Sunday, July 28, 2013

struggling with forgiveness

I know that maintaining a clean heart is essential to my well-being on all levels.  I know that I need to forgive to be forgiven.  I have forgiven some pretty big things in my life.  So when seemingly smaller things come up that I struggle to forgive, I wonder why.

I am stuck.

I wonder if I don't really want to let it go.

You know that quote about anger (or lack of forgiveness) being like a hot coal that only burns the person holding it?

Having gone through the 12 steps in one form or another enough time, I know that there is that step about forgiveness looming before me.  I know that I need to do it.  But it is so hard.

My heart aches to heal damaged relationships....relationships that I believe cannot be healed because I do not believe the other parties desire what I do.  I wonder if my heartache is a desire for the healed relationship or really just a desire for validation.  That would be a codependent speaking.

Both I know have been weighing heavily on my mind because of circumstances arising that means I might see these individuals in the temple soon.  I want to be able to see them there and have no ill feelings toward them.  I know that if I were to go tomorrow and do so then that would not be the case.

Help me out here.

The first individual is the friend who said many unkind things about me last year and had a ripple effect on many of my relationships and friendships.  It has been for the best as I have realized how I had allowed myself to be held back by fear of judgement from others.  However, it has still hurt.  I feel like I should have been able to let it go by now.  Especially having found some good from it.  I think I hurt because I will not get an apology.  I haven't sought one, but I don't know that I should.  Feelings and opinions were expressed and though I do not agree with them, that does not invalidate the fact that they felt them.  Still, it was my character that was assassinated.  Why do I feel ill will toward this person?  Or is it hurt?  Or sadness?  I do not know.  All I know is that I am still not in a place that I feel like I could see them in passing in a store and be as all was before- letting bygones be bygones.  I feel like that makes me a terrible person.  Perhaps it is simply that I sought this person's approval to give myself validity for so long that I'm only now seeing it... that it is hard sometimes to really feel and remember that I don't need it.  Another person's view of my worth does not define my worth.  Especially when I have confirmation from the Lord.

The second situation involves my family.  I struggled with whether to write it here or not because I don't know if any of them read this or whom.  I need the help though and this has been weighing on my mind.  My brother will be leaving on his mission soon, which means the endowed family members attending the temple together.  My father remarried about the same time that I got married.  My relationship with my stepmom has been.... I don't know how to describe it.  It seems fine and then suddenly it is not.  And I never seem to know quite what to make of it.  I know we have both been on learning paths and experiencing things and growing in different ways over the years.  The whole blended family is not something either of us have experience with and me getting married and starting my family meant that I was not on the same path as she.  Anyway, I thought things were finally in a good place and that we had established a friendship and understanding.  We have different views on many things but I felt maybe that was finally allowed to be the case.  Then last summer I arrived for a visit with my children, as I had done the previous summers, and a rather large misunderstanding ensued.  I was put in a very awkward situation and felt backed into a corner.  This is how confrontations have frequently been with my dad and stepmom together... a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere situation where I feel like some helpless child in a corner.  I was confused.  Direct lies were being told about things I had supposedly said or not said and no one was hearing me.  I could not believe that such blatant lies were being said by her.  I truly believe she believed what she was saying.  I am still confused by this.  Being that my children and I were not welcome and that my experience over the year previous had taught me about boundaries, I stuck to my boundaries and left the following morning.  I cannot tell you the heartache of packing my children up to leave their grandparent's house after having driven 6 hours to see them for any amount possible.  Trying to determine how to explain it in a way that was truthful but that would not make them feel like it was their fault or color their view of their grandparents.  As no one was home when we left, I left a note explaining myself (rather kindly I felt) and we left to make the best of things- staying with friends off and on through the week until I just couldn't take living out of the car any longer and went back home.  The only response I received from that encounter was a negative one saying that I was in the wrong and owed them an apology.  I still have not figured out what it was that I was supposed to apologize for.  I don't know if any of this makes any sense really.  I don't want to go into details because I don't want to rehash it all when it should be in the past.  And that's just it.... Nothing has been spoken of it since but she has hardly spoken a word to me since.  I feel I should have an apology if nothing else for the lies said about me directly to me.  For saying that I sent or did not send messages that I have proof otherwise of.  I made a boundary that I, or my children, would not linger in a place where we were not accepted or wanted.  Feeling like a burden has long been a trigger of mine.  I don't know why but I recall being concerned with that even as a child.  So I know that it is in my best interest and safety to not allow myself to stay in a situation where I have to wonder or worry about that.  I am sad that my children are paying for this.  I am sad that their grandparents don't seem to care enough to repair this.  I am sad that when my daughter was baptized a few months after this happened and we held off on it to a three day weekend just so these grandparents could come down and make a real weekend of it and spend time with them, that they came for the baptism and pretty much turned right around and left.  I am sad that my kids have asked me all summer long when we are going to go up there to visit like we have every other summer, and I have no answer for them because we will not go until we are welcome....and I certainly do not feel welcome in a home where the person who lives there barely says hello to me...and I won't take my children somewhere that I, as their mother, am not welcome.
And that brings me to the next thing..... As I posted recently, my great-grandmother recently turned 100.  All the family came down and family pictures were taken.  They were really cute.  A couple weeks ago we had the family reunion and it was announced that the pictures from the birthday party were available for purchase.  My dad (whom everything seems 'fine' with, at least when it's just us) commented under his breath that he and my stepmom were upset that they couldn't get the digital file of the picture because they'd planned to photoshop it.  I asked why as I couldn't imagine MIL had snapped a picture of it with my phone so I'd seen it and thought it a very good picture.  I asked if they planned to edit the background or the stools they weren't happy to be sitting on or something.  No, that wasn't it.  It was my brother's hairstyle.  They didn't like his mohawk and plan to photoshop it out.  I was dumbfounded by this response.  I still am.  I think all I said was "are you serious!?" and the reply was "well, if it's going up on the wall in my house" and "we don't want to be looking at that and other people looking at it".  Really?  I feel like as family members we should love and accept one another regardless of the choices we make.  We can set boundaries to protect ourselves but to alter the appearance of someone for the way it will make your family portrait look???  How is that representative of God's love?  How is that setting a Christlike example?  I feel so angry on my brother's behalf and I don't think anyone but me even knows about this.  What if he goes to visit and sees the altered image on the wall?  What message does that send to him, someone who already feels that church members are so hypocritical?  Someone who is already so cynical and who struggles with their self-esteem?  (then, admittedly, I selfishly had the thought of wondering if they would photoshop me if I was 'too fat' or had some other visible 'blemish' that they were embarrassed of- which of course then led me to wonder if all my being upset was really just a reflection of my own insecurity).  As I was talking this out with my mother-in-law, trying to get the perspective of an older person and of a parent, I think she got to the heart of the problem with both situations.... She said "It's like they don't accept you as a part of the family if you don't behave, act, and look according to their perfect mold of what is acceptable.  Since you aren't perfect like her kids seem to be then you must not be a part of the family and so they don't treat you as such."  How do I fix this?  Do I even try?  We cannot change others.  This has been an ongoing pattern it seems....and it is so below the surface that the average person outside the inner circle would not see it, which seems to make it doubly frustrating.  It's like a secret wound that can't be talked about because it only fuels the fire that is burning you.  I pray for my heart to be softened.  I pray for theirs to be softened.  I don't know whether to say anything.  I don't know if saying anything would do any good since it seems I am so often not heard.  You know how quickly others tune out anything you say when they are quick to be defensive?  That is how every conversation with them has ever seemed to go in regards to any confrontation of any type.  It seems that I have always been in the wrong and never they... and that isn't right.  It isn't just me being prideful or feeling victimized.  That would be true of any relationship.  It just isn't possible for one side to always be completely in the wrong.  Not where any love or respect is involved.  Do I chalk it up to they have the right to make the choices they want and leave it be?  I am trying.  I am trying to just let it go.  I am trying to just let it all go.....but maybe I'm not trying hard enough....?  I don't want to dread getting to go to the temple with my baby brother.  Right now I do, because I dread that feeling of being in there with family, and having bad feelings toward any of them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

challenge group and 12 step program

I'm working on a project this week that I've been wanting to work on for a while.  One that I've felt was 'meant for me'.  Something I might even feel 'called' to do.

In our FB fitness challenge groups we do daily mini-challenges.  These are generally geared toward personal development.  There are some physical challenges, but the majority are related to personal development.  They have been wonderful, and key to the change I have experienced in the last nearly 90 days.

I knew that they could be better.

I've done the PASG/Healing Through Christ program (please do it even if you think you don't need to- you will grow closer to your Savior in such a real way!) and even helped in writing the manual for it.  I've done the ARP program (I'll be real with you... I have some to be desired on actually doing every single step thoroughly in regards to myself...but I promise to! that's another post...).  I've also done something called SOLE (Survivors of Life's Experiences).  It was truly life-changing and involved sort of a different version of the 12 steps and a lot of hands-on application of steps and working through things.  It was a program done through LDS Family Services on a referral basis and I feel incredibly blessed to have had the experience that I did, even if I resisted the referral at first.  This has a good little rundown of some of the steps and information that are found in the manual from that.  To my knowledge, the program is no longer in effect.

So my project is to combine all these things that I have experienced and learned and grown from, with the mini-challenges used in this last group I participated in, to develop a new set of challenges and things to ponder and apply etc.  I do this with some other coaches as well (which is really great because we all have our own strengths and weaknesses but all want each other and our challengers to be successful so everyone is better helped and served this way) so it will be up to them in the end to help me tweak what gets used for this group that starts on Monday.  However, I've wanted to combine the 3 programs for quite some time now, even just for my own benefit.  I'm looking forward to the challenge of it and the way I know it will really help me and others.  I have had the whispering to do it for quite some time.  I think I just needed the excuse to finally sit down and take the time to act upon that.  I pray I will be guided in doing so.

Things I know to be true

copyright 2013 Hobbyholica

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let them eat cake

Between family reunion and family vacation and the busyness that is summer, I haven't found the time to sit and blog my thoughts like I'd like. Still, I couldn't let this cake I made go unmentioned. I want to make sure that remember how I did it. 
The original that that was modified from was one of my favorites that my mom would make me as a kid. I've started making it on occasion for my daughter's birthday (which was the occasion today). We love it. It's like a banana bread in a cake form, with a sinful cream cheese frosting. 
Here is my version made today: 

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups almond flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups honey
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons coconut oil
5 to 6 mashed bananas
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained (I actually had a 15 oz one and did just over half of it)

Spray a 9x13 pan and preheat oven to 350*.

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, applesauce, honey, and oil. Combine with flour mixture but do not beat or overly mix. In a separate bowl mix together bananas, pineapple and vanilla. Stir into batter until combined. 
Bake for about 30 minutes and check center for doneness. 

Cream cheese(ish) frosting
5oz low-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat together everything except powdered sugar until well blended. Gradually  add in powdered sugar and beat to consistency.
*I think this 'frosting' would even work well as a fruit dip. You might even be able to leave out the powdered sugar that way. It set up pretty nicely when I put it all in the fridge after putting it on the cake. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

of life and death and things in between

Do you remember the 'oh bla dee' show?  That's what my brother and I always called it anyway.  I think it was officially called 'Life Goes On'.  Anywho...I supposed it could sum up life around here.

Sunday was the anniversary of my mom's passing.  14 years ago.  It is generally a huge trigger for me so I made the commitment in my group beforehand that I would not eat after 8 (since that is usually mindless, emotional eating) nor would I have any ice cream (my major comfort food- largely because I associate it with memories of my mom) for the week.  Lemme tell you.... it was HARD.  I did, however, discover that cups of crushed ice are a glorious substitution and will do quite well to satisfy.  I found myself thinking about my mom a lot this year.  Maybe it is the journey I am on.  Maybe it is the nearing her age, sort of.  Maybe it is my children being the age my siblings were when she died.  I really don't know.  Maybe it is that one of her best friends from her childhood passed away recently and I've been talking with her daughter that is my age. Amazing how those feelings and memories can so quickly be recalled if you choose.  The passing of time does not remove the ability to empathize with a heartache so deep.  Being that the 4th of July holiday is so close to her death, I find that it brings up a lot of emotions for me as well.  I survived it all though and didn't use food to cope.  I had a very nice experience at the cemetery.  It was a perfectly beautiful and humid day.  It was humid the day we buried her.  It had rained in the days before.  It had started raining the day she died- continued until the morning of the funeral, as though the world wept with me.  It wasn't busy there and the grass seemed greener than usual.  Someone had left bright flowers.  Silk flowers, but those last longer.  I have a sneaking suspicion it was my Grandma Douglas.  For 14 years I have visited my mother's grave.  For 14 years I have always found new flowers there, never looking wilted or sun-faded.  It's such a comfort.  I suspect my Grandma is the one to do it because many many years ago she once commented about going regularly...she was apologizing to me for there not being pretty flowers on my mom's grave when an upcoming holiday had just passed (maybe her birthday or something) and she was worried I went to visit and there wasn't anything.  I had no clue before that.  They weren't even super close or anything, but it is such an incredibly loving thing to me that small act of service.  This Sunday I found myself comforted by comments from others who told me how much that day stayed in their minds, how much they missed my mom still, how much they loved her still.  It's strange that I would find comfort in that but it felt good knowing that others were as impacted as I.  I said a prayer as I left the cemetery and was overcome.  I had a special experience unlike any before and I was so grateful for that special blessing.

So what's weird is that I did really well all last week leading up to Sunday.  I have been wiped out since.  I guess it's a little like I didn't realize how mentally or emotionally draining the experiencing of the hard moments and making good food choices in a major trigger time would be....and I didn't even realize it until after the fact when it all sort of crashed down.  I wasn't prepared for that.  Yesterday wasn't a particularly great day.  There are a lot of things going on this week and rather than face and deal with them, I absorbed myself in work and didn't eat and then was tempted to gorge later.  Thankfully I filled myself up with healthy foods when I did finally eat.  I came to all this realization at the end of the day and determined today would be a much better one.

I was awoken today by a text from a ward member/neighbor/friend.  Another neighbor/friend/ward member had lost her son to suicide.  I am in the Primary Presidency and this woman is one of the most amazing primary teachers.  She is my son's teacher in fact and her daughter is one of my kids' friends.  My heart broke into a million pieces thinking of her and of her children who would have to figure out how to process their brother taking his own life and that missing part of their family.  Then I pulled up the news on my computer to find that the fire that has been raging in the the mountains outside the valley had gotten even closer to our family cabin.  My heart sunk a little more.  Here I had determined that today would be a better day and I was feeling dragged down and down.  I grabbed a couple of Pizza Hut chicken wings out of the fridge that DH had brought home yesterday.  Okay, I ate 3.  I knew the things I should do but I really did not want to do any of them.  At all.  All desire and life was sucked out of me.  I walked down and gave her a hug because it was all I could think to do.  I still didn't feel like doing anything.  I'm happy to report that I finally did get out of that funk thanks to some support from my group and some tender mercies from the Lord.  What a difference that can make!

There is still so much going on and so much to share but it has gotten late and I truly need to sleep.