Today I’m taking part in ‘What I Live For’, an online event organized by author Satya Robyn. People like me all over the world will be sharing what gives their lives meaning. In Satya Robyn’s novel ‘Thaw’, Ruth gives herself three months to decide whether she can find a reason to carry on living. There’s 75% off the kindle version today (99p / $1.49) – you can read more here: http://www.satyarobyn.com/?page_id=56 .
And here are my thoughts on the subject of “What I Live For”.
I come from a dysfunctional family. At the time of growing up, there was no such term. I certainly wasn’t the only kid in school to come from a less than stellar background, but mine, in my younger years, made me shy and insecure. I developed a tough exterior out of a need to survive, but I was always afraid that someone would find a chip in my armor and destroy the frightened little girl inside. Eventually I came to realize that I was OK. Each morning, the sun still came up, and each day I gained confidence in myself.
My father was a workaholic, holding down a full-time real estate seller’s job, farming a small farm, and playing in a local band on weekends. He was also someone whose friends and social status was of much more importance to him that the feelings and needs of his family members were. The only time he really paid any attention to my brother and to me was to administer discipline at the end of his work day, for any infractions that we had done.
My mother was a severe alcoholic – so much so, that by the time I was the age of 12, I could no longer bring any friends home to play at our house after school, as Mom would be fall-down drunk and snarly. She was a demanding woman when she was sober, and a pugilistic one when drunk.
My brother was four years younger than myself, and I learned to “mother” at a very early age.
However, I outline these details, not to have a pity party but to rejoice in having grown up in such a family situation, because it has made me the person that I am today, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Yes. Grateful for that home life. How can that be? Well, it afforded me the environment in which to learn so much. As the popular poster says, “Children learn what they live.” In a way, that one wouldn’t probably expect, here’s what I learned:
- I became an excellent student. If I had 97%, I was not praised, but expected to have a reason for having lost those 3 marks. I still, to this day, strive to be the best that I can be, in all of my interests.
- I learned to cook. To do laundry. (Um, to drive underage.) To do my own banking. To administer simple first aid. These things I am grateful for, for I not only learned to cope, but began to thrive in all kinds of new or difficult situations.
- I learned of the damage that emotions can do, and resolved to not become embroiled in the inner struggles of others around me. Their wars are not mine. I now consciously decide where to spend my mental energies.
- I learned of the extraordinary feeling of bliss that loving one’s own family evokes. I now “mother” a blended family of six, and I do not think that I would have or could have appreciated how wonderful this family that I have is, had I not had the flip side to compare it to.
- My brother, who felt more like a child to me than a brother, passed away on his thirty-fifth birthday. He left me with so many happy memories of him (he had a deadly sense of humor that I miss most of all), but even with his passing, I have come to learn the incredible lesson that some people come into your life just to teach you how to let go.
- I wake each morning, grateful for all that I have, excited to see what my day holds for me, and I close my eyes at the end of each day, reviewing all that had been given to me.
And so, “What I Live For” is the opportunity to continue to experience all that life has yet in store for me, good and bad, frightful and restful, familiar and new. It is the purr of the feral cat who has decided that I am to be trusted, the whirr of the wings of the flock of birds who take flight at my advance, it is the comments of people that my writing has put me in touch with all over the world, it is the sunshine on my face, it is the excitement and sometimes the sadness that I hear in friends’ voices, and it is the feelings of love and contentment that catch me off-guard and pour over me at unexpected moments, filling me with the most joyous energy.
It is all part of my journey and I cherish it.
Satya’s novel, “Thaw”, the story of a woman’s life choices, is available here: http://www.satyarobyn.com/?page_id=56 . Treat yourself to the pleasure of reading. Enjoy.