A Piece of Peace

I’ve spent a lifetime praying for strength.

Whatever the circumstance was, my prayers were always something of a bargain I was trying to make with God.  “Please let me just get through this” or “Please give me the strength to stay on my path when I want to give up so badly” or “God, just let the light at the end of the tunnel be a light, and not a damned train”.

[Insert CRASH!]

And so I think you toughen yourself when you go through something bad.  And I think that is a good thing.  The next bad thing that happens, you are a little more prepared and a little more fortified.  And you can tell yourself that adversity leads to strength, because it does.  You learn to cope.  You learn to solve problems and you learn to innovate.  You learn to dig yourself out, climb over or around (and okay under if you must) whatever adversity is handed to you.

Strong is a good thing.  Unless it hardens you.

In the last ten years I’ve swung on a pendulum of circumstance and adversity, transition and change.  Most of the negative experiences translated into new learning for me.  I got tougher.  I developed a bullshit-ometer and learned how to tell when someone was lying to me, or trying to manipulate me.

That ability took far longer than it should have I think.  But I miss the days when I used to meet someone and assume they were just good hearted, kind, peaceful, well meaning, positive and kind.  I’m not kidding when I say that I thought everyone ELSE was that way (and I was just stuck with a messed up family).

I know.  Naive.  Perhaps dangerously so.   But like the fortune teller said (I never believe in psychics or bull like ghosts and paranormal) [insert spooky music]…

“You are a very very young soul.  That is why you find malice so shocking.  Your heart and soul is kind, and generous and very young. “

Hmm… in her defense she did smell like marijuana and some kind of cheap zinfandel. Good gig to feed someone complete bullshit for $60 per half hour.  Wish I could charge that (insert sarcastic smile)….

WAIT!  See that?  That’s kind of what I am talking about.  Why couldn’t I have just left her stinky room in Windsor and smiled.  After all she had kind of paid me a compliment right?  Until her parting words, which pissed me off.

“You are a bright light of energy, and creativity, and love and humor and intelligence.  This will attract many interesting people to your life.  It will also attract the vermin.”

Tell me about it… 70-something coffee dates post divorce later…  remarried to the most amazing human being I’ve met on this planet (besides Diane… or Diego… okay or Christina… Aria …).  He’s still the top because he makes me scrambled eggs on the weekend y’all… but you are up there too xxxx

Also he worked REALLY hard to learn to put the toilet seat down (VICTORY!).

I’ll be real with you.  My family was always talking shit about each other, running each other down, competing against each other.  The envy… the lies… the malice.  I was raised so battered by this constant negativity in a house of anger and violence, that when I met gentle creatures like my first best friend Cathy Kelly and her Mother I was floored.

Kindness (asking nothing in return) floored me.  And I did not trust it, because it was used to bait certain behaviors.  I.e., my Mom would be really really nice to me when she needed money to pay off her Sears card right?  And then returned to her normal state of being when I asked her to repay it (like she had promised).

No one was particularly self sacrificing with the exception of a couple dear Aunts (who were fabulous moms) and who gave me a glimpse of something… different.   Steady, unquestionable (not always perfect) love and support.

When I look at someone now or start to get to know them, flags go up the minute they begin to talk shit about someone else.  BIG flags.  I am not judging them and I’m not sure how to describe it exactly but… I want to run away from it.  I don’t want to HEAR gossip and I don’t want to partake in it.

Not because I think I am better.  Simply because I have this concept of a life where I am surrounded by loving people who just… love.  Through mistakes, through misunderstandings, through jealousy and envy, through judgement, self-deprecation, insecurity….

Just love.

I just want to love (and accept love).  And when I meet new people I want to anticipate that if I give them love, and effort, and attention and my loyalty that it will be returned to me.

Instead I hang back and listen to the gossip… and bleed internally from it every single time I am within ear shot of it.   Consider me allergic to conflict of any kind (that is my Inner Adult stepping in to filter the world for my Inner Child who still… is quite shocked to see the games that people run on each other).

It hurts me.  I don’t want to be around that.

I don’t want to become that.  I consider it a spiritual disease of sorts.  A threat to my creativity, optimism, kindness… and peace of mind and contented heart.

I’m fortified right now and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.  Good luck getting in.   There has been too much change and too many new things… I still need some time to breathe.  To find my footing.  To adjust to the culture.  To miss my friends and family and grieve what my Mother and Step-Father put me through.

I had to put it in a little box on the shelf, and much like I’ve told others so many times… you can compartmentalize for a time but eventually, the shelf gets so heavy that the boxes come tumbling out.

And there I am on the floor trying to label the suckers … Sister, Mother, Father, Home, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins… horrible boyfriends… near homelessness (and the vulnerability of that… it sticks in my gut).   Immigration.  Scraping financially… flogging from the inside out I was able to put those boxes away for a time.  The lids of all of them are off right now.  They insist to be acknowledged and reconciled.

And I thought if I got far enough away from it and stowed it away… that I would find peace.  I know I will once I get the storage boxes sorted in my head.

Not dealing with the contents of those boxes is making me hard, skeptical, untrusting … hard.  I always know there is a problem when the poetry goes away.  A conduit is blocked.   I’m getting sick a lot and having bad dreams.   Really stupid, upsetting, insecurity.

But then a sarcastic voice inside me states… “New marriage, new country, new step-mom-ness, new culture, new upcoming job, new car, new family, new roads for God’s sake (seriously Texas what is up with your rampant u-turns)… and a series of bad luck “shit happens” kind of things to disrupt our plans, because life is always like that.

So I’m going to leave the lids off the boxes for awhile and if my husband can bear it, do that psychobabble I do out loud to try to understand myself.

I want to believe that people are always good.   I want to lie myself back to that innocence and approach everyone again with an open and trusting heart.

After all, I have big, former football playing sexy insurance executive husband to run defense for me now.   And he is an impeccable judge of character.  And a closet hermit, which at the moment, suits me just fine.

Our Son goes for his second surgery in nine weeks on Thursday.  We have them for dinner tonight.  When I was sad, my Nonno used to make a BIG HUGE meatball just for me.

Yeah… I smiled and looked up just in case he was watching, shaking his head at me for being way way way way waaaaaay too sensitive for a life form on this planet.

Meatballs Lori Ann Reese