebuilding my integrity.

Take the pledge to stay out the the drama-pool. Keep your tongue in check and if you are bothered by another’s actions which do not have anything to do with you, check yourself. Look around. Are you swimming in the truth or in the drama-pond? Look around, are you surrounded by those who make it easy to fall into the deep-end in denial of the truth and play with other’s lives as if it is a beach ball to be whacked from one person to the next: everyone getting their hands on the destruction of another’s life and name?

Get out, wipe your eyes and dull your tongue. Edification comes to those who edify. Getting life right means you are not in the drama-pool.

 

Stepping Consciously

These days step-families abound. Step-moms and dads and all of the kids in-between who are connected by marriage have to navigate the waters of family with more rules than usual. Unfortunately, those rules are often times left unwritten and these relationships hit major ice-bergs in icy seas of misunderstanding due to plain lack of caring and love. Blending a family is not as easy as placing the ingredients in your vita-mix and hitting start, resulting in a perfect, good-for-you concoction. Nope. It takes a lot more than that. In the process of blending a family, moms and dads should never ever walk away from their biological children and replace them or ignore them. Moving on never means moving away from our children. But I am guessing for too many, that behavior is the easiest. Since the subject is complex, my focus is on the children and their vulnerable hearts and souls.

I feel for the children left behind. When I was nine my father called and told me that he had a cute little girl who was my age sitting on his knee. I was replaced in my world view and this moment seared my soul and heart. Many children don’t get that literal call, but they get the call- their father or mother have moved away and other children sleep in the rooms down the hall. Other children are getting the attention, the face-time, the relationship. No mater how healthy the split, the child will feel pain. It is the nature of the beast.

In my line of work I see the failures much more often than the blueprint for success. Since humans mess up a lot on being human which makes us human, melding a family is never an easy road. In the biblical sense we are taught that the number one relationship is with God, then the marriage, then the children. But what if the marriage is asking a parent to place the biological child further down the scale? That is a heavy load to put on a child’s psyche. I personally cannot understand or comprehend a parent looking at their biological child and loathing them due to the fact that half of their DNA comes from their enemy. Adults need to separate the emotion and place it in the correct boxes, some with a lock and key. So often the new spouse is given the control to dictate the rules of the new home’s relationships. Though spouses are second on the list after God, we must remember that The Word was geared toward the two and the two’s children; not  the second, third and fourth and so on.

Your babies need to be loved and feel safe and should never be used as a weapon, pawn, tool or rag in the melding of the new relationship. Ever.

Marry into a teenager and life may throw a big rod in your engine. What to do when the teenager you now refer to as step-daughter or step-son hates you for being step-parent and for no other reason? What if they are being schooled by the parent left behind on how to feel and act in their new situation? It gets trickier and trickier the more people there are in the new melting pot. Some are content to the mix and others fight the family recipe and the batch is bad twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.

The easy answer is to actively parent no matter the circumstances. Kids know when an adult cares- when they really care. Humans have innate mechanisms for survival, and step-family survival is tactical. Do they have to fight for attention? Beg for it? Become a problem and get it by default?

They should get unconditional love and attention. They should be parented; period. That is the key…parenting; it unlocks doors to life relationships which is an ongoing transference of energy.

Step-moms and dads need to step back and allow their new spouse to be the most important person to their children. I have seen adults become jealous of a parent/child relationship and it is the ugliest of faces a step can wear. Can the biological parent become over-permissive to make-up for the pain of the broken home? Yes. Can they become overly giving in money, lack a bit in saying no when they should? Yes. Even when the step-parent sees this it is possibly not the battle to engage. Talk it out, present in an adult/parent space and maybe both in the new-couple bond can learn.

But I know that for many step-families there is no thoughtfulness when it comes to creating a healthy mix. Socio-economicly speaking, even the haves do not. I watched a little boy be completely ignored by his father after he married a woman with no children. The new family, one that could make the cover of  Christian Living, excluded in every way the first born biological son of the father.

There was no room in her heart and she was never confronted with the prospect of opening a space for him at all. I often wondered how she has reconciled the pain her step-son felt while his siblings literally had the best of everything? The child who was left out found a nice home in jail as dad and step-mother shook their heads and placed the entire blame on biological mom and of course the child himself.

Not every abandoned child becomes a literal prisoner, but many are held hostage to their own emotions. They feel not good enough, shame, less-than, invisible. These thoughts do not magically disappear at age 18. No, they may become the corner stones for their lives.

If you have a child, raise them. It is not the step-parent’s job immediately upon saying “I do.” They need to grow into the new job and learn their new children. They may need help, counseling, prayer, understanding. You see, Steps, it may not be God first, then you then the children from the other marriages, and it may seem unbalanced at first, BUT, if the step-parents learn to love and desire to protect these children, order will be restored to the Universe.

Death, Life and the Stuff In-between

Betty And Charlie

Last week we laid a wonderful man to rest: my long-time partner’s father. What a man! He lived a great life which was reflected through all who came to report they loved him and will miss him. He was a tough father to a brood of six children, known for free use of a rope and belt. None of his kids are worse for the wear due to their worn behinds as children. They are wonderful people, who really loved their dad. The week-long goodbye was hard, but after a long illness, this husband, father, brother and friend had had enough. He died in his sleep, next to his wife of 60 years. A finality most the family never experienced on such an intimate level. The sadness of his passing turned to laughter as the day went on, and true love of another human being gone permeated where they gathered.

Only in his last years did he complain, and five years ago he told me at the dinner table that he had five years left. I noted what he said as I am a true believer that we manifest and bring into our lives that which we believe. He was once a very strong man both physically and mentally. He built his homes with his own hands and with the help of his wife and later his boys. I wondered and often discussed with him how it felt to live in a home where he knew it from the foundation to each tile we stepped on. He was proud of his home, sure, but his home was an essence of him; of what he did in this life, which was build, creating space for his familys’ energy. A master of his domain!

Noted were his traits during this week of goodbyes. He loved his family and controlled as best he could, their upbringing. A plethora of stories exist about this father, not one beginning or ending with “he wasn’t there” or “didn’t care.” He was in the game. He loved to laugh and was a jokester. His passing elicited a desire to celebrate him and laugh for his life. What joy there was in this week to listen to stories and hear the loud and almost constant laughter when discussing his life. He was proud and his pride was his home, family, service and friends. The stuff that gives life its blood, its flow.  I do not think he read one self-help book that told him how to love his family or create joy in his life. He did it as choice every day his health was on his side. He knew what he had done here in this life. He knew  it solemnly and with joy. The last chapter of any book I have ever read on how to get life right. He was a friend and great listener, present in every conversation he had with someone. I can attest he knew so much about people it blew my mind. He remembered names, schools, jobs, where they lived, who they married, names of their kids…the list goes on. I wonder now if he was gifted with the mind that didn’t forget, or he learned the trick of being present when speaking with someone to the point that the connection was complete. A true transference of information! Evident in those whose lives he touched just by speaking with them, sharing a moment and maybe a beer.

He once asked me if I had read all of the books on my shelves. I proudly replied that I had, and he seemed impressed which made me happy. Now I think he was the example in so many of those books about life. He was not drawn to the study of happiness like I am, he had it. I am thankful for knowing Carlos “Charlie” Guzman. We all need examples to emulate while here on earth. Maybe in the future I will let my enough be enough, laugh out-loud without questioning if my joy is bothering another, truly embrace each moment with my friends and family, and never apologize for my life to anyone.

By the end of the week we were all very tired, and as goodbyes to our loved ones end, the sadness creeps in. The reality of never being able to see, call or hug them sets in, hard. But this week had a surprise and happy ending. A baby is going to be born, due in about 8 months around Charlie’s birthday. A new soul is coming. A new beautiful addition to the family. We cried again. We laughed again. We shared joy again.

Life is made of this stuff. The comings and goings. And all we create in-beween.