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Archive for May, 2009

As an adult, when we find ourselves in abusive relationships, we have the ability to talk to others, seek help and find ways to get away from the abuse.  Certainly it is not an easy thing to do but it is a choice that we can make.  However, children do not have the opportunities to know their resources and even if they do, are usually intimidated into believing whatever threats are made by their abuser.

I don’t have any children and I do not personally know any child that has suffered from physical abuse.  I do know that if I were aware of a child being abused, I would not hesitate to go to the authorities.  I would not try to handle the matter with the parent or parents as I am not trained to do so.  Nor would I be willing to risk the well-being of any child or children by allowing the parents to find ways to hide the children or try to hide the abuse or take the children and run.

Verbal abuse is an entirely different situation.  Many parents and other adults that I have met along the way do not find anything wrong with the way that they speak to their children.  For example, if a child is not doing well in school, they have no problem with telling the child that he/she is a loser and will never amount to anything.  They tell the children that they are dumb, stupid, etc. and go on their way, never thinking twice about the ramification of their words.  Then there are those who have children who do a fantastic job but regardless of their achievements, it is never enough.  They are expected to do well and if they don’t meet the parents’ expectations, then they are not trying hard enough or they are lazy or they don’t care and on and on and on.

I don’t think that there is a single person who is reading this blog who has not either personally experienced such behavior directly or saw others inflicting this upon other children.  Many girls are told that they are too fat or two skinny or too ugly, etc. and end up spending their adult life so self-absorbed in their personal appearance that they never even consider that they are beautiful people just for the people that they are.  They never consider that their real happiness in life would be found with a person who appreciates their willingness to trust and to nurture and to be allowed to be just whom and what they are.

Many of the same things happen for boys.  If they are not into playing sports and being the big man on campus and working out in the gym all of the time, they are constantly being reminded that they are failures as men and less than desirable and that no woman would ever be interested in them.  They have a difficult time growing into adults who understand that physical acumen has nothing to do with being a wonderful husband and great human being.  And the sad part here is that the abuse usually comes from the fathers who never succeeded in the athletic arena themselves and are now trying to live vicariously through their sons.

I do understand that most people act and talk to their children this way in the hope that it will spur them on to do bigger and better things.  After all, this is the way that the children’s parents were treated by their own parents.  However, if every adult would stop to think about the verbal abuse that they experienced as they grew up, I think that it would be a whole different ballgame.  How did you do in your adult life as a result of being told that you were dumb, stupid, lazy, too fat, too skinny, not smart enough, not working to your potential, not doing the best that you can, etc.?  How has such verbal abuse diminished you as a person?  How much did you buy into the abuse that was repeated to you over and over and over?  And now, most importantly, as a result of this abuse, how has it changed you as the person you are and what are you going to do to change from who you were told you are into the person that you actually are?  The easiest way will be to start speaking to the children in your life in a manner that is completely respectful and to offer your help and knowledge to them if they need it.  The more that you treat the children with dignity and respect, the more you will become a positive role-model in their lives and the more respect you will have for yourself which will lead you to being the person that you truly are and/or want to be.  And we will not end up raising another generation of people who will perpetuate the same destructive behavior on their children as we have been doing for so many generations.

If you need help or have questions about child abuse or child neglect, check out www.childhelp.org.

I would love your comments.

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I don’t know about anyone else but Memorial Day is a very special holiday to me. It isn’t because I personally had a lot of people in my family and/or circle of friends who went to war for my country because I didn’t. In fact, I don’t personally know a single person who died fighting for our freedom. Nevertheless, I am extremely moved each year on this holiday as I contemplate what type of person would go to fight for his/her country and who would ultimately give their lives for our lives here.

I don’t know a family whose son or daughter did not return from war or one person who had to spend the rest of their life without their best friend in this manner. And I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to go to war and to lose one or more comrades next to you in a fire fight. All I have to say is that when I think of such people I am so very grateful for their ultimate sacrifice for me and my fellow Americans and I know that I could never do what they have done for me.

I look at the military graveyards with the American flag beside each headstone and tears come to my eyes. These mark the lives of so many young people who sacrificed their lives for us. What kind of a person is that giving? Who could be that self-sacrificing to go to war for our freedom? I can’t begin to wrap my mind around such a choice.

So this year on Memorial Day as every other, I always take time to stop and think about all of these unique individuals who are my heroes. I watch the parades and the memorial services and look into the faces of those veterans who are in attendance and I say a lot of extra prayers for all of those who have worn the various uniforms of those military people who have served our country. I admire every single one of them who have had strength of character that I will never know and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their sacrifices.

I feel so very fortunate to live in this, the greatest country in the world, and to have a military that is willing to fight for my freedoms and the freedoms of others. The strength and bravery of so many people from both the past and the present is just mind-boggling to me. Although I am not able to let these people know how I personally feel about their sacrifices, I am so glad that we do have a special holiday to acknowledge their accomplishments and to allow us as a nation to thank all of them and let them know what their sacrifices mean to us. And I hope that we never forget what they have done to keep us free and to have all of the future generations know and respect the sacrifices that have been made to make this the greatest nation.

I would love your comments on what Memorial Day means to you.

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This post has been moved to my new and improved blog at http://www.letlifehappen.com/2009/05/17/i-fired-my-friend/

Thanks for visiting!
Barbara

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I have spent a great portion of my life allowing others to make my decisions for me.  When I was a child, I did everything according to what my parents dictated.  As I grew older, the peer pressure kicked in and off and running I went with the pack.  Then it was in the work place where I acquiesced to all of the rules and regulations of the office.  And at the same time, my social life was governed by all of the usual ways of meeting and getting to know others.  That was until I started to see that all of the tried and true methods of existing with others didn’t work for me.

The first thing that I had decided to tackle was religion.  I had been raised to believe that God was someone/something to fear.  This worked for all of the time that I was under the thumb of my parents and religious studies but once I was on my own, I started to question this premise.  That wasn’t my God – my God loved me and helped me and I was made in his image.  Ding, ding, ding!  So what everyone else had told me was true was not my truth. 

That wasn’t the end by a long shot.  As I moved through the work place, I worked very hard and was able to work my way up through the ranks in a segment of government dealing with taxation.  When I reached the top position that I could attain without a political appointment, I knew that it was time to move on but that did not happen until I learned another very important lesson.  There were rumors going around that said that the only way that I could have achieved what I had was because I was “sleeping” with someone higher executive.  I was having a really hard time dealing with that and I chose to discuss it with my dad.  His response to me was that at the end of the day, I had to answer to myself and if I wasn’t doing anything wrong, then it didn’t really matter what anyone had to say.  Now that was something that fitted with my thinking.

Well, I guess I still hadn’t learned my lesson because the next big event in my life was my marriage to a controlling and abusive man to whom I gave my power for 10 years.  It took me that long to understand that I did not deserve the abuse that I was receiving and that all of the things that I was told that were wrong with me just weren’t true.  I believe that that was my true turning point.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I still do ask for people’s opinions especially when I need to make a decision in an area where I don’t have any expertise.  But, I will take that information and do my own research and if something doesn’t make sense to me or doesn’t feel right, I will not stop until I can reach a decision that feels like the right thing for me.  This has ruffled more than a few feathers along the way but if my relationship with another person has to be based upon what that person thinks about me, it won’t take long until we part ways.

So to anyone who comes my way in this lifetime, I don’t care what you think about me.  I will appreciate you for exactly who and what you are and I expect the same in return.  I will support you in any decisions that you make and I will accept nothing less in return.  And should you choose to talk negatively about me or do things that are harmful to me, I will not do anything in retribution but will quietly remove myself from your sphere, knowing that what goes around comes around and you can set up any karma for yourself that you choose.

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For as long as I can remember, I always believed that whenever you have a situation with which you need to deal, the answers can be found inside of you and not from others.  In one of the lyrics that are contained in the “Let Life Happen” CD, the words are “the answers are inside the mind, they’re really not so hard to find”.  I have since learned that the first part of that lyric is still correct but the second part is a totally different matter.  Let me explain.

I currently weigh the exact same amount of pounds that I did when I was 18 years old and a senior in high school.  I want to lose weight.  I have tried just about every diet in the book and even when I successfully would lose some pounds, I always managed to gain back that weight.  Believe me, I can empathize with Kirstie Alley.  I have read about “set points” and metabolism and the need for exercise and counting calories and counting carbohydrates and fat and the not eating after 6 p.m. and the need to drink more water, etc.  until I am blue in the face.  And I tried all of the variations and still end up in the same place.

Then I went to my collection of books that all indicate that everything that is occurring within you physically is mentally manifested.  That made sense to me so I decided to get to the bottom of this issue with this unwanted fat.  Everywhere I looked, I found the same thing – that the fat is being retained as a means of protecting me.  But from what am I seeking protection? 

Over the years, I went back to all of the hard times and addressed each one of them, one at a time.  I reviewed how I felt about each individual issue, discovered what I had learned, forgave anyone to whom I may have directed responsibility and released it.  I truly believed that I had covered every possible issue, situation, wrong, whatever and I still hadn’t gained any ground.  Then out of the clear blue sky, something really hit me two days ago.

Whenever I was discussing my weight with anyone, I always said that I had been thin until I was 7 years old when I had my tonsils removed.  I have believed all of these years that the tonsils must have been the cause of my not having a big appetite as I remember my parents forcing me to eat when I had no desire to do so or didn’t like what we were having.  And then I had to go to the hospital to have those tonsils removed.

I finally went back to that time and the only thing that I remember of that surgery was that I woke up in the middle of the night in a very dark room with my throat feeling like it was on fire.  I knew that I had a button that I could push to call the nurse but I was so scared that I could barely move and never did find that button.  The other thing that I remember is that I was told that I could have all of the ice cream that I wanted when I had those tonsils out.

Ah, ha!  What did I learn from that experience!  It was the ice cream that was the only thing that could soothe my pain and that I was alone and scared when I was in the dark hospital room and I would do anything to protect myself from going to that darkness again. 

I have continued all of these years to protect myself by soothing myself with comfort food whenever I start to get stressed.  After my three recent surgeries, I managed to find my way out of not staying over in the hospital for even one night, thanks to the kindness and understanding of my cosmetic surgeon.  And two days ago, when I went to a fund raiser event for breast cancer research at the offices of that same cosmetic surgeon and was walking through the hallways past the various treatment rooms, I had the feeling that the experience was a bit scary.  That was the trigger.  There should have been nothing that was scary about it but that was my feeling.  But my willingness to examine why I felt fear is what has finally allowed me to discover from inside what I was protecting and I am looking forward to bringing about a very successful change in my eating habits as a result.  It will be interesting to see if I have finally found the answer to something that I have sought to change for virtually a lifetime.

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