Thursday, October 26, 2017

Things I do differently

To be sure, I AM my mother's daughter.  I inherited her metabolism, the Mongolian eye-fold, and a love of reading from her. 

I AM definitely my father's daughter, also... though I didn't get the Wegener's Jewish nose, I do see him when I look in the mirror. 

I learned many many things from my parents. 

I learned about farming, and butchering, and milking cows, and how to drive a stick-shift (first on a tractor!).  I learned to can produce, and to freeze it, and to process the meat we had just butchered.  I learned who to go to for help in my math (Thanks, dad, for carrying me through Trig!!).  I learned to love animals, and quiet outdoor spaces, and unpolluted night skies.  I learned how to pinch a penny until it screams....and then to pinch it a bit further.  I learned a lot from my parents. 

I also learned some negative things.  My husband reminds me often that we can always learn from people, even those with whom we DEEPLY disagree. 

In that vein, I learned how not to parent.  I learned how to drive my children away.  I learned an up-close-and-personal definition of mental illness.  In short, I learned that I wanted to do things differently than my parents least some things. 

In order to accomplish that, I have parented differently.  I have intentionally built positive relationships with my children, with the aim that they WANT a relationship with me, and with God...instead of having one out of fear.  I have tried to instill in my children the idea that it is a show of strength to recognize one's limits and to ask for help when it is needed.  I have worked to admit my faults, mistakes, and blunders, and to ask for forgiveness.  I have worked (with the amazing help of my husband) to give my children freedom within limits, so that they have room to grow and to learn on their own. 

I have done a LOT of things differently...this is just the beginning. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm Needy....

This is not something I am likely to admit to myself, never mind broadcasting it to the world, and yet here I go again, getting WAY too personal, sharing things better left unsaid, if "they" are to be believed...

Actually, "they" are who I have to thank for understanding that I am "too needy".  They remind me of it with every loss of friendship, every unacknowledged greeting, every eye-roll....some have even SAID it to me... "You're too needy.  Stop being so needy and you'll have more friends."

Ok.  Right.

I like to think that I am a normal human being, in need of adult interaction and connection with people in the form of friendship.  I like to think that my tentative steps into the sea of people are the same as any other person's....if that person is introverted and has a bit of social anxiety....

However, I DO know that I am different.  I was raised in a sheltered environment, and often deprived of the depth of connection that children everywhere crave.  Maybe that is where my neediness came from.

And my social anxiety gets in the way of my reaching out to people that I would LIKE to be friends addition, I was taught that I was a bother, so I don't want to foist myself on these amazing people with whom I would like to be friends.  Frankly, I am scared that I will (once again) prove that the LIES I was told as a child were actually truth, that I don't have the ability to make and keep friends.

So, I perceive myself as needy.
And I perceive myself as broken.
And I perceive myself as unworthy of the friendships that I crave.

I will not, however, apologize for my neediness. 
You see, I believe God made people for connection, for relationship, and part of that was putting within us a NEED for friends, for deep connection, and specifically for a relationship with Him. 

The problem is that parents teach children how to be in relationships...and not all parents do a stellar job of that.  So the children who come out of homes who are deprived of this piece of their training have difficulty making or keeping friends, and are often perceived by others as being needy....because they ARE.  They NEED friends.  They may NEED to be taught how to be friends.  They definitely still need love, and companionship, and friendship, and matter how they are perceived by others. 

Another piece of the ability to make friends is a broken understanding of friends...say, I have a friend...they think we have a really good, perhaps deep connection...and I think that they perceive me as a bother, and are tired of having me around.  So, maybe I have a LOT of people who consider me a really good friend, but I don't feel like I have anyone, because I can't feel the connection. 

Frankly, thinking through this helps me understand why I have such a hard time KNOWING that God loves me, and wants the best for me....  now maybe someone can help fix this for me??? 

Friday, August 25, 2017

From the perspective of one of my TCKs....

Third-Culture Kids are, in the words of Wikipedia:
Third culture kid (TCK) or third culture individual (TCI) are terms used to refer to children raised in a culture other than their parents' (or the culture of the country given on the child's passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years.
The most common TCKs are children of missionaries, ex-patriots (aka, ex-pats), and military children, as well as children of the adults attached to embassies.  

I have 6 TCKs, also known as "military brats".

So how many brats are there?In the United States today there are approximately 700,000 children ages six to eighteen classified as military youth. The truth is that no one really knows which is surprising for a country obsessed with polls and statistics. No one has kept a running count of the number of children raised in the U.S. military. The Department of Defense (DoD) school system approximates that since 1946 it has educated four million brats overseas or about 20-30% of the total brat population. One guesstimate would be a total of at least 12-20 million brats.

‘This wouldn’t include the children of National Guard, embassy and Foreign Service personnel, DoD civilian employeesmissionary families and mobile corporate families,’ notes Jump Cut journalist George T. Marshall, ‘ – all of who share more in common with military brats than with their fellow citizens.’ (source)
While we live in a community of military families, our children go to schools with a LOT of non-military-affiliated people...and there is the rub.  

Because so few Americans actually serve or have served in the military, many of their children have NO CLUE as to the culture or experiences our children have grown up experiencing.

One of my children was interacting with a friend in the past few days, lamenting the loss of yet another friend who didn't "get it"...and wrote some profound words describing it....

"They don't understand, they don't get it.  They're the ones who are constantly hanging out with someone new every day, while I'm stuck at home, sitting by myself.  That's what makes me feel like the replaceable one.  They just don't get it...they don't understand what it's like to constantly have to try and make new friends just to have them s**t on you.  They don't get having to move every few years to a completely new place with no one you know.  They don't get not knowing the culture or the area or anything about this new place you're just thrown into.  They don't understand having social anxiety and not being able to start a simple conversation with someone no matter how badly you want to. They don't understand having the people that mean the most to you live on the other side of the country or sometimes the other side of the world...they don't understand how f'ing easy they have it.  They've lived in the same place their whole lives, the same house, the same neighborhood, the same people.  They have everything handed to them, and it's so frustrating that they don't see how much it hurts when they talk about how they got to grow up with someone, how they get to know every inch and crevice of the city they live in.  I feel replaceable because I am, people do it all the time.  I leave and move out of state, not by choice but because I'm forced ot and their lives go on, they don't miss me, they don't try to visit, they don't get excited when I visit.  I'm just a memory to them.  My whole life I've been second to everyone...everyone who I think loves me, everyone who I think is my friend.  They always find someone who's better.  Because that's just me.  Replaceable.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Observations as a Daughter of BOTH...

I am a Daughter of the Confederacy.
I am also of Jewish blood.
I am [probably] also a Daughter of American Revolution.  I haven't actually traced that lineage.
I am a Native Daughter.
I am a direct descendent of immigrants.  French, German Jew, Irish, Scottish, Czechoslovakian.
I grew up in the South with a Southern mother, and a Northern father.

But that is not what you see when you meet me.
When you meet me, you are greeted by my VERY white face, my abundant (graying) curls, and my mystifyingly slanted eyes...which show up when I smile, as I am wont to do when I meet people.

This week I have been in such horrible shock I have not known how to respond to the sickening events happening in our world.  I have been sitting, reading how others, much more eloquently than I, have espoused speaking up, making changes, brokering peace amidst such tumultuous events.  I am forever-grateful for those who HAVE made their voices heard.  

Over the past 18 months, I have had the honor to work with some of this country's amazing immigrants, it's poor, and it's AMAZINGLY resilient people.  I have worked with Africans, Asians of many stripes, Latinas/Latinos, and pretty much everyone in-between.  I have learned SO MUCH.

I have learned that, even though I grew up poor, and abused, and neglected, and dirty, I have SO VERY MUCH privilege.
I have learned about my blind spots.
I have learned to be more open-handed and generous...NOT something I learned growing up.

I have been learning about seeing past labels, and skin tones, and hairstyles, and cultural differences, and looking into people's eyes, and seeing the depth of their hurts, and heartaches, and hangups.  I hope that I have been learning to see people the way God sees people made in His image, for His purpose.

There WAS a point in time I was stuck in the mindset of pride and fear that leads to "demonstrations" and "riots", such as has been evidenced this week.  There WAS a time, WAY back in Bible college, when some very brave young men challenged me to look deep inside me to see my own prejudices, and started the process of (hopefully) weeding out that sin in my life.

In light of this week's events, I hope I can continue this learning and growing process, and I hope you will join me.  Because my past, my background, my roots...they are meaningless.  I am a new person, bought by the blood of Jesus, and He has given me a higher of healing and love and reconciliation with Him.  I am praying to that end.  Please join me.

"...for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;"
2 Timothy 1:7
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Observations of a Navy wife living on an Air Force base.

1. We are definitely outsiders.  We don't get included in much, unless someone is picking on us.  Then everyone gets in on it...

2. The housing here is NICE.  REALLY REALLY NICE.  Quit complaining about it.

3. It's really neat to drive around and see license plates from so many different states.  I love the diversity of the military life!!

4. Colors at 5:00 pm??  The Navy does them at sundown.

5. Everyone stopping for colors, hats off, car windows down, hand on heart while the anthem plays.

6.  Apparently the Army and Air Force both call it the BX.  Only then Navy says NEX.  No one knows what the Marines call it.  Compromise, and call it The Exchange.

7.  An Air Force base without airplanes is still an Air Force base, and is nicer than any Navy base I have ever been on.

8.  Intra-branch competitiveness is very alive and real.  Just walk down the street and count branch flags....

9.  Base yardsale pages have AMAZING deals on a whole lot of luxury items.  I still can't afford them at yardsale prices.

10. It seems like Air Force uniform policies are less-strictly enforced than almost any other branch.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Observations of a Southerner living in Massachusetts

1. I don't belong here.  I am reminded of this every day.  Not only by everything that is different and foreign, but by people who tell me this, or ask me where I'm from.

2.  There are a few redeeming factors of living here, particularly of being in Massachusetts.  First, July and August.  South Carolina prepared me for living in hell....the heat, not the people.  July and August in South Carolina are miserable.  In Massachusetts, July and August feel like March and April in the Southeast.  Beautiful and green, with temperatures resembling spring in the rest of the country.  Second, the schools are amazing...arguably the best in the country.

3. The drivers are terrible, and are proud of their status of being the worst.  It is mind-boggling.  This is NOT just my observation.  For three years in a row, the insurance companies have proven that statistically Massachusetts drivers, and those from Boston in particular, have THE WORST driving records in the country.  And these terrible drivers wear their titles of "Massholes" with pride.  I don't understand it.

4. If you don't eat seafood, there is very little in the way of foods distinctive to the area.

5. EVERYTHING is expensive.  Not just a little expensive, but really freaking horribly expensive.

6. If you don't have ALL THE EXCESS MONEY to spend, you are looked-down upon or pitied.

7. There is a HUGE divide between the HAVES and the HAVE-NOTs.  When houses range from $600,000 and up in one town, and two towns over the majority of people struggle to pay $200-$300 in rent per month, there is something really, REALLY wrong.

8. White male privilege is very visible here.

9. Corruption in the police forces.

10. NO ONE drives the speed limit, or even close-to the speed limit.  Average highway speed is close to 20 MPH over the speed limit.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Deepest of Longings

God put a design in place when He created families.

He planned that children would NEED nurturing and input from their parents to grow into healthy adults, who would in turn be able to give that healthy nurturing and input to their children.  This is as much for the health of the adult provider as it is for the survival and thriving of the next generation.

There is still a lot of research happening in this field, but there is already ample results to show that children NEED this.
Children NEED healthy physical touch.
Children NEED healthy boundaries.
Children NEED modeling of healthy interactions.
Children NEED modeling of healthy relationships.
Children NEED all of these as much as they need food and shelter and protection.
It is how God designed it to work.

So what happens when this breaks down?
What happens when the parent is not able or willing to provide what the child needs?

Those needs often go unmet.
Children whose needs for these are not being met act out in an attempt to have their needs met.
They "misbehave" in school.
They show that they are not getting positive attention at home, or that they don't know how to develop relationships, or how to maintain relationships, or that they don't understand boundaries.
They have a longing for something they cannot put into words because it is not something they have ever experienced, but innately they know that there is something missing.

And when those children grow up, what happens then?
Unhealthy relationships.
Unhealthy physical touch.
Unhealthy interactions.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms - drugs, alcohol, serial relationships, workaholism, adrenalin junkies, overeating, shopping addictions, etc.
The longing for having this modeling doesn't go away, though there is an expectation that they act as if they have it together, because, after all they are adults.


Some of us DO learn ways of coping.
Some of us are better at picking up on behavioral expectations than others...just because we may *look* like we have it together does not mean we were ever EVER taught any of it.


Lesson: Do not assume that an adult who looks "put together" doesn't still have a need for nurturing and/or discipleship.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Keeper of Stories

I know a LOT of stories.
Stories that would amuse.
Stories that would break hearts.
Stories that explain behaviors.
Stories that inspire.
Stories that are not mine to tell.

I hear stories every day from people who trust me with their stories.
They believe me when I tell them I care about their stories, so they share them with me.
They also trust me to NOT tell their stories.

And so, because they are not MY stories to tell, I keep them.
I am the Story Keeper.

The stories define people, and their struggles, and their joys, successes, and failures.
The stories explain emotional struggles, and financial struggles, and relational struggles.

I have learned a lot in my role as Story Keeper.
I have been humbled...recognizing my arrogance.
I have learned how to love deeply, even in a professional role.
I have learned how to allow others the autonomy to walk out their own stories.

I have been changed by this role.
I am changing some of my narrow views of the poor.
I am enlarging my views of poverty in this very wealthy state in which I live.
I am finding that my heart for people is growing.
I am learning to love others, hopefully the way God loves them.

I came into this role as a Story Keeper with my own story.
My story is the only one I am at liberty to tell.

So, because I am the Story Keeper, I tell my story alone.
Because through my story, I hope that others' perspectives will be broadened, and that they too will be more able to hear and keep the stories of those with whom they come in contact.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Healing is a LoooOong time coming.

I have been on a journey.

I began this journey at a young age,
the age when I realized my life was not "normal".

I never felt like I fit in with the community where I grew up.
Everyone else had relatives close-by.
Everyone else had decent relationships with family members, parents.
Everyone else had been part of the church community for as long as anyone could remember.

We were outsiders.
We were different.
For many years, I attributed this to the fact that my parents were college-educated, and had a very different background that most in our community.
After some time, I realized that this only partially explained how I was being raised.

The other piece of my upbringing that set us apart had nothing to do with background and had everything to do with my parents' desire to isolate themselves and us from any outside input.
The reasons varied.
They wanted to raise us on a farm.  A farm much different from those around farming was new and different, and was a far cry from how either of them were raised.  It was an escape, of sorts, for both of them, from the rat-race in which they found themselves after college.
They wanted to have nothing to do with the "outside world", the world that might corrupt their children, or themselves, and might be watching their every move, reporting to the government.
They want to isolate us from the supposed terrible influence of publically-educated others.
They wanted to protect us from exposure to drugs, and drinking, and promiscuity, and rock music, and the Catholic church, and "them".  Whoever "they" were.

Sometimes "they" were dark-skinned.
Sometimes "they" came in the form of the census takers.
Sometimes "they" were working for the public schools.
Sometimes "they" were the people laying telephone cables.
Sometimes "they" were actual criminals who broke into the family property and stole things.
Sometimes "they" simply drove down our very quiet road at a higher-than-acceptable rate of speed.

A piece of the isolation was this paranoia.
Another piece of the isolation was the very probable removal of us from the home for the very real, visible, regular bruises, cuts, bites, broken bones, and hair pulled out by the roots.

I have been out of that setting for more than 30 years.
Still when I think of it and process it, my heart starts racing, and I feel tears welling up for the abused child I was, and for the trapped and unseen feelings that accompanied the abuse and paranoia.

I have been working on this healing thing for a LONG time.  It IS getting better, for which I am VERY grateful.  I no longer flinch at unexpected movements or touch.  But there ARE still triggers and nightmares from time to time.

Healing takes a LOT longer than I would like it to take.
Healing is also complicated, especially when people raised in the same house have different versions of what "reality" looked like.
I look forward to the day I am completely healed.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The struggles

I have been mulling this over in my head for a while, and though I hesitate, this is something that MUST come out somewhere...

I told my husband yesterday that I am ready to take my ball and go home.
I'm tired of pettiness.
I'm tired of the politics of military life.
I'm tired of not belonging.
I'm tired of being an outsider everywhere I go.
I'm tired of the nomad life.

It also scares the wits out of me to think of his retirement.
God has used the Navy to provide well for us.
Not abundance, mind you, but well enough that we WERE finally getting our heads above water.
And then it felt like the Navy yanked that solid ground right back out from under us.
They moved us to one of the more expensive places in the country.
And now they are punishing him for the consequences of trying to LIVE in the place that they moved him to.
Meanwhile, we were putting down roots in the place where we were.
There was a career path for him that was "almost inevitable".
And then they changed the rules, and took that away, too.

And my response to all of this has been a seething anger for months now.
I don't like where we are.
I don't like how the Navy has treated us.
I think the change in rules was unfair.
I think how they are treating him now is unfair.
I don't have a face or a person at whom to direct my anger, so instead it migrated to me being angry with God.
And I don't like that I have gotten to this.

I can DEFINITELY see that God has worked, despite the Navy....
I can DEFINITELY understand that He is continuing to work for His good and His Glory....
I am DEFINITELY willing to follow His lead in this....

Meanwhile, we wait.
We are not strangers to God's waiting room.
What we DO know is that we ARE moving.
When?  No clue.
Where?  No clue.
I don't do well with the waiting.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Writing again

It appears as though writing for school and writing for self-expression cannot happen at the same time.  My blogs get neglected when I am in school.  And here I am, one week post-finishing this second Master's degree, and I have found my way back into my blogs, and wanting to express myself in words again.

So, I am here to brain-dump about what is going on....

I am finding myself easily irritated with people these days.
I am T.I.R.E.D. of politics.
I am S.I.C.K. of New England.
I want stability.

I want to get on with my life...not being inside this parenthesis that is Navy life...but living a "normal" civilian existence, with a house, and stability for my children, and a boss that appreciates my husband (his boss, not mine), and enough time in one state to finally get licensed.

I want my driver's license, and my car registration, and my voter registration, and my area code, and my home address to all match.

I find myself contemplating "ghosting" on FB.
I also find myself contemplating "telling people off" on FB.

Meanwhile, there is much to do, and very little time, and nothing official as to when anything is going to happen...and I find myself slowly falling apart.

Here's hoping that writing will help put the pieces of the neglected parts of me back together again....